Monday, October 10

More of my Brother's Poetry

I step out the door and into the sky
Heading for Arizona where I'll probably die

Another fork in the road,
Another tattoo on my soul.

The sun grows brighter with each step to the west
Desert is glorious and mountains a success

Beauty surrounds me with her peaceful mountains
And through this desert there are plenty of fountains

The freedom of the desert's warmth
And the vision that I walk towards

Breeze on the naked trees, whisper to me
'Cause nature's its own reward in a desert sea.

Reclining on a bed with a pen in my hand
I hear the thunder beat.
I'm listening to nature's percussion band.
I hear the ocean falling around me,
But I'm under a roof with conditioned air
On a dry mattress with pillows to spare.
This is God bringing back to the tree,
This is God providing for me,
This is God ever forgiving me.

SISTER (that's me)
Bless my sister, the gal who shared her soul
Sacred is the loving embracement no one can owe
From Christmas mornings to slumber parties
to mischievous stories of school sneak-ins before tardies
Viewing your art in astonishment
like a message to me, creativity's sent.
My deserving hero,
I feel the love of her grace and courage to my apprenticeship.
Seeing your tears draws in fears
because of the burn, scare, and sears
I'm a lucky man with God's love sent
With the love of the Lord I must repent.

Life's not all about Chinese food and kickin' back.
Used to think it was 'til I ran into reality slack

Slip into another portrait of how things should be
Break the mold of economy souls fishing liberally
Shake the views of the cement personality

Destiny is not for the frozen ones
You gotta decide to make yourself a chosen one

So go ahead and do the math
You can't wait for others to choose your path.

A fool without a prayer and he's all out of breath
He tried to put his hands together but was twitching bad from meth
The sun shined down beside him and leaned on his neck
He looked up to be blinded but only for a sec
Breathing in and out deeply, he confessed with his tongue
20-something years old and he felt so young
Lifted is the burden that drenched his heart
Ready now for a new way, a brand new start.

Sometimes I write a line and then scratch it out
Sometimes I begin to debate then start to pout
I continuously question my consistency
Wonder who or what I really wanna be
It's even hard to look in the mirror
'Cause the image behind my eyelids looks clearer
Can I come to terms with my external temple,
Or is it my soul I hold lamental?

I can feel myself get lower
I can feel the pain in the power
I can see the lights in the mirror
I can see the hands on the hour.

First step, swallow my pride.
Second step, just take the ride.
Third step, stop shruggin' my shoulders.
Fourth step, realize that I'm older.

Many more steps, too many to mention.
Can't gain it all in a single session.
But I should always try to hold my head high.
Gotta know it's okay for my soul to cry.

I'm a man looking for his place in this world,
Crawling out of the smoke that left my mind swirled.

A tear drop hits the page
A wrinkle hits my age
A twinkle burns in the skies
An indescribable warmth dies
As the love unties.

Thinking about all the times I moan...
It makes me sick.

'Cause I'm not abandoned and alone
Love and family's thick.

We can be so ungrateful,
Taking luxuries for granted.

So when you can't afford the new fad
remember food's in your belly, ain't got it too bad.

I'm not starving and I got love,
family, friends, and God above.

Tangibles and throw-aways are overrated
It's all smoke from a green flame, quickly dissipated.

Getting my high in a dream,
waking up to a grace gleam.

Thanking God smoke was only in my sub-conscience
like the lost soul who has hope in his responses.

Scared as hell as I feel my soaking back.
It was just a fantasy. Now I come back.

Like a looking glass of my past,
it's not in the urinary tract, at last.

Smelling, feeling, dealing,
Then I fall from the ceiling.

What a forgiving crash--
Waking up with no stash.

The time has come for me to change
Flip my life and rearrange
Give my soul to Someone else
And let God's angels ring their bells
All I need is an American dream
No picket fence 'cause that's not what I mean
Paying taxes to old folk
Collecting possessions instead of being broke
Adopt a dog and name it something true
Raise that pup and do what I gotta do
Keep a routine, sleep, work, and play
Wake up again to do it the next day.
Somehow I can't believe this is coming from my heart
but I know it is true 'cause my pen begins where the beat starts.

