Going

We are being given an opportunity to walk another child through their senior year of high school. Looking back at the last go around is helpful. A verse comes to mind just as questions/fears begin to spin me in circles. “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15). The answer is there and peace quiets my heart again. We will continue to live the gospel day in and day out with joy. We were not asked to take fear, distrust and judgement into the world, now were we? So that is not how this year will be spent, for this baggage is much too heavy. And when the day comes when this one goes into the part of the world that God has planned, he will know what to do. Excitement and joy stirs just thinking about what he has been entrusted with! Maybe letting go will be a little easier this time around, for I can trust the One who is ultimately sending him. I have witnessed it before.

New Clothes

Getting the kids ready for going back to school can be a challenge, especially when it comes to clothing. What we wear can be a glimpse or a reflection of something we believe about ourselves. Today I read these verses and decided to make it my prayer. “So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” (Colossians 3:12-14msg). Maybe while we are helping coordinate just the right first day outfit, we can remind them and us of this truth too.

A Day

Somedays the demands start early and seem to stretch one paper thin. Looking into the eyes of one child and then another, seeing uncertainty, can weigh heavy on a heart. The look mirrors my own sometimes and I hear that still small voice asking, “Are you going to trust Me?” Fear and what if causes us to circle the same mountain going nowhere. I prefer to climb, so I say yes. It takes a few minutes and words of truth are remembered. His presence is promised in middle schools, high schools and wherever the day takes this mom. And maybe in the stretching thin more of Him shines through.

A Constant

The start of a new school year is just around the corner. There are many unknowns, but there is a constant that remains. We cannot control much of what happens during the school day, but we sure can remind each of our children that they are loved unconditionally. This is what is true and anything else is a lie. How we want to convey this message depends on how each child feels love. Imagine how teachable our kids could be this year if they go into the classroom loved. Before any grade gets earned, a party invitation extended or withheld and the best or worst hair day happens, loved. Perfection is not the goal, acceptance of this love is key. And might I remind each of us that this love includes us too.

Radiant

It has been a few days since we dropped our oldest off a thousand miles away. Before we drove away, we walked around the cabin she will call home for a bit. We saw reminders of our time there from so many years ago. On one wall, a picture of my husband from the summer we met. On another, one of me a few summers before that. Then one of the three of us when she was less than a year old. Looking at those images stirred an enormous amount of gratitude for the way the Lord planned our steps back to this same place. Then another wave of thankfulness for His unconditional love during the harder steps, ones that looked more like stumbles at the time. He is so good.

This morning I got an unexpected FaceTime call and radiant perfectly describes the child on my screen. It is amazing what joy can do to ones appearance. And I have a feeling that once I rest up from this emotional trip, I will see the same joy on my face as well, evidence of His continued goodness.

How we live

Words circled around our table the other night, as we celebrated my husband, ones of affirmation and admiration. It was beautiful to be apart of and another reminder of grace. Each of our children know their father, like really know him. He takes the time to be known and gives space in the day to get to know each of them. And it is in the knowing and being known that they receive his love and trust each day. Maybe this lasting picture is what was in my mind today, as I heard the lyrics to a song that said, “live like you know who your Father is.” Could it be that here in lies the problem and solution? Maybe so many of the problems, the evil that we are seeing in our world, could be abandoned if we only knew our Father. Living with the knowledge and then experiencing the Father’s love, changes everything. How many do not know and live accordingly? This is what breaks my heart and causes tears to fall at times. Because I know that we humans can sometimes cause so much damage by not reflecting His love. Who would want to be in relationship with an angry, strict, rule making, no grace and mercy, score keeping God? What if we stepped up our relationships and lived like we know who our Father is and bore His resemblance? We just might change the world. Because this I know for certain, a well loved child shines bright in the darkness and people start asking questions. And we know the answer…we know who our Father is.

Preparing

I can feel it in my chest again, this feeling of upcoming separation. It causes my mind to not fully engage because I am occupied. It has been wonderful having our oldest a short drive away, but that will soon end. A year long adventure awaits and we are thrilled, but a conflict remains. Is this one prepared? Absolutely! This child lives loved, not perfectly mind you. None of us do, but for that there is grace. And this same giver of grace will meet each of us too. He offers comfort, joy, strength and peace too. I have a feeling this mama is going to need all He wants to give in abundance. Already feeling more excited now than when I started writing. Sometimes just telling the truth does wonders.

Celebrating

Today we are celebrating my husband turning another year older. Aging is an unstoppable fact, but the way we grow older is up to us. It is what we do with the time we are given everyday that adds up to a life well lived. Will another year be spent on others or self? Because I get a front row seat, I can say with all honesty, this man lives for others. His kindness, wisdom, grace, patience and love come from above. The One he relies on has not failed him yet, even when I have my doubts. Faith is not always our natural response, but he helps direct our family in looking to our Creator in all things. The gift he is giving to our children, giving them a trustworthy example, will be rewarded. He is stewarding well what he has been given. How do you just celebrate this kind of man for just one day?

Happy Birthday, Damon! I love you.

Mountains and Valleys

One of our kids is hiking today and sent an incredible picture. I asked if she would take a picture of a valley too, perhaps because not all of life is spent on the mountain top. The longer we live, the more time it seems we spend walking through the valley. Since scripture says that multitudes are in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14), not yet receiving Jesus as King, then why would we be so quick to leave? What makes the valley exciting is having gotten here with the awareness of His presence, within the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). Many deaths actually, but we learn the deep truth that He is God and we are not. There is nothing like death and loss to aid in the process of our “king of the mountain” syndrome is there? While death does cast a shadow indefinitely, He offers gifts in the valley that are incredibly strengthening, joyful even. And having known the valley, it can make the mountain top experiences that much more precious. Let’s keep walking friends.

Unified

The other night I was invited to join some sweet ladies for an incredible concert! A mix of colors filled the arena and we worshiped the One true God. We were united by the One we sang too and perhaps glimpsed an idea of heaven. It was beautiful and made me want more times like these, not the division we get so accustomed. I wish you would have been with us. Maybe you would have gotten a lump in your throat too at the sight.

One of the songs we sang really encouraged me. See if it does you as you read the words. “I’ll never be more loved than I am right now. Wasn’t holding you up, so there’s nothing I can do to let you down. It doesn’t take a trophy to make you proud, I’ll never be more loved than I am right now.” All the pressure off to try and earn His love. All the striving to be good enough, gone. Simply believe and receive. Only our God could take a mix of cultures and blend us into a family that He dearly loves. And maybe when we put aside our differences and worship, we make Him smile and look more like the kids He designed us to be.