mercy triumphs

I am Javert. I see everything black and white. Justice, all must be fair.

Yet, I am Eponine. Dirty and rotten. Ever failing. So desperately in need of mercy.

Then there are my little Cosettes looking up at me. Innocent in so many ways yet already in need of grace.

And I feel the struggle of Jean Valjean. As my words and actions define for these little ones both justice and mercy.

I must show them their sin so that they will understand grace. Yet if I am to be shown mercy, mercy must always triumph.

Five-Minute Friday Prompt: Mercy

the perfect life

“Mom, when I grow up, I’m going to have the perfect life.”

So said my almost-six-year-old yesterday afternoon.

She went on to describe the perfect Aspen trees she’d climb, the horses she’d ride. And I lost track of her detailed perfection as I looked around at the toys strewn all over the floor, her mis-matched outfit and runny nose.

I paused before replying. She sounds just like I did at that age, or a little older.

I had the perfect life. Or so I thought. Until something happened in my extended family and shattered my perfect family image.

I spent my teen years reaching for that elusive bit of a perfect life that I could control. Perfect rules. Perfect standards. Perfect relationships. And I knew that when I grew up, I’d have the perfect children, the perfect home, the perfect schedule.

But here I was, in the middle of a far from perfect home, staring at the oldest of those anything but perfect children. Listening to her version of perfection. So like mine was (and too often is). So based on externals.

I pointed her to the toys on the floor, asking her to help perfect the little spot she was in now. And I tried to explain to her that our reality often differs from our dreams. That life is far from perfect. That perfection won’t make us happy.

But if earth was perfect, we wouldn’t long for Heaven. If we didn’t miss the mark, we wouldn’t need the Cross. If our lives were perfect, we wouldn’t need a Savior.

Thank God that we don’t have the perfect life.

Worship

Sunday morning worship time isn’t always very conducive to worship when you’re a mom.

I breathe a big sigh of relief if we even make it there on time and in one piece. And then I try to sing the right words at the right time while balancing a child in one arm and a song book in the other. I turn from breaking up a fight between to children to whispering to another, “put down your book and stand up and sing”.

We’re told not to give up the meeting together. Because the fellowship that happens there is priceless, even if the worship time leaves me with hardly any time for worship at all.

But neither am I to neglect worshiping our God. Because if I do, the rocks will cry out in our place.

Worship time isn’t limited to before and after prayer time on Sunday mornings.

Worship is breaking into song as I drive 70 miles per hour on the highway. Worship is pausing to pray before mealtimes. Worship is finding just a moment to be still amid the busyness. Worship is a whispered prayer while doing dishes. Worship is doing every little thing to the glory of God, with a smile on my face and praise on my lips.

And that leaves me with plenty of time and opportunity to worship, if only I will make the choice.

Worship is what leaves me longing for more. More of my Jesus. More time to worship Him.

 

Five Minute Friday Prompt (a week late): “Worship

beyond Sunday morning

Sometimes I stare in the mirror on Sunday mornings and wonder why I bother. Why put on the makeup, why wear the cute skirt? Because when we see each other Sunday morning, our children bouncing up to us, the makeup covering the tired bags under our eyes–that’s not real relationship. We exchange hellos and compliment each other on our children’s outfits, discussing the way they sat (or didn’t sit) still in church today. But it’s when you look past my glasses and see the signs of tears that no amount of makeup can hide and ask, “How are you doing, honey?” when real relationship starts. It’s when you text me on Monday to find out how my week is going and are expecting a real reply.

We’re more connected than ever these days, with Facebook and text messages and Skype. But no matter how much we complain about or reveal in our Facebook statuses, that’s not really being vulnerable. It’s when you say hello in a quick private message on Facebook and it turns into an hour long heart-to-heart talk when we can really be honest with each other. It’s when we meet for coffee and that one hour we told the babysitters turns into two as we share our hearts.

It can be lonely living in a Pinterest and Photoshop world. Because when you follow me on Pinterest or find out that we both have stacks of Restoration Hardware catalogs and This Old House magazines, you’re only finding out what my decorating preferences are. It’s when you stop by my house when the lunch dishes are still in the sink and I’m taking down laundry as we talk that we really get to know each other. It’s when we have an outdoor barbecue and a thunderstorm forces us all inside where there aren’t enough chairs, not to mention anywhere to put the food, that we get beyond pretenses to just having fun.

Maybe we shouldn’t wait until we find ourselves sitting next to each other at mom’s group to be honest and let the tears come. It doesn’t matter if our makeup gets ruined at church. It doesn’t matter if some days our kids wear clothes that don’t match or we spend the entire morning in the nursery crying with each other while our kids play happily. What matters is that we’re real with each other. What matters is that we get beyond Sunday morning “hello” to the Monday morning, “how are you doing?” What matters is that we get close enough for the relationships to get messy, because that is the only way the relationships won’t be lonely.

Five Minute Friday Writing Prompt: Lonely

listen

It’s that time of year when we fall into bed at much too late an hour every night, only to have the sun awaken us before the alarm the next morning. We drag ourselves out of bed while promising ourselves that elusive afternoon nap that never materializes. Hurried breakfasts and more hurried routines and the dishes and laundry are never quite done. And before we know it, the day is over and we start the cycle anew.

We spend all winter looking forward to spring, then all summer looking forward to the coming of fall. By the time fall arrives, we’re too tired to do anything but anticipate our coming hibernation–which again, never quite looks like we anticipate. There’s always something to rebuild, something to plan, something to work on. And just like that, the winter is over.

The days and the seasons, they ebb and flow–but the busyness, it seems, doesn’t change any more. And when I listen to my schedule and my calendar and my recently organized to do list, I absorb the stress of every task I have yet to do, every item I’ve left undone. The routines become more hurried as the stress mounts, and I can’t enjoy anything when I’m listening to the stress.

But today, I’m making the commitment not to listen to the stress (it only makes me more stressed). Not to promise myself that life will slow down (I should know by now that it won’t). Not to hurry through every moment of every day (hurry doesn’t make for a job well done). Not to miss the ever-changing people and opportunities God has placed in my life (stress makes me selfish).

So tomorrow, when you see me, please feel free to ask me: what are you listening to today? Because I know I’ll need the reminder.

{Five-Minute Friday Prompts: “fall” and “listen“,
because apparently I get writer’s block when I skip a Five-Minute Friday}