January held many new beginnings.
However, before those commenced, we celebrated the 7th birthday of our Barrett David!
My soul cannot register how my boys are not toddlers anymore. Time slips away from me during the long days, sleepless nights, and intentional stewardship of my family. I look up and the best surprise of my life somehow doesn't have chubby cheeks and hands anymore.
For his birthday, our family celebrated by having a "Barrett Day."
Barrett loves horses, so we began his special day riding ponies at the Stockyards. The precious young men overseeing the pony station purposefully appoint the most gentle, loving horse to him, and often times gift Barrett an additional ride free of charge.
On this occasion, Barrett and I guided the rest of the Crow Team on their horses. Brave and Braylee, chaperoned by her Daddy, followed closely behind.
Holding onto Barrett's waist, the smell of manure and the squishy sounds coming from underneath my shoes, accompanied us throughout the ride. These uncomfortable accessories do not distract me from soaking up the exuberant joy decorating my son's face. I have yet to be absent of tears witnessing him come alive by enjoying his moment on the horse.
Through my tears of gratefulness, I observed Brave, directly behind Barrett, internally contemplating the limitations of his horseback ride. Silently wishing he could untie his horse from the pony wheel and run free on his own terms, I was not surprised. He's never surrendered willingly, or without the presentation of a methodical and well-defined case, to conventional ways.
With a gift of God-sized confidence I aspire to possess, I doubt he considered his lack of horseback riding lessons or the gate enclosed around him. He's watched plenty of western movies such as Disney's, Three Musketeers, to know a thing or two about riding a horse. Teaching him the difference between "boundaries" versus "captivity" is a continuous conversation in our home.
While stomping through the fresh "fertilizer," Brave reminded me how God pursues us, through our own mess, never detoured by intolerable circumstances.
A God who breaks through limits, no stronghold confines Him. We know the truth: "all power belongs to Him," (Psalm 62:11). Nothing prevents Him from capturing our heart. He rescues His children from destitute situations and sets them down in safety. Brave is an image bearer of God's fun-loving and fierce-loving nature.
"Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance."
Psalm 16:5-6 CSB
Behind Brave, was Braylee.
This was her first experience riding a horse. In the past the opportunity intimidated her, so she studied her brothers contently from afar. On this particular day she decided it was time to participate.
Holding onto the saddle horn, she focused on maintaining her balance and dignity. Finishing the first lap, she looked relieved. Realizing the horse was still moving forward, so her ride was not complete yet, her face clearly expressed mixed emotions for the pony beneath her. Carrying a determination to do anything her brothers do, she fought through the discomfort and apprehension with each bumpy step.
She relied on her father's secure presence beside her, my encouraging words, and her brothers' examples to follow. She journeyed through her fear and conquered it because she did not depend on her own strength.
Braylee's experience reminded me of the gift we have in God, especially in times of uncertainty.
First, in the Word of God we have Jesus' example to follow. We have not been left to navigate life blindly.
"The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I also will love him and will reveal myself to him.” John 14:21 CSB
Next, we have the Holy Spirit's comfort and counsel. His whispers of truth encourage our hearts to not give up or give in to easier ways.
"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you." John 14:26 CSB
And finally, the safe and secure home we have in God our Father, always has an open door policy.
"Jesus answered, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." John 14:23 CSB
The image of Barrett and me at the head of the Crow Team that day has stayed highlighted in my soul.
Brave is a natural leader. Braylee, a joyful companion. Brock doesn't mind being front and center like our "book-ends."
Barrett and I prefer to maintain our own definition of a peaceful and perfect environment. If that requires us to lead, we'll do it, but we secretly hope it doesn't. It's uncomfortable for us to "go first," unless we've signed off on a well-defined plan to guide every step.
The difference between me and Barrett is he prefers a solo performance, without help from anyone - no one to lead him, no one to follow him. In his attempts to implement his creative and unconventional ideas, he does not ask for assistance. The only times he doesn't resist my help is when he is on top of a horse (or needs me to make him food). Something about the multi-sensory experience of a horse relaxes his body enough to embrace my support. In a state of quiet rest, he openly receives his mother's care.
My preference is to cheer on the artists from behind the curtain. The stage lights frighten me. I'm at peace nurturing and encouraging the hearts waiting for their turn on stage. It is life-giving to me. I try to extend and stretch my arms as far as I can to embrace as many thirsty souls as possible.
From behind the stage though, God is revealing the barriers preventing my stretch from growing further. Perfecting the placement of curtains, cords, and props keeps me distracted. And, the walls and set designs have become obstacles to my growth. All of these items are a necessity I need to release from my plate, so I'm freed to step out from behind the curtain in obedience.
Like Barrett is learning he must calm down to welcome his parents' help, may we learn the ways of quieting our soul, so personal thoughts, interpretations, and actions do not distract our attention away from the ever flowing help the Holy Spirit desires to gift.
Perhaps, we are sitting in the tension of releasing control to receive the unknown. With lights shining brightly, a noisy crowd, and the overwhelming hustle and bustle from the stage crew and cast, may we remember:
It is not about performance. It's about obedience.
It is not about vindication. It's about serving from God's heart.
It is not about hustling. It's about trusting.
It is not about perfection of a craft. It's about surrender.
It is not about us. It's about God's glory shining through our weakness.
These are the values defining my new season, that seems to be cascading in, wave by wave.
Some of the new beginnings our family has experienced this year include transitioning Brave to homeschool. Braylee enrolled in dance class with squeals and skipping. Brave began piano lessons, a gym class, and joined a STEM club.
Barrett said two new words this year: "hungry" and "cookie." Both words are excellent choices for the growing, energetic boy he is. This long awaited, fervently prayed for new beginning for him, ushered in sacred moments we hold dearly while waiting to hear more.
My prayer for Barrett's 7th year of life is he concludes this year singing even a few words of a favorite song. He deeply desires to sing and my heart aches for this desire to be fulfilled for him. I can't wait to hear the new song God puts in his mouth to glorify Him. Would you agree in prayer with us for this desire of his heart to be fulfilled?
New beginnings are exciting and humbling. Becoming a beginner again means trusting your Teacher to show you the steps you haven't taken before, but He has. It means resolving it's okay to rest more often and go at a slower pace, while your body adjusts to a new normal.
May we not be afraid to begin again, for truly there's no end in Him...Each day, hour, and minute has a fresh start buried within it.
Love to you, Friends,