The Goodness of Marriage

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Even the angels don’t get this; this gift is for us.

Find a man and a woman, wrap them in a vow, tank them up with passion, and set them loose on the world.

Marriage, this sacrament of divine opportunity, this holy favour, is the artful design through which God propels forth life, abundance, creativity and blessing into a world hungry for a taste of real love.

Our marriages are not just cardboard opportunities to get two-for-one rent, have a reliable movie buddy on Friday nights, or rally a convenient person to help with the dishes, though those are some perks that come with the territory.  One of the reasons marriage exists is to magnify the Kingdom of God on this earth.  And the Kingdom of God sparks with healing life, infinite creative potential and an ever-gushing, never-quitting, generous, every-moment kind-of love.  The beauty, wholeness, sweetness and goodness of God’s Kingdom cannot be overstated; it absolutely bursts with passion, promise and favour.

Yet, if we allow marriage to fall into the doldrums of uninspired routine, superficial pleasure seeking, or convenience-oriented life together, we run the risk of missing the vast potential of this magnificent union.

Marriage is a gift from God.

Kindling two hearts together over years and decades is a great mystery of deep and committed grace.

It’s relatively easy to live annoyed, frustrated, merely-tolerant and selfish.  Alternatively, it is holy work to live expansively towards another person; to surrender, sacrifice, uplift and encourage, even in the face of everyday human-ness, dirty socks, and bed-heads.

Marriage is a spark that has the potential to set the world on fire. Two knit hearts, committed to blessing the world from a posture of partnership and grace, create ripple effects that are boundless.

Your lover is God’s perfect gift to you.

Within your marriage God has hidden treasures for you to mine for the rest of your life together. He has planted seeds of possibility, and drawn the etchings of dreams into the fabric of your shared life.  Yet, these gifts will only be realized as you step out into the greater life God has for you, as you love each other on the journey and move beyond the petty resistance of physical distractions into the realms of faith and hope.

You get to call out the beauty, the uniqueness, the treasure in one whole other person in this life. Don’t let the opportunity slip through your fingers!  Watching movies about actors’ fake romantic flings has got nothing on the ecstasy of calling out the magnificence of your soul mate.

Flat, uninspired, drained marriage relationships are not God’s plan for any of us.  Marital love is not the shallow stuff of fairy tales and sappy movie endings, it is the raw reality of soul-mesh and heart-impact, realized in the grit of moment-by-moment life together. God designed marriage to set us free, to overload us with love, opportunity, and excitement with another one of His precious children.

And, as if it could get better(!)… God literally knits the seeds of us together and makes little ones out of our love. This, alone, is a miracle worthy of our reverence and awe; the fact that in the secret place – where vulnerability and passion meet – eternal souls can be established, is no small thing.

This is not tame stuff, this is radical!

Marital passion, the tender embrace of a ravishing intimacy only known with one other, is a secret gift in this life, one to be stewarded and guarded, embraced and celebrated.  Yet, we are not yet perfect in the rolling out of this plan and so where we stumble, He will restore, and where we lack, He will forgive.

The enemy will keep trying to rob us of this sacred gift, but we will not be wooed by his empty, plastic promises.  All that glitter reeks of a lie.  Real love-romance-passion dwells at home, in a house where Legos litter the floor and dishes fill the sink.  Married love sinks into the bed at night together, after a day of faithful investment, and tucks in between arms and legs, and warm, familiar skin and knows this gentle bliss is a gift from God.

Treasure your love life, it is the fertile soil of your dreams.  

15 years into this gig, Ben and I have a little phrase that we whisper to each other regularly, often in the throes of little-kid chaos and epic-destructo-house messes,

“It just keeps getting better and better.”

And it does.

My friends, it’s time for our marriages to fly; let’s see what a world full of lovers really looks like!

Risk

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There is power in growing comfortable with risk, pushing through the resistance to where abundant life is.

In choosing the less travelled road, in launching into a new dream, in taking a radical step of faith, there is a different kind of freedom that becomes available to you.

It’s a freedom that the world and it’s stale promises of security know nothing of.

Security in this life is an illusion. If we put our trust in things, or jobs, or finances, or homes, or schools to be our safety nets, we will miss out on the absolutely wonderful passion-work and freedom-life we were made for.

When we abide in God and He in us, we find there the perfect peace that produces faith to move mountains.

Faith isn’t about taking random risks; it’s about believing what is true about God and life and reality, and living in that place alone. So, you may end up looking like you’re taking risks in a worldly sense, but really, you’re simply living in the complete (real and eternal) safety and provision of your Heavenly Father.

