Follow. Finish.


followfinihsTrying to write this Mother’s Day post, and it just isn’t coming together. But this is the overwhelming thing I’m feeling. I see words like “remarkable”, “amazing”, and “hero” all over social media this weekend. I just want to finish well.  I want God to know I tried hard. That I wanted to show our kids by my example what it looks like when He says He is there, Jehovah Shammah. 
Truth is, most of life as a mom isn’t remarkable. It’s just doing all the un-noteworthy things faithfully. Doing all the laundry, grocery shopping, dusting, and other mundane things with sweetness. Being present. Paying attention to hearts while teaching the heads. Leaning hard. Seeing the common things which are made exquisite just because of love. Quietly valuing things no one else sees in your family’s life, because you can observe God’s fingerprints on them. And through it all, looking up.
What is most “remarkable” about me is what God can do with dust, scraped together into a trembling, hopeful, willing, loving, grateful, determined little pile. When I mess up, when faith is weak, when I feel used up…He scoots all of that back together and holds it tight in His hands and does good things with it.
Now that’s amazing.

Did I Say Something Good?

realrabbitI have not posted here since May. That’s embarrassing. Our daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on May 17 of 2016, and it sent us on a bit of a wild ride.  If you would like to follow that journey, I have set up a blog for it, as well as a Facebook page and a YouTube channel.

So here I am again. I’m sure if I had any regular readership, those people have left my blog to go binge watch on Netflix, or read a good book.  But for those of you who may wander in here, I have something to say today.

Today I was searching for quotes about God’s love. Just something thoughtful, memorable, and pithy to put in our church bulletin for the month of February (which markets the idea of “love” in ways which can never hold a candle to His love).

Know what? I found a lot of great stuff. Quotable, I-need-to-go-back-and-read-that-again kinds of things. Like this:

“When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of ‘No answer.’ It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, ‘Peace, child; you don’t understand.”  C. S. Lewis

And I came to a realization. There are a lot of people talking. Some old, some new. Some wildly popular, some I’d never heard of. And I asked myself something.

What would make my words worth listening to?

And I came to a conclusion as soon as that question came into my head. The most worthwhile things I believe I’ve ever shared were things that sort of sprang from just being me, walking with God, living my life. The best “truth bombs” have sometimes surprised me when I heard them in my own voice on the phone, during a chat over tea with kids happily causing a ruckus in the background, or while standing side by side washing dishes with someone after a church dinner.

My best “material” comes when I’m not on the watch for it. When I’m not preparing for several sessions of a ladies retreat, or reviewing questions for a weekly Bible study, or trying to write that elusive book, or putting together something I hope will be engaging for a group of 5-12 year old kids.

My best “material” flows spontaneously when I’m regularly in the Word, so the Spirit has a limitless “tool box” to use. And I get out of the way.

I think of the one scene in “Mom’s Night Out” that always makes me cry:

Allyson:  I can’t get in front of it no matter how much I give, how much I do… I just, I’m not enough.
Bones:  For who?
Allyson:  I don’t know.  Sean, the kids, my mother, … God…
Bones:  For you?  You’re not enough for you.

(and yes, I’m tearing up again…)

After this exchange, Allyson finds herself stunned that such deep and resonating words could come from a biker.  His only reply is, “What? What’d I say? Somethin’ good?”

It’s the real stuff. Not necessarily the three alliterated points. Not the sentimental poem that brings tears. Not the clever illustration. The things which come from simply trying to pound the pavement every day, trying to walk in the light, with our hand in His–those are the things others can relate to.

I think we need more people who surprise themselves in their own humility, and surprise us in turn, by being real.

You know what? I look at all of the things I thought were important categories and tags for previous posts, and I don’t know what to call this, how to put it in a cubby hole. I’m not really even much caring about tags to increase my SEO. So I’m doing something very un-bloggerly. I’m simply posting it. These thoughts are for my heart. If they are meaningful for you too, I’m grateful.

Keep Pounding the Door


I read a devotional this morning about the parable of the importunate neighbor. You know…that guy who wakes up his neighbor in the middle of the night for help, and just won’t go away?
Our heavenly Father is much more patient and willing to help us…and He has every resource we need in superabundance, ready to distribute according to His great wisdom.
You really don’t need to get His attention. You’ve had it since before you were born. From that moment until now, He has loved you with an everlasting love, and He’s been drawing you with His lovingkindness. 

