Monday, July 6, 2015

When He Remembers

I'm reaching for a pair of her pajamas when I hear her yelling from the other room. She's become a yeller, the smallest one of mine. Loud indignation pours from her lips over any injustice she sees, real or imagined.

Tony comes around the corner, smile barely contained and shoulders shaking.

Elias grabbed something from Zee, he quietly tells me, and when I asked him, "Elias, did you take that from her intentionally knowing that would make her scream?", the lines around his eyes deepen as he starts laughing, Without missing a beat, Elias grinned at me and said, "Yes!".

Earlier, in the kitchen, after a dance party in the living room, he turns on one of the songs that I love to hear him sing and he holds out his hand and offers me a dance. Gently swaying on the tile, he pulls me close and I lean into the strength of him.

Kitchens can be incredibly romantic.

Olivia joins us within moments and starts chanting, Ewww!!! Brody!! Brody!!! Guys! Mom and Dad are kissing!! Brody!

I wait for a few moments for the song to end before I turn my head slightly to whisper that "Brody" is a boy's name...the word she wants starts with a "gr".

Oh...she grins, I'll remember for next time! and runs off to another room.

Even with the song over, the magic still hangs in the air and I don't want it to end.

The dishes can wait, can't they?

This past week has been record breaking heat-wise, temperatures soaring 20 degrees above normal and plants and people begin to wilt under the blanket of it. Last Monday, we escaped the furnace of Madison House and brought out the dishes and pans and served dinner out on the front lawn for the kids gathered for Sports Camp. The heat only seemed to intensify hunger and plates were heaped high.

I heard her voice before I saw her, insistent and pleading she kept calling out to see if she too could have some food.

Above the faces I was bent over serving, I looked up to see her face pressed up against the fence, hair wrapped up in a scarf and a face weathered and worn. She looked into my eyes and asked again, Could I get some food, please?

I looked over at Tony beside me and he smiled wide, Yes! Of course you can!, and I grabbed a plate of food and began to pile it high.

She stayed pressed up against the fence watching, remaining on the outside.

I look at her and I see Jesus as His words start running through my mind,

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty
and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was 
naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me,
I was in prison and you came to me.    Matthew 25:35-36

Tony, he's acting before the words are done rolling around in my mind and he is inviting her in, encouraging her to come near and get food.

And there is joy as she is telling us about the food she had smelled down street, how she had searched it out and found it here and as I ask if she wants tomatoes and jalapenos and onions and salsa, she just laughs and tells me that she'll take it all.

And I want to pile her plate higher.

Because yes, she's a stranger and a little quirky and yes, she had a little more than water to drink before she came across us, but she is made in the image of God and because of that alone, she has beauty and she has worth.

She takes that plate in her hands and smiles again and says a loud thank you before heading back out the gate and on down the street. 

I think of her today, after I tuck small ones into bed and listen to them giggle...I wonder if there is a mama out there somewhere missing her. If there is a mama who holds memories close to her chest and aches over everything that seems lost.  I wonder if there is a mama who had tender dreams for her girl and wonders over all that seemed to go wrong.

I wonder over her as a daughter and where she lays down to sleep tonight. I wonder if somewhere in the haze of what clouds her mind if she longs for home. I wonder over the choices she made and what path led her to us, if even for a moment.

I curled up in my green chair this morning before church and let the verses in Psalm 78 press hard into my soul, and I can't seem to get away from verses 38-39,

Yet He, being compassionate, 
atoned for their iniquity
and did not destroy them;
He restrained His anger often
and did not stir up all His wrath.
He remembered that they were but flesh,
a wind that passes and comes not 

  He remembered, and still remembers that we are all but flesh...that we are but a moment in light of eternity and that we only come this way once.

How beautiful that this stirs up His compassion towards us, us in all our sin and brokenness. It doesn't repulse Him,

it stirs up His kindness.

I think of my children, the ones who need me to remember this the most - to remember their frailty in the middle of mistakes and messes.

I think of the opportunities that He gives us everyday as we walk in the doors of Madison House, to remember His love for us as we see pain and fear and beautiful joy in the ones we get to serve.

