This Child of Mine: The Weight of Carrying a Soul

child of mine

Luminous mystery—in my clearer moments, I see you, child of mine. You are dazzling. You take my breath away. You embrace me with nothing held back, with no pretense, no ulterior motives. You are a possibility I have not yet come to know. Sometimes at night, I watch you sleep: your chin tucked to chest on your pillow, your knees pulled in, your slim frame curls into a question mark. Who will you become? What will you teach us? What shores will be changed by the ripple of your life?

But your worth is not in your possibility, but in your present. The world does not wait to be changed by you. This light one whose fingers clasp around my neck, and whose head lies so softly on my shoulder, you who I lift almost effortlessly have a weightiness, a heft, because you are more than possibility, you are a person. You are a person who is changing me. You are a person, created in the very image of God.

Jesus, said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:4). He knew we had something to learn from your dependence, from your abandon, from your wonder, from your joy, and from your trust. Hear the way He speaks of you. He held you on his knee as ones who possessed dignity, as ones made in the very image of His Father, as ones who had something to teach the so-called “wise.”

Do I treat you this way? Do I revere you as a splendid person of infinite value, not because of your possibility or your capability, but because of your essence? Do I remember that I did not create you, nor do I own you? You are not my child, as I would talk about my car or my house. You are on loan to me. You are entrusted to me, not simply for what I can do for you, but for what He wants to do in my life through you. So thank you.

I do not mistake you as perfect, dear child. Oh no, of all people, I have a front row seat to your sin-soaked moments (as you do for mine as well). I know we are both desperately flawed and desperately in need of the One who called us both to come. But neither should I mistake you as ordinary. We should both remember that as Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. “

As I teach you right from wrong, let me remember that you possess an everlasting soul, and that I struggle along with you in bending my spirit to do that which I know I should. As I explain to you things which seem simple to me, like 5+5=10, may I remember that while you may lack knowledge, your mind is a dazzling wonder, assimilating information at a rate which far surpasses my own. While I dress you, may I remember that you are an individual, unique in your tastes and personality. When you ask me to play with you, when you cuddle up next to me with a book, when you instinctively reach for my hand, may I remember that I have a friend in you who perhaps surpasses any I have ever or will ever know. When you speak, may I listen with expectation for how you will challenge and change me. As I lead you, may I do it with a trembling heart, knowing what a treasure God has entrusted me.

Little one, may I always remember and respect that you are a distinct and splendid person. May I hold the lightness of you in my arms with the weight of wonder your soul deserves.

 

Did you enjoy this post? Consider subscribing to get more thoughts like these delivered straight to your inbox. If this is your first time here, I hope you’ll stay awhile, read a few posts, and find out more about me and my books and writing. And of course, if you liked this post, would you consider sharing it? 

A Thank You Note to My Unborn Child

The miracle of youLittle One, you aren’t even here yet, but I just wanted to take a time-out tonight as I round the 27 week mark (and keep getting rounder) to tell you, “thank you.” God has always used the littlest ones—the weak and frail—to open eyes the eyes of the strong. You are so small; not even 2 pounds, but the weight of glory you reveal is astonishing. You do not yet know that you are a catalyst of wonder in my life, a catalyst of worship. With your kicks, somersaults, and barrel rolls you constantly nudge me deeper into the heart of wonder, deeper into the heart of God.

It won’t be long before you will be here. And you will soon see that when you are young the whole world is a marvelous discovery—“Look mama, look! The moon!” or “Look, mama, look—a ladybug!” But when you get older, sometimes it gets hard to see the world with new eyes. All you see are the thorns and thistles, the smudge and the smear. And as strange as it may sound, you forget to marvel at the moon or stand amazed at the dainty flittering of a bug’s wings. You forget that the whole world is “charged with the grandeur of God,” aflame with His beauty, oozing with His wisdom, alive with His fierce power. And when you fail to marvel, it’s not long before you find your heart growing cold and ungrateful.

But you, my precious unborn child, how you lead me back to the heart of wonder, back to the heart of praise. You see, with your every nudge I’m reminded of something so strange and marvelous, I can’t help but worship. This is it: God is at work forming a life—a human being—inside of me. I’ve been chosen to be a vessel to a miracle. You are that miracle.

