Beauty

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My girls are eight years old and eighteen months.  And they both love it when I paint their nails.  This week we put on pink nailpolish with a top coat of sparkles.  Abby said she felt so pretty.

I want her to feel like a princess.  But I want her to feel like a true princess.

I don’t want her worth to come from pink sparkles, beautiful dresses, high heels, spirals of curls, and honey coated words.

If those make her feel pretty, I know that she will fall into the same pitfall that I fell into.  Without  truly having my identity in Christ, I feel crushed when my world isn’t princess perfect.  Without finding my worth in Him, a ratty t-shirt represents my worth.  And hair that frizzes and frays simply confirms my squashed confidence.

But getting my worth from Christ changes it all.  I may wear a ratty t-shirt, have frizzy hair, and drive a scratched up car, but I am still God’s princess.  He gives me all things beautiful and bestows His very best on my life.

And so, when I paint my daughters nails.  I pray that she understands that I am not making her pretty.  She already is a beautiful princess in God’s sight.  It is just nice, sometimes, to bestow those morsels of outward beauty on my child to remind her just how beautiful and treasured she is in the eyes of God.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of  gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  1 Peter 3:3-4

 

Grace filled, Beautiful, and Wonderful

Grace filled, Beautiful, and Wonderful

Abby’s new objective in life is to tickle me.  She sneaks up on me when I am washing the dishes, sleeping, or eating.  Nothing is off limits for her. And the more I try to persuade her that it is not a good idea to tickle a person when they are eating, the bigger her giggle fit becomes.

And normally, I would consider her disregard of my words as disobedience.  But somehow, it is hard to believe that tickling should get her in trouble.

But then, she tickled Leesy at the dinner table.  And she knew by my tone of voice that I was serious.  DO NOT TICKLE SOMEONE WHEN THEY ARE EATING!!

Sometimes, ignorance causes us to not fully understand the consequences of an action.  She totally didn’t comprehend that her silly game of tickling could choke someone.  She needed me to put that limit in place for her.

Just as God puts limits in my life.  I can’t always understand why or the consequences of defying Him.

I just have to trust Him.

And it’s not always a specific directive from His word.  Sometimes God is directing me.  Prompting something specific in my heart. And I chose to ignore it.

Like all the times I should have used precious moments to teach my children truths about Him.  Or given groceries to the homeless.  Or volunteered to mentor the less fortunate.  Or given money to someone who needed it more than us.

And I passed the opportunity.

I did not trust God.  I missed something beautiful.

Because every time I trust Him, He works gracefully, beautifully, and wonderfully.  Like when I married my husband.

Rationally, it didn’t make sense.  We were still in college with a couple years to go.  We had no steady job.  In fact, we had no job immediately following our honeymoon.  We were young.

But God was in charge of this decision.  And He has built a beautiful marriage – full of His grace.  And He has given me the honor of growing up with a man who was once a young, reactive guy into a Godly, strong man who imperfectly, but desperately, loves His wife and children.

Grace filled.

Beautiful.

And definitely Wonderful.

Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.      Psalm 119:2 NIV

 

 

 

 

God’s Ginormous Plan

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Our dog, Nessa, gives a ferocious warning to a stranger who does not belong in our house or an animal that invades our back yard.

But with us, she is so gentle.  She may be big but she loves nothing less than to nuzzle up in our faces.  And she has attempted, many times, to sit in my lap.  She has no idea how ginormous she is compared to a lap dog.

Just like I have no idea what ginormous plans God has for my life.

And yet, I know that God is constantly at work in me.  I know that God will use me.  And I know that He can bring His glory into anything.

And so, I pray.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  James 1:5 NIV

I pray every day for God to reveal His purposes.  And I have found that it is usually the small things that are part of God’s ginormous plan.

Many times, I have passed up the little opportunities that God has given me.  I have belittled friendships, prayer, parenting, and countless opportunities because I have regarded them as insignificant.

