Category Archives: daughter-gift

the sweet and bitter…

friends holding hands

they are still best friends. and when you are four-almost-five, a year or two together is quite a significant portion of life. a year of separation, due to a family move, has not dimmed their friendship. two mother-hearts are torn when they mention missing one another.

she loves surprises, this sweet daughter-gift of ours. and we love giving them! this time it was a few precious hours, shared with others, but a chance to eat pizza and giggle and dance and just be friends together again. a time to renew and reaffirm the depth of childhood friendship. a time to forget the separation and miles and hours now required to enjoy what they once took for granted.

the inevitable tears came. copious tears. a child’s sorrow is hard for all to bear. the deep, unchecked emotion of childhood. the great joy replaced by grief.

as I tucked the still-sorrowing girl into bed, we talked about the roller coaster emotions of the day. was it worth having those precious few hours together when it made her so terribly sad now? “oh yes, mommy. I would rather see her for a little and be sad than not see her at all. she is my friend and I love her. even if I am sad now.”

I left her room with the refrain of Psalm 84 running through  my head, with its modern adaptation:

Better is one day in your courts

Better is one day in your house

Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere

how amazing! better is one afternoon with a dear friend than not being together at all. better is one day in God’s presence, in His courts, than a thousand without Him.

even more amazing is that, unlike leaving a friend and feeling bereft of their presence, we have the gift, not only in the here and now, but into the infinite future, to live each day with God, to be in relationship with Him continually.

there is no bitterness of separation, only the sweetness of days, of life, together.

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of saints and vegetables…

(photo credit: the St. Nicholas Center)

she is three years old, this daughter-gift of ours.

old enough to start understanding what is going on around her, the bits and pieces of Christmas and Advent and all the hype and even the character set.

Jesus. Santa. Mary. Joseph. Frosty. wisemen and shepherds. elves. bell-ringers.

all mix together in a tapestry of fact and fiction, of reality and story.

sorting it is difficult. being a parent sorting it and shaping your child’s understanding of a most important day and season can be daunting. allow some childhood fantasy? or burst the bubble from the beginning, telling her there is no Santa Claus, knowing that her honest little heart will inadvertently burst another child’s fantasy?

the Christ-child is real, of that there is no question. bringing the season together, sifting the spiritual and commercial, was overwhelming.

until we stumbled on a simple tale told by vegetables. it is no unusual thing to find a Veggie Tales show or movie playing any given day in our home. but I was not expecting this particular tale to grab my attention and heart, shifting the focus of Christmas squarely back to Christ.

Nicholas was a Christian man of some means, orphaned early, and raised by his uncle. he shared his wealth and resources with others in Christ’s name, resting firmly in the knowledge that all he had came from, and subsequently was, God’s. along the way he became the Bishop of Myra, and eventually a saint and pop culture icon.

cuddling our daughter-gift through this story, Christ began a new, or refreshed an old, work in my heart. what if my own giving was influenced by an overflow of gratitude for what God has given? what if I gave because He had?

the shift was almost palpable. the frenetic schedule of the season slowed. the pressure released. what if?

the gift lists changed. the reasoning was different. additional gifts were added. others removed. where might encouragement lie? where might He be asking me to give, to give beyond my list on paper?

a handmade gift or two found its way under the tree, bits that would be treasured for memories evoked and new ones made.

the grace of Christ, His compassion and mercy, to me and each person I come into contact with, was overwhelming.

Nicholas gave because he could not ignore the source of his resource. He gave out of gratitude and love.

the grip of commercialism slipped a bit this year. and I am glad. praying it continues, really.

as for our daughter-gift, there is no longer a discussion of allowing a few years of childhood fantasy with Santa Claus. that also shifted as we watched the vegetable telling of this biography. her earliest teachings about Santa are steeped in reality. and they are taking hold in beautiful ways.

she asks for money to drop into red kettles. toy boxes are culled for bits others might enjoy. a goose figure for a friend with a farm set. a teapot for daddy because he has none of his own. an elf doll for me, its silly smile meant to bring cheer and make me laugh. simple gifts, given from her own bounty. because Jesus and mommy and daddy love her.

there are smiles and waves as she spies the mall Santa or a yard decoration. it makes sense in her world that Baby Jesus and Santa reside on the same lawn. and in a way, she is right. strip the commercial Santa away and Nicholas remains, a man who continually pointed others to the Christ-child and His ultimate Gift.

may we do the same.

