Tuesday, December 18, 2012
The irony of Christmas is this...that this baby, who is completely and utterly dependent on Mary is also the one who is providing for her every need, and ours as well.
-Jesus was formed in Mary's womb, but he knit her together in her own mother's womb.
-Mary met Jesus for the first time at delivery, but Jesus knew Mary before time began.
-Jesus needed to be fed at Mary's breast, but he is her bread of Life.
-Jesus caused Mary's arms to tire and her back to ache as she lugged a growing baby around; but he is her light yoke and her rest.
-Mary swaddles Jesus and holds him tight, but through him, Mary is held together.
-Mary loved and cared for Jesus, but she is only capable of love because of his love.
-Mary trained Jesus in righteousness, but only through him is she made righteous.
We are like babies. Totally needy. Utterly dependent. He understands. He's felt that. And in that understanding and with love, he will be faithful to provide everything we need.
Saturday, December 1, 2012
It's just that, sometimes, it's easier to see than others.
Not too long ago, I had a rough day with Ava. Not a little hard. Not some difficult moments. It was rough...from beginning to end.
When, finally, she was sent to bed early, for coloring on the couch with a marker, (why???????) I climbed the stairs to wearily tuck her in and repeat the traditions that have become bedtime routine around here. Sing an old hymn, pray with her, give her a hug and a kiss before turning out the lights. None of which I am too keen on doing when a child has been sent to bed for misbehavior. And I know how that sounds, by the way. I'm not proud of it. But, it's honest.
When I got there, she was already close to tears and my heart melted. For all her stubbornness and impulsive bad decisions, that child feels our disappointment deeply. I told her I didn't like it when she disobeyed. That I didn't enjoy punishing her and that it was really hard for us to have a fun day together when she was disobedient. I told her how much more we could enjoy the day if she would just obey. And, with her lip trembling she said to me, "I can't mommy." "You can't what?" I asked. "I can't obey and (fully crying now) I don't want to be Ava."
The accusing, mean-spirited part of my brain spoke up lightning fast. Oh where have I gone wrong?! How can I have a child who wishes she was someone different?! Does she even know how much I love her?! How much I love every bit of her personality? I. Am. Failing.
I tried to tell her how special she was. How much I loved her. "You're special, too, mommy." she cried quietly. " And I don't want to be Ava. I want to be you." I hugged her tight, with tears running down my face and told her I didn't want her to be me. That I was so glad she was Ava and that God had made her so special. We tickled and giggled and both promised to have a better day tomorrow. And when I turned off the lights, she was smiling again.
I walked downstairs with a heavy heart, worrying myself silly that my child had no idea how wonderful she was. That I had done some irreparable damage that would affect her forever.
But, all is grace. And I know that now. So, I took a breath and began to thank God for that moment. And here's what came to mind: I'm thankful for...a child who knows right from wrong and aches when she disappoints, a child who's very words speak scripture to me and mirror my own heart (Romans 7:19, "For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing."), a chance to tell her how special she is and how glad I am that God made me her mommy, the unbelievable understanding that she sees me as an example of obedience and good decisions and the grace she obviously has for me, the power of touch...of tickles, and hugs, and kisses, the promise of new mercies every morning...for both of us.
In the midst of that, I also realized that Ava's response to her own disobedience is not all that different from my own. "I've done it again, God. I just can't seem to get it right. I wish I wasn't so full of me. I wish I was more like you." And I realized that maybe...just maybe, instead of seeing her response as insecure and full of self-doubt, I could see it as an open hand, ready to receive grace. Because receiving grace always begins with the acknowledgement that our need is beyond our own ability to meet and that there is something far better to cling to than who WE are. That reaching for Him, replacing US with Him, requires an open hand...and the realization that, "I don't wanna be who I am anymore."
And maybe starting to learn that at three years old isn't such a bad thing. Even though that train of thought wouldn't win me any awards in pop psychology, I'm pretty sure it's important when trying to raise kids who will follow Jesus. Because I know that, at least in my own life, the kind of humility that has most often led me to transforming grace began with a trembling lip and words like, "I can't seem to obey...and I don't wanna be who I am anymore. Change me, Lord."
