Friday, May 31, 2013


 For a parent, sometimes looking at our children can be like looking in a mirror. There are some moments when a glance in this mirror can bring amazed joy, and other moments, an ashamed ache. In many ways children reflect both what is lovely and what is ugly in the original and, when we're watching with careful honesty, we're sure to see moments when the reflection shares uncanny resemblance to ourselves.

 Sometimes the the resemblance brings a joy and humility that encourages, that reflects the grace upon grace poured into our home. We hear child voices speaking with kindness to a brother or sister, we see in them a gentleness, a servant-heartedness, and we’re amazed. We watch them love their neighbour with a selfless maturity beyond their years, and the good we see reflected in them is humbling.

Reflected grace is just that: it is grace. 

Such glimpses of beauty are as humbling as they are encouraging. The parent reflects the Father and the child reflects the parent and the only right response is wonder that He has been this good.

But what about when a quick glance shows something totally different? What about when these living, talking reflections—our children—give us a glimpse of the jarring, ugly, remaining sin? What about when their anger towards another bears striking resemblance to my own? What about when their impatience, rudeness or gracelessness mirrors mine in detail? I look at the reflection and, even as I'm jarred by the ugliness, I can’t deny the awful similarity. That look, that voice, that's me.

We watch a child get angry or impatient and, with sinking heart, we know it is a precise and irrefutable reflection of our own sin. We look at them and see ourselves, our sin reflected in them, and we see how our sin ripples out in waves around us.

The mirror of children is a compelling way to behold sin.

There may be moments where the reflection is ugly, but the hope--always the hope--is this: even as my child reflects me, I day by day, more and more reflect my Father above. As a parent, I'll never be perfect, but in Christ there will be growth that reflects His goodness and beauty.

Our reflection is changing. Our reflection is being changed. 

When we see reflections of love, of patience, of joy, we are humbled by His transforming grace. When we see reflections of anger, of impatience, of sin, we are hopeful because of His unrelenting grace.
In Psalm 103 King David describes God's grace like this: The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. 

The mirror of children: when the reflection is beautiful, we have humility; when the reflection is ugly, there is yet hope. Though children reflect both the good and the bad in their earthly parents, the child of God reflects a heavenly Father who is only good.

And this is our Father:

God does not punish us for all our sins, and does not deal harshly with us as we deserve. God does not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. God has removed our sin as far as the east is distant from the west. God is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. 

What a Father we've been given to reflect to our own children.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


He is a Father who has loved His children with perfect gentleness and patience. He is a Father who has demonstrated to His own that He will be forever inclined to help. He is a Father who has never turned His face from any of His children, except for the One who love compelled Him to forsake. He is a Father whose arms are strong and whose heart is compassionate.

In Christ and through faith, countless daughters and sons have been adopted and are secure.

I’m safe in His love and yet, so often, when I approach my Father in prayer, it is with a timidity not matching my identity as His daughter. At times it’s as though I pray with the hope of arriving at a place, after I've prayed, of belonging, of safety. Somehow, even though I have a theological understanding of adoption through Christ’s blood, it fails to translate into a prayer life where I enter into God’s presence utterly sure of a Father’s love.

In his enduring book on prayer, Andrew Murray writes this:
We need to get in at the tenderness and helpfulness which lie in these words, and to rest upon it—your Father. Speak them over to yourself until something of the wonderful truth is felt by us. It means that I am bound to God by the closest and tenderest relationship; that I have a right to His love and His power and His blessing, such as nothing else could give me. O the boldness with which we can draw near! O the great things we have a right to ask for! Your Father. It means that all His infinite love and patience and wisdom bend over me to help me.
Every parent has experienced that moment when a dirty, grimy-faced child runs towards us for a kiss, and our eyes are blind to the gunk and leftover snack-crumbs and unidentified gooey debris, and all we see are the sparkling eyes of our child. We're enchanted, and we sweep them up and hold them tight.

A few days back I had a heightened version of this with my 18-month-old Ella. Her toddler frame came running, careening, into the room, and she ran straight towards me with her arms outstretched, saying, “Hug! Hug!” Any objective adult would have rightly seen a drooly, dirty, stinky baby and would have deftly veered out of the line of contact while reaching for a wet-wipe. If it was someone else’s kid, that’s what I would have done. But in that moment, all I could see was this little girl who was mine who I fiercely loved, who belonged to me. She was not just any girl, she was my girl. My intense love for my children, in so many of the both good and challenging moments of their lives, is not because they are so clever or clean or perfect. My love for them, ultimately, is because they are my precious children.

Good parents love their children. It’s just what they do. And this, only earthly parents. How much more so Him, the Father above?

The perfect, unconditional love of the Father, not because of children so holy, wise or clean—for who is righteous?—but because of His character. What grace that it’s not about the character of the children, but about the character of the Father.

We belong to Him. We are His daughters, His sons. Adopted. Forever His.

And so when we go to him dirty, stained, covered in filth, awkward, clumsy, stupid, reeking of the stench of sin, He sees His beloved child. In Christ, we’re already eternally cleansed, purified, and therefore need not attempt the futile task of cleaning ourselves up before we approach Him in prayer.

Mercifully, our Father’s love for us is not about us, nor is it contingent upon us. It's about Him. 

