Over the past several months, Gabby has decided to start a rock collection. She declared it one day when we were out on a walk through the city and she picked up a dirty old rock from the sidewalk. I made her keep it outside on the window ledge of our front porch because I didn’t want her to bring the gross, germ-infested, God-only-knows-where-this-has-been object inside her room.
In the months since, Gabby has maintained a collection of about 20 “pebbles” that she keeps on the window ledge. I use that word loosely because some of her rocks are actually halves of pistachio shells that she found on the ground and picked up because she thought they looked really unique. Excuse me while I gag just thinking about that. She’ll find rocks as we walk to and from school or go to the park and she’ll carefully put them in her pocket until we can get home and she can display them appropriately on our front porch.
Keep in mind that we live in the middle of the city. We’re not talking about rare minerals, or even stones bigger than the size of a quarter. Most carry the same, gray hue and none have a shiny luster. What makes Gabby bend down and pick one up and just walk by others is beyond me. To me, they just look like, well, rocks. To her, however, these are precious . . . special . . . they are her gems, and as soon as they get the chance to become a part of her rock collection, their value increases exponentially. Even if they were once, say, a pistachio.
Several years ago, I remember reading a story from the Washington Post about world-renown violinist, Joshua Bell, playing for nearly 45 minutes while dressed undercover in the busy L’Enfant Metro station during rush hour. He played some of the most difficult and beautiful pieces ever written on a $3.5 million Stradivarius violin. During the public concert, Bell, who easily makes $1,000/minute at his concerts, made $32.17. Only a handful of people stopped to listen to him for more than a minute. The article pointed out how people’s busyness, pre-occupied mindsets, and iPod headphones limited their ability to recognize beauty and genius even when it was right in front of their eyes.
I have the opportunity this week to have a few days away from my kids. Brad and I are attending the ARC Conference together and enjoying the time to reconnect with each other, our church leadership team, and most importantly, Jesus. My favorite part of opportunities like this, besides the hotel room that we can darken like a cave and sleep past 5:45 AM, is the perspective that it can bring.
In the last 13+ years of working in ministry, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with lots of kids, teenagers, parents, and grandparents. I’ve watched and gleaned principles that I wanted to incorporate into my family one day, and have seen those that I did not want to adopt into my lifestyle as a mom. I remember thinking as an idealistic, single twenty-something, “I want to be a fun mom. One that always has time to play games and encourage learning and answer questions. A mom who exemplifies a love and passion for Jesus in the every-day moments of life and who is patient. Kind. Funny. Safe. Joy-filled. A Frankenstein collection of all the best parts of parents I’d seen that would create a new breed of mom that would change the world.”
Dear Twenty-Something Leah,
Newsbreak. Having small children is exhausting. Very exhausting. You thought you were exhausted in college, but that was some mere fatigue. And little kids can be whiny. Very whiny. Like good material for new torture techniques kind of whiny. It’s difficult to be World-Changing Mama when you’re up to your elbows in Diaper-Changing Mama. Being a mom is hard. Really hard. Sometimes, you will skip the learning opportunity and put on a video. You will be that mom that you condemned in your grad paper about media use and children. And you will not always look like Jesus letting the little children come unto Him. Maybe more like Jesus running out the merchants in the Temple. You will bear a strong resemblance to Him at times.
One thing I’ve been reminded of this week, however, is a very important reminder to Thirty-Something Leah.
Don’t miss the magnificence of the rocks in the midst of the gray hues and lack-luster days of fatigue.
Don’t miss the genius of musical masterpieces in the midst of the rush-hour demands of life.
Getting some space (and yes, sleep) from the monotony and pace of life’s schedule allows you to appreciate the beauty in sticky hugs, bedtime prayers, and even the pistachio shell moments of the day that are pretty ugly on the surface, but when seen in the right light, can be an exquisite, unique pebble in the grace of God’s collection in your life. I’m pretty sure forty-something Leah has a thing or two to write to me about teenagers, and the charm that is found in the simplicity and innocence of toddlers. Slow down, Leah. Leave space to let Jesus point out the jewels hidden in the cracks of the day that are just dying to be a part of His seemingly haphazard collection. And listen to the music that’s in the belly-laughs and light-hearted giggles of your kids each day. It’s magnificent.
I’m living a dream and I’m so grateful. Thank you, Jesus for this incredible opportunity and the grace-filled moments to recognize it as such.