Category Archives: motherhood

The Need for Frontiers

Since moving out West, I have found myself fascinated by literature about the frontier. What made people leave the comforts of acred land nestled with shade trees and by an abundance of water risk everything to move to a draught-stricken, untamed, and often uncomfortable land? Was it truly just a lust for land and stars and space? At what point does the risk overrun the reward of such wanderlust?

I am not the first to question these things. Much wiser and more eloquent writers have spent their lives dug into these questions which seem to grow in the parched soil of the West, Wallace Stegner, John Steinbeck, and Seamus Heaney being among my favorites.

Raising three boys, I am watching the hunger for frontiers in my own home. Whenever our stringent schedules allow, we find ourselves longing for some new hike to explore or middling mountain to conquer. When we first moved here ten years ago, I remember reading a plaque at one of our favorite regional parks about mountain lions needing thousands of acres to satisfy their innate need to roam. I watched as my then-young pack of boys ran every which way, needing their own vast territories. It seems mountain lions, little men, and their mothers still need such space.

Whenever we steal away from San Diego to find new frontiers, we enjoy ourselves, but we never leave satisfied. Even on the car ride home, fresh off of a hike (smelling less-than-fresh), we are planning our next adventure. We may not be homesteaders in Conestoga wagons, but I think the same spirit drives us both, separated as we are by centuries and technologies.

Frustrated Frontiers

If some humans are hard-wired for frontiers, all humans share in the frustration that comes when the sought-out frontier cannot carry the weights we have placed upon them. The disillusionment and insidious distilling of disappointment we feel even when we have seen and experienced natural beauty evidences that we are made for more than this life.

In his short story The Red Pony, John Steinbeck explores the theme of the disappointment that comes when we reach the limits of our frontiers. The grandfather in the story is stuck in his memories of his frontier days, though they have long past. He continues to tell the same stories, much to the chagrin of his family.

“It wasn’t Indians that were important, nor adventures, nor even getting out here…It was westering and westering… When we saw the mountains at last, we cried- all of us. But it wasn’t getting here that mattered- it was movement and westering.”

After years of telling the same stories, Grandfather finally admits the frustration on the end of frontiers, whether physical or metaphysical.

“Then we came down to the sea, and it was done…There’s no place to go. There’s the ocean to stop you. There’s a line of old men along the shore hating the ocean because it stopped them.”

Our boys have wanderlust to visit the national parks. They get it honest from their momma who gets it honest from her parents. But even the most amazing natural wonders will stop them like the ocean stopped grandfather. Even in the modern world where frontiers barely exist, we continue our westering. We simply place the frontier line as a certain level of lifestyle or a far-off benchmark of achievement. If we can’t go west anymore, we instead seek to go up- up the ladder of success, following the way of more. More money, more possessions, more adventure, more travel, more influence, more fame.

Yet, all of those frontiers have oceans that will stop us dead in our tracks.

The Father’s Frontier

The reality is that we were made for the inexhaustible and the eternal. Eternity has been stamped in our feeble hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We were made to live in the context of an unlimited God whose wonders never cease. In the words of C.S. Lewis, we are wired to keep going “further up and in further in!”

Our hunger for beauty will always outpace the beauty of this broken world. Our need for newness will always be frustrated in our sin-aged world. The shiny of a new home or a new season of life or a new toy will always become scratched. This is a severe mercy that pushes us into the Father’s frontier.

The only ocean we will encounter on that frontier is the never-ceasing ocean of His love. If, rather than seeking to move “westward,” whatever that means for you, we commit to moving deeper into His love and the knowledge of Him, we will never be ultimately disappointed (Romans 5:1-5).

Hymn-writer Frederick Faber perfectly captures this reality in “The Eternal Spirit.”

“Ocean, wide-flowing ocean,
Thou, of uncreated love;
I tremble as within my soul,
I feel Thy waters move.
Thou art a sea without a shore;
Awful, immense, Thou art;
A sea which can contract itself
Within my narrow heart.”

If other frontiers are leaving you frustrated, come join the march of the saints towards the Father’s frontier. Such a pilgrimage will last for an eternity!

Sons are Slippery

I cry during commercials and movies, but I weep at weddings. I can usually hold it together when the bride walks toward her groom, but I officially lose it during the mother/son dance.

As a mother of three sons, I cannot help but imagine myself in that position in the future. In a moment, my mind flashes back through a montage of memories with each of my boys: dancing in the kitchen, watching them ride a bike for the first time, remembering the first time they failed at something significant that broke their heart.

