Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Much time during the early years of parenthood is spent correcting our little ones.We do a lot of other things too, hopefully. We nurture them. We love them. We laugh with them. We read to them. We play with them. But teaching them to recognize and correct wrong heart motives and behavior and then to replace it with soft hearts and right actions is a daily, sometimes hourly—sometimes more than hourly!—part of our job as a parent.

Depending on the specific situation, I might be learning about my child’s wrong behavior from another person who has seen something concerning and who feels that I, their parent, should be involved in the process of correction. Typically I’m thankful that I’ve been informed and I’ll quickly follow through in whatever way is needed.

A while back, a friend at church graciously but somewhat frantically mentioned to me that my little guy had climbed atop the pulpit and, perched like a Superhero, looked ready to fly. Once Josh’s two little feet were once again safely on the ground, I reminded him that as tempting as it can be for him to want to climb on the pulpit or baptismal, this is not acceptable behavior, and that this is a space where we keep our feet on the ground. With Josh’s hand nestled safely in my own, I stood and thanked the individual for letting me know and the situation was smoothly and lovingly resolved. (As an aside, and just to keep Josh’s reputation somewhat intact, he has obeyed these instructions and has not been found pre-flight atop the pulpit or balancing alongside the baptismal since that day.)

Most of the time, the above example is how it all goes down. Whether at the drop-in or at church or hanging out with friends or family, if an adult rightly speaks words of correction or brings to my attention a legitimate concern, I’ll thank them and follow through appropriately.

But once in a while, and every parent has had this experience, another adult will correct our children and it is a rebuke that’s completely misplaced and inappropriate. Though infrequent, in the times that this has happened, I have found myself strangely feeling the pressure to side with the adult even though it is clearly my child who could use an advocate.

Recently I was shopping for groceries with my three little ones and Jake was walking close beside me while the other two sat comfortably in the cart. We were about to put some limes in a bag when Jake asked me, “Mom, do you think maybe we should get ten limes, or five limes, instead of just three?” Before I had a chance to respond, a very strange thing happened: A middle-aged lady beside us looked down at Jake and firmly said, “You need to hush and keep quiet, son, and listen to your Mother.” Jake looked at her in bewilderment, and then turned his confused face my way.

My instinct was to somehow politely side with this adult, or to maybe say nothing at all and just keep moving along.

But Jake’s big, blue, rather confused eyes were looking up at me, and I knew that it was my son, and not this stranger in the grocery store, who needed a response.

I spoke gently: “Actually Ma’am, my son is helping me right now. He’s not doing anything wrong. I’m thankful for him, thankful that he’s such a great helper.”

The stranger kind of sniffed and turned up her nose as she went on her way. It was Jake’s response that mattered. He looked at me and simply said, “Thanks, Mom.”

I want my children to know that I’ve got their back. They know that when they’ve done something wrong I will correct them. I want them to know, with just as much certainty, that when they’ve done nothing wrong, I’ll defend them and even, at times, speak up on their behalf. I want them to know that although I’m a polite, reserved Canadian, I’m their Mama first, and the maternal part of my identity will trump the polite, Canadian part.

Situations like this are few and far between. For starters, the overwhelming majority of people whose paths we cross, whether strangers at the store or friends we know and love, are kind, sweet and encouraging folks who speak good things into our lives. Also, most of the time when an adult shares a word of concern or correction, it’s legitimate and brings about a helpful parental follow-up, ensuring that the situation is resolved or the behavior corrected or the apology spoken.

But once in a while, it is not the child who is wrong, but the adult. 

Like many things, balance has to play a part, along with a discerning case-by-case approach. There may be times when my child is innocent in a situation, but I will choose to remain silent in the moment and later use it as an opportunity to teach them that sometimes we absorb the insult and don’t speak up. But when I do choose silence, I want to make sure I’ve actually intentionally chosen it and not just allowed a weak, polite instinct to control my response.

The hundreds of times that we speak words of correction to our children are going to add up and have a cumulative effect, for good, in their lives and hearts. But those occasional moments in their childhood where we speak up in their defense, I can't help but think that those moments carry great weight, too.