At just over two weeks, your tiny heart began to beat. It was a spontaneous mystery—the kind that is still baffling scientists—how within a poppy-seed sized embryo, a cell spontaneously jolts awake and begins to beat and how the other cells nearby join in the dance of its rhythm. I like to think of God hovering over you then, the way He did at the very beginning when He brought the first life miracle. I like to think of the Trinity’s overflowing joy flowing down into that single primordial heart cell with such joy that it just can’t help but dance and teach the other cells to dance too. I pray that your life would be like that first beat, a spontaneous overflow of  God’s joy that can’t help but affect everyone else around you.

I stand amazed at how from a microscopic twisted spiral of DNA, you are becoming you, unfolding and unfurling inside me with each passing day. Your fingers budded, and then your toes, your nails, and your eyelashes. And somehow from this twisting staircase of God’s words for your life, you are coming to be. Already, the experts say, you can suck your thumb, dream, grimace, taste, and hear. You spend your days adding brain cells at a dizzying rate and practicing for your first breaths. All the while, you are taking my breath away. Every nerve and sinew, every twitch and tendon is an astonishing mystery.

But still—all of that is merely matter. Beyond the wonder of flesh and bone, the wonder yes, of being flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone, is the miracle of your soul.

You, Little One, possess an eternal soul. I don’t even understand the words, but there is something in you, something that will not perish. Though your body will fade, your soul will remain. You are a person, made in the very image of God, distinct from me and accountable to Him. I tremble at the weight of this glory and at the weight of the responsibility of shepherding you.

But for now, I just marvel. You lead me to worship because you are doing the very thing you were made to do—you are reflecting the image and mystery of God. What a vast, creative, generous, wise God! What a kindness that He would allow you into my life! What a joy it is to carry you!

Thank you, Little Glorious One, you are a catalyst to praise. May you always be so, all your days.

Fireworks

We’ve been on the road for almost three weeks, traversing Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. And since the laundry pile looks like Everest, I’m digging up a little piece I wrote last September when I was just thinking of getting the blog off the ground. Hope you enjoy.

fireworks

Aglow in Wonder

“Boom!” I let my fingers fall toward his face again in a pretend sprinkle of light. Baby boy erupts in cackles and giggles. He pleads, “Fireworks again, Mama! Again!” It’s been over two month since my two year-old saw his first fireworks display, and yet he still begs for this nightly bedtime reenactment.

My hands go up in the air again above his crib, above that sweet face upturned in pure delight. “Boom!” I say with as much gusto as a tired mama can muster, letting the pretend light of my falling fingers cascade on his face again. More squeals and glee. I could do this all night–his face, his laughter: he is the dazzling display I could watch over and over again.

What father or mother does not delight in the joy of his or her child? Jesus put it this way: “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11).

God loves to lavish His good gifts on us. He loves to see us light up as we see the redbud tree ablaze in autumn or a Lenten Rose blooming in defiance of winter. He loves to delight us in the crackle and smoke of a fire or the warmth and strength of a hand clasped round our own. Surely these and so many like them are God’s good gifts for us to enjoy. So much goodness He lavishes upon us. But it all dims in comparison to the very best gift He has to give—the most lavish of all His gifts–His Son. What a radiant light! To contemplate the glory of Christ, the glory of salvation; He dazzles the senses. He lifts our gaze in awe. He illuminates everything around Him.

One Fourth of July, a few years before I was married, I had a small moment of revelation. Sitting under that black canvas of sky, watching beauty splash and stream in vivid hues of cobalt, red, and violet, it suddenly dawned on me to think of the whole scene from a different perspective. On one night a year, millions of faces turn upward: the young, the old, the cynical, the hopeful, the jaded, the weary. For a brief moment, all eyes sparkle with anticipation, faces brim with childlike joy, and small gasps, oohs, and ahs punctuate the silence of held breath. The heavens must certainly have the more glorious display at that moment; the glorious display of both light and the light reflected in our changed countenances; what a sight it must be.

But what does this ephemeral, brief blip in time, whisper? What will change us—not our countenances, but our souls? Not for a moment, but for eternity?