What seemed impossibly far off when they were toddlers toting their blankets becomes more realistic every year. One day, I will send these boys off, not merely to kindergarten or the prom, but to their own future. While they will always be my sons, the intervals between check-ins with their mother have been slowly lengthening. I remember being nervous to leave them for a thirty-minute jog when they were infants. I remember mutual tears at preschool drop-offs. As recently as this year, I cried tears dropping them off for middle school.

Sometimes I want to cling to them, to try to clutch them too close, to corral them in realms I can control. But the best way to hold these boys of mine is with one hand tightly holding the Lord and one hand loosely holding them.

Seamus Heaney’s poem Mother of the Groom perfectly captures the slipperiness of sons. While I don’t know if the Lord has marriage in store for my boys, this poem captures a mother’s heart and the slippery nature of sons well.

“What she remembers
Is his glistening back
In the bath, his small boots
In the ring of boots at her feet.

Hands in her voided lap,
She hears a daughter welcomed.
It’s as if he kicked when liften
And slipped her soapy hold.

Once soap would ease off
The wedding ring
That’s bedded forever now
In her clapping hand.”*

Heaney’s mention of a voided lap and her clapping hands reminds me that there is joy in every season. My older boys have long since vacated my lap. Their disproportionately growing feet barely fit in my lap these days. But they will never vacate my heart. And, as one who has hope in the Lord, I can smile and even clap at the future (Proverbs 31: 25).

Photo by Vytis Gruzdys on Unsplash

For this season, God has entrusted these boys to me. These days are slipping by and these boys of mine are growing increasingly slippery. But the Lord who has entrusted them to me has a love that is steady and sure. To teach them to stand firm in him is one of the highest calls on my life.

I don’t want to pitter away these precious days filled with sweaty socks and deepening voices and constant snacking. I don’t want to miss the fleeting moments that happen as we drive to school or on our occasional hikes. I want to bottle them up and treasure them in my heart.

As I raise them, I have to fight the urge to place my deepest identity in mothering. Such an ill-founded identity will fail them as quickly as it will fail me. My deepest identity must be found in being the beloved of the Lord, the daughter of the Perfect Father, the dwelling place of the brooding-like-a-mother Holy Spirit. As I fight for this identity, my prayer is that it would bleed into their own.

Then, when my lap and these bunk beds are voided, I will still have a lifetime of being siblings in Christ with these slippery sons of mine.

*Seamus Heaney. Opened Ground. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1998, 66.

A Word for Weary Warriors

Even warriors grow weary. Exhausted healthcare workers, fighting to not only serve but also truly see their patients, long to be seen. Single mommas working to keep food on the table begin to run on steam. Pastors who speak consistent truth to their congregations need someone to speak the truth to them. Deployed military personnel who leave home to keep our home fronts safe wonder if anyone even notices.

If ever there was a warrior, King David was he. He was a renaissance man long before the renaissance: A shepherd who single-handedly protected his flock from a lion and a bear; an unexpected youth warrior unafraid of a literal giant; a poet who penned songs of longing and love; a furtive fugitive who stayed alive against all odds; a wise king who led a previously marginalized people through their golden era.

In 2 Samuel 23, we hear the last words of King David as he looks back over his storied life. From the vantage point of the end, he looks back and sees a God who has made and kept covenant with him.

“For does not my house stand so with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure?” (2 Samuel 23:5).

However, immediately after his last words, the writer of the book sees fit to include a lengthy section of Scripture dedicated to his mighty men. David had a mighty God, and such a God also provided him with many mighty men.

Initially the list reads as one would expect a list of mighty men to read: A warrior who “wielded the spear against eight hundred men” (verse 8), another warrior who “defied the Philistines” until his hand cramped from so tightly holding his sword (verse 10), and other such feats of strength and bravery. However, the list shifts to those whose bravery showed itself in feats of friendship and lasting encouragement.

At a low point in his roller coaster life, David found himself hiding in the Cave of Adullam with a band of strong and ruthless enemies surrounding the valley. Loneliness and fear were wearing down event this mighty warrior. After all, even those who break through impenetrable cities have penetrable hearts pierced with longings and doubts. Is life worth the pain and weariness? Would there ever be rest? Did anyone even miss him or notice his absence? Was all of this effort amounting to anything? Even worse, had God forgotten him?

