the law of giving

Give, and it shall be given.

That’s a rule, a law, of the Kingdom of God. Like gravity pulls without us trying, like Newton’s laws pre-existed Newton by thousands of years, the law of what you sow = what you reap (and every derivative of that law) rules our lives without our trying and even without our understanding. It simply is true: sow and reap. Sow more, reap more. Give, it will be given.

I’ve thought about this often over the last decade or more as I’ve contemplated what sort of woman I want to be “when I grow up.” I aspire to be someone of not just some strength, but of great strength; of not just some capacity, but of great capacity; of not just a bit of grace, but overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit. How do I get there from here?

The Holy Spirit has spoken so clearly: it’s not by guarding what strength I have, making sure I never am pushed anywhere near my breaking point. It’s not by pulling back from the edges of my capacity — which somehow makes me feel like I have more capacity because look, extra! It’s not by keeping myself from situations that press me past my current grace-flow and expose the dirt in the bottom of my vessel. No, not at all.

It’s by giving. Allowing myself to be given. Pressed, pushed, poured out. I start to worry my strength is collapsing, my mental and emotional capacity is at its limit, and I’m losing my temper right and left. I want to slip into survival mode, self-protection mode, and pull back. Too much, that’s too much, I’m drawing the line and saying NO.

But who’s asking? To whom am I saying no?

Because if this path of pressure is actually the forging fire of the Spirit of God, then my answer needs to be YES, and here’s the thing: I feel my lack and it’s not an illusion — I’m really and truly not enough. But He isn’t in the business of making me the best version of me; He’s forming Christ. This forging fire? I will come forth as gold.

And so I remain, I don’t run. I give and when I’m empty, He supplies my seed for sowing. The strength that came from my sheer stubbornness and bossiness erodes so quickly, but that is when He gives strength to the weary — Holy Spirit strength. Do you see what’s happening? I give all I have, empty myself, and then He comes and supplies — and the supply He gives is supernatural. I’ve poured myself out and find that I’ve been refilled — but with stuff that is of heaven. Gold.

Love, joy, peace. Patience, kindness, goodness. Faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Signs and wonders. Healing and miracles.

Give, give, give.

Get all the way to the bottom of yourself. Because we want the good stuff. We want Jesus.


(Pictures of Beatrice finding the joy of giving as the oldest sister and the oldest of this newly-forming gang of “youngers.” She is a treasure.)

a bit about Mother’s Day, a lot of Just Because photos

(These pictures are Just Because.

Half of the pictures I don’t even take, but instead are happy surprises of moments or vignettes that my children think to capture. This is even more fun — to be busy living my life only to realize that they are as happily aware of blessed as I am.)

I must write that my Mother’s Day was the laughably perfect Mother’s Day:

I got to play keyboard for my son, who led worship at church. Jameson was the drummer and I got to enjoy his brand new 8″ mahogany Gretsch snare with him. (Those details mean almost as little to me as they probably do to you, but I know that he loves it!) My lovely daughters helped Ryan get everyone else to church with plenty of time to spare.

I was thrilled to share a message at church for my fellow moms.

Ryan grilled perfect steaks for dinner, which was enjoyed around the dining room table amidst laughter and chatter. A stunning bouquet was the centerpiece, also thanks to Ryan, and the kids gave me sweet handmade cards filled with touching sentiments that just must be saved forever!

The boys rested and watched basketball (I think?) while the girls and I took our Ben and Jerry’s to the beautiful outdoors and had a nice little girl party.

I finally returned indoors to find that — oops! — the dinner clean up memo had been missed and a disaster awaited me. Classic! That’s okay. Moms are very good at expedient clean up, and I put my talent to work in a jiffy.


An hour or so outdoors with my own dear mom, brothers, several sisters, and their families was the cherry on top! Then home, utterly exhausted, to bathe children who were supposed to be bathed Saturday night but oh well. You win some, you lose some, but really, I think we’ll all live.

And I couldn’t get bedtime started quickly enough. I happily fluffed my own pillow and collapsed before 9pm. A full day of mom-ing. A full day of being loved, which I do not take for granted.


And waking up to the dawn of another full day in which I will take my place, simultaneously buckling on my sword while resting in the grace of Jesus. Here’s to another year of motherhood!


Daffodils from Fiona, birds’ nest from Beatrice — do gifts get any lovelier?

love what you do.

Once in awhile I’ll have a kid observe me performing some menial task and ask, “Mama, do you like changing diapers/washing the toilet/matching socks/cooking dinner/making the bed?”

It’s always a funny question because on the one hand, most often it’s asked in relation to a chore that no one in their right mind would list as their favorite activity. But it’s become an increasingly funny question over the years because I generally find myself trying to explain why YES, in fact, I do kind of like doing this boring or dirty or endless job.

