My Love Is Bigger

photoWhere is Mary Poppins when you need her? Somehow this is all I could think as I stood in the doorway of my daughter’s room.

It had only been a few minutes but a few minutes is all it takes for a little girl to turn a room upside down. What I wouldn’t give for a bit of Mary Poppins, spoon-full-of-sugar magic about now?

Alas, the only magic I’m equipped with these days is a dose of holy perspective and a spoonful of grace. The magic, it isn’t mine, it’s on loan from God, but just like Mary Poppins, it came to me in the nick of time.

Weary and worn, from dealing with my daughter’s fourishness, with her messes, her mistakes, her trying disobedience, I recently found myself in an ongoing rut of what I call, “bi-polar parenting.” A cycle of extremes where I’m loving and kind one minute, then railing and angry the next.

I know all mamas have days when this stuff happens, but for me, this was more than a bad day. This was a habit, a pattern of behavior I was falling into and my daughter was paying the price.

This realization, sent by God, came to me as I stood with hands on my hips, yelling at my daughter over the state of her overturned room.

“Why can’t you ever do what I ask you to do?”

“What’s wrong with you? Why would you do this?”

“What is it going to take for you to learn to listen and obey?”

The words flew from lips, hot and seething.

Perhaps it was the look on her face. Her sad eyes, her solemn frown. Perhaps it was her reaction to my anger. Her defeated silence, her gentle nod that triggered my epiphany.

In a sort of out-of-body experience I was able to detach myself from my anger and see what I was doing to my daughter. There I was, loading her with blame, with shame, with guilt. There I was, killing childhood, killing joy.

And it hit me, this question: If this is what I’m saddling her with now, the blame, the shame, the guilt, what’s going to happen when she grows, and tries, and fails, and makes real messes, real mistakes? What happens when she gets in over her head, and finds herself drowning in disobedience, in sin?

Because we all get in over our heads. We all make messes. We all make mistakes. It happens at four. It happens at 34. It happens at 104.

And when it happens to her I want her to be sure of my love, of God’s love, not wary of me, of him. I want to instill her and guide her with grace, with truth, with patience, with joy. Not guilt. Not shame. Not anger.

I want to love her as I have been loved and this is what she must know:

There is no mess, no mistake, no act of disobedience or sin that is too big for my love.

She’s four and I’m thirty-two and we’re learning it together. When the messes, the mistakes, the disobedience, pull at the trigger of my worn out mama’s heart, I’m learning to slow, and to smile, and to remember how I am loved.

And I whisper it soft in her little girl ear,

“It’s okay. It’s just a mess and there is no mess too big for my love.”

“It’s okay. It was just a mistake and there is no mistake too big for my love.”

“It’s okay. You disobeyed, but there is nothing you could ever do that would make me stop loving you.”

If a thousand times is what it takes for her to see and know that this is the truth and depth of my love, that this truth and depth of his love, then I will say it TEN thousand times.

Because this is what everyone of us must know:

Our messes…

Our mistakes…

Our sin…

Are never too big for God’s love.

No matter the mess…

No matter the mistake…

No matter the sin…

His love is bigger.

This magic, this holy perspective, this spoonful-of-grace, it may not clean a room, but it can make this mama’s heart soft, and patient, and willing to laugh. 

This magic, it can heal at little girl’s heart, and right the wrongs of a mama who grows, and tries, and fails every day.

This magic it can make the medicine of a broken and messy life go down…

In the most delightful way.


The Time To Love

Today was one of those days. Around 1:00 this afternoon my husband and I got into an argument that lasted the rest of the day.

What started as a disagreement quickly turned into an afternoon and evening of cold shoulders and awkward avoidance of each other.

When bedtime came, I crumbled. I didn’t want to go to bed angry; I wanted peace. Yet, at the same time, I wasn’t ready to lay down my pride. Needless to say, with both of us being tired, weary and emotionally drained, this wasn’t a good combination.

Hurt, frustrated and getting nowhere, I left my husband alone so that he could go to sleep and considered going to bed in another room.

I knew I needed to spend time with God, to pray through the situation between me and my husband, but somehow my prayers fell flat. I didn’t know what to say, or rather, I didn’t know how to be honest with myself or with God.

I didn’t want to admit the fact, that maybe I was wrong, that maybe my pride was keeping me from making a sincere and honest apology. No, I wanted to focus on Chris, and all the things he did to hurt me, the things he said, the ways he misunderstood.

For several minutes I continued to pray, but nothing seemed to help. Whatever truth God was trying to show me was obviously not getting through my wall of blame and pride.

In the end, something must have softened my heart because I decided to sleep in our room.  As I slipped into my side of the bed and reached for my phone something caught my eye.


September 11

There on my phone in bright-white numbers, a sobering reminder.

In that moment my heart changed. My hurt, my frustration, my anger faded swiftly away in comparison to my memories of that fateful day.

For a moment I let my mind wander to that day, twelve years ago. In my mind’s eye I tried to imagine all the husbands and wives who went to work on that Tuesday morning, never to return home. I pictured the goodbye kisses, the smiles and waves exchanged as coffee, and jackets, and briefcases were grabbed on the way out the door.

And I know there must have been some who left in anger. Who left with hurt, and arguments, and issues that weren’t resolved. With issues that would never be resolved.

