I have always been impressed by my friends who could create art–people like Amy. I have also thought that “creating art” was an esoteric gift for those privileged few who had a certain instinct.
Then a few months ago, my nine-(now ten!)-year-old daughter announced that she wanted to be an artist when she grew up. A simple, and perhaps typical, childhood dream, but we learned about a local offering of a watercolor class. I agreed to be a chaperone to some young painters. After a few sessions, the teacher, noticing my interest, suggested that I join the class as well.
I started looking forward to class with an odd sense of anticipation. “What would Judie have for us to do today?” I’d wonder. And each week, a new little piece of wonder would unfold as I sat with my palette and paper.
So here it is, dear readers: proof that with a little instruction, anyone can learn something new. :-)
“Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:2
A few months ago, one of my engineer friends introduced me to the idea of a “marriage equinox.” It’s when you have been married longer than you have been single. A few clicks on a date calculator, and I learned that my husband was unmarried for 8,377 days. As of today, he has been married for 8,377 days. He found this worthy of celebration and brought home half a dozen beautiful roses, reminiscent of the ones from our wedding day.
In those 8,377 days, my husband has learned how to be a husband. Sure, he read all the required books before we walked down the aisle, but the “boots on the ground” learning must be done by doing . . . by shoveling snow and warming the car, by making dinner when a pregnant wife lies sleeping on the couch, by meeting downtown during lunch break . . . by a million little things that all add up to one big, glorious thing called marriage.
On a drizzly January afternoon when we held hands and pledged it all, we were all hopes and dreams. Since then we have navigated the maze of job changes, address changes, six kids, a challenging diagnosis, joy and heartache, pain and pleasure. We are nearly twenty three years in–not long enough to be experts, but long enough to know that there is a mystery here. It is a mystery of wonder and mercy. It is a little, shadowy picture of Christ and His Church, lived out in the northwest corner of Vermont. It is an equinox of grace.
It came to my e-mail inbox–the high school notification of freshman orientation. You would think I would be used to this, having already sent three children to the high school. But I got a lump in my throat and quickly closed the e-mail. I just don’t feel ready.
But whether I’m ready or not, she must go. And just like the others, she is ready to go. I guess I am just wanting to savor the childhood of my children, and high school feels so.grown.up!
Let this be a lesson to me to savor each day of her high school years–I know there will be happy ones and hard ones. There will be the requisite ups and downs that mark the passage to independence. But as she gazes on her Savior, I know she’ll do just fine.
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Psalm 34:5
Here I sit at an empty screen. It has been a while since I’ve posted. In that space of time, I’ve been at once busy and quiet, full and empty. At times I have felt as if I have nothing to say. At others, I have so much on my mind that I can’t begin to organize my thoughts.
I have wondered why I keep this record . . . why anyone might want to read what I write. And what is the point of adding my voice to the many other voices competing for our time and attention? I have considered the “information overload” and the “opinion overload” that clutter the internet. And honestly, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by it all.
Then I came across this little quote, and it got me thinking. I found it in a devotional book which I recently purchased from an antique store, and it appeared on the entry date for my birthday. Perhaps there is something of value here:
“Give what you have; to someone it may be better than you dare to think.” –Longfellow
So here is my humble offering. I will give what I have–random musings on the ways my faith intersects my very ordinary life.
And I offer an invitation. Come rejoice with me! There is so much to celebrate! The simple joys of home and family, the quiet hours in the Word, the beauty of New England–I want to share it! Mine is not a perfect life, but it is a redeemed one, filled with eternal favor. It is marked by joy that is deeper than sorrow and peace that is greater than pain. Mostly, it is simply a testimony to how good God is and how undeserving I am. Thank you for sharing my joy with me!
Here are just a few pictures that capture the essence of our summer:
She had a headache. She looked at me with that desperate gaze. I know what this feels like–when the world is spinning and your head is throbbing and you can’t even string a logical thought together.
I brought her to the couch–my littlest one–and we lay down and she fell asleep with her head on my chest. I fell asleep too, my eyes heavy with the weight of the day.
It was good to have her close to me. Close and safe and filled up with love. Was this the last time I would hold her like this, feeling her warm head nestled under mine, hearing the sweetness of her sleeping breath?
And can I tell you how many times I’ve said “No” to her? . . . “No, I can’t snuggle tonight because . . . ya-da, ya-da, ya-da.” But this time I gave a delicious “Yes.”
I was late to my meeting that evening, but I wasn’t in a hurry. Instead I took joy in the goodness of saying “yes” to an irretrievable moment . . . one I’ll never have back, yet will hold forever in the hollow of my heart.
Just this from Spurgeon today:
“The fair earth is full of tokens of God’s presence.”
And this from the Word:
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
Stillness. I find it in the quiet of the morning . . . in the hush of the night.
I find it in the edges of the day.
How can I find it in the middle?
When there are broken arms and spilled milk, piano lessons and orthodontic visits?
Yet, there is this command: not to find stillness, but to be still.
To be still and know.
To know that He is God.
To listen to the One who commands the surges and swells of my own heart, “Be still.”
A friend recently reminded me to consider the goal of stillness. Quietness of heart is not merely an attitude of resignation. It is so much more. It is meant to teach me how my portion might fit me for His purposes . . . how I might bring glad glory to Him in the middle.
Yes, even when the laundry is five loads deep, or the call comes in from ski patrol, or the little one with the tender heart needs just one more hug . . . this is when He speaks, “Be still.” When the school kids are late out the door, or the muffins fall in the soapy sink, or the tire goes flat on the way to church . . . this is when He speaks, “Be still.” This is when He reminds me that He is God. And He is good.
linking with WriteAlm’s daily prompts for February
It’s a new year. Still, the Christmas tree shines in the corner, a sweet reminder that the joy of Christmas is meant for all days. I’m linking up this evening with a prompt from Write Alm. Today’s words: “In the Beginning . . . “
In the beginning it was dark. Cold. Void.
The nothingness begged for Redemption’s voice.
Was it a whisper? A shout? This divine imperative . . .
calling forth life.
Day, night, sun, sky, water, breath . . . life.
The beginning was good.
eternity clothed in flesh.
Redemption’s voice crying in a teenager’s arms.
A heart beating life.
The silence of years stilled by an infant cry.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
The light shines in the darkness, beginning again.
The beginning is good.
Write Alm January Prompt-A-Day
Anna Noelle. Her name means “God’s grace at Christmas.” And that is what she is. All grace. All undeserved.
We had all but closed the book, then she came. On a day filled with cold December rain, she filled the room with her infant cry. God’s grace at Christmas.
Each child is a miracle. Each one formed in the secret places. Each one brought by the will of the Father. But the unexpected ones–they remind us of the gift.
I remember holding her tiny frame in the wee hours by the Christmas tree. This beautiful child. She slept and I held her in my gaze, willing my weary, postpartum eyes to stay open, longing to hold that moment forever.
I knew it was my last time. And I fell in love all over again.
Now she is all words and friends and cartwheels. She has laughter in her eyes and joy in her heart. We can’t imagine life without her in it.
She is a reminder that when God gives a gift, He wraps it up in a child. And the greatest gift–it was wrapped up in a Child too. A perfect, sinless Baby. God’s grace at Christmas, meeting my deepest need.