Back in high school, our oldest daughter took sign language. Even the pandemic could not keep her from learning to form words with her hands. It seemed like an odd choice, without much opportunity to use it, until day one of summer camp. You see, this girl of ours is running the snack bar, serving sweet treats to hungry high school kids. A boy walks up to the counter and motions for pen and paper to write down his order. Her fingers still remember words and the two are able to communicate. Imagine his relief and joy! And in this encounter, I am given a beautiful reminder that God has plans for us, sees each one of us and communicates His love to us. We do not always know the details in our time of training and that requires faith, endurance and perseverance. But God knew the time would come, when one boy would need to know how loved he really is by a God who sees him. How good is He?!
Tonight is the night this one graduates and we are celebrating! This morning I read words to perfectly describe how I am feeling and had to share. “This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:23,24. This child has worked extremely hard, persevered and his heart has remained kind. He is one of my most favorite people in the world. There still remains an element of sadness over this chapter being completed, but watching who he is becoming is actually extremely exciting. I think tonight my tears will be a mix of joy and sorrow, but mostly joy. Both are possible and for that I am grateful.
*My dad flew in to help us celebrate, so this picture seemed appropriate.
We got to spend the morning at our elementary school talent show. Brave children took the stage in front of the entire school. Some were solo acts and others performed as teams. There were piano solos, singing, dance routines, jokes, a harp player and a magician. The audience cheered and parents beamed watching their child perform. Since the performers are just starting out, not one has reached their full potential. Each child is still becoming who they are designed to be. I found it so encouraging that they were being cheered for along the way. Maybe we can cheer each other on, as we continue becoming more like Him.
will they follow
We have another one about to graduate next week. It is exciting and hard, as this chapter comes to an end. When our oldest graduated, I wondered if we had taught her to love? I am happy to report that she loves others extremely well! Will this one follow? Have the roots sunk deep that he is unconditionally loved and trusted? Will his dad still be the first one he calls when he needs help or has a question? What plans does God have, how will his gifts be used for the Kingdom? Questions unanswered, but expectant with hope. For the same words I spoke to our oldest, as tears poured and my heart felt like it was splitting, I will say to this child too. “You are all I ever could have wanted and I love you.” Goodness, these kids are so precious to me.
My sister and I were texting back and forth this morning, each acknowledging to each other, that we miss our mom more this year than ever before. We both know she planted so many good seeds in us, and the enemy planted some too. As the years go by, they both grow and you are able to uproot the weeds. What is left is a pretty amazing garden, we get to cultivate and share with our own families. And our mom would be delighted to see her beautiful legacy live on. She would love to see how each of her grandchildren have a characteristic or mannerism like her. She would be encouraged by how Jesus is known in our families and spoken of often. She would think these boys of ours are quite handsome and funny. She would think the girls truly beautiful and fearless. She would be celebrating many things with us these days too. But even in the missing, we are grateful to know there is no question that she is face to face with Jesus, and that is the greatest gift to us this mother’s day.
I spent this week with a writing coach. Over and over again she said that she knows the game and the winning plays. She called out excuses, spoke truth, gave encouragement and assignments along the way. It was fun to imagine playing this writing a book game. Having guidance gave me much needed confidence and ideas too. However, time and money would have been wasted if I had not shown up coachable, ready to listen. I have never been this way before, but am excited to see what lies ahead.
I am a student of my children and there is much to learn. When I offer them words of hope, but what they need is my quiet presence, I learn to wait before speaking. They are not projects to fix or extensions of me, but separate souls to walk alongside. Each has their own struggles, strengths and ways they feel loved. They might all have the same last name, but could not be more different. Only when I stop talking do I notice, listen and learn to respond by the power of the Holy Spirit in me. This is one of the many, many things I wished I would have known as a new mom. Proof that twenty one years of being called “mom” does not make one perfect, but in great need to be parented myself by our Heavenly Father.
I came across an incredible quote by Elizabeth Elliot. She said, “It’s not the experiences of our lives that change us; it is our response to those experiences.” Think through those words for a minute with me. Sit with others and listen to their backstory. Find out about the highs, the lows and how they responded. Looking back over experiences that I cannot change, I so often wish my responses would have been different. Grace reminds us that He knew about it all and will never stop loving us. However, we can also decide to respond better going forward.
Known For What
I heard an interesting statement recently that went something like, “When everything you are known for is stripped away, that is who you really are.” You begin to ask yourself what you are known for when you hear something like that. I thought about the obvious and then went deeper. The conclusion I came to was that what remained could not ever be taken. Such a peace giving reality.
I did not recognize a lady, just assumed she was new to our study, until she began to speak. I had met her a week or two before, but something was dramatically different. The more I listened, I discovered that she was simply radiant from being pursued. I have seen this spark in my own eyes and a daughter’s too. Something about being wanted, gives a sense of worth and increased confidence. What I was slow to learn is this pursuit of us has been in existence since before we were even born. The One who made us has loved us with an everlasting love and it only makes sense that He would pursue us. And the world is in great need of our response to this love. For you see, “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). May each of us shine with this same kind of radiance that will light up our cities and cause others to ask questions!