Into this literal and emotional dark cave of hiding, thirty friends came bringing life and light and hope. They found their leader weary, weak, and uncharacteristically whiny.

And David said longingly, “Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” (2 Samuel 23:15).

Photo by Anderson Rian on Unsplash

Moved by his vulnerability, three men were moved to action. They risked their lives to sneak into Bethlehem, which was then the garrison of the enemies (verses 14 and 16).

When they returned, David’s heart was strengthened, though he refused to drink the water. Realizing the costliness of their sacrifice and the depth of their friendship and devotion to him, David could not drink the water. Rather, he poured it out to the Lord saying, “Far be it from me, O Lord, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went to risk their lives?” (2 Samuel 23:17).

It turns out our hearts need companionship and love more than even our bodies need water. The reminder of those who saw him and loved him did more to strengthen him than the cup of water ever could.

Weary warrior, I don’t know what your heart longs and whines for in your weariness. But I do know this: there is a friend who not only risked his life, but willingly let his blood pour out on the ground for you. He not only broke into the enemy stronghold, but was held captive by death itself for days. He comes to you in your dark caves and moments of weightiest weariness to be with you.

May these realities strengthen and embolden your heart today, friend.

The Lord is Our Lodestar

Supposedly people are leaving California by droves. I saw a Babylon Bee this week to the effect of awarding Governor Newsom the highest salesman for U-Haul trucks. I do not want to get political. I think I am largely allergic to politics. 

That being said, I felt the weight of the world this week. I felt the weight of the reality that God has led us to have our children in public schools in San Diego (if you disagree, please take it up with the Lord himself, as we get our orders for our children each year from him). Even those who are not called to raise their children in an urban, postChristian, postmodern city must grapple with the incredibly strong cultural currents that are ripping through once seemingly (though only seemingly) serene cultural seas. 

This Friday, I spoke to our youth, a motley crew of 12-15 years olds, about identity. I had to contend for things that were once commonly presumed and assumed. But I was glad for the chance to be sharpened and concise enough in my communication of biblical identity to be heard and semi-understood in fifteen minutes before fifteen year olds. 

Our identity is not the same as our identifiers. Our deepest identity is not merely the sum of our surname, our sport, our successes, and our sex. Our deepest identity is who our Creator says we are irregardless of our feelings, failures, or foibles. As his created image-bearers, we are his by birth (Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 139; Isaiah 43:20). And those who are in Christ are twice-his. His by birth and His by rebirth (Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3: 5-8).

As those purchased at an unthinkable cost, our lives are no longer our own (Galatians 2:20-21; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

I wish I could say that I always lived in the peace and with the purpose that comes from these rock-solid realities. But, as I was teaching them, I was reminding myself. 

If I were my own, I could make decisions on my own. I could at least pretend to be in control of the circumstances around me and my children. Alas and alleluia, I am not.  

When I think about what our children are hearing and seeing, I cringe and cower in fear. I want to remove them from any trace of the evil one and lewd lies (John 8:44). But, then the Spirit leads my stirred-up spirit to truth as spoken by our Savior. 

“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out  of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you send them me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:14-18).

As I was praying this for our children, the Spirit opened my eyes to a new reality. When Jesus was praying this for his disciples (and us, as his future disciples), he knew exactly what this meant. He could not claim ignorance or partial knowledge of evil and its power, as He, being fully God and fully man, knew evil in its full, unalloyed strength. 

Jesus could likely see Peter hanging upside down on a cross when he prayed these words. He prayed this costly prayer knowing full well what Nero would do in the Roman colosseum. His all-knowing, all-seeing, all-pure eyes knew evil in a way that we never will, as we would be crushed and undone. Jesus prayed with one eye wide-open to evil and the other expectant of the keeping protection of His Father. 

Yet, he still prayed, “I do not ask that you  take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” These words, spoken on behalf of his disciples, only reiterate what he had spoken directly to them:

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs are on your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-31).

When fear of what my children may be hearing or seeing fills me, a greater fear must do the work of expelling it. My God sees, hears, and knows all. He knows the boundary lines allotted to my children. He knows the days they are living in. He chose their zip code. 

Far more important than these realities, he knows them. He knows their hearts as he knows the hairs on their heads. I am limited. I am fallible. I often don’t know what is best. 

But their ultimate Keeper does not grow weary and does not follow a circadian rhythm. He stands alert even when I sleep. He goes where I cannot go. He guards constantly, keeping watch over their souls (Psalm 121). He alerts me through his Spirit and his Word. He directs us both. He is our lodestar, the fixed point who steers us through cloud-shrouded days and dark nights. 