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
-For this computer, given to me by a friend, so I could do just this. Write. I'm excited to have the ability to write whenever I get the itch without having to steal a minute or two here and there on my husband's busy work computer.
-For gathering with teen moms once a month to have some crazy fun and talk about Jesus. It's a privilege to walk with them.
-For coming home from that gathering to see Loren and Hope playing Scattergories and laughing together. A husband who gets how important it is to spend precious time with our kids.
-For a girl who prefers pancakes, one who prefers cereal, and one who likes eggs in the morning. For one who prefers skinny jeans, one who wants yoga pants, and one who rocks skirts every day. And for girls who yell out "I love you!" to each other for the whole block to hear on their way to school. They are as different as can be. And they love each other dearly. I love being their mom.
-For homemade Christmas presents that I can work on at night and the joy it gives me to think up the perfect gift.
-For a kitchen counter that is a mess. Evidence of life lived in these walls.
There's so much more. But the kitchen counter calls. I hope you get a chance to stop and be thankful today!
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
She knows about a husband in ministry...a job that comes home with you every night, both physically, as in stuff everywhere (with my dad it was music...always endless pages of music filling up our house, and cassette tapes of choral arrangements in every part), and in your heart. Always thinking about what was stirred during that last conversation or thinking about that kid that's walked away and needs Jesus so bad.
She knows about raising three girls, too. Last week she told me she didn't envy the task Loren and I have. That raising girls back when we were small was hard enough. Today, it seems so much harder. But she has also pulled me aside before and told me that she wouldn't have traded having three girls for anything. And I can see in her eyes what I have come to know to be true. That the moments between mothers and daughters can be so full with feeling, all that estrogen and all those easy tears mixed with the flowery vanilla scents that women have, that a heart can feel just about to burst with the beauty of it. And I know that when her cell phone plays the tune to "My Girl" when one of us calls, that that's exactly how she feels.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
When your 87 year old grandfather comes to visit and wants to restore your dining room table, you let him. Of course, that was his business for years. Furniture. And the restoring, his job on the side for years after that. Even still. And you bought that piece of furniture from his store all those years ago when you were engaged and dreaming about the kids that would fill that table and declaring that you would use the china on it at least once a month when your soon to be mountain man husband had argued that it wasn’t necessary. The china, not the table.
And now, we have these children and we almost never use that china. Except for those times when I think about that declaration long ago and drag it out with an “I told you so” look in my eyes. Our table is scarred and syrup is permanently stuck to it and the chairs have legs that were chewed by the dogs, who were once teething puppies. Thirteen and half years of life have been carved and spilled onto that table’s cherry wood and my Dada tells me that he can’t make it look like new, but he can polish it up and ready it for the next thirteen years. And I've always known him to be this way. Able to see what a thing could be and then able to bring out it's beauty in surprising ways. Never going about it in a rush, but slowing to see that every detail is attended to. At rest as he exercises his gifts.
Linking up with Just Write....because it's about time I did!
Saturday, June 9, 2012
- Traveling on a plane for two and half hours and then sleeping in the stairwell of a church, then traveling on a bus for two hours, a ferry for an hour and half, a bus for two more hours, and then a boat for another hour, over the course of two days is not that easy with three small children in tow. But, the view when we got here was totally worth. Totally worth it….and I’m not exaggerating. That’s how awesome it is.
- Island time is one of my most brilliant parenting moves ever. Island time = you need to be on your bed in your room and quiet and you may not get up for any reason (and I mean that, so go to the bathroom beforehand!). Beyond that, I don’t care what you do. Island time = reading, art projects galore, and “oops, I fell asleep because it was dark and quiet and warm in there.” (insert wicked laugh here)
- Loren is winsome. (I love that word!) And I don’t mean that everyone likes him because he always says what people want to hear. In fact, Loren says a lot of things that people don’t want to hear. But he is always hardest on himself, first. He always proves to be a co-laborer instead of just a boss. He is never selfish. And he’s funny. All of it makes people want to work for him. Want to do a good job. Want to love Jesus more. He’s winsome. I know this about him but sometimes I forget until I see how immediately people are drawn to him or until three random people in a day tell me how great they think my husband is. I’m so proud to be married to him.