Once in a while, and only when wisdom and discernment would indicate such, I think that maybe our children really do need to hear us speak up—graciously, politely--in their defense.

Monday, February 25, 2013


While scrolling through the archives of my posts in the search for an old post containing the recipe for oatbars, to send to my Mom-in-law, I came across this old post that, evidently, I created and then never posted. In addition to the enjoyment of looking at summer pictures in the middle of a long, cold February, it's warmed my heart to think about some friends that I love dearly. This now comes months after the fact, but I'd still like to share this.


The reality that we're almost at Thanksgiving jolts me into wanting record and remember a few more things from this past summer.

At the end of our time in California, we spent close to a week with our dear friends, Ed and Kim Lopez. Their home is a most welcoming, beautiful place. And we were so thankful for them, for their open hearts and their open home that they extended to us.

After three years since both our families moved away from New York, this was such a blessed opportunity to see them and fellowship with them.

To my two little backyardless-boys, this backyard was such a fun and peaceful place.

Boys played while parents talked. 

S'mores, pretty awesome. A bouncy water slide? Even awesomer!
The children (and Kim!) had a blast!

Ed and Kim's home is marked by many things, but one that stands out is such a commitment to Christ and to God's word. I loved walking through their home and having my heart pointed to Christ in so many different ways.

Unbelievably, in the five nights that we were there, I never took a picture of our families together. I guess that just means that we'll have to plan another visit one day.

We are so thankful for the love, kindness and hospitality of this dear family. This was such a restful and enjoyable part of our summer vacation.

We love you and miss you, Lopez Family!

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I have this daydream that one day I will meet my favorite singer/songwriter. When I meet him--and I have complete assurance that one day I will--I'll tell him how I grew up singing his songs. I'll tell him how my parents always listened to his music and sang along to his lyrics, and how they taught his songs to me from the time I was just a wee girl, barely yet able to talk.

I might share with this artist how, according to my parents anyway, I was humming along to his songs before I had ever spoken a word. (I'll share that part of my toddler-history with a  knowing smile because, well, all kids know it's wise to question the veracity of their parents' claims.)

As I grew from a young child into an adolescent then into an adult, the words of this artist's songs began to resonate more fully, the meaning of his words piercing more deeply.

But it's not just his songs that have made an impression, it's his life, too. In some ways this man has lived the life of a celebrity, full of the glory and power that comes from wealth and fame and prestige. But he's also a man who has lived through much sorrow and heartbreak. This makes it easy to relate with him, to feel as though I can sing the same words he sang, that they can become my own.

I know with certainty that one day I will meet him, this favorite songwriter of mine. No doubt I'll need to patiently wait my turn, as there will be thousands upon thousands of others also eager to greet him.

This musician? It's not Bob Dylan or Paul Simon or Bruce Springsteen or Roy Orbison, though I did grow up singing their songs too. No, it's a musician way greater than any of them, and whose lyrics surpass any before or after his time.

He's the greatest songwriter of history: King David, the man after God's own heart.

When I do meet him, when I one day humbly look into his face, I will thank him for his songs, and my feeble words of gratitude will seem entirely unable to communicate my debt.

I'll tell him that I've imagined what he, the king of Israel, would look like singing his songs of praise. I'll ask him if he would consider singing a favorite song of his for me.

If he concedes, if he lifts his voice in song, I'll turn away and look not to him but instead stand beside him, with my own voice raised, my own arms stretched high.

I wonder if we'll know the same tune, or if perhaps this Jewish king will smile, amused, when I tell him that my Jewish father taught me the Scottish covenanter version to these ancient Hebrew songs.

But somehow I trust that harmony will emerge, because we'll be in a place where harmony--sublime, perfect harmony--will always be the tune.

Side by side, king David and I will sing the words he wrote those thousands of years ago. As our voices raise, I'll not be thinking about the king beside me who penned these words, I'll be worshiping the glorious King before me.

