Country Roads

IMG_3558
Beautiful words stir my heart. I will recite a lovely poem about the king, for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet. Psalm 45:1

Every now and then my heart is so filled, I can’t contain what’s inside. Today is one of those times. Because I realize how very blessed I am. And how good God has been to me…

It started this morning. I got a late start. Slept in a bit too late. And I felt miffed because my son rose at 2:30 a.m. and stayed awake till I rose at 6:00. The reason? He drank about a liter of Mountain Dew yesterday evening. And all I could think before school was how tired he’s going to be today.

But he didn’t complain. Happy to go to school. And when we had morning prayer, his words were so sweet and so sincere, I nearly cried.

After dropping Levi at the high school, I took hold of my little girl and breathed in her essence. I squeezed her tight as I lifted her to the ground and grasped her little hand. “Mommy, walk with me today.” And I gladly did, sending her off with a kiss.

Afterward, I needed to grab a couple of items for a ladies’ group meeting in my home. I had nothing to offer which necessitated the long way home, so I could come across a particular store. And as I cruised down the country roads of my youth, my heart soared higher and higher with every curve.

Then I arrived at my destination…

IMG_3556

I just love this place. So eclectic. So country. And man, it stirs a longing within me. Both the store and the roads remind me of a calling God placed within me at least six years ago. I seemed to have heard Him whisper, “Sit on the porch.” I even voiced it to my husband, “I think God wants me to sit on the porch.”

I’m sad to say, I didn’t heed His call. Instead, I entered the busiest period of my existence. No doubt, 2013 through 2017 brought me full calendars each month. I heard God again in the Summer of 2017. “Rest,” was the urge. And I tried. But in all honesty, I kept my toe in the pond. I couldn’t come to a complete standstill despite my best efforts.

And here I am today. It seems I’ve heard Him whisper yet again. As I traveled along a country road passing by various houses that prompted the sweetest of memories… Jack’s house, and Kathy’s and Sarah’s. Yes, I visited all those places when I was young. But not now. No more visits because there’s never enough time.

And so I hear God’s words fresh. The message? Be still. Quiet down. Take your time. Smell the roses. Watch the sunsets. Enjoy life. Lavish your family with love. Sit a spell. Go visiting. Practice hospitality.

Oh, my heart stirs this morning as I remember what He told me so long ago. And with gladness, I plan acquiesce to His prompting.

IMG_3545

As I said, I love that store. Laurel Mills, for those of you who are wondering. I love everything about it… how the tables on the porch invite you to sit a spell. A shelf offering books for the lover of words. A church pew for meditation. And praising.

And just look at that doorway. Thousands upon thousands must have traveled across the threshold. The wood deeply grooved by feet of all sizes. How it moves me. The passing of feet and the passing of time.

And that’s what really moves me to speak this day. Particularly, how my feet have passed through the days…

The Lord speaks; many, many women spread the good news. Psalm 68:11

This verse first popped out 7 years ago. What a turning point in my life. It was September of 2012. That was the true beginning of my spiritual journey with God, no doubt. Because what a journey He’s taken me on.

However, I digress. That Scripture. Many women spread the good news. But what good news?  Well, how about the first part of the verse. The Lord speaks. That right there is plenty good news. Indeed, God speaks.

The first time I heard Him, through His holy word, was nine years ago through the the prophet Jeremiah. “I will bring you back to the place I deported you from.” My heart soared then. I knew God would bring me back to my hometown and these country roads. And He did. God fulfilled His promise.

This is what causes my heart to overflow now, though. One, the beauty of this land I live in. I’ve traveled around and lived in many places. I just have to say, though, there’s not many like this county of mine. My homeland is stunning. The pastures and livestock and cornfields and trees and skyline. I don’t have enough words to capture it.

But the best part? I was raised here. Lived here till I was nineteen years old. Born and raised. And when God brought me back home at thirty-seven, I was a spiritual infant. Nothing more than a baby. I didn’t realize that, though…

And that’s what brings me to my knees in gratitude and praise of my God this day. That He saw fit to bring me back for my second raising. Raised twice in the most beautiful place I can imagine.

I thank Him for that today. That the second time around, He raised me up. A daughter of God. For truly, I am His girl. As precious to Him as my children are to me.

And even more.

Yes, I traveled multiple country roads this morning. And I visited a store that brings longing to my heart. It makes me yearn for a simpler life.

I ache for the days of my youth. How we’d just jump in the car and go to my aunt’s house. No call necessary, you just went. Endless Summer nights of playing in the fields. No agenda and no plans and no busyness. Nothing but time on our hands. Visiting. People. Life’s just not like that anymore.

No, the world clamors for our attention. Do more. No, do more, more, more. But God calls me to do less. Do less, less, less. He urges me to be with Him more. More, more, more. Like when I travel country roads. And oh, He was with me as I drove. And He was with me when I bought the pumpkin nut bread and half and half. Yes, God walked with me over that worn threshold. And He was with me when I brought my stuff out to the car.

