Close

I kneel beside him, inches from his little body. I pat his bum with my hand and gently rock him side to side as he struggles to find his comfy spot.

I am right there. Right there beside him.

I can see his tears; I can hear his cries; and I know his struggle.

He’s sleepy and exhausted and exhausted from being sleepy.

Tossing his head from side to side, he struggles.

And where am I the entire time?

I’m right there. Near. I’m, very literally, patting him with my mama-hand on his eenie-teenie sleeper.

And yet, he wiggles and writhes as if no one sees his struggle.

But I’m there…right there; he is not alone.

So I bend down close, with my knees on the carpet beside him, and I put my lips to his little ears and whisper, “Shhhhh. It’s okay, buddy. Mama is here. Shhhhh. I’m right here.” And as my lips repeat the “shhhhh” right above his ear, I feel his softness at the tip of my lips.

Close. I am close. 

As I comfort, he stills.

And as he stills, I ask myself, “Why couldn’t he trust that I was near? Why did he doubt the distance? Couldn’t he have calmed without my comfort in his ear? I was never gone; I was always near.”

And as I ask these questions in my heart, I hear the Lord speak into mine.

Isn’t that the same with you, Jessica? Don’t you sometimes need to see me and hear me…way-down close? I’m there, and I’m near, and yet you want me in your ear. And because I love you and because I’m a good Father, I bend down and extend my calming presence in the crook of your ear. Because I love you, I draw near for your ear to hear. 

With tears in my eyes and a “shhhhh” at my lips, I am grateful.

I am grateful that we have a God who doesn’t just tell us He loves us in His Word (though that should and could be plenty enough), but He shows us…CLOSE.

Those hugs from heaven and those kisses from the King. Have you had them?

Timely words that meet you in the midst of your struggle?

A check in the mail at a time when the need was great?

A vase of flowers when the despair is real and the hope feels gone?

Help from a friend in the midst of a busy week?

Extended grace in the middle of a big mistake?

A shooting star? A red bird? A breath-taking sunset?

Kindness from a stranger in line?

Affirmation from an unexpected place?

A new ministry partner?

A job interview?

A negative scan?

A song?

A reassuring dream?

A message from the pulpit?

Those moments and minutes where you know (without a shadow of a doubt) that the Lord is near…way-down close…giving earthly encouragement in a way that only heaven can?

Those times when you very literally hear His voice in the ear of your heart.

Bending down, He loves you…us…me…close.

Though we know (in our heads) He’s there, we long (in our hearts) to know He’s near.

He sends a son for Abraham.

He sends a rainbow for Noah.

He sends a burning bush for Moses.

He sends manna for the Israelites.

He sends a donkey for Balaam.

He sends a fleece for Gideon.

He sends a vision for Jacob.

He sends spies for Rahab.

He sends a baby for the world.

He sends a chorus of angels for the Shepherds.

He sends 12 extra baskets of fish and loaves for the crowds.

He sends an empty tomb for the disciples.

On and on it goes.

Moments when God (in His great grace and manifold mercy) bends low and gets close.

Why?

To show His glory…

to reveal His love…

to draw us near…

to comfort us…

to draw us to repentance…and

to meet our human-ness with glimpses of His holiness.

Way-down close, He knows our earthly ears need to hear a heavenly whisper.

So as I “shhhhh” my babe tonight, I reflect on the “Father of all-loving, ever-perfect, way-down close shhhhh’s,” and I praise Him for the many, many moments when He comes near and comforts with His lips at my ear.

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Fostering Update: The Father of Fostering, Flowers, and Everything in Between

If I were to write about only the HAPPY, I would be lying. If I were to write about only the HARD, I would be lying. So this afternoon, I write about the HOPE we have in the midst of both HAPPY and HARD.

Today, as I dropped our foster son off for visitation, I received a HARD phone call.

Though there are very few details and little known (at this point), the nurse shared the results of a recent Radiology scan. Since I knew prior to the first appointment what they were looking for, I had already done some precursory research. Again, NOTHING is for sure, but she let me know on the phone this morning that we were going to need to do a follow-up with an MRI because of concerns they saw on the first scan.

