When I’m Feeling Behind

I’ve gotta admit, I’m feeling a little behind on some things this week.

How is it Wednesday already? I’m thinking, okay week, you can stop now so I can catch up! Alas, time marches on, and so we must continue rolling from day into night and back into day again.

Sometimes things just don’t get done the way we were hoping.

When it comes to productivity, I’m a huge fan of lists. Sometimes I even add things to the list after I’ve done them just so I can cross them off! But the most helpful tip I’ve employed so far is the “top three things” method. You pick the top three things that need to happen today and make sure those get done, and then anything over and above that is a bonus.

When I was a mama of a newborn, the top three things often included keeping the baby alive and relatively happy, taking a nap and doing one thing that I enjoyed. Now that my kiddos are all out of the baby stage, the top three things often include keeping the kids alive, making sure my toddler naps, and doing at least one thing I enjoy. (And of course, time with the Lord!)

That last thing, the one where I do something I enjoy? That’s for my sanity.

Maybe that’s why most of my #summergoals may have to wait until next year! I’m still in the thick of raising tiny humans who are slowly becoming medium-sized humans, and I’ll tell you, it’s busy. And it’s tempting to forget what season of life I am in, and try to be in someone else’s season of life along with them.

You know what I’m talking about! The ol’ FOMO (fear of missing out, in case you’re old like me and were about to look that up on the Google) creeps in when you peruse your social media feed and you wonder, “just what in the world am I actually doing with my life?! Am I even making a difference like that person is? What about forging ahead in my personal goals like that friend? And look at all the things this other person has going on. What do I really have going for me anyway?”

I’m learning to close the news feed and instead, open up my camera roll. I often snap photos of things that make me smile or fill my heart with a sense of peace, and I’ve discovered that it is one of the most concrete reminders of this amazing life I already have! As I scroll through the different images of my own life that I am actually living right now, the majority of which will never see the light of social-media-day, I begin to see that God is bringing me wonderful gifts every single day that remind me of His goodness.

Somehow, that gives me perspective for my daily to-do list, for those top three things that need to get done.

And I am grateful.

Suzy Hazelwood to do list

Image: Suzy Hazelwood

Made to Praise

It’s a simple song I learned when I was a child. I’ve sung it countless times as a lullaby to all my babies, and they each know it by heart.

Even my just-barely-two year old. He was singing it to himself in his sweet toddler-speak this morning as he played:

“I love you Lord, and I lift my voice
To worship you, oh my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King in what you hear
May it be a sweet sweet sound in your ear.”

He moved on to another familiar song:

“Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him
How I proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus
O, for grace to trust Him more.”

It does this mama heart so good to hear the sweet voices of her children lifting up the One who created them.

As that thought occurred to me, another followed closely behind: If I love to hear my children praise the Lord, how much more does our worship bring joy to God the Father’s heart?

Worship is not just song; it’s an entire life centred around Jesus Christ, loving as He loved and serving as He served. And praising Him, out loud and in our hearts, is an essential part of that well-spent life.

When things are going well, it’s easy to give Him praise. But when things are going poorly, it can feel nearly impossible to lift our voices, let alone our hands, to the Maker of heaven and earth.

God is sovereign. And He is all good. When we go through difficulties, it feels like He has forgotten us. But Isaiah talks about how God does not forget His people (Isaiah 49:15-16 NIV):

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are ever before me.”

Holding God’s sovereignty and His goodness in tension is crucial, especially when our circumstances are beyond our control. And somehow, an audible declaration of praise serves as the reminder we desperately need!

We’re called to praise the Lord as long as we live. Psalm 146 (NIV) begins like this:

Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
 
I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Put it on the mirror in the morning. Write it on a sticky note and snap a photo of it so it’s in your camera roll. “I WILL praise the Lord ALL my life; I WILL sing praise to my God as long as I live.” Choose it, no matter what happens in the day.

Why? Because of what it says in the rest of Psalm 146. The plain-as-day warning that follows always makes me sit up and take notice. No beating around the bush here, just a straightforward message to take to heart.

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.

When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.

What a stark image of the reality of human limitations. It pierces my heart! Where am I placing my trust, right now, today, in this moment? Is it in human beings? Am I hanging my hopes on likes and follows, or even opportunities for ministry? What about my job or side projects? Maybe it’s my husband or children. How about my church or my friends?

