Monday, May 16, 2016

To the Tree Currently Blooming

I almost miss it, every spring:
The annual explosion at your core
Is one of such unhurried delicacy.
Like a burst of fireworks suspended,
Trembling,
You bloom in agonizing slow-motion.

You spread your blossoming display
Over our house like a blessing, a grace,
And the glory at your fingertips
Unfurls in your own deliberate time.

You caught my eye tonight
Without the slightest whisper of a boom
With stars and a lumpy moon
Tangled in your branches;
And your bare beauty stayed my steps.

I paused under your canopy,
Riveted,
While my heart whispered ooh and ahh
Like children on the first of July.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Guest Post: Mother's Day Blog

Mothers are some of the most underappreciated people in the world. A mother knows what it’s like to sustain and nourish another human from her own body. A mother knows what it’s like to give her body and her strength, to give up her waking hours and her sleeping hours, and even to give up her life for the care of her children. A mother knows what it’s like to deplete herself to the point of exhaustion, to give all of herself for the little people who depend on her for their very life but treat her with such disregard and disrespect all day long, always demanding more and never showing any appreciation or giving anything in return. Mothers, if this is any encouragement, God knows exactly how you feel.

God identifies himself with mothers and motherhood in at least three ways. First, in His sufficiency; second, in His self-sacrificing tender-kindness and loving-care; and third, in His unrequited love. By examining how God identifies Himself with mothers and with motherhood, we can learn a little about God and we can draw comfort from knowing more of God’s companionship with us and His care for us.

God chooses to identify Himself to us primarily in masculine terms, He wants to be known as the Father. But God, as the perfect parent, is the one who protects and provides for His children and nourishes and sustains them. Furthermore, human fathers and mothers both are created in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 says, “In the image of God, He created him; male and female he created them.” It follows then, that God’s parenting of His children has the characteristics of both fatherhood and motherhood.

God identifies Himself with motherhood most strikingly in the use of His name, El-Shaddai. El-Shaddai is the second name by which God chooses to identify Himself to man. He reveals this name to Abraham in Genesis 17:1-2, “When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty (El-Shaddai); walk before me and be blameless that I may make my covenant between me and you and may multiply you greatly.’” The name El-Shaddai is mistranslated as God Almighty in our English Bibles. The name El signifies strength, power, or might and is used through the Old Testament as the word “God” or “god,” it indicates to us the power of God Himself. Although there is still some ambiguity around the origins of the name Shaddai, it is believed to be derived from the Hebrew word, shadaim, for breast. This indicates sufficiency or nourishment. Some have made the ill-advised suggestion that the name El-Shaddai be further translated as “the many breasted One.” A more appropriate translation might be something like God All-Sufficient. God introduces Himself to Abraham as El-Shaddai with the promise that He will “multiply [him] greatly.” God also introduces Himself as El-Shaddai to Jacob, repeating the same promise to him in Genesis 35:11, “I am God Almighty (El-Shaddai): be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body.” God introduces himself as El-Shaddai and associates this name with the promise of offspring. Later, Jacob, now known as Israel, invokes El-Shaddai in his blessing to his children, most notably in his blessing on Joseph in Genesis 49:24-25:

“His arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (El-Shaddai, God of Jacob) … by the God of your father who will help you, by the Almighty (El-Shaddai) who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that crouches beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb.”

Jacob, looking forward from the brink of the population explosion he has been promised in Genesis 35:11, appropriates the name of El-Shaddai, and calls down distinctly maternal “blessings of the breasts and of the womb” to his children and grandchildren. God, does not only provide multiplied offspring—blessings of the womb—but also promises to nourish and sustain them—blessings of the breasts. Of the Patriarchs it is Jacob who is most associated with the name El-Shaddai. Jacob himself calls El-Shaddai “the Mighty One of Jacob,” and afterwards, through the Old Testament, the name El-Shaddai is often used next to the name of Jacob. We can imagine Jacob, who was so close to his mother, having a particular appreciation for God as El-Shaddai, the God who nourishes and sustains. The prophet Isaiah invokes the same maternal imagery when he writes, “You shall suck the milk of nations; you shall nurse at the breast of kings; and you shall know that I, the LORD, am your Saviour and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob (El Shaddai, God of Jacob)” (Isaiah 60:16), and

“Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance. For thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem’” (Isaiah 66:10-13).

