The Legacy of Quiet Times From Mom Heart Moments & Podcast

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How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2

The morning light peeked into my window and woke me earlier than usual. I gingerly tiptoed out of our bedroom and tried to close the door as noiselessly as possible, heading down the stairs and into the kitchen. I filled the electric kettle with fresh water and turned on the switch, then rummaged through drawers, where I finally found a box with one match left so I could light two small candles. Somehow when I establish a serene, adult atmosphere, my heart aligns with the surroundings.

I sat down in the chair I’d bought years before, where countless sacred hours of life-changing proportions had been celebrated. I always kept a basketful of books next to my chair, so that I could feed my mind with devotional thoughts of writers from various places and times. My beloved, worn, red-leather Bible was in the basket, too, along with a couple of favorite journals where I recorded what I was learning and feel- ing, what Scripture I was praying, and any thoughts that came to mind.

Just as I was preparing this blog, I received a text message from my daughter, Joy.

Mama, I wrote a blog post about you today. It is from me to you, from my heart to yours. Hope you like it.

There is an image in my mind which was planted in the earliest dawn of my memory, and which I hope will remain with me into the twilight of old age. It is of my mother reading her Bible. She sits enthroned on her overstuffed blue chair, ensconced in a soft red bath robe, bathed in the cool light of morning. A cup of coffee sends writhing wisps of steam into the air from its precarious perch on the arm of her chair. Her Bible lies open on her lap, the well-loved pages threatening to make a desperate bid for freedom from the sagging binding. She reads, she prays, she smiles at me as I patter into her quotidian sanctuary. 

From a young age, I knew that when I thirsted for wisdom, I could go to my mother because her well was deep, dug over many years of patiently pouring over Scripture. This early lesson has been an important one for me as I have sought to live wisely myself. Our world is famished for wisdom, hungry in the depths of our souls. While the price of information is very low these days, proffered through every search engine and flickering phone screen, the price of wisdom is high. Three women have taught me how to search for wisdom: my mother, and Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly from the book of Proverbs. These three have taught me that if I want the kind of wisdom that nourishes and satisfies the soul, I must first be willing to put in the necessary preparation. I must invest deeply in Scripture. When we do, we’ll be nourished by the feast of wisdom there—and be able to offer it to others.

As I began yet another time of study, I was vitally aware of the legacy of these morning times. I had invested literally thousands of hours at the feet of my greatest professor and teacher, Jesus. His words had made the difference between a wasted life and one focused strategically on the issues of eternity. This time was where I received His strength, wisdom, and direction for all the moments of my life—as a woman, wife, mom, daughter, and believer—here Christ had met me daily, shown me His path and His ways, and assured me of His constant companionship.

And Joy finished her article with this:

I return to the memory of my mother in her blue armchair. In my little girl heart, I knew something significant happened in those early mornings. As an adult I understand the power of my mother’s ritual. If we want to be worthy to call out to fools at the city gate, we must first be willing to sit every morning in a blue arm chair searching the pages of Scripture with an attentive heart. The silence of a chosen quiet time may feel strange in contrast to the raucous discord of the world, whose voices are always contending for who can seem most clever and relevant. But the richness of this silence will not disappoint. My mother quietly cultivated a heart of wisdom, rooted in Scripture, and purified through prayer. Like Lady Wisdom, she was preparing a feast, ready to welcome the foolish and those who wanted to be wise, calling them in to a well laid table and a satisfying feast of wisdom.

Here is the rest of the article: The Feast of Lady Wisdom

Are there any changes you need to make in your life to ensure that you have time to study God’s Word?

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Books Referenced in this Podcast:

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(MH Moments #1) Have You Accepted Your Invitation? Mom Heart Moments

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When I set the table for Father's Day, birthdays, Thanksgiving, or any event of celebration in my home, I see myself as sort of a spirit of creativity. I choose the china I will use, bake the meals and breads favorite to the person being celebrated, and lay the table to be colorful, beautiful, and a proper celebration of the person being honored. I have put so much time, thought, work and attention into these celebrations over the years because of the deep love I hold in my heart for my beloved husband and children and friends. It is a physical expression of my love and delight in them.

I would be so disappointed if, after I planned such a meal or celebration and had done all of the work and put on the finishing touches, no one ever came to the meal and actually sat down to partake of it. I create the beauty to show my love, and also to show a part of my own soul in crafting a place of warm fellowship and feasting.