I think of the sidewalk outside our home, the one that brings dear friends and gang members-turned-dear-friends and everyone in between up to our front door. I've purposefully marked the porch with reminders of love, not for beauty but for our hearts to remember why we are here.

We are here to love deeply, to see the image of God in each person we interact with. We are here to speak of His grace and His sacrifice to those around us. We are here to serve even the stranger because we are really serving and loving Him; seeing the unlovely places transformed to beauty because His love has been freely given for us.

He dances with me on kitchen tile and keeps his hand on my lower back while we sway. There are children scattered throughout our home yelling and reading and drawing and watching the way a husband loves his wife.

These are moments that are fleeting, moving so quickly, barely allowing my heart to catch up while bringing me one step closer to breathing eternity's air, and I don't want to waste them.

So, I'll love the ones that made me a mama and live alongside of me each day. I'll love them and serve them point them to Jesus, and when I mess up ~ which I do so very often ~ I'll point them to the wonder of grace and the beauty of the cross.

And for the ones who wander, who are lost and forgotten, who have a mama somewhere...or not; I'll love and I'll serve in the gaps where Christ allows, I'll love for the mamas who can't. I'll choose to see Jesus in the hardest of places and watch with faith to see Him bring beauty and healing.

And I'll keep dancing with that man of mine in the kitchen, until the wind of my life blows me Home...


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dear Elias {A Birthday Post},

You may not remember that Sunday when you began sobbing in the back of the van on our way to church.

You hadn't yet turned five, but your imagination was huge and six months before you had created this family inside your head and you were convinced that it was with them that you truly belonged.

I had been sitting on the floor when you came up to me, your eyes all bright and your smile so wide and you said, 

Mama? I have another Mama! And I like her better! Than you!

I could only answer by asking what she had done that made her more lovable than the very woman who bore you, and your reply was sure and swift,

Because she gave me a brother.

So six months later on the drive to church across town, as your wailing grew louder and your tears began to pour down your face, I couldn't imagine what was causing such emotional pain in someone so small.

Words began to accompany the crying and I began to understand,

They died!! They died in a fire! Last night my family died!! They are all dead!

I would have laughed, except you were still lamenting as we walked into the building and as you were signed in and passed from my hand to theirs, I had to whisper to the woman leading you to class that this family grieved for actually never existed outside of the heart of a little boy who felt a deep void.

This year has been a hard one for you, I think. Your big eyes take in so much around you, and as brothers come to the doors of Madison House and you watch the way they interact, you are realizing in small ways that they have something that you don't have.

You came up to me today, this last day of being 5 years old and you put your face so close to mine and you whispered,

It would have been better to be a girl.

I didn't understand right away, and I put my nose next to yours and I told you all the really super cool things that come with being a boy, but that wasn't what you were trying to tell me. Instead, you broke through my list and said with a trembling lip,

But if I was a girl, I'd have someone to play with.

Because as much as your sisters will sit down and play cars with you, they don't understand the excitement that comes from the crashing and the racing and the chasing. Well...Liv may, but that's a whole other topic. 

You fall asleep to the sound of your older sisters whispering and giggling in the dark down the hall and there are secrets they share that shut you out. You're still trying to decipher what Zee is babbling at you through the slats in her crib, or why she is screaming incoherently at her blankie all crumpled up on the floor as she determinedly tries to swipe your favorite car and flush it down the toilet. I can almost hear the thoughts building in your head some days...the ones that whisper, a brother wouldn't do that.

Only, he probably would, but you don't know that. All you know is that you are a little brother in a sea of sisters and that's probably a pretty lonely feeling sometimes, no matter how much they love you (Whether they show it or not).

You have been given a daunting task, brave son of mine. One you may not even realize you have. With two older sisters who feel it's their place to be Mamas #2 and 3 after me, you could easily be bowled over by the motherly attention.

In a different church across town tonight, you sit in a row and you sing songs and eat snacks and probably wiggle around more than once. You slipped on your VBS shirt and as you bounded out the door, your sadness was quickly forgotten.

And as I sit here in a quiet house I am realizing that maybe I have been looking at this all wrong.

