Dearly Beloved: We Dwell Under Friendly Skies

The cabbage is wilting on the stove, while the smell of bacon still hangs in the air like a fog throughout the kitchen. I stirred the pot so the bottom wouldn't burn. Tiny feet run past, excited by the tricks of brothers with new Slinkies. 

"Mom!!! I need you to pay attention so I can read my book!" she says in a huff from the table. She has been in some sort of mood since she walked in the door, and it's a foul one. Stinks like the rotten onions I pulled out of the cupboard last week.

"I need to keep stirring," I reply calmly, "or the cabbage will burn. But I can help you from here if you let me know when you need it. Momma is always on your side, honey. You don't need to be angry with me. I'm here to help you when you're ready."

Flicking papers, chair legs scraping the floor. More stalling. The boys are laughing. And the Lord begins to speak to my heart.

She struggles with some words. I try to help her sound them out. 



They are confusing names and she gets frustrated, stomping her feet and flailing the book in the air. "I don't get it! I can't read it!"

Oh, Lord, sometimes I'm that girl. The one with the serious kink in middle of her smile and the growl in  her throat. The finger-pointing, tantrum-throwing, blaming-everyone kind of girl. 

The girl who says, "I don't get it, Lord! I can't possibly do this work you've set before me. It's too hard. It requires to much, and I'm just not enough."

There's an out-of-body experience that happens when you have children. Suddenly, you can see all your glaring imperfections, your sin and your struggles more clearly, for they are no longer pent up inside but standing right before your very eyes. In the flesh. Living mirrors made in your image.

The cabbage simmers and steam billows up. I stir it again and turn the heat down. Grabbing my coffee mug, I walk to the table and sit down to help her.

"In his fort, Morris…" I read, catching her up to the point she last left off. "Why do you keep saying that?!?! I already read that!!" she yells. I tell her she doesn't need to speak to me like that, I was just trying to help.

"Taps," she continues, but she skips a line and reads the last sentence on the page. Not wanting to create any more arguments, I let it go and say to turn the page. "No, mom! I didn't read this part! You're messing me up."

Ya, Lord. Forgive me for the days I wielded a finger at the sky or a whispered a cussing jab under my breath and accused you of messing it all up. My life. The day. The "quick trip" to the store. Life doesn't always work out how we thought it would. There's more pain then is comfortable, more suffering then is justified. Under the weight of it all, it's easy to feel crushed and broken by it. But the growth and the maturity happens in the hard times, in the pain, for You are there, and You won't let one tear go to waste.

So I lean back in my chair and listen as she tries to finish the book. She struggles a little, and I only offer assistance when she looks up. Upon finishing I say, "Good job, baby gir!"

"Don't call me that." she grumbles.

It's so easy to do, to scoff at those words. Sneer at the very words that give life, identity and purpose, and at the same time wonder how I never seem to measure up to the standards in this world. I  look in the mirror and see the wrinkles, the the crookedness, the imperfections, and it's hard to reconcile that with the whispers of beautiful, beloved, treasured, charished, and free. Although I know that to be true.

"The whole outlook of mankind might be changed if we could all believe that we dwell under a friendly sky and that the God of heaven, though exalted in power and majesty, is eager to be friends with us." {A.W. Tozer}