Through the prophet Isaiah, God promises to comfort the people of Israel with the restoration of Jerusalem, “as one whom his mother comforts.” In this translation it seems the consoling breasts belong to the city of Jerusalem, but still, it is God who provides the nourishment that flows through them; God is the true comforter and here he is a maternal comforter, comforting His children like a mother. The breasts are a metaphor for both nourishment and comfort, like a mother comforts and nourishes her child with her breasts, God will comfort and nourish His people. The Bible does not use this imagery reluctantly, God is not afraid to be identified with motherhood.

As we see in the passages quoted, El-Shaddai is the God who nourishes and sustains. His power is sufficient to all His children’s needs. He provides for them abundant blessings. He uses the imagery of breasts as metaphors for the way He nourishes His people from Himself. El-Shaddai is the God who provides Manna for the Children of Israel in the wilderness. He is the God who, through Jesus, says, “I am the Bread of Life” (John 6:35) and invites us to feed on His body and drink of His blood (John 6:54). This is the God who gives life by the breaking of His body and the draining of His blood. He is the God who, by His own self, nourishes and sustains life.

In this way, God is not being like a mother, rather the imagery works in the opposite direction. Mothers are image-bearers of God, they reflect His tender nurturing heart when they tenderly nurture their children. The mother who sustains her child with her own body, who nourishes her child from her breasts, and who comforts her child with the closeness of her body until that child thrives reflects the God who is our El-Shaddai. The God who is sufficient to all our needs. The God who births us by His Spirit. The God who sustains and nourishes us from His own self. And the mother who exhausts herself for the nourishment, sustenance, and comfort of her children can be sustained, nourished, and comforted from the resources of El-Shaddai who is sufficient to all her needs. Perhaps you, mother, exhausted in the late hours with an unsettled child in your weary arms have been comforted to find yourself cradled in the everlasting arms of El-Shaddai.

God also identifies Himself with motherhood in the way He self-sacrificially cares for His children. This is expressed by Jesus in Luke 13:34; He laments over Jerusalem,

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

He draws on the imagery of a mother hen, sheltering her chicks from danger with her own body. He points to the instinct in mothers to put themselves in harm’s way to protect their children. In His lament, Jesus is referring prophetically to the time when, by the breaking of His body, He shelters His people from wrath. In His sacrificial death, Jesus holds nothing back, thrusting Himself fully into danger to secure the safety of His people. The fact that He likens this to the care that a mother hen has for her chicks is evidence that God has purposely designed motherhood to reflect Himself. The loving care and tender kindness that a mother has for her child reflects God’s care and concern for His children. Like a mother, awake in the night with a troubled child, God is the one who “will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4) as He cares for His people. Like a mother who sets aside her busyness and her work to hold a needy child, God cares for His needy children, “In His arms He carries them all day long.” Indeed, His attention to His children, described in Psalm 121 is a kind of maternal care:

“He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. … The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 121:3-8).

We can imagine the Heavenly Father, here paying close attention to His small child’s every step as He walks beside His child, He protects His child from the glare of the sun with His body, casting a cool shade. In this way, a mother who forgets her own needs and desires to be diligently attentive to the comfort and safety of her child reflects the tender care of God for His children. Further, God is the God who “swears to His own hurt and does not change” (Psalm 15:4). This is intentional, He does not make promises carelessly, not realizing the cost; no, God weighs the cost, and considers it worthwhile. In this way, a mother who, for the love of her child, endures the pain and labour of childbearing and the personal cost of caring for her child through the day and through the night and considers it worthwhile, is an image of God’s self-sacrificing care for His children.

