Sunday, March 24, 2013

Words to Keep ...

On mothering ...
[A]ll He wanted from me was to give it all up to Him and to live by faith and to enjoy the gift He had given into my hands  
- the gift of mothering these children, living this story, and seeing His miracles right before my eyes.
From Sally Clarkson's post: I wish I had known

On seeking Him and growing good love ...
A woman's heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her. ~ Max Lucado 

Only when a man looks to Jesus does a man know how to treat a woman.  ~ Ann Voskamp 

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus ...  ~ Taken  from Hebrews 12:1-2

Monday, February 18, 2013

When the World Seems a Bit Too Scary ...

There's a mother fear that can suffocate the very breath from our being.  A fear that grips tight and makes young ones wince from the hold.  I've seen it in myself and I've seen it in the ones around me who grab hold of their child before she falls.

There's a mom on the phone who strikes fear straight through the wire when she tells me of how she just can't teach her children about those people, about that history.  And she's not the only one.  I've heard it before and I get it.  I too have battled every moment of this motherhood journey fighting for truth to take hold.  I've gutted cries for wisdom to know how to teach these children right, how to make them see well, how to fill their hearts with words that bring life.  I've quaked in silence with questions and worries, not knowing if this is the right way to go.

It was mid-January when Jen Hatmaker tapped out the words headlined Brave Moms Raise Brave Kids and her post seemed to resonate with many, spurring others on.  And although I didn't long to be quite as brave as Jen, I did find myself pondering how to bring bravery to the minds of my children, especially in the areas that seem scary.  My ponderings broke down into something like this:

One goal of education is to fill my children's minds with ideas.  

One of the ways to explore ideas is to explore the lives of people. 

One of the ways to explore the lives of people is to explore their culture. 

Sometimes exploring outside of one's own culture can be very, very brave.

So perhaps I am as brave as Jen, just in a different way ...

Each year, the children and I turn pages of hundreds of stories. Stories that take us all over the world ~ China, Poland, Italy, France, North Korea, Japan, America, and beyond ...   And each time we visit a new place, we explore the culture of that land: the language, the society, the customs, the beliefs.  And always we are awestruck by the uniqueness of the people.  And often we are heart-struck for their need of a Saviour, and  it's the heart-struck moments that lead us to pray.

And this past year we've been brave, stepping into the world of the beautiful First Nations, reading about their languages, their society, their customs, and yes, their beliefs.  And often in a story we read about a spirit, perhaps a sea spirit or the night spirits, and we discuss what these beliefs mean because we know they are not our own.  But just as we discussed  how North Koreans bow down to their leaders and  how Indian Muslims worship a different god, we discuss how our own neighbours hold different beliefs and how the call of the Great Commission intersects it all.  

We bow brave for those around the world, and we intercede brave for those within our own country, and we grow brave love, deeper and more rooted, through each turning of a story.

And although sometimes my heart pounds fast and I question again and again,  we're going to keep learning, and loving, and living, and keep practicing being brave.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pondering The Box

We've packed up and travelled boxes nine times since the day we spoke vows.  In two months more, it will make ten.

We've bundled up the treasures and bubble wrapped the necessities.  We've grown to know the things good for the keeping and learned the things best thrown away.  We've figured out it's tragedy to carry the worthless from destination to destination, with never letting it go.

Those things that make deep closets clutter and junk drawers overfill?   They're needing to be purged and somehow the packing of the boxes is the catalyst for the sorting through it all.

The husband would like to see fewer boxes stacked up on moving day, but I know that keepsakes stored in cardboard boxes have invisible roots that keep me grounded.

There's the jewelry box that has survived the purge nine times.  The one with a missing knob.  It was gifted by a parent whose own birthday box was once shattered, the spinning ballerina snapped right off.  Within, the earrings, the adjustable rings, the heart-shaped lockets of girlhood.  And when daughters open drawers and try on bracelets and butterfly brooches,  it takes me right back to the glamour those pieces once brought.

I cringe now to think of the years when I kept that jewelry box hidden inside a box, ashamed of its scratched edges and lost brass knob.  I wanted a box that was fashionable, that was straight out of a catalogue to hold glistening necklaces and anniversary diamonds.

