The Olympic winter games are drawing to a close and, for the watching world, it’s been two weeks of soaring highs and thudding lows.
It’s impossible to watch Olympic competition and miss the illustrations for life. Pursuit of the prize. Fighting till the end. Resilience. Determination. Drive. Unwillingness to quit. Eyes on the finish line.
Some of the hardest moments to watch are when an athlete—from any country—has the capacity to win but fumbles, misses the mark, makes a mistake and, in a single moment, fails to grasp the prize they’ve been striving toward for years. We ache with them, just a little, when they cross the finish line and instead of raising their arms in triumphant victory, sag low in defeat.
One Canadian athlete who won a silver medal, but failed to win gold, said this: “All Canadians say sorry, but I’m sorry. I’m disappointed in myself. I had that chance and I didn’t grasp it.” Like many other Canadians watching, it was a tender moment to hear him voice the ever-Canadian words of apology even while a gleaming silver medal hung round his neck.
This same athlete has shared in the past that mental focus is one of his challenges, and that when he loses focus—when his mind drifts even a little—he’s prone to stumble and make mistakes. After his silver-medal win, he shared how he’d been trying to focus on his key words during his performance.
Words that bring focus. Words that crowd out distraction. Words that renew the mind to focus on those things that matter most.
In the battle that is the life of faith, we also seek to crowd out all that competes to distract us from what matters most. We, too, are encouraged to focus on what matters most of all.
Key words. Central truths. Foundational theological realities.
Just like athletes, the particular ways that we’re prone to distraction often vary from person to person. For some, the distractions are inherently good things, but distractions nonetheless. For others, the distractions are inherently bad things, impeding growth in every way. And for still others, the distractions come in the more subtle form of periphery theological convictions where there is room for difference, but that somehow wind up becoming central in our minds and hearts when they should never have become so important to us in the first place.
And so we ought to ask: What are those things that habitually distract me from that which matter most? When we’re willing to engage in honest reflection of our thought life, the answer is usually clear.
The other question, then, is this: What key words renew my mind and reorient me toward the Word?
Faith. Grace. Repentance. Forgiveness. Obedience. Hope.
And like athletes fighting to the very end, we say along with the writer of Hebrews, “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
Friday, February 21, 2014
Saturday, February 15, 2014
I had two little bakers helping me cut out hearts and sprinkle red sugar on cookies this year.
In order to minimize the amount flour coating the boys' clothing, the boys stripped down and the baking began!
As is our tradition, Valentine's Day morning consisted of a heart shaped breakfast and some treats, and Justin read to us The Way of Love from 1 Corinthians 13.
After the boys went to school, Ella and I went to deliver some cookies to Ella's great, great Aunt Tibbe.
It was a sweet morning.
Hearts. Sugar. And lots of love.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
The audience is expectant. The first notes play. The curtain rises. The dancer nervously waits.
At the side in the wings, heavy black velvet curtains stretch from ceiling to floor. The hidden dancer, though ready, quietly marks the choreography one last time. A final rehearsal. A final remembrance of each breath. She pauses, listening to music that has become a part of her, waiting for the note that cues her entrance.
Countless hours in studio. Months of rehearsal. All of it in preparation for this: the performance.
And then in what seems but a breath, it’s over.
The closing curtain. The final applause. A black, velvet line separating past from present, preparation from performance.
A baby is born; the curtain is pressed aside; the family spills into the room, joyful, thankful; motherhood begins.
Motherhood: a dance with soaring highs and quiet lows, with joys and sorrows alike. We dance to the music and, when we listen carefully, the subtle quiet always leads to rousing crescendo.
But we’ve got it all wrong if we think the crescendo is the most important part.
In motherhood, there is no watching audience, no applause for the sweet moments of success. In motherhood, there is no black line separating forgotten rehearsal from moments that matter most. All we know is that the curtain has gone up and one day the curtain will fall and, when we look back on all the moments in between, we don’t want to carry the regret of wasted time.
We watch, listen, and learn from those who have gone before us. These women are our teachers, and they've taught us well. But though we've heard their words and know it’s the ordinary moments that matter most, we still sometimes miss them altogether because we dance like we’re still marking it in the wings.
The ordinary days--this is it. This is life’s choreography, and we only get to perform it once. Am I dancing full out? Or am I marking it in the wings while the dance of my life--the dance that is life--is passing me by?