For years, the freaks shed their tears
While their master sits and waits.
The show's all over and who gets the cheers?
The ring master and his two dates.

The deformed grow old and fed up faster
and the strong man bends the bars.
The rebels tie up the ring master,
all laugh near and far.
He was the caster
of their humiliation
They sought peace by sitting him in their situation,
But it brought no consolation.

Money is success
or so it is told.
People, they always be chasing that gold.
Catch it, want more, and they're sold.

When danger isn't adventure,
then I don't know what story you are in.
When adventures get stranger,
You need not match the Cheshire's grin.

The touch of the glass
felt like the thickness of mist.
The entrance through which she passed,
the terror of bliss.
More than what she used to be,
But lesser, too, at times.
Taking the distortion and awkward things she sees,
As natural as, in a windless sky, the singing of blown chimes.

I'm not sick of think'n 'bout destinations,
but I want to be there.
I'm waiting for the occasion.
I'm gonna get there.
Tomorrow is today before you know,
I will someday reap what I sow.
Things will be the same and different. I know.
Yeah, jah know I'll be harvesting a dream.
Yes, I know I'll be harvesting my dream.

Seems like whenever the time comes to test myself
I always seem to fail.
Living hour for hour, leaving my soul on the shelf,
but who's gonna post my bail?
Chasing a tangible dream that wasn't on any map,
floating on a raft with no sail.
Ocean and sand on just another beach,
All along I'm like a puppet on a string,
grasping for something I can't reach.
But now it's gotta give, cause I'm tired of taking.
It's time to live, now that my soul's awakened.

They say you should stay
on this afternoon
But I just want to play
Music's infinite tune
It's easy, the song today
'Cause “now” is what I'm gonna play
Can't let today take away from tomorrow
Don't want to let happiness sour to sorrow.

I never had such an urge to sing as I do today.
I never had such a rush in my ring as I do today.

Thinkin' 'bout how it came from a sprout
It got watered by a heavenly spout
Seeds unfertilized can still shout
Raw material is all you need
Remember this when you plant the seed
It takes more than supplies to succeed
Just remember “love is all you need.”

Trying to help myself when all it does is hurt
Trying to redeem myself when they think I'm dirt
Always under someone's watchful eye
Hiding away so they don't throw tissues when I cry
I like the tears to just fall down my face
Drop after drop, like a destiny race
Things so simple are just tearing me limb from limb
I don't think I'll ever have a chance to win
On the other hand, I'll just fight expectation's odds
And just pass on the side of the man who sits by and nods.
My destiny is between my fate and my God's.

I'm at war with my own temple
Some say it's cause I'm a little mental
My body is scarred but my heart is pure
Sick of this and ready to move on
Today is another opportunistic dawn

Diving drops of rain come here to saturate me
Been scorched in a desert,
Now I'm swimming in a sea.
Invisible clouds seem to shade my skin.
How did it all begin?

I'm sick of writing 'bout despair
all this negative and how I don't care.
But deep inside, I really do want something better.
Living the dream, receiving a golden letter.
A dog and I woman and I would feel like a king.
Don't need a platinum or a lexus for my soul to bling-bling.
I wanna feel happy about the things I do
I wanna be a man that lives true.

A picture of confusion is me.
Scared of the unknown and what I'm to be.
All I want is an American Dream
But somehow I feel that's not what it seems.
Alone again like that guy from Kung-fu
Gonna head on a journey I don't know I can do.

I was buzzin' one day and I started coughing
I noticed I wanted (“needed”) another nail in the coffin
I don't like this feeling of being controlled
Money towards paper and tobacco, all packaged and rolled
It never makes me feel great, just satisfied
Might as well end it before I've died
Too many times my exception borrowed,
All burnt away, conscience led to sorrow.
Check my heart's inventory, yeah I know it's not empty..
'Cause love is glory and compassion is sympathy.
Life my voice to a full extent
It's never too later for a devil to repent.

