Generations

Nils & Matthew

(Nils & his Legacy “little buddy”)

Lately I’ve been thinking about kids. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of graduation when such memories tend to abound. Or maybe it’s the book proposal I submitted this month, in the midst of all this crazy. My Covenant Story with illustrations, and who knows what will happen, but it’s got me thinking about children past and children future, and maybe someday being a Grand. Kyle’s been searching for lakefront lots; we drove past one just the other night. And I got teary-eyed when I told him my dream of a farmhouse table, massive in size, all generations sitting together, young and old side-by-side. (Fantasy aside, I’m also aware of the possibility that five offspring, multiplied by potential little grands, may add up to a bit of insanity. But alas.)

Even at church we’ve been doing this series about Generations. Kids and grown-ups being the church together, everyone sharing in faith. I watch the children and my heart grows tender. There’s no better way to pass on the Gospel then planting those seeds deep in a little person’s heart.

The night two of my boys graduated from high school I heard this story. A Legacy teacher now retiring was being honored, and she shared her memory of a third-grade class. There were two people, relatives of students, with life-threatening illnesses, and each situation looked bleak. So Mrs. Kowalchuk’s children began their vigil, praying day after day, and month after month. They prayed without ceasing, only believing. And God answered their prayers. Miracles happened all around.Little Grad

The faith of a child. There is nothing like it. Pure, undefiled, and full of hope. I’ve been wondering lately, about my own journey, and how the years of maturing can complicate faith. The Way becomes murky, and the Good News sobered by pressure to perfect it and get it right. Can we ever go back?

When I tell my own story of coming to Jesus, I start out with something like this. For as long as I can remember I’ve believed Him, and loved Him. When I first heard the Gospel (at camp, I was 12) – my YES was so easy. Of course I will follow!

Much of my work is teaching the grown-ups to teach their children, but sometimes I wonder if we’ve turned it around. Maybe Moms and Dads need the faith of their littles to get through this troublesome life.

Yesterday at church we all took communion, young and old side-by-side. And the pastor did something a bit unexpected. As he prepared the table, he talked to the children. Mommy, Daddy, what does all of this mean? Why this bread? Why this cup? Why the body and blood? It was priceless. Like hearing the story for the very first time. On the way home, Kyle said out loud what I’d already been thinking. Communion today made me think of your book. Moms, dads, and kids, all reading together, discovering the story. I laughed. That’s just what I was imagining, too.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout ALL GENERATIONS, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

Tipping Point

Luke's Grad

I guess you never really know you have a tipping point until you reach it. And when you get there it’s a bit of a surprise. Not what you’d expect.

You’d think it might be the phone call from the school nurse the day before you kick off a six-day stretch of four graduations. She tells you your boy thinks he might have dislocated a finger, but as soon as you get there you know for sure it’s worse than that. The whole hand’s mangled and bruised and the doc at Urgent Care confirms what you thought. Broken. But that’s not all. There’s twenty-four hours of getting the story from the boy and convincing him again your love’s here to stay. There’s a bone that won’t set and it’s going to need surgery, so you schedule a pre-op appointment for Thursday afternoon and surgery first thing Monday morning. And in between you celebrate two college graduations – one in Des Moines and one nearby.

Sunday evening you’re hugging that big old college grad tight, telling him how proud you are. Two majors in three years, and with honors. But inside you wonder, what’s the big hurry? And he tells you he’ll be home Monday night for one last dinner before he packs his car and heads west for the summer. Back to his mountains. And you tell him it’s even harder this year than last, knowing where he’ll be and what he’ll be doing. Even though he’s reassured you again and again. Mom, it’ll be okay, I promise.

So you make it through the weekend, smiling in all the pictures, speaking words of Brokenblessing. Monday morning comes and parents clear their schedules to take care of a boy scared out of his mind at the thought of needles and anesthesia and who-knows-what. And later you’ve got the kid back home, propped up on pillows and ice packs, and while he naps you take advantage of a few free hours to get after some chores.

There’s rain in the forecast, but it’s now or never, so you tackle the lawn, long neglected, and damaged by dog. A graduation party in less than three weeks. And that’s when it happens. You’re elbow deep in weeds and dirt, and your cell phone chirps and you read the message. There’s a leader training this evening for the mission trip fundraiser. Did you remember? And it’s right then you know you have a tipping point. 