In two months, when cardboard boxes are packed, that age-worn jewelry box will make its way into one.   Upon arrival at a new destination, it will be unpacked and placed special.

Sometimes the scratched and the broken are the things that need to be held onto, put on display, and not tossed away.

Inspired by Amber Haines encouraging an Abstraction on the Box 


Tuesday, February 05, 2013

A Prayer for the Slowing Down

The day unravels behind me and now babes are resting their heads.  In the wake of the brownie making, and the swimming pool playing, and the art class creating, I see the rush of this day. When small voices beckoned for me to see, I too often spoke "Yes" while turning the other way.  When leaving through the door caused my heart to pound stress, my longed for honeycomb words were bitter gongs to the ear. When walking the sidewalk with little hands in mine, I hurried the footsteps along, not lingering in the sunshine to watch the leaves float long.

And so I pray for slowed down moments, a life of slow-motion ~ frame by frame, listening more closely, speaking more softly, walking more slowly.  Time is a gift that remains unopened through the rushing of a day.

To my Gracious Heavenly Father,

Can You teach me to number my days so that I may have a heart of wisdom?  Can You hold my hand through each day and tug me closer to You when I try to hurry?  May You cause me to be reminded to get low when I listen to the so important words that come from the mouths of babes.  May You help me to look into their eyes intentionally, confirming that they are wonderfully made.  The words of my mouth are a reflection of my heart, so make my heart to ponder, to quiet itself in You.  May my words be seasoned with right responses as inquiring babes speak.  May the moments of stress be released by the speaking of life-giving words from a mother.  Help me to slow down in the walking.  To take the time to worship You along with all of creation.  As we watch the ants scurry up and down the trunk of that same old tree, may You remind me of the unhurried path that you have set before me for this day.  In all this slowing down, use me to teach the children to number their days too.
Slowing down in You,
~ Jessica

What a Mother Can Do

There are four daughters at my knee, clinging to my pant leg, reaching to my hand, seeking my attention. They long to know, to daily know, that they are mine. They long to feel that they are accepted, loved, tended to ~ absolutely.

I am their mother and they have been given to me. A gift, undeserved, but much desired.

I used to think that the mother helped the child to grow, to learn and to become. And this is true, for certain. But how much more does the child help the mother to grow in patience and understanding, to learn lessons that only a child can teach, to become more like Him through daily laying down.

Four girls gather around me. We join hands and speak child-like words of grace and thanks. They scatter to do those busy things childhood holds for them. And I wait still. Girls gazing over books on bellies, feet in air, and girls pulling out tea sets for late morning delights.

I whisper well-practiced words of grace and thanks, prayed with desperate affection that comes from the depths of a mother's being. A place that was nonexistent until the first swaddled babe was placed into my nervous arms ~ the day a mother was born. A place that wrestles with the wills of the world, but longs to just rest in His will. A place that cares deeply, unbelievably deep, for the well-being of her children ~ the saving of their souls, the rising of their spirits, the laying down of themselves.

And so I choose to pray. Intentionally pray. Speaking words over their lives. Words that I like to call, Mother Prayers.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Note for the Wounded

Dear Beloved Friend,

You have been hurt and wounded.  Too often broken and abused.  You have shone strength because that's what you've been taught, but outward frames can only hold strong for so long before they are shattered on crumbled foundations.  Your smile is always worn. Hidden tragedy describes the truth beneath. Your laugh is heard often, since tears need pushing down.  Bitterness has taken root over time, twisting it's ugly self around the lies that suffocate the life right out of you.  It's ugly.  No one wants to talk about it.  That's not the lives that us women are suppose to live day in and day out, year, after year, after year.  Our lives are to be neutral, submissive, calm. 

But someone needs to talk about it. In fact words are bursting to escape.  The secrets need to be spoken because isn't it through the speaking of words that the truth  can be told? And isn't it the Truth that ultimately sets us free?  Without the words spilled straight out in front of us, don't we just keep living the lies?  Burying the pain?  Pretending, faking, being the hypocrite that chards our hearts to bleeding? 

Weep those awful words. Scream loud them out to the God who has seemingly forsaken you.  Where are His promises of Yes and Amen.  Where are the blessings for those who have worked their hands and hearts raw for Him? Where is He when you need the rescuing?   Has He forgotten the one that He has called Beloved?