All this is, in many ways at least, just a daydream. Maybe king David won't be singing the songs from the past. Maybe there will be a New Song we'll all be singing together. But while there is much about the new creation that is vague, there is also much that is made clear. There will be no more sin. Darkness will have been conquered by light. Death will be no more and life will be with no end. Each tear will be wiped dry. Love will have won over evil. Each one who trusted in Christ will be present and glorified. The new creation will no longer be tainted by sin. Every broken body, broken mind, broken heart will be perfectly restored. Faith will have been replaced by sight. And Jesus Himself, our Redeemer, will gloriously dwell with his people while we cry Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.

That day will come.

For now, I'll smile and dream about meeting the king after God's own heart, the musician whose words I sing every day of my life.

My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
~Psalm 57


Tuesday, February 19, 2013


It came at the end of what had been a long, hard and discouraging week. It came in the form of a child-directed explanation, simple and clear.

It would have come and gone in the dinner conversation wholly unnoticed if it weren't for Justin, who heard words of truth, who knew that I needed to pause and be willing to listen to my own counsel.

There was the clink of forks on plates, the cheerful din of little ones making a mess but enjoying their meal as five-year-old Jake spoke to us about school, telling us how he was worried that next year, Senior Kindergarten was going to be "so much harder" than what he has to do this year. His concern, childlike, but real, was that he was going to have to work harder the older he got. Perhaps on some level it would have been a better response to simply assure him that learning is fun and that, no doubt, he would continue to enjoy school in the future just as he has so far in the past.

Without reflection, I assured him of something else: "School may become harder as you get older, Jake. But there aren't many things in life that are worth much that aren't sometimes hard. Hard is OK."

Justin's eyes, warm and encouraging, found my own as he softly said, "It's true, Elisha. What you just said to Jake, it really is true. And not just for him. For you, too." 

My mind replayed the events of recent days, the pursuit to continue loving and giving even amid discouragement. Hard. But worth it.

I think of a friend who is pregnant and struggling with sickness and tiredness and discouragement during her pregnancy. Hard. But worth it.

Or another friend, looking for work, pounding the pavement, trusting that He will provide even as she continues to seek. Hard. But worth it.

Or the friend who is battling depression but clinging to Christ and His promises for peace amid much sorrow. Or parents facing the challenges and struggles of raising their children. Or singles longing for companionship but committed to purity, committed to trusting His time and His plan for their lives. Or spouses wrestling through sin and shortcomings but devoted to their marriage covenant. Or Christians longing to be free of sin, to put it to death, to pursue their Saviour.

There is so much in this life that is hard.

And so to Jake, to all of these dear friends, to myself, it is somehow wonderfully heartening to remember that there aren't too many things in life that are worth a whole lot that aren't, at times, really hard. Maybe most of all, it really is worth it to follow Christ and live the way God has prescribed through His word, even when it's incredibly hard.

Many others have said it differently and a whole lot better:

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. ~ I Peter 1:6-7

Thursday, February 14, 2013


My Mom always made the mornings of the special days of our lives so exciting. The night before was always full of anticipation because we knew that when we came downstairs, awaiting us at the kitchen table would be beauty of some kind.

Valentine's Day was no exception. I remember with such clarity and thanks all those homemade, lacy cards and gestures of love that my Mom spoke into our hearts during those growing up years. The mornings were always so magical.

I've tried to follow my Mom's example in this, and bake and decorate so that the morning holds a little bit of that same magic for my own three.

This morning the kids woke up to a kitchen full of red and white, with an abundance of hearts and sweets to be found.

People sometimes ask me why Josh always seems to be half-dressed in pictures. I'm sure it's a phase that will pass, but for the time being, he likes to sleep shirtless like his Daddy and he also loves the feel of his soft, brown blanket on his skin at night. So shirtless he has remained for many of the childhood morning pictures.

Sweet Ella was still asleep at this point, and didn't join us until a while later.

For Justin, I got him a gift that I knew would make his heartbeat speed up a little bit. Starbucks French Roast: Extra Dark. He knows that it's true sacrificial love on my part, that I insisted he take it to the church with him and have his favorite coffee at work for the next couple weeks.

The three little ones dressed in red, white and pink, ready for a day of parties and potlucks at school.

It's been a day full of red hearts and sweet hearts and way too much sugar.

