The stomach sickness has now taken out three of seven in our household.
Aubrey is the latest victim.
And even though Aubrey is just days shy of seventeen, still my heart twists when she tells me how she passed the night, stomach sick and miserable. She’s missing out on good things today, things she’s been looking forward to. I am disappointed for her, I am hurting for her.
She asks me to bring her a Sprite and I do.
When I return, she is asleep, long legged and sprawled across her bed, wrapped all up in blankets. I look at her and see not only a 5ft. 9 inch beauty, but also the newborn I once held close. That newborn with the red, red skin and lush brown hair. She is both. She is Growing Up Aubrey but she is still my baby and this makes me feel the disappointment and the regret and the ‘if only’ so much more than she does. I would take her sickness for her, if I could.
I love who my children are, I love them at each age they are but a part of me sometimes misses the little ones they once were.
My oldest is Julia. She is nineteen and I still see the 9lb. 9oz. person who changed my life and made me better. I listen to her talk and sing and speak about Jesus. I see her fire and passion and how she fights for those without voices. I am proud of this fierce, beautiful woman but I still want to hold close the curly haired little girl that she used to be.
There is Aubrey, just days shy of seventeen. She is full of life, lively and funny. Smart and on task and in love with Jesus. She cracks me up with her wit, she blesses me with her servant’s heart. She is the tallest of my three older ones, beautiful and charismatic…she is a pied piper for children…but she is still my preschooler pointing a finger and saying, “Don’t you make me serious.”
I look at my son, fourteen now, and see the little boy with dimpled cheeks who loved basketball and who “loved Mommy medium and loved Daddy extra large.” Chase is taller than I these days, independent and smart. He has a dry wit and a smart mouth and I love the way he loves on his little sisters. He is growing into a good man, but where is my little boy? It literally zipped by in a flash.
I want to squeeze Lila and Claire and beg life to just slow down for a little bit. Not a day passes that I don’t think, these ones are growing up too.
When I think about my children, their little selves are all mixed up with their growing selves. I feel the same tugs and pulls and aches in my heart that I felt when they were babies, when they were toddlers, when they were in preschool. But with it, I feel a new wonder at who each one is becoming. Every day I line my gratitude journals with graces and gifts and glories….everyday, these five that I love more than life fill the pages.
These five that I love more than life. They are my life’s work. They are my best. They are my greatest gifts.
Just now, I pause in my day, pause in my housework, my writing, my caregiving and say to Him, “You love me more than life. I am your life’s work. I am your best. I am your greatest gift.” The words almost hurt as they come out of my mouth. I know this and have known it. But the words feel sour as I speak them.
Because, how can this be so? How can it be that I, lowly and pitiful (remember, wretched, poor, naked, blind and miserable)…how can it be that I am His beloved?
But it is so.
Jeremiah 31 tells me He has loved me with an everlasting love.
He has loved me with a love I can not earn. A love I can not reject. A love I can not change.
God whispers in my ear fragments of a verse and I type out the words I think I hear but can’t quite figure it out. I ask John if knows what I mean and we try first Matthew 5 and no…that’s not it. Then John says, “The closest I can find is Matthew 7:11.” I go to it and YES, this is it and I go back a verse or two and here is the epiphany of the day.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Have I read this verse before? Oh, of course, I have. I know this one, backwards and forwards, but this is the verse that God gives me on the day that I am ruminating on my mothering career. The day I am thinking about the unconditional, unchanging, all encompassing love I have for my five arrows.
This is the verse He gives me as I am rising up from the ashes of a table that was built on the wrong kind of pillars. This is the verse He gives me in this season, when I’m struggling so hard to figure out the meaning of three simple words.
God is good.
And now I have something to prop these three words up on. He will not give me stones if I ask for bread. He will give me good gifts.
Because He loves me. He loves me the way I love my five. He loves me more than that. He loves me better than that. He loves me in a whole and perfect way.
I practice the words again. “You love me more than life.” He gave His life on a cross for me. “I am Your life’s work.” He was born, lived, suffered and died to save me, to give me a glorious inheritance. “I am Your best.” For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2:10 “I am a gift.” I was created for His pleasure.
“Thank you.” I say next. And I am so full of thanks, I can’t speak further. Thankful for my five treasures. Thankful for His affection. Thankful for His love. Thankful for His gifts so many.