Where We Find Transfigured Beauty

March 30, 2011 | 26 comments

My littlest one lunges for the bucket.

Her body doubles over, racks with sickness. I hold Anna’s hair, soothing with words and a cool hand on her back. Nine hours now, we’ve done this. And nothing will stay down. Nothing.

Fretful, I look for the telltale signs: dry mouth, blanched nail beds. We know about dehydration. Far too often, these bucket-days have ended with one of our girls hooked to IVs.

Anna cries. A tear falls. I thank God.

Because the doctor says presence of tears = hydration in the body.

The wave ends, so I lift Anna to her couch-cocoon of Tinkerbell fleece and a plush Pillow Pet. I sit at the end of the couch, at the feet of Anna. At the feet of Jesus. Until the wave rises again, she will slumber.

So I read. And read. For hours, I read. Mostly, it’s the the counting-joy book pressed open on my lap. I’ve checked for the signs and asked the questions. Am I suffering dehydration, too? I read Ann’s words while the child sleeps, quenching a soul that is too-often parched because of a lack of gratitude.

My Anna and I, we’re both taking medicine.

“God holds us in the untamed moments too,” Ann Voskamp writes. A tear falls from this mama’s eyes. Tears = hydration. Hope even for me, the ungrateful?

I know about the unscripted moments that interrupt the course of my plans. (Note the emphasis on my.) I had 103 things to do today, but I’m slowed and stilled and sitting here at the feet.

At the feet.

Anna rouses from flushed sleep. I put the book down for another untamed moment.

“It wants to happen again,” her voice quavers. I lift her body — limp and damp — from the couch to the floor. We are both on our knees over a bucket.

Finally, the undulating wave subsides, and I lift her again to the couch. Her body gives way to slumber. Eyes flutter.

And again, I press the book into my lap. Ann writes of a “God who transfigures the ugly into the beautiful.”

With this One Thousand Gifts book open on my lap, I look at the flushed child, with eyelashes resting on too-pink cheeks. Even this moment is transfigured beauty — embodied in my own “full of grace” child.

Maybe this will sound twisted, but some of my favorite moments with my children have happened over plastic buckets and porcelain toilets. Crazy, huh? But this is where I sometimes feel I mother best. I slow, and I still, and I sit at the feet. I wait and I whisper and I hold the hand and hold back the hair and I make them first. Always first.

None of this: “Not right now.”

Or this: “In a minute, sweetie.”

Here, on this Lee farm — hundreds of miles from that Voskamp farm — this is our eucharisteo. (That’s what Ann calls this kind of thanks.) And we are in it now, in the midst of a wee span of ugly, unearthing a trove of beauty and eucharisteo.

This too shall pass, the ugly. But not the eucharisteo, I pray?

For the Joy-God is right here daily transfiguring ugly into beautiful. And I find myself at the feet of the Giver.

Most Wednesdays, I join Ann for her Walk with Him Wednesday series. Today, we consider The Practice of Easter. This Lenten season, we ponder the God who transfigures the ugly into the beautiful — even a scandalous, marvelous cross. I add my recommendation to the chorus of Ann’s transforming book of radical gratitude: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.

Ms. Ann, I count you among the gifts, you with unveiled face being made daily more and more like Him, glory to glory. Your Spirit-inspired words have changed me.

by | March 30, 2011 | 26 comments


  1. Cherie Hill

    WOW, what an AMAZING post! As a mother, I'm in awe at how you turned horrible circumstances into such beauty! At His feet . . . there is no greater place to be. I want to be the little child holding onto their parents leg being dragged from here to there, laughing with joy because I'm holding on and won't let go. I won't let go of Jesus . . . praying that He embraces you with His presence like never before and through it all you will find your faith strengthened in more ways than you can imagine. He uses it ALL . . . even buckets and porcelain. 🙂
    Blessings and prayers,

    Oh, and it sounds like I MUST get Ann's book!!!

  2. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Hi Cherie! Thank you for your words here. So true, what you say … "No greater place to be!"

    And yes, I highly recommend Ann's book. And not just because she's a friend or because her words mesmerize. Really, the book itself is a gift because it points to Christ in a dynamic way – teaching us to see and live with eyes WIDE open!

  3. Megan Willome

    This is such a tender post, Jennifer.
    I, too, have had my best mothering moments when my kids have been sick or recovering from surgery.
    Hope she's better soon and that you don't have to go to the hospital this time.

  4. Karen Kyle Ericson

    Beautiful! Sometimes it seems we have nothing to be grateful for, but a tear is a great blessing too. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Thanks, friends.

    Anna is doing much better! Long night, but she's on the mend. Fluids are staying down. Thanks be to God. More eucharisteo.

  6. Nancy

    I always thought I was a bit strange, because I love holding the feverish head of my child close to my heart–especially as my children got older. There's something about the helplessness they felt that allowed me to draw them close–and isn't that the gospel?

    I, too, am so grateful for Ann's book. I was just thinking today about how many beautiful friends I've made since I found her blog and started connecting with others there. Each one a gift.

    Good news about Anna.

