Of bellybuttons and belonging

14 08 2012

She’s obsessed with bellybuttons right now.

So much so that her parents warn unsuspecting friends, lest they be caught off guard when she impulsively pulls up their shirts to see if one is hiding under there.

She can be quite determined when she goes on the hunt. And when she finds one? Ah, such wonder! Such delight! She giggles and pokes and then checks her own belly to make sure hers is still there, giggling and poking it, too.

It’s quirky and cute (if sometimes slightly awkward), and it makes us laugh.

It also got me thinking.

She takes no account of social stratification, and has no regard for an inflated sense of personal dignity. Truly, she is no respecter of persons. And no matter whose belly she inspects — young or old, rich or poor, CEO, janitor, wretched sinner, or respected saint — the results are always the same.

She finds a bellybutton.

Because we all come from the same place. We all pass through the maternal waters, and the only thing separating us from certain death is an umbilical lifeline, anchoring us to the source of all we need.

We come into being helpless and incomplete and utterly dependent on another for life.

And I think of Ezekiel 16:4-6.

And as for your birth, on the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born.
    And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’

Our bellybuttons humble us, reminding us that life is a gift. We didn’t create ourselves or usher ourselves into this world, and no matter how successful or powerful or influential we may appear to be, we can’t save or preserve ourselves, either. God Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

Our bellybuttons remind us that we were created dependent, attached, and never meant to stand alone.

We belong to Him, and to each other.

She can be determined when she goes on the hunt, and she’s never disappointed. Because we all have one. Every single one of us.

Isn’t it a wonder and delight?

* * *

Giving thanks in community for (#535 – 554)

Shelly and Aaron
Peggy, Jenna, and Lucie
Home Group
Transform Cary
the body of Christ
voices raised in worship
spiritual warriors
the hard work of prayer
heart connections
grace, grace, grace
the gospel
the free gift of salvation
Luke serving Jacob
Arts Aftercare

Blessing for a First Birthday

4 06 2012

We stood in a quiet circle around the room and waited.

He placed his hand on his daughter’s head, and he spoke over her ancient words — the very same ones the LORD spoke to Moses, that he might speak to Aaron and his sons, that they in turn might heap the riches of God’s gracious favor on His children.

y’barekká YHWH vyish’m’réka

May the LORD bless you and keep you, he began. And she looked up at her daddy as he added the prayer of his own heart.

May the LORD grant you a good year. May you be healthy and happy. May He help you learn well and grow up to be strong. May He make you obedient and joyful. May He protect you from any physical harm or illness. May He protect your heart from pain and may He protect your soul from spiritual attack.

ya’ér YHWH panáyv eléyka viyhunnéka

May the LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, he continued, God’s own blessing pouring over his firstborn and filling the room like the glory of the midday sun.

May the LORD reveal Himself to you, even in your earliest years. May you know even today that His presence holds the fullness of joy. May He make you His child. May you find yourself always under the shadow of the cross, your sins forgiven, Christ’s blood covering you with grace. May your life be utterly and completely His.

yissá’ YHWH panáyv eléyka vyasém l’ká shalóm

May the LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace, he said, and she played and squealed her joy, secure in the love of good parents who hold her in the safest possible place, before the throne of the living God.

May the LORD be your dearest friend throughout life. May He be kind to you and discipline you gently. May His presence be the source of your peace throughout life and a refuge in times of trial. Whatever happens, may you hold fast to Him, and be hidden under the shadow of His wing, knowing His love for you in Jesus Christ.

Now and always, may the Father bless you richly in His Son through His Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thus he blessed his firstborn, and we added our Amen to his.

And then we partied.

Naomi opened presents.

And basked in the loving attention of a room full of aunties, uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers singing happiness to her.

She blew out watched her daddy blow out the candle.

And tasted her first piece of cake. (She liked it.)

Then, after a quick bath, she played with new toys and colorful gift bags, and posed for pictures. And when I loaded these images onto my computer and saw this next shot, I realized for the thousand thousandth time what a gift children are.

We bless them in the Name of the Lord, and the Shalom, it’s multiplied back to us in countless gifts bestowed by our Father through these tiny, trusting hands. Gifts that teach us to fear, that keep us on our knees, that fill our hearts so full of love, we think they might explode.

Gifts that lead us to lay down our lives for the sake of another, and in so doing, to become more and more like Christ.

And the ancient words still speak, generation to generation. And God still responds,

“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”

Amen. Grant it, Lord Jesus.

