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Beth Moore, Everyday life, Family

The Hallway

It was a lengthy consultation, and the end result was a plan to say goodbye to four teeth and several (SEVERAL) thousand dollars.

Two of said teeth would be Abby’s, and the other two would be Ellie’s.

The money would be ours.

We had prepared for the latter, but the former was troubling for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that I was going to have to tell them they were having teeth yanked out.

Maybe I should rewind and clarify.

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Everyday life, Faith, Family, fear

Of Linen and Grace

Sewing is one of my escapes.

I lock myself in my little room, turn on the machine, and wait for the machine foot to lurch to the side, indicating that it’s ready to go.

I start a lot of projects, and anyone who knows me will tell you that I finish about 1/10th of them. I don’t know. I guess they’re just better when they stay in my mind and the needle hasn’t pierced them poorly yet.

So they pile up and stare at me, taunting me with my own inadequacy.

Scraps lie all around the floor-some from an old baby dress I got halfway through and others from a quilt I have determined to finish before Christmas. They blend together in a hazy stack of discarded odds and ends, and I realize it’s been far too long since I cleaned the floor.

Ellie walks in and sees my hands grabbing anxiously at the colors and she looks concerned.

You aren’t throwing those away, are you? She asks.

Yeah, babe. They’re just the leftovers. She winces at my response.

Well, can I just keep them then? She asks. I nod, feeling a familiar sense of guilt run through my body.

It’s just been one of those days where my failures are shouting louder than my successes, and I’m convinced I’ve let them down. I don’t pray over them every night the way I should. I get distracted when I should be focused on conversation. I anger easily and form my own opinions before letting them speak their minds. I am quick to hush them and slow to spill grace.

I am the mom who leaves scraps instead of what should have been, and it’s eating me alive.

I see her scrambling and tears come to my eyes. I don’t even know how to verbalize it to her, because it is so profound a realization that all I can do is watch, my arms clinging to my elbows as I blink away my sadness.

What have I done?

That’s from a dress I started for you, Ellie. I manage.

She looks up at me and sees that I’m red-faced and broken hearted, and she comes to me with the fabric in her hand.

Mommy, I don’t need to take them… She starts. But I shake my head side-to-side. No, I assure her. They are yours. But you should be wearing it and not scraping from the carpet, I mumble. I explain that I’m just thinking and it satisfies her enough to go back to the gathering.

We do this, you know. We have great plans, grand ideas of mothering and care-taking and preparing a child for life, and at the end of many days we just feel like we’ve left it in pieces. What’s here for them to take is not near enough, we say. And we cry because we wish we had done it better.

We wish our fingers always zipped and buttoned the completed gown instead of staring at the remainders of our dreams for them.

It stays with me, this image. And in the middle of the night, for many nights to come, I will awake with her in my thoughts. She is kneeling, desperate, hungry for more than my gift to her. And I cry more than I remember crying in years.

It will be better, I tell her.

But she doesn’t know what I mean by that. She nods so I will wipe my eyes and make her feel like I’m okay, but she doesn’t understand my brokenness or my choppy words as I try to make right what she doesn’t realize is wrong.

I’m gone this weekend, I tell her. But I will be home.

I will always come home to you, Ellie.

It’s just that I have to do my job and it’s what the Lord has for me, and I want to be obedient and good and…does she hear me?

She is nodding and smiling and happy and I don’t know why because it’s all a mess, but I have no choice but to leave it be for now. I pack, I pray, and I drive away from the house and family I love so much, and I leave them the pieces again.

I feel the Lord’s peace as I go, though. And it doesn’t make sense to me but in a way I know He is saying, “Leave it to Me, love.” And so I do.

Two days pass and I come home to a clean house and a candle burning and I realize all the gaps that have been filled in my absence. The kids are joyful, eager to see me but not destroyed by the distance.

I give hugs and little airport gifts and we laugh and tickle and hope together for a few minutes and then I go to take a hot shower and wash the fear away again.

I stop cold in front of my sewing room.

The door is cracked and the light is on, so I push it open and I see a child-sized chair piled high with scraps.

They’ve been organized by color and size, and I realize there is more than I knew there was.

It’s enough to make something, I think.

