Friday, April 11, 2014

4 Truths My Mother Taught Me

This past week Selah and I were having a tea party when she informed me that Gigi had taught her to
always hold out her pinky finger when drinking tea.  And I realized that I was certain this was true…after all, her Gigi (my mother) has taught me so much that has to do with graceful living.

As I reflect this morning on lessons that my mother taught me, these four stand out most in my mind:

1.  Give the gift of your presence and time.  
My mother makes time for people in her life – it is how she shows her love for them.  Love looks like drinking tea and listening or going to Sesame Street Live and dancing. 

My mother is good at listening & I've learned from her that although your body may be in a location, if you are not leaning in and listening to the person you are with, you might as well not even be there.  The gift of your presence means that you are fully engaged in that moment.  You listen to subtle statements, notice expressions, and honor those you love by hearing their heart.  I don't always excel in this area, but I'm trying to grow each day in this arena - it really does exemplify a woman of grace.

2.  Use your gifts to bless others.  
My mother has the gifts of hospitality and making things beautiful (what is the proper name for this gift?), and has never hoarded these abilities.  A few weeks ago she went and decorated the home of a sweet young mother who is pregnant with twins (# 3 & 4)!  This momma has a new home and obviously is TIRED!  My mom felt like God told her to go decorate her house (if she wanted that)…so she took a friend, and when that momma came home from work, her house was transformed.  

This past week, she made a beautiful quilt for our new cousin that will be coming home soon from Uganda.  Most people would never know about these two acts of love in the last few weeks (except her daughter has a big mouth), but she does not love for recognition…she loves because she is loved.  May we all take this lesson to heart and do the same.

3.  Forgive.  
As a pastor’s wife, as a sister, as a friend, as a daughter, and as a mother my mom has had many opportunities to practice forgiveness.  Too many times I’ve taken up her cause and wanted to be offended at people who hurl insults and pain her way, but she has taught me and lived the example that forgiveness is worth it.  She has also taught me that forgiveness means keeping your mouth shut when you really want to let everyone know how noble you are for forgiving J.

Within this same lesson of life, my mother has demonstrated that a true woman of grace also asks for forgiveness.  A turning moment in my life was a phone call in college when my mother called and asked me for forgiveness.  Her humility and willingness to say that she was wrong, set me free to see the situation from a new vantage point.  And her actions taught me that true strength is able to ask for forgiveness.

4.  Laugh until your shoulders shake.  
One of my all time most favorite things is to see my mother TRULY laugh.  Her shoulders shake, her eyes become slits and she cannot make a sound, but it always makes me laugh in copycat fashion.  When I see the two of us laughing so hard we might wet our pants, I always think two things:  We need more of this kind of deep-belly laughter in our world and I'm so thankful that I inherited this trait from her.

My mother has taught me much and her mother (my Mema) taught her much as well.  The older I become the more lessons I am trying to learn from those who have gone before me.  Some lessons seem to be implanted in my heart and life as if they were genetically wired while others definitely take more care and intention to live out.

What life lessons did your mother teach you?  It may be as simple as how to play tea party or as profound as how to walk out in forgiveness, but very likely there are deep lessons etched in your heart from the life of your mother.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

When Less is More

Several years ago before toddlers and princesses ran circles through our lives, Josh and I visited the lovely city of Paris.  Some Americans give Paris a negative recommendation, but I must tell you that I absolutely LOVED our 4 days in that glorious city.  The food, the majestic buildings, the quaint cafes, the beautiful art…it was all food for my soul and I still remember it with stars in my eyes.

One afternoon we sat at an outdoor cafĂ© to catch our breath after a morning of sightseeing and museum visiting.  We sat down and promptly gobbled up half of our crepes without taking even  the slightest breath to take in the moment.  We were on a mission to EAT…because we live our lives ALWAYS ON A MISSION! 

And then the unexpected occurred.  It was as if we both stopped at the same time, took a deep breath and realized where we were.  I looked at Josh and said…”Do you realize we are in Paris!  And we don’t have to eat like Americans…WHAT IF, we actually slow down and enjoy this moment outdoors in a Parisian Cafe?!”

Josh looked up and agreed that we should stop to savor the moment, and after slowly eating not just our lunch crepe but a couple of dessert crepes and cup after cup of coffee, we started to talk about what life might be like back home if we lived a bit slower.  It felt like we were merely fantasizing.  After all, life is BUSY.  Life is fast-paced.  What if we slowed down and missed out on something?  

And yet at the same time…look at all we would have missed out on had we not slowed down to enjoy that meal…to enjoy the next couple of days in Paris?!

We returned home with a passion to slow down and savor this gift (life) that has been handed to us by God.  And slowing down is a STRUGGLE.  It is hard to balance because we both believe in working hard.  We believe that we are to be good stewards with our lives and to make the most of every day.  But those beliefs don't actually conflict at the core with a more intentional life that savors moments.  You can work hard and still look up to see beauty in the ordinary.  And the best way to make the most of today is to actually SEE today... to live it as fully as possible with focus and trust in the One who granted you today.  

The actual struggle is that the desire to slow down does not line up with lies fed to us by culture.  You know the ones that say worth is equivalent to how busy you are...the lies about needing more...more stuff, more time, more meaning.

Faster is not always better.

More is not always more.

And so, I have asked the Lord to help me to slow down, to love more deeply and to live more intentionally.  Moments like tree swings and bowls of glorious cherries are shining reminders in the midst of the day that He has heard my prayers.

Today, I pray that you live well but that you also have a Parisian moment to savor your gift of life today!  Because so often less really is more.
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