The Undoing

August 11, 2010 | 23 comments

When day’s first light came, I rustled wee ones from quilted cocoons. I brushed lips against soft cheeks and fluttering eyes, and dressed little limbs in cotton and denim. These are the everyday Mountaintop Moments of home, the moments that swell this Mama-Heart.

But it happens sometimes, when I’m on the mountain: I don’t see the mouth of the volcano behind me, nor do I remember the eruptible lava within me.

The clock ticks. The morning pace frenzies. And between cutting off bread crusts, and the spelling review, and the search for the missing sock, these tectonic, volcanic plates within me diverge.

Unchecked, I erupt. With little warning, I spew lava and poison tones. I leave a home under mounds of ash and pumice — this little Pompeii here on an Iowa farm. Wasn’t it just a moment ago that I delivered the peaceful wake-up call?

Somewhere between the rousing of sleepy girls and the harried steps to the back door — I lost it. Words rose up, burning the throat and letting go — covering wee ones in ash and lava.

“Shoes on, girls! Come on, come on!” And the lava rose.

She’s crying because she doesn’t want to wear the charcoal-colored coat. She wants the pink one instead, because the “gray one is ugly.” Someone can’t find their folder … and where’s the right shoe, Mommy?

It’s contagious. They’re erupting, too — and little lava streams join to make a raging river.

“Yes, you must wear that coat! It’s the only warm one you’ve got. You left the other in the locker, remember?” These words … they look harmless as I type them into a screen — but I remember how they sounded. They were accusing and crimson-red, dripping from a hot, angry tongue.

I can still feel the jaw tighten, the shoulders tense. Can hear the mama footsteps stomping to retrieve the backpack left by a table with half-eaten breakfasts. The bus is almost here!

I back the van out of the garage, and then she tells me she’s forgotten her bear. It’s “Letter ‘B’ Day” at school, and she needs that bear! I heave one last exaggerated sigh, stop the van and run back inside. Hands of this bristling mama grab soft yellow bear paws, and I run back outside.

I look in the rear-view mirror at reticent faces … and I know they know it, too:

I blew it.

Would it have been the end of the world if we’d missed the bus? Was it worth the ash I left them in?

The bus is late. I see it slowing to pick up kids a quarter-mile up the road. There’s still time to pray, to ask them and Him for forgiveness.

I had shown them how little I was made of — this volcanic flesh erupting in me.

And now I had a chance to show them how much I’m made of — not I, but Christ that is within me. He’s given me this grace of time and space to blow the ashes off this mess.

They drop to their knees behind me, and I reach a hand into the back seat to join the jumble of 20 little fingers.

“Can I start this time?” I ask them.

They nod.

“Dear God, This mommy is sorry. I didn’t need to yell.”

I beg Him for forgiveness … and I beg them, too. They open their eyes, and throw arms around my neck.

“We forgive you, Mommy,” the oldest one says says. And the lava cools in this Grace Embrace. New heat rises, springing from tear ducts, running a warm-river reminder down my cheeks: I have been forgiven.

Here at Getting Down With Jesus, we participate almost weekly in Ann Voskamp’s Walk With Him Wednesday series. This week, we consider spiritual parenting.

We’ve been talking about what it means to prayerfully parent on my Facebook page, too. Feel free to join the discussion there … or here.

And friends … thanks for the grace of allowing me to repost from the archives. It’s been one of those weeks, and I’m doing what I can to manage my time and prevent future volcanic eruptions on this farm. ~smile~

Photo: Lava, from stock.xchng

by | August 11, 2010 | 23 comments


  1. Red Letter Believers

    Keeping committments to our kids is tough. They look to us to follow through. But when we fail, and our honest, they are so forgiving. That's the beauty of a child that I wish would carry over to adults.

  2. Jessica

    I'm that mommy too.
    That forgiveness and understanding when I blow it is humbling. They teach me more than I teach them sometimes.

  3. Janis@Open My Ears Lord

    Thank you for showing us the way to undo the damage instantly, and restore His grace and love to the mistakes we make along the way.
    Good post.


  4. ~*Michelle*~

    wow…….another great post.

    The analogy of the eruption and the destruction of the lava is perfect. I have found myself in that place all too many times.