Yesterday, the Lord prepared a party for me.  I felt like He was impressing on my heart that I needed to stop the stress and busyness, to pay attention to Him for just a little bit to have my perspective on the right things. And so I changed my plans for the day. I quickly decided to make time to be conscious of His presence, to notice the moment, the day and to breathe in His peace. I almost didn't go, because I had planned busy-ness and duties for the hours of my day. But, something deep inside spoke to me of His invitation, and so I put everything else aside and drove to the party where He was graciously waiting for me. I am so glad I showed up, as He had prepared so very much for me to enjoy. I would have missed out on so much, had I ignored the invitation.  His decor was exquisite, His design, breath-taking. I sat at His table and looked out over what He had crafted for me to enjoy.

The gentle music of wind whispering amongst the aspen trees, ruffling their glorious gold across the mountain side and the leaves shivering with the rhythm of life all around, the birds singing with all their hearts, nature crying out, filled my ears with delight and my soul with rest, comfort, assurance, and awe that comes from such beautiful music.

I played amongst the trees, and drank in the sun. Pleasure abounded in my day as I a picnic-ed with Him on the side of a cliff,  gloried in my my sugar crisp apples, roasted pecans and strong organic English Cheddar- tastes beyond compare, which He created for me to enjoy. What a feast, a deep therapy to my thirsty soul and an unforgettable memory made with my Father who had prepared so much.

My heart was joyful and I was hesitant to leave the party, but I realized I felt His love so much more deeply than when I had awakened to face the responsibilities of another day, that morning. Being at His party had changed everything.

As so few people attended the grand event, and my sweet friend and I celebrated almost by ourselves at His banquet table, I wondered … where are all the others He invited? I hope He was not disappointed, since He had gone to so much trouble to prepare the celebration for our pleasure.

I am so glad I said yes.

Have you RSVP-d to your invitation yet? You will not regret it!

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What Cross Have You Been Asked to Bear?

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And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.  For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?

Luke 9:23-25



Before I went to bed the night of my birthday, I opened my little devotional to read one last verse to end my day in worship of Him. I have commited to think of my birthday as a marking of what I have lived and what I will commit to live for Him in the next year. My heart was soft, and I told Him I wanted to hear His voice, His will, to please Him in every way. Then I read:

"Take up your cross and follow me,"

These words and the following seemed to burn into my heart.

I am somewhat of a Pollyanna at heart, and love for everyone to be happy and all living in harmony with each other. However, God has not allowed that to be my story. I have many conflicts that it seems will never resolve, challenges, issues, stresses that come from being in a fallen world. Most I will never write about or speak of, because I so believe in loyalty and discretion when it comes to people in my personal life.

Many of these anguishing difficulties, I have had to bear for many years, waiting for God's answer to my prayers.

But this moment , in the darkness of night, with only Him and me talking, I realized that these "crosses to bear" are the ones my heavenly Father wants me to bear. My cross of the pain of my heart is just the place that He wants me to trust, to worship, to accept the limitations, as a part of the story of my life that can glorify Him if I am willing to bear it joyfully, right where I am.

If I carry these, bear them up, accept them, I will be pleasing in my heart to my only Love--accepting His will for me with grace and resolve to live there. "Not my will, but yours be done." Total submission to what is.

My Christian life cannot be, "I am yours, but I know you will let me whine and complain about this particular issue or person because it is hard for me."

Yet, a new realization came across me that evening; that these crosses are what He wants me to pick up and carry--they are a part of my purpose in this world--that somehow when I carry them as a gift, as His will, I can better reflect His glory, His supernatural peace, His love and His grace to sustain me.

So, what cross is He asking you to bear by faith, and as a point of worship to Him? Is it a troubled child? A difficult marriage? Irrational or angry or passive family members? An illness? A death? A disappointment? It is only as we pick up our crosses and carry them to the place of dying to ourselves and living for Him, in every circumstance, that we will live in freedom, grace, love and worship.

What cross will you carry, for His glory, today?

I am committing to accept my cross, to take the load with a grateful heart, that He who sees me each day and has goodwill towards me, knows that this cross, my cross, is just what I need to suit my soul and heart for His kingdom.

Be sure to find my newest book, Mom Heart Moments, and preorder it now!