Do you see it? The fireworks even angels bend low to see: the glory of God revealed in salvation (1 Peter 1:12).

Glory is a difficult word to understand. Though we can’t fully understand what God’s glory is, in Scripture it is often revealed to us in part through displays of light. Moses came down from the mountain after meeting with God, his face beaming with radiant light. It was so bright that the Israelites had to put a veil over Moses’ face. The glory of the Lord preceded the Israelites in the wilderness wanderings in a pillar of light. When the disciples saw Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, he radiated with a brightness like nothing they had ever seen before. And the apostle Paul tells us in Second Corinthians, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (3:18).

The purity, intensity and brightness of light somehow serve as an illustration of the glory of God. And what does this glory do? It transforms everything around it. And the most stunning of all transformations is salvation. Light splashes across the blackness of a human soul, not just for a moment illuminating it, but for eternity transforming it.

I’m taken back again to my son’s face. Each night he remembers the splendor of light. And as humble as our nightly re-enactment might be, it changes his countenance. He lights up in the light.

What a simple lesson I take from him! Remember. Be delighted. Shine.

Our faces aglow are the Father’s delight.

Embrace Your Season

beach angel
We’re on a bit of a vacation this week, staying with dear friends on Cape Hatteras. Unfortunately, no one informed the children that mommy was on a bit of a vacation this week. The boys have succeeded in waking one another up the last two days around 5:30 am. And of course, once they are awake, Mommy is awake. I’ll admit I was sorely tempted to be out of sorts about it. But on the first day, as I was getting up with them God lifted up my eyes to notice the glorious sunrise bursting over the Atlantic. I turned on some cartoons for them and sat myself facing the shore.  I comforted myself with the thought, “This is a sunrise I would have missed if I were still sleeping; God wanted me to see this sunrise.”  And I praised Him for it.

Before we left home, I was looking at a stack of books on my counter and thinking about bringing them along and then just laughed about it aloud to my husband. “What’s the likelihood of reading a book on the beach with a toddler and a 3 year old running around?” I asked him. He shrugged and said, “About as likely as me taking a nap on the beach while you read.” We laughed and I brought them anyway, if only because that’s what I do: I bring books places. Today, I didn’t read and my husband didn’t nap on the beach, but we made one mighty fine sand city—I called it Minas Tirith after The Lord of the Rings. We shoveled and the boys buried our toes in sand. I jumped the baby in the icy cold crash of the surf, and flipped not a page, nor closed an eyelid. And this afternoon as I snuggled up next to my three year-old, him sleeping soundly after being kissed by the sun and lullabied by the waves, I praised God for this season.

There was a season of my life where I slept in on weekends and vacations. There was a season of life where books were devoured seaside and naps in the sun were a possibility. This is not that season. This is the season of early wake-ups, of sand on the beach blanket and in our hair and everywhere else because toddlers don’t know any better. This is the season of little boy laughter and giggles and yes, mighty tantrums too. And it’s a season of my life I longed for more than naps and books and sleeping in late on vacation. It was a season I was willing to sacrifice to know. And now I don’t want to miss this season longing for another one. I don’t want to grumble through it. I want to enjoy it. I want to be thankful in it and savor it in all its messy glory.

One day there will be time for books on the seashore and naps, once more, but there won’t be sand-castles, and baby squeals; there won’t be sandy-wet baby footprints on the tile or a boy angel snuggled up next to me on my pillow—his breathing coming soft and steady as the waves.

All seasons are a gift. All are to be cherished. All we need to do is lift our eyes to the break of light we would have missed otherwise. All we need to do is open our ears to the sounds only this season can offer us. With eyes wide open and ears a-tune to the moment, we’re right where God wants us: present and thankful in the now.

Wherever you are today, embrace your season. Open wide your eyes, turn your head to hear the sounds of how God is loving you in the midst of your now. And give Him thanks, right where you are. You will never have this moment again to give to Him in praise.

 

Like what you’re reading? Consider ordering a copy of my new book Waiting in Wonder: Growing in Faith While You’re Expecting for yourself or a friend. It makes a perfect gift for an expectant mom you know.

Buy the Book


×