Monthly Archives: October 2013

For When Your Children are a Mirror (and God Reveals Grace)

For When Your Children are a Mirror | Faith and Composition
She came running in the other night with red, swollen eyes and tear stains on her cheeks. It had been one of those evenings … an evening when a three-year-old, foot-stomping, not-going-to-give-in tantrum collided with the persistent tenacity of a mother who’d had enough. 

At dinner, she flung herself off her chair and refused to eat the food on the plate set before her: homemade bread, grass-fed beef, fresh green beans with carmelized onions. Food that would nourish her, sustain her, fuel her. Food that I’d spent a good amount of time preparing. Food I had selected to suit her little taste buds and her growing body. She asked instead for a piece of candy. She requested to exchange that which is good, healthy, life-sustaining for that which is void of nourishment and sustenance. 

We said no, and she threw herself onto the floor, tears streaming from her eyes.

Later, as I put the baby down, she came toddling into the room. As I heard her footsteps approach, I gritted my teeth. She was interrupting the baby’s bedtime, and she’d worn me down, tested my patience, pushed the limits. I wasn’t exactly feeling like the picture of compassion and grace.

So I shot up an arrow prayer. A quick request, muttered under my breath … I’m not even sure I uttered words. It was more of an inward groan from a frustrated heart.

She crawled into bed, my hard heart softened, and I wrapped my arms around her little frame. And as I rested there, wondering what I was supposed to learn from a girl who has the stubborn will of Jacob, I began to see myself in her. Not just in her likeness—though we do share an uncanny resemblance—but in her spirit.

I may not stomp my foot and throw myself onto the floor (not in a literal sense at least), but I regularly choose to exchange the never-thirst-again Living Water for a cheap counterfeit. The Lord offers words to nourish, His spirit to sustain, His son to save … and all too often, I reach for the candy.

She falls asleep nestled beside me, and there’s still a bit of ugly bitterness clinging to my heart. And I realize that’s where the analogy breaks down. Because despite the fits I throw and in spite of my ever-wandering heart, there’s never any bitterness, judgment or patience-wearing-thin with Him. I’m the prodigal son, and He’s the father. Not once or twice, but EVERY DAY. Every day my obstinate heart stomps its foot and throws itself upon the floor, and every day, in spite of myself, He not only receives me, but He pursues me with unrelenting love!

My mom laughs when I tell her about the girl’s stubborn will, and she says she’s just like me. It’s true, of course. God often uses our children to reveal things about ourselves. Indeed, this little one is my mirror.

She’s nestled near me, and her breathing steadies. She sleeps secure, enveloped by my arms that comfort and my heart that overflows for her. And the reality is that she and I … we’re both washed and we’re held. Washed by grace that covers all our iniquities, and held in an everlasting embrace by arms that stretched wide across the breadth of a cross and the span of eternity.

Does God use your children to reveal things about yourself? Please tell me I’m not the only one who has an object lesson on a daily basis!

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Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on Amazon

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The Gift of Family and Our Weekend

Family and our Weekend
There are bursts of lightning outside the window and the rain pounds down as I lie with the baby and soothe her to sleep. Just one room over, delighted bursts of laughter echo down the hall. This is laughter that wells up from my two oldest children, my husband, brother, sister-in-law and mom. The latter three have all traveled the distance of three states to spend the weekend with us. They loaded the car by the light of day and arrived at our doorstep after midnight.

Family and our Weekend

Throughout these past few days, we’ve trekked through the zoo, walked the breadth of our new lot, cheered on the boy at his flag football game, broken bread around numerous tables and browsed a few shops along a quaint and bustling Main Street.

And though their visit brings with it an undeniable mess of luggage and scattered shoes, a disruption to routine and a tangled mess of towels and linens, this blending of three generations beneath one roof also weaves a tapestry of life well lived and people well loved.

Family and our Weekend

Family and our Weekend

There are no airs with these people, this family. No pressure to impress; no fear of judgment. This is the beauty of diversity and the blessing of acceptance … this coming together, this gathering of family.

There are wounds we each carry, present hurts and a specific heartache that grieves the soul. And yet this is the place where those burdens are lifted, the place where heartaches are shouldered. In this coming together,  we come alongside one another, and we share in all the brokenness and the beauty.

Family and our Weekend

These three generations are bound by a bond that cannot be broken. We love despite differences, and we laugh despite our blunders. My children know what this coming together means: they know these people offer arms to soothe and a smile to assure, voices to tell stories and hearts to receive.

Family and our Weekend

This is family. This mixing of opinions and personalities, this taking as we are, this forgiveness of mistakes, this unmerited acceptance.

The girl laughs and begs to “go higher!”, and I listen from the bedroom with a smile. This scene … it’s love without restraint; beauty unmasked.

What does the coming together of family mean to you? How is beauty displayed within the bonds of your own family?

I tapped this entry out several days ago, but I’m just now getting the chance to post it. So although it’s quite late, It was inspired by Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. Her prompt last week being: Together. I’m also linking up with Mary Beth at Annapolis & Co

In Christ Alone {A Free Printable}

In Christ Alone, free printable | Faith & Composition
As I drove the kids to school on Monday, this song came streaming through my Pandora playlist. The words renewed my spirit and energized my soul! I sung it all day, and the melody echoes through my head even now. The words are so powerful, so true; they are a healing balm, an enduring promise. Read the familiar verses with fresh eyes! Let the truth of these words fall on an open heart and be encouraged. He who took on flesh, bore our sins, died on the cross, and rose from the grave … HE is your hope, your cornerstone, your solid ground, and nothing can pluck you from HIs hand! If you do nothing else today, let that truth sink in to your deepest places.