I reached into the fridge to grab the cream for my coffee as I remembered Paul.  You know the one? The one who started out as Saul? He never had a son. He never had a daughter either, but I think there was something in Paul's heart that longed to be a father to a son. And I truly believe that God knew that longing in Paul's heart and do you know what He did? He brought along Timothy. Timothy who was raised by his Gramma and Mama - two women who loved Jesus more than anything and wanted their little boy to know Him too. A little boy surrounded by Jesus-loving women, but I can't help but wonder if little Timothy didn't long for a Jesus-loving daddy as well.

Maybe it's not a daunting task that you've been given, Elias, but a very intentional void. First, that this void would turn your heart to your Perfect Big Brother - the One who died for you and is preparing a place for you with Him. He loves you Elias, and sometimes He uses what hurts us deeply to show us His tender love in ways that we would never understand without it.

But this longing for a brother? I think it's like Paul's longing for a son, and Timothy's longing for a daddy. I think it made their hearts more tender to the need in each other. I think it opened their eyes to the void that each man carried and they were able to recognize Christ's hand as the One who ultimately filled those empty places. And it makes me wonder, sweet son of mine who carries this want so close to the surface, I think if we kept giving this desire of yours to Jesus, you may be surprised to see how many brothers He brings into your life. So many more than I could ever give you.

Because really, with our track record, you'd probably get a few more sisters out of the deal if we left it up to your Daddy and I.

Six years ago this evening, I remember laying on the floor of our living room, realizing that I would hold you in my arms so very soon. I remember wondering what it would be like to hold a son and be a mama to a little boy. I had no idea, I had only known daughters. You came so quickly in those early morning hours but the moment you were placed against my chest, I knew we were going to do just fine. 

You were named after your Papa and your Daddy, both strong men who have loved Jesus so strongly...but now there is more to your name as I pray over your days - the reminder of a little boy who longed for a daddy who loved Jesus and the amazing God who joyfully filled that desire.

Elias Timothy Tony, may you come to know Jesus as the only One who can ever take the ache you feel and fully satisfy it in Himself, but may you also come to know the joy of sweet answered prayer as He grows your family beyond us and opens your eyes to the breadth of His family and HIs Blood that connects us all.  I can't wait to see your eyes light up as you realize.

You turn 6 in the early morning hours while we are all still under sheets and the sun is just beginning to light the horizon. A Birthday Breakfast Cake will be waiting for you on the table and a car or two waiting to be unwrapped. And my heart will ache and grow just as  little bit more as your small years fade and your bigger years come near, but I will take delight in the son I was given and pray for so much joy to cover your days as you uncover more of Jesus in the dark and light of the seasons ahead.

I love you so, so very much.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

For When the Light Starts Fading

He sits all folded up around himself as he curls up on the grass in the middle of the open field in front of us.

He won't sit up or look up or even respond as different ones bend low beside him, trying to coax him out of himself and that protective wall already building around his small frame.

We are driving away from camp in an hour, and he doesn't want to leave.

We drive up into the mountains this past weekend with 90 other kids and 20 some adults and we get out of the inner city and the noise and the chaos and it's inevitable: When everything familiar is taken away, defenses come down and need comes rushing out.

There is no way to prepare for it, only to know it will come.

The many trips to the nurse's office with exaggerated injuries gives testament to this - it's not the bandage these small hearts need, it's the attention.

They need to know they are seen and heard.

That they matter.

This year, the net was flung wide, past the walls of Madison House and out into the community. The prayer was that many would come to hear and to know that Jesus loves them.

There are stories I can't even comprehend. I hear the words with my ears and I see the faces with my eyes and I can't connect it to reality. There are groups of children literally left to fend for themselves, some as young as 5 and 6 years old.

I look at Elias turning 6 in two weeks, exhausted and just needing his mama, curling up beside me on the chairs and falling asleep in the middle of music and yelling and laughter.  He doesn't even make it until bedtime before he's snoring and in his makeshift bed, he has an accident and he needs help to clean himself up. Tony and his cabin counselor walk him up to his bunk in the dark and I can't imagine him all alone trying to fend for himself.

But this is the reality around us.