You know what the secret to living a fulfilled life of purpose is?

Love what you do.

No, that’s not a typo and I didn’t get it backwards. While everything around us (and our carnal hearts within us) screams, “Do what you love! Settle for nothing less!”, we find ourselves transformed by the Holy Spirit until one day we’re confessing crazy things like, “I delight to do YOUR will, oh my God!”

His will becomes a delight. He calls me, and enables me, to love what I do.

And what is His will?

He shows me. He shines the light of His Truth on the shadows of life, and suddenly daily acts of service are seen to have meaning and worth. Nothing is beneath me, because nothing is beneath His notice. Making a name for myself starts to seem a bit like vanity when I see the incredible value of the people around me. Better is one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. Wherever His presence is, there I find joy.

What has God called you to today?

Maybe it’s not your dream job. Maybe you feel like a square peg in a round hole. Maybe you’re hoping this is a stepping stone on the way to somewhere else.

But maybe it doesn’t matter.

Not in the equation of purpose and joy. Those things exist in nowhere and in nothing else but Jesus.

Maybe you’re raising babies and feeling like you’re not cut out for it, and overwhelmed by the never ending cycles of mundane work that are not what you were picturing. Maybe it’s older kids who are giving you a run for your money.

Maybe you were born a woman and that mere fact chafes against your soul.

I’m telling you: the secret to a life of purpose and meaning is found right here, right in this moment, right inside the lines He drew for you. You can love what you do when you realize it’s the thing He’s asking of you. “I delight to do You will, o my God!”

Do you? Do you delight in that?

Oh, many times have I paused and confessed in anger, in weariness, in frustration: My soul is freaking out and I’m not good at this and I hate it. God, show me Your ways. Let me see this in Your light. Set me free from selfishness and striving. I want to delight in Your will!

And He answers. Through His Word, by His Spirit, He washes me with truth and leads me in paths of righteousness.

And somehow, years later, a kid asks me, “Do you like making dinner every night?”, and I pause and realize, there is delight in this task because I am doing it with Jesus, for the people He’s asked me to give my life to.

Pretty much, kid. Pretty much I love what I do.

sons

This photo popped up today in the ever-changing reel of favorites Ryan set up on my phone’s home screen. Certainly there’s nothing particularly fabulous about this, and yet it made it into that elite collection of hearted (yes, that’s now a word, of course) pictures.

Because this is my three boys and me.

So much here makes me smile: the fact that it doesn’t matter what clothes I supply; my sons will always wear the same favorite sweatpants or gym shorts ad nauseam. The position of their arms, each with their particular stance when in conversation. Me looking up at Jameson, who by now is about two inches taller than in this photo.

But mostly I smile because I just love these boys so, so much. Well, I say boys, but really, these two men and a baby. Because men is what they are becoming, right before my eyes.

I’ve prayed Psalm 144:12 for my children, and set it often before my eyes as a godly goal as I disciple them, and this year when I was reflecting on answered prayers of 2021, this rose up in my heart:

“That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth;
That our daughters may be as pillars,
sculptured in palace style.”

Sons who are not trapped in perpetual boyhood, abdicating responsibility and acting on childish impulse forever. Sons who bear the yoke in their youth and grow strong shoulders. Sons who understand sacrificial leadership and oversight, learning to care about the state of their flock. Sons who are called to answer for words and deeds, stare those things straight in the face, and seek true repentance. Sons who show honor and deference to their father and do not despise their mother. Sons who seek after the Lord today rather than arrogantly putting it off till tomorrow.

Is this a tall order? Is this beyond the scope of my parenting ability, beyond Ryan’s?

Yes. Yes, it is.

And yet, this is what I see emerging before my eyes, and I am awed and humbled.

We are in the thick of it, in so many ways, the moments of greatest tension before the arrow is released, and it will grow only more so in the coming years. We are desperately in need of wisdom, and do our best to follow the Holy Spirit as we serve Him in discipling these young men, but more than wisdom we need Him to show up in our hearts, in their hearts, in transforming ways.

But we are seeing mature plants even in youth, the work of God right in our midst, the beauty of His design in shaping beautiful boys into strong young men with tender hearts.

sacred moments

I had a moment of vivid memory last night: a sacred time in my life, the place startlingly clear. An almost tangible presence of Jesus, with me, meeting me. Exhaustion graced with joy as His strength filled my weakness.

It was in a little kitchen — dark oak cabinets and yellowed tile counters, faux-brick linoleum floor always dingy no matter how hard I scrubbed. A tiny table, barely big enough for three, and washer and dryer hidden behind louvered doors.

That kitchen was holy ground.