I'll pass on another status symbol
'Cause I don't want a house on a hill
Refreshing is life if you keep it simple
So I don't want a house on a hill
I won't crave a jealous intention
You can keep your house on a hill
I don't seek a social intervention
You can have your house on a hill.

Anger can get out of control
For advice, feel inside of your soul
Breathe in, breathe out,
Ignore the demons who shout.
Don't end the pointless encounter in violence,
Pull out two fingers, walk away in peaceful silence.
A fist for a fist...
Whatever happened to “a kiss for a kiss”?

I'm not sick of think'n 'bout destinations,
but I want to be there.
I'm waiting for the occasion.
I'm gonna get there.
Tomorrow is today before you know,
I will someday reap what I sow.
Things will be the same and different. I know.
Yeah, jah know I'll be harvesting a dream.
Yes, I know I'll be harvesting my dream.

Seems like whenever the time comes to test myself
I always seem to fail.
Living hour for hour, leaving my soul on the shelf,
but who's gonna post my bail?
Chasing a tangible dream that wasn't on any map,
floating on a raft with no sail.
Ocean and sand on just another beach,
All along I'm like a puppet on a string,
grasping for something I can't reach.
But now it's gotta give, cause I'm tired of taking.
It's time to live, now that my soul's awakened.

As silence breaks the day of my heart
I listen for the music begin to start.

I love hearing and feeling the power of His song.

It's a pounding weapon of love given by our Creator.
It always seems to stump the anti-peace propigator.

I can't dance to the ill-rythmed beat of gunfire
'cause glory mixed with blood is one thing I'll never desire.

Skyward it flies,
The momentum—will it die?
More amazing with each play,
It's over—on the ground it lays.
Flashbacks of the event immediately occur and soon decay.
Nothin' like hack'n on a sunny day.

Thursday, August 18

Jochebed's Baby

Jochebed leaned over her baby boy and smiled.  What a blessing!  For the next two, perhaps three years, Pharaoh's daughter would pay her to nurse her own son!  Unlike all of the other Hebrew baby boys, he would be protected and safe.  She no longer had to hide him, no longer had to seek to shush him when he cried.  She could encourage him to laugh and to coo.  She, her husband, Amram and their other children Miriam and Aaron would see the baby's first smile... help him with his first steps... rejoice over his first tooth... wait expectantly for his first word! 

When many people think of the story of baby Moses, they think only of a baby boy in a reed basket floating down the Nile River who will be found by Pharaoh's daughter and will someday deliver God's chosen people out of Egypt.  I see so much more when I read the story!  The bond of motherhood stretches across centuries and tears catch in my throat whenever I read of Jochebed's part in the story:

Pharaoh gave his order to all his people: "Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live."  Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman who became pregnant and gave birth to a son.  When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months.  But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch... and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.  His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.  Then Pharaoh's daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank.  She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it.  She opened it and saw the baby.  He was crying, and she felt sorry for him.  "This is one of the Hebrew babies," she said.  Then his sister asked Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?"  "Yes, go," she answered.  So the girl went and got the baby's mother.  Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you."  So the woman took the baby and nursed him.  When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son.  She named him Moses, saying, "I drew him out of the water."

Because so many women had lost their babies to Pharaoh's degree, his daughter could have chosen any number of women to nurse Moses.  As part of God's plan, though, Miriam followed her baby brother and made a way to keep him at home for the next couple of years.  I wonder if Pharaoh's daughter did imagine Jochebed might have been the baby's mother.  The idea that a princess of Egypt would love and care for a Hebrew baby sets her apart from other Eyptian women of that time.  Her story is one I hope to hear someday when I get to Heaven!

As for Jochebed...

She nursed her baby boy day after day, month after month, until it was time she must wean him.  Did she teach him who he was... who his people were?  Most bible scholars think so.  Did she teach him stories of a deliverer who would be used by God to save their people, and did God speak to her heart that her baby boy would be that same deliverer?  Certainly she made the most of the time God had given her with her son and certainly she was walking the path that God had set before her.  Did Moses know that he was her son?  Whether he knew or not, he knew she loved him and he had bonded with her in a special way.  Perhaps on the last night of his weaning, Jochebed danced with baby Moses in her arms as he cried for the kind of milk he could never have again.  Perhaps she cried, too, as she prayed for him and sang to him.  Bittersweet tears.  God had blessed her with her son's life, she had been given time with him that other Hebrew mothers had not received when their babies were taken from them, but now she had to give him to another.  Bittersweet, for certain, but she trusted in God's marvelous plan.

