I look on, my gaze resting on her smiling face. She reaches her hand for the stem before her and gently plucks it, her smiling eyes turning around to meet mine. I have watched her harvest the dandelions of the field on many occasions, but this time was different. Like iron lead, so was the lump that I found resting in my throat. I worked to etch the soft tendrils framing her face full of wonder and glee, this moment, I wanted to freeze in my mind. I listened even closer to the sound of her giggle, burning its melody into my memory. The escalator of time that she was standing on was weighing heavy on me. I watched her blow the seeds into the wind. I drop another memory into my motherhood time-capsule. The words are swishing around in my heart, “The days are long, but the years are short”. The sunlight dances on her hair; and I ask for not a moment to be wasted.
Before the bloom
These are the years where the soft buds of our children are forming. We only have so long, or rather so little time, before the blossom appears. If we are not careful, the blossom will have taken place and left us missing out on the joy and wonder of the bloom. A blossom never returns to the bud, time does not allow for such wishes.
The days of growth are crucial – they are the slow days of tending. If we are so focused on the task, we miss the joy of who it is we are caring. Sometimes we look so forward to seeing the blossom, that we forget about the wonder of the bud in-waiting. Tending the tender buds, guarding for the day of its blossom – it is a task of patience, resilience, and attentiveness. But then the bloom… and the years of attending the bud are but a memory. While the blossom will be beautiful and we will love its new season of growth, I imagine there will be an ache in the remembrance of caring for the bud.
So, as the laughter flows, let us give thanks for the years before the bloom. In the stormy seasons, let us ask for wisdom where we have to guard and tend buds carefully. When joy falls like rain, let us tuck away those memories and store them for when seasons of drought come along.
The years before the bloom are hard, but they are also glorious.
As we sit here, let us remember the gift of time-present. Laundry will eventually lessen, the messes will gradually stop showing up in various spaces of our home, and sleep will find its way back to us again. But what we have right now…we will never be able to recapture. It happens and it is over, just like that. The winds of change blowing through can not be sucked back in and held.
We cannot pretend that everyday will be perfect. But we can pray for every day to be captured for God’s glory and our good. We can begin by asking for a shift in our mindset and attitude. Let us be the ones who take the little time we have with our children and cultivate it well. The time-capsule of motherhood is before us, may we fill it well.
Ideas to nourish time with your children
- Spending time in God’s Word together.
- This is about enjoying God with your children. We can easily turn this into a lesson for them or we may approach this dryly…Enter into this time with reverence and awe. Point to the holiness of God and His goodness. Be in wonder of Him ALONG with your children. Make this time about worshiping Him.
- Explore nature together
- Here is a book that can help you along with this.
- A time set aside that is device-free. No phones, tablets, or screens of any kind. Be present with each other. Laugh together. Enjoy conversation with each other.
- Read books together
- Start a new hobby together
- Learn how to – knit, draw, cook, bake, build, etc. Let this be a group effort
- Visit a local farm to pick fresh fruit.
- Play board/card games
Starting some of these things (or all of them) might be difficult, but it will be worth it. Don’t waste away the years. Hold on to them and may your time spent in them be rich and beautiful.
Social media has once again broadened my horizons. It only took one post mentioning the result of a person’s Enneagram number to pique my curiosity. I love taking all the various self-assessments whether it be – personality type, mood type, or color personality. Most of them, I don’t pay much attention to past the first 15 minutes of the initial results reveal. There is one, however, that ranks high on my list of self-assessments. This one, hones in on something a little more. It is the survey of spiritual gifts. I remember taking this survey and quickly tallying up its results. I also remember adding up the different sections knowing which gift I hoped not to be higher than the others.
A Place of Prestige
A moment of sifting took place when I decidedly sought out gifts that were to be seen as most prestigious. My eyes took in those sections labeled “service” or “hospitality” and I ashamedly placed those particular gifts at the bottom. These, I deemed, were the least exciting, the most common, and certainly the least effective forms of ministry. Little did I know that it is often in the unseen moments of serving and in the common acts of hospitality that Christ is most magnified.
Be hospitable to one another without complaining. – 1 Peter 4:9 (CSB)
I will be the first to admit it, I struggle with the whole “without complaining” piece. A certain dismissive attitude occurs when given the opportunity to serve in the messy or droll places of life. I am prone to grumble when given the opportunity to open my home to those who are outside my level of comfort or if they are encroaching on my time. It is not a gift I am inclined to embrace.
Do you find yourself feeling the same way? Is it easier to send a Facebook message telling someone you are thinking of them rather than inviting them to the table, your table?
