This is mine…
I got my pastoral license in the mail last weekend. Staring at the official seal, and my name under the words “License to Preach,” I felt overwhelmed and unprepared. As I thought about Lisa-Jo’s prompt for today’s Five Minute Friday, the verse about children being a gift from the Lord cycled on repeat through my mind.
Can I be honest and admit that sometimes I forget my kids are a gift? When “mom, mom, mom” rings in my ears, my car is carpeted in goldfish crackers one day after I vacuum it, and “please just let me have one moment’s peace!” The constant need terrifies me, because I am human and I lose patience and fall short.
And now, I am a licensed minister, with an appointment in my church to oversee the spiritual formation of other people’s children and to build community. That’s a lot more need. This place I’m in is one I’ve worked towards for decades, and it truly is a gift! God dropped it in my lap and it’s the perfect type of gift: one you’re not asking for, but that so accurately meets your needs. Yet even here, I can forget for a moment what a precious thing I’ve been given.
That’s what came out of my mind today…
There’s something about motherhood that triggers so many spiritual lessons in me. I think God gave me four children because He knew how much I had to learn, and that this was the only way of getting through to me.
When I first have a hint that I may be pregnant, that little question in my brain feels like a present. Sitting there, wrapped up tight, possibilities untold. The anticipation of new life is exciting; whether it’s the physical new life of an addition to our family, or the spiritual new life of roads less traveled and paths unexplored. Then the reality of the situation falls on your shoulders. Aches and pains associated with growth, uncomfortableness and strange cravings abound…and let’s not even touch those mood swings.
It all seems to be too much to handle, too overwhelming, never-ending. And it’s all out of your control! You begin to wonder how much of a gift this really is. And then the moment of delivery occurs. All is right with the world, and you can only stare in wonder at the amazingly perfect thing that God has brought forth. Those first few hours, days, weeks are spend basking in the glory that God would entrust something so special and fragile to your care.
Over time, the idea of your gift fades as the newness wears off and things get tough. You struggle and fail. Things seem out of your control. Pain happens, and it hurts more than you could ever have conceived. Guilt that you’ve destroyed God’s perfect creation, and shame that you would have ever tried to steward it in the first place.
But God reminds: I have chosen you. This is where I have you. Keep moving forward, and follow my lead.
Whether it’s with our children, our marriages, our ministries, our careers…whatever He has conceived and birthed in your life…it’s a gift. Sometimes it just takes some reminding.
Just in case there’s any question or confusion…no, I’m not pregnant and I have no plans to be pregnant again. I wanted to make that very clear, because I know sometimes my five-minute rambles can leave people wondering if there’s a hidden meaning.
Today Elijah and Cora had their first day of school…almost two weeks after all the other kids in their class. Excitedly they put on their new clothes, carried their new backpacks full of school supplies and new lunch boxes full of enviable snacks. Cheesy grins and tilted heads came out for the obligatory “first-day-of-school” picture, and then we were off.
“I’m kind of nervous.”
The closer we got to the school, the more they shared about their fears relating to a new school, new teachers, and new friends.
“What if nobody likes me?”
“What’s my teacher’s name again?”
“When will you pick us up?”
Escorted by the school secretary, we dropped off Eli first, barely saying goodbye before she whisked us off to Cora’s class. Looking back his eyes were Charlie Brown-ish in their wide-eyed anxiety. I waved again, to reassure him, and hurried to catch up.
Cora giggled her way through introductions and instructions on where to place her lunch and backpack. She too looked fearful, but covered it up with giddy energy. Once again I’m sending a baby off to school, feeling the slight give as she pulls a step away from me.
I wanted to yank her back, hold her in my arms and run with her to Eli. The amount of change and transition they have experienced in the last few months has been overwhelming. Instead, I walked away, smiling a reassuring smile; my heart tap danced inside my chest.
Calling Josh, we talked about how nervous we each were for them, while at the same time reassuring one another that they would be fine.
And they were.
Six hours later I picked them up; they non-stop chattered about playing Lava Monster at recess, learning to write lowercase “l,” and how they saw each other at lunch.
So begins another school year…
Sometimes weeks, all I’m able to grab are these Five Minutes on Friday to link up with the community at Lisa-Jo’s place.
This has been one of those weeks.
Yesterday, my Baby Squishy Face turned three-years-old! We celebrated with chicken nugs, ziplines at the park, and ice cream! I’m so glad God gave me an Ezra!
Love stories end with a first kiss, proposal or wedding.
Babies are born in 30 minutes, and the new mom always look serene and beautiful.
Drama creates intimacy and builds passion in a relationship.
The tide always turns, the underdog always wins, the check always arrives on time.
This is not real life.
Real life is what happens beyond the first kiss, the ring slipped on a finger or the toss of a bouquet. When the shine comes off, the breath stinks, the legs go unshaved, the underwear is left on the floor and cupboard doors remain open. Pet peeves and personal quirks sting like mosquitos. At first you try to bat them away, but once you’ve been bitten you can’t help but scratch. Red bumps turn into open wounds and you have to learn to keep your hands off so that things can heal once again.
Babies grow and develop for months inside. They come on their own timing and never as quickly as you want. It’s painful, raw, gut-wrenching reality. There is beauty; there is calm and joy and love. There is also blood, sweat, tears and a really worn out lady.
Drama, left unchecked, will not result in intimacy, but rather in division and withdrawal. Life is about learning to be content in the calm, and discovering that adrenaline is fun, but will kill you if you maintain it at all times.
Real life is learning that TV and the movies have it all wrong. We have it much better.