November 21, 2016

Far From Perfect Blessings

Fresh powder, leaks quiet from the heavens, dressing the barren branches white. Moon's light spills across snowflakes...each one unique. Pure. Perfect. Beautiful. But soon humanity will make its mark and all that will be left is a muddied mess to gaze upon.

In a matter of days the hustle and bustle of the kitchen will commence. Each soul within these walls-unique; each one bringing to the table their own scrumptious creations, gifts, brokenness.

Ironstone will line the planks while hungry men in collar shirts jump into chairs and wide-eyed little ones wait for pie. We'll gobble Jell-o with cheese, argue about the correct way to smother potatoes with gravy. Votes will be cast for the annual pie contest. Laughter will ring as bellies and hearts fill. At the close of the day we may play a game of Monopoly that will last until the wee hours.

But the best part will be when each one sits in the middle of the circle and words of love, grace, and life are poured upon them.

We know each others brokenness. For a lifetime we've gazed into the faces of those around this table and we know the fears. Regrets. Struggles. Pain. The words that we wish could be taken back and the words that remain unsaid.

Our family is far from perfect.

In our own way we've all made a muddied mess. The babies of the family remind us of lives unscathed but they too will join the brokenness of this world one day.

No one escapes it.
It's relentless.

But - God. He's not afraid of a mess. From dirt he erected his most prized creation: Man - made in His own image. He takes ugly, messy, broken people and brings beauty, order, wholeness to those who trust him. Shattered hearts get pieced back together. Yet, He allows the cracks to remain pouring out His light so others too can see...have hope.

As I sit at the table this year I can choose to focus on all that's wrong, all that's not as it should be, disappointment, pain, the possible diagnosis or I can choose to trust that God is etching something  beautiful. I can be grateful in the middle of messy knowing He holds us in His hands.

Until then...

October 31, 2016

Pumpkin Patch Lessons

He jumps from the wagon full of wonder and excitement. This is what he's come for. Tiny sneakers sink - slip in mud and my chunky toddler topples to the wet earth. He jumps up quick. His denim now a few shades darker. But I can see the eagerness burning through those cornflower blues. Hundreds line the hem of the field but they're not what he's seeking. Up a steep slippery slope he scales. I'm trailing behind thinking I should have guzzled another cup of coffee. His eyes searching the expansive field until finally he finds it. An orange sphere with a thin, long, rough handle.

The call is out. Time to head back. Quickly! We trudge our way through the never ending rows of orange but his legs only go so fast. With two bursting bags in hand, I'm unable to carry him and of course he insists on carrying his treasure which makes us all that much slower. They're yelling. Waiting just for us. We're close when he trips into the sticker vines. Wiry thorns impaling palms. I try to get them out but he grabs his prize and continues his journey. Once to the hill he rolls the pumpkin down its slope. He rolls down as well and continues on. Exhausted. We finally reach the wagon. He with flaming globe in hand and a gleaming smile spread about his face. So proud!

 I was proud too. He carried a heavy load quite a distance and never allowed himself to become distracted, discouraged, or thrown off course. He finished with his prize.

I need to remember this lesson more often. It's so easy to be distracted by the yelling pressures. To be discouraged by how far the journey is or by people who pierce my heart with their hooky thorns. So easy to stumble and fail, become a muddied mess, feel sorry for myself, quit- it's just too hard. I sometimes become overwhelmed with exhaustion trying to do it all in my own strength. Yet as Christians we're told to trust God, stand firm, and run our race well to the end.

The tenacious spirit of a two year old reminds me of truth: When it gets hard... keep going. Press into Jesus and do whatever you have to do but keep going to the end and never give up...until you see Jesus face to face.