It’s enough to make me realize where I’ve begun to turn for validation and, essentially, salvation of some kind. And it’s enough to make me return to my first love, the One who loved me first (1 John 4:19 NIV – “We love because He first loved us”).

He is worthy, there is no question. Look at this beautiful picture of God that unfolds before us throughout the remainder of this Psalm.

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever.

He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,

    the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
    the Lord loves the righteous.

The Lord watches over the foreigner
    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The Lord reigns forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.

God is the Maker of all. And because He is the Maker of all, He is the one who sustains all life! In Him, we find the justice, satisfaction, freedom, vision, encouragement, love, protection and provision that we will never find anywhere else.

We were – all of us – made to praise the Lord. We were made to bring Him glory. When we put our trust in Him, we can be confident that He is who He says He is, and He will do what He has promised to do.

So I’m choosing it today. I’m writing it on my heart.

I WILL praise the Lord ALL my life. I WILL sing praise to God as long as I live. Only He is worthy!

Morning skies

Late summer morning skies reveal His glory!

Home for Summer

Summer brings a new rhythm to our house.

My husband and I have four children aged 8 and under so it requires some creativity and a great deal of patience to have everyone under the same roof 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In fact, as I write this, my four year old is standing beside me holding a Golden Book, “reading” it to me in her version of a British accent.

Do you know how difficult it is to focus on the task at hand with such cuteness in the room?

Not to mention the inevitable bickering, screaming, whining and rainy day cabin fever that makes everyone feel a bit stir crazy. Add in regular bursts of laughter and the sillies and it’s nearly impossible to concentrate.

They’re in holiday mode; my work still needs to get done.

So how do we do it? How do we coexist in the same space, with very different goals? My goals are to be productive and efficient at all my tasks. Their goals are to be on summer vacation.

Worlds collide.

Can I make room for the chaos that comes with welcoming my children into my plans?

Last week I announced that we’re going to have to be very patient with one another as we adjust to our “summer normal”. I talked about giving each other lots of grace.

I think the talk was more for me than it was for them. Even after years of being surrounded by my small children, they still stretch me beyond my limits and I find myself asking the Lord for great patience and courage to parent with kindness, compassion and intention.

I came across this story in Mark 10:13-16 (NIV) —

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

Jesus was indignant when He saw how the disciples were treating those children. He told them to let the children come and not to stop them. This was a stark contrast to how children were viewed and treated in the culture of His day. In fact, instead of rebuking them like His disciples did, Jesus brought the children near and blessed them. He told His disciples that God’s Kingdom belongs to those who are like children, and we would do well to have a simple faith like children do.

Do we have the eyes to see? Do we have the ears to hear? Children view the world in a remarkable way; they are a gift.

This summer, I have another opportunity to learn from my kids, while also teaching them and building a unique relationship with each one.

But if I am consumed with my own narrow plans and goals, I will miss the opportunity altogether.

Being a mom isn’t easy, but the messages of culture aren’t making it any easier. Our culture communicates that “the kids are alright”. In other words, children turn out okay no matter what we do, so we are free to invest the best of ourselves in other places. God’s truth about kids is that they are precious treasures to be welcomed and learned from.

It happens every single time. Whenever I take all four kids to the grocery store, strangers ask “are they ALL yours?” or mention how I have my hands full. We are often the recipients of stares and even glares. Other parents often extend grace, but most of the time the air is thick with huffs of impatience.

Our entire culture is designed to make the kids “someone else’s problem”. We face enormous pressure to put them in daycare, then preschool. When they get to school age, we are told we are depriving them if we don’t enrol them in at least two extracurriculars, which take up most evenings and weekends. In summer, we are encouraged to ship them off to camps and then to grandma’s and then to hire the babysitter so we can accomplish our plans and goals. Mom-memes are filled with jokes about running out of the house as fast as possible when dad gets home or longing for the hour the kids finally go to bed.

It’s funny because it’s true. I really need regular breaks from my kids! I’m a work-from-home/work-away-from-home mama. Sometimes I just need to get. things. done.

But I fear that if we design our entire lives around trying to get away from them, we may give them the impression that we don’t actually want to be around them all that much. And you know what? That’s a really tough impression to get rid of.