Friend, if you are like me, the first place we start – is confession. We come before the Lord and confess our pride and selfish ways. If we were to examine every “no”, there we would likely find a root of sin in it deeply buried. The Lord is faithful not to leave us in our sin. In the place of confession, repentance begins in our heart and it is there that forgiveness happens. Sanctifying. A gift that blesses is also being used to work out my salvation. The believer’s life anthem – to live for His glory and to proclaim Christ to the world. This means we need to start living and proclaiming in the places of the world where we are at now with joy and without a grumbling heart.
For His Glory
Where we can live out self-sacrifice for the glory of God is where He will meet us and refine us.
God’s glory happened when there was an open door to the woman who was infringing upon my Netflix time. He was glorified in the making of a meal for a family in need when I could barely find time to throw together dinner in my own home. The glory was all to God when my germ-conscious self desperately tried not to cringe at the snotty nose child running amuck in my home while his mother was being discipled. Christ was meeting me and being shone through me in all these moments. Something bigger and better than my own plans and expectations transpired when I surrendered and embraced this gift. He was working in and through me.
God was brought glory by people in my own life who extended gifts of service to me and my family. His provision was feIt when meals were delivered after coming home with a new baby from the hospital. He showed Himself near when the one who brought a plate of cookies took my hands in hers and together we offer up tear-stained words of praise and petition. None of these things were convenient and nothing with young children around is easy, but people poured into and continue to pour into my life – each time bringing God glory. These moments built and grew my faith.
Leaning into Undeserved Grace
Believers, leaning into hospitality means that we are leaning into the undeserved grace of Christ. An undeserved grace that has met us and continues to meet us. This place of grace becomes the well where our hospitality drinks from and it is the platter from where all we have to offer is served. It is really a reflection of our gift of grace when we serve others and strengthen their faith through something as beautiful as hospitality. In all the God-glorifying gifts we are given – may we be good stewards of such a wondrous gift as that one which seeks to serve.
“For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?
But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?
How often–will it be for always?–how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time.”
The Barren Land of Grief
The presence of grief is felt thick and its roots are deep in the hidden places of our soul. It is a spiraling entity that immobilizes us and causes us to ache for what once was…or for that which never had been. Grief spirals us into a land barren and unknown.
Where it is lodged secretly, no one knows of its depths. Not even the most intimate of relationships are aware of its overwhelming presence. We find comfort in the pain. We draw strength from the agony, but our light flickers dim as the darkness overtakes every nook and cranny of our grieving being. The comfort and strength gained wanes and becomes our undoing. The grief paralyzes.
“It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.”
We hold tight to our comfortable uncomfortable, as grief has become part of our essence. But He who is light brings out the darkness. Nothing is hidden from His embodiment of knowledge. He sees our grief buried–our secret made known. He sees the darkness that has crept in, the grief that has taken hold. He knows what is in the darkness…and He offers us light.
For the grief-burdened soul, there is hope in the Gospel message.
When brokenness entered that once-perfect garden, it also birthed grief into a once joyful and peaceful place. We often speak of our rescue from sin, of a Savior who died bearing the weight of our iniquities. But do we not also share that the day sin and shame were hurled onto the beaten body of Perfection hanging on a cross, so also was the enormous weight of all that is broken dumped heavily and fully onto the Sacrificial Lamb. Grief, in its complete form, crushed He who was Hope and Joy.
For the sake of mercy…for the sake of hope and joy complete.
Finding Comfort in Jesus
In knowing that Christ carried our grief fully on the cross, we can now find comfort as He walks through waters dark with us. Knowing that He defeated grief through His death and resurrection, we can now find hope in a rescue from its prison. When our vulnerable bodies can fall onto bruised knee and stretch out shaky hands in surrender, He will meet us in our state of fragility and hold us close. He is the balm that heals our broken heart. His love saturates deep as it fills complete.
“When I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies.”
Sir Thomas Browne
Is that, then, the hope in grief? Are the feelings of emptiness and the bone-deep aches drawing us into His place of mercy? It is then that we find all we lost is recovered that much more in His redemption. Do we dare hope to feel again, laugh again…do we dare hope to live again? Is grace so strong that it restores the soul tattered and torn by grief’s long reign? In the mass of mercies given, there is such an amazing grace.