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Lodestar

God is the lodestar of our lives;
He keeps our course set aright.
Above even the fiercest storm,
He guides us through the night.

The Lord, our designated Captain,
With great cost has gone ahead.
He charted a course through Hades
As the firstborn from the dead.

The Spirit, our steadying compass,
Cabins ever-so-closely within.
With Christ-exalting accuracy,
He points both to comfort and sin.

With such Triune involvement,
Even broken vessels have hope.
We’ll be guided safe to harbor
Bound by love’s threefold rope.

Irrigated Souls

Our satisfaction does not have to depend on our situation or location. Our soul’s refreshment does not follow the rule of real estate, “Location! Location! Location!” The locus of our refreshment does not depend on our proximity to an external water source, but on God’s proximity to us.

If we find ourselves on a dry lot in a draught-ridden desert, our hope need not wither with heat and exposure. Consistently through the mouthpieces of the prophets, God reminds His people that He is a master irrigator. Threaded through Isaiah 42, 43, and 44 are promises of irrigation in the desert.

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water…that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it (Isaiah 42: 17-19 & 20).

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people; the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise (Isaiah 43:19-21).

But now hear, O Jacob, my servant; Israel, whom I have chosen! Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring and my blessing on your descendants (Isaiah 44:1-3).

Photo by Frankie Lopez on Unsplash

To a people whose lips were parched and who trod incredibly parched places, these promises themselves must have been like drips of refreshing water. However, we, on the other side of the cross, are the recipients of such flowing promises.

We have been given the indwelling Holy Spirit, “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). We have a built-in irrigation system until the day when we finally sit by the river of life in the restored city garden of the New Heavens and the New Earth.

However, I forget. You forget. We live like those deserted in desert places. We pine after different circumstances or seasons. We envy those with water-front or water-filled external lots. We pout as only a parched people can.

But we have springs of living water. We have Him who created the waters and all they contain. We are siblings of the One who said boldly, “If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’.” (John 7:37-38).

Our souls are better irrigated than Augusta National golf course. We don’t need a new lot. We need a fresh look at the hidden springs we have been given.

Risk, Reward, and the Redeemer

I’ve had risk on my mind of late.

It may have been taking three middle school boys (whose prefrontal cortices are not fully developed yet) hiking on a dangerous trail that triggered such a topic. Then again, it may have been the fact that we recently switched our youngest son from a small private school to a larger public school. My risk-mindedness may also be attributed to the fact that my husband and I transitioned from a ministry we have served for decades into church planting. Likely, all of these rivulets have added to the river of risk into which I have been wading.

According to a model devised by Gerald White and his collaborator John Adams, every human has an optimal risk threshold. In order to stay within the risk threshold that feels most right to who they are and how they are wired, each person is constantly balancing three factors: risk, safety, and reward.

If their theory is true, my risk temperature is arctic. I do not like the heat of change or risk. I would much rather stay within the lines and follow my norm than try something different, especially if it causes me to feel insecure or unstable. I eat the same breakfast nearly every morning; I walk the same walking route every morning; we eat a rotation of essentially the same meals every week. I sure hope the rest of my family does not have a higher risk threshold than me. If so, my methodical nature is blunting them.

Underneath these tendencies is a deep desire to perform well and get things right. I do the same things because I know those things work. I have learned to perform well in certain lanes. As such, I tend to limit my world to those lanes where I know what to expect and what is expected of me. While I would never outright say it, I don’t feel a desperate need for the Lord when I stay in my risk threshold.

Thankfully, the Lord is constantly turning up the heat and forcing us into risk thresholds that feel terribly uncomfortable. He won’t let me settle for false-safety and insulated risk. He continually calls us to new tasks and new risks which induce healthy fear, new successes and failures, and deep dependence.

The Christian life should be marked by obedient risk which is motivated by the promise of reward. Like a catalyst that helps to lower the rate of reaction, God’s promises and presence help to get us over risk high thresholds as we seek greater reward. While heaven will be rewarding, the secret to its reward is the presence of Christ. As God told Abram, who risked all he had ever known to follow a barely-known God, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” (Genesis 15:1; NIV).

We leave known jobs and known cities to faithfully follow God’s call on our lives only when we are convinced that the reward is greater than the risk. To get more of Him, we leave what we know and love.

