August 2009


Mothering

 

 

So…Christine Sine of Mustard Seed Associates has been doing a series on Spiritual Practices this entire summer. It has been fascinating to read (and be challenged by) how others connect with God in their everyday lives. I have resonated with quite a few of the writers and have enjoyed their eloquence as they expressed a practice we share in common. I’ve been reluctant to join the conversation however, partly because of my insecurity of a piece of writing being “good enough” but more often because every time I go to write something…I am interrupted by two fascinating creatures called “my children”.

 

You see, I am often asked what I do, and that is tough to answer. I am a photographer, I have a background in education and tutoring, I am always in the process of working on some artistic project, but when it really, really comes down to it…I am a mom.

 

(Excuse me for a minute…I’ve just been interrupted by a little boy in need of a morning hug!)

 

And it dawned on me this morning that my mothering is a spiritual practice!! Though much of what I do on a daily basis is mundane, tedious and repetitive (and will never get its own reality TV show), everyday those repetitive actions lead me into a deepening of my walk with God.

 

As I watch my children from a distance, I smile at who they are becoming and am amazed at their creativity and abilities. And so I enter into the delight of a Parent Whose eyes sparkle at the very sight of His children.

 

As I feed, clean, touch and hold my children, I surround them with the security of a love that will always take care of them. And so I am reminded that I too have a Love that is very present to take care of my even little everyday needs.

 

(Wait another moment…I need to go make morning conversation and laughter with my pre-teen…a sometimes daunting task!!)

 

As I discipline my children, I do so not to crush them, but to help them grow up into healthy habits of thought and living. And so again, I enter into the work of God as He becomes the Master Gardener who prunes our lives and trains the branches to grow in the direction of His pleasure.

 

As I stop what I am doing when I am interrupted (as I am thousands of times a day), I send a message to my children that they matter, they are listened to, and they are important. Does not God do the same for me? He is never annoyed by my “interruptions”, but rather calls me to come to Him with any care, question or concern I might have.

 

When I ask them questions and have conversation with them…when I do their laundry…when I remind them to pick up after themselves…when I take a lunch to school after it has been left at home…when I help a procrastinating child finish a school project…when I remind them to be nice to each other…when I say no…when I say yes…when I cook food that is good for their bodies…when I go to school performances…when I remind them to take their vitamins…when I comfort tears…when I celebrate victories…when I love their dad…when I tuck them into bed at night…(did I mention all the “when I remind them” phrases??) all these things teach them what it means to live as a family, belonging to one another. And it leads me on a journey with God into His family and as a member of the tribe. As I mother, I am lead into the rhythms of God, the grace of God, and the unstoppable parent-love of God. And as an added bonus, He calls me to co-labor with Him and help continue the rhythms, grace, and love in this world.

 

Now…if you’ll excuse me, there is toast burning in the toaster, kids need to eat breakfast, and we need to get out the door in about 3 minutes!!! Ahh…that all sounds so spiritual doesn’t it??

 

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destinyCross

Perhaps a prophetic call to us all in the church in the West???

When Jesus sent his disciples out on mission, he told them to be poor, to take nothing with them.  And he told them to do things that were impossible for them to do all by themselves.  So it is for all missions.  Communities and their members are called to be poor and to do impossible things, such as to build community and to bring healing, reconciliation, forgiveness and wholeness to people.  Mission is to bring the life of God to others, and this can only be done if communities and people are poor and humble, letting the life of God flow through them.

Mission implies this double poverty, but also trust in the call and the power of God manifested through poverty, littleness, and humility.

In the degree that people and communities are rich, self-satisfied, proud of their competence and power, and want to do things that they know they are capable of doing, then they can no longer be instruments of the life of God.  They give what they have, which is their self-satisfaction.”   ~Jean Vanier

Thinking about men and women, especially within the church.  Thinking about some new friends we have just met.  Thinking about how we interact with one another.  Thinking about marriage today and what an amazing man I am married to… these words dripped down my pencil and begged to be written:

beauty

Beauty is elusive.

She is a timid little soul…reticent to come out of her safe places.

She is a creature that takes time to draw out from her carefully constructed enclosures and fear filled anxieties.

She does not come out into a clearing too quickly,

Nor does she respond to impatience or quick movements.

*****

The one who would wish to see beauty must sit repetitively and quietly.

He must risk extending a hand to her- into her darkness – knowing he will be bitten.

He must be willing to bear the scars of beauty’s teeth and not pull back into his own hurt.

His gaze focuses kindly upon eyes that stare back at him through the dark undergrowth – in fear, distrust, and self-protection.

This one must speak in hushed tones

with gentle but strong words.

Because beauty knows falseness and withdraws from it.

So this beauty whisperer must always speak truth but within the cadence of love.

*****

For beauty is afraid to come out into the open

-she is afraid of others

-she is afraid of laughter

-she is afraid of being crushed

-but most of all she is afraid of herself

of her strength, passion, and blinding brilliance

Beauty finds it easier to hide and live in shadows because she does not need to come face to face with her glory!

And the one who would call beauty out must also not be afraid of that glory or her power.

Oh no!  He comes with a strength all his own, knowing he will protect her and her strength will become synergistic with his.

THIS is why he is patient

THIS is why he calls

Because he sees her, fully glorious, though she hides,

And knows he is made complete with her emerging.

PossibleLoveOT copy 2

On the back of my car I have a sticker that says “Love Wins”.  I put it there because it is the phrase I want to live by.  Love won me over and I am watching Love transform a few around me whom many thought were un-transformable.  Even when hate and distrust and contempt seem to be the prevailing story, I want to cling to the truth that “Love Wins”.  I want to remember that I stand on this side of the cross and the resurrection – where Love won its decisive victory.  Now I want to be an agent of that powerful, unstoppable Love.

“My Lord is the source of Love; I the river’s course.

Let God’s love flow through me.  I will not obstruct it.

Irrigation ditches can water but a portion of the field;

the great Yangtze River can water a thousand acres.

Expand my heart, O Lord, that I may love yet more people.

The waters of love can water vast tracts,

nothing will be lost to me.

The greater the outward flow, the greater the returning tide.

If I am not linked to Love’s source, I will dry up.

If I dam the waters of Love, they will stagnate.

Can I compare my heart to the boundless seas?

But abandon not the measure of my heart, O Lord.

Let the waves of your love still billow there!”

-Wang Walton