Suffice to say, if they find what they are suspecting, we are looking down the pike of not only heart surgery, but spine surgery. And to say that I felt overwhelmed, well…that may be a bit of an understatement.

In that moment, in the midst of all the other appointments, calls, medications, and needs, I just felt plain weary and completely scared.

With two hours to spare while we waited to pick him up from his visit with birth parents, I decided to head to a local Metro Park.

Spring and sunshine would be good for the soul.

And because God is good and loving…concerned with tenderly caring for our hearts in all of the best and specific ways…He met me with more than just sunshine and spring.

As we started off on the trail, our baby girl started to exclaim, “Mommy, Mommy! Look at all the flowers!!! Look at them!! There are sooooo many! Let’s take pictures!”

So, between responding to a few emails and texts to our caseworker and my hubby, we meandered through the forest trails in a hunt for flowers.

And each time she stumbled over a rock-made bridge or turned a wooded corner and found a new one, she would implore me to, “Take a picture, Mommy! Take a picture!”

We walked for over 45 minutes, taking picture after picture.

 

At one point, thinking the tiny white flower that my daughter held between her fingers was the same one we had already found, I simply said, “Oh, we already saw that one.”

Insisting that we hadn’t, she stated, “No, Mommy. We haven’t. It’s different.”

“No, really. We did! Remember near the stream?”

“No! We didn’t! It’s different!”

I kept walking…my mind a bit of a muddled and tired mess.

“Mommy! Stop! This one is different! I promise!!!”

Feeling slightly annoyed, I walked back to where she was squatted.

And sure enough, she was right. Tiny stripes of pink lined the dainty petals of this white creation.

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Do you see them? Those faint but ever-present pink stripes?

“Wow, sweet girl! You were right. Those are different!”

As we sat huddled around this patch of newly-discovered flowers, I found myself overcome with emotion.

Standing, with tears brimming at my eyes, I heard the tender, soul-whisper of the Lord.

Jessica, if I can create dainty-white flowers with pink stripes, I’ve got the rest of everything covered, too. You don’t need to fret; I’m the father of the flowers, too. 

Once again, in a way that only He can, my heart was quieted. Though the HARD was still there, there was HOPE.

And just as quickly as my heart quieted, my mind raced to a passage found in Matthew 6.

See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Smack dab in the middle of a passage about worry, God places a picture of clothed flowers, dressed by His grace…adorned by His provision.

Just as the Lord cares for the pink-striped flowers, so will He also care for us.

He will care for the appointments. He will care for the results. He will care for the surgeries. He will care for the energy required. He will care for the baby. He will care for the birth parents. And He will care for the weary foster parent who faces a future that is held in the palm of hands who whispered flowers into existence.

In all, we found 24, different types of flowers on our short walk, and I was blown away by the display of His handiwork…awed by the uniqueness of His creative power.

 

As we stopped by the stream before we headed to the car and back to the agency, the Lord whispered another reminder to my soul.

Hey, remember the first time you were here? Remember the news you got then? I’ve never left. 

With tears streaming down my face, I took a minute to remember back to that time (blog post here).

Truly, He is the God who creates…the God who cares…and the God who carries.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know who created it. And for me, that’s enough for today and the news it brings.

And for you, friend, I know the same is just as true. No matter what you’re fearing, no matter what you’re facing…He is there–the Father of flowers, the Father of love.

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Because. The. Gospel.

Pediatrician appointments, blood draws, virus scans, ultrasounds, EKGs, OT and PT home evaluations, cardiologists, visitations, foster care workers, case workers, trips to the pharmacy, phone calls, weekly weigh-in’s, mileage forms, WIC certifications, clothing vouchers, and medication logs on top of laundry, bottles, midnight feedings, 3 AM feedings, diaper changes, baby baths, and infant-relaxation massages to help reduce Torticollis and enhance feeding.

Intentionally and purposefully, I made the sentence clunky, long, and all kinds of wordy.

Why?

Because that’s a little bit how life feels these days.