A mother who gives of her body, her spirit, her attention, and her energy out of love for her child and finds her love unrequited knows something about the love of God. Motherhood is a thankless vocation. To a child, a mother's sacrifices are expected and demanded; her desires are meaningless or nonexistent. Her child openly believes in his own supreme importance: mother is of no more value than a dispensary. Her commands are taken as idiotic suggestions, or completely ignored. She rescues her unwitting child from danger and is thanked with screaming resentment. Her child repeatedly returns to the danger and ignores her mother's warnings. A mother knows exactly what God means when He says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people" (Romans 10:21). God holds out His hands in grace, giving and giving. Each moment of life is a gift from God, each breath, each new day, the food that sustains, these are the least of His gifts but if He withheld any one of them no one would survive. How like small children we are. We depend on God's grace but give Him so little thanks. We complain about the good gifts He gives us because they are not precisely to our liking. We grow bitter towards Him when we don't get the things we want, the way we want them. We often remark on the foolishness of the Children of Israel when they complain to Moses in Numbers 21:5, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” "There is no food ... and we loathe this worthless food," how ridiculous, how like small children they are. But how like them are we? There is no love like God's love, no one could give more than He gives. But His love is unrequited every day. Arrogantly, we receive His gifts with no regard for the giver. Still, God gives. He gives at such cost, He gives His greatest treasure to win us. Jesus, God's great gift, for us. But His gift is largely ignored or rejected. We fail to value it, we don't appreciate the cost. We treat God with the disregard of small children for their mothers. Still God loves us, He chooses to see past our unreceptive hearts and He loves us with the kind of tender love a mother has for her small children. The mother who smiles at her children's petulance, who patiently serves her children with a love that makes her forget their unkindness, reflects the love God has for His children. Our God is kind.

Today is the day the world sets aside for the appreciation of mothers. We should appreciate mothers all the more for showing us something of the great love of God for us. He is the God who, like a mother, nourishes us from His own self, gives to us at such great cost, and whose gifts we receive with indifference and contempt. We should appreciate mothers for reflecting the kindness of God in their care for small children.

Sorry I Didn't Send a Card

On Mother's Day, I can never find the right card.

Not for my mom -
There are a million sappy rhymes, but not so many that say "thank you for tearing yourself open from the inside out for me" -literally and metaphorically, ongoing.  Not so many that say "thank you for giving me the hook in my nose that I am loving more every day because it is beautifully yours."  Not so many that say "I wish I could go back and erase every obstacle you've faced but God has used them to craft you into this amazing person and I pray every day that my daughter grows up to be as fun and wise and elegant and generous as you."
You know. Those kinds of things.

And it's hard to find the right card for my mother-in-law - something along the lines of "thanks for giving me your son, with all the good qualities you prayed and laboured into him ... I daily reap the rewards of your hard work without even realizing it."

And I can't find the right card for my friends, sisters, sisters in law -
There just aren't a lot of cards that say "thanks for helping me realize I'm not the worst mom in the world if my kid maybe tried to eat a frozen dog poop." I haven't found one yet that says "thanks for sharing wipes and diapers when I show up to the park with poopy kids and a bag full of shrapnel that somehow doesn't include those two items."  I'm still hunting for the one that says "I love you for hanging out with me even when I obviously haven't showered in days."

I haven't found a good card for my friends who are currently facing infertility, who long for the days when they might find themselves complaining about boogers on their shoulder and bags under their eyes from a week of no sleep.  Who maybe feel alone in their struggle but aren't - not by a long shot.  There aren't a lot of cards that say "hope you can get through this day with a minimum of heartache as you celebrate your own mom without bursting into tears in public (but it's totally okay if you do!)."

I haven't found a good card for the mother whose selfless love made me a mother.  I'd like to find one that might say "thank you for nourishing that baby with your heart and soul and mind and strength and then giving him to me and I love him with everything I've got. I am trying hard to raise him well in gratitude to you and God but I feel woefully inadequate every day."

I haven't found a good card for Patrick, because they seem to save the dad cards for Father's Day. I'd really like to give him one that says "thank you for enabling me to be a functioning mother, instead of an exhausted bag of stale air.  Thank you for working your butt off every day so that my mothering isn't just survival, but joy."  And even that wouldn't cut it.

I haven't found a good card for my aunts, who love me with that unconscious bias and goodwill that makes being in a family so cozy.