 “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.” Psalm 139:17,18

I once used those verses to illustrate God’s care to a group of children in a government housing project. Many of them lived lives of neglect. I asked for a volunteer, and I asked that little girl if she would be willing to count the sand I had in a small plastic container. She agreed enthusiastically, and began taking pinches of it and making tiny mounds to count. I explained that I would like for her to count every grain. Her eyes got big as saucers.
God’s thoughts toward us number more than the sand on every beach, dune, desert, and ocean floor. I’m finding more and more that prayer is not about His interest in me…it is about my acknowledging that I need Him.

I Want to Look Like Love.

whatwouldlovedoIt’s so easy to go through a day, or week, or year…with an “edge”. We can blame illness, fatigue, financial status, discouragement, and so many other things.
When I consider that God’s love is unconditional, almost always I think of that meaning it has “no strings attached” regarding the receiver (us). No matter what we’ve done, where we are, what our history is, God’s love is offered without reserve. Don’t we revel in that?
Today I’m thinking about something different. I’m thinking about this from the giving end. Nevermind how much sleep I had last night. Without regard to how empty or full the fridge is, what aches, or whether or not things are going my way today. Will I still choose love?
“I can’t do that,” I tell myself.
And God’s reply is, “No, you certainly can’t…but My strength is made perfect in your weakness.  I would have you to resemble Me more and more every day. I offer all you need today to make this possible– all things are possible with Me.”
Today, I will choose to believe, act on, and claim His promises. I will try to love instead of judge. I will make my best effort to act instead of react. I will determine to do the hard thing and deny self. I will give up the exhaustion that comes from mustering this up from my own meager resources. For His glory. To beautify His name. So I can look like Him.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,endures all things. 1 Cor. 13:4-7
Who revels in that? Our heavenly Father.

Hope for a Fragile, Fearful Mom Heart.

springgrowthThis committed-to-holiness-whatever-the-cost, parenting thing. It can be wearisome. It isn’t popular. It doesn’t come naturally. It requires strength in every way. Strength I don’t have. It’s challenging enough for me, to keep my own “living sacrifice” from wriggling off the altar. Weak and selfish human beings, entrusted with the care and nurturing of other weak and selfish smaller ones? How on earth do we begin to believe we can do this alone?

The aches and struggles I experience as a parent help me realize just how fragile the human heart is, how impressionable and fickle, how needy and desperate. I mean mine…not just those of our kids. Especially mine. It truly is the greatest wonder of all wonders when a heart turns to Christ, of its own free will.

Free will is a beautiful thing. It is the thing which makes us so much more than puppets, merely performing God’s bidding. Free will is also a formidable thing, because the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Free will is a strapping, robust thing which is governed by whatever is held closest in the heart. For better, or for worse. What we treasure holds our hearts. 

There are lots of times and ways by which we release our children to the Lord…again and again…for God to do with them according to His perfect will. We feel trepidation because our hearts are flesh. We forget His goodness and all His perfections. He knows it. God mercifully calms my heart again and again through this ebbing and flowing of motherhood.

I read these words (Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 1) this morning. Perfect for my heart:

“Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”

The Bible says “we are not our own“…everything about ourselves was given to us…physical bodies, personalities, talents, aptitudes, gifts–everything. Our kids are not “ours” either. They are His, lent to us…to give back to Him. Shot out into the world as arrows. This implies skill, aim,  and purpose on the part of the archer. That’s you and me. We do our best to hone, straighten, and then point those arrows in a good direction.

springgreenHow refreshing and healthful it is, when I remind myself of this often: He chose me to be their mom. God doesn’t make mistakes. He can use me as their mom, an earthen vessel, for His great glory. I’m that tender, delicate, vulnerable little offshoot, abiding in Him. The Bible uses the word “branch”, but the meaning is actually this…brand new growth, the color of a “Spring Green” Crayola. I need Him. I must hold onto the Vine day by day, moment by moment.

What enabled Hannah to “keep it together” when she took her precious boy to the temple? It was the condition of her own free will…bolstered by what she held closest to her heart. It was God Himself. Loving Him. Loving who He is. Loving what He does. Loving His purposes. Loving the security she knew she had, because He always keeps His promises. A bit of her prayer in the second chapter grabbed me:

“There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.”
And then a verse from my sophomore Bible Doctrines class comes washing over my spirit:
He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” Deut. 32:4
Ask Him, the perfect Rock, for strength today. Ask Him for the courage you need. Ask Him if you might catch a glimpse of what He, the God of hope, the God of all comfort, sees for your life, your home, and your kids today.