* * *

Giving thanks in community for (#493 – 504)

God’s faithfulness
a son become a husband become a father
yellow cake with chocolate icing
hard but good conversations
bottomless well of grace
one year with Naomi
Ruby Redbird Shiner Bock
the gospel

We have our Father’s ear

2 06 2012

I confess to a bit of self amusement with this one.
But isn’t it amazing to think we really do have our Father’s ear?
He hears our every cry,
even the ones we
try to hide
behind a smile.

Be comforted.
You are heard.
You are held.
Your Father
is nearer than your breath,
and He delights
in your trust.

What a wonder.

* * *

{I can’t believe our Naomi Belle will be one on Tuesday! Happy Birthday, sweet little Belle.}


22 01 2012

Luke and Naomi, minutes after she was born

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
(Psalm 139:16 ESV)

Simplicity on Sunday, with Deidre

Daughters and Their Daughters

18 11 2011

Last weekend our extended family gathered in Dallas for my nephew’s wedding and an early Thanksgiving meal. We enjoyed a beautiful time of celebration with so many of our beloveds, and today at All the Church Ladies I’m thanking God specifically for four of them.

I hope you’ll join me, and while you’re there, please share your special thanks, too. We’d love to celebrate your gifts with you.


21 10 2011

I learn from them as I watch them follow, how there’s freedom in keeping a keen eye and willing heart, testing the Spirit’s wind and turning your ship full sail into Him. Because isn’t He the One who opens and closes doors? And how many times have I beat my head against my own desires while He patiently waited for me to see His abundant gifts lying wide open?

* * *

I’ve been quiet around here this week. If you’ve wondered about me, please know all is well. (And thanks for wondering!) I’m just busy with living, like so many of you, and thankful for constant reminders of God’s nearness and faithfulness. Thankful for what He teaches when I slow down and listen.

Like TPWWWLGC. I bet you’re wondering what that is (I mean besides a bunch of letters). It’s a philosophy for life and a timely gift to me from Luke and Sarah, and I wrote about it today at All the Church Ladies. Join me?

See you there.


Diving in again

8 08 2011

I remember this.
Wrapping small bodies in a warm soft towel after bath.
Sweet scent of clean hair,
chubby limbs
tucked into fuzzy PJs,
cuddled in my lap for a story.

I remember this.
The delight of discovery,
everything new,
everything wonderful.

Endless energy and curiosity.
Easy trust and laughter.
Freedom from fear.
Freedom to grow.

I remember the wise eyes
and the mystery —
wishing I could ask,
but knowing they can’t answer.

Do these eyes speak
a wordless language
of love and wonder,
echoes of the Voice
that whispered in the waters?

They know,
but they’re not telling.

I remember this —
gazing long
into unclouded windows
of newborn vision
and marveling
over the miracle.

I remember this with my children,
their parents,
and the joy, it floods my soul
like a swollen river that knows this course by heart.
And I dive in,
because I know the current is swift
and the moments like sparkles,
glimmering glimpses,
too quickly gone.

I dive in and soak
up the wonder,
breathe the grace,
brush my finger across feather soft skin
and feel the awe all over again.

I dive in,
even though I know I can’t
hold back the river’s flow —
that it will take
them where it takes us all.

I embrace this ache
and let it break my heart.

Because it was worth it
the first time.

* * *

Giving thanks in community for:

#184 Children and Grand-children
#185 The awesome privilege of loving, nurturing, and stewarding eternal souls
#186 God’s faithfulness in every generation
#187 Peace that passes understanding
#188 Summer fruit, and the senses of taste and smell
#189 Gelato! (Coconut and Dark Chocolate. Oh. My. Soul.)
#190 Forgiveness
#191 Friendship
#192 Physical exertion and rest
#193 Music (always)
#194 Dancing (as often as possible)
#195 Laughter (at mostly appropriate times)
#196 Air-conditioning and fans

And the “hard eucharisteo”:

#197 Extended drought and record-breaking heat in Texas (Yes, Lord, I thank You, because I know You are in control and You are always good. Please accomplish Your divine purposes in these extreme conditions, protect and provide for those who are most affected, and in Your timing, please send rain and cooler temperatures.)
#198 Shaky economies and intense global suffering (May our generosity abound, Lord. May we rise up to feed the hungry and rescue the afflicted. And may many souls turn from lives of hopelessness and vanity to faith in the Living God.)

To join the chorus of giving thanks in all things, click the graphic below:

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