I imagined what it would be like to spend the last precious moments with the one you love in anger.  I imagined what it would be like to have the one you love snatched away, gone forever.

And I thought to myself, what if? What if the day that lies before me, carries my own 9/11? What if this is the day in which, the one I love, the one I share my life with, will never come home.

Because the truth is, the people that lost their lives on 9/11, and the people who lost their loved ones, had no idea what was coming…and neither do we.

As the sun dawns each morning, we have no promise of what the day will bring forth, whether it will end in triumph or tragedy.

As my wall of pride crumbled, I finally heard God’s voice break through, there to me in the darkness. In my darkness. And what He said was, “Love.”

And I knew it sure, that in this world of terrorist attacks and cancer, of drunk drivers and road rage, of accidents and suicide, I do not have time to fight, but only time to love.

To love.

To look long into the eyes of my beloved and know that he is mine I am his.

To spend my life honoring our vows, treating him as the king of my heart and my home.

To swallow my pride, and tear down my walls, and humble myself to ground zero, to the washing of feet if necessary.

To say, “I’m sorry,” and mean it, not just because I seek peace, but because I know that true peace will never come without true repentance.

To say, “I love you,” once, twice, a thousand times a day, in a thousand different ways so that when, and if, 9/11 comes he will know and I will know that we lived and loved well and that we did not take for granted the time that we were given.

Sweet friends, may this sacred day live on in our hearts, in our homes, in our lives, as a reminder of those who were lost, as a reminder of those who were heroes, as a reminder that this day, this moment, this right-now, is the time to cherish what we have…and who we have. That this is the time to love.

Angry Birds

A couple months ago my family discovered the video game, Angry Birds. When it comes to video games, I admit I am guilty of living under a very large and heavy rock. They just aren’t on my radar.

As I have recently learnt, Angry Birds is a highly addictive game where cartoonish looking birds are catapulted by sling shot through the air towards seemingly innocent pigs. The object of the game is to use the ‘angry birds’ to destroy the pigs’ shelter and wipe out each pig in the process. Brilliant, right?

A few days ago I was having ‘one of those days.’ It was the kind of day in which I trudge around the house feeling edgy, disgruntled, and short-fused for no apparent reason. My girls were in the middle of eating their lunches when my daughter, with an extra dose of three-year-old, took her milk, the contents of her plate, and a spoon, and proceeded to make “soup” on the kitchen table.

While creative, and fueled by her desire to be like mommy, her, so called, ‘soup’ created a culinary mess that I wasn’t in the mood to contend with. Her behavior was aggravating, yes, but also, at its root, rather innocent. I could see this, but in the heat of the moment I chose to focus on my frustration. As I cleaned up her creation, I barked, and complained, and scolded her for making such a mess. It was in the middle of this scolding that it hit me: I’M AN ANGRY BIRD!

For a split second, my day, my words, and my actions played out in retrospect before my eyes:

Me: Angry Bird, squawking up a storm, flying blindly towards the destruction of hearts and home.

My Children, My Household: Innocent pigs, hiding, waiting, seeking shelter, and hoping not to be lambasted by an Angry Bird attack.

Oh dear.

Wouldn’t it be nice if days like this came with a ‘Start Over’ button? Fortunately, God’s grace is abundant and covers the destruction of Angry Birds and frazzled moms. Days like this one have taught me that timeouts aren’t just for the
little ones. Sometimes, mommies need them just as much as the kids do.

Seeing myself as an Angry Bird made me realize that a few minutes alone with God were in order. As my girls finished their lunches, I slipped upstairs to my room and sought a moment alone with God.

“Lord,” I prayed. “Forgive me. Forgive my squawking and my blindness to what my words and actions are doing to the innocent hearts around me. Forgive me, Lord, for the destruction I have caused. Lord, come into this day and help me. Give me your patience, give me your peace. Give me your joy. Amen.”

I know in the midst of a busy and hectic day that taking a timeout is not always easy or convenient, but I also know that even a few minutes spent in some form of prayer, scripture, or worship will never return void.

After all, isn’t it a matter of focus? An Angry Bird heart is one that is focused on nothing but itself. Those moments when I was ‘flying blind’ were not so much about blindness, but about my eyes seeing only me. My feelings. My complaints. My frustration. Listen closely, and all that Angry Bird squawking will sound a lot like, “Me! Me! Me!” As a result, anything that doesn’t comply with the Angry Bird way of thinking becomes an easy target, innocent hearts included. On the contrary, a heart that is focused on God, makes love its aim, and the result is an attitude that looks for ways to breathe life into the people and places that surround it.  

Sometimes, a quick timeout makes all the difference in a derailed heart and mind. Sometimes, the events that transpire over the course of a day call for timeouts to be sprinkled through morning, noon, and night. No matter what we face, or how often a timeout is needed, what matters most is that we take the time to stop, adjust our heart and mind, and let our focus fall on God.

Seeking God in the midst of an Angry Bird kind of day may not be the ‘Start Over’ we sometimes wish for, but it can ‘Refresh’ our spirit. With our hearts focused on God, we can go about our days with love, rebuild the broken shelters, and create a safe place for our loved ones…our precious ‘pigs’… to dwell.