And the tears come again, because I realize that in all the things I thought were failures, my love gave them something to take with them even if I never got it exactly right.

She tells me her plans for them, and I know it will be a more spectacular piece than anything I could have hemmed and ironed.

I’m giving her the pieces she needs-exactly the pieces she needs-to make her life an offering to the Lord.

She didn’t need the dress.

She needed the mother who gave her enough to sew something beautiful of her own.

What I thought was trash-what I thought was the remnant of my own mistakes-has become the fiber of her creation, and I stand in awe already of the way she has begun to join them together.

And so my prayer has changed.

I don’t spend more time worrying about what I don’t give them than I do praising Him for what He allows me to give them.

I am not their God, I am their mother. 

And they don’t need homemade clothes as much as they need to know how to sew life.

We give them more than we realize we do, and every time we step in obedience, we hand them more and more to string together in His name. They know I’m afraid of flying, afraid of speaking in public, and afraid of failing those around me. But they see the doorknob turn and they know that I’m stitching as well.

It’s more than we realize, this obedience.

It’s more than we realize, these slivers of linen and grace.

And God-willing, they will grow to love the needle as I do, and they will smile one day as their own children gather what’s left at their feet.

It is exquisite, this pieced-together faith.

And thanks be to the God of grace, I am finding it is more than enough.

 

Everyday life, Family

The Left

It’s that time again.

The weight of summer heat is lifting, and the wind is whispering the first signs of fall. It’s this way for me every year, and I’ve come to expect the breathless moments that come quickly, undeniably, and often with a hunger that can’t be satiated.

I was 17, maybe 18 when it began.

My father bought an old MGA from a newspaper ad, and began to restore it to it’s original splendor, which was quite a feat considering that it had been sitting in a barn for a few decades. It wasn’t much to look at, at least not initially.

But then again, most of our best lessons come from realizing we’ve used the wrong scale to measure value, don’t they?

It was a convertible, and the torn leather seats smelled of age and memories we would never know. He sat in it and I watched him breathe it in. At the time I didn’t know what he was breathing in, but I do now.

When you were leaving our neighborhood, you could turn right and head into the main part of town. Littered with restaurants, grocery stores, hair salons and the chaos of life, it was convenient in a necessary kind of way.

But if you turned left, you would quickly end up on a winding road that felt like something out of a movie. For miles and miles there was nothing to see except trees that were towered tall and broad with invitation.

It wasn’t an easy car to drive. In the fifties they weren’t making luxury sport cars the way they do now. It was physically difficult to turn the steering wheel, and the clutch was short and unforgiving. The reverse on the stick shift was displaced from what I was used to, and it took me awhile to adjust.

When the first leaves began to fall, I took it out.

Left. I always turned left.

And about a mile down the road, with the music as loud as I could stand it, I felt like I could breathe. I mastered the clutch, intoxicated by how responsive it was-my bare feet balancing the pedals while crimson and rust-colored leaves fell by the dozens.

Hair all around me and not a single way anyone could reach me.

I whipped the corners while the tears raced back toward my ears and my eyes stung from the speed.

I could feel my fingers, sweaty on the leather-wrapped wheel while the sun splotched the road ahead of me, understanding freedom from a depth I couldn’t convey to anyone.

Even now I can’t explain it.

But I’m hungry for it. Aching for it. 

Eventually the road returns home, and life carries on. Dinner plates clanging on tables and papers to be sorted while the bath water runs. My suitcase lies empty on the bed, waiting for me to pack my beautiful clothes again, and I am grateful for the noises and the faces.

I am.

But when the wind starts to stir the grass and I catch myself staring out the window, I wonder if I’m the only one who ever wants to inhale the hours until the blood rushes again.

I find it still; I have to.

I know the way to the grocery store, the hotel lobby, and the reassuring glow of civil and gentle life.

And I live my days turning to the right, smiling and embracing all the goodness that lies there.

In my honest moments, though, I’ll tell you that I’m a girl who can’t live without the left, the wind-stung face and the roar of third gear at it’s limit just before fourth while I laugh because no one can hear me.

So if ever you should notice me staring wistfully into the distance, you’ll know why.