Stories, Music, and Shaping the Imagination of Your Child - With Joel Clarkson

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Snow swept the pines and peaks out the windows of our Colorado home, but we were warm round our fire inside, about to use the wintry storm as an excuse to take the afternoon for one of our favorite activities: reading aloud. That day, we were deep into a reread of Narnia, imaginations alight with fauns and lions and dancing trees. We sprawled on couch and floor, or curled in a blanket by the fireside, sketchbooks in hand, hot chocolate nearby, and together we formed both soul and mind by the power of the beautiful stories we read.

A significant factor in how story shapes children is that it allows them to imagine who they might become. Stories give children the opportunity to enter into a world in which their unique capacities can grow and gain substance. Children play and imagine so that they can experiment with what it means to develop their sense of themselves, in all their singular beauty. In other words, story helps them break out of the mold by giving them a space in which to imagine what they themselves might become someday.

In Only You can be You, Nathan and I tried to put our own imaginations to the task of some of the vast landscape of how different children might see themselves. We wanted to give them both an imaginative world, and a dynamic vocabulary to describe their own special perspective of how they fit in with others around them, to recognize the way in which they are valuable for exactly what they bring in their own right. Children should not feel pressure to conforming to a particular mold of what they ought to be, but rather imagining what they might be in the power of their own sense of self.

Confidence comes from that sense of one’s own awareness of who they are and their value to the world at large. Stories give them validation to affirm the things that they feel, and that affirmation of their inner emotional sense gives them the ability to feel at peace with who they are amongst the many voices they will receive in their world.

Another reason we wrote this book is that

children need to imagine who they are and how they fit into the world

We give them words that speak to their hearts and imagination of what they enjoy, love and who they will become in the many pictures of different children through the pages. This book want them to imagine themselves and their siblings and friends fit together in the whole beautiful world.

In our family, we talk about stories, books all the time from morning till night. Clarksons and books go together. You can’t really have one without the other, and our home is a place crammed with the books we loved. The shared stories of our home, the evenings of read aloud, the picture books we all first knew, have a power to create both camaraderie and identity that I delight in to this day. 

Camaraderie first: I have often pondered the special power, the heightened delight of stories when they are shared. In the same way that a week’s visit at a friend’s home brings you closer than any number of coffee dates or bump-ins at church, the sharing of a story accelerates the comradeship of souls. 

When people inhabit a realm of imagination together, it is inevitable that a bit of their own imagination and spirit are revealed to the others who sojourn with them in that marvelous place. 

I think I am especially aware of this because of the way that stories have helped our family be close to one another, shaping our history, our memories, even the language we use to talk about life to this day.

When I think back over my childhood of our children, I realize that many of my favorite memories come from the sharing of stories.

Join Joel and me as we talk about these things, about how music and story melded together to shape his imagination. Learn how you might be able to have Joel’s artistic music and photos and readings be a blessing to you and your family. And, of course, get your own copy of my new children’s book!

Books and Music Referenced in this Podcast:

Be sure to buy a copy of these books! I hope you will love them!!!

Support your local author! :)

You can find all things Joel on his music below at Storybook Soundscapes, and on Instagram@ Joel.i.clarkson,

Join Joel’s Patreon and receive photographs, music, readings and more: www.patreon.com/joelclarkson

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The Music of God: Dancing with my Heavenly Father 10 and Podcast

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I have always been a romanticist. Perhaps most women are. I love the stories of the prince coming on his white horse to rescue his fair princess. The two fall deeply in love, get married, rule over their kingdom together, and live happily ever after. As a young girl, my heart filled with anticipation and excitement as I dreamed about my own prince coming for me someday.

In all of these stories, the princess engages her heart to her prince, and she follows him in utter devotion. These longings and dreams are so universal throughout history and through every culture that it must be a pattern for what we were created to experience in the beginning, before the fall of man. In other words these stories are a remnant of what God originally created life to be. I think each woman was made to be loved deeply and to feel connected to another with whom she can partner in life and make a mark. We were made for love and to have meaning in our lives.

In a fallen world, where sin, death, and darkness have marred and hidden so many truths that God originally created us to know, we must look for the original patterns and follow diligently after them. I believe the reason so many are captivated by epic stories is because we were made to be a part of great adventure, divine beauty, and magnificent love. In contemporary life, fans are captivated by movies like The Lord of the Rings; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Star Wars; and many more in which good and evil battle for the soul and well-being of a kingdom or people. These stories satisfy a deep place in our hearts, as the protagonists or heroes fight with all their might against evil and great odds and ultimately conquer. The ends of these stories give hope and a pattern of heroism for those of us who long to be part of a grand adventure, who long to live courageously.