Busy. Tiring. Heavy.

In less than 15 days, we have logged over 150+ miles of driving ; we have had 11 different appointments with 7 different offices; and we have been in 3 different hospitals for various scans and check-ups for this little guy we call “SuperMan.”

I have sat side by side with his birth mom for most of these appointments… crying with her, comforting her, listening to her, encouraging her, and helping to educate her on the needs of her son.

As I type, my arms feel heavy and my fingers literally…very truly…feel tired.

And as I think about the exhaustion of the last two weeks and the whirlwind of chaos that has blustered into the doorways of both our hearts and homes, I keep coming back to this statement when I find my weary flesh asking, “Why, Jessica? Why?”

Because. The. Gospel. 

Because of the Gospel, we can pour out.

Because of the Gospel, we can let go.

Because of the Gospel, we can serve when we’re weary.

Because of the Gospel, we can choose humility.

Because of the Gospel, we can rearrange and accommodate.

Because of the Gospel, we can affirm.

Because of the Gospel, we can go.

Because of the Gospel, we can love.

We love, and we give, and we pour out because He did. 

Not because we’re good…

and not because we’re special…

and not because we’re super-awesome at loving…

But because of the Gospel. 

 

So when I end the day weary and spent…and when the enemy prowls at the threshold of my heart, throwing arrows of doubt and lobbing grenades of worries…I can turn my eyes heavenward and proclaim with peace, “Because the Gospel.”

Because of the Gospel, we can choose the work.

Because of the Gospel, we can do the work.

Because of the Gospel, we can rejoice in the work.

Not because we’re capable and not because we’re competent, but because we’re called and carried by the ONE who is. 

Friends, I don’t know what road you’re walking and what load you’re carrying, but I pray you will find a way to frame both your purpose and plodding through the lens of the Gospel.

Because when your sights are set on Him…the road is worth it; the pain is purposeful; and the load is love…even when your arms feel heavy and your fingers feel tired.

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The Hard of Hurting

As a parent, it’s hard to watch your children struggle. It’s hard to watch them wade through the heavy, sort through the sad, and grapple with the difficulties of grief. It’s hard to see their tears; it’s heavy to sit with their doubt; and it’s just downright painful to feel the angst of their souls.

It’s hard to walk a road lined with suffering; it’s painful to walk a path of sacrifice; and it aches to walk in a world where hurts still abounds and tears still exist.

Hurt is hard.

And as I’ve watched Caden and Evie navigate this road of loving and letting go, it’s broke my mama-heart in all kinds of gut-wrenching and unexpected ways. And if I’m being honest, I’ve wanted to rescue them from all of it.

I’ve wanted to wave my magic wand and make it all go away. I’ve wanted to lessen it, change it, and even take it away. I want to take those drippy eyes and tender hearts and wrap them in the largest roll of bubble-wrap I can find…refusing to let them feel the burn of heartache and pierce of struggle.

And as I’ve thought about my earthly tendency to rescue my children from the struggle of this planet and the hard of this life, I’ve realized that God has given us a special piece of Him inside of us.  In fact, I would suggest that it’s a God-given, Creator-placed quality that bears the image of His endless love. It’s that part of us that says, “I want your hurt to stop.”

And as I think about that, the Spirit takes my breath away.

Because doesn’t my struggle with my children’s pain mirror the pain of our Heavenly Father?

He didn’t want us to experience hard and hurt; He didn’t intend for us to struggle and weep; He didn’t plan for us to live on a earth when families break, hearts tear, and babies live in a world where they need safe homes.

He didn’t.

And when woman ate of the apple and man broke the command, I can’t help but think that a giant-sized tear fell from the face of their Father.

Children, this wasn’t what I intended. This isn’t what I wanted for you. 

From then on, just like the serpent promised, souls would know of good and evil. And with that evil would come a mixed bag of sadness, suffering, and struggle.

Struggle was never His design.

But because of His great love and because of His deep compassion, our Father saw our struggle and He saw our pain, and He said, “Son, let’s rescue them.”

