It’s in the lines around her eyes. In the invisible trails left by tears shed in secret. I see it. I see a lot of things. hurt. betrayal. wounds of various kinds. pain. things done in secret, kept a secret. … Continue reading
While cleaning sewer overflow out of my basement carpet I considered the day ahead.
So many gaps...
Not yet 8am on Saturday morning and the day felt like it’d already been long.
How am I going to fill in the gaps?
My husband lay in bed, recovering from a surgery. He would be at home all day, recovering, resting… regaining his mobility.
Where are the resources to fill all the lack? How do I steward what little I have?
My ears stuffed with earbuds pumping celebration in toward my eardrums, my thoughts… I almost laughed out loud.
There is no way I will make it today!
Searching for answers, to truly be responsible with what little I have to stretch over the yawning gaps in resources for the day… just this day, not even tomorrow yet… searching for some kind of plan; a strategy… something…
“Go, I will cover you,” says the quiet voice in my knowing.
No plan. No detailed direction of how to go. Just, GO. I WILL COVER YOU.
I set my mind to it. One step at a time, I decided. Like walking on water. One foot in front of the other.
I can do this.
Look at the God who’s serving me… SERVING ME! The God who never ceases to provide, to amaze, to extend grace… He is covering me today. My job, according to Him, is to go and receive His provision in each step. To receive!
My job as wife, mommy, every other role I will play today… my job description in all of these is to move into receiving.
To discover what it means to live in grace – to see my gaping areas of lacking filled to overflowing with His grace covering me, providing. Me, my husband, my children… those who will touch our lives today. His overflow will increase in me, will increase me.
I don’t see it. I don’t see how my circumstances are possibly going to work today.
But I see God, who is more than able, at work for me.
And I receive.
There is a conflict I have been consistently refereeing among my children. I call it the battle of fairness and sameness.
As a mom I’ve made it clear with each child from the beginning that it’s not my job to make life fair, nor will I attempt to reach the standard of treating each child the same. Just the thought of attempting those impossible feats exhausts me. My children are far from identical, even if they all bear a resemblance and share their Daddy’s amazingly long eye lashes. Then there is the difference between the boys and my daughter… age differences factor in, and then each incredible personality comes into play. Fairness and treating everyone the same just doesn’t work in my mind.
That doesn’t mean that each child isn’t treated fairly, or that I don’t love them all with the same profoundly deep love that boggles my ability to understand it.
However, fair for one child isn’t fair for another. And showing love to my daughter in the same way my oldest son feels the most loved would (and has!) cause her to feel suffocated and irritable. Each of them loves it when I display that I know them well enough to know these individualities. They love being called out for their unique contributions to our family, and being fussed over for something their sibling can’t do as well. And all four of them have time in the limelight.
Just not all at the same time. Or even on the same day… or in the same ways. And this is where the battle comes in.
At times they get so focused on what they aren’t getting that all they see is what someone else has, or is receiving. They completely forget what they’ve got and what they were just given. Its like they forget who they are and what they like. Not only that, but when it comes to consequences, they completely forget that they were the ones choosing a behavior to begin with. Well… don’t we all at times?
I can’t make life fair for my children because I can’t make their choices for them. Nor can I forget that they are so incredibly unique, requiring different approaches and styles of instruction. What one child earns another child might get gifted, simply because without the gift they’d never reach the prize. It’s not fair. But the child who earned it needed the exercise in growth to reach his greater potential, while the child who got a gift wouldn’t have tried without grasping encouragement in his pudgy little fingers first. One child has privileges the others don’t enjoy. The others don’t have this child’s responsibilities either… it’s not fair. They are not the same people.
Isn’t it that way with adults too? I found myself complaining to God about the unfairness of a situation. His response was profound in my heart. Child, I didn’t create you for fairness. I created you to know Me and because I wanted to get to know you. I will always do what is right for you, and I will always place the opportunities for your greatest joy within each one of your days. And I will always be cheering you on to choose the things that are designed for your perfect life with Me.
We do this among ourselves though… We walk into a room and size up the competition. If it happens to be our turn in the limelight, life is so good – it’s fair. If we happen to be repeatedly watching others succeed or gain promotions it can be as if we forget who we are and what we really love in life because we aren’t getting the attention or things we see others possess. Jealousy’s monstrous voice says if it’s not fair to me, then it should all at least be the same for everyone… At times becoming so focused on what is fair or how to keep everything the same for everyone that we forget what truly brings us joy. Each of us have an opportunity for immense joy every day if we choose it; if we will settle down and be content with being different. Letting what is fair be different for each person and enjoying those differences.
Differences designed by Creator God, for His pleasure, for our joy should we choose it, and for purpose and destiny in His perfect plan for unity within His family. Just like in my own family, in His family we are all called out for our unique contributions and skills by His love; we all have moments in the lime light. Some of us work for what others are simply gifted. Some of us enjoy great privileges that others don’t because we don’t carry the same responsibilities. Some of us have to wait longer than others, and some of us receive a prize we’ve been waiting years to claim, while others begin their wait on the same day… none of it is fair.