Earlier, as the light starts fading, I strap Zee to my back, pass her a cookie and we start hiking up a well worn trail. I know where I am headed and why.

About half way, she starts kicking my sides, she's already yelling about the rushing water. It's a small stream, but to her it's a river and so we stand there together listening to the sound. It's about all I can do to hold it together as the words of that hymn start winding their way in my mind.

When peace like a river attendeth my way.
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
"It is well, it is well with my soul".

In the days leading up to this weekend filled with stories of rejection and unwanted children and fractured families, a little one in our church family died in a tragic accident. A little one who was very much wanted and desperately loved.

And there are no words. Juxtaposed against each other, there is no making sense, no comfort, no relief from the pain or the grief of any of it.

The suddenness of it takes me back to our own dark days of unwanted grieving and while my own little one yells about the water and pats my head, I place my feet back on the trail and start climbing up again; I know where I am going.

And it's not the real cross, His blood didn't stain the wood on this tree, but as I round the bend and it comes into view through the trees, I could kneel right there on the sharp rocks and not leave this place.

It's an instrument of such gruesome torture, and yet it pulls me near. 

This life at times feels like a torture of sorts - a never ending wheel of pain.

Is this why the Cross brings comfort?

I stood in the kitchen of Madison House this past week with one of our middle school boys. And there are words still on the wall from Christmas and he was standing there reading them while I was wiping down tables,

Hey, Kimberley! What does that mean? What does it mean that Wise Men still seek Him?

I stand next to him with a dirty rag in my hand and he asks me if people are still actually looking for Jesus, if they can actually find where He lives here in this world.

Zee is trying to slam a door somewhere as we talk about Jesus and what it means to seek after Him, as I feel inadequate with all of his big questions, but knowing that the wisest thing I can do is to point this boy who is more young man back to Christ. 

So this is what I do this weekend, when my heart is aching because of all of this pain, I go to the place that reminds me of all of our sin and pain Jesus took on.

There is a verse in 1 Peter that I have been praying over our own family this year,
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree,
 that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. 
By His wounds you have been healed.

I don't think the Cross makes sense of our suffering - there are situations and pain that go beyond words and that our minds will never be able to wrap around. But there is the pain that Jesus went through that brings healing and comfort to our own unbearable wounds, that takes the depth of our sin and utterly forgives it. That takes the ugliness of horror and somehow opens our eyes to His beauty in middle of the unthinkable.

Tony and I had to leave a little early from the camp to meet waiting parents and set up for our arriving kids, but as we were walking away I saw that small boy curled up still on the grass, still not wanting to go home. His situation still unchanged. But he wasn't alone. Sitting beside him was the tall frame of his counselor, leaning into the pain of the situation with him.

And I think back to the conversation in the kitchen this week, the voice of that young man asking me if people still look for Jesus where He lives today. And the truth becomes crystal clear as the dirt flies up behind our van - 

When our pain encounters the horrific beauty of the cross and our lives become His own, He lives in the very spaces we are. He comes near in all our situations because He is already here. Emmanuel isn't just for the beauty of Christmas, He is with us in everything we face as we sit with one another in sorrow and in joy.

The stars peeked out in the spaces between the tall trees last night, Zee lifting her finger to point at the outline of the Big Dipper dipping precariously in the wrong direction - light boldly shining, not allowing the darkness to take over...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

To Stay

It felt a lot later then it was when I woke up in the dark last night. It was only silent for about 10 seconds before the quick succession of 6 gunshots rang out in the street out front of our home. Everyone else around me slept; a mirace I don't take for granted.

I prayed in the tense moments afterwards, waiting for sirens while I asked for silence, knowing that the quiet would mean no one was hurt.

The only sounds in the aftermath were the wind chimes carried on the breeze below our window and one of my 4 murmuring in their sleep.

I've been asked often in the days since the shooting if there is a for rent sign in our yard; if this was the wake up call we needed to move us on and get us out.

But I know where the real battle lies.

Yes, there is very real danger here.

Tony and I were gifted with a few hours alone this morning and sat across from one another while we talked over summer plans and I shared how I had hoped to have a niece come and stay with us for several weeks and how I wanted to assure her mama that we would never place her in a dangerous situation.