- Women in the Pacific Northwest do not wear make-up because their skin is beautiful. Supple and infused with sea water. Glowing and healthy and rosy in all the right places. I feel beautiful here, and the sea water may have something to do with it, but it’s also partly because there is no real schedule, no demands other than those I have chosen for my life. These children and this husband. The pace agrees with me. More on this later....
- It feels luxurious here. All that rain, the going out and coming back in of the ocean, all the dark overcast skies. It feels rich and thick and gives everything a warm, sunset type glow. I’m sure you could get tired of that after a while. I’m sure people celebrate when the sun comes out. But, I have always liked time spent in a cocoon and then rejoicing when the sky opens up again. Life here feels a little like a cocoon as well. I am enjoying the walls being pulled tight in my world right now. And I know I’ll be glad when they are pulled back to reveal the full beauty of my life.
- Ava is my most outgoing child. She greeted everyone the first day with, “Hello, my name is Ava. I’m 2.” She has made the most friends (well…at least friends with the big people. We all know that friendships with people her own age are much harder for her.) and no one is immune to her charms. She will likely take it the hardest when we leave and she isn’t spoiled rotten all the time anymore.
- Bella has people the most intrigued. Work crew kids, I mean. She draws people in without really knowing why. They want to know her…because she is beautiful and shy and picky about whom she chooses to hang out with. I really like that about her. She also seems older to me here. She is old enough now to go with her big sister to club, without supervision, or to walk into camp to find her dad. And that girl has developed some wicked dance moves this year. Hope better watch out. :)
- Hope is here to serve. She has already jumped in with the work crew in the dining hall and in the snack bar and in the laundry and is always looking for opportunities to do more. Unbeknownst to all of us, she came here to work. And she works hard. She’s so much like her dad in that. And in other ways, too. When she prays for campers at night, I know it’s from the heart. This year, more than any other year, she gets it. She gets why we’re here and it’s so exciting to see her want to be a part of the mission.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Luckily, these last two episodes have been on Loren's watch and he is far better than me at keeping a straight face.
The other night, while Loren's parents were here visiting, Ava was sleeping in our bed because hers was being used by my nephew. Loren put her to bed and then put the other kids to bed and all was quiet in the house for most of an hour. At one point, we heard the pitter patter of little feet and realized they were coming from our room. When Loren went to check it out, it turned out that Ava had not been asleep AT ALL. In fact, she had methodically turned our room topsy turvy. But, when Loren opened the door, she was standing in the middle of our bed with an afro wig on, which she slowly removed while she said, "Sorry, daddy." (um...yeah...we have lots of wigs because of Young Life. And it was in our bedroom for a perfectly normal reason. I promise!) He kept a straight face while he doled out consequences and then burst out laughing when he told us the story.
Then, tonight, Ava was put in time out for some reason or another. (They all run together sometimes). I should also mention here that she was basically naked, except for some underwear. That is apparently going to be her summer uniform. I promise that I dress her in the morning, but at some point after her nap, she gets undressed and we just never really get around to dressing her again. Don't judge, people. I am doing less laundry and loving it! Anyway, when Loren went to get her, she sat straight up, all quick-like. You know...with that look your children have whenever they are caught doing something they aren't supposed to. When he looked, she had two round stickers, strategically placed right over her nipples. I think he just let that one go.
Oh that Ava! It may take her a while to learn the difference between right and wrong, but she has already learned the difference between wrong and wrong, but funny. And she is using that to her advantage.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Then, on Saturday, we rushed out the door and got in the car, only a few minutes late for soccer. Hope, sporting her new twists, pulled on shin guards and soccer socks and cleats as we drove away from the house. My sporty girl. And as she got all geared up she said, "Mom, do you wear make-up to make yourself prettier?"