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Filed under abiding, being, daughter-gift, gratitude, John 15, life lesson, simple, spiritual formation

small graces…

lollypops

it was supposed to be a quick errand run, positioned on the edge of lunch and nap-time. our little daughter-gift is pretty laid back, even when the boundaries are pushed. so off we went. post office. bank. grocery store.

the lady at the bank did not offer a lollipop. the lady at the other bank always does, so this was confusing to my back seat passenger. she was easily placated with the promise of a lollipop or piece of gum at home, a cookie at the grocery store, or a cookie later in the evening when I baked. only one. the lolly won out. gum has been such a favorite lately, that I was certain it would be the sweet of choice.

it had to be a record for one of our shortest runs to the grocery store. less than twenty minutes. we emptied the cart contents onto the conveyor. and then it happened. the checker-lady asked her if she wanted a lolly (after a covert question to mom) and which color she would like. she chose green.

happiness knew no bounds for my girlie! all the way to the car, she told me over and over how the nice lady gave her a treat. it was such a yummy treat. and I was a kind mommy for letting her eat it before lunch.

there she sat, in the grocery cart, jabbering away, as I opened the car, dropped my purse and keys on the seat, hit the button to unlock the other doors, and closed the driver’s door. I always open her door before closing mine. always. for some reason, not today.

her door was locked. my door was locked. I’d hit the lock side of the button instead of unlock. my keys, phone, and wallet were locked in the car. we were stuck outside with our groceries, in the driving wind and drizzle. and my husband was out of town for a meeting until after lunch.

and that little green lolly? it became a grace gift, distracting her off and on for the next hour as we waited for the man to come and “break our door” so we could get in and go home. her little mouth was busy and happy, ignorant of the fact lunch should have been consumed. the sugar shot kept her going when she was tired. not enough to make her difficult, but just enough to keep her awake and interacting with me.

there are people who say God does not care about the small details of our lives. I disagree. the kindness of many at the grocery were important. the candy made a frustrating situation so much easier. and the best part? as we wheeled back into the store to find help, the little face in front of me looked up and said, “Mommy, we need help. we really need help, don’t we?” yes, sweetie, we need help. sometimes it is hard to admit we need help. today there were no other options. easily spoken words.

and before we could even ask Him for it, there was provision. more than we could accept. a ride home from the delivery driver. a booster seat loan. a hot lunch in the deli. kind and generous. a mirror of His grace.

it ended up being a short wait for the tow truck man. less than a minute to open the car. and we were on our way. from start to finish, less than an hour. but minutes filled with grace and care. before we could even ask.

God cares about the details.

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days on the calendar…

It was one of those days. A date on the calendar. For most, just a date. For me, an anniversary. A painful one.

Dreams shattered.

Life swirling around despite it.

Holding to Jesus. Desperately clinging to Him.

A heart and body wounded, never to be the same.

New questions. A paradigm shift.

A fresh sensitivity inward. Someday to turn outward and hold others in a similar place.

We all have them. Quiet anniversaries. Sacred. Shared with few. Life hurts that remain quietly remembered.

Walking wounded all. Feeling so very alone.

And yet not. Others have tread these familiar paths, so new to us, so unreal.

Death of a loved one. Job loss. Diagnosis. Car accident. Miscarriage. Relationship destroyed. Betrayal. Devastating confession. And so many more.

It is good for me to remember dates like these. They remind me that we all carry heart hurts. And most often we do not know the significant dates on someone else’s calendar. They may need some extra grace, a smile, a kind word. Things that cost me so little time, such small effort. Being¬† Jesus’ hands and feet. Bringing some Barnabas encouragement.

