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Before you at this altar...


I watch him for the longest time.

He’s on the floor, his camo-panted legs in the air.  Before he starts tugging on the toes of the socks, I watch his clasped hands, just in front of his face.  And he stares.  He’s so still, just watching his own chubby hands.  He releases them, sets them each free, and they open and close.  He pries at a thumb.  

He’s mesmerized with... himself.  With the sheer beauty and intricacies of his own hands.  The way his knuckles bend.  How he can swing his foot up to his mouth.  And I watch him in all of his sweet, babyness and wonder... when did I stop seeing myself like that... as... a creation?

Not just someone who is here or who serves or who does this job or that job of volunteers in this space... but real, alive, flesh, bone, marrow... creation.  Intended, purposed, special and loved all because the hands that hung the moon and hinged the stars... He saw me before I was formed, loved me proud and knowing all the ways I’d misstep and fall, badly... He knit me, designed my very core... and here I am.

Created.  

As I stir Peppermint Mocha creamer into my afternoon half-caff coffee, I think of how an artist creates.  How there has to be the perfect ingredients.  The smooth canvas.  The x-acto knife.  The oils, the watercolors, the sharpened pencils, the putty.  It’s not just out of thin air.  There is a beginning of good, beautiful things.  The artist uses what’s at his disposal to create.

How is Adam explained?  So often we hear, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust...” and yes, Adam was formed from the earth... but what was the earth?  It was complete perfection and health.  It was the floor of Eden.  It was God’s workmanship that He sat back, rested and said, “That’s good.”  He pulled muscles and bone from the soil that fed and nourished every plant and living thing.  And when the form lay there, what did God use to bring it completely to life?  No Energizer batteries in His back pocket?  No magic wand just making this first man simply breathe?  No immediate command and lungs obedient?  No.

God used His own very breath.  

What is not extraordinary about that?  What is commonplace about God creating and giving life? That is not just dust and particles and out of thin air developing.  That, right there, is intentional and focused and meant to be.  And we are all made similarly.  We are all knit together, intricately in a space that once we are there, everyone knows we are, but God?  God knew us before we were in that space.  Before our hearts beat beneath our mothers’, He saw the life.  And not just generic life, but my life.  Your life.  Their life.  He knew how the bones would bend, how the toes would grow, how we would enter life.  Ahead of time He knows what will break us.  And what will save us.

We don’t ever stop being His creation.  We don’t start out in the miracle-stages of life, new and blinking at the bright lights and the smiling faces and accepting millions of kisses and then somehow fade.  We allow ourselves to.  We allow the world to tell us it’s so.  That you missed your chance.  You’re past your prime.  You need a mid-life crisis to regroup.  That you should live while you have the chance and the health.  Put off having kids because they’ll drain your system and your social life.  Live it up before it’s over.  Oh, and by the way, it’s seemingly over at thirty.  Then everything is ‘downhill’ at that point.

No.  No it’s not.

It all only goes downhill when we let go and we give up.  When we get stuck in the small stories (our own) and fail to live up to, no only our truest potential, but to God’s intentions for us.  We stop seeking what He had for us and just, well, live life.  We’re only here for a little while anyway, right?  Might as well make it a happy trip.

I stay at home all day, every day with my boys.  It is really, really easy to get wrapped up in the small.  I do the same things, over and over.  Wash the bottles, do the laundry, haul out the diapers.  Wake up early, wake through the night, give water, give cuddles, read the same books, act amazed at every block tower, make sure to vary the diet so it’s not all Goldfish and hotdogs, give baths, on and on it goes.  I am not saying I don’t treasure or value my time with my boys, because I most certainly do.  What I am saying is that caught up in the same routine, every day looking the same (aside from grocery-shopping day or Sunday) every day... it starts to not feel so miraculous.  And I start to feel not so miraculous.  It feels like a small story when I get caught up in seeing it the way the world does.  Oh look, another stay-at-home Mom.  Wonder what she does all day?  Must be so boring being with little kids all day, every day and cooking dinner and mopping.  How unexciting.  

I have to look at everything different.  I have to look with different eyes to catch the shimmer of another world.  I have to tilt my head just so.  And then, every once in awhile, I get startled by the mirror-like hole that swirls and I see the bigger picture.  And I feel strong and mighty and able.  I don’t feel like “just a Mom”.  I feel like a daughter with a high order and maybe there are diapers and butt-cream in my arsenal, but in my heart there is something great and brave and strong.  And if I had to use a sword, I could use a sword.  

We are not commonplace.  We were thought about in the very mind of God.  We have a purpose, we have meaning, we have something to give.  John Eldredge touches on one of my most convicting quotes regarding Satan, “... the one who knows what you could be and fears it.”  I remember the first time I read it, I just sat, as still as still.  What could I be that would terrify Satan?  

Would me inching closer to my true self, abandoning my wishes and dreams and ideals to embrace what God has given and to learn in the valley and learn on the mountain top... wouldn’t that just scare his pants off?  If I daily woke up knowing, living, that this was not my true home and that this was not everything and spinning my life in a way that had more purpose and more meaning and more reflection of me owning my mortal life as a created being of God than just someone who happened to show up in December of 1980?  Wouldn’t that just make him crazy?

It’s a daily challenge.  Sometimes a moment-by-moment challenge.  When the days hit that are full of tantrums and gloomy skies or blow-out diapers or the boys napping at different times and me wanting a break so bad I could sit in the bathroom and cry, big, selfish, “Just let me have fifteen minutes.” sobs.  It is in that space, more than any other, that I need to call to mind that this isn’t always.  Yes, the boys are going to grow so fast.  They already are.  Travis ate a broken-up puff today and I nearly cried.  Joel will be three in just a few months and the thought alone can make me feel sick to my stomach.  It goes so, so fast.  

He could have saved His breath if there was nothing better for us to do here on earth than live and love and die.  There’s a big, big story.  And we’re all there.  Right there.  Chapter after chapter, together.  We are meant to do this together, this life - and it’s more than appearances and it’s more than statuses on social networking sites and it’s about more than how many followers you have.  I mean... really?  We’ve fractured our community.  We’ve made appearances more important and beautiful than true, real, beating, messy hearts.  

We've made life itself commonplace and... disposable.

Is it any wonder we've forgotten that we were... are... worth something?  Life is a gift from God.  Your life.  Mine.  Every life.

And we need to grab the unwinding strand and pull hard.  Maybe to slow things down a bit.  Maybe to really be in the moment when we’re praising that Lego tower even though we’ve seen a bazillion already that day.  And maybe we need to tug harder to say, no, this is not how this day is going down.  This is not how my job, my relationships, my mothering, my family, my church, my home, my country... no.  We are not going down like this.  To just roll over and act like we’re all dust and it doesn’t matter.

It does matter.  He wouldn’t have us here if it didn’t matter. 



“Of all the things you have created,
still you choose to think of me.
The only thing I can give you,
is the life You gave to me...”
~  T h i r d   D a y ,   “ O f f e r i n g ” 







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