I can hear it…. my fingers feel it… a melody, and a song written somewhere just beyond my reach.
My fingers touch the keys. Stiff. Longing. Untrained. Aching…
So many things well up within me. Things I don’t have the words to speak, or to write. Wonderful things. Mourning things. Things heavy with both joy and sorrow; the ache of loss a friend has to face… the triumph of a victory for a family member… desperation for one to understand and another to find relief, to find escape. To speak to all the love that is power, compassion, comfort and strength. To say clearly the perfect words each ear needs to hear, each heart needs to feel… to know.
I will my fingers to fly over the keys, to pen out the things I contain deep inside, to reach the impossible depths and retrieve the unknown language locked away… Literally just beyond my grasp!
There is mercy, favor unmerited, and grace, the power to be what we cant possibly… the link is belief. The key is faith. The force is love. And it is right here… right here.
And so, I lift my hands and rest my palms. I pray. I lift my heart’s cry to the One who hears, who knows without being told, who understands that language I cannot fathom, and who has all the answers. I pray. And I pray. And I pray.
The tears run for those who are hurting. Praises leave my lips for those who are rejoicing. A silencing ache fills my chest for those who are suffering. And for those who are lost, loosing their way… for them I let out a shout. A plea. A sound in the dark, in hopes their ears might hear and they might know they are not alone. Not even close to being alone.
I see their faces. Many I know. Many I love. Some I’ve never seen before. For everyone I let my heart speak… His words covering my own, His thoughts reaching the depths of emotion, His love flowing farther than I can imagine…
In this way, together, His hands over mine, we write the melodies and we sing the songs that bring the changes we long to see.
Holy are You, Lord. Holy are You! Above all else, and every other name. You are I AM, the One who cares. The One who loves. The One who saves. Mighty is Your name. You are like no other. Mighty is Your name!
With the children tucked into bed and the tea steeped and steaming, the house quiet and the heat filtering through vents, I peak out the window. Frost is already visible, glinting silver on blades of dying grass and bare twigs in naked trees.
The moon is low and and full, as if the light it carries is a heavy weight tonight.
Below the fog is lifting up from the wetlands and the evergreens on the foothills across the fields appear black and dense, with the flickering train light dancing airily through the bends over the river’s bridge, into the open for a moment, then back into dense black.
These moments, alone in my room after hours of being surrounded by people, these moments are the most precious and the most daunting. In the quiet I see the faces of those I’ve smiled at, loved on and been loved by, spoken to… I see their eyes… and I see so much more.
I see the weight of life, the struggling words within.
I see joy, I see futures and hope.
I hear words. Words that they shared, these beautiful people. Words accounting for things I’ve seen, and words hiding the things behind their eyes… words of secret pleading. Words of truth and words of masked uncertainty. Insecurity and expectation blend together as, in the silence, these words refill my ears.
Then the Lord invites me in.
It’s a place that inhabits my room, and opens up from within my mind; a peeling back of a veil and a stepping through in thought that I can feel in the air I sit in and draw breath from. Into this place I carry all these wonderful people, their eyes and their words. Everything that I have seen, I bring here.
Face to face and side by side, His arm around me, His presence pressing lightly down, surrounding me. I know the sound of His voice so clearly and it brings a soothing calm. I used to come here dressed in armor, ready to do battle in His name. What silly girl I was! Like going to bed with shoes on, is how I would enter this secret, intimate place.
Now, we sit in the quiet together. He already knows everything that I come to Him with. He knows each and every name, has seen each and every eye and heard each and every word. It was at His invitation that I was able to see; and together we speak the necessary words back, the healing words, the cleansing words. Words of comfort, of hope and of acceptance that each one needs. At times He invites me to pick up pen and paper and write a note that He speaks to one or another. At times I read His Word instead, and occasionally speak it out loud, back to Him. And sometimes we simply weep together, for there are some things that no words can heal.
I feel His heart beat, He is that close, and I know His smile, the astounding love in His eyes that breaks with the gut wrenching pain of some whom we have seen and heard. I have seen His jealousy, and know His patience well. His compassion is endless, His kindness so immense.
Every moment we are together changes me.
Every moment spent in His presence within this secret space fills me with something I cannot explain. I carry it back with me. Peace. Grace. Understanding? Thanksgiving. Humility. Adoration…
And before drifting off to sleep I often hear, “Thank you, Child,” and I feel the gentle embrace of His presence enfolding me within His love.
