The seeds of the sea oats fall in the late summer. The sea oats bend in the wind, whisking away a place in the sand for their seeds to be buried. Seeds that are left exposed do not survive. The wind, which appears to have the ability to break and destroy the sea oats, is the very thing that brings new growth.
As I looked at my kitchen, the one thing I knew for sure was that I had never, nor would I probably ever, be called into the world of catering.
What a mess!
I couldn't see the counters. The dishwasher, as well as the sink, was full.
Where to start?
Music, of course.
Isn't that where everything begins?
"Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him
and praise His name."
I had much to praise God about and much to thank Him for.
When Seth recently invited the three of us to a party he was giving, I volunteered to help with the food.
Actually, I begged for him to let me help with the food.
He said no. He thought everything was covered, and he wanted me to just come and enjoy myself.
But, at the last minute, he was worried that there might not be enough food, and he asked me if I could help fix a few things.
Music to my ears!
The party was wonderful.
The food was as plentiful as the laughter.
Watching Seth proudly introduce his brother to his friends and colleagues filled my heart with more than it could possibly hold.
So with each dirty pan scrubbed, and each dish washed and dried, I gave thanks.
I could see my counters again.
The dishwasher was humming. The crock pot that had prepared the much complimented barbeque beef was soaking.
I took a break from the kitchen, and walked to the back of the house to check on Jim and Ethan.
Ethan was in his room with the door shut.
I walked in, and he was stretched out on his bed.
He said, "Mom, I don't want you to think I don't love Jesus and that I'm not a Christian but . . ."
I finished his sentence for him.
"But . . . you don't like my music."
I reached down to kiss him and said with a smile, "That's okay. God understands. And besides that, I don't like all of your music either."
He smiled back.
As I closed his door and walked back to the kitchen to turn my music not off, but the volume down, I remembered "The Seed."
"The Seed" that had been planted when Ethan was six years old. He had come to me and said, "I asked Jesus into my heart, and He came."
Not knowing what else at the time to say, I said, "Would you like to go and talk to the pastor?"
He said "Why? I asked Him into my heart and He came."
I thought of "The Seed" when Ethan first awoke from his coma. And one of the first things I asked him was if he remembered asking Jesus into his heart when he had been a little boy, and did he still believe that Jesus came?
He mouthed the words, "I'm sure of it."
He has told me once or twice since then that he wasn't sure anymore.
He has been hurt, both physically and emotionally. Dreams have been wiped away. Confusion and despair have crept into his mind and his heart.
We can always pat ourselves on the back for our faith but, if we are really honest, haven't we all at one time or another wondered, doubted, or questioned what we know about God.
Oh, how He shines the brightest in our darkness.
How He loves to speak in our doubts and confusion.
It's the storms, that obey His commands, that He walks upon to rescue us.
Our brokenness is His invitation to come in.
There have been times over the last seven years when my music, or talk of going to church, or anything spiritual, would set Ethan off.
He would become angry, defiant.
He would say things about God that would break my heart.
I would try to reason with him, scold him, shame him. Anything to get him to stop.
I even talked to our pastor about it.
His response was not what I was expecting, although it should have been.
"Thank God Ethan is being honest. God can always work with honesty."
I finally realized that Ethan was pouring out. He was doing the same pouring-out that has brought so much healing into my own life.
I quit trying to stop him from his rants. I trusted God could more than handle what Ethan was saying.
His words, although they were painful to hear, were part of his healing.
I decided to show Ethan the same grace that God has shown me.
When he would pour out, and my tears and fears wanted to come, I would say, "Ethan, you can say whatever it is you want to say about God and to God. There is nothing you can say or do, that will separate you from His love."
"Ethan God loves you. He gave his only son Jesus for you. He will not leave you because you are hurt, angry, or confused. He will never leave you. He is waiting for you to come back to Him."
"Ethan, God knows that we are all weak. He knows that we are made of dust. When he sees you and hears you, He understands and He's not angry with you. He feels compassion toward you."
I've learned to trust that "The Seed" is alive, and it is being protected and nurtured by the One who put it there.
As much as I want to, I can't make it grow and bring forth fruit. That has been hard for this momma to remember.
Henri Nouwen said, "A seed only flourishes by staying in the ground in which it was sown. When you keep digging the seed up to check whether it is growing, it will never bear fruit."
I remember those words when I so desperately want Ethan to have my joy, my peace, my hope.
God wants Ethan to have his own.
And he will.
Walking back into the kitchen, thinking about the words Ethan had said ("I don't want you to think I don't love Jesus or that I'm not a Christian . . . "), I gave thanks that "The Seed" is safely in God's hands. And He is faithful.
I gave thanks that God had given me a little peek deep down into Ethan's heart, to see that "The Seed" is alive and well.
"Then Job answered the Lord and said: "I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You." Job 42:1-2
Giving Thanks for . . .
497. A six year old's heart.
498. The God that plants "The Seed."
499. The promise that "The Seed" is in His hands.
500. The Grace that invites me into His gates and courts.
501. Parties, friends, good food, and laughter.
502. A God who invites us to pour out the old, and a God that pours in the new.
503. Love expressed.
504. Barbecue beef, mini corned beef sandwiches, chicken salad.
505. Watching the sun set with the people I love.
506. Being invited.
507. Ethan hearing God's truth every Sunday because he can't stay home alone.
508. A peek inside a heart.
509. Fall Bible studies.
510. A Friday night with a room full of Marys.
511. A day at the pool.
512. Being rejected-because it drives me straight to the arms of Jesus and that's where I want to be.
513. That all means all and that wiped out means wiped out. (Colossians 2:13-14)
514. Healing for a friend and her willingness to use her pain to help other women.
515. A little longer with my sweet old dog.
516. Reading a new book for the second time.