Because you didn’t remember and you’d made those plans with Luke for dinner, and a bonfire after, and now you’ll miss it, and it’s ALWAYS like this. And right then and there you go from walking the ledge to a slippery slope, and your mind is screaming. I QUIT! That’s it.

Not five minutes later the chirp comes again, another text message. You read it and read it again. Dan’s got you covered. You’re off the hook. Enjoy the evening with your family.  

And I’m not even kidding. That very minute the rain dries up and the sun starts shining and the grass gets greener. The scales tip back.

I’m a whole new person. All afternoon long and into the evening, my soul is singing – HE DID IT! He didn’t have to, but He knew what I needed and He came to my rescue, and He’s there for me. I know He is.

The next morning I smile as I read THIS from Isaiah:

Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power.
He will rule with a powerful arm.
See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd.
He will carry the lambs in his arms,
holding them close to his heart.
He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.

Isaiah 40:10-11

And it’s a Word from God penned for moms like me (:

Dear Graduate

Grad Caps

Four Andersons will graduate this weekend and next. We’ll travel first to Des Moines for Kiana’s at Drake; the next day it’s Luke at the U of M. Then Felipe and Nils from LCA the following Friday. And even as I prepare and process as mom of these four, my heart is knit to a slew of others. Friends of Luke’s who have become dear to me, and a whole graduating class of high school students. Kids I’ve watched grow up. And so today I write this letter to all the grads I’ve loved.

Dear Graduate,

My mom heart is full as I think of you. What a privilege it’s been to know you and love you. Such a blessing our paths have crossed. Thousands of graduates will take the stage this month, mostly strangers I’ll never meet. But you are special because I’ve known you. You have touched my life.

God is pleased with you. If there’s a message I could etch on your heart, this would be it. He is PLEASED. Every day for the rest of your life, this is what matters. Your Heavenly Father cherishes you.

It’s been 31 years since I finished high school; 27 since college. I know that sounds impossibly long to you, but of course, not so much to me. It’s crazy how present I can be to back then, yet aware of all that’s happened since.

A strange thing occurred one morning this week – my inspiration for writing this letter. I’d been going back and rereading my journals from ten or so years ago, and there is was – September 3, 2007. I had written a prayer and it was very specific for that season. But reading it now struck me – He’s answering this request TODAY! All these years later. And it was the most surreal experience, to see the connection. How God is sovereign and present in each minute, not bound by time or fixed by days – but ABOVE and weaving each moment together, and Wow!

Looking back from today I’d say there have been three times in my life that have shaped me the most. My junior high years; my early 30’s; and my current season. (I’m 49.) This is my story; yours will be different. But here’s why I bring it up. You’re going to hear in graduation speeches a message that goes like this: Seize the day, because THIS is the time of your life. But I’m here to tell you, it’s NOT. Time is eternal. It’s the years gone by and the one that’s present and the all the years yet to come – woven together in a seamless moment by the One who’s above it all.

Does this help or confuse? I’m not sure.

Here’s what’s important. God is weaving a beautiful story – His and yours, intertwined. He’s the author and you can trust Him. I promise, you can. I wish I could etch this truth with the other, there on your heart: GOD IS PLEASED. YOU CAN TRUST HIM.

Someday you’ll be my age, and you’ll look back on this random assortment of memories of the years gone by, and it will take you by surprise. The things that mattered, and the things that didn’t. It’s not what you’d think. And it’s SO much better.

Ahh, my friend. Walk daily with Him. Each day, look for Jesus. Savor His presence and hear His voice. Life will be LOUD and demanding and it will try it’s best to distract and entice you to fill up on things that will weigh you down. And can I say this? When your head gets full of condemnation and demands – this is NOT His voice, not ever, not HIM. Even in times of redirecting, the voice of Jesus is sweet with compassion. He is FOR you, and He’ll do for you more than you could ever do for yourself.

So today I send you off with this blessing, hoping our paths will continue to cross. Stay in touch. Let me know how it’s going. I’d love to continue to encourage and pray. And now this…

The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.*
 

AMEN.

*Numbers 6:24-26