Friends, if God has placed eternity in our hearts as Ecclesiastes 3:11 states, then I believe He has placed within each and every one of us a desire to rescue the hurting…a longing to stop the pain.

And though that doesn’t remove the pain or change the hard, it gives me a deep sense of thankful gratitude for a Savior that whispers right into the middle of our hurt, “I see you. I love you. And I will come to rescue.”

I can’t take the pain away from my earthly children, and I can’t stop their sadness, but I know the Holy One who can. And as I help them navigate the gravel road, carrying the sacrifice they don’t want to give, I can point them to the RAM IN THE THICKET–the ONE who died for our hard and bled for our hurt.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, [or saying goodbye to foster babies] for the former things have passed away. And the One seated on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 21:4

Praise be to Jesus! Praise be to our hope of heaven! Praise be to the One who has conquered the struggle and is coming for our victory!

 

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Fostering: Our Net, Our Tribe, and The Next Step

There was a time in my life when I felt like our lives were filled with more takers than givers, more drainers than fillers. There was a time when we felt like we poured and we gave; we gave and we poured. There was a time when we had to step back, step away, and even step down in various areas of our lives–making room for more reflection, more boundaries, and more opportunities to re-charge. There was a time when we had to do an honest inventory of our capacity, our priorities, and even our relational needs. And to be honest, friends, that time felt like it lasted a LOOOOONNNNNGGGG time. And though there were various contributing factors that shaped that very tiring period of our lives, I can’t say we’re there today.

 

In fact, it hit me (approximately 23 days ago) that I believe the Lord has used this process of fostering to reveal just how big and how wide and how deep the love of our tribe is.

And as I’ve reflected over this reality in recent days, I have been brought to my knees in humble gratitude for the net that lies around, above, and beneath us–a net of people and hearts who have truly supported, sustained, and even caught us when life felt hard and the journey felt heavy.

This net has brought meals; it’s sent gift cards; it’s provided childcare; and it’s provided coffee dates. It’s provided shoulders to cry on, hearts to lean on, and words that have breathed timely truths and kind encouragement. It’s a net that has sent clothes, bought diapers, penned notes, written checks, and delivered unexpected and intentional gifts to all five of us. It’s been a net that’s invited us for meals, taken us out on dates, and sent us packing for overnight get-aways. It’s been a net that has welcomed new, embraced different, and encouraged faithfulness. It’s been a net that has called, texted, e-mailed, prayed, and pursued. It’s been a net that has sent hand-crafted ornaments, bought personalized gifts, and gifted us a family photo shoot. It’s been a net that has asked intentionally and checked in consistently–a net that has supported the weight of our weary and held the pain of our fears. It’s  been a net that has rallied around us, hemmed us in, and gone before us in prayers and petitions. It’s been a net that has allowed space for angry questions, blunt honesty, and panicked break-downs.

This net has been built of our family, our friends, and even those in my Facebook communities. This net has been next door, online, and in the contexts of our church, our work, and our alma mater. This net has been consistent, encouraging, and tender. This net has cheered us on, cried us on, and even drug us on. This net has been our tribe of love, our quilt of consistency, and our home of safety.

This net has been a gift of God’s wild and abundant grace to us–a gift that is undeserved and could never be repaid.

Family and friends (both near and far), we’re grateful for each and every one of you. Because whether you have known it or not, you have been part of creating a grid of woven fibers that have held us, carried us, and probably (at times) rescued us. YOU have been that net; you have been that tribe.

You have loved us so well, so big, and so often in the past 8 months that I have literally struggled to keep up with the thank-you notes–a problem I have never had, nor ever imagined.

Thank you.

Though we expect we will hug and kiss our littlest goodbye, we have no clue what the next month will hold.

But here is what we do know…

  • We have a God who is all-knowing, all-loving, and ever-committed to our good and His glory;
  • We have a net that is strong, supportive, and steadfast; and
  • We are not done fostering.

Though we anticipate taking a small break to grieve and re-group, we are planning (as long as the Lord prepares the way) to open our home and hearts to another little soul who needs a loving home, safe arms, and a net of people who will welcome them, love them, pray for them, and be their tribe.