Lord, you love me as you loved Jochebed.  I know that all things work together for good for those who love you.  Help me to love you always, to trust you when life seems to be too much to bear, and to know that you love me with an everlasting love no matter what comes my way.  In Jesus wonderful name, amen. 

For more about Jochebed, read:
Numbers 26:58-60
Exodus 1:22-2:10
Exodus 6:19-21

Sunday, June 12

Written in Heaven

This year, my hubby and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary so I wanted to take a minute to share our "love story" with all of you.

Our love story began with a prayer. Mike and I had been friends for years but he was the last person I’d ever choose to marry. He just wasn’t my "type." I wanted someone loud and outgoing; he was quiet and laid back. I wanted someone with my interests in writing and art; he liked electronics. We were as different as night and day. The main thing we really had in common was our love for God. We had become Christians around the same time while we were in the Air Force. I was in Tucson, Arizona and he was on the other side of the world in Saudi Arabia. When he came home to Tucson, he prayed that someday I would be his wife (I'm not sure why because back then I was still a bit of a flighty, unfaithful mess!). I guess he saw something in me that wasn't there yet.

One night I was in church praying, wondering who God had for me. I looked at Mike beside me, praying, worshiping God, and suddenly I heard a still, small voice speak to my heart. Later that day, I told Mike that I thought God wanted us to be together. Later, he told me about his prayer. We dated for a year and on our anniversary which was also my brother's birthday (August 12th), we went to a rose garden at Reid Park. At the last rosebush, Mike stopped and got down on one knee. He took my hands in his and said, "Angel, I love you and I want to serve Jesus with you for the rest of our lives. Will you marry me?" Of course I said "Yes."  I gave him a big old hug and he put my engagement ring on my finger. We’ve been married for ten years today and have been through so much together!

Through it all, Jesus Christ has been the center of our marriage. We are blessed beyond measure with a wonderful marriage, three beautiful daughters and a handsome little prince, and so many friends and family who really care about us. Mike has always been so gracious towards me in his forgiveness, patience, and trust, a fine example of a man of God. When I remember the person I used to be, I'm amazed that Mike would have wanted to marry someone like me!  He showered so much grace upon me and must have had faith that I could change into the person I've become and am becoming, only by God's grace.  I could never have found a more perfect match, and I thank God that He found him for me; in my blindness, I never would have chosen him on my own. I don’t deserve such wonderful blessings, but I begin to understand how high, how wide, and how deep God’s love is for me as I experience daily my own husband’s love for me. Our love story is still being written and will continue on until the glorious day when we see Jesus face to face.

Wednesday, May 25

"God is Love"... But What Does That MEAN?

"Jesus loves you," she says as she hangs up the phone.

"God is love," she says as she tries to explain how wonderful He is to someone who just doesn't get it.

Yes, God is love.  But our idea of love as we live in this often-confused, far-from-perfect world is sometimes less than accurate.  Honestly, it can be pretty skewed and totally the opposite of what love really is.  And if we don't understand what real love is and what that really means, it's hard to appreciate God's love for us.

I want to take a couple minutes to show you how I've begun to understand what "God is love" really means.

Just so that you know where I'm coming from and that I'm not pulling anything out of thin air, in 1 John 8, John proclaims "God is love."  He reiterates the same exact truth in verse 16.  If God is love, that means God defines love.  In 1 Corinthians 13, we find a longer definition of what love is.  It begins, "Love is patient.  Love is kind..."  You've heard it before.  If God is love, I was presumptuous enough to substitute (just for a minute!) the words "Love is" for "God is."  Read it like this and begin to understand how real and perfect and wonderful and everlasting God's love is for you!

God is patient,
God is kind and is not jealous,
God does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
God does not seek His own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
God never fails.

