I wouldn’t consider us a particularly craft-y people, but we did finally make a sign to hang in the entryway that I pray will season our coming and going with rememberance.
First we sanded a piece of wood we had lying around.
Then we rubbed it with an old tee-shirt dipped in Manhattan Mist (also lying around).
We painted kid prints.
Dad made it “fancy” with the router.
Then we wrote our words.
GROW IN GRACE.
The bible says much about grace. But as I think about it today and what of grace I pray my children take to the schoolyard, I see the chemistry between two passages. The Apostle Paul, especially, brings up the subject often, almost as if it is always on his mind. And it probably was. By his own admission he was a man of wrath and destruction, wielding a bloody club heavy with the weight of legalism. But he was stopped on the road. And spoken to by God. And thereafter marshaled the zealous resources of his personality in making the grace of God known to others. He says things like, “I pray that out of his glorious riches [God] may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…be[ing] filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19). He says things like that because he knew – way deep – what God’s grace feels like. I desperately want our home to be a place of grace. I desperately want my babies put down their roots in the good earth of understanding that a big God came near with a blood offering stronger than the most shameful things we have conspired to under cloak of darkness. His love is made available to us only and always by his grace. I want them to feel the freedom of God’s grace, to wear it next to their skin, and hand it out like candy to those who cross their paths.
And I pray that the grace of God in the hearts of my children will grow, like the mustard seed in Luke 13, “which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” The bible, for me, seems full of the image of strong trees. And this one from the parable in Luke started out small. A small kernel of faith, planted in good soil, reaching its height, calling the birds to perch and the farmer to shade. The years compressed in this story, between planting and perching, can only be a story of grace. Grace in the soil, grace in the rain, grace in the protection from fire. Lord, let them grow in grace.
GO IN PEACE.
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:9), Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Peace. We need it. In this home. And in the circles in which we travel. And not only do we need acts of peace and brave moments of peacemaking, but we also must remember to speak the blessing of peace. Out loud. When Hannah, barren and weeping, poured out her soul to God in his house, the priest Eli questioned her, assuming it was wine that was causing her to yell and flail and stumble around the temple. But it was not wine. It was blinding grief. And so, after hearing her story, he blessed her. “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him” (I Samuel 1:17). And Jesus used the same words to bless another weeping woman, the one who mixed her tears with perfume, and wiped his feet in front of the audience of law-keepers and bean-counters who insulted Jesus for letting such a storied woman touch him. He forgave her sins and sent her on with a blessing, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” I pray that my children will see - through the eye of God - roads of peace. And I pray that he will give them words of peace with which to bless. And I pray, that on the days that we yell and rub each other wrong and say things we don’t mean before breakfast, we will stop a minute at the threshold and remember to reach out with a well-worn olive branch. Lord, make it so.
REMEMBER WHOSE YOU ARE.
“[Jesus] knew that he had come from God and was returning to God, so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.” John 13:3b-4
I pray that my children will do things in this selfish world that will seem crazy. I pray that they will know when to bend a knee in service to others, make a sacrifice, share a crayon, give their shirt, turn a cheek. I can’t even begin to know how to talk to them about how to find those moments and live them right, other than to remind them that they belong, not only to the honor of our family name, but to God himself. When Christ bent to wash his disciples feet – dusty, hot and odorous – he grounded himself between the heaven from which he came and the heaven to which he would return. And that grounding, that deep knowing to whom he belonged, set his feet upon a steady rock from which he could, without fear, bend his body low.
The way of Christ makes no sense here. The math we learn in school does not teach us anything about God’s economy. Nor does the alphabet we practice writing, decoding, and piecing back together in orders all our own bring us close enough to the heart of God. So I pray that my children will learn to listen to the still, small voice in their soul that suggests actions that won’t earn them praise or popularity or guarantees. I pray that they will play even when they can’t earn tickets, knowing this place, beautiful as it may be, is not their home. I pray that they remember whose they are, and wear that remembering all their days.