If our home could speak it would tell you stories of hard, loving imperfection.
You see it’s in our imperfections we see our desperate need for a Heavenly Father, when we have nothing left to reach for but the grace of God.
As memories are running rapidly through my thoughts these days…as beds lay empty and rooms are all too quiet, I have a lot of time to ponder the full days of the past.
Our dinner table brings back so many memories of shared meals and conversations that have overflowed with laughter and hardship. My husband built our table in our first year of marriage, it cost $60 to build…$60 I’d spend over and over again to have the gift of its conversations.
It was the first thing he built for our home. I had no idea the rich and sacred conversations that would be shared around it. Conversations of faith, wrestlings and decisions as our sons studied their way to the waters of the baptistery around this table…decisions to not give up but to continue on.
Oh and the laughter and fighting that has settled around the edges of this table all hold our secrets and our pain as well. Days where courage and faith have been chosen in spite of deep brokenness and pain that found its way into our home. Around this table as high chairs met its edge the memorization of God’s word began. Never realizing the depth of decisions it would fight for one day.
It was Thanksgiving break.
We had one son newly married, another son just arrived home from West Point where he had just begun his second year, a son who was a Senior in High School and a son who was in the eighth grade.
My life felt as full as the table I set.
I loved having them all home, but trying to find unity in the diversity of paths they were traveling-I felt a bit undone.
My son who was attending the military academy came home from a rigorous environment that often caused him to return home quite bound up. It often took him more days then he was allotted to unwind and the process was a bit taxing on every one of us. The newly weds were still adjusting while attending their last semester of college while the senior in high school was seeking God’s direction for his life and the eighth grader was enjoying his freedom in the mix.
As we circled around our Thanksgiving feast my husband called them to all pause for a moment.
One of the boys piped up with, ‘please tell me we aren’t going to do that thankful thing’. I exhaled a sigh, thinking ‘really, isn’t there blessings upon blessings you can recount with us?’ All the kids laughed in his response and it took some moments to gather their attention once again.
Our new daughter in law piped up with a list of her blessings, striving to regain some sense of order. Hoping for the others to follow suit, we continued prepping the conversation. After many foolish responses said in laughter we made it to one more blessing given by our oldest son striving to set an example for his younger siblings but to my growing frustration it only caused more jokes to flow. Finally in exhaustion I said ‘I can’t even have my Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving I’ve always wanted’ and just as those words left my weary lips through tears I laughed realizing that’s just what we had. Norman Rockwell one of my favorite artists who depicts common day life in a satirical style couldn’t have painted a better picture of Thanksgiving dinner than this.
So you wouldn’t be surprised our Christmas card that year held a similar picture as we tried multiple times to get everyone to cooperate for a picture that communicated ‘peace and joy’. After much ado I finally decided on this pose to show what really happens when our family tries to capture a photograph.
I was surprised by the responses we received that year to our Christmas card they were greater than any other year. You see it wasn’t another pose of our family being happy instead you’d see a Mom reaching for some sense of order and yet finding I had no control in my grasp.
Isn’t this where God does His greatest work?
When we release the messes we have and we trust solely in Him?
When I was a younger Mom in the ‘then’ of our lives as our four sons were continually searching for adventure I’d sink into bed every night from the pure exhaustion of corralling them. I hoped the words I had often fumbled my days through along with my mess-ups and mistakes would somehow get righted on Heaven’s doing.
And as I am sitting in the ‘now’ of our lives I can tell you my sweet younger sisters, God somehow graciously did this for me.
I am no different than you…tired yet striving for God’s best for our families, praying courageous prayers to break generational sin that seems to be biting our heels all too often and just begging God for all of this He’s entrusted to us will all turn out okay.
Trust me younger sisters He’s got you as He so sweetly has me!
The God of Heaven is holding you and sees you…you do not travel this road on your own…He is accompanying you on this journey and He-will-see-you-through.
Seek Him first, trust Him (even more than yourself) and pray hard!
The God of Heaven has you…He’s fighting for you, for your sons and for your daughters and He will see you through the ‘then’s’ all the way to the ‘now’s’!
From a broken sister a few steps ahead of you on this path, God can be trusted.
As I ponder through the past and recount His faithfulness to us, may I encourage you to stack rocks of His merciful faithfulness to you-
marking His kindness throughout your parenting
….it will fill your memories with His grace and mercy in the days to come.