    Praising God for His forgiveness and that same forgiveness that is within our children.

  5. Rosario

    Been there, and done that. But I am thankful that I am able to put my pride aside and ask for forgiveness. Thank you for sharing this post. It was a healing word for me.

  6. Andrea

    What a great witness to your kids to say…Mommie made a mistake and she is truly sorry!
    Blessings and prayers,

  7. Sara

    The ash has covered my home and little lives entrusted to me as well. This momma has learned and still learning the powerful force of destruction lying dormant in my tongue and the joy of His Word washing away any stain streaks on our hearts.

    happy day,

  8. jasonS

    Great story, Jennifer. We have to model these things for our children or they will not understand. Forgiveness is central to everything.

    Thank you.

  9. Graceful

    SO glad you posted from the archives, as I have not read this one. And this mom can relate all too well to the boiling-hot lava tongue, the words that lash and rip. I, too, have asked my children and my God for forgiveness, time and time again.

  10. Runner Mom

    This is one from the archives that I need to hear! School hasn't started yet..a few more days…and then, mercy! I want to keep this close to my heart! Beautiful, sweet friend!

  11. Lyla Lindquist

    There it is. (I can start marking them off for you if you want. 🙂 Fourth paragraph past "I blew it."

    …not I, but Christ that is within me.

    This is the way your heart beats, friend. You can't seem to help but point to Him and to the cross. This is what drives you and trust me, this is what we see.

    You are cross-eyed. (I'm keeping that one.)

  12. Linda

    Oh Jennifer, although my "little ones" are now grown with children of their own, thee are still nights I lay in bed remembering the times I blew it badly. I am so thankful for grace and for the ease of forgiveness from little hearts and His.

  13. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    So I'm not the only one? Whew …

    And my, those children can teach us a thing or two about forgiveness, can't they? You are so right.

    Oh and Lyla? You told me I was cross-eyed the other day in an email, and I didn't know what you meant. Now, I'm thinking that's the nicest thing I've heard all day. I "get" it now. 🙂

  14. Karen

    Oh, yes…I've performed in this production, too…too many times…I LOVE the term you used of "Grace Embrace"….

  15. Connie Mace

    Oh, I remember as a young mom…sitting on the floor in the bathroom, door shut, sobbing and praying for erupting.

    Begging forgiveness from my Father, walking out to bewildered children to beg forgiveness from them.

    Moms are flesh and blood, made from the stuff of earth. But how blessed to be filled with the stuff of Heaven! At least there is redemption…

  16. Daune

    I love this analogy…help me, Jesus, to remember this the next time I begin to spew…just last nite, as I tried to post a picture to my website, one boy was wired and all over me…I sat and instead of pushing him away because of his 'boyness', I breathed deeply, and began to stroke his back as he lay his head on my lap…I realized at that moment that I made a good choice. Oh, to do that every day…because boyness-energetic moments-are as common as my breath!
    Have a great day.

  17. Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience

    Grace is the most amazing thing of all….
    And there on volcanoes, He still comes in the whisper…

    Good, good words from a humble, forgiven heart.

    Love this, Jennifer — you.

    All's grace,

  18. Lisa notes...

    Ooh, I relate to that volcano. I’m so thankful that children are so forgiving. And that God leads the way in that… Thanks, Jennifer.

  19. Lea

    What a beautiful heart felt entry. And, I promise, your children will grow up and called you "blessed" one day. I know, I've been there and rejoice of the forgiveness my children have always shown me when I make a "royal mess up." Abundant blessings to you!

  20. Laura

    This is one of my favorites, Jennifer. God must know that I needed this reminder today 🙂 Hmm. Wonder what's in store when I get home from work today? I'm enjoying the conversation over on your FB page too! Love the way you make me think.

  21. Connie Arnold

    That's beautiful! Having the moments of prayer and forgiveness, priceless! It's easy to relate to the erupting of the volcano, and your description was great!

  22. Missy

    Jennifer, you are such a beautiful example to those of us mommies who would never think to pray like that in front of our children.

  23. Amy in Peru

    so good. thank you for sharing this… again. I missed it the first time 🙂

    sounds so exactly like what happens in me WAY too often. I need a little more of Perfect everyday.

    thanks for reminding me. 🙂

    amy in peru


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