eternal impact

“God designed motherhood to be a deeply meaningful role. We mothers have the opportunity to influence eternity by building a spiritual legacy in the lives of our children.”

Sally Clarkson

Seconds after my third child was born a nurse gently laid his wet body on my chest. My eyes burned from tears and sweat. His body shivered from leaving the womb and entering a cold sterile room with bright lights overhead. 

In spite of all the commotion and distraction buzzing around, his eyes were fixed on me. Laughter and excitement resonated from family members, but this small new bundle of joy was still transfixed on my every whispered word.

I’ll never forget that moment. Even though it was gone as quickly as it came, I still have the full attention of three little ones. My daughter and sons continually watch me. They watch to see how I treat people, how I react when pressed, what makes me laugh and what brings tears to my eyes.

I carry a strong weight of influence. I am either leading them closer to Christ or further away. I’m making Him the center focus of our life or a weekly tradition that we dress up for on Sunday mornings.

I haven’t been called to share the gospel to stadiums of women or children or teenagers. But I have been called to change diapers, wipe hands, spray on  sunblock and read to three incredible blessings.  And through those simple tasks, I have the opportunity to influence eternity.

 

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

today

Today I won’t dress for success. I won’t argue a landmark case in front of a jury or a judge. I won’t be the deciding vote in a multimillion dollar business deal. I won’t find the cure for cancer or any other miserable diseases. I won’t pen the next great American novel.  

But I’ll likely cut the crust off a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’ll tell an 11 year old I think she’s beautiful, just the way God made her. I’ll watch a little boy skillfully glide on a skateboard. I’ll applaud a baby for rolling a plastic car across the floor with his perfect, chubby hands. I’ll defrost chicken for dinner. I’ll probably have to make another trip to the grocery store. I’ll kiss my husband.

And though my day consists of simple, ordinary things; I’ll cherish every moment.  

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

July 9

It would be any other day if it weren’t for the fact that today would have been my due date. It was the date put on the calendar, circled in red. It was the day we would welcome our fourth child. If it was a girl, we’d name her Lucy and if it was a boy, he would have been Benjamin. 

The excitement our family shared came to an end after a painful Dr.’s visit. The heartbeat that we had celebrated weeks earlier was mysteriously gone. The words “I’m so sorry,” seemed to be mouthed in slow motion by a stranger dressed in Sponge Bob scrubs. I was led through a long corridor, far away from the happy pregnant women discussing birth plans and nursery designs. The ultrasound pictures that were framed on our refrigerator would be all we had left of four months of pregnancy.

Luke, photograph by Emily @ chattingatthesky.com

 

In the days to follow, I strolled alongside strangers at the post office, the library and grocery store. I didn’t want to have meaningless conversation; I didn’t want to make eye contact with anyone. I wanted my due date back. I wanted to feel queasy when I smelt hot dogs. And I wanted God to tell me why He had hurt me. 

Garrett, photograph by Emily @ chattingatthesky.com

 

In the midst of tears, looking into a closet filled with maternity clothes, I heard –

“Be still and know that I am God …”

In the business card of my OBGYN, neatly hung on my refrigerator of four more appointments that were no longer necessary, I heard –

“Be still and know that I am God …”

In the pregnancy books that lay on my nightstand – 

“Be still and know that I am God …”

Gracie, photograph by Emily @ chattingatthesky.com

 

It was raw, painful and lonely. This morning my mind drifts to a hospital where a baby should have been born. But instead this day will likely rival the day before. Tasks will be checked off mounting to do lists, breakfast and lunch will be served and the demands of life will play out. Very few people will know that my baby should have been born today. But in these quiet, stolen moments, before the shuffling of feet begin, I’ll thank God for the precious children I’ve been given and for that child that I’ll one day see again.

noise

I grew up in a quiet home where books were read and conversations were shared in the stillness of a kitchen. It was a peaceful place.

Our home is a lot of things, but quiet isn’t one of them.

IPods blare from room to room, welcoming Toby Mac in at 9 am and Mandeesa soon after.

“Can I have chocolate milk?”

“Can Ashlyn spend the night?”

“When are we going to the pool?”

Their questions are fired out at rapid succession.

Just when the noise reaches almost more than I can handle, they race through the kitchen, swoop up their baby brother and journey into the yard.

Thank you Lord.

I catch a glimpse of them playing outside, laughing. Their popsicles drip onto their bare feet making them sticky and leaving blots of red cherry behind.

They’ll soon sprint back in expecting lunch or a game of cards or maybe thick paper to paint a new masterpiece.  And the noise will rise once again.

But I know one day, our home will be quiet. J and I will have uninterrupted conversations. I’ll no longer be negotiating bedtimes or refereeing rowdy disputes. Together, we’ll watch television shows that don’t advertise toys during commercials. And we’ll probably smile, reminiscing of those noisy summer days when we never got a word in edgewise.

Connection

I found my eleven year old daughter barefoot, sitting indian style on the warm grass. I joined her. We began snapping green beans picked out of our garden the day before. The week had been demanding and we seemed to be running in different directions. Even when we were together we were focused on scheduling the next day, the next event and how to work out the logistics. VBS, ballgames, spending time with friends from out of town, our hectic calendar was leaving us disconnected.  

 

So we sat and talked as the sun beat down on our backs. We sidestepped all the big subjects that seem to rise when we’re alone, things that can’t be discussed in front of her brothers. Instead, we laughed about funny friendships and peculiar boys. In the middle of our yard, we connected. And if it’s possible, I fell in love with her just a little bit more.

 

thanks dad

This is my favorite children’s book. I love everything about it from the simple sketches to how Shel Silverstein tells a story that spans from a boy’s childhood to his adult life.

Another reason I love this book

My father signed it in 1983 when I was seven years old. I probably didn’t appreciate it then. It wasn’t a Beach Blast Barbie or an Alvin and the Chipmunks record. But it’s irreplaceable now and it sits meticulously on my bookshelf for all to see. It’s stamped by the man who had the most impact on my early formative years.

He taught me how to throw a ball like a boy, read my Bible chapter by chapter, cast a rod and reel and make up rhyming songs that we thought were hilarious. He endured my lengthy conversations about indignant boyfriends, the perils of clumpy mascara and why clothes were the most important thing next to Aqua Net hairspray.

As a young girl I depended on him and he didn’t disappoint. I perched myself on his broad shoulders when I was too small to see ahead, I’d hand him my book bag when it was too heavy to carry and I’d walk through the doors of his office and go straight to his “candy drawer” that he had stashed full of goodies.

Today I still need his sturdy shoulders to hoist my kids in a packed car and his listening ear as I ramble on about life. I watch him from a distance and realize the years have been kind. He is still handsome and strong. His hair has lessened and his smile is framed in thin wrinkles, but he has worn his 50’s very well.

These days we enjoy a good game of Scrabble and “How are you?” phone calls. In our conversations I don’t tell him thank you enough. So, today I’ll say it, thanks dad.