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.
“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.
To understand Him is to understand hope. To understand His gift of mercy is to understand His gift of grace. To understand our continued state of rescue is to understand our place of refuge.
Lately, nothing soothes my heart and mind more than the moments where I find myself sitting still and abiding with my Lord. There, I draw comfort and strength. I focus on Him and who He is as Father, Son, and Spirit. In the place of full abiding is where I can breathe Him in, refreshing and perfectly good.
Abide in His refuge.
Who He is completely captures me. Though I should want to recoil in shame, I am nonetheless drawn into His presence fully aware of the grace and mercy covering me. The very essence of my continued rescue is found in those moments when I rest in Him, and the exceptional standard of hope that is found in Him is given during these moments. Words from the Psalmist come to mind as I recall the image of refuge, a refuge found in those moments of abiding.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Abide in His Dwelling Place
The Throne Room of Heaven, the Holy of Holies. It is a place to where I move beyond seeking escape. It is a place where I can come to Him and it is intimate, beautiful, and holy. Holding fast to Jesus, I can enter His presence with reverence and with rest. This combination of feelings produces an attitude which depicts the place of His dwelling. Here grace envelops me all the more, so wherever sin has tempted and tried…sin finds full defeat.
Abide in the Rescuer
Through the God-Son, there is no manner of sin that was not defeated through His perfection, through His death, and through His resurrection. So, in all the ways fleshly desires hound us and in all the way sin’s aroma seeks to draw us in, we can hold fast to the knowledge of a Rescuer who felt the same temptations and conquered them. His accomplishments over–not just the very nature of sin, but as well as its enticing, tempting ways–are a victory we can claim. This continued state of rescue is what heals, strengthens, humbles, and produces an immense sense of awe.
“Therefore, since we have such a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Abide in Jesus
Maybe, like me, you sometimes feel the heaviness of struggle. Perhaps you empathize with Paul when he said, “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” There is hope. For the believer, hold firmly to Him. Approach the throne of grace with the confidence you have as one who has been redeemed by, and through, Jesus Christ. He is our help and our refuge in time of need, in time of temptation and struggle. His grace binds us to Him completely. Hold on to that and find rest in Him. While on this side of heaven we are not free from temptation, but we are free from its chains–through Christ alone. Abide in Him, for in Christ our holiness is found.
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Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. – Psalm 27:14
My son is always begging me to take him to the Science Museum. For months he has been asking if we could go to the science museum. Month after month, he pleaded his case.
The morning finally arrived. As he headed to his room to dress for the day, I casually said over my shoulder, “Oh, by the way, we are going to the science museum today.”
My announcement thrilled him. I could see the excitement and anticipation in his eyes throughout the morning and on the drive to the museum. His heart, I imagine, was racing with expectancy the whole way.
His fun-filled, delightful day at the museum was everything he hoped it would be and more. He explored and soaked in everything he possibly could.
His day of fun and goodness was largely connected to his obedience and patience.
I did not unleash him into the museum to explore everything on his own. I set parameters for him. As I gained trust in his obedience, his parameters grew. When he was ready to explore beyond his parameters, (usually after some reminders) he was patient to wait until we could move there together. He was able to see and do so much more, because he chose to trust me and my plans for him.
A heart of hurriedness and disobedience would have resulted in a much different experience for him. It might have left him leaving the museum earlier or not being able to see as many exhibits. It would have probably robbed him of the joy that was to be found in all the discoveries. A heart bent to his own will and desires would have been disastrous and left him disappointed and wanting.
Here is where I would like to draw the parallel.
Sometimes, God opens doors for us. In his infinite goodness and wisdom, He leads us on various roads and to various places. The problem lies when our hurried, impatient hearts drift away from Him and to our own desires the moment those doors open. We begin to step out of the parameters He has set before us. Beginning to explore and make decisions on our own, we unleash ourselves from His divine plan. Somewhere along the way, we forget to trust in our good Father. We forget that He works everything for our good and His glory.
Think of the story of Saul.
His hurried heart led to his disobedience. It led to him losing his place as king. God wanted a king whose heart delighted in Him and sought His own to reign over His people. He needed a heart that was patient, a heart that would obey.
I want to experience everything God has perfectly planned for me. I have often been the one whose heart was hurried. And somewhere along the way, I stop seeking guidance from the One who lays my path. I have lived the disappointments that come when I step out of His parameters and do things on my own. My heart is prone to wander and needs rescuing every day.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Robert Robinson (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing)
Prayer for an Unhurried Heart
I pray for a heart of obedience. I also pray for an unhurried heart…a heart in tune with His. In every place He takes me, I want to walk there with Him. I want to enjoy the fullness of the life He has called me to, and I want to wait for Him in those moments where He asks me to wait. I pray that the worldly things which push me to hurry will not blind me to His sovereign plans.
May we all earnestly seek His direction and wait patiently for His leading. In all the places we are led to, may we always stay vigilant in keeping our heart’s desire after His. In the pursuit of kingdom work, let us not forget to seek and wait for the direction of the King.
A man must not stop listening any more than praying when he rises from his knees. No one questions the need of times of formal address to God, but few admit in any practical way the need of quiet waiting upon God, gazing into His face, feeling for His hand, listening for His voice.