More than just a date on the calendar…

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I bring Easter!

we were packing for vacation. lots to do, many bits to remember before packing ourselves into the van and embarking on our journey. suitcases, plastic bins, and miscellany were everywhere. thankfully, the stress was not. it was a casual packing, with time for bits of fun in the middle of it all.

suddenly she brought her little suitcase into the living room and started “packing” by herself. I’d planned to fill it with toys, coloring books, dolls, books, and the sundry bits little girls like to have along. being distracted by my own packing and figuring I’d empty the case later, I let her pack whatever she wanted.

“mommy, I ready now. my suitcase is packed and I bring Easter to Nana.”

I thanked her for packing so thoughtfully. she moved on to her little beads and games. I kept packing.

eventually bedtime rolled around and I asked her to find some jammies. she went straight for her suitcase, unzipped it, and pulled out a set of jammies. it was my first glimpse into what she had done earlier. one pair of jammies. a baby book of pictures. her tiny princess dolls, a book, her teddy bear, and lots of Easter eggs (even a bag of Easter basket grass!)

she had thought through what she wanted to bring for her trip to Nana’s and what treasures she wanted to share. most importantly, she wanted to share Easter.

the little suitcase was so sweetly packed that I did not have the heart to disassemble and repack it. and it has me thinking about Easter and her statement, “mommy, I bring Easter to Nana.”

do I bring Easter? do I live the heart of Easter and carry it everywhere I roam? is Christ central? am I a goodwill ambassador for Him in how I live?

I have realized that bringing Easter is an amazing goal, a worthy pursuit, a lifestyle worth living every day and in every way. bringing Easter means bringing Christ, His mercy, love, hope, and message, to others. in order to do that and do it well, I need to be living it.

the call of the Christian life, at its root, is to bring Easter to others. to live in relationship with Him. to serve Him. to love Him. to let the vertical relationship flow into and through the horizontal ones.

what might “bringing Easter” look like on a practical level, in everyday living?

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introverted parenting…

my friend Sarah, from blessings like winged horses, and I are guest posting today over at introverted church. we are both introverts, mothers, writers, and we had a lot of fun writing together.

being an introvert can be challenging. being an introverted parent even more so.

what we found in working on our post, was how very deep the implications for introverts in parenting can run. and we are learning to approach parenting as a spiritual discipline, interacting with God throughout the day on a conscious level. listening and talking to Him.

the journey continues…

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healing tears (i cried, part two)

healing tears

there was a place in life so painful I wanted to walk away and start over. well, maybe not all of my life. but a good portion of it. years of pain from many sources. years of shattered dreams, crumbling like glass, falling to the ground, carrying pieces of my heart. again.

to say it was the lowest point of my life is no understatement. and it was here, in the depth of that agony, I decided to walk away from Him. the cost was too great. the pain too deep. in those moments I could no longer trace His path and walked away.

because the circumstance of life in that moment were so painful in and of themselves, no one knew some of the tears I shed were farewell to my beloved King, my Redeemer, my Friend. the journey simply cost too much and I had nothing more to give Him. to give no one, really.

it lasted less than 24 hours. theologically and apologetically, I knew there was nowhere else to go. I knew I would not really leave Him. where would I go? to whom would I turn? even then, I knew my earlier farewell was a sham.

and then…

blessed be Your name came on through the car sound system. a familiar tune. words glossed over. and yet not. yes, it is easy to called Him “blessed” when things are going well and all is right in one’s world. but those last lines caught my wounded heart. the decision to leave Him still flitted around my heart. until

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

did you catch it? He gives and takes away. that is His right, as my Lord, my King, my Redeemer. Job knew and acknowledged this. he did not curse Him and walk away. I just wanted the walking away part.

but did I? or would MY heart choose to say that He was “blessed,” even when He took away? even when there was so much pain in my offering?

in that moment I knew the truth of that refrain. He IS blessed. on the good days and the bad. when things are rosy and when they are black. and that blessedness falls on us as His children.

in my pain, I was fickle, looking for a way out, someone to blame. He was handy. and big enough to shoulder it, never judging me for the fear, anger, or weariness that had taken hold in my heart.

He flung His arms wide, whispered, “daughter,” and hugged me. I chose, in my pain, to call Him “blessed.”

years later, it still brings tears to my eyes. even in church…

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