Monday, July 25, 2016

Transient Joys

Last night my husband rubbed my sore shoulders. It felt so good that I breathed a sigh of rapture...but I was anxious the entire time. 

Ha! I know that doesn't seem to make much sense but the thing is that shoulder rubs never last quite long enough for me. Keep in mind that I grew up the youngest of my family, so I was always the Back Scratcher rather than the Scratchee. To have my back scratched, then, or my shoulders rubbed or my feet massaged, or my hair played with, is a decadent delight that I just can't quite enjoy because I anticipate that at any moment, it will end. Yes, this session of shoulder rubbing may have lasted for three minutes, but it's unlikely that it will last much longer... so instead of enjoying those three minutes I anticipate the end with anxious disappointment. I'm goofy that way. 

This morning, I snuggled my baby. Grace was warm and sleepy and she sort of melted into my arms; in that stage of morning sleepiness where she was content to suck her fingers and let me hold her tightly against me, her forehead pressed close to my cheek and her sweet morning breath, slow blinks and stillness of content driving me just about crazy with love. The moment was more valuable to me than a treasure trove (or a $10,000 shopping spree at TJ Maxx... which is really saying something...) but again, my heart vacillated between deep, endless contentment and sadness--actual grieving-- at the fact that the moment would end soon, and in a few months the snuggles would be rarer, and never again would she be quite so small and squishy and perfectly "baby" as she is now. 

Moments ago I sat on my beautiful little back porch. Cup of coffee, good book, birds singing around me and the verdant green of Summer around and above me because tree branches are welcome infringers on our porch space. I stopped and breathed it in and looked around, and the happy contentment grew cloudy with disappointment that Summer will be gone soon, and mornings will be too cool to sit on my porch, and I'll have to retreat to the living room for my morning devotions again before I know it. 

Do I sound melodramatic, or foolish? I am, a little. I know it. 

I grieve the passing of a moment before it is even gone, often. I don't like that about myself. I suppose in my desire to cherish small joys and treasure big ones, I dread their end prematurely. Am I ungrateful and foolish, or is it that as I grow older wisdom has opened my eyes to see the transience of joy more than I used to? I'm not sure... I suppose it would be a blend of the two. I do know this, though: I know that every time my heart longs to hold on to a joy for just a bit longer, or feels sadness of one passing away, I'm reminded that a day is coming when joy will not end. When I will live in the very presence of the purest Joy my heart has ever known; joy such as I can only fathom in a tiny way through the love of my husband or the sweetness of my baby girl or the bright, musical peace of a Summer morning on my porch. 

So, I will channel that longing I feel when joy fills me and then I feel it sift through my fingers fleetingly like sand. I will ask Father to help me to watch it escape me without greedy grasping; with peace. With thankfulness. He's given me earth joys because He loves me and because He is kind and beautiful and SUCH a Giver. But He hasn't given them to me so I can grasp them. He's given them to help me remember that in HIS presence is FULLNESS of joy... at HIS right hand are pleasures FOREVERMORE (Psalm 16:11)!!! And they won't end! His presence will be the fulfillment of every minutely beautiful and happy thing that has ever made my heart smile, and when I am there, with Him eternally, I will no longer have to wonder when it will end or how long it will last, or why I can't fully enter into it. 

A loving shoulder rub, my Beebee's snuggles, this Summer morning... they all point me to His presence where Joy is full and pleasures won't end. I'll remember that and I'll love Him more, anticipating my life with Him, when the fleeting earth-sadness clouds my enjoyment of all this. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A treasury of small moments

I'm sitting here, holding my baby girl, and just looking at her. I don't want this moment to end, but I want to document it. So I'm voice typing this into my phone so my hands are free to hold my little one. I know so well that these moments are fleeting, that they'll end. I know that I won't always be her world. She won't always grin the second she hears my voice in the morning and her eyes won't always scan the room until they rest on me. So I cherish these moments. 

She was sleepy, and I was about to lay her in her crib, but instead I decided to hold her. To let her fall asleep in my arms, and to look down at her sweet little face. When I look at her, I'm overwhelmed by the responsibility I have. To pray for her, to invest character and knowledge and skills in her which will carry her through life. A responsibility far too huge for me-too big even for her dad and I. It must be the three of us: Ryan, me, and Jesus. It makes me want to walk closely with my Father. I need His daily wisdom and I need His perspective on how to raise this treasure. How to do you bask in small moments, and not let them slip through your fingers like sand? How do you recognize small miracles in the commonplace nuances of your baby's growth and development?

Two weeks ago, her tongue was always outside of her mouth. Licking things, sticking in and out like a little lizard, making us laugh. Last week, no more tongue. Instead, she spit and sputtered air bubbles constantly. It was the funnest past time for her little baby mind. She had discovered that her mouth could do something new. This week, no more spitting. It's yelling and screeching. Experimenting with her lungs at a decibel of – literally – 101. (Ryan measured it with his iPhone app.) she shouts with all the gusto her little frame can conjure, stiffening her legs, pointing her toes, and her little forehead growing red with the exertion. She makes herself cough, doing it, and her eyes grew wide as she looks at me with an expression of, "did I do THAT?" And I laugh, and pretend that I can't wait until the screeching stage is over,… But really, I'm cherishing it. Because it will be gone next week, and I wonder what the new fad of her little life will be then. I want to erect a monument honoring each phase, each stage, each milestone, so that they aren't lost. I'll forget some of them. I know I will. So all I can do is store them in my heart now, smile, delight in them, stop and take time to watch them. Parenthood is too precious to allow myself to do it on autopilot. I must stay engaged. I must learn to treasure small things. I must rely on Jesus to help me do so.

I'm drawing closer to Christ as I learn how to do this thing. I'm recognizing his Father-heart. I'm blown away with the budding realization that He delights in me like I delight in Gracie! Parenting is so choc full of poignant beauty. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

He just wanted to be where Jesus was.

He wanted to be in on the action; to see more of the glory of God firsthand and be a part of it.

He probably wanted the security of knowing that if the Legion came back, Christ would be right there to cast them out again and deliver him.

He probably wanted to be far from the neighbors who had seen his nakedness heard his shrieks and fearfully bound him with chains for his own protection and theirs.

Surely following Jesus was the best way he could use the rest of his days. He would give his life for Christ. He would walk with Him and serve Him in any way Jesus asked him to. He would see great miracles, and maybe even be part of them. He would live dangerously to follow this controversial Healer and he would be able to tell multitudes in many different regions what the Master had done for him.
Maybe Jesus even needed him.

So he asked--no begged--Jesus one simple thing: "Let me be with You."

Jesus refused.
He refused!!
Jesus, the Man known for saying "Come, follow Me" refused to be followed by this man. It must have stung like rejection.

"Return to your own house, and publish what great things God has done for you."

So he did. He returned to the home he had left in infamy with nakedness and shrieks and chains. He returned to hold conversations with people who couldn't  look in his eyes without remembering his shame. He threw his whole heart and soul into proclaiming the praise of his Deliverer throughout the entire city.

Following Jesus meant staying home, for this one man. And he did it well.

It may not be on the mountain’s height,
Or over the stormy sea;
It may not be at the battle’s front
My Lord will have need of me.

So, trusting my all to Thy tender care,
And knowing Thou lovest me,
I’ll do Thy will with a heart sincere,
I’ll be what You want me to be.