Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Search My Heart


Isaiah puts the vase on the dining room table. I look up from my computer and my soul swells.

“Look what we found for you,” he says.

Lonny and the boys had been running errands and this surprise delights me. The vase is a tall cylinder and there are tulips inside. Some petals and still closed in tight buds but some are opening and the color holds the promise of spring. Red-yellow. Colors of warmth and sunshine and good things to come. Logan brought be a similar vase of tulips a couple of years ago, and these speak to my spirit the way those did.

The tulips move my thoughts to spiritual things because these are not cut flowers. The tulips still grow from bulbs. At the bottom of the vase, there’s a small, round platform and the heart of the flowers rest here. Roots reach downward for water.
 What is normally covered and protected is on display. The secret place is exposed.

It’s how I want my heart to be before the Lord.

I think of David’s prayer and it seems to me to be most brave.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! Psalm 139:23 ESV

Sitting there, I think about how what we present to others is often the up-right stuff. The stuff petals are made of. The good, wholesome, bright, lovely-to-look at things. But deep inside, there are other things. For me, worry. Fear. Anxiety. Places where trust is a struggle and peace wears thin.

Search my heart, O Lord!

I want to invite the Lord to into this that is buried and covered and protected. Into what is hidden from view. Into the center, the pared-back place, the at-the-core place that only He and I know of.

Lord, let your healing light, your love, mercy, strength, grace and glory shine into what’s covered and hidden. I invite you into my deepest place.

“Do you like them, Mama?” Isaiah asks.

I pull him to my lap and run my fingers through his fine, blond hair.

“I love them,” I say. “Thank you.”

I’m grateful for this gift on the table.

The love-offering that prompts a prayer.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Longing for Lovely (And Finding It)

He is good to everyone, and his compassion is intertwined with everything he does. Psalm 145:9 TLB

I pull a sock from a wild tangle and then root through the basket for its match. It's Sunday night and our early Monday morning piano lesson sounds sweeter if the boys have something on their feet.

I'm embarrassed to admit it, as I search and sort, but I'm soul-sad.

I've just watched the final episode of Downton Abbey.

I loved Downton for a hundred reasons. The brilliant storyline that twisted and turned. Characters so real that their plights settled on my own soul. But if I pare it all back, past Lady Mary and Tom and sweet Mr. Bates, I will miss the beauty. The clothes. The hairstyles. The bedrooms with furnishings and fireplaces and that library rich with books and extravagant things. Even the formality of period English life, etiquette and manners and tradition, brought a crisp-lovely elegance to the ordinary.

I long for lovely.

I wonder if a woman's heart is carved this way. I don't know. But sometimes lovely is hard to find when dishwashers and toilets overflow. When the children fight. When the need to vacuum is steady as breath. When real life means the real threat of wearing second day socks.

I match two red Nikes and wonder.

"What are you doing, Mama?" Isaiah asks. He wanders into our school room, steps over heaps of laundry, and sits beside me on the sofa.

"Socks," I say.


Isaiah presses close and we fit, like God knew we would. He leans forward, toward the basket, and begins to sort socks. He matches one pair. Then two. And when he notices that I'm still, he looks up and smiles.

And I understand that I don't have to long for lovely.

God brings lovely to the ordinary. He places an abundance of lovely straight in the center of my day.

It's rarely loud or attention-grabbing.

It's not the shining extravagant that shines of extravagant grace.

It's in the every day. The moments so small that hold His vast love.

Lovely surrounds us because the Lord is present and He promised to never leave. Because He is Creator and creation bears His love. Because He is good enough and kind enough to provide glimpses of glory that override circumstance and bring sustaining grace.

I sit beside my son, together in this task, and know that I don't have to long for lovely.

Lovely is in the Lord.

He's been here all along.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hatching the Day - Expectant Living

Isaiah finds me in the schoolroom checking Gabriel's math fact sheet. He stands beside me. Close.

When I look up he's smiling - so big it shines through his green eyes.

"Will you hatch this for me?" he asks.

I'm confused. Then he pushes his hands forward. He's holding a clementine, orange and round, in the nest of his small hands.

"Sure," I say. "But Zay, fruit doesn't hatch. It's peeled."

"Okay," he says. "That's fine. But I can't wait for what's inside."

I start to peel his fruit. The skin is tight and thin and comes off in ragged strips. And while I'm peeling, I think about his words. I can't wait for what's inside.

That's how I want to open each day. Expectant. Full of hope. Ready to embrace, savor, the goodness of what is to come.

I want to expect that God will bring good things. I want to see His grace in the small moments. I want to breathe in and out, knowing He's beside me, a Father of compassion and grace, loving me, guiding me, speaking to the quiet places of my heart. No matter what the circumstances are. Even in tough times. When life leaves me weary, His Presence will bring good things.

You have let me experience the joys of life and the exquisite pleasures of your own eternal presence. Psalm 16:11 TLB

Zay waits patiently until the smooth barrier is removed from his fruit. I hand it back to him and he breaks a crescent away and pops it into his mouth.

I can see that it was worth the wait.

Zay and me.

Waiting for the wonder in sweet, hatched things.

Thank you, Lord, for being with me. Thank you, in advance, for what You'll do today...Amen.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

When Children Grow

He’s so small, standing on the swim block.

I’m on the bleachers, hands clenched to fists, heart hammering maybe faster than my son’s.

We’re in Chicago for a swim meet. A month ago, at a local meet, Gabriel swam the fifty meter breaststroke and made a Regional time. Since then, he's practiced his stroke and his turns and his dive from the block.

Today is the day.
And as the whistle sounds, as he springs from the platform and glides into the water, as he moves long and straight below and then breaks the surface for a breath, I marvel at this boy's growth.

When he first started swimming, he couldn’t make it the length of the pool.
The first time he dove from the block, he flew like a frog – arms and legs splayed in the air.

The growth of our children...

When I look back, the memories are sweet. I remember a toddler who slow-stepped across  hardwood, grinning toothless and reaching for my hand. I remember running alongside bikes when my sons first rode on two wheels. There was holding a babe when his neck was strong enough to lift his head, and he no longer curled into my chest. And sitting by an emergent reader as he sounded letters into words. And pressing the car keys into the hand of an eager young man.
There was pride and joy with every achievement. Soul-deep pleasure with every measure of growth.

Sometimes I wonder if God, my Father, feels the same.
Does He feel pride and joy when I reach for his Word and hold it as life-changing truth? When He calls me to rest and in His Presence and I do? When I hear the heartbeat of His love and I choose faith over fear? When I feel His grace and strength and I don’t try to fight on my own?  When I understand the protection and comfort of the shelter of His wings?

Spiritual growth.


Stretching and growing into beautiful things.

But they delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws and thinking about ways to follow him more closely. They are like trees along a riverbank bearing luscious fruit each season without fail. Their leaves shall never wither, and all they do shall prosper. Psalm 1:2-3 TLB
Oh Lord, give me a holy hunger to know You...
Gabriel pulses through the water. Up and down. Up and down. The clock stops and he climbs from the pool and finds his coaches. There’s a hug and a fist bump for this little guy who is still wearing goggles and a cap. He’s done well.
Lonny squeezes my hand and warm tears come fast.

I’m  happy for my son.

A parent rejoices in a child's growth.