Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Nightmare Prayers

It is 5:30am and quiet.  The whole house slumbers when a scream pierces the stillness.

Another nightmare.

I stumble to her bedside as she thrashes and cries, eyes still closed but body in distress.  I kneel down and rub her back.  Her body relaxes, her cries die down, and while I normally make a quick exit to crawl back under my own covers, tonight is different.  Tonight I linger.

Tonight I sit by her bed with my hand still outstretched over her soft pajamas, and I pray.

I pray that God would give her sweet, peaceful sleep.  I pray that God would heal her body.  I pray that her mind would grow, her spirit would soften, her talents develop.  I pray that God would protect our family so that she might grow up nurtured and cherished. I pray that God would keep her from anymore nightmares.

I stop praying.

Because there is something about the dead of the night where the only sounds are the hum of the air conditioner and the steady rhythmic breathing of a child asleep.

Sometimes when we're still, our minds gain perspective.  In the quiet, I am reminded of what is most important.

I am reminded that there is a bigger nightmare out there -- one I pray that she never experiences -- living apart from God her Creator, in a way that she was never created to live.

And I begin to pray again, differently.

I pray that she would grow to know God intimately and love Him deeply.  I pray that she would grow to be a woman of gentleness and grace, changed by the grace she's received and eager to give grace to others.  I pray that she would learn to submit to authority -- not just mine because it makes my life easier, but the authority of the One who created her and knows whats best.  I pray that she would use her talents not for selfish gain but for the glory of God.  I pray that in her life, however short or long it may be, she would receive life from the True Vine and give life to those she meets.  I pray that angels and demons might revel at the majesty and power of God because of this twenty-seven pound vessel.

And I pray for me.  I pray that I would let go of my petty dreams for her -- dreams for her body to be normal, her mind to be sharp, her skills to be honed, and her future to be bright.  None of those dreams are bad.  But I pray that I would see beyond my parental desires for my daughter, and long for the things that God desires for my daughter.

Daylight dawns as I rise from her bed. I am tired.  But I am refreshed.  I thank God for the nightmare which brought me to her bedside.  Sometimes, it takes a nightmare to help us long for the best things.

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may...grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ ... that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Gift of Slowing Down

It's not complicated.  Faster is better.

I hear this popular line from the ATT commercials several times a week, and each time, I fight the urge to agree.  I resonate with those cute children as they sit at the table making obvious statements about how slow is terrible and multitasking is wonderful, and I live in a culture that shouts much of the same:  Faster is better.

I live for fast.  I demand that my children be fast.

Eat your food faster.
Put on your shoes faster.
Get out the door faster.
Get through the check-out line faster.
Finish the bedtime routine faster.

We hurry through one thing only to rush through the next and at the end of the day we feel tired and productive and effective -- but better?  Is life really better when everything happens fast?

Because one, ten, fifty years from now, I won't remember the fast moments.

I won't care if we got to places on time, or I finished everything on my to-do list for the day.  I won't remember how quickly I finished grocery shopping or how much traffic there was on the freeway.

So much of our energy gets wasted on "fast moments" -- moments quickly forgotten by the day's end.

But I will remember the moments that lingered.

I will remember spending long hours by her hospital crib offering quiet prayers while she struggled to breathe, with nowhere to rush off to because nothing seemed quite as important.

I will remember the nights when I stayed to read her an extra bedtime book and cuddle for "just another minute."

I will remember the lingering kisses before he walked out the door, even though he was late for his 9am with the gas tank on empty.

I will remember the nights when we sat 'round the dinner table with friends until the sun set and yawns emerged from lips, and we repeated "we really should get going" at least 10 times before we finally walked to our car.

I will remember the 2am rocking with a coughing child who needed mama's touch and for once I wasn't in a hurry to climb back under my own covers.

I will remember allowing her to put on her own shoes, knowing it would take twice as long, and seeing her beam with delight as she proudly announced, "I did it myself, mommy!"

I will remember the moments that could have been rushed, but for whatever reason, weren't.  Because sometimes the slow moments speak to us the grace of God.

Perhaps ATT has it backwards.

Perhaps real life happens when we stop rushing around and start looking around.  When we thank God for the right here, right now, gifts that he's given us, rather than racing through life to experience the next one.

Faster isn't better.
Enjoying is better.
Knowing the Creator and His gifts is best.

Slow down.  Thank God for the gift of right now.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Letter to My Son on His First Birthday

My sweet son,

You are 1 today.

I remember the first time they placed you in my arms, with your fists clenched and eyes shut and vocal chords on display.  I cradled you and whispered again and again, "Mommy's here.  I love you.  And you'll be ok."

And there were nights when you'd scream for food and comfort and clean sheets and I'd rush in and pick you up and hold you to my chest.  And you'd receive nourishment and warmth and love as as I'd whisper these words, "Mommy's here.  I love you.  And you'll be ok." 

And I dropped you off at nursery so I could sit and breathe in the back pew, and you'd be held by someone new and look around for someone familiar.  But after an hour of goldfish and toys and runny noses, I would return and scoop you up, and in between your smiles and giggles I'd reassure you,  "Mommy's here.  I love you.  I told you you'd be ok." 

And you took your first wobbly steps, with brows furrowed and hands outstretched; within just a few days you'd laugh and toddle confidently from couch to chair.  But there were moments when you'd fall down and hit your head hard and cry out.  And I'd run over and pick up your shaking body and hold you tight.  "Mommy's here.  I love you.  And you'll be ok." 

Because right now, little one, we live in a season of Mommy's here moments.  My presence brings healing comfort and my kisses covers the hardest of falls.

But some day, that won't be enough.

Because the day will come when you will lose friends and have your heart broken; you will struggle through friendships and fitting in and making wise choices.  You will wrestle with your faith, your God, your calling, your choices;  you will battle laziness, perfectionism, lust, and lies.  You will question identity and relationships and gifting and dreams.

You'll ask questions that demand more than mommy's here answers. I can't promise you that my presence, or my comfort, will ever be enough.  Because they won't.

But there's a better promise.  Spoken from one Father to one of his children --

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid, and do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

Your True Father, your Heavenly Father, promises forever presence.  He gives lasting comfort.  He gives strength to persevere, answers to hard questions, reasons during real pain.

You Great Father is always here.  And He will always love you.  And if those two things are true, then it will always be ok.