Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Little Drummer Boy

We have a set of drums in the basement and mostly I don't mind.

This morning I was working in my (home) office when the silence was shattered.  After the initial shock wore off, I began to smile.  He was holding a steady rhythm, pounding out a sequence of sounds without missing a beat.  It didn't take much imagination to picture the concentration on his face--I know that look well.  After getting the beat established, he began to throw in extra bits.  I held my breath, wondering if he could maintain it.  He would be bursting with the joy of accomplishment if he could.  With a final crashing, triumphant riff he finished.  I loved it!  It was a joyful expression of his fierce little heart.

I was about to shout out my congratulations when I heard his sister wailing about the awful noise and how she couldn't concentrate!

I laughed out loud.  Oh, yes, I did!!

Two different perspectives.  Which one was he going to believe?

I reassured him that I was super impressed.  She chuffed and huffed about how she couldn't even think straight.

Who would you believe?

I'm not going to lie, I can be too aware of the opinions of others.  I have to be vigilant not to fall into the approval trap.  Criticism easily carries more weight than praise.

The opinions and responses of those around me can be motivated by a dozen different factors--perhaps more!  My Father is driven always and only by Love.

Who am I going to believe?

Does He see the efforts that others may only recognize as ho-hum or downright annoying as the beginnings of something great?  Could it be that He sees the heart of worship behind the less-than-perfect execution of the elements?  Is it possible that He doesn't compare us with anyone else because we're uniquely precious to Him?

I want to be tuned into the voice of the One who loves me most, who loves me perfectly.  I want to trust fully in His love.

We know how much God loves us,
and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love,
and all who live in love live in God,
and God lives in them.

1 John 4:16

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Hike

All I wanted to do on Mother's Day was go for a hike.  I have no idea why I put myself through this as the kids tend to be really grumpy or whiny when we subject them to such tortures...  But my husband is never happier than when rambling in the woods.  The winter has been long and I ache for fresh air and outdoor freedom.  We've gotten pretty good at tuning out all the bellyaching--they've been known to forget how horrible it is and actually enjoy themselves.

We set off up the "mountain," as the locals call the highest hill in the County.  The sun was shining--almost hot--and baby leaves were bursting out much like the joy in my heart.  My honey has a permanent upward turn to his mouth when we're all together outdoors.  The dog was cavorting wildly through mud bogs and underbrush.

One child tromped ahead with a scowl, seriously hoping we wouldn't meet any of her friends on quads while she hiked along like a plebeian.  One lagged behind moaning about the weight of the backpack (which he insisted on bringing).

My contentment was undisturbed.  My joy multiplied when Brian told me with an even bigger smile that he was going to show me a trail he'd discovered.  That's the kind of gift he really loves to give.

We called ahead to the tromping one that we were turning off here and she needed to come.  She argued, he insisted, and off we went.  It wasn't long until we realized that she hadn't joined us.  Seems she was sure we were all going to end up in the same place.  She thought wrong.

I was once that tromping one, veering off in the wrong direction so sure I was right.  So annoyed that everyone was freaking out.  So confident we would all end up in the same place.  What's the big deal?  Jeepers.  I know what I'm doing!

Daddy went back for his little girl.  He loves that stubborn little one and knew she'd become hopelessly lost without him.  He pointed out the path for us and reassured us that we would meet up ahead. I hated to see him go!  Actually, I resented the fact he needed to go, but I recognized the love.  I was torn between mercy and a desire to see her suffer the consequences of her actions.

My Father pursued me when I was on the wrong path too--He knew I would become hopelessly lost without Him.  My poor choices also caused pain for those who loved me.  I deserved all kinds of things, but not His mercy.  Yet He pursued me with love, never giving up until I followed Him back to the right path.  A crazy love lavished on the one who had rejected Him!

Meanwhile, we continued down the path Daddy had chosen.  One grumping and bewailing the fact that it was too hard, too long, and probably wouldn't get us where we wanted to go. The other little one trucked along enjoying the beauty of the path.  Once in a while she would pause and search my eyes--was I sure this was the right way?  I'd reassure her that Daddy knew what he was talking about and we could trust him.

I've also been like the grumping one--on the right path but complaining and unthankful, missing all the beauty and subjecting others to my misery.  No doubt others around me on the journey wished I'd just shut up and enjoy it already.  And I have been like the little one joyfully ascending the mountain stopping for reassurance from time to time.  I'm so thankful for all the ones who have encouraged me in those wondering moments that I can, indeed, trust the Father.  Follow the path He's directed and all will be well.

True to his word, we were reunited with Daddy and the (somewhat subdued) lost-and-found one.  Together we scaled the last very steep bit.  The wind whipped around us as we stood at the summit laughing.

The vista was breathtaking.

Absolutely worth the journey. 

If when we were at our worst,
we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son,
now that we're at our best,
just think of how our lives will expand and deepen
 by means of his resurrection life!

Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God,
we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose.
We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!

Romans 5:10-11 MSG

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day can be Muddled

I'm having a pretty stellar Mother's Day.  I had coffee in bed (albeit in a slightly sticky mug--perhaps some sloshed on the way to my room?), beautiful roses, and a lovely hike (children complaining loud and long and clear most of the way!).

They haven't all been so fine...it took a few years for my husband to catch on to the whole holiday and I'd cry and feel sorry for myself.  Never mind the years when all three preschoolers would be wailing and pooping and I'd think the best Mother's Day gift would be a break from them all!

I can't celebrate the day without thinking of my friends who aren't mothers because their bodies just wouldn't cooperate--I long to reassure them that they are not "less than."  I want them to know that the beauty and nurture they carry for everyone around them is what we're really celebrating.

I think about my friend who simply hates it all because her relationship with her mother is so...smashed and wrecked beyond hope of anything short of a miracle.  I know her story is extreme and that many others simply struggle with a quieter sadness that their parent/child relationship isn't what they'd like it to be.

Mother's Day is another holiday that can be kind of messy...which sort of makes sense as it involves people.

The disappointments that surround the day have something to do with the deepest longings of our hearts.  We were created to give and receive nurture and comfort...because we were created in the image and likeness of God. He is the only source of comfort for those aching places.

Jesus expressed His longing to comfort and nurture...  "How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me."

Are you blocking Him out and blaming Him for your disappointment?  Or resisting the comfort He offers because you just wish it was all different?  He's the only one who can heal the broken and comfort the weary.  He has not forgotten you.

Yet Jerusalem says, "The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us."

Can a mother forget her nursing child?
Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible, 
I would not forget you!
See I have written your name on the palms of my hands.

One of my friends writes stuff on her hands all the time.  She never forgets if she writes it there.  I really like the idea of my Papa with the letters of my name carved on His palm.  I love knowing that His love for me is even bigger than the love I received from my mom.  I really, really love knowing that His love is so big it will make up for the places my parenting is lacking.

My name...my kids' names...your name...carved on the palms of the hands that formed the mountains, that paint the sunrises, and hung on a cross.

Matthew 23:37
Isaiah 49:15-16a