No Match For His Grace

Volatile mom showed up today.

I don’t know where she came from, but she certainly made her presence felt.

Volatile mom is not very nice to be around. Sharp, careless words roll off her tongue. She is impatient and too quick to react. Resentment and frustration simmer beneath the surface, like water on the boil, bubbling away until it reaches a crescendo. A sudden eruption of anger, that leaves everyone scurrying in its wake.

Volatile mom doesn’t play well. Her rebukes lack kindness, her hugs are cold. Tired, disconnected, and distracted she is simply getting through the day as best she can.

I don’t much like her—this volatile mom—and neither do my children. She is so very far removed from the kind of mother I am called to be, and certainly not the kind of mom they need, or deserve.

And yet.

In spite of it all, these little people that have borne the brunt of her mood all day, still reach for her at bedtime. With forgiving hearts and abundant love, they cling to her for warm, sleepy snuggles, finding warmth and comfort in her familiar embrace.

I love you mama,” they whisper. And they mean it. But how? How can they mean it? How can they give so much love back to one who has not earned it, who is not deserving of it, or even of them today?

They are giving her a lesson in grace.

I love Ellie Holcombs take on Lamentations 3:22-23:

As sure as the sun will rise,

And chase away the night,

As sure as the sun will rise,

His mercy will not end. His mercy will not end.”

Every day, like my sweet, forgiving children, He gives us grace. New mercies with the rising sun. And oh how we need them.

Grace that says: “I know it was a rough day today. I love you anyway. Let’s try again tomorrow.”

And so she will.

Because even volatile mom is no match for His grace.

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A battle of wills

The battle lines have been drawn. On one side is a child, small but fierce. Filled with all sorts of opinions on how to live her life—the majority of which are somewhat questionable, and would most probably result in a rather prompt visit to the ER.

On the other side is me— the parent, not so little but equally fierce. Filled with strong and mostly contrasting opinions about how this small human of mine should live her life, and preferably stay alive in the process.

We both fight valiantly, though ultimately I prevail. But I don’t feel much like celebrating— this is not a battle I feel like I’m winning. In fact, increasingly,  I feel more like I’m on the losing side.

When will she see? That I’m not the enemy, that I’m not trying to ruin her life. That I truly do know what’s best for her. Why won’t she heed my advice, listen to the wisdom that will keep her safe.

And just like that, it is me who sees. That this small, defiant child is me. Fighting against my heavenly parent and His will for my life. Trying to do things my way, in my time— and suffering the consequences for my lack of wisdom and trust, my short sightedness and my childish pride.

When will she see?” The Father whispers. “That far from being the enemy, I’m on her side. That instead of trying to ruin her life, I’m trying to save it. That I alone know what’s best for her because I alone created her. That if she would only listen, seek my counsel, and heed my advice, she would thrive, not just survive. Flourish instead of fall.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9 NIV).

And so, as the battle continues to rage, I choose to wait. Waiting for her to one day understand that I am on her side. Fighting, not against her, but for her, and with her. Waiting for her flag of surrender to appear over the horizon, and for  peace to reign once more.

Until then, I wait.  And so,” whispers the Father, “will I.”

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Standing on the precipice

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“I don’t think I can do this.”

That was my initial reaction to being offered a spot on the editing team for Tge Joyful Life Magazine. I had zero editing experience and was more than a little overawed by the incredible women involved in this ministry. It would have been easy to say no. Defer to someone more qualified, and experienced, someone who actually knew what they were doing!

And yet it was clear that God was doing something. Opening doors and pushing me beyond my self imposed limitations. Forcing myself to reach a point where I had to let go of my doubts, my worries and my deepest fears—and simply trust.

Trust that I didn’t have to do this scary thing all on my own. That the God who created my innermost being would know how best to utilize my gifts and passions, better than I ever could. Strengthening and equipping me— for such a time as this.

It’s hard to sit back and let God take the reins. To stand on the very precipice of our comfort zone, staring into the abyss of the unknown, and prepare to jump— relying on nothing and no one but God to catch us. It’s risky, it’s terrifying. And yet when we do…

Our passions meet our purpose, and God’s divine plans and provision intersect for our good and His glory. Bringing joy, fulfillment, and peace.

When I said yes to God—and Joyful Life, I could never have envisaged how far this journey would take me in such a short time, and how richly it would bless my life. Beautiful friendships and community, answered prayers, and the discovery and confirmation of gifts and passions lying dormant within.  And to think I almost said no.

There is no telling what is on the other side of that precipice for you. But two things you can be sure of:  God is already there, and it would be a travesty if you never found out.

“Don’t let your lack of confidence become the death of your calling!” ~Steven Furtick.

 

 

Living in the paradox

They didn’t even look back.

It was a day I had been anticipating for a large portion of the summer. A long, hot, unstructured summer  spent, for the most part, refereeing two small but very strong willed little girls. A summer I was eager to see the back of if I’m honest—wearing me down and stretching my patience paper thin. There were beautiful times in there too of course, but boy was I ready for fall— arriving like a breath of fresh air with its cool mornings and promise of change. A return to structure, routine, and some margin for this weary mama.

Still, as I watched them bound down the steps without me, their hearts and backpacks full, my mama heart could barely take it. I wanted them to go, but oh how desperately  I wanted them back.