Yet these are merely shadows of the biggest and truest epic narrative. The story begins with a great king, our Creator, who made us for his pleasure, giving us a beautiful kingdom in which to live, love, and enjoy life. But a wicked enemy, Satan, comes along, jealously wanting to undermine the loyalty of the King's own children. He deceives them with lies about their King and captures their allegiance. He takes them to his kingdom of darkness to serve him. Yet the righteous King, being noble and perfect in his love, does everything in his power to win back and redeem his lost children—to retrieve them from a kingdom of darkness and bring them home to the kingdom of light, for which they were created. Doing so costs the King the life of his Son, but no sacrifice is too great to bring his children back into his realm.

And so the greatest Prince, Jesus, gave himself so that we might live again with the King. But this noble Prince had power even over death, from a brutal death to celebrate life and be with his beloved children for all eternity.

If we really believed and understood that this is the true story of our lives, then we would look with hope, courage, and deep devotion for the day when all of us will be rescued from this realm of darkness and be restored into his presence. We would also understand that our part in the battle is strategic. Each of as has the ability to bring light, love, beauty, and his presence into every place we go. The interesting thing is that this kingdom of light, though invisible and mysterious and somewhat hidden in this world, already exists today in the spiritual realm. And our King, who is ultimately going to redeem us, is alive and active in our lives and in this world today.

Printables:

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Choose Your Friends Carefully, For You Will Be Like Them.

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"Tell me what company thou keepst, and I'll tell thee what thou art."

- Miguel de Cervantes (1547 - 1616) Spanish novelist.

There is a smile on my face and a happiness shining in my soul. I will be celebrating life with a true jewel of a friend this morning on her flowered porch, and I already know that china tea cups, fruit, candles, and love will be waiting for me. Even last night I was already excited.

Finding a true friend is a treasure--whenever I am with her, my love for God grows, my personal heart is affirmed, hope shines its light on my dreams, and my emotional cup is filled.

Many years ago, I remember an author discussing how important it is to be around those who walk with God. And so, I made this commitment and wrote it in a life journal:  "Invest time with friends who build you up in all the areas of your ideals as often as possible. Cultivate them, affirm them, love them, invest in them. Spend as little time with critical people, those who gossip, those who doubt and are always negative and drain your soul. You can only have so many drainers in your life at once."

And so, I have sought out friends who are loyal and walk with God. I don't get to see them often enough, but I do make anchors in my schedule for them because I need them. I invite them to my home, they invite me to theirs. It is a lifeline that has kept me holding on to ideals.

I also know that I must own responsibility for the refreshment and restoration for my own soul, as it is constantly being depleted on a regular basis--I am only happy and able to cope when I put back what has been taken away. Fun, beauty, pleasure is a wise investment for those whose life demands a lot.

And so, I am dressed up, made up, feel like a little girl going to a tea party--and that is really exactly what I am doing. I am going for a visit to my treasured friend. I will think about all the responsibilities later, as I know they will still be there. But this strategic meeting will keep me for faithful in the long run.

If you would like to be encouraged and inspired and helped in remembering to seek out new friends who can really sustain you, I think you would really like reading my daughter’s and my book, Girl’s Club. Fill your heart today. :)

Girls' Club: Cultivating Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World
By Sally Clarkson, Joy Clarkson, Sarah Clarkson

Gospel Moments for Every Day Motherhood & Podcast

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Motherhood is hard. In a world of five-step lists and silver-bullet solutions to become perfect parents, mothers are burdened with mixed messages about who they are and what choices they should make. If you feel pulled between high-fives and hard words, with culture’s solutions only raising more questions, you’re not alone.

But there is hope!!!!

Today, I talked with Emily and Laura from Risen Motherhood about the ups and downs of motherhood and how to bring the love and grace of God into each moment. This is what they have to say?

You might think that Scripture doesn’t have much to say about the food you make for breakfast, how you view your postpartum body, or what school choice you make for your children, but a deeper look reveals that the Bible provides the framework for finding answers to your specific questions about modern motherhood.

Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler help you understand and apply the gospel to common issues moms face so you can connect your Sunday morning faith to the Monday morning tantrum.

Discover how closely the gospel connects with today’s motherhood. Join Emily and Laura as they walk through the redemptive story and reveal how the gospel applies to your everyday life, bringing hope, freedom, and joy in every area of motherhood.

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Books Referenced in this Podcast:

 
 
 
 

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  • Share with others. My prayer is that this podcast brings encouragement to women and families, and I would be honored for you to tell others about it.

  • Join my friends and me in membership at Life with Sally, a place for me to share more teaching from the Bible and messages on education, motherhood, discipleship, and more!

Become What You Behold & Podcast

Ruth Chou Simons

Ruth Chou Simons

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Become What You Behold

I so enjoy having friends who inspire me and who have messages that fill my heart. Ruth Chou Simons is such a friend. Her art, her words and her friendship always help to fill some of the dry places of my spiritual heart. We recently recorded a podcast together of some of the issues we have both experienced in this long journey of life as a woman, a spouse, a working writer and a mother. I hope you will be encouraged by our time together. I also am excited to share her new book with you because it is so beautiful and so encouraging.

You are in the process of becoming. Every day is an opportunity to be shaped and formed by what moves your heart…drives your thoughts…captures your gaze. Is it any wonder that where you direct your eyes and your heart matter in your day-to-day?.

Ruth shared: We become what we behold when we set our hearts and minds on Christ and His redemption story here in the details of our daily lives. Not just on Sunday, not just on holidays, not just when extraordinarily hard or wonderful things happen…but today.

Bestselling author and artist Ruth Chou Simons invites you on a new journey to Beholding and Becoming. With more than 850 pieces of intricate, original artwork, Ruth encourages you to elevate your gaze to the One who created all things.

Today is an opportunity for God to demonstrate His love and His faithfulness in the midst of your mundane. No circumstance is too ordinary or too forgotten for Him to meet you there in worship. His transforming grace turns your “everyday ordinary” into a holy place of becoming.

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  • Share with others. My prayer is that this podcast brings encouragement to women and families, and I would be honored for you to tell others about it.

  • Join my friends and me in membership at Life with Sally, a place for me to share more teaching from the Bible and messages on education, motherhood, discipleship, and more!

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Exchanging Duty for Delight: Dancing with my Heavenly Father 9 and Podcast

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"I feel like God is so disappointed in me," my friend whispered between sobs. "No matter how hard I try or how much I give, it never feels like it's enough, and I don't know what to do."

At thirty-two years old, she found herself empty and worn out. After serving for many years as a counselor to troubled teens, she married a pastor of college students and opened her home to hundreds of youth who were looking for answers to life's questions. Then, in five years she had three boys and little sleep. The guilt and inadequacy that had been bubbling in her heart for many years was finally boiling to the surface.

She'd grown up in a wealthy home, where the expectations for her and her two brothers had been very high. She lived under constant threat of disappointing her demanding parents and longed for their approval. When she was seventeen, after many years of fighting ,her parents got a divorce. The foundation of love in her life was further shaken. The devastation she had experienced prepared her to respond to Christ's love when she first heard the message at a youth rally.

Even though she became a solid, faithful Christian, she still carried the baggage from her youth. She believed that God, like her father, was demanding and expected perfection from her. She held on to the lingering suspicion that she was in some way responsible for her parents' divorce, since she often overheard them arguing about her siblings and her. So she entered adulthood with an intense drive to please everyone— her husband, her children, her parents, and anyone she met.

"There are so many needs in the world, and I find myself feeling responsible for all of them! No matter how often I read the Bible or have quiet times, God seems far away, and I know it's my fault. I don't know if I'll ever be adequate enough or understand him," she said. Then she laid her head on her arms and cried quietly.

I didn't mean to be distracted from her sorrow, but next to her was her three-month-old, squishy, rosy-cheeked little baby boy smiling and grinning at me every time I glanced down at him. It was almost impossible to ignore him—and he engagingly called for a response as he grinned and did a jig with his little feet hanging off the end of his car seat.

"Kathryn," I said as I gently touched her arm. "Look at your darling, irresistible little boy." He unwittingly drew a sheepish grin from her tear- stained face. "How do you feel about him?"

"He's a bundle of fun and joy for all of us," she answered. "He brings so much pleasure to my life every day."

