september 23: parenting lessons from God

This morning, I read this little passage about the grace of God toward us:

“The Bible is a history of God offering His grace to people who do not deserve it nor seek it nor ever fully appreciate it after they have been saved by it.”

And I was struck by how perfectly that describes the kind of fatherly love I grew up with and am still blessed by. My dad is a constant. He lavishes, at his own expense, love and mercy and forgiveness and help on us, his children. He does that when we ask for it, he does it when we are petulantly pushing him away. It continues when we are thankful, and it continues when we take it utterly for granted and don’t even see the fatherly grace we’re living in.

My dad’s love toward us is completely independent from how we respond or how we live. He loves us with constancy because that’s who he is.

And that’s how God is: His love for me has nothing to do with my loveliness or right behavior. He doesn’t offer grace because He’s hoping for a certain response from me — and if I don’t give it, He takes His ball and goes home. His character is faithfulness, love, mercy.

Today I am challenged by my father’s example, which is really a reflection of God’s fathering: May my love and grace and generous heart toward my children be constant, always decided based on the grace I receive from God, and never on the response I receive from them. May they understand better the underserved grace of God in the gospel because they grew up in an environment of such love.

september 20

A little humor can go a long way, so I keep this certain image (recalled from a calendar growing up, perhaps?) tucked away. How many times has the late afternoon rolled over me and I can’t quite figure out exactly what we’re doing with this day, and forget the to-do list because somehow I can’t get above diaper changes — and this picture pops into my head, and I just laugh. How did Mary Engelbreit know I would look just like this so very often?

A little humor, a little serious: it never gets more than just “daily”. Sometimes we think it should. We wait for exciting Start Of Our Lives, which never comes. We wonder when that Calling From God is going to elevate our lives to awesome-status, and instead we just wake up every morning with bad breath and bedhead and an empty jar that is supposed to have coffee beans. There’s this one day where we’re just on the cusp, and everything is banging on all cylinders and we’re praying all day and managing the house like a whiz and kids are mastering math problems — but probably maybe definitely the next day you’ll wake up with a headache and have to take it down a notch or ten and remember that life really is just daily, and God likes to draw near to humble, broken people whose lives are no more spectacular than your ordinary Galilean fisherman’s, and this — your real life — is the stage for the glory of God to be shown. He loves to shine through broken earthen vessels. Don’t try to fancy-up the outside; just lean into Jesus and let His grace shine.

And He’s not picky. He’ll shine through on the most daily of days, the most mundane of moments, your weakest point. He’s not above miracles that look like a smile and kiss for the baby who won’t sleep, drawing bony boy shoulders close when frustration would push away, an unexpected wave of energy to greet your husband when you were near collapse. His miracles make daily life beautiful and glorious and redeemed.

Sunrises, babies that scoot, spontaneous happy play moments, neatly made bed + sunshine, pears that match, food that nourishes soul and body, finishing our first phonics book, learning about stars with Papa and his telescope.

september 19: jameson turned 10

September days are always nostalgic for me. I am instantly brought back to the days when I was awaiting my first baby: more tired and achy than I ever imagined possible, growing in excitement, feeling my mind and emotion become incredibly focused on one thing. I love the expectancy of the end of pregnancy!

This year, as I walked past our first apartment early one morning, and heard the whispering leaves that lulled me to sleep many afternoons of that late pregnancy, I tried to wrap my mind around a decade.

And I can’t.

*****

We celebrated him and loved doing so. We were able to bless him with a few special extras, like the fire and s’mores he requested, and even an overnight with two friends. Altogether, three days of birthday partying. We laughed and asked how that happened, but he was blessed and affirmed and so thankful. He’s growing up, and we are so proud of, and thankful for, the young man he’s becoming.


an amazing older brother


thrilled to share his special day with Patrick


That picture shows my favorite part about him: the crinkly laugh lines around his eyes. He is so cheerful, so attentive, so caring.

He is a gift.

“To be a fisherman, you have to be around fish,” said Pastor Ben yesterday.

One of those laughably obvious statements, but painfully true: possession of tackle and rods does not make one a fisherman, and it certainly isn’t enough to land a fish. Even sitting in a boat above those fish isn’t enough. Not even just diving down and swimming around them! No, a fisherman must be where the fish are, with his gear at the ready.

I’m thinking about that this morning.

“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

That’s me He’s calling.

I definitely am around “men” all day. And night. Every day and night. But am I ready to see and seize every opportunity to hook their hearts? Speak truth in love, pour out kindness and mercy, point to Jesus as the answer for their every need? Or am I just kind of floating through the day, too caught up in my own goals to notice the “fish” all around?

“Follow Me.”

That’s my part. He’ll teach me and show me and change me and cause my life to be effective; my part is to whole-heartedly follow Him.

Lord, You have my heart.

*****

One little life I’m currently pouring into:

september 9

My Jameson and I took a turn going out this week.

“I’m really excited, Mom, aren’t you?” he asked that afternoon. That made me smile.

My two boys, best friends and yet so different. William just loves the pizza and ice cream; this one loves the experience. I knew he was expecting a real “date” kind of request for dinner, so that’s what we did.

He ran to his room to get ready, door closed firmly shut, no peeking. Emerged in shirt and tie with jacket, because that’s who he is. I expect nothing less!

We held hands as we drove and chatted, and I couldn’t help but be hit by waves of nostalgia, remembering so vividly the baby who made me a mama, snuggled in my arms on our little second-story porch as I sang to him. Wasn’t that yesterday? Or did it ever happen?

He was my sole focus for two hours. We ordered our food, and of course he wanted to try something new, because that’s who he is! Calamari because it’s his favorite, crab cake because he’d never had one. He tried my gazpacho and liked it. “I like new flavors.”

He is tall. Capable. Articulate. Excited and hesitant, all at once. Loves people but happy to be alone with his own ideas, too.

And he loves me. It was so good to just spend two hours alone, saying in words and just in the silence of being side by side, “I love you.”

My 9 year old boy, almost 10. More dear to me than I ever could have imagined. Thanks for holding my hand.