Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Living in the tension

Some of the stories I hear from the kiddos at camp make my heart ache. They bring me to tears, and make me cuddle my own children closer, reminded that not all children have someone to cuddle them. Jayci asks why my eyes are wet, and I dont know how to explain that we live in a broken world. A place where kids are hurt, abused by those who should be loving them best. That some kiddos don't get enough to eat every day. Some witness shootings, or don't meet their fathers. Some spend every Christmas alone . . .

In the very next moment, I lay Jayci down in her bed and she prays in thankfulness for all the kiddos. We snuggle until she drowsily whispers goodnight, and I tiptoe out of the room, careful not to trip on piles of princess dresses and camp t-shirts.  I grab my camera and tromp down the stairs to watch the kiddos play their "night game." Sometimes they run from "flower bandits" as they bring water all across camp. Or maybe they're having a giant food fight, or spraying each other mercilessly as they "storm the castle" or rescue the "damsel in distress." Their shrieks make me smile, and they stop for a sopping wet hug as they run past. I wipe water from their cheeks and frame my shot, trying to capture the innocence of their play. Trying to remind them, and myself, that they are still kids.

And the sun sinks low over the hills, casting brilliant colors on the clouds and silhouetting children as they run through the dusk. My breath catches at the beauty of each new sunset, God's subtle and brilliant reminder of His creativity. His goodness. His beauty. His love.

I am caught off guard by the tension of beauty in the midst of brokenness. Of pain and joy, inextricably linked.

As the sun dips, the shadows deepen to darkness. Pink and orange fade to blue and purple. And then, a single contrail rends the sky with a brilliant pink streak, looking for all the world like a tear in the fabric of the clouds, offering a glimpse into the beautiful light and splendor behind. I am reminded that the torn places, our wounds, our scars - they are the very places that rend our shells and give space for Christ to shine through.

As we were leaving to drive back to camp last Sunday afternoon, we pulled back up to our house (because Adam forgot his wallet, this happens more often than you can imagine). Stopped outside, the car idles, while Caden babbles, and Zack raps under his breath along with the Lecrae music coming from our blown speaker. I am distractedly checking emails or facebook on my phone while Adam runs inside and then re-locks up and alarms the house.

Mommy. Mommy. Jayci is insistent, and I turn my attention from my phone to smile at her. What is it sweet girl? I ask, trying to remain patient rather than irritated at the interruption. I was talking to God she said, and He says the sky is peach. I look at her quizzically: it's midday and the sky is brilliant blue, spotted with white clouds. Also, I am surprised she knows the color peach at all, I've never heard her use it to describe a color and not a fruit. Good job coming up with that color sweetie, I say, but it's actually blue right now. I wink and turn to my phone as Adam gets back in the car, and we drive to camp, navigating drive-through dinner, replacing Caden's pacifier 748 times, mopping up spilled diet coke (mine) and french fries (also mine, I'm a little clumsy).

As we are pulling up to camp, the sun is just beginning to set. I look at the sky in amazement and punch Adam in the arm excitedly. The sky is totally peach I tell him. Not orange, not pink. Peach. He is thoroughly confused since he missed our earlier exchange. I desperately dig for my camera (which is nowhere within reach) while explaining. Jayci tells us, matter-of-factedly, See? I told you the sky was peach, God wanted us to see it so we would know it was beautiful.

God cares. His plan and His world are beautiful, despite the pain and brokenness, or perhaps even because of it. He reminds us, just when we need it most, of His beautiful goodness and that He is taking care of my children and the kiddos. He loves Jayci enough to give her a perfectly-peach sunset. And He loves each of the kiddos enough to bring them here to experience His goodness, even if just for a week.

That night as we prayed before bed, I thanked God with Jayci for speaking to her, for sharing His creation and sunset with her. And we ended our prayer, like we always do, with "we love you Jesus. Amen."  And Jayci said: "mommy, God says He loves us too."
He loves us. And cares for us. And is always there beside us, reminding us of His goodness even as we doubt it and question His plans. He is big enough, strong enough, beautiful enough to handle our questions. And He gives us beautiful sunsets and declarations of love through a sweet three year old. I am grateful, and am learning to live in the tension. Because in the tension I cling most tightly to my Savior. We live in a broken world, and I am reminded that our brokenness becomes the very thing that draws us closer to Christ, cracked and broken vessels that shine His light to a hurting world.


  1. Another amazing post from such a beautiful person! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. What a deep soul. Ah, to hear with the faith and clarity that our babies do. Have a GREAT week at camp. Seek out that beauty amongst the broken.

  3. Becca, this was beautiful. I LOVE your blog and I LOVE that you and Adam are so devoted to sharing God' love with these children. You guys are a blessing in a million more way than one. I pray God pours it all back in and more.

    Love you!!

  4. Peach sky.
    Such a beautiful blessing.

  5. A friend sent me over here after I tweeted about seeing the glory of God in the sunset, feeling like he painted it just for me. *ahhhhh* You articulated it so perfectly... Loved reading it! Praying for you and your family to shine His glory as brightly as the skies!

  6. Sounds like Jayci has a great line of communication going there!

  7. Becca, your words are incredibly captivating as your articulate the many ways the Lord speaks to you throughout your day. You and Adam are impacting the lives of so many children, and your love for them is evident! Jayci has stolen my heart implicitly! She is absolutely precious!!! Give her lovies from Aunt Angie I love the Stanley Clan more than words could ever say!!!

  8. I love the way you look at things and I am in awe of the way you can put your thoughts into such beautiful words. Seeing the 'positive' within the 'negative' is such a gift - I know God gave us all the ablility to do this, it's just harder for some than others. Your spirt shines through and I believe Jayci is going to be just a little beacon of light just like her mom and dad. So much love in your home...


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