what our children need--growing up in this broken, abusive world

Ours is a broken world. Gross understatement, I know. And a harsh reality we would rather not dwell on. Especially as mothers with precious little ones clamoring around our ankles, resting against our breasts, looking up at us with those huge eyes and so many "whys." Tender innocents, appropriately naive.

We hear of the atrocities--the awful, unspeakable, aching realities. And we beg God never to let our children experience the soul-deep pain and emotional trauma of abuse.

And yet, in this broken world in which we live, it happens. And it happens far, far too often.

And these tender, frail olive shoots--the sweet children sitting around our tables--they depend on us.

They look to us to be their fruitful vine, producing fruit from the vine, filling their sippy cups with juice, or asking us to turn their water into juice because "you're supposed to be like Jesus, Mommy."

And yes, one of mine really did ask, really did believe I had the power to change his water into the juice he so badly wanted. But I couldn't.

Because I'm not Him.

And I've been thinking about this post for a few weeks now, thinking how to phrase things, how to express what I don't fully understand, what I too often fail at.... How I need to point my children to Jesus even when His reflection is as if in a foggy mirror.

And I know I'm not alone. And you need to know you're not alone. That we're in this together.

We are the mommies. The fruitful vines. The ones squeezed out, pressed, stomped on. At times. Yes.

And too often, in the midst of the pressure, I don't see the pressures my kids are working through too, don't take the time to be more gentle, to listen better. 

But when I do, I realize the beauty of it.

As the moms, we're the ones that can nurture and comfort. The ones that get the "I love you mommy because you bake all the things" when we really just baked scones because we ran out of every other breakfast item in the house...

But we provide our precious, pressured little ones with a measure of comfort and joy. We push away their griefs, wipe their tears. We give them soup and scones and try our best to strengthen their hearts with stories and hugs. And (if we're lucky) we get to be the ones that have what it takes to make them smile again. 

But, ugh. They absorb more than we realize. They get it. Way too early. 
They understand way too much. They think way too deep. And they hurt.
Sometimes in ways we'll never know. 

They are our olive shoots. The precious little ones around our tables. And they're just trying to grow up, to be like us, to live the dream they've not yet dreamed--because they still think there's a way to be a super hero or a princess and earn a paycheck for it.

Our tender little olive shoots.

And we are the mommies, the ones tasked with helping them "grow well in rocky and arid conditions."

By the marvelous mercy of God, somehow "their roots help hold the soil in place and prevent erosion." And the questions they ask and the way they love and the words they speak and the hugs they give--oh! they hold us together. They are what we embrace as the worthwhile definition of "family!" And life just wouldn't be the same without them.

They push us to know God better, to live life more sincerely (because they see through every hypocritical farce), to love more fully.

These are our children.

And like the olive tree in Israel, like the Jewish people too, "thriving in an inhospitable part of the world," so our children are learning to thrive, despite the depravity of this world we brought them into. They're learning that Jesus loves them. Enough to take away the sin of the world. Their sin. And the sin of those that sin against them too.

And it's hard and wonderful to teach them that.

So we sing "O Grant Me Wisdom From Above" because we know we don't have enough on our own. And we pray for grace and strength and perfect peace. Tears trickle down our cheeks, burn in our eyes and throat. And we hope God will send rainbows if there must be rain. Hot cocoa and firesides if there must be snow. And aloe and swimming pools and lemonade if there must be scorching sun.

And in every season, in every trial, with every "why" and "please," we trust our Father, who loves us as we love them ... and more. Who works in ways we cannot understand. Who will redeem this world. Someday. And bring His heaven down to reign on the Eden-restored planet of peace.

Until then, we lift our eyes to Him and teach our children to lift their eyes too. Because (unless He returns before they get the chance) they too will be the parents one day. Sooner than it could ever seem possible, I'm sure. And they'll be the ones pointing their own little ones to the hope of Jesus in their broken, sin-cursed world.

And He is our hope. In this generation. And forever.

And the best thing we can be for our children--what they desperately need us to be--are desperate, dependent children of God who speak to them humbly, who listen, who cry, who repent and thrive in the Word.

We must live by faith, in full hope (full confidence) in the Redeemer who is accomplishing His work and who will make all things new in His time.

And tonight I'm praying peace and hope and joy for you and yours as well as mine.

May the grace and love of Jesus be with your spirit, 

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