Monday, July 31, 2017

July's Closing Number

It seems as though July is the perennial disappointment. It is forever slipping out quickly and quietly, year in and year out.

We expect much from July - possibly too much. We want six or seven weekends, not four or five. We want beach days, outdoor work days, long night walks enjoying the sultry summer air ending with ice cream at the local ice cream shop, early quiet mornings on the porch full of contemplation and solitude. We want a month of lazy sunny Sunday afternoons and garden tea parties every third day. Fresh veggies, fresh fruit, swim lessons, vacation days, work days for all those extra projects. Fireworks, picnics, hikes, celebrations of every sort -- and all of this we expect in never-ending fashion.

Poor, dear July. Ever filling us with hope and anticipation, ever letting us down, leaving us clamoring for more. Like a concert that sends you soaring, the audience applauds and cheers and jumps to their feet calling, "Encore!!!" Another song or two is played and the audience soars even higher. They whistle, stomp, applauding even longer, crying, "More, more!!!" But the end must come. The energy must subside. We must come down from the heights once again.

Ah, poor, dear July. You send us soaring but cannot hold us there forever.

The gardens of July are full of riotous color, abundant in lush greens, bright lights and shadows. "Please, don't fade yet! Please don't yellow and then brown!" We pluck the blooms, dead heading faithfully in hopes of more to come, but the next crop is smaller in size and number. No, she will have her way. This garden knows she will exhaust herself and be done, giving way to late summer color and foliage. And the gardener, too, acknowledges; the season is now begun to wane, wending its way to autumn's days of harvest and closure.

Oh, poor, dear July. On this thirty-first day we will hear voices far and wide crying out with dismay, "I can't believe it will be August tomorrow! How did July pass so quickly?!"

But this is your way. You make your entrance with noise and celebration, hearts joyfully welcoming your promise of summer's fullness, and then you slip away quickly and quietly, leaving us wanting more. Clamoring for more.

Our dear, glorious July. Performer extraordinaire.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Official Page Turning

A birthday.

In advanced years. Well, somewhat advanced. Because as far as I can tell, I'm still a bit young. At least I think so.

But markers like birthdays are a good reality check. And this one tells me that by most standards I'm officially a senior citizen.

Sixty-two. These days I roll the words off my tongue without hesitation or consideration. I've been chewing on this for a few years now and I realize it is in fact true. The years have gone by. Seasons have come and gone.

And He has never left me.

Yesterday we all gathered in celebration. My husband allowed the children, my very own babes now full grown, to begin with words of appreciation. And they gifted me abundantly, generously.

One by one they shared genuine and thoughtful words, most of it completely unexpected. Time and again, surprisingly, the qualities and accomplishments cited as successes in my life were in areas I considered to be weaknesses and even failures.

"Your confidence has given all of us confidence." Knowing the fears and floundering I've battled over the years, I never anticipated these words. I know that my confidence is weak apart from faith born of the Word of God.

"Your determined love for the Word inspires me daily." I regularly ache over hours frivolously given to foolish pursuits and recognize how I squander too much time. He is a redeemer in every way.

"I am so deeply thankful for the way you homeschooled us, choosing to resist conformity to the measurements of success imposed culturally and instead holding on to His standards." Hardly a day goes by that I don't tally up my failures and the lack of accomplishment in this area. Every homeschooling mom is familiar with that nagging voice tempting us to believe we failed our children and ruined their futures. But these words reminded me that building a good foundation is long, grueling, necessary work that creates something for them (and more importantly for Him) to build upon. And once again I was grateful for His chastening that day long ago when I was tempted to bow to the god of test grades and academic achievement. That false idol had ushered in panic and frustration, unleashing a downward spiral of negative attitudes in our home. God rebuked me gently but thoroughly, reminding me of His call on my life as mother to His children. The result was this, a short exhortation on the why of Christian homeschooling. It has served me repeatedly over the years, helping me maintain focus and purpose.

"I see you still learning and growing and changing, even at your age. I am blessed by that example to know that I can learn and grow and change too." An almost daily prayer has been, "Lord, don't let me get stuck. Keep my heart young, pliable, moldable in Your hands." How blessed I was to hear these words, to discover that He is ever faithful to hear our prayers, and that His work is visible in me.

"You are such a good friend." Music to my ears. The deep and passionate longing of my heart has been for friendship to be deepened in each of these relationships. What precious words for this Mama's heart. I was so blessed to hear this.

"Seeing Christ in you, lived out in you, is an example that keeps me going and shows me how to live." I am painfully aware of all the stumbling, grumbling, and complaining. In His great graciousness, He somehow allows them to see His work in my life. What an absolute miracle.