Rarely do you get the opportunity to fully prepare for these important conversations. Oh, it's not that I don't think about how I will answer my girls' questions about faith or love or sex or beauty. It's just that I am never quite able to articulate in my head exactly how I want that conversation to go. Exactly how I will phrase the important truths that I so desperately want them to know. Exactly what those most important truths are.
This weekend, I got to babysit my 6 month old niece for a few days. And I had forgotten how much I liked the rhythms of feeding and sleeping that babies have. More than that, I forgot how much I liked being able to meet every need. Babies are simple. Feed, change, sleep. Repeat. You can feel like you've accomplished something at the end of a day with a baby. Like you've met all of their needs. 8 year olds are different. Their needs feel as numerous as the stars. All the things you want them to know and believe and hold tight to come rushing at you sometimes, and you wonder if you've ever truly said them out loud. Or if they've seen you live it out enough to believe it's true. And it feels like time is slipping away. That someday soon, they might believe what someone else says more than they believe you.
I wanted to lie to Hope and tell her that I only wear make up because it's fun. That I felt beautiful with or without it. But, it does make me feel prettier. And now I just feel bad about that. Do I have to be a no make-up wearing woman in order to convince my daughter that God created her beautifully? What I said to her was this, "Hope, I think I do wear make-up because sometimes it makes me feel prettier. But I'm not sure that's right. I think it should just be for fun. And, I do feel like God made me pretty just the way I am. But I didn't always feel like that. I feel like that now because God has shown me how he made me beautiful." I think it was an okay answer.
I worry all the time that I am getting it wrong. That my wearing make-up or putting yarn twists in Hope's hair is sending a message that speaks louder than the truths I want her to believe. But I also know that I am raising my girls in a state of grace. That there is grace enough for me to figure these things out. And grace enough if I never do. I know that her yarn twists or my love of mascara will not be the end of God's pursuit of her and it won't be the end of all that I have to teach her about beauty. Here's what I want her to know about beauty in the midst of a culture obsessed with pursuing it's own distorted version of it: Pursue God, instead. It's the only way to see ourselves clearly. And when we do, we get to see all the beauty in us that he sees. And we will believe that it's true, and feel a rush of pleasure at what he's created.
I hope that someday she knows that she is beautiful because God has made it so. And that she will be prepared to fight for that truth in a world that would seek to tell her otherwise. For now, I'll fight for her as best I know how. I'll tell her often and emphatically that she is exquisite. I'll point out the lies that our culture tells about beauty. And I will open my hands as I pray, offering her up to God, and professing my belief in these things. "She is yours, Lord. You take great delight in her. You have made her beautiful." I'll believe it for her. And I'll keep asking God to show me how to teach it and how to live it out. And I'll be grateful for grace.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Our family has been celebrating the Seder for the last five years during Holy Week. It is such a rich way to enter into the story of Jesus death and resurrection and I love knowing that I am observing Passover, just as Jesus did the night before he died.
In the Passover, there are four cups of wine that you drink during different parts of the meal and they each represent something different. The cup of sanctification, the cup of deliverance, the cup of redemption, and the cup of praise. The third cup takes place after the meal and it was during this cup of redemption that Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, told his disciples, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:28).
The image of this cup has stirred me up during this season of Lent. "This cup is the new covenant in my blood"...and then Jesus in the garden saying, "Father, take this cup from me. But, not my will but yours be done"
In Walter Wangerin's devotional, "Reliving the Passion" he talks about that first time Jesus is offered wine and myrrh on the cross, to dull the pain a bit. "He shakes his head. He will not drink from [that] cup. He will in no wise dull his sense or ease the pain. And so we know. What are the feelings? What has the spirit of Jesus been doing since Gethsemane? Why, suffering. With a pure and willful consciousness, terribly sensitive to every thorn and cut and scornful slur: suffering....Or what has the Lord been doing since Gethsemane? Drinking. Not from the narcotic cup, but from the cup the Father would not remove from him: drinking. Swallow by swallow, tasting all the hell therein, not tossing it down in a hurry: 'So that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.'"