But it's been sweet and lots of fun.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 11, 2013


Relationships, in any sphere of life, can sometimes be messy. We cause hurt to others, and we are hurt by others. Tears and heartache are part of the experience of living in a broken world.

It is hard to persevere in loving and giving to someone when it is met with cold thanklessness and unthinking complaints. It hurts.

The natural, graceless response of my heart is to simply move on, to find a warmer place to give and be spent, to allow indifference to replace the ache.

When it’s clearly communicated that my love or sacrifice given for another has meant nothing to them, there is an instinctive protective mechanism that begins clicking into place, forming a shield around a hurting heart. It’s a mechanism called indifference. I’m just not going to care about them quite so much anymore. I’m just going to do the bare minimum of what my identity as a Christian requires of me. I’m going to be kind, but I’m no longer going to give or sacrifice or pour myself out for them. They don’t see it anyway. They don’t receive it as love. What’s the point? I’m moving on. I’m done.

Tears of hurt flow while the temptation of indifference has magnetic and deceptive pull: Maybe it’s for the best to let my heart close towards them a little bit. They have, after all, really hurt me. Sure, I’ll continue being kind. But I’ll remove from their power the opportunity to hurt me again.

I’ll be indifferent to their unkindness. I’ll be indifferent to them.

My pastor, my husband, he sits beside me and we bow in prayer. His words go something like this: Take our hearts and heal them. Take our sadness and lift it. But humble us, too. Show us the ways that we have not loved as we could.

I’m almost annoyed by this. Why does he have to pray about humility right now? Why can’t I just let a little indifference take hold, bringing some semblance of solace? It’s not like I plan to be unkind or actually sin. I just want to not care so much, to develop immunity to being hurt like this again.

But praying for humility, and then knowing the grace of being given a little, reminds me of who I am, who Jesus is, and how He has loved me despite... everything.

Indifference didn’t mark my Saviour. No, a crown of sharp thorns, a slicing spear, three nails hammered through bone and flesh, these were the things that marked my Saviour. Not indifference.

Jesus, despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, He responded not with indifference but with the greatest demonstration of love that history has ever known.

And even now, in all my sin and coldness of heart and thanklessness and unthinking complaints, He pursues me with an everlasting love that knows no bounds. 

Indifference may be my instinct. But love--active, sacrificial love-- is my calling.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


The day of his birth draws to a close.

As I put my 5-year-old to bed just now, tucking him under the covers, he said to me, "Mom, would you sing the song that you always sang to me when I was a baby?" 

I've told him about this song; I've told him how, for the first three months of his life, Justin and I walked the halls of our small, New York apartment with this little guy while he cried and cried and cried... When it was my turn to walk, I'd often be singing.

Though I never planned to make the Romans Doxology the song that I sang to my first little one, it somehow became our song together in those early, endlessly-hall-pacing days.

Oh, the depth of the riches
The wisdom of God
How unsearchable are His ways
How profound are His judgements
So high above our thoughts
And His pathways no man can trace
For from him, and through Him, and to Him are all things
To Him be glory forever more
To Him be glory forever

The truths of those words are, of course, eternal.
The days of singing them as a lullaby quickly drew to a close.

So big he is, now. A five-year-old. A kindergartener. A big brother. Today, on his 5th birthday, his class celebrated the completion of the first hundred days of school. They marched in a parade and, with a big smile, Jake led the way.

My Jacob is growing and becoming. The more I see, the more I'm amazed at the grace we've been shown; This person, this incredible little guy, this is my son. He's pretty awesome.

And it's not just that he's clever and cute and funny and likable and joyful and entertaining and cool. Though he is all of those things.

It's also that he's growing into this boy who is tender and compassionate and careful and loving and humble and gracious. His heart, his inner person, it's soft and pliable and quick to hear correction and to respond with repentance.

And that's all grace. 

As he grows and experiences more of life, he's learning that there will be bumps and heartaches along with much fun.

One recent heartache comes to mind: Jake's kindergarten class is full of neighbourhood friends that he's played with for the past few years since we've lived in the Junction. He has no loss for buddies who want to hang out with him. But sadly, for his little heart, the one person that he desperately wants to hang out with is a girl who wants nothing to do with him. 

