For Mother’s Day last year, they formed a parade in my honor.
I heard the commotion outside the bathroom door as I finished brushing my teeth.
At the sound of the whispering and shuffling, I opened the door to find three daughters and one husband singing, “Happy Mother’s Day to you…” their own take on the familiar birthday tune.
My youngest waved two hand-made flags, my oldest led the singing with her present in hand, my middle girl smiled in her Groucho Marx funny glasses. They had assigned my husband a triangle and given him handwritten sheet music so he knew when to play his notes.
Happy Mother’s Day to you. (tap, tap)
Happy Mother’s Day to you. (tap, tap)
Happy Mother’s Day, dear Mommy. (tap, tap)
Happy Mother’s Day to you. (tap, tap, tap)
They labored with love and presented handmade gifts, so thoughtful and sweet, and they were so proud of their offerings. More than just handwritten notes, they had created dot-to-dot puzzles and coloring sheets for me with hidden messages.
All day my daughters fussed at me for pouring the cereal, clearing the table, or buckling my youngest girl’s seatbelt.
You shouldn’t have to do anything today, Mom. That’s what my middle girl assured me.
Mother’s Day, all that recognition and thanks, all those assurances that the daily grind that has ground you right down is noticed and worth it and they appreciate it after all and maybe all those times you felt invisible someone actually saw you, that’s such a beautiful gift to a woman. It fills her soul right up so that she’s able to pour out more.
Parades, though, all have endings. A final float, the Santa sleigh or the police escort brings up the rear and everyone packs up their lawn chairs and bags of candy and treks back to their cars.
And we wake up the day after Mother’s Day and love without the flags and songs.
The phone is ringing, the laundry spinning, the dishwasher humming, and I’m running through the to-do list today.
But it’s when I scrubbed the toilet, of all things, that I remembered as I grumbled a little with that silent whine that no one else knows about except God.
How it must sadden Him so, how disappointed He must be by my heart’s ugly attitude as I serve, as I wash feet without joy and give without cheerfulness of heart.
There I scrub, bleach poured out and I’m working fast just to get it all done, when I remember—yesterday, they made a parade for me.
These gifts of God, my family so precious, those I watched last night after they were in deep sleep, breathing slow, hair tangled all over pillows, fleece blankets wrapped tight like cocoons around them. I remember that I had prayed such deep thanks for these blessings.
And I felt so overwhelmed by that grace we can’t ever understand, how God trusted me with these children and the love of this husband. This is the great privilege and highest honor.
Serving with joy, that’s my heart bent deep in gratitude to God.
It all feels easier for a while because I remember. The laundry and the toilets and scrubbing the toothpaste off that sink: this isn’t mundane and annoying. It’s the blessing and the gift.
But the challenge is here: How to remember the parade a week from now, a month, this time next year? It’s always in those moments after the high of a mountaintop that we can crash right down the hardest because we have the farthest to fall.
Like Elijah, sitting on that mountain all alone after defeating 450 prophets of Baal in a spiritual showdown with supernatural fire. It was after the victory that he ran away in fear. After all that boldness, there was terror and loneliness and suicidal despair.
How could he forget, I wonder?
Maybe he hadn’t learned to live without the parade.
Sometimes God speaks in the whirlwind, the earthquake and the fire. Sometimes it’s grand and showy.
But not always.
Oh no, sometimes it’s that “still small voice” and this we forget in the days long after the Mother’s Day parade when we’ve started to feel a little overlooked and invisible again. We forget how to see God in the quiet and the everyday.
Zechariah 4:10 asks: “Who dares despise the day of small things?”
The small things, the quiet ways, the stillness, the everyday, the service without parades, the scrubbing down bathrooms without whining….that’s where we can find beauty, where we hear God, where our worship brings Him joy.
Originally posted May 13, 2013