My husband and I encouraged our son to risk a new school because we want him to know Christ not only in exposure but also in his own personal experience. We want him to have a record of God’s faithfulness to him. We want new risks to produce new rescue which produce new songs of praise to God.

Knowing our unconditional security in Christ and the unshakeable nature of the kingdom, we are enabled to take real risks this side of glory. For, as scary as they are, these risks will induce new rescue and new songs of praise.

Sing to the Lord a new son; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day! (Psalm 96:1).

If you find worship falling flat or self-reliance gaining strength, perhaps there is a risk which God is calling you to consider ? It may be as simple as initiating to someone new or seeking to share the gospel with an old friend. It may be as elaborate as a career move or a new venture. Whatever it is, let your Redeemer lead you through risk to more of Himself!

On Homecomings

Last week, our two older sons went off to camp. I imaged five quiet days of bubble baths and lattes and productive work. In reality, I found myself busy missing my boys, tidying their rooms with a maternal energy that had few other places to flow.

For the first half of the week the three of us remaining home mentioned often how much we missed them; by Wednesday, we found ourselves eagerly preparing for their homecoming on Friday. We made signs and all the things.

As right as it was for them to be gone, their absence felt so wrong. Things felt incomplete without them. The house was too quiet.

Even though they were mostly being held together by Skittles and running on fumes, our reunion was sweet. Having them back, messy and loud as they are, things were set right.

Thinking of our reunion with the boys we love so dearly made me think of the Father and His reunion with His Son. Even though it was the agreed upon plan of the Trinity before time was wound, the Son’s stepping into time surely tugged at the Trinity.

While he was on earth, Jesus kept up communion with the Father, but the communion was different than what they had from experienced from eternity. The Incarnation involved leaving and loss. It involved distance that reached its climax in the agony of the Cross. More than the unimaginable physical pain of a cruel crucifixion, the turning away of the Father wounded the Son.

While I realize it is anthropomorphic, I imagined the Father lovingly tidying the universe with excited energy, waiting for His beloved Son’s return. Our God is Trinity, so it so hard for our minds not to slip into modalism; however, I am thankful that God has given us pictures of human relationships that help us vaguely understand the nature and the heart of our Triune God.

Homecoming

Eagerly awaiting His Son’s arrival, 
He passed time straightening stars.
Though their plans were eternal,
Heaven had not yet seen the scars. 

A Son lent, a curtain rent,
A Son risen soon returns. 
A curse stayed, a debt paid,
A Father for His Son yearns. 

A wave of relief overcame him;
Searing separation was done. 
The Son would sit beside Him 
Until Heaven and earth be one.
 

The Trinity danced in delight,
Before the Spirit descended. 
Redemption was secured, 
Satan’s tyranny upended

One more reunion is coming,
A homecoming of epic scale.
Exiles will enter the eternal city 
Whose King will never fail.

For now, I am thankful that my crew is home and under one roof. But I also realize that our days together under one roof are numbered, as are our days on this spinning globe. Our deepest, most lasting home is with Him. Little homecomings this side of glory give us a tiny taste of that ultimate homecoming which will be the believer’s experience of heaven.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations, before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God (Psalm 90:1-2).

To Give You the World: Thoughts on my son’s fourteenth birthday

Yesterday, my oldest son turned fourteen. I swear we were just taking pictures of him at fourteen months, when his nearly-Irish-twin brother and best friend entered the world. In some ways, everything has changed since then, and in others, very little.

Just last week, his giant hands gently captured a tiny lizard to befriend. My eyes leaked as I remembered that his tiny hands used to do this frequently when he was a toddler. The size of those hands may have changed, but the spirit of the boy donning them has not changed too drastically.

I remember experiencing delight and wonder as his little personality began to emerge. I did not imagine then that the wonder continued even into their teenage years when little boys start to grow into increasingly independent young men.

Amidst the worshipful wondering, there is also a lot of quizzical wondering. Are we doing this right? Are we missing some glaring gaps in his development? What are his unique passions and proclivities? Will he find friends who will help him run the race God set out for him?

Amidst all those deeper questions, I also found myself wondering, “What in the world do you buy a fourteen year old for his birthday on a budget?” It was easier when it was wooden trains and bubbles. As I wondered about what to get for our growing son, the Lord led me on a deeper journey as I realized I wanted to give him the world.

If we had the means, I would want to take him to all the places to see and experience all the things. If it were in my power, I would want to secure for him the best education, a spot on the best sports teams, and all the other superlatives.

