Monday, July 30, 2012

to give into grace...

this 37.  it roared in like a leo lion.  before my bare feet even met the stairs in the morning, i found myself in wondered weepiness.  three little gifts came marching into the room singing birthday wishes and wrapping me in pajama hugs. my heart swelled with gratitude, my eyes brimmed with tears.  i felt i had every gift i ever wanted. oh, to stay in the moment.

this grace. crashing in on us one moment, as wave hits shoreline.  quietly encircling us the next, daring to linger much longer than it should, as does the indian summer sun.

this life is no dress rehearsal.  but a live performance. i don't want to miss my mark.  my storyline outlined and Authored by the Poet, with finesse and rhythm divine.  a grace that ebbs and flows through the chapters and lines of my days. direct me to live fully and freely in You through each scene, to not idle in intermission.

and on this birthday i'm alive to the fact that indeed i am still clay.  viewed not by the Sculptor as a state of lump and rubble. but through Grace eyes that see me as art. yet to be finished. thank You that You see what i am yet to be. Lord, help me to see myself through Your lens. for this i struggle. oh, i do. i know there's beauty yet to be carved. your Book says. toward myself and others, furnish me with grace eyes.

the gifts of my day were many.  the ones intangible carrying the most weight. words. life and love delivered.  beginning with this man i share life with.  who in searching for old treasure, is searching my heart.  gifting me with much more than the antique balance scale that came boxed and wrapped before me.  for it symbolizes things that are immeasurable.  our sin which can't outweigh His grace.  our darkness that can't outweigh His light.  our  fear which can't outweigh His hope. and Love. love that first pierced hands, to forever pierce my heart. let me not forget. may it beat mightily for You each day You give me breath.

and then there's today. monday.  my man gets ready to leave us this morning, after 3 days of fullness and family.  the pace of his movement quickens and i know departure's upon us.  the clock refuses to stand still no matter how i try to will it.  i know too soon we'll bid our somber goodbye. as he moves onward to provide.  i thank him for leaving. for the bread on the table. i sense rainclouds lurking. ready to roll in and paint my today in long and lonely. i will not grab my umbrella, or give into monday.  Lord, shine down on this place.

as the graces of yesterday threaten to fade quietly into the memory of her setting sun, give me eyes afresh to behold the graces rising in on today. to gather and savor the droplets of beauty that cover the lawn of my life with today's morning dew. to give into this grace. and behold the immeasurable.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

colored in sparkle

July is a month showered fully in birthdays.  
Birthdays of close friends, kids playmates, loved family members, and
"yours truly."
With all of the birthday festivities, preparations, and celebrations we've had thus far, you could venture to say that we have 
"birthday on the brain." 
(or at least my 7 year old surely does).
While mine is still yet a few days ahead, my daughter Brooke has been putting together her own birthday plans for me. 
 Last night, she presented me with this:
A present scrounged out of her bedroom, wrapped in Christmas paper.
Lovely flower weeds she picked and brought inside, climbing up into the forbidden cupboard of glass and breakable, to pull out one of my favorite drinking glasses to showcase her pick.
And a homemade card she spent concentrated time making 
(and sealing into an envelope before the glue had yet dried).

