It’s after the oldest girl and the only boy tie on shoes and wet my face with sloppy kisses and yell their good-byes as they pile in the car with their Daddy.
It’s after the feverish and restless baby girl is laid down in her crib and tucked in with a kiss as she rolls over with a sleepy sigh and begins to breathe sleep.
It’s after the afternoon coffee and the chapter of Frog and Toad and her warm and sleepy head rests near mine that Olivia pulls my arm tight around her middle.
Just hold me here like this, Mama, she whispers as we settle into a sagging couch and wrap warm blankets around us and let the flickering screen lull us both to sleep.
It’s after all of this, as the cooling fall air moves through open windows that I realize that He has taken my expectations and turned them upside down.
Before that first contraction and that final push that ushered in the second day of this new year, I sat full and round and stretched thin and the naming seemed fitting for the coming days ahead – I sat expectant, of a baby, of her cry and of all the unknown days ahead.
I felt full of expectation of Him as well – full of the wondering of all He would do and how I would stand witness.
They say that expectations kill relationships, but I would like to beg to differ. Expectations can heighten the senses, can deepen the search when they are placed on the very Person of God.
I have wanted to know Him deeper, in more intimate ways as we have sensed His Spirit moving and leading to places we don’t always understand or comprehend – I have become expectant to see Him and His Hand in all things and He has not disappointed, even when I have disappointed myself.
The week before this one I had sat with a group of women and listened as we were encouraged to ask God to renew our minds – to expectantly wait for Him to change old patterns and replace them with Him. I couldn’t even imagine – it seemed like a fairly big task, even for an infinitely big God to do in just one week.
I had mentioned, to this group of women, of a little girl who lives next door, who likes to sit on my front step and quietly pit my oldest daughter against my second – as though watching them fracture gives her great pleasure and I asked these ladies to pray for me. I come from deep fractures and I don’t know how to raise a family without them and the helplessness I feel as I watch my daughters war with each other leaves me cold and afraid.
I have an aunty and uncle who live in the cold and far north of Canada and despite my fracturing they have loved us and make that long, long drive down to us when they can and my children who have lost so much have gained so much because of them.
Before the good-byes and the we’ll see each other soon‘s, my aunt brought in a box of carefully selected gifts – ones that they knew would reach the hearts of my children to let them know of how special they are.
For my girls, it was a plethora of melty-beads.
This morning I stood in the kitchen while my girls sat around the table working on placing beads on little plastic trays and arranging them perfectly just so. Olivia, unusually quiet, mentioned that she was making something special for one of her friends down at Madison House and would I please iron it quickly when she had finished. I took the little tray in my hand and carefully placed the paper over top and ran the hot iron over it until each bead melted together and the heart that she had created was whole.
And it was then, after the others had left and the smallest was sleeping and she wrapped my arm around her middle that she placed that melted little heart in my hand.
It’s for you, Mama. I made you some love and I want you to have it because it’s yours.
It was in that moment that a portion of renewal came – when my eyes were opened to how my expectations were so limited in the face of a limitless God. He takes my pieces, my fracturing, my life that I view as broken and He takes it and He alone makes it whole. He takes a uncle and an aunt and woman who was and still is a sister, and a cousin and a niece and nephew and He takes them all and He redeems what has been so ugly.
He allows me to see where my definition of love fails deeply and where my expectations don’t expect enough and He lifts my eyes to see how He, through His very Son redefines the very definition of love. His Love covers every fracture and shattered place because of His body that was fractured and shattered for our very salvation.
His Love redefines our very lives and calls us out of the dark and broken places as whole and healthy in Him.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that <span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”>
God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, <span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”>
not that we have loved God <span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(C
)”>but that he loved us and sent his Son to be <span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(D
)”>the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. <span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(E)”>
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and <span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(F
)”>his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:9-12
My definition of love is so limited, so small, so broken. I love how I want to be loved and I miss the mark over and over again – until You open my eyes to see how You Love and how this Very Love can seep in through all the broken places in me and I become a conduit for Your Love. That You don’t just come near to me, but that You actually abide in me when I love Your love towards those around me is almost too big to comprehend. You have loved first, You pursued first, You reached out and provided the Way to fix all the fractures and shatterings that cut deep inside first so that I can love as You Love in return. You have redeemed before my mind has even comprehended and I am in awe of Who You are.