A couple weeks back, he started asking me indicative questions: "Mom, I always want to sit beside her and play with her and I always ask her to sit beside me at snack-time, and to play in the drama center with me but she never wants me around. What should I do? How can I make her want to play with me?"

I offered what advice I could: "Well, maybe just don't talk to her so much. Maybe you're kind of bugging her. Maybe don't ask her to sit beside you all the time."

Jake scorned this advice. "Mom, you're telling me to be rude to her? To ignore her? I won't do that. I won't be unkind to her."

I clarified that I would never encourage him to be rude to someone, but that she might just want him to stop talking to her so much.

He reflected upon this advice for a few moments, and I'll never forget the resignation in his voice as he concluded our conversation. "I just can't do that, Mom. I can not stop talking to her. I just... I just LOVE her face."

If he grows into the young man that he's on course to be, I'm fairly certain there will be many a girl who will want him to sit beside her in the days to come. But for now, he may just need to be patient. And listen to his Mommy's advice.

Dear Jake, 
We love you so much. Your life has brought such rich, profound joy and delight. Your life has already brought much good to so many. You are loved so deeply. And  already, at such a young age, you love others so well. I hope that never changes. I hope that the fierce loyalty and soft tenderness of my 5-year-old is something that stays a part of you always.  
More than anything else, we long for you to have faith in Jesus. We long for the words of the Romans Doxology to become words that you believe with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength. 
May God give you many, many more birthdays. And may He, in His time and for His glory, give you new life in His Son, so that you and I  may join hearts and sing in worship together:
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things
To Him be glory forevermore.

Happy Birthday, Jacob Eby Galotti.
You are so loved.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


These are words I wrote about Joshua, my middle child, when he was still a baby.

His tiny 10-month-old body rests heavy in my arms as I enjoy his warmth and sense the peacefulness of his sleep. As I cradle him, taking the opportunity to look closely at his beautiful face, his pudgy cheeks, his delightfully long eye-lashes, his button nose, I am at once filled with indescribable love and also deep fear.

The love part is so obvious. Here in my arms is this little person full of life and personality and charm and confidence and ten-month-old cleverness.

Indescribable love.

But here in my arms is this little person whose life and path and future I can’t ultimately control. Because I love him deeply, I worry deeply. Will he remain healthy and strong? Will he grow into a confident and self-assured young boy? Will he develop intellectually, emotionally, socially? Will he do well in school? Will he have any musical or athletic ability? Will he one day know the blessing of love and marriage? Will he be able to have children? Will he be a good father?

And ultimately, the question that weighs the most heavily of them all, will he know Christ? Will this child one day be given a new heart and a renewed mind? Will he be given eyes of faith that see Jesus as his Redeemer?

At times, these questions swirl in the heart of a parent and worry, fear and sin prevail.

And then there are those other times when God comes and makes His presence known with such power and grace that it kind of takes your breath away.

Today was one of those other days; I sit rocking, cuddling, and as my mind begins traveling down the unknown roads of my youngest son’s future, as fear begins to swell, He gently reaches down, placing a firm but tender hand of correction, of love. 

God spoke through His word, bringing scripture to mind that reminded me of His great faithfulness and His inexpressible goodness. The future is unknown, but the God who knows the future has made Himself known. The worrying heart can find rest in Him.

I sit with Josh cradled tight, remembering that he is being held in the arms of Someone else, Someone who is so good and so strong.

How can I persist in worry when I’ve been reminded of the God who upholds me? How can I be afraid when I’ve been reminded of the God whose arms extend with infinite reach and mighty strength, holding not only my own life but also those of my little ones?

There is no promise that the lives of my children will be easy. There is no promise that the hearts of my children will be redeemed. But there are promises about Him: My God is abounding in steadfast love and kindness. I will trust Him, and I will entrust my children to Him.

I look at my sleeping baby’s face and softly sing the words of an ancient, inspired lullaby.

Answer when I call,
O God who justifies.
In my stress you freed me,
Hear in grace my cries.
So in peace I lie down.
I will rest and sleep.
For, O Lord, you only,
Will me safely keep.

~Psalm 4