I haven't found a good card for my best friend's mom, my other mother, who raised my heart-sister and loved me through my unlovable teens.

To all the women who have mothered me - to the friends who mother alongside me - and to the people who have made me mother:

Thank you. I'm trying hard to live up to your examples ... thank you for your grace and commiseration when I fail.  I love you all so much.

PS Sorry I didn't send you a real card. I went to the store with three kids last Friday at 430pm ... not only was it impossible to find the right one, but I probably scared away the other shoppers with my traveling circus and scary-mom-voice and they didn't send you one either.

Xo.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sidewalks, Poop, and Flashlights

Patrick and I are having an awesome getaway. We spent the day prowling around Toronto: buying presents for the kids and enjoying the sunshine. Today I'm wearing a beautiful blue sweater from my mom, and I feel gorgeous in it. It makes my belly pop, and I'm pretty happy about this baby, so I kind of like that I'm obviously showing these days.

Just as we were walking back to the hotel so I could enjoy putting my feet up a bit, we passed some people sitting on their front step. I smiled politely at them like a good Canadian, and suddenly one of the women shouted at me, "Oooh biiiig woman!"

Yup. She was calling me fat.

We kept walking. I wanted to tell her off, to call her on her rudeness, to dismiss her as trash. I wanted to say lots of mean things, because I was hurt.

I've always been sensitive about my size, but on this day when I was feeling especially lovely and evidently pregnant, it seemed to hurt extra.

My sister's yoga instructor recently encouraged her class to practice walking outside with their hands turned - palms up, 'to receive what the universe has to give.' So the next time she walked her dog, my skeptical sister decided to give it a shot. She uncurled her fists and flattened her palms toward the sky. And when she looked down to see what she'd been given, she had to laugh. In her hands were two unsurprising items: a flashlight and a bag of dog poop. Her life tools, perhaps?

And it keeps sticking in my head because it's funny - and kind of true in a big simple sense. The things people give us can either make it easier to walk our path - like flashlights - or they can make it harder - yep, like piles of dog poop.

And when I'm walking along minding my own business and someone hands me a big stinky glob, I just want to hurl it right back. Which, I know, is precisely the opposite of what Jesus wants me to do.  Because He gave me His lamp - His word - and it says to do good to those who are unkind to me. 

So I get to choose. Every time. Do I return evil for evil, or do I turn on my flashlight and step around it instead?

Today, turning on my flashlight looked like walking by without retorting.  Even though I'm pretty fiery of temper.  Even though she was mean.  Even though I felt my face burn with a pretty harsh combination of anger and embarrassment. 

I get to choose.  And sometimes I do let my temper reign, and find myself regretfully cleaning it up later.  But for every stinky mess I encounter, God quietly reminds me I am not without light. 

God bless you, friends. May your sidewalks always be clear - and if they aren't, may your flashlight be bright.

Xo.

Friday, April 8, 2016

I've Got You

It has been a rough month. The ten-day flu made its way through our house, and after that, a week-long cold - and I'm pregnant, so sick and unmedicated and extra tired anyway. Kachi is bringing in four molars all at once, so that's fun too.

What it boils down to?  Wakeful kids, exhausted parents, and extra laundry. 

In the middle of the night last night I was up for the fourth - fifth? - time. Kachi was crying again, 'owie owie owie mamaaaaaa,' and Patrick (who is the Kachi whisperer) was already cuddling a stuffed - up Sam,  helping him blow his nose and holding him as he went back to sleep.  I climbed wearily out of bed but couldn't quite face Kachi just yet.

I stood in the hallway waiting for the dizziness to clear, willing Kachi to miraculously fall back asleep, gathering my energy to open his door and comfort him, when the best thing happened.

I felt God's presence suddenly, warm and vivid in the dark, right there with me. And He spoke so clearly to my heart.

It's okay. I've got you. This is good for you. I've got you.

It washed over me like a wave.

It's okay. I've got you.  This is good for youI've got you. 

Not I'll make it stop.
Not buck up.
Not well, you prayed for this.
No.