With this song repeating in my mind, I sat down and drew a little art piece with the words. It’s hand-drawn, so it’s not perfect. But I like it, and I thought you might too. So I used it to design an 8×10 printable for you. Just click here for the printable, free for personal use only. And if you like it, please bless someone else by sharing the link with them as well.

Have a lovely day, dear friends! And if you’re interested in a Pandora station that will bless you with a combination of current praise songs and some reinvented old hymns, add “Whom Shall I Fear” to your station list. It’s a good one!

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

 

 

A Weekend Recap {The Pumpkin Patch}

Weekend Recap | Faith and Composition
This weekend brought with it crisp air that carried a little bite. The hubby and little man woke early Saturday morning to serve at the home of a widow in our church. Alongside a few other men and another strong four-year-old, they raked leaves, cleared gutters and put skin on James 1:27. (The little boys may have also spent some time inside with a mug of hot chocolate!) My husband has a servant’s heart, and it’s a blessing to watch him cultivate that character trait in our son.

I spent the morning arranging some new furniture and styling the dining room, complete with a two-year-old and nine-month-old in tow (is there any other way to do that when you’re a mom?). If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the shot I shared during the process. The re-arranging was in preparation for a photo shoot. And later that afternoon, as the sun stretched overhead, I welcomed a beautiful baby girl and her precious family into our home. Sweet baby N couldn’t have been a better subject, and her big brother was the consummate gentleman! I’ll be sharing pics from her shoot later this week, so you’ll have to check back soon to see her session! But until then, here’s a sneak peek at one shot that Makes.My.Heart.Melt!

Baby N | Faith and Composition
On Sunday afternoon we made a trip to the pumpkin patch. We’ve turned this farm into an annual tradition, and I like this specific pumpkin patch for its compact, manageable size and yet wide array of activities, including a rather impressive corn maze.

Weekend Recap | Faith and Composition

Weekend Recap | Faith and Composition

The comedy of errors that ensues when trying to get a picture of all three. The comedy of errors that ensues when trying to get a picture of all three. Don’t worry … Daddy was standing just out of the frame with his arms at the ready.

The maze is the highlight of the trip for my son, and it’s no wonder. There’s a certain sense of adventure when you’re romping through a field surrounded by 6- and 7-foot corn stalks. Never mind the fact that the key to the maze is simply to stay to the right … there’s a small sense of wonder nonetheless. Blue skies overhead, dirt beneath the feet, and a wall of green on either side will do that. God’s glory is revealed in His creation, and even the smallest encounter with nature is good for the soul!
 

Weekend Recap | Faith and Composition

Weekend Recap | Faith and Composition

Weekend Recap | Faith and Composition

We only brought home one large pumpkin, since the kids and I have already amassed a little collection of small ones. I just can’t help myself! Every fall I am caught up in the splendor of the season, the brilliant array of colors and textures, the bountiful provision of foods that are uniquely designed to sustain us through the cold season ahead. I love bounty like squash, pumpkins and root veggies not only for their ability to be stored and used throughout the season, but also for their vibrant hues. Those foods harvested in the autumn provide a much-needed splash of color when the gray days of winter languish.

Weekend Recap | Faith and Composition

Weekend Recap | Faith and Composition

Weekend Recap | Faith and Composition

How was your weekend, my friends? I’d love to hear from you. Let me know how these beautiful days treated you!

Linking up with Annapolis & Co, and Wild and Precious.

Laundry and Grace

On Laundry and Grace | Faith and Composition

It sits on the baby’s rocker in a tangled, wrinkled mess. That pile of clean laundry I pulled from the dryer three days ago, that pile of laundry I’ve yet to find the time or the strength to fold. Just one room over, the boy’s bed is stripped bare. A midnight potty accident necessitated the stripping of sheets and the cramming of textiles into the wash machine.

There’s a pile on our closet floor and a filled-to-the-brim hamper in the girls’ room. It never ends. This wearing of clothes, dirtying them with the stain of soil and the stench of sweat, then drenching them in water to be pulled out clean. The cycle repeats, on and on.

And that’s the thing about motherhood, it goes on and on. This feeding of mouths, this calming of fears, the spit-up stains, the late-night wakings, the dirty diapers and the potty training, the disciplining and the redirecting, the encouraging and the loving.

It’s hard, humbling, holy. And sometimes it feels like too much.

Where is the verse that says: “Thou art a mother to three kids five and under. I will endow thou with super powers.” It’s not in there … I’ve looked.

But then I look harder, and I see what is in there … a story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things through the power of an all-mighty God. A regular girl who saved her nation, a fisherman who got out of a boat and walked on water, a tax collector who encountered a blinding light and the living God and brought the message of grace to the world. Ordinary people, indwelt by an extraordinary God.

That Jewish girl reminds that me I was brought here for such a time as this, and the fisherman proves the impossible is possible, and that tax collector encourages me to run the race with perseverance. And my God? He takes the soiled and the dirty, and He washes it clean with the blood of His son. And He steps into the magnificent and the mundane, and He whispers into the depths of my soul that His grace is sufficient for me.

The baby wakes in our bed, where I laid her for her nap, and I pick her up to find she’s soiled her diaper, and there’s poop on our sheets. Another stripping, another washing, another pile of tangled, wrinkled fresh-from-the-dryer sheets. Yes, it goes on and on, and there are times I feel like I’m failing, but with the right perspective, this laundry, this beautiful mess is all a reminder of the sufficiency of His grace.

Sufficiency for salvation, sufficiency for life, sufficiency for motherhood.

This post is inspired by Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five-Minute Friday series, just five minutes of unscripted writing on a prompt she posts each Friday. Today’s prompt was laundry, and I’m linking up with her here. You can find my other Five-Minute Friday posts here

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