There, at that table, I read my Bible morning after morning. My 18 month old baby learned to join me without whining for food. I’d never had an 18 month old before, and that was all new for me. He learned — Mama is reading, and you may join quietly. We shared many, many special mornings together.

I bent over that washer hundreds of times, switching loads, filling a basket with clean diapers to hang in the sun. The back door was open with the two year old running in and out while the baby clung to my legs.

Dishes were washed over and over, cupboards filled with the staples from Trader Joe’s after a morning of errands, the very first chore chart developed and displayed on the fridge for a growing little boy to use.

But mostly, just minutes and hours and days of pouring myself out till there was nothing left, and then faced with two little boys who still needed more, crying out to Jesus. Singing as I washed, singing as I laundered, singing as I simply held them and swayed, not sure what else to do at times.

And not for a moment did He leave me. In that kitchen, I knew that I knew that God was equipping me and providing me with the grace for that sacred moment of service — and He would do it again in the next moment.

I love the season of life I’m in right now. But I’m not gonna lie — there was something so raw and real about the way God walked with me when it was just me and a couple of babies. The demand on me was so intense and completely unlike anything I’d experienced, but the profound (and incredibly simple) way in which I met Jesus in those moments of my deep need was incredible.

That linoleum was really pretty hideous, but somehow it has found a place in the treasure chest of my heart.

S I X months

Six months! Where, when, how? But somehow, over 180 days of holding this sweet boy in my arms morning, noon, and night, and I still can’t get enough of him. None of us can. He was instantly the dearest thing and yet grows more dear every day. Isn’t that amazing? Love is like that. It’s vast and complete, but then the details get filled in as time goes on.

He’s a solid 27 pounds, which just causes anyone who sees him to break into laughter. Who knew baby thighs could make anyone and everyone laugh out loud? His fat little hands are my favorite. He has a mouth-wide-open smile for anyone who makes eye contact with him, and his deep blue eyes are so friendly and inviting. He rolls but still doesn’t sit without help, and I’m assuming he’ll just be on the slow track with all that movement stuff, as was his similarly-round brother, William. His siblings adore him, his daddy adores him, and I certainly do. And when we see the way he lights up at each one of us, we’re fairly certain the adoration is mutual.

He is a treasure, and my soul is fairly bursting with the wealth that’s been poured into my lap. Pressed down, shaken together, and running over — a house full of children formed by God, put into my hands to love and nurture and steward as disciples. It’s overwhelming — and I don’t just mean in the 5pm dinner is burning the baby is crying and there is noise everywhere kind of overwhelming. I mean I am overwhelmed by the bountiful goodness of God. It is so much.

And yes, the treasure and gifts of God require something of us, and when He expands our territory we find ourselves stretched further than we’ve been before. There is weight to it, soberness in it, the sense of stewarding the treasure of another. I’ve been tempted to say about so many things, “I’m not sure I’m really up for this,” but then I catch myself and think, “What are you talking about?? Serve the purpose of God in your generation! Now or never!” And suddenly it all becomes clear again: I just need more Jesus along with the increase of blessing.

Yes, I have grown. I have been expanded. I am probably more wise, less frantic, and don’t react to every seeming crisis. But also?? There is fruit. God knows what He’s doing! Our house is so loud and busy but it is teeming with capable children who delight in one another and in serving me. I’m pretty sure 28 year old me would have an emotional meltdown at the level of “lived-in” my house daily achieves, but that makes sense: 28 year old me had to stay on top of it all by myself. And now? Now we are a team.

But so much more than the practical blessing I’m living in (pinch me, is this real?, I think whenever I walk into a clean kitchen after guests leave and I spent the whole evening visiting and didn’t lift a finger), there is fruit in their hearts. There are young men who I simply enjoy, who make me laugh, who I lean on for help and encouragement. Daughters who spill joy and kindness everywhere they go. Little ones who are caught up by older ones, taught and read to and led by example. I know that I know that I planted seeds and watered and weeded for day after day after week after month for years, but this fruit that I see? I can’t begin to take credit for it any more than I look at the stunning beauty of my favorite peony and pat myself on the back for my stellar planting job. My part and the result just don’t add up, until you factor in the faithfulness of God. It’s Him.

That is the bounty that makes me want to weep in thankfulness. And it gives me hope for tomorrow, because guess what? I am so far from a perfect gardener when it comes to my children. I do my best, by the grace of God, to show up and ask for help, but repentance is my most-often used tool. The skill is all Him. His Spirit pursues their hearts as I apply faith and diligence. I never feel that these children are somehow mine, or my doing — I am so aware that these are people God crafted and called, and is asking me to serve in a truly precious and unique way. But as they grow, and I see softness and humility and forgiveness flowing from their hearts, I marvel even more at the things God has done, and what a tremendous honor it is to be used by Him.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”