He looked at me with the most tender smile and said, Kimberley, I think we need to admit to ourselves that where we live is dangerous. We can't change that or call it anything different.

So yes, here, right here in the street in front of me and the neighbourhood all around me, we face danger that is real and present.

But the danger I have been most aware of and the most affected by in the days since the stray bullets and the dented fence posts has been one that Peter warns about: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

I have felt it and known it in these last few days, as though choosing to not run and instead trust Christ has put a target on my back. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). The temptation has not been to give in to fear, but instead to allow the Enemy ground. Instead of abiding in Christ and being in prayer, to be distracted by mindless and mind numbing things.

There was a quiet turn around in the heat of the afternoon, as we pulled up to the little community garden we have joined and I began to turn over the dirt and get it ready for the tiny seeds. As my restlessness began to slow and little hands opened up and held potential life hidden within packets before dropping them into the dark of the earth.  As I turned on the water and sprayed it over the marked out mounds I realized that even this, this claiming this box and planting it and watering it and having my kids run all around the rows is an act of defiant worship. By planting life into a desperate area, we are mirroring what Jesus has done in our lives. What He is still doing and will continue to do in our lives until He calls us home.

What Satan sets out to destroy, Jesus instead brings beauty and life through the submitted lives of His own children. What an amazing privilege and honor to be a part of His plan.

I curled up on my comfy green chair when we got home this evening and pulled out my bible and sat down to read. That blonde curl of Zeruiah's still clinging to the armrest  from the nap she took here just a day or so ago, and it was these words that I turned to:

We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry...but as servants of God, we commend ourselves in every way; by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left... 2 Corinthians 6:3, 6-7

It's right there, can you see it? We do all things for God's glory by His power alone. He is the One Who keeps my fear at bay, the One Who gives me peace and gives me all I need for righteousness in my right hand and in my left. 

This evening, in the fading light, a girl just a little older than Lyla called across the street to me and asked if she and her little sister could come over and play. While their laughter filled our yard and I rocked in his dad's chair on our porch, a gang leader came riding up on his bike and leaned against the fence talking with Tony and giving Elias a high-five.

We have been given a holy privilege to serve Jesus here, to be a safe place, if even for an hour or so for those who desperately need it. Yes, it is dangerous here, the risks are great and the cost could be high. But He is worth it in all ways, always.

So I'll turn out my light and lay down on our bed and know that through the night, no matter what may happen outside of these walls or within, the One Who holds this spinning globe and names each star surrounds our home with His Presence, and we are held in peace. 

Friday, May 15, 2015


The laundry is spinning and drying again, another load tossed in and another one folded.  The monotony of the mundane has been what I've craved in the last 24 though I'm afraid to run out of dirty clothes because if I do, things won't feel normal again.

The sarcastic part of me sighs, really? Run out of dirty laundry with 4 busy little ones? But I push that voice down and strip sheets off of beds and turn that dial while the panel sings and I get lost in the rhythm of bending and sorting, pulling wrung out cloth to be dried while folding the clean pants and shirts - sorting once more into piles for little hands to take up those stairs and tuck into drawers before getting dirty again.

Zee presses her tiny nose up against the glass of the washer and I stand and watch her for a while. 

Yesterday, Lyla fell off the picnic table back near the basketball courts at Madison House. Her fall connected chin to cement and arm to wood and she came running home because I was still here with the littlest. For whatever reason, I didn't send her back after I checked it out and deemed her whole, but asked her to wait while I put shoes on me and Zee.

I was just saying those words as I walked from dining room to living room as that loud metallic boom began.

The words were out of my mouth before I could think, 

Get down on the ground, Lyla. Lay flat. Don't move.

...5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10...

I waited for the 11th gun shot, but it never came...only silence.  Coming right behind our house, I didn't even think anyone across the street would be affected.

I didn't know that the crossfire happened towards Madison House, that in aiming for the ones in the backyard of a house, bullets went flying haphazardly towards the playground.

I wasn't there when Elias went running by his daddy and Tony felt the distinct impression to pray for his son's safety moments before the chaos began.