You have grown cold, hardened. This freedom in Him seems all hype and talk, not a lot of  authentic walking of the narrow way.  In fact, those grace claimers do a bunch of grace seeking in the pews, and behind those closed front doors of theirs, they wallow in disgusting gut-wrenching sin.  Bitterness, because it's those sin wallowers who have hurt you.  Resentment, because of dreams lost, replaced with empty pain. Pain buried deep but always present especially during those dark, quiet moments when it's just you and the stillness around you, dissecting the lies.

But in that darkness when the quiet is so loud, pounding out the eardrums of your heart, brokenness somehow happens.  And brokenness sounds harsh, and it sounds cruel, and it sounds like the echos of ugly words and angry fists and unfulfilled childhood dreams.  But brokenness is really the first step, the first building block to becoming restored.  For only when brokenness occurs, healing can begin.  The cuts of the past, and the bruises of careless words, and the aches of thoughtless acts can start to mend through the bleeding and the scabs, and even through the scars.   

It takes time, sometimes seemingly endless time to ease the pain.  Painkillers bring release in the temporal, but healing, deep healing, authentic healing brings release for the long haul, cleaning out the eternal closets of the soul.

Dear Beloved Friend, you are well loved. And you are amazing.  Your story continues to be written by the One who created you. He always authors perfect writings, no matter how many torn pages are within.    

Monday, June 04, 2012

The First Step of Love ~ Abiding in Patience

I've uttered these words before, "Patience isn't something that you happen to have, it's something that you have to make happen".  Even though I spoke them straight out of my mouth, and thought how clever the words roll off of my tongue, I still ooze with impatience and wonder how I can ever love fully when I can't even get the first step right?

Do all the other love steps fall into place when the first step of patience is steadfast and sound?

I taped the words right beside me by the kitchen sink, "Love is patient, love is kind ..." and even still they tend to dissolve in the messy solutions of every day.  The pristine morning flow gets all muddied up with that horrible impatient tone. Crystal clear intentions smear with hurried words and the air turns dirty and we all breathe deep with ugly frustration.

The young one with the curls, she is patient. She waits longs by the swing for mama to make her way over.  She sits quiet while others learn lessons - she draws, or puzzles, or builds another tower.  She asks once and then waits for a response, not pulling on skirt seams, just waiting.  She waits long, sits quiet, asks without pleading.

She is still.  

To be still and know Him.  

The One who orbits the cosmos, yet surrounds me in this moment, asking me to be still, like the young one with curls, to wait long, sit quiet, ask without pleading?

To be still and know Love. Could this be the secret to making patience happen?  When I know the essence of Love, patience abides within?

Striving for perfect patience can only lead me to defeat, when striving to lay low at His feet is what He asks.

I stand by the sink mid-day and read the words aloud.  "Love is patient, love is kind ..."  The young one with the curls looks up from her puzzle and smiles.

 I breathe deep,

stand still,

and send a smile back. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Look for Grace

I was wretched as I let my tongue scream a torrent of words that even I didn't know were approaching. I told her how I hated the pennies, all 400 of them scattered over the carpet and how I had spent my life cleaning up those pennies. And to make my words even more ugly, I gathered those pennies with angry gestures and stomped loudly to the stainless steel can to dump them in.

Yes, I was wretched, and ugly, and little ones gathered together because sadly they had seen this behaviour before.

And I stood guilty, wondering how I could blow it again.  I sought forgiveness, but the oldest didn't grant it, not until the darkening of the sky. 

My thoughts were guilt-smothered as I started laundry and checked the mailbox, questioning all that I do each waking day.  Wanting to build up and not tear down because that's what the wise woman does. But like that March tsunami, all that had been built up with much intentionality, seemed  destroyed with the self-provoking waves of verbal destruction. 

I move through the moments of the day, putting one foot ahead of the other.  Wishing to crawl under covers and bury face into pillows to hide away from this reality.  I change the laundry over and walk along the cobbled path, still hearing the waves of defeat pounding in my head.  The sound of feet on stone echo, yet somehow in the midst of this pounding head and echoing feet, I remember truth. Because even in the grandest of disasters, aren't there always remnants of treasures?   Could I try hard enough to find a treasure? 