I have some friends who do this thing called motherhood so incredibly well. They would say it isn’t so, that they struggle along in jerky movements like everyone else. But I watch them love their little ones and they move with an effortless, natural grace. It’s like they were born to do this. I surround myself with mothers like these. I watch them. I learn from them. I write about them. And then I go home and I practice and pray because I want to move like them.
You’ve seen these mothers, too.
They’re the ones who care more about enjoying the walk home than getting quickly into the house.
They’re the ones who realize that it’s not ultimately about getting their kids to read, but about how they encourage and teach them during the process.
They’re the ones who aren’t in a mad rush to hurriedly fix every conflict between siblings because they realize the value in teaching their children how to resolve conflict without sin.
They’re the ones who don’t hurry through bedtime stories and goodnight rituals because they know that sleepy conversations are among the most precious they’ll ever have.
These things—these little, everyday things—this is the dance of motherhood.
Quiet notes, quiet love, in quiet moments.
The curtain doesn’t rise on our kids’ first day of kindergarten or when they’ve finally grasped how to read or when they’re graduating from college or on their wedding day. The big moments are sweet, for sure, and should bring deep thanks. But it’s all the little moments in between that make up life's dance.
"If I could go back in time, I would go back to when they were little so I could just hold them one more time."Am I listening to the music? Am I slowing long enough and fully enough to really hold my little ones yet small enough to be held?
Friday, February 7, 2014
In the midst of what's been a cold, snowy winter, my Mom had the idea of spending some time at the botanical gardens in the heart of downtown, Allan Gardens. As she described it to the boys on the drive there, "We'll open the door and it'll be like stepping into summer." I heard the boys repeat this phrase during our visit. "We're stepping into summer."
And like summer it did feel.
Nana Ganz and the kids, exploring!
Thursday, February 6, 2014
It's been a while since I've taken pictures of Jake when he's wearing a hat, and these pictures remind me of some pictures I took of this guy in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (that sounds weird--it was a beautiful, fall day and the cemetery just happened to be where Justin and I were walking when this impromptu photo shoot with our then-only son happened) when he was not yet a year old and we were still living in New York. In those pictures from years ago, he was wearing a sweater and a little hat that covered his ears just like this one. We have one of those pictures framed and hanging, so I look at it several times a day and now every detail. Right now, I'm looking at these pictures from today, and all I can see is my little baby Jacob. He was so, so cute. So beautiful. Such a gift. Such a joy.
And that hasn't changed one bit.
He's gotten big and tall. He's become so smart, so articulate, so funny. He's serious and thoughtful, yet always ready for a good joke, a good laugh.
Last night before bed, as Justin and I were saying goodnight to the kids, we were telling Jake how we couldn't believe this was the last time we were going to get to kiss a 5-year-old Jake goodnight. (He said, clever as ever, "Well, later in the night, after I'm asleep, you could just come in and kiss me again if you're feeling too sad about it, Mom." That's not the point, buddy! But it was clever, I appreciated the suggestions, and I in fact did sneak back in later on and give him another kiss.)
Kids' birthdays always have a bittersweet quality. Growth. Change. Maturity. I look at the boy that Jake is, and the young man that he is becoming, and I'm full of thanksgiving.
And I'm also just amazed that these years have passed. Wasn't it just yesterday that Justin and I were at Phelps in Sleepy Hollow, meeting our firstborn for the first time. In that moment, I remember being overwhelmed by the depth and power of the love that I felt for a person I had just met. Well now I've had six years to get to know this person, and I love everything about him.
One day, maybe years from now, you'll read this little note that I'm writing to you right now. You are so loved, my son. Daddy and I, we look at you and we're overwhelmed. You're an amazing person, a beautiful son, a wonderful big brother to Joshy and Ella. We are so thankful that God made you, and that He gave you to us.
On your birthday, we give you presents to celebrate the occasion. Daddy bought you a half-size skateboard that you'd been wanting and hoping for. You were SO excited when you opened it this morning. But the real gift of today is not a skateboard or new pencil crayons; the gift of today is you, is your life. You are so precious to us, Jacob Eby Galotti. We can't imagine life with you being a part of it.
You are so very loved. Happy Birthday!
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
A few days before Jake's birthday, we invited a bunch of his friends over for a couple hours to play some games, eat pizza, and of course, sing the birthday song to this little guy and eat some cupcakes.
A couple of my favorite moments were before the party began, catching Jake sitting all dressed in his Spiderman costume, just waiting.. waiting for his friends to arrive... waiting for the party to begin.
It was such a fun time, and Jake has truly been blessed with a bunch of wonderful friends.