Have you ever held someone you love, heart to heart, and felt that slowing, filling in your chest that only love brings? For me, that feeling comes only from my children and my mother. When I cuddle my kids, when I get a long hug from my mom, there is some kind of spiritual level communication that occurs. Sometimes it almost hurts, sometimes nothing ever felt so good. The scientist in me wonders if the heart actually swells in some way in that moment, when you really relax and reconnect with that person.

I had one of these moments in the midst of chaos yesterday...just a brief moment, holding Caleb and then holding Amelia as they woke from their naps. One blink of an eye, and I had moved on to correcting the squabbling over lap space and trying to get Caleb to stop whining. But just that moment...it reminded me of the heart-level love response I have for these children. The type of love that easily gets lost in the day to day work of life. I wonder if that mother-response I feel deep in my chest is Christ-love flowing over for a brief second? All those mother-hen, nursing mother references in the Bible seem to collide in my own heart for just a moment.

I am reading an excellent book on parenting, one of those books that is literally page after page of "aha!" moments and flashes of recognition between the poorly articulated thoughts in my own head and the tersely written prose of this author. At the very least, this mother/author is a kindred spirit, someone who parents much like I do, who has the same strengths and weaknesses. Leslie Leyland Fields writes,
No longer do my wildly fluctuating levels of fulfillment measure the worth of the whole parenting enterprise, the worth of my own parenting, or the worth of my children. The questions "Is parenting really worth it?" and "Am I fulfilled as a parent?" are, finally, irrelevant. I ask myself instead, "Am I parenting faithfully? Am I parenting consistently? Am I honoring God in how I raise my children?" This is what I am responsible for. God is responsible for all the rest. Every day his sure hand is beneath my children, just as it is beneath me. This is our deepest hope and greatest pleasure. It is a hope that also frees our children as we release from them a weight they were never meant to bear: our expectations that they'll make us happy. Then every moment of delight they bring is extra, grace upon grace, like a jig joyously erupting before a startled audience. We can laugh for days in the unexpected dance.
Part of me aches that failure ever has to enter this relationship between mother and child. What I truly long for - more than the adventure I longed for as a teen, the success I craved as a young adult, the peace I lusted after as a young mother - is to be like Christ. The painful truth is that I will fall short of that goal until I open my eyes in heaven. I hate being a sinner. I hate wounding my children with my poor choices or anger or lack of patience. But it is inevitable, to some extent...because, apart from Christ, none of it amounts to anything. All my work, good intentions, promises to myself and God - without the power of Christ, I will still fail. I am thankful that there is One who loves my children perfectly. The swelling in my chest when I hold them is the fervent desire to love them as perfectly as I am capable.

Commentary on the curse & pervasiveness of evil from my all-time favorite female musician, Bonnie Raitt:
We were born with our eyes wide open
So alive with wild hope now
Can you tell me why
Time after time they drag you down
Down in the darkest deep
Fools and their madness all around
Know that the light don't sleep

Step into the silence
Take it in your own
Two hands
And sprinkle it like diamonds
All across these lands
Blaze it in the morning
Wear it like an iron skin
Only things worth living for are
Innocence and magic, amen

~ Silver Lining, written by David Gray