That’s when I noticed the Bibles. One on each child’s seat. That’s because Levi will go to youth tonight. And Annabelle? Well, she saw us reading one this morning and decided to take one to school.

So my heart yearns for this. More of this. More of God’s word. Yes to more, more, more. I want more time with God and more time for teaching my children His ways. So they’ll learn to hear Him when He speaks.

For indeed, He does. And that is such good news. The Lord speaks in many places…

Often, for me, it’s as I travel down solitary country roads. When my body is stilled and my mind is free.

So I listen to Him today. And I throw off the world’s expectations of me and place all my expectation on Him. And I expectantly wait for the next word He will speak to me.

The love of a mother…

You know, to be quite honest, there are times that I just don’t understand the love of God. I cannot fathom how much He loves me. I know what His word says… I know that He loves me so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die in my place. This is what I know to be true… in my head. But for the life of me, I just cannot get it! And I try to! I want to! I pray to God to reveal to me the love He has for me. Because I want to more than know it… I want to feel it. I want to feel love from Him and for Him. And I want to feel it for those He tells me to love… my neighbors. And yet, after all these years… I still don’t get it.

I’m learning so much about God, and who He is to me. Most apparent is that He is my Creator, King, Master, and Savior… but here recently, I’ve learned that He is also Husband to me (Isaiah 54:5). And I’ve found that He is friend to me (Exodus 33:11). More often than not though, I think of Him as Father. Because I am a child of God. But quite surprisingly, what I’m finding out this week is that He can also be Mother to me. And I think it’s through this role that I will know just how much He loves me. I think it is through mothering my own child that I will finally grasp the depth of His love for me. Because I know how I feel about my own son. I love him with a love that’s unending.

It was yesterday that my son had to be disciplined. He got in trouble two times at school for talking when he should have been quiet. So after school, I didn’t allow him access to his games or TV as normal. I let him know that we’d have to discuss it with Daddy that evening. Well, with doom on the horizon, He became pretty quiet and was just not himself. I found him laying in his bed under the covers. And so, rather than make him get up and accept the consequences of his actions, I did what any mother would have done. I laid down beside him as close as I could and peered into his eyes. As we snuggled, I told him to tell me the truth about what happened. And my heart ached as he talked, because I knew we would have to punish him for what he had done. For a short while, we snuggled… and it was later when he received his spanking from Daddy’s firm hand. Afterward, he just looked so sad and defeated with his downcast face. I squatted down to his level and pulled him to me. I cupped his cheeks and made him face me as I said, “No matter what you do… no matter if you’re in trouble… I will always love you. You will never lose my love.” It was moments later that a light kind of came on. I thought, “This is how God feels about me.” No matter what I do, He will love me unconditionally. And so, I realize that this is how I can begin to understand how God loves me. God can reveal His love for me through the love of a mother.

You know, there’s a passage of Scripture I have read many times including within the past week. And yet, it wasn’t until I read it this morning that I saw something I somehow overlooked in every other reading of it! In the tenth chapter of Mark we read about a rich young ruler who asked how to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him what the commandments were, and the ruler answered that he observed them all from his youth. But alas, Jesus told him there was one thing missing. He said, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But, the young ruler was sad and went away grieved because he had great possessions. It was just too hard to walk away from all that he owned to follow Jesus. And you know, I think the disciples were disheartened by this because they asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” This may seem an unlikely passage of Scripture to reference here, but what I saw this morning caught my eye. Honestly, I don’t know how I missed it all these years. It’s in verse 21 that I find this nugget of truth: Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and told him to sell all he had.

Do you see? Jesus is all knowing and He knew beforehand what the young man would do. Jesus knew that rich young ruler would choose his riches rather than choose to do what Jesus said to do. And yet, Jesus loved him anyway. Just like I love my son. I know he will get into trouble again and again. And yet, I love him all the more. This is exactly how Jesus loves me. This is exactly how God loves me.

Later last night, my son was snuggled up on a cozy chair when he asked me for a drink. I’m trying to not do as much for him, as I feel he should take care of his own needs when he’s able to. But last night, there was something about the way he looked and the way he asked… or perhaps it was something about the way he had been disciplined earlier… or more simply… it was something about the love of a mother that caused me to sit beside him instead. I told him that although I would normally ask him to get his own water, I just wanted him to know how much I love him. And so, I gave him a kiss and was happy to get him his drink last night. And it’s this… this right here… this is just how much God loves me. As a mother loves her child. As a mother who wants to give her child a drink of water. As a mother who wants to offer comfort where she can. This is how much I love my son. And it’s amazing to think… God loves me just the same.

For thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; on her sides shall you be carried, and be dandled on her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Isaiah 66:12