Lord, Your word says that neither height, nor depth, nor anything on Heaven or Earth can separate us from the love You have towards your children.  Help us to remember that we can't earn your love but that's it's simply a free gift.  Take away our preconceived ideas of love that we've learned from imperfect people by showering us with Your love!  In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, May 10

O Lord be my refuge!

I'm not a poet but every once in awhile when God inspires him, my husband is.  This poem touched my heart!  I hope you enjoy it.

O Lord be my refuge!
Dear Lord be my rest!
Give me divine guidance
On this arduous quest

Some trials come at us
They form from without
Other fires kindle thus
From within they burn out

Whether deep in our minds
Or the depths of our soul
Whether enemies armed
With a sword or with bow

We're plunged into war
In this life here on earth
The instant the Word
Was received in new birth

In scripture we're told
As the lawless abound
That love will grow cold
Take a look, all around

The headlines declare
What the prophets spoke clear
The reports that we read
Tend to weary with fear

The weight settles on us
We think in our mind
I can't stand beneath
The slow strain and the grind

Some cope with what's real
By ignoring the signs
Some eat their next meal
Oblivious to the times

Some numb themselves sick
With the drug of their choice
Some drown in vain pleasure
And drown out the small voice

Where does my help come from?
It comes from the Lord
Dear God, strengthen me
To continue forward

Shed the love of my Jesus
Abroad in my heart
Let me remember the work
You began at the start

You promised your presence
You promised your care
Your promise stands true
You'll always be there

I'll do what I can
To give it my all
To honor your name
In the midst of the fall

When my efforts fall short
As at times in the past
When I come to my senses
And remember at last

It has been by your grace
That I've been made to stand
And find hope in this place
By the strength of your hand

Tuesday, April 19

New Take on An Old Prayer

Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.  ~Matthew 6:10

When God sends you a little glimpse of what His kingdom is like and you realize it for what it is, that verse takes on new meaning.  Its not just some rote prayer anymore.  I've been getting so many glimpses like that lately--moments in life that seem simply perfect.

Minutes on Saturday were like that as I sat around a bonfire on the beach, the moon shining on the ocean, friends smiling and laughing, Grandpa Jim strumming on his guitar, sand in my toes, no worries.  For just a moment, everything seemed perfect and beautiful.  Everything

Do you ever have moments like that?  They last for just a few minutes--little glimpses of God's kingdom "on earth as it is in Heaven"--where your eyes really look on what is "good and noble and pure and true"... where you don't have any worries or cares weighing you down... where nothing hurts and you're perfectly safe... where you know Jesus loves you just because you're you, even that He smiles about you and likes you...  where you feel like you really can love everyone with a Corinthians* kind of perfect love, without any selfishness or envy or other sin mixed in there... where all of those things and more exist in a moment.  That's God giving us a glimpse of His Kingdom while we're still here on earth.

Imagine! Someday, it's going to be like that forever and ever and ever!  We're going to live in perfection and it's never going to stop.  I can't wait!  I can only imagine.

Lord, Thank you so much for giving us glimpses of your Kingdom.  Help us not to take moments like that for granted, but to live in expectation of them and, even more, to live in expectation of that glorious day when that life will never end.  Help us, also, to strive to love everyone in our lives with your kind of perfect love.  In Jesus wonderful name, Amen.

*A Corinthians kind of perfect love is one that is always patient and kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and never fails.  It's God's love for us, and a love we can at least strive for.
(from 1Cor13:4-8)

Sunday, March 27

A Taste of Heaven

A hummingbird flits from flower to flower, its purple and green feathers glistening iridescently as early morning sunbeams hit its wings.

In the foothills of the Santa Catalina mountains, a coyote family ventures home; dark silhouettes make their way slowly against the fading backdrop of Arizona desert.

In the middle of the night when most people are sleeping, flashes of monsoon lightning dance across the cloudy night sky like an aurora borealis of the desert.

Let all Creation rejoice before the Lord!  (Psalm 96:13a)

When God paints me a beautiful picture of His Creation, I sometimes think of certain verses from a poem written a hundred years ago.  William Blake's "Auguries of Innocence" begins:  

To see a world in a grain of sand, 
and Heaven in a wildflower, 
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand 
And eternity in an hour.

