I can already tell I am going to be jumping around on this now blank white screen. Bear with me and let’s see if it all comes together.
I am only two months in trying to practice eucharisteo, the word that encircles my first born’s middle name. Only God could make a word so full, so life-giving and some days, so incredibly hard. Thanksgiving. Grace. Joy. Crammed-packed. I bet it’s an envied word in all “word-dom”. It’s a word not wanting.... lacking nothing. It overflows with meaning and mystery and as Ann Voskamp asks, “But where can I seize this holy grail of joy?” I am finding out, it is harder than I thought.
Practice. With much, much practice.
Last weekend, I was able to go to a conference on motherhood. About half way through, I called a friend who had stayed home. Her day hadn’t been easy. I found the difference in our mindsets interesting. I texted her later, “I am in the clouds and you are in the trenches.” I was sitting in a beautiful ballroom with clean, well-fed, well-dressed moms who hadn’t been pulled on in at least 12 hours and my friend was home, un-showered, knowing lunch was up to her, looking around at her to-do list, while being pulled on by eight little hands. My brief talk with her was a good reality check for me because Monday, I’d be where she was-- minus 4 little hands. I listened to the rest of the speakers with that in mind. How will this apply to me when the laundry won’t fit in the cubbies, when I see shelves that might sprout weeds if seeds blew in, when I hear, “STOP THAT!!”, when I see dog hair on everything we call ours, when the mud space is functioning as anything BUT, when I am not sure what is for dinner, when I walk by their rooms in disbelief-- simultaneously... or not. How would I get from there to joy?
Grace. I am tuned in to that word lately. Jeff has been talking about it for months now-- at home, with his staff, preaching on it the last seven weeks of our new church plant. My mind and heart is primed for it, longs for it. It’s the word I brought back from the conference. It’s the word tucked into euCHARISteo. I want to experience MORE of it in my life so I am able to extend MORE to my children who so desperately need it as they make their way in this world. Oh, but how? I am not sure I know what dispensing huge doses of grace in this season of discipline and training looks like. I want to learn. Am I learning? Would I be more grace-giving if I were more grateful? Would I dole it out more freely if I were more aware of His Presence and gifts in my routines? Would there be more joy? That would sure be nice in the domestic trenches.
Last week, a friend of mine sent a short post by Sally Clarkson and I loved this, “A woman has such a capacity to bring a spirit of grace and beauty into the world if she focuses on the beautiful–the Lord Jesus who did not revile in return. If you want to leave a legacy of grace, beauty and love, you must choose to walk in graciousness and become more gracious. You do not need to capitulate to the error of the irrational people, but you must discipline what goes on in your heart. The outcome of cultivating love is growing in love and eventually having a legacy of righteousness by your obedience to God.”
There’s something I can learn there-- something I need to practice, keep practicing-- “you must discipline what goes on in your heart”. Graciousness. Thanksgiving. Joy.
And about her children, she went on to say, “I tend to look at my children through this lens, “It is the kindness and mercy of the Lord that leads to repentance.” (paraphrased from Romans 2:4)
I get that. I don’t DO that, necessarily, but that is what I would like to be characteristic about my training of and interactions with Julia and Brighton. Can I really offer kindness when I am going over, for the bazillionth time, the reasons we must speak the truth at all times, or why we don’t argue (with us, the parents), or why we don’t do diving rolls into the museum front door? Really? How refreshing that would be around here. Life- giving. Grace giving way to JOY. Eucharisteo. Again, it’s something I need to practice- keep practicing.
I do feel that thanksgiving is intertwined in all of this. It’s about seeing things differently when a moment or a day has turned south. As Mrs. Clarkson says, "If she focuses on the beautiful", Him, could this make a difference? I think it’s a choice worth making. God is ALL in and through my day. Why do I find it so challenging to seek Him out-- during it? How can I get so distracted by dust, dinner, debates and dog hair? As Ann says over and over again in her book, I must practice it--keep practicing. “Hammer it out at night with pen and ink.” I am convinced that if I can consistently abide in this frame of mind--- seeking God and giving Him thanks for the gifts He brings in the midst of my dailies--- a lot of who I desire to be as a parent will spill in overflow. Thanksgiving. Grace. Joy. In and out of the trenches.
Two months in, I am not giving up.
Ann, thanks for showing us how to hammer.