When I was a teenager, I read a quote that has stuck with me over the years. It’s a simple prayer that I carry in my heart: “Lord, stamp eternity into my eyes”.

My perspective of parenting needs to be larger than my personal goals and dreams, even in summertime when they’re constantly invading my space.

Back to the living room, on a rainy summer afternoon.

“Mom! Even though Captain Hook has a bigger sword, Peter Pan always wins!” my four year old exclaimed. She held up an illustrated copy of Peter Pan, telling the story by looking at the pictures.

The culture may have a bigger sword, but God’s profound ways and wisdom always wins.

Peter and Hook

Image: a snapshot of Disney’s “Peter Pan” from an old Golden Book

Let It Rain

It has been bone dry here this spring. We’ve had a few snowstorms and a few thundershowers, but we’ve been missing that long, soaking rain that brings health to gardens and hope to farmers.

But it has finally happened. Buckets and buckets of rain coming down, filling every crack in the dry ground, welling up into spontaneous rivers and pooling into surprise lakes.

Sheets of rain blown sideways by the fierce wind.

I’m thankful it’s not snow.

But the parched ground needed this rain. Those with crops and gardens to tend needed this rain. The rest of us – we needed this rain too. We needed the green hills and growth that comes after a rainstorm.

This real-life example of the blessing of rain couldn’t have come at a better time. Earlier this week I was reading Isaiah 40:17-20 and it pierced my heart —

“The poor and needy search for water,
 but there is none;
 their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.

I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
 and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
 and the parched ground into springs.

I will put in the desert
 the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
 the fir and the cypress together,

so that people may see and know,
 may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
 that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”

Have you ever seen rain fall on dry land? The ground drinks the water up in an instant and within minutes it looks as if it the rain never fell in the first place. Imagine how much water it would take to make rivers flow on barren heights, springs grow in the valleys, pools of water fill the desert and turn the parched ground into springs? How much refreshing moisture it would take to make the wasteland teem with tall, strong, fragrant, wonderful life?

Only God can do this.

Only God can take our dry, brittle, dead hearts and flood them with the power of His Spirit, bringing new life where nothing else will grow.

Only God, the God who does not forsake, can answer the call of the spiritually thirsty, bringing refreshment that satisfies forever.

Someone needs to hear this today.

Someone needs to hear that God does not forsake us, even in the wasteland. He brings new life after the rain.

Only He can. Only He will.

raindrops on leaves

Raindrops on leaves

Going to the Moon

July 1969.

Three men blast off in a rocket ship with a plan to be the first humans to set foot on the grey powder surface of the moon.

An impossible mission.

We recently watched the 2019 documentary “Apollo 11” which features beautiful colour footage and photos of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. They tell the story in chronological order with original audio, restored images and unseen footage from the archives that make it feel less like a relic of the past and more like the amazing undertaking it really was.

What struck me is how they accomplished their goals without the technology available to us now. At first glance, even some of their equipment looks a school science project: contraptions made of thin metal rods, hobbled together with sheets of foil gift wrap reinforced with industrial aluminum tape.

How did they do it?

How in the world did they send three men to the moon in 1969, before the advanced computers and robotics we have today?

I realize I am ignorant of much of rocket science and the years of planning and preparing for a momentous mission like sending humans to the moon, but one thing I know for sure – imagination must have played a significant role in moving the mission forward.

If you cannot imagine doing something, you will not succeed in accomplishing that goal.

Who thought, “hey, I know, let’s send people to the moon!”? Who imagined what it would take to make it happen? Who had the passion for math to calculate the exact trajectory and invent the maneuvers it would take to make the mission a success? Who saw Neil and Buzz and Michael and said, “these are the guys!”?

I was reading about Ancient Sumeria, a civilization from long ago that literally invented the wheel. No one has bothered to reinvent such a design because we don’t need to. We still use the fundamental shape today in almost every area of life.

There is something about the human imagination and ability to create and build and discover and explore that hints at something so much more.

Could it be that the great accomplishments of humankind point to the Creator of all things? Could it be that God allowed people to do great things out of the depths of His grace, as a glimpse of the great things He is already doing and will do in the future in our lives and with our world? If we, with all our human limitations, can do things like send three guys in a handmade rocket ship to walk on the moon and put rocks in their pockets to bring home for show and tell, wouldn’t it be possible that God, who has no limitations, could create and orchestrate and communicate and participate with His creation?