William Blake saw God's majesty in a grain of sand or in a wildflower as he held them in the palm of his hand.  God gave him a glimpse of eternity by revealing Himself through His Creation in just an hour's time.  William Blake was, like Louisa May Alcott (the writer of "Little Women"), a transcendentalist who believed that God could be known better through His creation.  And doesn't this scripture in Romans also teach us that?   

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.  (Romans 1:20) 

Some of the times when I've felt closest to God, when I've felt I could almost taste Heaven, have been times when His Creation has been so perfect, so overwhelmingly beautiful.

Last year, we lived in Tennessee for 2 months.  One weekend, we drove to Gatlinburg in early October through the Smoky Mountains.  Autumnal forests clung to the road on each side.  The wind softly rustled the branches of the trees making leaves gently fall around us.  We were listening to the angelic voice of Alison Krauss on the radio.  It was so perfect, really like a little bit of Heaven coming down by God's hand, that my eyes watered.  Just to taste Heaven for a couple of minutes is almost overwhelming. 

O Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth... When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained I wonder, who am I that you would think of me?  But you do think of me and You love me!  Help me to enjoy your Creation and all that is in it and to know you better because of it until the day when I see you face to face. Amen.

Wednesday, March 16

A Simple Word & Locks of Love

I sat beside my husband on a soft blanket in the park.  The flames of a bonfire danced and flickered before our eyes as they warmed us.  We had come here with some friends from church to barbecue, roast marshmallows, and just spend time together.  It was heavenly, leaning against my hubby with his arms around me.  I thought of how far God had brought me in the last four years.  How had I found such a faithful, loving husband?  Only by God's grace!  

"My angel has such beautiful hair," he whispered to me.

You should give your hair to Locks of Love.

I heard about Locks of Love on a talk show once.  It much have been over a year ago then.  They were a hair donation service.  They made wigs for children and teenagers with diseases like cancer and alopecia areata.  The program had touched my heart as it would have touched any other woman's but I hadn't thought of it since.  Why now?  The thought came to me again:

You should give your hair to Locks of Love.

I looked into the fire.  Did God want me to cut my hair and give it to a child?  But my hubby loved my hair, and it had taken me so long to grow, and besides that, I loved my hair!   Whoa... was I still so prideful of my appearance as all that?  And how was I supposed to know if it was really something God wanted me to do?  I remembered something one of the preachers at church had said recently, "If you think God is trying to tell you something, you should always test it against scripture.  God's word is always the final authority."  Before I could finish asking myself if there was possibly a scripture that would agree with giving my hair to Locks of Love, I thought:

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

It was so simple, but it was God's word.  I knew then it was something I could do.  I realized how vain I had been about my hair, especially how much I loved those compliments from strangers... but wouldn't a little girl who didn't have any hair love it even more?  Wouldn't I hope someone would do the same for me?

A few weeks later, I sat in a chair at a beauty salon downtown.  My hair had been long and beautiful for as long as I could remember.  I wondered what my reaction would be when my curls all tumbled to the floor.  Would I cry?  The woman behind me measured my hair and then began to cut.  My curls didn't fall to the floor, but the beautician held my hair gently as she separated it by the sheers. She tied it all together and wrapped it in a towel.  I glanced at my face in the mirror.  I wasn't crying.  I actually couldn't help smiling.  Perhaps God had asked me to do this as much for myself as for someone else.

[Jesus] said, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it."  Luke 11:28

Lord, Help me to obey you and trust you even when I don't exactly agree with what I think you're doing in my life.  Remind me that you love me and that your plans are always perfect from me, whether it's something as silly as cutting my hair or as serious as fighting depression.  In Jesus matchless name, Amen.

Friday, February 18

Your Children: A Great Blessing or a Great Burden?

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.  ~Psalm 127:3

"Mama, where is my striped cat?"
"Mo-om, I need help!"
"Mama, Sam took his pants off and he stinks!"