"As you transition into a new season I see you serving and finding new ways of ministering instead of clocking out. I so appreciate that." I would retreat if I could, but His Spirit beckons on into deeper waters, greater giving, continued sacrifice. I am learning that retirement is not the vocabulary of Scripture. I have absolute hope for increasing purpose to the end of my days. I struggled with this during this transition but once again, His grace opened my eyes to see the joy of each and every season when walking in His holy ways.

"Your testimony as a woman and mother is powerful. I appreciate your obedience to the Word of God." My life has been given to Him. In spite of my failure His mercy and grace supersede it all. I am eternally grateful. What they see is so clearly His work in my life. What a generous Father He is and always will be.

These are my gifts this year, and always: my children, their love, and the testimony of their lives. Oh, how grateful I am to Him for past seasons and for all that lies ahead.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How Long?

The afternoon sun filters through the screen and spills white light onto the wicker loveseat. I sit comfortably in the rocker, sipping coffee. "Let me just have a quiet mind. I'll read a book and maybe stay focused."

A buzzing weed whacker steals the quiet with incessant whirring, vibrating sound.

It reminds me of my brain. A swirling, never-ending, not-quite-arriving cavalcade of thoughts tumbling around. Disorderly. Resisting constraint and completion.

I need to finish a thought through to the end. Study the matter out. Make a final conclusion. But instead one thought jumps track to another, never making it to the station for disembarkment.

But summer is here. Perhaps the buzzing and revving and slowing then buzzing and revving and slowing will end. Perhaps there will be a focusing.  A decided direction, a united effort that will culminate in a single finished thought.

Extended time with Him. Prolonged contemplation of His word. I'm overdue for a deep, long draft of the Spirit of the Living God.

Ah, summer.

Lord, may respite come, bringing refreshment and renewal!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Young At Heart

Be a child. Be a child with a Daddy whose lap is always a safe place.
Run and run and run without growing weary.

It is possible, no matter what they say. It's possible to be young at heart. But, boy it's not easy. And it's not of our own doing. It's all because of Him.

A few simple thoughts:

1) Don't get bitter. Take those thoughts captive and get rid of them. Forgive, don't be jealous. Life is tough; we get the short end of the stick. But don't hold onto the hurts and disappointments.

2) Trust Him no matter what. Just trust Him even when things look all wrong. Then in the end, when dawn comes, continue to trust Him with your whole life, no matter how long the night has been. He has never left you, never forsaken you. Trust.

3) Do not choose to be an orphan. Turn to Him and not elsewhere for help, for comfort, for wisdom and advice, for love, for protection. Don't play the orphan card. Life is hard and tiring for children with no father. And He is ready to be faithful to you forever. Listen to Him. Let His ways be yours. Be His child.

"Fairytales can come true, it can happen to you, if you're young at heart."

Monday, January 09, 2017

Their Turn, And My Turn

I've been a mom for almost 36 years (thank you, Danica!) Following my firstborn were eight more wonderful children. Seven beautiful daughters and two strong sons.

It was a season of springtime in that garden, in a sense. Sowing and tending, pruning and nurturing all in anticipation of a harvest of good fruit.

Now the harvest has come and is coming, far exceeding my greatest expectations. And still I'm anticipating more and more fruit. It is wonder beyond measure. Such wonder.

And so the season is changed; it is transition time in my world. The time of littles has passed; the pitter patter of running feet, the tugging of the hem, the chubby cheeks with tears or dimples, and the little hands in mine. They've grown tall - they've become adults. And their lives have taken on a shape of their own apart from mine, as they should.

As they should.
And I'm learning that it's their turn now.

Those are the words that almost daily have become more and more illumined. It's their turn now. They must begin to plow their own fields, to discover God and His Holy ways for themselves, to nurture other littles and build culture within their own homes, to find His plan and purpose for themselves day by day, to lead others and serve in big ways (which are invariably small ways in our eyes), and to tend their own gardens.

It's their turn now.

Building traditions, making homes, establishing ministries, teaching and imparting and knowing God. It's theirs to do. My God, their God, has a garden for them.

"Stand back. Let go. Pray and be available, but get out of the way, Mom." These are the words I speak to myself routinely, by way of reminder. Because habits take time to go. Habits change with effort and intention.

And revelation is coming that it's their turn now, too.

It's their turn now, too.

My turn at that is over and now it's time, it's my turn, too, to discover a new garden, a new kind of sowing and tending, pruning and nurturing. All in anticipation of a harvest of good fruit yet to come.

I may have many more years than I once had, but it is planting season once again.

He holds all of my seasons. Now to discover springtime once again.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40.31