As I have said before and will say again, there is nothing super-awesome or super-spiritual about us or what we are choosing to do. In fact, it probably sounds like a whole lot of crazy. Trust me, it sounds and feels like a whole lot of crazy to us, too. But if there is one thing the Lord keeps impressing into depths of my sometimes scared soul, it’s the reality that through His strength and only by His grace, we can give up the comfortable and controlled to follow Him down the path of crazy and courageous.

And because we have such a “great cloud of witnesses” (Abraham, Noah, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Ezekiel, Daniel, David, Samuel, Mary, John, Peter, Paul, and a whole net of other believers and fellows saints that have gone before and stand with us today), we can run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

To God be the glory, great things He has done!

 

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A Hard Fostering Update: “Let It Be to Me…”

Last year, on the very first day of the New Year, I wrote a blog post entitled “2017: Open and Out.”

It was hardly a blog post that was easy to write, and I’m not gonna front, I was anxious about what the Lord would require of me in the coming year if I dare utter (let alone pen the words for others to see) and make a commitment to living the year with my hands “open and out.” I was afraid of what He might ask, anxious of what He might require. To be perfectly fair in representing my scared heart, I felt like a child as I wrote that post.

Countless times and in many moments, I have revisited my words written and committed on January 1, 2017.

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SO many times I extend my open hands, offering the Lord my time, my resources, my gifts, my energy, my hurts, my hard, my relationships, my conflicts, my empty places, my (insert whatever), but then I close them up. I offer my offering, but then when things get hard, or messy, or down-right scary, I curl up my hands and close them off. I grab for control; I close for safety; and I retreat for comfort. My hands that were open start to close and withdraw.

Too many times I stand before the Lord with open and outstretched hands, only to close them and pull them back later.

…………………………….

So when we got sudden news last week that our littlest soul might be moving (rather soon but not finalized) from our home, I revisited those typed words from the beginning of  the year.

Of course, we always knew this was a possibility. Truly, we have. Sure, we signed up to foster with hopes of adopting but when you foster, you FOSTER! There is no guarantee of anything. You live with a constant awareness that though you love her like she’s yours, you know she’s not. Though you pray over her like she’s yours, you practice “brain surrender,” knowing she’s not. Though you are making family memories, hopefully including her in every single one, you are truly living with your hands and heart…OPEN AND OUT.

But last Friday, I wanted to close those offered hands and recoil those surrendered palms. It didn’t feel good; it didn’t feel fair; and it hurt like crazy.

Rewind to the post from January 1.

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I imagine Noah had moments when he wanted to close his hands when the mockers came and the rains were missing. I imagine Abraham wanted to pull back His hands as the knife hovered above his beloved. I imagine that Moses wanted to close those hands as the complainers grumbled and the wilderness wore on. I imagine that David wanted to pull back his hands as Saul hunted and threw his spears. I imagine that Job wanted to close his hands as his children died and his sores wept. I imagine that Paul wanted to pull back his hands as the chains rubbed and the crowd threatened.

And yet…the faithful kept their hands open and out.

They followed the call, and they faithfully persevered even though the winds blew and the waves rocked.

Open and out, their hands remained; steady and committed, they kept their offering on the altar; trusting and faithful, they looked toward the ONE who created their hands…and they kept them open and out. 

In the garden, with outstretched hands and blood-soaked tears, the Lord Himself submitted to the Father’s will, obeying the call and drinking the cup…the greatest offering that EVER WAS and EVER WILL BE.

At the cross, open and out.

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Ugh. Why did I write those words? Why did I consent and commit to this goal? Why didn’t I choose something where the outcome felt GOOD and GUARANTEED and where the results were more in my control?!?!

But shortly after we heard the news last Friday, the Lord reminded me of a passage from Luke 1.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God…And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…For nothing will be impossible with God.”And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Once again, in a way that only He can, He WOW’D me with His living Word.

The angel suddenly (out of nowhere) descends upon Mary, and he tells her news that troubles her; she attempts to discern what all of this news means and will mean; she feels afraid; and she even asks the “how question.”