But to do all in my power to point him to Christ is better than the world.

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

In fact, to have Christ is to have the One who made the world and everything in it (Acts 17:24-25). To have Him is have all things (1 Corinthians 3:21-23). To have him is to have the friend who sticks even closer than his best friend of a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

If we could barely afford the ear buds, we definitely cannot afford to give him the world. But we don’t have to do so; Christ has already paid the exorbitant price with his body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24).

To Give You the World

I want to give you the world,
I want your joy to be complete. 
I want to secure every good thing,
Wrap it and lay it at your feet. 

The bossy, glossy ads entice me
To buy into their counterfeits-
To give you all the fancy things,
To seek satisfaction in the blitz. 

But the world I want to give you
Money and effort cannot secure,
The world I want to give you
Seems like less but is far more. 

Having Him, you have the world;
Without Him, all is for naught. 
I long for you to be wrapped
In the righteousness He bought. 

We will do the birthday lunch and the cake and all the things. But the most important work is already done by Christ, my son. May you know Him as long as you have breath.

Still Yet Still Spinning

On Earth, even when we are still, we are still spinning. This reality makes me feel less strange. After a long day of mom-ing and human-ing, when my body finally collapses onto the couch, my mind still spins.

No wonder we long for an a fixed point, an unchanging reality to grab onto as if our lives depended upon it.

Every time I hit a rhythm, the song changes. When we hit a stride, the course changes. When we “figure out” one season of parenting, we enter a new one.

The only thing I learned in ballet (besides the fact that I am not at all flexible) is that when spinning, one needs a fixed focal point.Nearly forty trips around the sun, I am beginning to see that God set us spinning so we would find our fixed focal point in Him alone.

Spinning

All made things move:
The Maker alone stays:
Steadfast, unchanging,
The Ancient of Days.
 

We move through life 
On this moving sphere. 
We cling and we clutch 
To hold our lives near. 

But balance comes only
From a fixed focal point. 
Any life, apart from God,
Is completely out-of-joint.
 

Stepping into our spinning,
The focal point-made-flesh,
The time-winder in time,
The Creator in a crèche. 

Sighing under our sin,
The star-hanger hung-
Rising higher than they, 
Life from death wrung. 

Center on the crucified,
On Him set your gaze. 
Spend your spinning days
 To multiply His praise. 

If you find your life spinning or feels dizzied by circumstances, I pray you may find your focal point in Him who set our globe spinning yet knows how to still a soul. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Flash Forward

Everyone once in a while, I see what I can imagine to be flashes of my future life. I remember being a momma of three little fellas, looking at a momma with three teenage sons at the beach, and seeing a glimpse into what our future might look like. It happens every once in a while when I look at the college students we hang out with often. But these are my best guesses as glimpses.

Jesus had more than a glimpse of his future. He knew He would die and be raised after three days. He knew who would betray Him. He knew the pain His precious mother would experience at the foot of the cross.

As I have been reading through and meditating on the gospel of Luke lately, the person of Jesus has come alive to me in new ways. Reading through His raising up the deceased only son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7), I could not help but wonder if Jesus saw his mother’s future grief as he looked at the grieving widow.

A Mental Note to Momma

I saw a semblance of our future,
Momma, today while in Nain. 
I heard the dirge of an only son;
I saw the grieving mother’s pain. 

The town gathered around her,
But they couldn’t carry her grief.
The love that I saw in her tears
Would not easily find relief. 

I couldn’t bear to look at her,
For in looking I saw you. 
Her maternal grief pierced me,
I felt it all the way through. 

I cannot stop the pain to come,
For my death will save your life. 
But knowing a momma’s heart,
I could not ignore her strife. 

At the bier that bore her son, 
I told his cold body to arise.
Listening, he came to life,
Much to momma’s surprise. 

I rode the wave of her relief;
My soul soared with her smile. 
I saw our future joy, Momma,
Though it’ll have to wait a while. 

I cannot tell you these things,
For you wouldn’t understand. 
As such, I bear a double grief,
Knowing all He has planned. 

Your tears will be a river,
For you won’t leave my side. 
For three days in heavy grief,
In desolation you’ll reside. 

The widow of Nain may join you,
Confused mothers you’ll be. 
For I who saved her only son
Will let them hang me on a tree. 

But tears won’t have the last word-
Father’s stories in ashes don’t end. 
For in times, I myself will also arise 
All death with life to suspend.