Humans are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). We have His capacity for relationship and understanding and creativity. And even the great things we accomplish are nothing compared to what God has already done and what is He is in the process of doing.

Consider this from 2 Corinthians 2:9-10 (NIV) –

However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”
the things God has prepared for those who love him —
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

Lord, give us eyes to see Your work everywhere and help us to wait with baited breath for the things that are still to come!

lunar eclipse jan 2019

The January 2019 Lunar Eclipse as seen from my perspective.

I Yuv You!

Fractured and shortened sleep often leaves me in a sour mood.

We had a good run for a while there, but we’re back to one or two of our four young children waking up at night for random reasons. Sigh. In spite of my reduced energy level this week, I’ve worked at my various tasks faithfully, making sure everything that needed to be done was done on time and with care.

I’m finding, though, that if left unattended, the coals of resentment will burn long and low. All week I’ve been asking the Lord to help me to love my family the way Jesus has loved me – sacrificially and extravagantly.

It’s tough to do. I don’t want my golden years to be defined by the bitterness of a personal ledger filled with names and ways I’ve been wounded. I want my life to be characterized by selfless love. But if I can be completely honest here, it takes work not to let that resentment build and the roots of bitterness to take hold.

My prayer has often simply been, “Lord, help me to love my family the way You have loved me.”

This morning I was in the kitchen with my back turned to the table. I had just set down cups of milk for the kids and was returning to put the jug away.

Within a few seconds, my four year old announced, “Mama there’s a spill!”

I spun around quickly to see her entire cup of milk tipped over, the rich white liquid running onto her chair and the floor below.

My heart sank.

“Oh!” I replied, springing into action with a few cloths from the drawer. As I knelt down on all fours and began to mop up the spill, I felt frustrated. It’s not just one thing – it’s all the things. All the little things I do every day that no one ever says thank you for…

My internal rant was interrupted by an unprompted announcement from my almost 2 year old son.

“I yuv you!”

It stopped me in my tracks. Did I hear him correctly?

He shouted again, “I yuv you!”

When I realized what he was trying to say, I laughed and replied, “I love you too!”

He said it over and over again. “I yuv you! I yuv you!”

With each time, I felt a little lighter. His adorable voice was a soothing balm to a heart scorched by resentful thoughts.

Something so small and seemingly coincidental – an expression of love from my youngest child who is just learning to speak – was the work of the Lord in my life today. In that moment, a gentle reminder that Jesus loves me, He sees me, He knows me.

When I feel forgotten, He is the One who remembers His children. When I feel unappreciated, He is the One who whispers His love in a thousand ways. When I feel exhausted at the thought of getting down on my knees to soak up one more spill, He is the One who knelt down to wash the feet of those who would later deny and betray and abandon Him.

Lord, let Your great love never be lost on me. Let it transform me from the inside out, so that I can love freely and fully, even in the smallest acts of service again and again and again.

walking

Taking a walk

In My First Years of Motherhood…

With still many a lesson on the horizon, I am sharing a few little things I’ve learned so far in my first years of motherhood:

-My mom actually DOES know a few things. You know when you’re a teenager and you think, even secretly, that your mom just doesn’t get it? Wrong. She actually gets it more than you realize and one day you’ll be asking her all about it.

-My body is incredibly resilient. And frankly, completely amazing. It may look different than it used to but it has proven time and time again that beauty, strength and endurance come in many forms.

-My capacity is limited. I didn’t want to accept this in the beginning and even now I struggle to speak up when I am feeling overwhelmed, but the Lord knows me so well that He sends me people who patiently and persistently press me to let them bless me with their presence and practical help. What a gift!

-My life is not my own. Every day I have ample opportunity to embody the sacrificial love of Jesus in a million little ways. I can choose to let the requirements and demands of raising a family fill me with resentment or I can choose to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and willingly lay down my life for the sake of another. I’m asking the Lord to help me choose wisely.

-My identity is not in my family. Although I desperately love my husband and children and would not trade this life for anything, I am beginning to understand that my worth and value does not lie in my success or failure in my role as wife and mother. My true worth and value can only be found in Jesus and that brings such freedom in all my roles in life.

Happy Mother’s Day. I know that this is a difficult time of year for many people, as various painful circumstances bring shape and colour to our experiences. May you know God’s deep comfort, incomparable care and limitless compassion through this weekend and beyond.

