Friday, February 25, 2011

The Color of Stop

Young working eyes notice Daddy and Mommy wearing the same color shirt
Test driving a minivan
A borrowed dress

All these in one day: the color red.

Red, the color of stop.

God of eternity gives these everywhere stop signs and reminds me to stop, right here in time. Slow... stop, and fully receive each moment from him.

It's happening. As I slow, time slows! When I stop, to wonder and receive in faith, I gain time. I receive all the fullness and richness of the gifts of a God who just can't stop giving.

As I stop to receive moments, the gifts pile up... grace upon grace upon grace. "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another" (John 1:16).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What it means to give your best

Migraine day five. In the bed, in the dark. Grandma and grandson pull out of the driveway for Mommy & Me music class. One of the few fun places I get to take him. Not today.

I miss my son.

Mom knows all my friends, all my neighbors, routines, and cupboards. I should be thankful for this. I am.

I wanted to take him this morning. I wanted to take care of him these past few days, months, years. Ability to care for your own child is a gift.

Is this how a birth-mother feels to give up her child for adoption? This child is mine, grew in me, part of me, knows me. But now I must let someone else care for him and know him and earn his love... because it is best for him. It goes against everything in you as a mother. Best for him. Even if it means letting someone else have him, hold him, meet his needs. And your broken heart.

But this is out of my control, and deep in my spirit I know God is in control.

Behind the need for control there is always the fear. Fear asks, "What if he loves her more?" "What if he is insecure because his mother regularly fails to show up?" "What if you fail him, this most precious and beautiful life you see?"

Wise husband asks, "Are you doing the best you can? Giving him all you have?" ...Yes. "Then you are not failing."

How can this be the best I have for him? It is humbling when you know all you have is not good enough for your child. Your child, who deserves the very best. When the grandmother has to provide what the mother can't.

But this is where my prayers come in, life-giving prayers, and God fills gaps that I cannot. Where the rubber meets the road and his name means God is His Strength.

Even at two years old he depends so much on God?

So I repent of fear, fear of losing my little boy love. Because God's love alone is perfectly complete and perfectly enough.

I cup my hands and while he dances at music class with his grandma, I ask to receive the gifts of this moment. Gifts that point to the perfect love which casts out fear. And though it hurts – and though I can't see Him or feel Him in his glory passing by me in this dark cleft in the rock – I know He is there like always, filling me. And in time I will turn and see His back, the gifts, and know that He was here.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Owl eyes

Today Mara is sixteen. Where has the time gone? I've missed these last few precious years of her life. But in her card I wrote this, from Psalm 16: "You will fill me with joy in your presence."

"All's grace," I read in a new book. Injustice? Selfish moments? Illness? All's grace, and we can always give thanks, because the ingratitude was the Fall and our God redeems all and if only we have eyes to see. And if your eyes are bad, get some glasses, or the Word of God. If that doesn't work, it might just take time. Hindsight is twenty-twenty and Moses saw God's back after he had passed by.

I feel oppressed, lying in this prison bed. Door closed, life of my child noisily fleeting outside. I carried him and I still carry him in my heart yet I can't get to him. Didn't Christ come to free captives from dark rooms? Is oppression just an illusion? Or maybe it is a window. Look through the glass and see the grace behind this dark. Somewhere...

How to wait patiently in dark pain, wait for relief, world waiting outside, and instead count gifts... I stare at the light on the floor, tiny patch under curtain. Fan blades above that look like wings. I count gifts. Because God is always present and always there is joy in his presence.

Soft bed
Room-darkening curtains
Time to pray

Yes, all these gifts. Grace is here. But these I've already counted, before and before and before. What else is here in this small room without pictures or decorations? I pray for owl eyes, to see in the dark.

Which is worse, to be chronic or to be terminal? Every person who is chronic will ask this question. When it goes on and on and on, you wonder when there will be an end. And then you end up wondering if there will ever be an end, and maybe it won't get better until the ultimate end, death itself. When you are chronic, you can be thankful you are still here to see snippets of their growing up. To give them as much as possible. But when you are terminal, your comfort is in knowing the pain is winding down, ending for both of you.

It doesn't matter, she says. Either way, the end is coming for all of us. The bigger question is, How will I spend these waking moments in between?

Our red fitted sheet grew a long hole in it. It wore thin and tore. I teased Shane that it tore because he is large and always destroys things. But we both know how much time I have spent in this bed the last few years.

Bible study basics, getting out of the comfort zone or slowing life down or realizing the need for God – those are no-brainers now. Just normal life. What I need is the ability to stand long enough to do the dishes. Or to get my son a snack. To live. To stand at the window and take in light and movement. Freedom to listen to a neighbor's starting car engine would sound like heavenly praise to me, fill my cup.

To always end up in the bed, days on end, life stops. Death seems near. Hope seems distant. But, I learn, the only thing I really need to be fully alive is this: Gratitude. Can I have that here? I practice.

Heavy new sheets

How do you continue naming moments – original ones – from solitary confinement? When all you can do is sleep through the late twenties, or lie awake in the dark, hours upon hours. How to hunt for God in dreams? What is there to see in the dark?

Even here, the joy is even here, even now. I confess, I would like to see these grace moments, here. It would be so much better than praying, hoping, wishing for that imminent, ominous healing miracle minute after empty minute. Seeing any kind of God-gift now has become more needful than revealing yet one more cause for repentance.

Dark, and quiet, and pain. They are enough? We can learn and glean from them, yes. But how long, O Lord? How long in the dark? How long until I can see beauty again?

It won't be too long until the next gift. An hour more in the dark? A day? Joy will bust through that door and trounce to the bedside and say, "Hi, Mommy!"

The Mailman will call from route seven with his 742nd "Hang in there, honey. I'll be praying for you. I'll try to get done as soon as I can. I love you."

His voice
Little one's eyes

Gifts. There is always a gift, and gratitude precedes the joy, and joy keeps me alive.

Mom sends a text from downstairs: "You need to tell me how much longer you need me to stay."

She needs to get home to make her cherry dessert for dinner club. I don't answer. I don't know how. There is a hidden joy in this moment in the dark. Please, Lord, let me see it.

Mom here
Healthy child
I am only beginning this business of counting blessings. And I'm beginning in the dark. But maybe with practice, God will shed more light, and I will learn to count higher.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Life is not an emergency.

This is a rare gem of a book. Like putting glasses on. About the practice of seeing gifts of the present moment (not the past, or the future)... the now... and giving thanks. And how it brings the joy miracle.

If you are curious, Author Ann Voskamp also writes at A Holy Experience everyday.