Just the deep assurance that this - even this - was planned for me, for my good. That in every moment, He's got me.

And wouldn't you know it, like a bow on top of this gift, Kachi did fall back asleep and I crawled gratefully back into bed. 

Next week, my super pro mama is coming to man the kids and Patrick and I get to take a little trip together without them, and I am so excited to sleep - sleep - sleep like I used to before I ever had kids.  Sleep whenever I want, lie in bed late, get out of bed and lie around again if I like ... and I am so grateful for the chance to get away. But if I had to pick between a decade or two of rotten sleep with my kids, and a lifetime of good sleep without them, you know what I'd pick.  :)

When Kachi woke up again an hour later, I cuddled him close and brought him a drink. 

"It's okay," I whispered, "I've got you."

Know what, friend?
He's got us.

Whatever your night is - He's got you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pray for Mine

Tonight Kachi barfed in the tub.
Probably from slurping soap, maybe from getting right into the water after eating supper.
And nope, Patrick and I aren't sure which, because we don't have our eyes glued on him every waking moment. 
This afternoon I helped a neighbour carry her groceries into her house. Sam followed me outside, and played in the snow in our front yard while I popped inside with the bags. When I came out of the house, he was on the street corner throwing a snowball at a passing car.
My heart breaks when I read about people judging Chase Marten's parents for not watching him in the few moments it took for him to wander out of sight. That could be me.
That could be my child.
Parenting is a constant guessing game of what is the best choice for an entire family at any given moment. Does the off chance that someone could get hurt stop us from living life? No - it can't.  It can't.
Pray for the Martens.
Pray for your family.
And pray for mine.
xo.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Why Are You Following Me?

For the first time in their young lives, Sam is starting to want some occasional space from Vava.

March Break stretched long after a week off school from illness, and Sam was missing his friends and big kid activities.  Vava, on the other hand, was over the moon to have Sam around all day again.

After asking permission to go to the basement to play with his small Lego  (we try to keep it out of Kachi's reach, so it's not with the rest of the toys), Sam opened the basement door and found Vava hot on his heels.

"Why are you following me?" he asked.

"Because I just love you so much," she explained nonchalantly, pulling the door closed behind her.

I didn't hear the rest of the conversation but I couldn't help grinning.

The word of God, right there in her mouth.

That's why those of us who love Jesus will find ourselves singing about the cross, come Sunday.  Why we will open and retell the bloody story of the crucifixion. Why we will contemplate the holy transaction - Jesus suffering in our place for our sin, granting us His own place as free children of God. Why we will weep for gladness as the truth of the resurrection sweeps over us yet again, that glorious triumph of Life over death. 

Yes. In the face of His love, His sacrifice, His shattering power, we have only one answer when He asks -

Why are you following Me?

We just love You so much.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Leaning

Vava is a fearless jumper. That kid will climb and leap right along with her big brother, scamper up a ladder and stand on top of slides and jump to the ground instead of sliding down.  At home, she is allowed to jump from the fourth step - and she regularly asks if she's big enough to jump from the fifth, promising me cheerfully that she'll be careful not to die.  I love it.  I love that she's brave and bold and determined. I value the skills of risk management that she displays - she's aware of her physical limits but instead of being fearful, she's challenged by them. 

Not in every way, though. She is not an upside-down fan. She has always hated being held upside down, leaning too far backwards, or feeling at all like she's about to learn practical gravity head first. (She comes by it honestly - I can't stand the disorientation of being upside down.)

Every time she needs help in the bathroom, I hear a little gasp of fear when I ask her to lean forward and rest against my legs so I can wipe her little backside. Tonight she sighed with relief as she hopped off the toilet. "That's the scariest feeling in the world," she explained, "leaning."

And I felt like God was holding up a mirror in front of my soul.

Leaping? Climbing? Doing sudden and big things when He makes it clear to my heart that He wants me to? No problem. I  can make that jump. Like Vava with high places, I know Him. I've tested some of the big ladders and I know what happens. Trusting Him in big circumstances is a whole lot of thrill. I can jump from that fifth step and remain confident that He will be faithful. I can hurl myself off a ladder, because I've landed gleefully on that pile of cushions at the bottom before.