This morning, she didn't want me to wait any longer and asked me to open her present.
But right before I did, she blushed a bit in apprehension and said, "It's kinda silly Mom."
And there folded and tucked behind holiday ornament wrap,
was an already used box of kleenex that has been sitting on her nightstand for the past few months.
 However, when I opened it...although I outwardly smiled, I did not see "silly," 
my heart saw beyond a used box of kleenex.  In fact, in my mind's eye, I had just unwrapped the beauty of my daughter's heart.   I saw a young girl with a tender heart that loves to give and lavish love on others.  A heart of compassion that loves to bring joy to those around her. I was given a glimpse of the Work of her Creator molding and shaping that heart of hers to be one like His.  
That is a gift that cannot be wrapped...
or opened in an instant.
But rather a gift that will be unfolded in those "Mary pondering" life moments, 
delivered when I least expect.  
Moments that can't be scheduled and planned on a calendar, or wrapped and unwrapped too quickly, or before their time...
for then the image and full intended beauty of them may not be revealed as it should.
No, these moments require allowing the glue to dry first.
 I've mentioned before that I've been doing the Nehemiah Bible study on my own this summer.  I started at the end of May...with a simple desire that God breaks my heart for the things that break His.  That He gives me eyes to see the needs of those around me and a responsive heart to meet those needs. That He leads me in my ways of service (inside and outside of my home).  He has been speaking to me daily through this study.  Answering, revealing, guiding, confirming.  And let me tell you, His voice certainly is the most beautiful sound.  I've been looking forward to my early morning quiet time with Him.  A friend recently asked me how I was, I responded, "Any day I wake up and I'm madly in love with Jesus is a great day!"  And that is the truth.  Still, I have some "BIG" prayers, questions and decisions that I keep asking Him for direction and confirmation with.  I'm amazed at the ways He responds.  It's a dialogue, a communication, that although hard to explain, fills and quenches those intimate places of my heart.  Those places where I know it's from Him, of Him, and all Him. It's forcing me to push aside fear, doubt, selfishness and insecurity and keep my gaze solely on Him.  

In this Nehemiah study, she (the author, Kelly Minter), talks about the value of people.  She says, "How easily I can put the ministry of people above the people themselves.  The subtle temptation to exalt the 'wall' of study, returning e-mails, planning events, and even putting together a meal for a Bible study over actual people is one of the most counterproductive traps we can slide into. I have often found myself entirely overwhelmed with the demands of ministry, but to what end?  If I've lost sight of the people for whom I spend myself, I have entirely missed the heart of what I do."  She then suggests that "besides being relevant to those in ministry, of course this pertains to motherhood, marriage, and friendship."
Before she even mentioned "motherhood," my thoughts were already there.  It's too easy to get lost in the demands and chores and "to-do" lists...the constant cleaning, cooking, laundry loading, grocery getting, errand running, serving part of our roles as mothers and wives, that we can lose sight of the "heart of why we do it."  I'm guilty.  
So, to me, opening my birthday gift from my daughter was so much more than a used box of kleenex and some weeds brought in from outdoors.  It unwrapped the layers of "ministry" (that sometimes threaten to hide and cover), and brought me into a centered moment in which the beauty of why I do what I do was revealed and made perfect sense.  
I saw a girl, fearfully and wonderfully made, with every day of her life recorded in His book, every moment laid out before a single day had passed, all prepared for her before she even lived one of them, birthed with gifts in her heart that reflect His image, waiting to be gradually molded and shaped and revealed in their due time, and to be used...yes, to be used, for the good work He has purposed for her to do, that He has assigned in advance, choosing to work through her and calling her to be a benefit to this world we live in.
(Colossians 4:17, Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 139)

Nevermind the crayon shavings all over my kitchen table and chairs...the fact that I will be forever clothed in "fanciness" (even while remaining in my pj's at noon on this given day) for Martha Stewart has provided glitter in the brilliant shades of "feldspar" and "amethyst" all over my wood floors, rugs, and countertops
(courtesy of my card-making 7 year old).
Making the floors of my heart shine too.

Finding gratitude today in the gift of motherhood.
A role I've longed to play for as long as I can remember.  
Not always a role that is painted in glitter...
but one I've been purposed for.

Thanking Him today for gifting me with my daughter.
For she has already benefited my little world.
And colored it in sparkle.
(a color even Martha Stewart can't define, 
for it comes from our undefinable Creator.)

What is your world colored in today?
Find a way to make it shine.
For Him.

Monday, July 16, 2012

of dirt and grace...