You are loved, whether you feel loved or not. Tell your weary heart that truth today.

Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

trees and light jer 31 3

 

 

Lessons from a Blue Hydrangea

Sometimes the most ordinary things bring us to an extraordinary realization that moves our hearts.

Fresh Easter flowers have become a tradition for me. I usually opt for white tulips, Easter lilies or daffodils, but this year I was on the hunt for something else. I had noticed someone else’s gorgeous blue hydrangea in the spring sunshine one afternoon on the weekend before Easter and immediately I knew I wanted one for our table.

A few days before Easter, I brought one home, pulled off the plastic and set it in the centre of our old dining room table. It was huge. The blooms burst forth and my heart sang! But within two days, it looked tired and sad.

I tend to become an overenthusiastic plant parent, loving each and every plant I’ve ever had to death with my daily watering and pruning, so this time I decided to do a bit of reading up on how to care for a potted hydrangea.

Turns out, blue hydrangeas have a few demands: bright but not direct sunlight, warm but not too warm, and soil that’s not dried out.

On Maundy Thursday, Blue looked like she was about to give up the ghost. I was annoyed that Easter was yet to come and this plant was about to die before her big moment on the Easter dinner table! So I moved her to the back where the air was cooler and gave her a nice drink of water, just hoping she would survive until Good Friday.

She rallied.

It happened again on Saturday morning. So I repeated my remedy and she rallied again.

Easter dinner came and went and Blue brought the beauty of God’s amazing creation to our little home.

Here’s the thing I can’t get over – this blue hydrangea continually finds itself on the brink of death. I bring it to a cool place and give it a drink, and soon her blooms are full.

How many times have I felt parched and dry, wilting and waning, wondering how my heart will ever be revived again? And then, by the power of His Spirit through the truth of His Word I am reminded that Jesus is the Living Water!

Drink deep today, friends. Drink deep. Let the truth of God’s Word speak to your heart and be thirsty no more. Let Easter be more than just a story we hear in the springtime and quickly move on to home renovations and summer plans.

I need the bigger story that Easter promises. I need to know that when I go to Jesus, I can trust that He really is the Living Water my heart so desperately needs because He IS God and he has been raised to life again. The power of sin has been broken and death has been conquered.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (NIV) —

“Where, O death, is your victory?

    Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the words of my dad, “Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!”

Blue

Still looking great after a week in my care. Amazing.

Mama, You Love Jesus?

As we move into Holy Week, starting this weekend with Palm Sunday right through to next weekend with Good Friday and Easter Sunday morning, I am sharing something I wrote a few Good Fridays ago. I am thankful that I captured this memory; it still touches me even though we’re moving into a different season with our kids. If you are in a time of your life right now where Easter feels like just another thing to get through, I pray that as you “pass by Jesus on the cross”, He makes an impact on you right where you are. 

Let me set the scene for the following story: I was bone-tired. Between parenting a four year old and a two year old, we were facing a long and uncertain road with our three month old who was in the middle of treatments for a concerning and very rare genetic condition that had come as a surprise after she was born.

I felt like the billows were rolling in the sea of our life. 

I was hanging on to Jesus with white knuckles and it was bringing me to my knees.

***

Yesterday my oldest daughter asked me, “Mama, you love Jesus?”

With tears in my eyes, I answered, “yes, I do love Jesus.”

And then I wept.

It had been a day already (if you know what I mean), and it was only 10am.  We were sitting at the table with little yogurt cups, some strawberries and a bit of banana bread we had baked together the day before.

For almost the entire hour beforehand, we battled.  And we were all exhausted.

As we ate, I responded to yet another question about Easter, explaining the good news for probably the sixth time this week.  Daily questions about who Jesus is, why He died, why He rose, what it all means… Lord have mercy!  I didn’t know you needed a theology degree to have kids!

That’s when she looked up across the table at me with those big blue eyes and said, “Mama, you love Jesus?”

It broke me.  I nearly couldn’t pull myself back together.  My middle girl said, “Mama, don’t cry!  Are you crying?”

“Yes,” I said. “But not because I am sad.  I am crying because I really do love Jesus very much.”