When I felt that God wanted me to volunteer in Zambia for a year, it wasn't hard to say yes. He had been preparing my heart for an adventure, for the cost, for being away from my family. That kind of jumping is dizzying ... but delicious.  It's got direction and speed and the difference it makes is huge.  And it's fun.

But leaning? Trusting on someone else to hold me up? Choosing to let go of control for an uncertain length of time and depending on them to make sure I'm okay? I'm not so good at that kind of disorientation. I'd prefer to be the boss of which end is up, to see where I'm going and decide just when my feet leave the ground.

Leaning is that everyday kind of faith, the kind that obeys the ordinary command in scripture to discuss offences with the person who offended you instead of gossiping about them with everyone else (won't that be awkward?). It's the faith that prays for a gentle heart in the face of irritation and misunderstanding (it would be such a relief to roll my eyes or snap some sarcasm right now!). It's the faith that trusts that God is there even when you haven't had any thrilling little hints of His presence (oh sure ... like He really cares to hang around while I'm making a casserole *zzz*).

Leaning is boring and difficult and scary.  And the temptation to give up and just stand on my own strength is a lot bigger than when He invites me to jump.

But there are some things that require leaning.  Logically, if I can trust God when He asks me to leap, I shouldn't find it hard to trust Him when He asks me to lean. 

But I do.

I start to worry the leaning won't end. I start to fear what might happen if He decides not to hold me up. I - not intentionally, but unconsciously - think I'll be better at holding myself up than He is. 
And instead of remembering those everlasting arms, I just think about falling. And that ... that's the scariest feeling in the world.

My little mirror is right. Jumping is exciting and fun. The scariest feeling in the world?

Leaning.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

And Unicorns

There are things you have taught me, sweet daughter -
Like how to juggle two kids at once,
That tiny babies can love stuffies from the beginning,
And how to forgive freely -
Things that only you could have taught me.

You have shown me how to talk to God -
With arms stretched up to heaven,
With twirling and clapping in celebration
For a blue sky or for that rainbow that splashes on the carpet every afternoon -
You talk to Him openly, freely, with a full heart.

You point me toward Him, you curious arrow,
When you seem to be aiming in much the wrong direction.
Your angry eyebrows and fury when you stub your toe,
Your need to vent rage before you seek comfort,
Shoot my heart straight up to Him
Because He allows me room to be angry too
Before He folds me quiet in His peace.

You want to see His great white horse
And pet it, if He says you may,
And you have a steady expectation
That in His house you will be able to hug Him,
And unicorns.

You vivid spark, you teach me so much
About loving and hoping and being.
You sit at my feet and
I sit at your feet and
Together we sit at His feet
And love Him.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Fit What?!

One of my friends got a fitbit today.  He shared his first day's results and it was kind of cool to see his day broken down into fitnessy categories. Among other things, it noted how many steps he took and how many calories he burned. 

Sometimes it feels like I don't accomplish much in a day, but when I look back I realize I've done a lot.

Yep.

I think toddler parents should have trackers too.  (Normal people have brains for this, but ours are too sleep-deprived.)

They could track all the weird sentences we didn't think we'd ever say. 
(Samples from today:
Don't lick the puddle!
What's the rule about eating brains? (You may only eat mama & papa's brains.))

They could identify just what disorder each cartoon character is suffering from, so we'll be able to recognize it when our little tv addicts manifest symptoms later in life. (Is Mayor Goodway suffering from delusions? Is she really running Adventure Bay or is her first name just Mayor? Why doesn't she spend any municipal funds on an actual emergency service? Is Adventure Bay even a municipality? What's a municipality again?)

They could track how much time we waste pondering the complexity of kids shows. (Ibid.)

They could calculate how much food the kids ate. (Subtract food thrown on floor and scavenged by Hangry Mama from total food prepared minus crusts and spills.)  Or maybe the sheer volume of bodily fluids expertly wiped from multiple bottoms?  Or the number of times mama kept her cool when she really felt like snapping.

Or, since I'm dreaming, maybe they could measure and save the things we really want to know.