I came across these first two pictures the other day and couldn't help but smile at this dirty toddler's face and marvel at how the years have gone by since.
I showed these pictures to Darcy and he immediately thought it was Berlyn.  We asked Berlyn who it was too, and she said, "Me!"  It's Brookie.  A newly turned 2 year old on her first camping that would become an annual trip with close friends.
 We've camped with the same group and have added on new families each year for the past 5 years.  In the picture below, we have Brookie with her friends Rachel and Marissa.  I can hardly believe how little they are here.  It was a very hot and dirty camping trip.  Back when we were all brave enough to pitch tents full of sweaty, dirty, exhausted little kids each night.  Fun times.
 This year we decided not to camp with the was the timing of many things.  And now with Brayden's CVS, I think I'd be rather worrisome for his health had we gone.  It would not be easy to make an 8 year old boy rest while out in the wilderness, in the fun and energy-zapping fresh air and hot sun, with 25+ other kids all around him.  I feel we need to gain a little ground with his health before embarking on this sort of adventure.  Over time, we've come to determine that Brayden's number one trigger is when he's overdone it in the "fun/active/outdoors/with little sleep or rest" department.  We look forward to joining the gang again next year, and have a couple of fun things planned in lieu of this annual trip.

Older, wiser mothers are always commenting on how fast children grow and to enjoy them while they are young.  I try to take this advice to heart.  While it's not always easy to embrace the dirt and the mess, and the years fly by too quickly blurring the lines between dirt and grace, dependence and independence, I try.

For too soon, they won't need mommy washing their faces or reminding them to pick up their Barbies and Legos.  And until then, my main ministry remains in this very home, under this very roof, training them up in things of the Lord.  Where dirty floors and piles of laundry shouldn't overshadow the beauty of this season.  Where the cleaning of heart and the growing of grace shall be the first thing on my daily "to do" list.  Starting with who also desires to keep climbing from a place of dirt to one of grace.  Following hard after a God who promises to help me do just this.

"Being confident of this...that He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6

Friday, July 6, 2012

3 months healthy!

Yesterday we celebrated 3 full months of Brayden being healthy!
It was Brayden who brought this to my attention late that evening.
It was also his idea to bake a cake.
A cake we didn't have, but we did find a box of Trader Joe's banana bread in the pantry and decided to make muffins instead.
The kids clamored to help.  
Taking turns cracking eggs,
measuring oil, adding ingredients, and pushing buttons on the mixer.

 They also had their turn at licking the batter.
And according to Brookie,
these muffins were "going to taste extraordinary!"

While Daddy was still at work, 
we celebrated three months of wellness.

I won't lie.  Yesterday morning I woke up and worries tried to strangle and consume.
With each moment, I gave them over to God and literally meditated on His word with each hour of the day.  Choosing and fighting for gratitude over worry.  And as those hours came and went, His peace began to cover.  His perspective began to eclipse my own.  Little pieces of good news began to sprinkle in through blessings and praises.  When Brayden mentioned it had been 3 months since he was discharged from the hospital, I checked the calendar.  And indeed, to the day, it had been exactly 3 months. This was icing on the "peace" of cake He had already served.
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank God for another healthy day for Brayden and ask Him to heal him completely and absolutely from CVS.

Today was a good lesson:
A) His Word is true and does not fail

"Do not be anxious about anything.  But in everything, by prayer and petition, and with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God and the PEACE of God, that transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7

B) When in doubt,
gratitude wins out.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Yankee Doodle...

...came to town,
riding on a pony.
we decided to stick around our own little town this 4th of July as well.
our time was spent swimming, BBQing, frog catching, dog sitting, dog walking, dog petting (can you tell my kids were thrilled to have an "extra" in our house for a couple of days?), neighboring, sparklering, fireworking, and resting.
resting in those moments in life where one has breathing room to be, 
to belong, 
to love and to be loved.

thankful to live in a country that allows us to freely do just this.
and so much more.
God bless America!