I hear a whispering, "Look for Grace".  I can't see any.  Not yet.

Hours go by and dinner needs making and gradually grace moments become visible. The treasures are seen.

The tiny hands of the toddler.  She's pulling my hands to wash with hers under the running water tap. Could she know that I needed some full on cleansing, not just of hands but of heart too?

The older sister and babe child.  They squeal thrilled to be sliding side by side, hand in hand, together.  Isn't relationship always sweeter while holding someone's hand?

The husband who first asked, and then listened, while I blurted out about my day. And at the end of it all, he still called me amazing.  Words can build up or they can tear down.  Can the words from my mouth be guarded and well-constructed?

Look for Grace.  It's whispering all around.  And mysteriously the disasters of the morning transformed by the evening, after grace treasures were seen.  Grace was found.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Persevering for the Journey

Nine years today Pachebel was played while a young girl-woman walked down the aisle.  Camera flashes caught all smiles in celebration of a nervous couple joining hands and hearts with a forever "yes". 

Today I listen to recorded ceremony vows, I wear the bride's tiara doing dishes and dusting off boxed wedding albums.  I smile when I hear "When I Fall in Love"  and the readings from sweet friend's voices.  That day there was an assurance that if we can just get through this day ... 

In the midst of marriages breaking down all around us, the husband draws me closer.  He whispers the same word that is scratched within the inside of his golden band, "persevere".  Is that what keeps us bonded, not willing to give up or to give in?  Maybe.  To persevere is not so much about the grand success, but more about the everyday rising and meeting,  the intentional connecting and respecting. 

Persevere in the saying of "good morning" in the morning. 
Persevere in the saying of "good night" at the closing of the day.

Persevere in the saying of "good-bye" in the leaving.
Persevere in the saying of "hello" in the returning.

Persevere in the serving of one more meal for the body.
Persevere in the praying of one more prayer for the soul.

Persevere in the spinning of one more load of laundry.
Persevere in the washing of endless sheets, and floors, and tiles.

Persevere in the lifting up when he is ready to give up.
Persevere in the going forth when dreams are beckoning on.

Persevere in the quiet reassurance.
Persevere in the cheering on with loud applause.

Persevere in the mundane of the everyday.
Persevere when adventures are at hand.

Always persevere.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Giving Thanks for the Children in the Breaking of Bread

Bread is toasted each morning. The wee ones feed on quick bowls of bananas and cereal. The toasted bread is for mama ~ to savour and enjoy with milky coffee before the day's work begins. 

The sisters are occupied, oblivious to mama's fresh toast.  Two are playing zoo with blocks and Little People, while one figures bear pieces into a puzzle board.  The littlest one wanders from here to there, simply content in her wanderings.

Mama takes her seat, reaches for the peanut butter, but before the spreading begins a small hand pats her knee.  It is the soft, round hand of the littlest one.  The grunts and the whines begin and inevitably won't cease until the mouth is fed. The bread is broken.  A piece is shared.  She wanders back to the living room revealing her treasure to sisters.  Not long after, three bigger hands gather around for a taste of mama's morning bread.

This mama complains and grumbles, for can't she just have a few moments to enjoy her breakfast by herself? These children have been fed, their mouths have been filled along with their tummies.  Can't this hungry, and increasingly grumpy mama have a moment to feast on her bread alone?

 How many mornings must pass before this mama figures it out? How many grumbling words must be spoken before He reminds her of His heart?

Didn't He give thanks and share the bread during the hours of His greatest grief?  And didn't He give in love without an inkling of grudge even to the one who would soon betray?  Can I not share my bread with thanksgiving too? For a grumbling heart and a thankful tongue tend to contradict.

Can I share the bread and whisper thanks for the perfectly chubby hands of the littlest one? Can I say thanks for the sisters who play together becoming the best of friends?  Can words of gratitude be spoken for the squeals of delight when each puzzle piece fits just right?

This morning I crept downstairs to toast bread.  Two extra pieces were tossed into the toaster to make certain that bread could be shared with a heart of thanksgiving. I invited the wee ones to share in the breaking of mama's bread.