Thursday, October 30, 2014

On Eighth Birthdays And The Stuff Of World Changers

Well, today you turned eight years old and on birthdays we mommas remember.  We go back to that day when we first laid eyes on our babies and remember how our world changed.

You changed our world for the better with your handsome smile and belly laughter and unbridled enthusiasm.  With your ability to keep us laughing and all your curious questions and your deep sensitivity to the heart of God and compassion for others.

There is a light in you, Trevor!  You have given your heart and life to Jesus.  I believe you have a God given destiny and purpose, that you will grow up to be a man who will in some way have changed his world for Jesus Christ.  

I believe you are a world changer.

When you were just a little guy, the two of us had this thing we did.  After teeth were brushed and bedtime prayers were said and lights were turned out, you would scoot over in your bed to make room for momma and say in that small voice that couldn't quite get all the right sounds out, "Wet's talk about fings!" 

So talk about things we would!

I would ask you question after question.  No matter that you had answered the same questions the night before! I would ask about your favorite color, your favorite food, your favorite Bible story, your favorite song.  Some of the answers remained the same and others varied over time, but these bedtime conversations gave me such insight into who you were.  You would always delight at the chance to be known and heard (not to mention stay up a few minutes later).

Over time, early school mornings made for less lingering at bedtime and those particular conversations now happen more infrequently. But every once in a while I'll still crawl in next to you and your Florida Gator pillow pet and hear about all your favorites.

The other night you were sick and as I kept late night watch to see if the fever stayed down, out of the dark I heard your voice, now more mature..."Let's talk about things!" So talk we did.

You still like blue and you still like doughnuts though you were craving nachos (with a fever?) and your current favorite song is "We Believe" (which I love hearing you sing word for word from the backseat) and right now your new favorite Bible character is Paul.

Oh really, why is that?

"Because," you answered, "even though he was shipwrecked and thrown into jail,
 he still held on."

I caught my breath. Yes, son, he did. Because you see, that's the thing about world changers.  That's the thing about the Pauls and the Nehemiahs and the Noahs and the Josephs and the Johns and the Daniels and the Trevors of this life. 

When the world around them seems to be spiraling out of control, when they face obstacles and opposition, when others sell out and let go, they hold on. They hold on to the promises of God, they hold unwaveringly to the Word of God, they hold tightly to the heart of God.

I believe great things for you, Trevor, because I believe in a great God who is alive in your heart and life!  I believe you can grow to be a mighty man of God and serve Him all the days of your life! I see this desire in your heart.  We pray for this as a family each night at bedtime.  We pray believing.

So hold on, my son.

Today and as you grow, hold onto God and the things of God.

You see, He is already holding onto you! He loves you so very deeply.

And so does Momma.

Happy Birthday, Trevor! Thank you for changing my world.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What Love Does

Four generations of women walked down that sunny hallway together, the two in the middle pushing the youngest and oldest along.  The oldest looked back from her wheelchair to the baby in the stroller and quipped, "See, when you get older you get to have a ride too!"

It was a cheerful moment as sunlight streamed through the windows, one that didn't tell the whole story of how dark shadows have fallen on the oldest mother's mind and how age is crippling her body.  Of the struggles and private pain her daughter has gone through as the roles have reversed over the past several years.  Or how the oldest mother now often refers to her daughter as "Momma."

It's an interesting thing, this matter of love.  When it is lived out it can be painful. Love doesn't just push wheelchairs and strollers down hallways, it has to push through the times in this life that seem unbearable. The times when you honestly aren't sure if you are going to make it. When you don't feel like you can do it.

Love, I have learned, often has to show up before the feelings do.

I am often concerned for what our world thinks love is.  In our fame and celebrity obsessed culture, I fear we have begun to think the red carpet has to be rolled out for us for every single thing we do.  That love has everything to do with "feeling" elevated, worthy, attractive, the center of attention, or whatever we desire to feel rather than being something we actually do.  That love supposedly has something to do with self-centered quotes and lists that are posted and reposted all over social media, instead of about laying down self for someone else.

Let me tell you, the real stuff of life and love is not found on the red carpet or internet memes.  It is found in the corridors of rehab facilities and hallways of homes.  It is found in the changing of diapers and Depends, in sickness and health, in adversity and prosperity, in families gathered around dinner tables and hospital beds, in laughing until you cry and laughing because if not, you are going to cry.

It is being willing to do hard and holy and humble and habitual things.

Being willing to do the mundane.

And eventually finding joy in it ~ or choosing joy when you can't seem to find it!

Love is generations embracing the beauty of life, but staying together in the pain of life.

Wrinkled hands holding onto fresh, new skin.

Husbands and wives holding onto each other in good times and bad.

Parents holding tight then gradually letting children go.

And one day children doing the same with parents.

This cycle of life, what a miraculous, beautiful, painful, amazing thing it is.  The collision of beauty and pain is what makes it all so very real.  We can't love without laughing and we can't love without hurting.

But in laughter and pain and all the in between, we can show up. Even if we have to show up before our feelings arrive. Choose love. Do hard things.  Lay ourselves down for someone else.  And not need credit for every single thing we do.  We can be willing to do the thankless work that needs to be done because we know this life, this unhemmed, complicated, beautiful life, is temporary.  So we must serve with eternity in mind.  And we must try to love like the Creator and Sustainer of our souls.  Like the Author of our lives.

The One who really knows of love as sacrifice.

That daughter, she washes her mother's feet on Saturdays.  She has done this on good days, and she has done this on the hard days when she didn't really feel like it because the challenges of a confused mind have caused frustration or conflict. Knelt low and washed those bent and arthritic feet simply so they will be clean and fresh, not knowing that all the while her own daughter has been watching and seeing glimpses of Jesus in this.  She has felt guilty on the hard days, not realizing she has taught her daughter an even greater lesson; that love perseveres, it pushes past feelings to action and serving, even bending low when many would walk away.

Now her daughter will teach this to her daughters.  And pray they teach this to their daughters.

So future generations will continue to walk down the halls of life together.