God’s Original Design

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(This was my original post in May of 2013 and is first in a series of three in which I process my mother’s death and its impact on my identity.)

Back in my early days of court reporting, some 25 years ago, there were no laser printers. The paper I printed on had two carbon copies attached. After the job was printed, I had to tear the pages apart and separate the copies. The original copy was crisp and legible, the next copy was fair, but the last copy would always be a little faint. I had to be careful not to smudge the copies with ink from the carbon paper as I separated the sheets.

God doesn’t make copies; he only makes originals. But I have tried and tried and prayed and prayed for God to make me into someone that I think I should be, someone that is acceptable to him, to my husband, to my family, and others. It has taken a lot of effort, and it hasn’t worked. I am tired, so tired.

One week ago, my mother passed away. Losing your mother is a profound experience, a life passage. It doesn’t matter that she had late-stage Alzheimer’s and was 82 years old. When I am still and quiet, I still see her taking her last breath. I’m afraid one day I will forget that, and I don’t ever want to forget it. It’s as though I will lose part of her if I lose that memory. It was a holy moment, a very humbling moment–holy because I know she was passing into the arms of Jesus; humbling because it was a reminder that I will be there too one day. Life on this earth really does come to an end.

So now I am evaluating my life. What do I really want? I know I want to be me, the one God thought up before the creation of the world, the one he knit together in my mother’s womb, the one he knows so intimately. I’m afraid life will take over too soon, and I’ll forget what this feels like, to have a choice. I do have a choice. I don’t want to be a smudged or faint copy of someone else or someone that I think I need to be. I want to be God’s original, and I know there is only one way to find out who the real “me” is.

Father, you say in your Word that we love because you first loved us (I John 4:19). Help me to receive your love and to love you with all that I am. I want to sit at your feet and listen. It is only then that I can know who I am, for you are the only one who can tell me.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14

When Time Stands Still

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There are moments that exist just as they are, in the present with no other thoughts, no other voices.  Just that moment.  I had that experience one night when I was babysitting my then eleven-month-old granddaughter, Myla Grace.  I had the delightful task of feeding her supper, giving her a bath, and rocking her to sleep with her bottle.  Myla Grace is a highly sensitive child.  It was months before she would let any of the rest of the family hold her, even her daddy.  So it was very special when she started “taking” to her Nana.

In the rocking chair with Myla that night, I softly sang the songs I had sung to my own babies and some of my other grandchildren.  She watched me wide-eyed as she sucked on her bottle.  I’m not a good singer, but that didn’t matter to Myla.  Her eyes grew heavy, and slowly the sucking stopped.  As I pulled the bottle out of her mouth, she opened her eyes widely and looked at me, studying my face.  And then it happened.  I smiled at that precious baby girl, and she broke into a huge smile back.  No words, only quiet.  Two sets of eyes locked together, two smiles as if a huge secret was being shared.  At that moment nothing else existed.

I was deeply impacted by Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts.  And I’m naming for the second time around one thousand things I’m thankful for, writing them down in my journal a few at a time, day by day.   It used to be that I thought a gratitude list was only for things like family, health, and material provision.  Now I understand that it’s being present and noticing all the graces God gives throughout our day-to-day lives.  The Word says “In all things give thanks, for this is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus,” I Thessalonians 5:18.  In noticing how he shows his love for us, we are loving him back.

Having our eyes open to see God’s graces requires intentionality.  It requires the “want to.”  It requires slowing down and being present in the moment If we set our hearts toward Him, the Holy Spirit will open our eyes to the smallest of graces, but it’s up to us to create the space for that to happen.  And when we experience those moments, wow!  We can be in touch with his love and with the life he has given us.  Time really does stand still.

The Word says, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” Psalm 90:12.  Wisdom comes from seeing, hearing, touching God.  We do that by eucharisteo, by giving thanks.  I couldn’t wait to note my moment with Myla in my journal later that night.   I’m inviting you to try it!  There are no rules and no time limit.  It is highly personal.  And check out Ann Voskamp’s, One Thousand Gifts Devotional.  There are pages in the back for you to make your list. I promise you will be refreshed as you notice more of God’s gifts to you each day.

Thank you, Jesus, for loving us so much.  Open our eyes to see your graces, that we may have more and more of these holy moments with you.  Amen.