Endings and Beginnings and a Mama’s Heart at Graduation

This weekend found me in the basement digging through old pictures with tears in my eyes, gathering snapshots of Luke’s life to display at his graduation open house. I’m not sad that he’s graduating (he is SO ready to be done with high school), I’m not even sad that he’ll be moving out in a couple of months (ask me how I feel about this in August and maybe you’ll get a different answer?)

I’m sad that time passes.

I’m sad for the moments we won’t ever get back.

I’m sad that I’ll never again kiss that little stubble-less face, or feel the fierce love of his 5 year old body jumping into my arms. I can still see the mischievous gleam of his younger self in his adult eyes, that kid will never outgrow his love of shenanigans. But he has outgrown  hearing laughter in any room of our house and running to be in the middle of whatever is going on.

He’s also outgrown my mommy-super powers. I can’t kiss his owies and make them better any more. I used to be able to cure hurt feelings, overcome any insults his day held, by saying, “Are you kidding me? You’re AWESOME dude!” My words were weighty, but they haven’t worked that way in 5 years.

We’ve already seen how the hurts and hardships of adolescence shaped and made him stronger, so I know I  shouldn’t shield him. But boy, do I wish I could. I want to fold him into my arms and protect him from his own mistakes and others’ opinions and the heartbreak of living in the world. But I can’t, and I won’t.

So we’ll release him out into the world, taking the next big step in the journey of trust that is parenthood. We’ll trust our kid, and we’ll trust the seeds that we planted all these many years, and we’ll trust that his roots are deep enough to hold him strong through every season. But most of all, we’ll trust our Father God to work all things for good, to take even the saddest things in his life (and ours) and make something beautiful.

I can’t stop time, or hold onto the past. So I’ll remind myself that – like all the best things in life – this is both an end and a beginning. All I can do is be present, and give thanks.

I’ll keep seeing the little boy in this amazing, strong, Jesus-loving man we raised, and I’ll thank God. For Luke, for our family, and for time, even when it seems like there’s never enough.

 

We've already seen how the hurts and hardships of adolescence shaped and made him stronger, so I know I  shouldn't shield him. But boy, do I wish I could. I want to fold him into my arms and protect him from his own mistakes and others' opinions and the heartbreak of living in the world. But I can't, and I won't. So we'll release him out into the world, taking the next big step in the journey of trust that is parenthood.

(Because I know I’ll get asked… The hand-lettered sign in this pic was my Mother’s Day gift, done by Lovewell Lettering, in partnership with The Hope Venture and Mercy for Mamas. I LOVE it almost as much as I love the organizations its purchase supported, I assume they’re still available if you want one!)

Advertisements

Sometimes you have to shout joyfully, even if you aren’t feeling it. {Psalm 100}

When my kids are especially full of complaints I make them give me 5 things they’re grateful for, telling them “Thanksgiving is like magic, it makes the grouchies go away.” It worked like a charm on my oldest but the younger two are more resistant, determined to fight for their right to be in a foul mood (wherever could they get that from??)

I’ve been praying the Psalms as a spiritual habit for the past few months. I guess I’ve been doing it for the past 100 days, since I prayed Psalm 101 this morning. Though I’ve missed some days, and there were a few Psalms that spoke so directly and poignantly to my exact feelings that I stayed with them for a few days.

It has been a good and life-giving habit, celebrating the character of God and being honest about the realities of life. If I can pray the Psalm for myself and others as a “we” then I pray for us all. If I can’t relate at all to the circumstances of the Psalmist, then I think of someone or a group who could relate, and I pray for them. It has been stretching and good, teaching me to pray beyond my own present experience.

Most of the time this practice has stretched me toward praying for hard things I don’t often experience – enemies, the need for revenge, oppression. But this week I was unexpectedly stretched by Psalm 100.

Sometimes you have to shout joyfully, even if you aren't feeling it. {Psalm 100}

The 100th Psalm is a favorite favorite, a passage I’ve read and written and sung and taught and LOVED over the years. But yesterday I wasn’t feeling it. At all.

It was a tired Monday morning, I woke up with lots on my mind, and I wasn’t exactly in the mood to start my day by shouting joyfully to the Lord. I wasn’t really even feeling much like sitting joyfully in the Lord.

Psalm 100 is only 5 verses long, so I wrote out the words in my journal and made myself think about them. This song is a call to praise Yahweh, 7 commands in 5 verses:

SHOUT (Joyfully)

SERVE (with Gladness)

COME (with Joyful Singing)

KNOW (the Lord is God)

ENTER (His gates, His presence, with Thanksgiving and Praise)

GIVE (Thanks)

BLESS (His Name)

It wasn’t really in me in that moment to shout or sing joyfully, and I was feeling a bit resentful about serving with gladness. But in verse 3 I found something I could do:

Know that the Lord Himself is God, and we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

So I stayed there for a while, knowing that the Lord Himself is God. And then I found that I could enter His gates (His presence) with praise, I could give thanks and bless His name.

In verse 5 we’re given the reason to answer these calls to praise:

The Lord is GOOD. His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.

That is true truth, true on a grouchy Monday morning, true on good days and bad, true for the rich and for the poor, true for us all. The Lord is GOOD.

And I realized: I was grouchy because I was fighting battles in my mind that are not my battles to fight, fighting battles with people who are not my enemy (people who are, as Psalm 100 reminds me, His people and sheep of His pasture.) I had my eyes on little things rather than the one BIG thing (The Lord is GOOD.)

And as it turns out, Thanksgiving IS like magic. It chased my Monday morning grouchy away. I was able to enter my day with thanksgiving and serve with gladness.

Even I still wasn’t ready to shout.

Sometimes you have to shout joyfully, even if you aren't feeling it.

 

The trouble with the Goodness of God {Living on the Rock}

Thinking about God’s goodness this week for my Living on the Rock Bible study, I felt like I need a whole list of caveats before teaching. As I worked through the study, time after time I came up against issues and misconceptions about God’s goodness – either in my own heart, or as I imagined different objections and questions I’ve heard over the years.

Practically, the biggest issue I have with this is that Christians so often respond to people’s pain by saying, “God is good.” Right, but His goodness is not very obvious when we’re in pain and trauma.

I wish we would stop doing that. Continue reading

How to enjoy God more {Living on the Rock}

This week in my Living on the Rock Bible study, we talked about God’s goodness.

O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! (Psalm 34:8)

WHAT DO YOU THINK IT MEANS TO “Taste and See that the Lord is Good”?

We had a great discussion of this question. My favorite response was a friend who shared that it made her think of holding a new born baby. Not that God is a baby – but that when you hold a newborn, you don’t hold her at arms’ distance. You draw her close, feel her fingers and toes, drink in that precious baby scent.

What a beautiful picture of what God is inviting us to do: To draw Him close, to take Him in, to use all of our senses to enjoy and learn Him. Continue reading