“I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” Mark 11:24
“When things get hard, spend more time with Him, lean more on Him and receive more grace from Him.” (Hebrews 4:16) ~Joyce Meyer
Amazing how ministry so quickly blurs the lines of healthy boundaries, isn’t it? How a lot of good so easily becomes the alter on which we sacrifice what is best? And when we find ourselves depleted, drained, weary and even burnt out, we wonder how we’ve gotten to that point, doing what we’ve thought to be the work of the Lord.
The enemy is hard at work to keep us in this state. This cycle of doing lots of good, of ministering in Jesus name, to the point of so completely depleting ourselves that we crumble. The enemy even has a lot of us believing that it is our lack of faith that has caused us to become weary of doing good.
Two questions I’ve been taught to ask. How often are you in His Word during the day? How disciplined are you about your times of rest and sleep?
Why these two questions?
If you are only reading your Bible once or twice a day it is like taking one or two breaths, eating once or twice or taking a couple sips of water for the day and calling it good. Even if it’s only a few verses here and there, getting the Word into your head continuously while you’re awake will sync up your thoughts, which direct your emotions, which influence your choices, which dictate your relationships, which determine your ministry’s effectiveness. (Romans 12:2/ 2 Corinthians 4:16/Ephesians 4:22-24 & 5:15-17)
If you are not getting rest or enough sleep, you are not unplugging your mind & emotions, which will decrease your productivity. If you don’t unplug your head and heart from daily life, you cannot replug it into the Source of your life – you’ll be too tired, you probably won’t even realize there is a difference. Also, if you are getting enough of the Word throughout the day, then sleep is crucial time for the Holy Spirit to work the Truth of the Word through your head, heart and soul without you questioning Him with your perspectives and smarts. Rest and sleep are His gifts of grace to us for effortless transformation from the inside out if we are filling our minds with His Word while awake. (Psalm 23:1-3/Psalm 61:4/Matt. 11:28-30)
Only when we are in sync with His Word are any of us truly effective in any form of ministry.
Do you define your life with boundaries that set you up for health and keep what is best from being sacrificed to all the good there is to do?
“Take delight in the Lord and He will give you your heart’s desires.” ~ Psalm 37:4
Motherhood is not defined by children in her care, by those she carried within herself till birth. Motherhood is not defined by those who’ve adopted, or fostered or inherited by circumstance. Motherhood is not withheld from those who have lost, or never had. Motherhood is not waiting for those who are longing to become.
Motherhood is the formal title for the ministry entered into by the woman who is willing to receive those who are in need of her, whatever form or method in which they arrive into her life.
The ministry of motherhood is a gentle art forged in the fires of sleepless nights and interrupted life. It is a ministry that keeps long hours; a ministry of sacrifice, service, and of selfless offerings. It is a ministry of coming to the end of herself, of being ministered to, being filled with that which is beyond her so that she can continue to pour into the endless depths of another human life.
The ministry of motherhood is a timeless garment, a veil of transparency worn best when cinched with a belt of humility. It is a display of beauty when accompanied by grace. For, as each eye seeking material to reproduce will at some point place on display her every flaw and imperfection, repeat her words both wise and foolishly spoken, and will do so completely beyond her realm of control. The ministry of motherhood is embroidered with the delicate art of laughing at herself when seen through the eyes of those who look to her for imitation.
The ministry of motherhood is at the heart of every woman, from the time of Eve. It has touched us all. The ministry of motherhood is not always one of blood and birth, but is always of heart and soul. A mother is one who is familiar with sacrifice, her own self tearing and ripping with the tearing and ripping of another. She brings life into this world, whether by body or spirit overflow. It is a pouring of herself into the living self of another, tirelessly, relentlessly, forgivingly and patiently, with endless empathy. She is one who teaches what love is, nurtures understanding, coaxes up the learning. The ministry of motherhood weaves up that forgiving place for those she loves to retreat within, finding safety and grace. It is a ministry of understanding what lies beneath, of speaking truth in loving tones, of harboring the helpless through storms and lifting high the matured to catch wind and take flight
The ministry of motherhood is freely given, to the deserving and undeserving alike. It does not wait for her to gain an understanding; she learns her skill through the hours of setting aside herself for another. The ministry of motherhood is not merely a calling. It is the very heart of life. It catches her all by surprise, whisks away her breath and calls her into unknown waters in the blink of an eye. It is she who rises up, it is she who will claim her place, whether or not she is ready and whether or not she understands the package it comes to her in, it is she who will leave us with legacy after legacy of wonder loving grace
It is her life laid down for another that shows us the meaning of living, this ministry of motherhood. It is here that each woman finds her captivating beauty, her exquisite elegance, her ageless allure. For at whatever age a girl becomes a mother, and through whatever the circumstances her ministry is birthed, her touch, her voice, her love and her life will last, reaching down through generation after generation, and long beyond her final breath.
To my mother who gave birth to me and raised me well, to those mothers who have and continue to nurture me in spirit and to all these mothers who accept and invest selflessly into the lives of my children.
Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you, this world would not be the same without your love!