The narrative felt familiar in the deepest parts of my heart.

But then Mary does something that beautifully depicts a life lived with OPEN AND OUT hands.

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Right there, wherever she was when the angel came, she opens her hands, surrenders the news, and embraces the Word of the Lord. In that moment, Mary makes a choice to submit with a trusting spirit. Not because she has all the answers and not because it feels good or makes sense, but simply because she knows her identity and His.

“…I am the servant of the Lord.” 

In that moment, she voluntarily makes herself a bondslave to the work, word, and will of God. Actively, she is tying and binding herself to the Lord…relinquishing her plans and surrendering her feelings.

OPEN AND OUT. 

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, and I have no clue what 2018 will bring for our littlest, our home, or our family, but here is what I do know:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…For nothing will be impossible with God.”

It is the Lord who will be faithful; it is His power that will overshadow me; and it will be His mighty arm that does the impossible through my extended hands and surrendered heart.

“…let it be to me according to your word.”

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Bottling the Beautiful

I struggled this Thanksgiving.

No, I didn’t struggle with the long travel or the extended visits, and no, it wasn’t packing for 5 people for 7 days, and no, it wasn’t the potato cutting for 31 potato-eating souls, and no, it wasn’t an issue with getting into the thankful spirit, and no, it wasn’t even the balancing of holiday traditions while raising little souls and feeding tiny mouths.

No; it wasn’t any of that.

I struggled this Thanksgiving because I was thinking about the next Thanksgiving.

I struggled as I wondered if those little brown eyes will sparkle in that holiday picture next year and if those little brown arms will rest on mine between the slices of pumpkin, blueberry, and cran-apple pie.

Will we be packing her little clothes and carrying her little, wiggly body within our arms?

Will we hear that deep-happy giggle and will we feel those dimpled hands grabbing for our noses, glasses, and dangled earrings?

Will we be passing her around, sharing stories of her growth, and joking about the days when she soaked four bibs in an hour?

Will we be uttering her name and admiring her tightly-wound curls?

Will she still be with us, or will she be gathered around another Thanksgiving table? 

Will we remember her presence as we cut the turkey and sip on champagne?

Will we think about her, miss her, and even mourn her empty space as we serve up the pie and stir our coffee?

Will we remember her little, happy soul on her very 1st Thanksgiving Day?

Will we feel the hole of her presence, grieve the joy of her spirit?

Oh, what will the next Thanksgiving hold? 

And as I thought and reflected in the quietness of my heart this past Thursday, I couldn’t help but think of Mary.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

I truly have no clue what Mary was pondering as the shepherds shared about the angels in the field and the heavenly proclamation they had heard in the presence of their woolly sheep; I truly have no clue. But I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that the Greek word for “treasured” gives us a tiny hint about the thoughts treasured and pondered by this newly-minted mom.

Treasured (syntereo): to preserve a thing from perishing or being lost; to keep in mind lest it be forgotten; to mentally remember and conserve.

And as I read those definitions, and as I thought about Mary, and as I thought about Thanksgiving 2017 and the little girl with brown, creamy skin, I was challenged to “treasure.”

To treasure the happiness of our memories;

To preserve the pictures in my mind;

To conserve those moments in my heart; and

To bottle up all the beauty of all the memories we made this Thanksgiving.

See, we have no clue what is coming down the road for us and our sweet girl, but neither did Mary. 

I wonder if Mary stood at the foot of the cross and reflected upon that moment in the barn with her swaddled baby boy? I wonder as the tears streamed down her face if she thought back to those sweet and tender moments as the shepherds gathered ’round? I wonder if she took all those treasured, preserved, and conserved moments from her bottle of beautiful memories and gently dumped them as balm on her heart-broken soul?

I wonder.

Friends, I don’t know where you are and what you’re facing as you gather around your tables and trees this year, but I pray that as you move into this holiday season, you will bottle up the joy, remember the beautiful, and generously and intentionally conserve the present moments for ALL the moments to come.

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