What moment from this ordinary, messy day will etch into that little brain forever? The simple goodness of provision - food to eat, clothes to wear, hugs and kisses and comfort, or the rushing and tearing to meet the bus on time? The unfairness of that time out or the kiss and make up afterward? The long walk in icy puddles or the fat cookie at the end?

Maybe they could tell us just what that misbehaving little one actually needs. Sunshine? Solitude? Stricter boundaries? Lenience?  Less sugar? More water? A visit from Grampie?  A vacation in Hawaii?

I don't know. 

Maybe parents do a lot more than we can calculate, even when we stop and think about it.  (Or whatever we do in the five seconds between last-last-last-last kisses and snoring into oblivion.)

I folded and put away laundry this morning.  But i didn't just fold and put away clothes ... I paid attention to the kids at the same time. I answered Vava's questions about unicorns and realized a whiny Kachi needed to be carried on one hip while I worked.  I caught Sam before he pushed Kachi and instead of getting in his face, realized he needed some one-on-one connecting time before we dealt with the roughness. And while it's not much - it's nothing extraordinary or even anything to note in the busyness of the day - it's what they needed, and I knew it even without a device.

So no, maybe parents of toddlers can't say they accomplished much on their to-do list today ... but papas and mamas , I bet you accomplished exactly what your kids needed today.

You've done things a fitbit couldn't dream of tracking.  You've done them for the thousandth time.

And tomorrow you're going to get up and do it all over again.

Press on, parents!
I'll be over here, corralling zombies, over-analyzing cartoons, and hopefully preventing the little one from drinking too many puddles.

;)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Look Full in His Wonderful Face

While Vava and Kachi were eating lunch yesterday, I was preparing Kachi's nap time bottle. My back was toward the kids, and Vava hopped down off her chair and stood behind me.

"Turn around, Mama," she said, "I want to look at you!"

So I turned around and she looked at me and then she clapped and danced and waggled and shouted, "hooray! I love you, Mama!"

I stood there and let her bright love wash over me like a rainbow.  And I felt God smile, nodding, as He gave me a taste of His own joy.

A long time ago, my heart was hurting and tired. A friend comforted me with these lyrics: turn your eyes upon Jesus / look full in His wonderful face / and the things of earth will grow strangely dim / in the light of His glory and grace.

(I'm a big fan of this version, although the 90s hair in the video makes me giggle.)

And nothing has ever been as comforting as that advice. Thinking about Him - his life, His character, His might - settles me and puts my storms to rest. I come to Him, heart heavy, or cranky, or fighting, and just look at Him ... and find peace.

It's been a while since I've really looked at Him, just thought about Him.  I love that He doesn't leave me until I am drained dry. He reminded me pretty adorably, pretty vividly, yesterday.

It's so simple, isn't it? Loving God, I mean. It's just like that - we look at Him, and then respond. 

And maybe you clap and dance and waggle and shout.  Maybe you ask Him for something to do. Maybe you look at Him and burst into song. Maybe you write (lame and embarrassing) poetry in your journal. Maybe you stop and just thank Him for His holy beauty, His goodness, His presence.  Maybe you fast.  Maybe you give.  Maybe you comfort the hurting or fight on behalf of the oppressed.  Maybe you carry friends to Him in prayer.  Whatever it is, looking at Him - really looking at Him - will fill you to overflowing with it.

And as it does, your heart radiates this sweet glory, "Hooray! I love you, Father!"

I don't know what you've got going on, but maybe you're like me and you need to pause and turn your eyes on Jesus.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Soft

In 2014, I chose the word brave as my watchword - I wanted that to be my heart's focus. 

Last year, I made three new-year goals and ended up striving hard after just one: not being late :).  (I'm not there, but am surely improving.)

And, in God's own never-late way, He waited until halfway through February this year to tilt my heart in another direction.

This year, I'm praying for softness.
I want to be soft of heart and soft with the broken and hurting.
I want to be softer of voice, and softer in spirit.
I want to let God soften me, instead of resisting the inconveniences and struggles He sends.
Soft.

Check out this beautiful post.