I groan and push myself away from the computer.  I want to write my e-mail.  I want to finish the last chapter in my book.  For goodness sake, I just want to load the dish washer without fourteen interruptions.  Dear Lord, if only I could have the luxury of going to the bathroom without knocks at the door!  Really, God, is that too much to ask?

Some days, I admit, being a mommy seems to be a bit of a burden.  For awhile, it seemed that most days were that way.  Sure, I knew I was doing God’s will.  But most days, I felt testy, snapped at my husband for not reading my mind and knowing I needed his help, and just didn’t feel the joy of motherhood that I read about in so many of my favorite books.  One day, something tragic happened to someone else that changed my outlook. Honestly, sometimes I do still have those moments, but my outlook of mommyhood is much different.  

A few years ago, the 5 year old daughter of Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman died very tragically and suddenly.  That really touched me as I imagined that happening to one of my own children.  Since then, when parenting begins to feel like a burden and not like the blessing God tells us it is, I remember that.  Steven Curtis Chapman wrote this song about his daughters:
She spins and she sways
To whatever song plays
Without a care in the world
And I'm sitting here wearing
The weight of the world on my shoulders

It's been a long day
And there's still work to do
She's pulling at me
Saying "Dad, I need you
There's a ball at the castle
And I've been invited
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone...

She says he's a nice guy and I'd be impressed
She wants to know if I approve of the dress
She says, "Dad, the prom is just one week away
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone

She will be gone

Well, she came home today with a ring on her hand
Just glowing and telling us all they had planned
She says, "Dad, the wedding's still six months away
But I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone.

I want to live that song.  Even “when there’s still work to do,” I will dance with my Cinderellas while they are still here 'cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight and they'll be gone…  I pray that won’t happen until they each marry a wonderful prince charming someday, but I recognize that any single day I wake up to could be my last day with any of my children.  My honest outlook on mommyhood really is that my children are a great blessing.  Now be honest with yourself.  Is your overall outlook on motherhood that of a great blessing or a great burden? 

The book of Psalms says “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward” (127:3).  The word translated “reward” in that scripture comes from the root word “sakar” which conveys the idea of a temporary benefit.  Our children really are only a temporary reward from God.  Don’t forget to live your life in that light.  As for me, “I don’t want to miss even one song.” 

Lord, I want to be a blessed mother.  Help me to see my children as a reward and not as a burden.  Please take my burdens from me and give rest to my soul.  I pray you will give me many years with my children and I pray for your grace to cover all of my mistakes and imperfections.  Thank you so much for the wonderful blessings of my children and their daddy!  In Jesus matchless name, Amen.

Tuesday, February 8

From the Mouths of Children

Last Sunday in church, our pastor asked the children, "Would any of you like to pray to open up the service?"  One of my 6 year old twins, Beth, raised her hand.  She had never prayed alone at church before in front of the entire congregation and I wondered what she would say.  She sat with the other children and bowed her head.  She said, "Jesus, Thank you for creating us... and thank you for creating aminals.  In Jesus name, Amen."  What a simple prayer!  Still, my heart swelled with gratitude to God for blessing me with children who love Jesus and know they can talk to Him about everything. Later, though, I couldn't help but remember when a friend of mine voiced concern about children committing their lives to Jesus at an early age and assuming that someone can be too young to understand what that kind of commitment means.  Then I remembered these scriptures from the book of Matthew:

When the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things [Jesus] did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked Him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, "'From the lips of children and infants, you, Lord, have called forth your praise'?"  (Matthew 21:15-16)

It's pretty obvious from those verses that God loves children and will never rebuke them for giving him praise.  Is any age too young to begin loving and serving the true Father of us all?  Perhaps children don't always understand what a wonderful and deep commitment they are making when they ask Jesus into their hearts, but I didn't, either, and I was an adult!  My lack of understanding didn't keep God from accepting me as a daughter He would teach and grow from that moment on.

Lord, Help us to come to you and call on you as freely as little children.  Guide us as we raise our families and show us what it means to praise you with everything we do.  Don't ever allow us to hinder our own children from coming to you.  In Jesus name, Amen.