"Why do you love him and stay up with him and nurse him and change his diapers? Is it because he has been useful to you or worked for you or accomplished great things?"

"I would do anything for him just because he's my precious little boy and I adore him."

"That's exactly how the Lord feels about you. He has given you the gift of this child to show you how much he adores you. You are his, and he deeply loves you and will always care for you. It's not because you deserve it or have accomplished any great thing. It's simply because he is your heavenly Father." She nodded slightly.

"Think about what David wrote in Psalm 103:13," I continued. just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has com- passion on those who fear Him.' He doesn't love you for your service. He responds to you because you are his child and he delights in your smiles. He is all loving, and he can't notl ove you—it's part of his nature."

How often I have felt as my friend did, weighed down by my emotional baggage, an inadequate view of God, and guilt from my own failures. I have met so many women who live out of fear and inadequacy. They trans- fer their feelings about themselves to God and then feel distant from him.

Julian of Norwich, a saint from church history, said, "This is the cause why we be not all in ease of heart and soul: that we seek here rest [and joy] in those things that are so little, wherein is no rest, and know not our God that is All-mighty, All-wise, All-good. For He is the Very Rest."'

No matter how hard we try, how many achievements we make, or how many ideals we keep, we will never be able to do enough to earn God's love. Such attempts lead us down a dead-end road paved with feelings of life-depleting guilt and condemnation. Only the grace and love that God gives freely through his merciful nature can provide us with that which we long for: peace and joy.

Psalm 103:13-14 says, "Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust."

According to this verse, is God aware of our fragility and limitations? Does he expect more from us than we can give?

What kind of compassion do you think a good father would have for his children?

In what ways have you tried to earn God's acceptance?

Make sure to get your copy of Dancing, here!

Printables:

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Learning to Linger in the Simple, Everyday Miracle Moments

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This summer, I am teaching myself to linger. It is not natural for me, one who is and has been in a hurry for so long. But I have learned that if I am too much in a hurry, I can miss the miracles to be found in everyday moments.

I am more aware than ever now that every day with my children is a gift. They are vibrant, strong, idealistic, godly, loving, fun, and wonderful. They still make messes and even sin once in a while, but oh, what life and beauty permeates my home with their presence! We live spread about the world now, but when we are able to share moments and days together, I am blessed.

Learning to Linger

I learned this lesson many years ago, on the occasion of a birthday.

For Joy's fifth birthday, I planned a party I thought I would please her. I spent so much time cleaning the house so the moms of the kids I invited would see an orderly house, I wasn’t able to really focus on my precious birthday child. I was Martha-ing about, setting out cake, tying up balloons, preparing favors, making finger sandwiches, and planning what I thought she would like--all the while looking at the day through the grid of my adult eyes.

The children came and in just two hours, they had fought over the toys, spilled red punch on one little girl's favorite dress, threw a toy across the room hitting another little girl in the head. It was a memory of messes, crying, friction, and stress, and Joy was unhappy the whole time.

When all the guests finally left, I heard the pound, pound, pound of feet running across our deck. I walked out the kitchen door and glanced into the afternoon shadows playing tag with the fading sun over our mountain, and there was sweet Joy. Dressed in her old, slightly stained and torn ballet costume, she was running, giggling across the deck with a bubble wand. I stopped and sat on our picnic bench and just gazed at her as the sun went down. For an hour she played and ran and delighted in the beauty of her own bubble parade. I took it in, cherishing the picture in my mind, chastising myself for missing the glory of her beauty and youth in the busyness of my expectations of the party I had thought would make her happy.

Beauty in Everyday Moments

"Oh, Mommy!" she exclaimed, "This is my favorite time of my whole day! I am having sooooooooo much fun. Thank you for giving me such a wonderful present."

She climbed into my lap with a milk mustache sprinkled with cupcake crumbles and sticky bubble-juice on her hair, and snuggled up with a happy sigh. And so, I melted into her little body, breathing in the atmosphere of her pure-hearted, innocent love. I finally slowed down enough to cherish the moment and took the time to take a soul photograph whose imprint will be there forever.

And so this summer, as they all visit and then return to their own places, I will live in every moment, celebrate all the sweet fellowship that is right in front of me, no matter how many dishes they use, or how much noise they make. All of it will be precious and priceless, and I will redeem the moments for memories to visit when they are all gone once again.