 

The Hair Nap

Once in a while one of the younger children will ask to brush my hair.

This is roughly the only time my too-long hair ever makes it out of it’s little nest on the top of my head (yes, same look since grade eight, I never changed).

I usually comply because a) sometimes having a toddler clumsily tug at my hair with a brush is the closest thing a hard working mommy gets to a scalp massage, and b) I can lie on the couch for this.  This means, there is a great possibility that I may achieve a 3 minute nap.  

I am not joking.

After dinner this evening, Poppy (age 2) trundled up to me with a soft hair-brush and asked if she could brush my hair.  It my post-dinner fatigue all I needed was the suggestion and I readily let my hair down while fluffing a pillow, so that I could lay my head at the end of the couch.  Then, I let my hair down over the side while Poppy brushed.

I slipped into a deep 45 second nap.

…Until some aggressive tugging of my hair awoke me.  I dozily mused that she must have exchanged a rough comb for the soft brush.

I looked back at her.

In her hands were scissors, real *big person* scissors.

{Cue the horror music.}

It took me a moment to put it all together.

That sweet little pixie had just cut a wad of hair out of my head and was looking pretty impressed with herself to boot.

Bravo, Mom of nine.

The learning never ends… I guess that’ll be the end of the Hair Naps.

Speaking Together

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“Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:-
We murder to dissect.”
-William Wordsworth

I think that if I had to hunker down and tease out the core essential ingredient in educating a child, I would say: the word.

While the the written word is also on the short list of fundamentals, I believe it is in our spoken words and our conversations with our children that their minds and hearts are most deeply cultivated.

It is so very easy; every parent has this educational tool at her disposal! It’s remarkable, really, that what we need to educate our children is simply two ears and a tongue, and we come fully equipped with both.

To grow an educated child, speak to him. Talk about deep things, funny, confusing, frustrating, hurting, challenging, marvellous, fascinating, quotidian, silly things. The more a parent speaks to her child, the more both parent and child linger in the warm places of heart, where the interaction itself engages and establishes the mind and waters the spirit.  It is the parental attention as much as the words that impart the growth.

Conversation is impossible, however, if a parent is not much with her child, or if she doesn’t turn off the gadgets that are hellbent on stealing her attention, or if she is in a constant state of irritation when her child is around her (impatience is a foul companion to conversation).

The art of gentle, exploratory conversation is crafted in the dailiness of life together. Yet, many families are robbed of this beautiful opportunity by a busy world and (ironically) too many school hours.

Conversation is the most simple educational tool available to all, and yet, increasingly the most difficult. If we would let go of all the fussy excuses that masquerade as education (often simply soothing our own insecurities) and deliberately speak with and listen to our children (luxuriously and unhurriedly) I believe we would see a cultural restoration.

I would encourage you to fight for this one, as not only will your child’s knowledge grow, but in the sharing of your hearts, you will knit between you a bond that will keep you close.

Holy Work

My earlier mother days.

{My earlier mothering days.}

She dotes and coos, a regular mother hen. Two-year-old Poppy croons little sounds that don’t make sense to her infant sister, they lock eyes and smile. Mother-in-the-bud, already.

The familiar context where I have heard the word brooding has been in relation to a mother hen. Yet here I find, in the very first chapter of Genesis, the essence of the same term in relation to the Holy Spirit, brooding over and anticipating the birthing of the earth.

“The earth was without form and… darkness was upon the face of the very great deep. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering/brooding) over the face of the waters…” Genesis 1:2 (AMP)

I am impacted by the very maternal image this evokes; the gentle Holy Spirit anticipating manifesting the Word of God through creative action. Today, I felt this rush of connection, as I realized that I too am about my Father’s business: the art of establishing life, of brooding over the deep places, this is the labour of the mother’s heart.

The Holy Spirit works in the unseen space, in the quiet and hidden realm, where life begins and roots into the deep places. A mother, too, works in the quiet of another dimension… the deep waters of the heart.

This is a most holy work; every breath, every word, and every touch is an opportunity to establish a love that remains forever, a love that will not die though all else passes away.  I felt, today, a shudder of awareness that cultivating life is art of the greatest magnificence, and an act of hope of the greatest magnitude.  In fact, in some small way, we are actively contributing to the divine work of God on this earth.

As I gaze upon my girls, I pulse with a love most {painfully} tender and yet fiercely robust. I touch a silky curl, I breathe in the scent of baby soft skin, and wonder at the beauty that floods my life… this, right here, is worth everything.

God knew first, that life would be worth the cost. Every time.