May you be blessed this week to know that the cup of redemption was drained to the last drop, swallow by bitter swallow. And while He drank, he thought of you.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
I'm talking about Canon City Community Fitness. My friend, Ian, started this gym last year. I was skeptical at first because Ian is one of those guys that we normal people call "fitness crazy." He LOVES to work out. He LOVES to run for pete's sake. And he LOVES to talk about working out and running. Um...just so you don't get the wrong idea...he's also a really super cool guy who loves Jesus and loves on kids as a young life leader. And he happens to be married to one of my very best friends, and he is one of Loren's very best friends, so you know he's totally rad.
Anyway...he started this crossfit type gym. Don't worry if you don't know what that means. We can't all be like Ian. The general idea is that you come, during any of the 7 classes offered every day (or all of them if you're crazy), and are personally coached through a 15-20 minute workout (sometimes a little longer, sometimes a little shorter) that is different every day. One day you might be lifting weights and doing pull ups. Another day you might be running and doing push ups. One day you might be doing all of those things in a dreaded 20 minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible). But EVERYDAY, you are guaranteed to be working your butt off.
I don't look like a completely different person. I have lost some inches and a pants size (or 2) and gained some muscle definition that I'm proud of (I do look a little different!). But, here's why I'm crazy about it. All of the sudden, I love to exercise. I look forward to working out hard and collapsing at the end of it. And that, my friends, is kind of a miracle. Because I was always that girl who felt the pressure to exercise and ALWAYS hated it. And because somehow, Ian has taken something that I needed to do but didn't want to do and made it something that I love to do.
Wanna hear another miracle? I don't blink an eye anymore when Ian tells me we have to do 150 burpees or double unders. I just go to work. And I leave there sweaty and gross and barely able to breath and also a little smiley and proud of the way my new, more fit body can endure such torture.
So...I'll say it. I LOVE TO EXERCISE! Oh my.....I've become one of those girls.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Loren is gone to Canada this week, training at a Young Life camp called Malibu, for our upcoming assignment there this summer. And I've learned something while he's gone. It turns out that, especially when Loren is away, I tend to reward myself with sugar (preferably chocolate, but I’m generally not picky) when I am productive with my time. And, let me just say that I'm fairly generous with the definition of productive. For instance, getting all three kids through the day and then to bed at a reasonable hour counts as "productive." I've learned this about myself because I've given up sugar for Lent this year and it is especially hard right now. I'm dreaming about Cadbury Mini Eggs all through the day. Oh Lent…how you expose us.
Actually, God is using this whole experience to expose more than just my addiction to sugar. We are a people obsessed with productivity. And it has creeped in to how we live out our faith as well. Last week, in my Lenten devotional, I read the story of the woman who anoints Jesus' feet with expensive oil. It captivated me and I read it again, twice. Walter Wangerin Jr. says this about it, "The disciples were offended by an act that produced nothing, accomplished nothing, fed no poor, served no need....but Jesus called it 'beautiful'." This act, which had nothing to offer except it's wonderfulness, was beautiful to him.
The thought of that has been running through my mind for the last week. See, I don't really struggle with how much Jesus loves me (right now). I know it's true. But I do struggle sometimes with the notion that I am not doing enough for him as a stay at home mom. Surely, the Lord wants me to do more than get my kids another snack or put them in timeout again. Surely he even wants more than my attempts to love them well and teach them about him. Am I really as valuable to his Kingdom in this season where I feel sidelined in a lot of ways? That's why I was so drawn to this story. The woman offered nothing reasonably productive but her love, but Jesus honored her, so much so that he declared that "wherever the gospel is preached what she has done will be told in memory of her."