A New Perspective
The grace received brings on new perspective. Our grief buried can be His peace resurrected. Letting go is scary and hard. When the pain does not drench into our pores, we feel as if we might have betrayed. But to live is not to forget. Our life for His glory, our sadness for His joy, our emptiness for His fullness–this is when and how He walks in the grief with us. He beckons us close and He breathes life into our soul. We can ache for that which we grieve, because in the aching we can surrender. We surrender our grief to the One who knew the ultimate grief on the cross. So then, we do not abandon grief itself. Instead, we allow it to be made full through His mass of mercies–allow it to draw us deeper into the heart of God.
“The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering. And out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things that I know about God.”
Speak what is true. My heart steadily beats as it cries out these words, the very words my lips bring to life through song. The outside noise may be grating, but it pales in comparison to the inner cacophony produced from the dance where doubt and struggle meet.
The many roles I fill and the various hats I wear all bear the weight and feel the stroke of every drumbeat vying for my failure. Truth is being deafened by the sound waves of lies. Some days, it brings out the fighter and I come out swinging; some days, retreat is my weapon of choice.
The freeing truth I long to hear and feel course through my being is also the same truth that will shake me and bring me to my knees. Because the issues clamoring in my mind begin in the heart. Wouldn’t I know, shouldn’t I know, that there is a gospel issue at hand? The source of truth Himself hears me. He gently draws me out of my unbelief as I surrender my propensity to fall back onto the wreckage that is sin. Because, that’s just it…the source of noise lies in my unbelief; may God forgive me. There is a failure to remember and believe that I am to be renewed. Is that not what Ephesians 4:23 reminds me, “to be renewed in the spirit of your minds” (CSB)?
When He speaks, I am reminded that I am being renewed in knowledge according to the image of my Creator (Col. 3:10). It is in surrender to the One who knows the rhythm of my soul, because He formed the intricacies of every part of me. It is believing that nothing about me–neither my insecurities nor my doubts–are outside His knowledge and renewal. And in surrendering belief, He speaks life, breathing its peace into my roar of clamor.
The renewal is a process. A beautiful state of been renewed, while also living in a state of constantly being renewed until the day all is made new.
When the lies begin...the lies tossed around to the wife and mother in me; to the me who feels failure and inadequacy in her ministry; to the woman who looks in the mirror; and to the daughter of the King…I can surrender and believe that the One who clothes me in His righteousness will speak life and truth to me. His image. It is His image I am being more perfectly made into. In all my “me” ways, it is His image I take on. I put on Christ, it is Christ within. This is how I overcome my unbelief and this is how I silence the noise. It is Christ. It is Christ.
I am desperate for Yahweh to shine his Shekinah glory into my life, an ever-present dwelling where my soul can find melodious rest. I hum the words and they become a heart song of prayer: Speak what is true.
My heart finds hope in the steady beat of truth breathed in, truth lived out.
All for His glory.
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When reading the scriptures detailing the death of Jesus Christ, believers often acknowledge that they sometimes can be difficult to get through. Yes, our souls celebrate the freedom resulting from that moment, but our hearts also mourn the harshness and pain of it, too. Jen Wilkin has said, “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.” I get that. Many times I have read through the scripture’s account of everything from the Last Supper to when Jesus cried out His last breath. For a long time, I didn’t love reading it. I didn’t love the words my eyes took in, because my mind did not understand what was there to see. Reading through those passages now, with a desire and purpose to understand, brings about a new meaning.
Many things could be written concerning those last moments before the death of Jesus Christ. For this post, I want to focus on the obedience Jesus displayed. Christ’s perfect obedience to His Father is so powerfully and beautifully laid out; I wonder how I never saw it all those years ago.
At the Garden of Gethsemane, we get a glimpse of an intimate moment between Father and Son. We read the words Jesus spoke aloud to His Father:
Going a little farther, He fell face down and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will” Matthew 26:39 (HCSB).
Here we see Him not questioning. Rather, in full perfection, He submits to the rescue plan His good and loving Father had set in place since before the creation of the world. The Son lays down His life to His Father, so that He can then lay it down for ours.
The beauty of the Son’s perfect obedience, as scripture shows, is ours to soak up and savor. We acknowledge Jesus Christ’s beautiful and wonderful perfection as He lived, walked, suffered, and died in perfect submission to His Father. By reading these passages, I am fully aware that my obedience to God is not contingent on my own strength or capabilities. It is only possible because of and through the perfect submission of Jesus Christ to His Father.
Our lives could never be the perfection as that of Christ’s. He lived the life we could never live and died the death we deserve. But, what a glorious gift — that His obedience brings us hope. What a thing it is that His obedience perfected is ours gifted. What a marvel and joy it is that Christ’s perfect obedience resulted in our redemption.
For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. -Romans 5:19 (HCSB)