I didn't hear the voice of one of our older kids yelling for the little ones to get down on the ground. I didn't hear his voice telling them when to start running into the building.

I wasn't there when Livie grabbed the hand of another scared little girl and they ran towards the safety of Madison House together. 

I wasn't there when someone mentioned hearing metal on metal while he was counting the number of shots.

I was only there in the aftermath of scared children and a panicked Liv who couldn't find me and thought I was dead.

I wasn't there...

Sometime during dinner and the calming down of little ones, Tony and a couple of the older guys walked the playground and the perimeter of the fence searching out the source of the pinging sound that was heard.

They found it.

They found them, actually.

When Tony first took over Madison House almost three years ago now, he felt a nudge to raise money for a fence - a sturdy fence. One that was hard to scale and could lock up tight and so he began a Fund a Foot of Fence campaign. 

The fence was put in within the year.

The smaller posts are maybe an inch in width, if that. They are strong, but not wide.

But God doesn't need much width.

As Tony went searching he found two indents on two separate posts, 2 inches of metal stopping 2 flying bullets.

One was in line where Lyla had been only minutes before.

The other was near where my other two had been playing.

I walked home a little early and placed my finger in that impression,

and I touched grace.

A little over a year ago we moved into these walls and a new way of living began. I wake up now in the dark to hear gun fire in the distance and I've had the police in my house at 2AM.

The cycle of laundry however, is the same here as it was there - wherever there has been.

And maybe that's why I keep finding myself near the neatly folded stacks throughout today. Not because I'm scared...though, I've cried. I've cried at the so close's and the what if's. I've cried at the one more loss of innocence in the eyes of my older 3. The tears marking the grief I feel at the hatred people have towards one another, the disregard of life - any life - and how quickly weapons are pulled.

No, the laundry pulls me close today because it reminds me of each step Jesus used to prepare my heart for here, because while laundry was being folded, while little ones have been growing into not-so-little ones, while seasons have passed and warm clothes have been changed out for cooler ones, He has been working on this heart - pulling my mundane into the middle of His will.

Those sheets on our bed that I've changed out today, they've held me in sleep in the "safe part of town", but now I know deeply of what the Psalmist wrote, In peace I will lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

I still remember in the days leading up to our move here on 4th Street, when my heart trembled at all the unknowns, Tony's younger sister wrote me the simplest of notes, filled with the words her pastor had shared from the pulpit that Sunday, and it was this:

You are bulletproof until God calls you home.

Two inches of fence proved the profound truth of that statement this week. 

So, I'll continue to sort and fold and wash, allowing my mundane to become my worship of Jesus, trusting that no matter where I am, for however long I am, He will use what I offer up to Him for His glory.

All family photos by the amazing Allison Davilla Photography

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A New Journey

He tells me in the quiet last night that there are words to lay down behind the words I had just spoken.

That, Kimberley, you need to write about that.

His dad, the one who wore that leather hat and had that gentle smile - he was the one I would turn to with these questions I was voicing...I always would turn to him, almost like I couldn't remember what he had said only a few months before. Remind me again, please - how do I forgive? What does it look like again?

But someone else answers his phone number now, I'm sure - his eyes have taken in the glory of God and he has joined those around the throne and worships fully and completely. And the words that he spoke long ago have slipped away like the years have done.

I folded myself up on the kitchen counter this past week, knees against my chest and I faced two choices - I knew which one I wanted to choose. It seemed easier and safer.

But easy and safe - it doesn't seem palatable anymore.

It could be because Christ's path doesn't seem like it should be easy and safe anymore.  Taking up a cross and losing my life for HIs sake doesn't sound like it is supposed to be easy.

And yet, He is incredibly tender and merciful - He sees the fear and the weakness that mark this step, this unfolding of my very quiet, yes.