In the midst of (skeptically) thinking through what it means that I am valuable regardless of my rate of productivity, and that I create beauty every day just by loving him, I met with a sweet college friend of mine yesterday. We've been friends since she was a freshman in high school and I adore her. Actually, adore might not be a strong enough word. She is home from college on Spring Break and she called me up and brought me coffee and came over to chat. She sat on my couch and shared her beautiful heart with me and in my rush to be an encouraging, productive voice in her life, I missed it. What I gave her in return was a lot of mumbo jumbo christian stuff that was a lot more about me than it was about her. I recognized it the instant she left and I told her so. She sweetly texted back, "It's alright." Part of me had hoped she didn't notice. She definitely did.
Way to bring your point home, God. Props for creativity and timing. But I'm grateful for your tender mercy in exposing me. It always brings me back to you. To beauty.
What I should have done yesterday was just love Jesus and love Lindsay. What could be more encouraging than that? What could be more beautiful? My desire to produce always gets in the way. Not because it's wrong to want to be used by God, but because it is always about me. I've missed countless moments of beauty because of my desire to make myself valuable to the Kingdom. And I'm much more comfortable selling my oil and producing a tangible result from the profits, so to speak. But, I'm learning about the simple beauty of just loving Jesus, too. Of just sitting with him and offering him whatever I have. And actually, I do believe he can use that to produce something quite lovely. Even if that something is only me.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
And she must know that when she crawls out of her bed for the tenth time at night that, just like the nine times before, she will get a spanking. She will cry and say "okay" when we tell her to stay in her bed. But she must know it's a promise she won't keep.
She must know that pouring an entire bottle of Hope's hair oil, that liquid gold that I have to go to a different county to get, is wrong. That I will sigh in frustration and try to scrape it off the wood floor with my hands and then funnel as much of it back into the bottle as I can. Okay, maybe she doesn't know just yet how hard that oil is to come by and how very frugal I am. But, she must know about the sigh. She must be able to predict the sigh and the consequences to follow.
When a child is two, it's hard to know what it is they know. Though...I have my suspicions. But there are some things that I'm sure she's sure of. Some things that she says confidently and there is no denying that she believes them to be true.
"Mommy loves me and Daddy loves me and Hopie loves me and Bella loves me," she says. She's sure of it. "Jesus Loves Me," she sings in it's entirety several times a day, with no provocation. She's sure of it. "I love you, Mama," she says out of the blue. She's sure of that, too.
Love is the one thing I know she knows. And it's the one thing I know, too. Sometimes when I'm running down the street half dressed, or sighing that big sigh I think, for a moment, that "crazy" and "frustrated" is what is most true about me. Sometimes, on days when there has been a lot of crazy and lot of frustration, I'm tempted to believe that it has swallowed up the best parts of me.
But I know it's not true. Because sometimes, when everyone is settled in for the night, and I lay in bed waiting for blessed sleep to come, the last thing I'm aware of is how full my heart is of love. How deeply I am loved and how deeply I have been made to love. And how it's the one thing I know. I'm sure of it.
Come on. Link up with me at Just Write. It's fun!
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Satan speaks his lies in the subtlest of ways. And he is relentless...and his lies so predictable. "You don't have what it takes to care for her," he whispers. He's been whispering this since the day she imprinted herself on my heart. Most of the time, I don't pay any attention. Most of time, I remember all of the ways that God has made her mine and marvel at the miracle of adoption.
But sometimes....sometimes, his whisper sneaks it's way inside. It wraps itself around my heart and I feel that familiar sadness. I feel all of the distance and the differences that separate her from me. The flesh and blood and DNA that prove that the miracle of her had nothing to do with me. And sometimes, in that state, I come up with ways to minimize the differences, and convince myself that it's best for all of us.
So, we almost relaxed Hope's hair last month. I came really close. I'm not saying we won't do it someday. I don't have firm feelings on whether it's right or wrong. I don't really think it's a moral issue. But, if we do it someday, it won't be so that I can avoid learning ALL I need to know to properly care for her naturally beautiful hair texture. And it certainly won't be so that I don't have to think about our differences.
I'm glad I was reminded that it doesn't honor Hope when I pretend we aren't different. Because we are. And most of the time, I remember that that is something to celebrate! I don't need us to be the same. I don't want us to be the same.
And besides, what does flesh and blood and DNA know about love, anyway?