This is the paradox of motherhood. Existing in the tension between the ‘now and the ‘one day, the conflict between holding on and letting go. Anticipating the changes coming— for us and for them— and at the same time willing them to stay the same forever. Celebrating every small step towards independence, and grieving it all the same.

“There is a right time for everything” we read in Ecclesiastes 3:1. “Everything on earth has its special season.”

We can’t freeze time, or press the rewind button. All we have is today— with all its imperfections and struggles and simple joys. Like the transition from summer to fall, the next season will bring with it more change, more independence, more freedom— and more heartbreak, as we allow them to spread their wings that little bit further and prepare to fly.

But that day is not today. Today I will live fully in the season we are in right now— and embrace the paradox it brings. Enjoying the blessing of a child-free morning while missing them all the same.

To all the mamas relishing and yet struggling with the transitions of this new season, I see you this morning, and am sending you love. This mothering thing is pretty darn hard ❤️

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Fear: a matter of trust

As I wave two happy, excitable girls off to school today, a family that I know are preparing to say goodbye to their sweet son. At the tender age of 5 he is already heaven-bound.

I cannot fathom their impending loss. My brain will not even entertain it, the impact impossible to process. Just thinking about it makes it hard to breathe. It is every parent’s worst nightmare. And yet it happens to people all over the world, every single day.

It’s not something we typically want to dwell on, is it? Yet nevertheless it is never too far from our thoughts. From the very first moment our little babes took their very first breath, it was there. Right alongside that fierce, first rush of love, there was fear. Fear that we might one day lose them.

It can become an insatiable beast within us, this fear. Growing every day with the strengthening bond of motherhood, it keeps us up at night—haunting our waking hours, coloring our decision making and stealing our joy.

This is not God’s design. He did not give us a spirit of fearfulness (2 Timothy 1:7) but calls us instead to fight our fear with faithfulness—and trust Him.

Trust Him with the precious lives He has so generously entrusted to us. They were His first remember— we tend to forget that detail…

Trust Him with the what if’s of an unknown future. He has seen our tomorrow, and He walks with us through it.

Trust That He is always good— no matter what. That even in the very worst situation, there is reason to praise Him, hope to hold onto, and joy to be found.

The reality is that life is scary and unpredictable and unfair. I cannot control every detail and there are no guarantees. So I turn to Him—my steady rock, my anchor in the storm. And I surrender my fears one by one, at the foot of the cross.

In Him alone there is victory over our fears. In Him alone, there is peace.

If only we choose to trust.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalms 56:3).

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Made in His image

1AD2AED8-764F-4428-A582-F0EE0A8840EEIt shouldn’t be this hard, should it? To just join in. To do what everyone else is doing. To just have fun. 🤷‍♀️

But there they are, standing on the sidelines, Reluctant, disengaged, fearful.

Just try it”, you urge, hopefully. “You might even enjoy it.”

The gentle encouragement turns to cajoling and pleading.  Barely masking your frustration, disappointment and sadness at what they‘re missing out on. At what you are missing out on.

But still they are resolute. Rigid. Unshakable. Instead of heeding your well meaning advice, they do the opposite. They retreat, withdraw, choose to do it THEIR way. And they are content.

And you worry. Needlessly. 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalm 139:13-14.

God is not worried. For they are His. And He knows them—better than you know them, better than they know themselves. He knew them too— their differences and quirks and the things that set them apart, before they were even born — and He delights in them.

For they are not lumps of clay created to fit the mold of the world. They are clay in the hands of the master Potter. Created in the image of God, to reflect His glory and shine His light in a dark and broken world.

Perhaps you need the reminder today, as I do, to view them through a heavenly lens— and to be thankful.  For the small imperfectly-perfect unique little humans you are called to raise. Each one divinely appointed for their own distinct purpose. Each one designed to make their own indelible mark on the world, and the Kingdom of Heaven.

We are reminded of this over and over and still we make the same mistakes. Struggling to parent them in a manner worthy of our calling. But praise God, there is always grace. Every day a new opportunity to parent the children that have been given to us. To celebrate all that they are instead of rueing what they are not. And to be the parents He has called us to be, the parents they need us to be and truly deserve.

Freedom to love

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Happy 4th July! A day synonymous with friends, flags, fireworks  and of course, freedom.

We all desire freedom don’t we? The freedom to choose our own path, make our own decisions, and live our lives where and however we please. Since the beginning of time freedom has been an integral part of our human experience, a desire ingrained into the very fabric of our existence. Wars have been fought over it, heavy sacrifices have been made for it, individually and as a nation. And  now that it is ours we have a choice to make — what are are going to do with it?

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Nelson Mandela.

As children of God our freedom—bought with a price by the blood of Christ—also comes with great responsibility.

Make sure you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do… Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?” Galatians 5:13-15 MSG.

How relevant these words of truth are today— to a selfish, self seeking world tearing itself apart. A world that thinks it is free but is in actual fact still very much held captive.

As we celebrate our freedom today, as a nation and in Christ, let us be reminded of the calling this freedom entails. To live selfless, humble lives with love as the goal. Unflinching, unquestioning love, free from  condemnation and judgement. Love that offers light and hope to a dark, hurting world, and leads people to Christ to find the freedom He has promised for themselves.