Wednesday, May 7, 2014

that time i spoke to a room full of joy...

{yesterday, i was asked to speak at a joy club luncheon at my parents' church.  the sheer name of the group made my heart dance.  here's a little bit of what i shared with these women, and a few brave men!}

we find ourselves just two weeks past easter and embarking on another celebration this sunday.  mother's day.  a day to celebrate women everywhere who have nurtured and loved babies until there hearts ached. i applaud all of you who have rocked thousands of miles in a chair to quiet a restless baby.  all of you who have tread across the hall one more time for that last sip of water or potty break or kiss goodnight.  all of you who have stumbled in the dark of the night to tuck that toddler safe into bed.  all of you who have sung the same song on repeat for what feels like years.  all of you who have gotten your hands dirty wiping noses and bottoms one minute and painting or playing with PlayDough the next.  all of you who have lost your breath blowing bubbles in the yard and dizzied yourself spinning fast in circles.  all of you who have taught tiny legs to pedal and kissed the boo-boos when those legs fell to the concrete.  

i celebrate all you mamas who have forged the path for mamas like me to travel.  i haven't been on this motherhood journey long.  almost three years.  but i have traveled long enough to have learned a few things along the way.

on may 20,2011, i literally drown in the deep, blue abyss of my newborn daughter's eyes.  every emotion imaginable flooded my heart...gratitude, joy, love, awe, fear, panic, unworthiness.  no amount of preparation or motherly advice can strengthen you for that flood.  i imagine it isn't covered in any books.

as i lay in that hospital bed, washed in a sea of pink, flailing in the waves of all those emotions, and surrounded by my family and friends, i did the only thing that made sense.  i offered my daughter back to the very One who had called me to be her mother.  for i knew in that moment, the only way i was going to be able to mother well was on my knees before the throne of grace.

i've gotten a lot wrong in just three short years.  but His grace is unending.  and His abundant love keeps moving me forward.

i tend to get lost in the laundry that never stays clean.  or the dishwasher that never gets unloaded.  or the dust that continues to pile high.  or the floor that holds more crumbs than our plates hold food.  

my gaze holds focus longer on the fingerprints on the door.  and the toys strewn all over the floor.

often, i get stuck in the rinse and repeat cycle of unpacking and packing bags and wiping noses and washing hands and redirecting behavior and tying shoes.  

as mothers, we have a tendency to focus on the situation instead of seeking the One who has all the answers.

no one can fully explain to a new mother the sacrifice involved with bringing life into this world.  might i suggest there is no higher calling or example of dying to self than motherhood.

motherhood bends and serves and delights and laughs and cries.  it cheers and rallies and encourages.  motherhood prays and worships.  it celebrates and claps.  motherhood teaches and directs and guides.  it shapes and molds and presses.  

motherhood teaches us to lose ourselves and our wills in an effort to point these tiny rewards to the Cross. 

but good gracious, it is a hard battle to cling to the blessing of motherhood some days.  on the days when there are fingerprints and stains everywhere.  or when your reward sasses or stomps, or heaven forbid, spits. when your teenage child veers way off path or curses or fails.  when your adult child makes decisions you are less than fond of.  when you watch your own child agonizing over their young children.  

those are the days we have to white-knuckle grip the blessing of motherhood.  those are the moments we have to remind ourselves that God's abundant blessings are held by grace.  

a couple of weeks ago, i landed on a passage that stirred my heart.

"later, Jesus appeared again to his followers by lake galilee. this is how it happened:  some of the followers were together—simon peter, thomas,  nathanael from cana in galilee, the two sons of zebedee, and two other followers. simon peter said, “i am going out to fish.”  the other followers said, “we will go with you.” so all of them went out and got into the boat. they fished that night but caught nothing. early the next morning Jesus stood on the shore. but the followers did not know it was Jesus. then he said to them, “friends, have you caught any fish?”  they answered, “no.”  He said, “throw your net into the water on the right side of your boat. you will find some fish there.” so they did this. they caught so many fish that they could not pull the net back into the boat.  the follower Jesus loved very much said to peter, “that man is the Lord!” when peter heard him say it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around himself. (he had taken his clothes off to work.) then he jumped into the water. the other followers went to shore in the boat. they pulled the net full of fish. they were not very far from shore, only about 100 yards. when they stepped out of the boat and onto the shore, they saw a fire of hot coals. there were fish on the fire and some bread there too. then Jesus said, “bring some of the fish that you caught.” simon peter got into the boat and pulled the net to the shore. it was full of big fish—153 of them! but even with that many fish, the net did not tear."     ~john 21:1-11

did you catch that?  
Jesus already had a feast prepared for them.  yet, He abundantly blessed them with 153 more fish.  more than they could carry, and still the net was not broken.

i suppose the net did not tear because it was the very Hands of grace that held the blessings.

God's abundant blessings are always held by His hands of grace.

a mother's laboring does not end the moment newborn sweetness is placed in her arms.  i am learning that a mother will labor her entire life over her flock.  

those who have tread before me know what that feels like, i suspect.

motherhood should never be confused with sainthood.  and womanhood is not about being a wonderful mother.  

instead, it is all about being loved by a great Father.
a Father who lavishes grace upon us in immeasurable fashion.

wherever you find yourself on this journey of motherhood, may we live this calling worthy of the Gospel.

be lavish in love, extravagant in truth and big spenders of grace.
let's dare to find the joy in it all.  every last bit of it.
may we count it all as grace from the Hands that hold all things good. 

for when we find joy in everything and count it all as grace, our hearts are open to experience the abundant blessings He floods us with on a daily basis.

may you all have a blessed mother's day.  and may you know that you are adored beyond measure by the One who called you to this ministry of motherhood.  keep mothering on like only you know how.  for you are a super hero and a warrior on the front lines.

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