Thomas Watson, hundreds of years ago, he penned these words,

Jesus Christ was once bruised on the cross: "it pleased the Lord to bruise him" (Isa 53:10). His hands and feet were bruised with the nails; His side was bruised with the spear. A bruised reed is a member of Christ; and though it is weak, Christ will not cut it off, but will cherish it so much the more...See, then, the gracious disposition of Jesus Christ - he is full of clemency and sympathy. Though he may bruise the soul for sin, he will not break it. The surgeon may lance the body and make it bleed, but he will bind up the wound. As Christ has beams of majesty, so he has a heart of mercy. Christ has both the lion and the lamb in his escutcheon; the lion, in respect of his fierceness to the wicked (Psalm 50:22), and the lamb, in respect to the mildness to his people. HIs name is Jesus, a Saviour, and his office is a healer (Mal 4:2)..How full of mercy is Christ, in whom all mercy meets! Christ has a skillful hand and a tender heart. "He will not break a bruised reed".

And maybe this right here is the very first step - trusting Jesus. Not mapping out each path or turn that could be taken, but trusting the One Who sees the outcome from here. Who planned out the ending before the beginning even began...

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dear Lyla, {A Birthday Post}

I sit huddled beside you on the stairwell in the dark. 

Your last day of being eight has ended with tears and big emotions that leave the both of us surprised.

And that's okay some days, I think. Not all days will end with smiles and laughter...some nights will come and leave you aching for a do-over. Some nights will leave you broken and wanting to somehow be better, leave you wanting to run away and leave all the mess around you behind.

I get it. 

But I want you to know, I love you. I love you and each hard moment you face.

I love you for crumbling and letting the hurt you felt out. 

I love you for being brave and for the way you apologized though your tears.

I love you for wanting to hide and for all the almost-9-year-old emotions you are feeling.

I love you as you stand on the edge of leaving the little girl years behind. 

I love you as you wrestle through these days and yet still long to be held as though you were still small.

Sweet girl, I love you.

This past week, I read of Joshua sending out the spies and how they came to the door of a woman named Rahab.  She made a lot of mistakes too, Lyla. Many of them by her own choosing.  I can relate. And as you keep getting older, you will too. won't get any easier.

But this woman who was once an almost-9-year-old like you, she grew up to be a woman who heard about God. The same One you hear about too. And this Rahab, full of mistakes and regret and probably a lot of embarrassment you know what she did?  

She believed. 

She didn't just believe, Lyla, she risked being vulnerable with her faith. 

Faith does that to us, it makes us vulnerable. This in itself is a risk. She had heard about God, and she didn't know if she would be accepted by Him, but she held out her faith in sin-stained hands and the rope that she used to lower the spies out of the window became her very banner of salvation. God knew all the wrong she had done, sweetheart, but it was her heart that He drew near to. Her vulnerable faith moved His heart and Lyla, He saved her. 

She wasn't courageous because she was brave. Rahab was courageous because she depended on the Only One Who could rescue her.

Tomorrow you turn 9 and there are moments I feel like I can't breathe. So many moments that I want to live over, to have a bit longer to linger over. You are such a joy and these years that started with your heartbeat unknown within me have completely undone me in such good and hard ways. As you get older, as your heart grows more you whisper prayers alongside me...I am learning that strength of being vulnerable. Of holding out my faith in sin-stained hands  and trusting that Jesus will take what I offer and somehow make it beautiful. 

Tomorrow you turn 9 and we are at the halfway mark before adulthood dawns and a season of motherhood will quietly change. 9 more years to live life together daily and hold out the beauty of the gospel in imperfect ways as our faith stretches and grows.

You cried today and maybe there will be tears again tomorrow, and that's okay. But don't get stuck there, Lyla Mae. Like Rahab who took the rope, her faith, and used that to save the lives of others, let your life become a bridge of sorts, a line that points others to the beauty of Christ. Don't get lost in the longing of regret...use your failures to press you in closer to Jesus. Lean on Him, precious daughter and find that in doing so, you'll be strengthened to risk your life for Him.

Tomorrow, you'll wake up and your breakfast birthday cake will be on the table and I'll try and smile brave as the baby who first filled my arms now is the girl whose face whispers of the woman you'll be. Tomorrow morning we'll sing over you as this mama prays over her daughter - that you'll be courageous like Rahab and lost in love with your Savior.

Happy birthday, my sweet Lyla. *You* are the gift of this day.

I love you always.