Today we had family over to celebrate our sweet Rivers’ seventh birthday. Between my husband and myself, we have lots of family! An exciting and treasured part of childhood…a day that’s all about you, lots of gifts, cake and ice cream.
As I sit now in the quiet of my living room, surrounded by gift bags and strewn toys, I relish this first-born daughter of mine. She has walked down to the pond near our house with her daddy and her little sister to see if they could just maybe catch some fish. She will officially be seven in two days. She will dive into second grade in a little over 2 weeks. She barely needed my help today with her birthday cards…she could read them all by herself. “Doodlebug” was my nick-name for her as she learned to crawl and walk and came running to see me after we had been apart. This little blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty who so easily captivated hearts whether in our family or a passerby in the grocery store. Big smile. Bright eyes. Enormous heart. Even today, as she sat down on the floor with family all around her words were “It is a blessing to be here! Now we are going to open gifts!” Smile…
Another recent “Riversism” (as a fellow first-grade mom called them last year) that landed so softly on my heart came as we were simply riding around last week running different errands. She was very excited all last week because on Friday night her two best buddies were coming to spend the night. As we were getting out of the car in the midst of conversation about life, Rivers said “God is the main ingredient.” I kind of laughed and smiled and listened as she went on to explain: “You have your family and your friends and all and you mix it all together, but God is the main ingredient.”
As surely I sit writing tonight, I know what a God destiny she has ahead. See, we teach our children…we read Bible stories and pray with them about anything and everything. We are plugged into an awesome church with a truly amazing children’s ministry. And with many bumps along the way, we sincerely strive to model in life what we are teaching them. But see, when your seven-year-old tells you that God is the main ingredient in life, you pause…you blink twice…you realize this kind of insight is a gift from God.
Marriage has been an eye-opening opportunity to see how much I needed God in my life. Parenting has been the catalyst that propelled me to let Him begin to really have His way in my life. Being married…no, wait…staying married is one of the great, if not the greatest, victories of my life. I know what it’s like to be hanging on by a very thin and tattered thread. I know the despair and the heart-ache. But we held on to our thread and learned the glue for our marriage and family is Jesus. Hands down. No question. I used to envy other women who seemed well-loved. Now I live well-loved. I used to count my husband’s faults and measure his willingness to give to me against my gaping neediness. Now I am thankful for what my Pastor referred to today as a “second mile husband” because He gives more and is more than he has to be. We used to mull over calling it quits, but we had these little girls, see, and they deserved the best start and foundation in life we could give them. At the end of all the chaos and blaming and anger, we discovered doing it God’s way was our only chance. My goodness, how our lives have grown and changed. We don’t love perfectly, but we are learning to love well.
I have fought (and still do sometimes) against the sometimes gross discrepancy between the mother I want my girls to have and the mother they do, in fact, have. I have learned so much about grace along this road of parenting. I’ve learned how little I understood grace, real grace. I have learned to receive and accept God’s real grace in my life and He continues to teach me about giving grace to others, starting with my children. I already know all about my imperfections and my, how I wish they could have the perfect mom. But they don’t. However, they do have a mother who hungers deep inside to live out the miraculous internal change that comes as she encounters Jesus. He is so real. In every way…in every facet of my life…Jesus does the impossible. Everywhere I look, in ways simple and complex, Jesus is absolutely the answer.
Doodlebug was right. God is the main ingredient…