  7. Jeanne Damoff

    Lovely post, Jennifer. So sorry your little one is sick, but thankful she has a mother who slows down and enters her suffering. You are giving her the priceless comfort of love and presence, a heart seed-gift that will fully blossom later in life when she's out on her own.

    And Ann's book! Definitely a life changer.

    Grace, rest, and love to you.

  8. Beth E.

    I'm so sorry to hear that your sweet baby girl has been sick. There's not a more helpless feeling than when we can't make everything better! However, I agree that it is during those times we are more focused upon our mothering skills.

    I have not read Ann's book, but I am now intrigued!

    Praying for your daughter's healing, and protection for the rest of the family!


  9. David Rupert

    "God uses even our ungratefulness"
    Provoking thought and post — as always

  10. Natalie

    I'm weird, too 🙂 I'm at my best as a mother when I am forced to slow down and just take care of my kids. I'm glad to hear your Anna is on the mend!

  11. Deidra

    I remember feeling most mother-like when my children were sick. Mostly, I was amazed at the way God equipped me to deal with their illnesses. I knew it came from God and so, in those moments I had no choice but to lean heavy on Him. He never failed to meet me when I needed him…

    Praying for a full and quick recovery…

  12. S. Etole

    the tears … a good sign … I need to remember that

  13. Lea also known as "CiCi"

    What a beautiful post and made my heart smile this evening. Blessings to you!

  14. Lea also known as "CiCi"

    What a beautiful post and made my heart smile this evening. Blessings to you!

  15. Jennifer

    I'd never thought of the irony that I'm my best as a mother when my children are sick. I just appreciate the love they need then, showing they do really need me. It fits perfectly with the spiritual realm–I am the best daughter when I need my Father, too.

  16. Linda

    You warm my heart Jennifer as I take a long look back at moments like the ones with your sweet little girl. It is true, those times do slow us, focus our hearts on what is truly important. I realize now that that is just the way it was when my husband wasn't feeling well last week. Everything slowed and my focus changed.
    You have such a gift – and you use it so well. You bless me, always Jennifer.

  17. Kris

    what is it about those humbling dark moments with a sick child… I have often found glimpses of a deeper faith, a better understanding of who Christ is at my children's bedsides when they have been ill… THis was such a tender and special post. Thank you. And Ann's book is a gift. I too have read and gifted many copies to others… it's all gift, isn't it, even the hard moments,… perhaps, especially the hard moments…
    God bless you!

  18. DenaDyer

    Jennifer, I sometimes feel I mother best when my children are sick, too…perhaps because my duties and responsibilities are so clear. 🙂 AND my mom was really good at taking care of my brother or me when we were ill. So I learned well.

    Love this post, and love you!

  19. Cassandra Frear

    Well, I must say. We can post about anything and make it inspiring. You've proved it here.

    This is the next day. I hope things are looking better at your house. I hated it when my kids got this sick. Hated it.

  20. Patti Hanan

    My children are grown now, but this brings back memories. I agree with you. Comforting a child through difficult times are precious. It is a time of closeness. And thanks be to God who transforms the ugly into the beautiful.

  21. toshowthemjesus.com

    Amazing post of the ugly beautiful. God is good and gracious as he shows you his goodness even in the ugly. Thank you for sharing this.

  22. Cherry

    Thank you … so beautiful! Often it is in times like you described, that God slows us down, and we can really hear Him. Thanks for your words …

  23. Michelle DeRusha@Graceful

    I love this post, Jennifer, and let me tell you, that is saying A LOT because I have a major throw-up phobia. No lie! My husband takes care of the kids when they have the stomach bug, while I run for the hills. I'm really attentive when it's any other form of illness though, so I'm not a complete lost cause! And I've actually said out loud to Brad, "I kind of like it when they are sick, because it's an excuse to snuggle with them and be quiet all day."

    Ann's book…such an incredible gift. I've read it twice through and I keep coming back to it…and I keep writing about it. I can't enough.

    Glad Anna is doing better!

  24. Sam Van Eman

    A very dear post, Jennifer.

    My kids are learning to thank God for their bodies. Even in these bucket spells, our family is reminded of provision; of the redemptive act the body exerts against sickness. Not everyone makes it through, as hospitals and funeral homes know too well, but we're encouraged, nonetheless, by each effort.

  25. deanna

    Beautiful post. I'm reminded of those sorts of days with my children – the rest I could be given between those moments of pure focus on them. An interesting, quiet paradox, as faith tends to be. I'm also glad you're daughter is better.

  26. elaine @ peace for the journey

    My daughter was home yesterday. We did much of the same thing. Funny, I didn't mind it this time. Signs of healing in my own flesh, enabling to bend to hers.

    I'm reading through Ann's book as well, although slow-going. It's been a tough read for me, taken me a while to get in the rhythm of it all, but I see great beauty in her heart, her life, her willingness to let us look in and to take hold of our thanks.

    There's something sacred about tending to a young child. Yesterday, I counted it as "grace." I suppose I don't have to tell you why it meant so much to me.

    Blessed Sabbath rest.



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