If you catch a look in my eye that doesn’t fit the pretty boundaries sketched out for me, or even in the event that I slip out of the room for a moment to let dusk sit on my skin-you’ll understand.

And you might even see me one day, sitting perfectly still in a car, breathing in that which was made to be more powerful than beautiful and more driven than displayed.

I suppose you could say I understand the value in that now.

It’s hard to resist the opportunity every now and then to flee-just for an hour or so-and let the roads remind me truths that often lie dormant in dinner parties and on stages.

Face flushed, heart pounding, ears ringing from it all-and summer gives way to fall again.

This life is only meant to be displayed and controlled to the extent that it glorifies God, but sometimes we get so lost in the logic that we forget what it sounds like to race against the nightfall. I know, because I’ve done it.

My fingers reach far above my head, reaching for the sweaters I packed away for them last year. As the box tumbles and they all spill out, I can’t help but smile.

I will dress them, comb their hair, and hang their dresses, yes.

But I will use the same hands that gripped the wheel, pulled the gearshift, and turned the volume all the way to the tip-top.

One day I’ll teach them how to drive.

And then I’ll watch them pulling left, wild with anticipation, and I’ll smile, knowing the truth of it all.

It’s the road that will teach them how to live.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyday life, Faith, Family, Uncategorized

Portion

The Lord has such a beautiful way of reminding us of simple truth, and after a week of questioning some hard places in my life, He did that for me.

She doesn’t know she was a part of it, but I’ll tell her one day when I think she’s old enough to really understand how much it meant to me.

The kitchen was full of noise and kids, and as a few neighbors trickled in I realized we weren’t going to have enough food to go around. Todd and the girls had stopped for sub sandwiches on the way home and that was what looked the most appealing to our guests.

“I’ll share half of mine with you.” Kate said. She started tearing her sandwich in half and handed it to her friend, a huge grin across her face.

I mouthed the words, “I’m proud of you” to her, because Kate giving away food is right up there with resurrection as far as miracles.

She smiled.

Apparently the sweet little guy who works at the sandwich shop had informed the kids that if they would allow him to put a jalepeno in their sandwiches, they would get free cookies. That made me laugh because my girls love spicy food, and a teensy little pepper wasn’t going to get in the way of their sugar fix.

So now we had four cookies and five kids.

Again, Kate assured her friend that she would share hers, and I watched her fingers, dirty from a day’s adventures, carefully separate her cookie into two parts.

I could tell that one was smaller than the other, and I watched her glance from one half to the other, obviously having a mental debate about what she should do. I was subtly watching, curious about how she would handle it.

After about 20 seconds of looking back and forth, she began to pull the smaller one to herself and then thrust it out to Sienna instead. I was proud she shared at all, but secretly I was hoping she would act sacrificially and give the bigger one to her friend.

I acted like I wasn’t watching her, but as they scooted out of the kitchen I heard Kate say to Sienna, “That one has more chocolate chips.”

Immediately I realized what I had misunderstood, and a smile spread across my face as I watched her leave the room.

She wasn’t trying to decide which one was better because of it’s size, but rather which one was better because of it’s quality.

And I wonder how many times I shake my head in disappointment because I’m frustrated that the Lord has given me the smaller portion, not realizing He has chosen the best based on a characteristic that I don’t use to assess the options.

She was counting, not debating.

And she gave away what was best in her eyes.

I know He does the same, and today I am thanking Him for that. I may not understand the scale or the process behind the decision, but I am grateful that He is trustworthy and faithful in His care.

It’s a quick story, but I hope it will challenge you today as it has me. Don’t assume He has withheld the best from you because it doesn’t look the way you thought it would. He knows what we need and how we should receive it, and I for one am going to make a point of enjoying my portion more with that in mind.

He doesn’t give us second-best, but He sure might teach us to second-guess what we’re given, daily learning to accept and rejoice that which comes from His hand.

Praying that today is a day where you do the same, and that you are reminded of the way He lovingly enters into our lives and specifically feeds us what is best.

Thank you, sweet Kate, for reminding me that we don’t see our lives through His lens. If we did, we would surely thank Him, following Him like children into the sunshine with full mouths and content hearts.

He is always good, isn’t He?