Easter usually turns out to be a very emotional season for me. It’s where the depth of my need meets the breadth of a love I cannot fathom, and that truth pierces my heart in unexpected moments where I see its transformative power in action.

The day continued on in its ups and downs late into the evening, with a few glimpses of glory.  But most of it was made of moments that made me whisper, “Grace, Jesus.  Your grace.  Only Your grace today.”

The next morning, my body felt broken.  I was up a couple of times in the night, and my eyes were puffy from crying tears of exhaustion.

Church?  People?  No thanks.  Besides, we already did communion with the kids at the table this morning.  Grape juice and homemade white bread.

But it was Good Friday.  Part of my heart wanted to be at church, even though I knew I probably would not be able to sit through the service with the two youngest kids.  So I swallowed my pride over feeling like I needed to look capable and we did it.  And let’s face it, the truth shines through in all its radiance with three energetic kids 4 and under, a mom-ponytail and a baggy sweatshirt because my other jacket still doesn’t quite fit after having our latest cherub-cheeked girlie. I went solo because my husband had to work.

Walking into that church, I already knew I wouldn’t catch much of the Good Friday service.

But somewhere in the middle of cuddling a baby and entertaining a toddler with sniffles in a room on the side of the sanctuary, my heart was lifted by what I heard through the speaker piping in the message from the other room:

“Even those who passed by Jesus up on that cross were impacted by Him.”

Passing Him by.  That’s exactly how it feels sometimes when you’re in the thick of raising tiny humans.

But I say this with certainty:  even if you feel like you’re just passing by Jesus today, with all the things that life and seasons bring, He makes an impact on you.

I tried to take the two youngest into the sanctuary for communion, but the baby started fussing and our toddler chose that moment, that holy moment before communion, to start shouting, “NOOOO! I don’t WANT to whisper!”

So we headed back to the side room.

I may not have been able to get to the church communion table this morning, but He met me at the kitchen table.

In a place I did not expect.

cross and heart

An Easter craft by one of my children a few years ago.

What is Better

“Mom! I need you to put pigtails in my hair!”

My four year old was waiting in the hall for me when I got up yesterday morning. My eyes were barely open, my body was still shaking off the shell of sleep. I needed a minute.

“Okay just let me brush my teeth. Did you look outside?”

“No,” she said, running to the front window.

I could hear her shrieks of joy from the bathroom.

“IT SNOWED! HEY GUYS! IT SNOWED!” she shared the good news with her big sisters.

I see an obstacle; she sees an opportunity.

It’s late March and perfectly normal weather in our city at this time of the year, but these overnight snow dumps still seem to catch me by surprise. Just the day before, we were enjoying the brilliant sunshine as the kids played at the park near our house. Our neighbourhood was buzzing with dog walkers and kids on bikes.

After the snow, all is quiet.

I stepped outside to drop something in the garbage bin and my ears perked up at the sound of birds in the trees. They seemed unfazed by the shallow blanket of white. It’s moisture that our dry ground needs, bringing the hope of a good growing season.

What appears to be a setback may, in fact, turn out to be the very thing that propels us forward.

Let me say that again: what we perceive to be holding us back may actually be the catalyst for the deeper, lasting change we desperately need.

Can we make room for it? Are we brave enough to let ourselves be interrupted by what is better?

If our pace is so harried that even one small deviation from our plan causes us to come unglued, maybe that is exactly what we need – to be unglued from our throne.

I was reading the story of Mary and Martha yesterday (Luke 10:38-42 NIV) —

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

“Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha had a heart to serve the guest of honour in her home with great care and attention to detail, but all the preparations had become a distraction to her. She became so frustrated that by Mary that she actually asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her! Can you even imagine?

And yet, something about that sounds so familiar to me.

My heart is full of distractions that bring frustration when someone isn’t going along with my plans. My prayers are full of requests for God to change other people to make my path easier.

Jesus had something important to share with Martha. He knew her heart. He knew she was worried and upset – she didn’t even have to tell Him that part. He reminded her that only one thing was truly necessary – to sit at His feet and listen to what He said. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen what is better, and He wasn’t about to tell her to be more productive.

Hmm. Could it be that there’s a game changer in there for me today?

Lord, search my heart. In the middle of all my grand plans, teach me to understand and choose what is better. Show me what it means to just sit at Your feet and listen to what You say.

spring snow on grass

Spring snow on the grass