Friday, May 17, 2013


He came running, arm outstretched, face excited while tightly gripping something he couldn’t wait to show. Before nearing close enough for me to see, my 3-year-old shouted, “Mom, I found the most adorable pinecone in the whole wide world! Look!” Slowing to a stop, Josh carefully uncurled his hand. Nestled in his palm was, true to his claim, a tiny, most adorable pinecone. “Isn’t it so cute, Mom?” He looked up, eyes wide, eager. Speaking more about my boy than about the pinecone, I agreed. “Yes definitely, Josh. The most adorable in the whole wide world.”

He grinned, found the pocket of his jeans and, with decidedly less care, shoved in his treasure. Off he went, in search of more.

Watching, I felt that oh-so familiar ache: these light, playful pre-school days are passing and I’m spending so many of them rushing. Even in this very scenario, I’d almost rushed the boys straight home from school and not allowed them to explore, pausing here and there, discovering things on our walk home. Why? We weren’t late. Why does rushing so often seem to be the pattern of my day? 

The ordinary moments often bring the greatest joy. But in the rush, they’re also the moments easiest to miss.

It's a question I’ve asked before, written about before: why do I rush through so much of life, through so much of this thing called motherhood? I’m not late, but always rushing; I’m on schedule, but somehow missing the whole point. There are ordinary moments of relationship and beauty--adorable pinecones waiting to be discovered and enjoyed--at every turn in the path. How many of these treasures do I miss because I’m rushing along, impatient, unwilling to slow down?

Parents of small children know it to be true what they say, that when the days are hard, they sometimes pass slowly. But the months and years, they fly away. Still we hurry on, rushing our way through time, wishing the hard days to pass until, with a sudden pang of regret, we remember that time can never be slowed down. It is only us who can slow, even as time speeds along.

The passing of time marks our lives, and the only way to way to enjoy the months and years is to cherish the gift of each today.

My little ones are growing and changing and I again ask myself that corrective question: Am I growing in wisdom and counting each one of these days as the good gift that it is?

It's become easier to ask the honest, painful questions. Is motherhood sometimes profoundly hard? Are there days when our sin taints everything we touch and the picture is ugly, broken? Is sorrow a part of the true picture of motherhood? These questions are real, and the obvious and honest answer unites us. We no longer desire to paint a picture of our lives where everything shines.

But there is a question that should be framed above all those other real questions: Do I see that today is a gift from above? Do I believe that this day, even if it’s hard, is a gift meant to be enjoyed? 

Earlier this week at the ballet studio where I teach, I couldn't help but watch the face of a mother as she stood watching her beautiful teenage daughter dance. This mother’s expression was an exquisite blend of love, joy, and sadness as she watched her daughter’s athletic but graceful body soar through that studio. I was curious. “You never grow tired of watching her dance, do you?” She paused before answering, eyes filling with tears. “It’s not just that. It’s not just that she is so beautiful. It’s that she’s leaving soon, dancing, away from me. She’s growing up. And I’m just going to miss her so much.”

Time passes and we join our voice to the lament: Where did the time go? How is it all passing so quickly?

But there is today.

This day, it brims with the possibility of life shared and hearts bound together in love. This day is a gift, even if it’s a day that has been really hard. 
What will I do with today? Will I slow down enough to receive the gift? Will I stoop low to see tiny, adorable pinecones in the palm of my child’s hand? 
This is the day He has made for us. Will we rejoice and be glad in it? 

Sunday, May 5, 2013


A conversation between a mother and her 5-year-old.

Jake: Mom, when I become a man, will my name change?

Me: That’s an interesting question, Jake. What do you mean? Why do you think it might change?

Jake: Well, I was just thinking that maybe when I turn into a man my name will become Justin, like Dad’s.

Me: Ah, I see. I thought maybe you were thinking about the story of God renaming Jacob. Ya, nope. You’ll be Jake Eby Galotti for the rest of your life, kiddo.

Jake, still musing: So Mom, one day when I’m a man and have my own kids, I’m going to be such a fun Dad. I’m never going to make my kids go to sleep at night or have naps in the afternoon, and in the morning, when they wake up, I’ll give them ice cream for breakfast. They’ll love it.

Me: Well now, that DOES sound really fun. You know what, Jake? I’m going to remember this conversation and write down what you just told me and, in twenty years or so, when you’re a Dad with kids of your own--

Jake, interrupting me: Actually, I’m going to do some stuff first, before I have kids. I want to move to the jungle, either in China or in Africa, and live there for a while.

Me: That sounds pretty exciting! Maybe you’ll be a missionary and you’ll go to some really cool place to preach the Gospel.

Jake: Nah, that’s not why I’m going. I actually just want to hunt some tigers and maybe some leopards. I’ll be a hunter. A jungle hunter!

Josh, chiming in: That sounds AWESOME! I’m going to hunt some tigers and some leopards too, Jake!

Me: OK OK, hold up you two. Jake, before we start talking about jungle hunting, I just want to tell you that when you’re a Dad one day, I’m going to remind you about what you said—how you’re never going to make your kids sleep and how you’re going to give them ice cream for breakfast and stuff.

Jake, smiling: No. Actually, Mom, I’m not going to do that anymore, so you don’t have to remind me later. I changed my mind because, well, if my wife finds out what I’m doing she’ll be so mad at me. Maybe I’ll just be sneaky once in a while, though.



We were so thankful to have Nana come and spend a few days with us. On the first morning of her visit, we brightened a gray day with a visit to Riverdale Farm.

As my three know, and often remind me, I'm pretty lousy at doing puzzles. When Nana's in town, there are continual puzzles!

And lots of cuddles for Ella Bella.

And even some occasional early-morning squirrel watching from the kitchen window.

We love you and miss you! Thank you for a wonderful visit, Nana Ganz!