But God’s plans are never insignificant.  In every moment, I have an opportunity to seek His glory or my glory.

And when God is glorified, it’s not little.

It’s ginormous.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.  Psalm 29:2 NIV

 

The Bunny

My daughters favorite bunny is a tattered, worn bunny given to her by Nene.  Both arms and a leg are torn at the seams.  And stuffing protrudes from the side of her face.  But Abby dresses the bunny in Leesy’s finest clothes.

She treasures her bunny.

I can’t help but picture myself as that bunny.   Stuffing falling out.  Arms falling off.  Others have suffered more trauma and hurt in this life.  And may have much more stuffing lost and seams ripped.

But there is one difference between the bunny and God’s children.

The bunny was treasured and dressed in beautiful clothing.  Even after some patch work, the bunny remains imperfect.  Underneath, she is still tattered and torn.

But as God’s children, Christ doesn’t merely cover our tattered and torn lives.  He doesn’t hide our scars with beautiful adornments.  Or simply patch up our lives.

He makes us new.

He makes us truly beautiful.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthiasns 5:17 ESV

Bedtime Devotions

Bedtime Devotional

A couple of weeks ago, my husband rededicated our kids’ bedtime.  Instead of rushing them away to bed, we would have a family devotion.  A week later, they poke eachother, stand on their heads, and talk over one another while we attempt to teach them.

It is parenting gone sour.  They are disrespectful to us.  To God.  And are missing valuable  lessons about God’s abounding love.

Last night ended with kids sitting silently for 10 minutes with their chairs facing opposite directions.

Not exactly what we had pictured for daily devotions.  And yet, God is at work.   Because they were so openly disrespectful, we were not able to dismiss the behavior.  And it forced us to think about the heart issue of respect.

But, unfortunately, they are simply doing what they see.

And I have to ask myself some hard questions….

How do I show that I cherish God?  My husband?  My kids?  What, or Whom, do I treasure the most with my words?  With my actions?  Do I do what God asks of me?  Do I do what my husband asks of me?  Do I seek God’s direction in every aspect of my life?  Do I seek the blessing of my husband in my decisions?  Do I prayerfully take his advice?  Do I try to steal my husbands leadership?  

Unfortunately, my imperfect respect for my God, and secondly, my husband – reveals a sin stained heart.  But God’s grace is so incredibly beautiful.  The more I see the ugliness of sin, the more I realize my need for Christ.

And when I am desperate for Him, His beautiful grace covers my sin.  And what used to be so ugly and incompetent is now made beautiful.  And in His strength, I continue to walk in that love.

Weather I continue on in His strength or fall flat on my face, I pray that my children could see the grace of God intricately woven through my life.

 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.                                   1 Chronicles 16:11

To Be Something

To Be Something

When Abby grows up, she wants to be a ballet teacher.  But if she can’t do that, she wants to be a school teacher like her Daddy.

Everyone wants to leave a mark.  To be something.

And the big lie is believing that we are suppose to be something. But that lie simply feeds everything that drags down my heart.  It feeds the self centered ME.  And the truth is that I am nothing.

Being Nothing is  not condemnation.  It’s freedom.  Freedom from the constraints and pressures to measure up and depend on my own competence.

And confidence that God will do something with me.

Because I have a God that is something.

He is my Comforter, Hiding Place, Perfecter of my Faith, Truth, Cornerstone, Deliverer, Emmanuel, Everlasting Father, Foundation, Shepard, Guide, Source of Life, Wall of Fire, Stronghold, Teacher, Ruler, Lord, King, Mediator, Dwelling Place, Eternal God,Messiah, Creator, Provider, Healer, Wonderful Counselor, Morning Star, Faithful One, Fortress, Love, Mighty One, Great Physician, Crown of Beauty,  Mighty One, Righteousness,  Foundation, Prince of Peace, Redeemer, Lord, Prince of Peace, Refuge, Strength, Rock, Savior, Glory, and Consuming Fire.

My God is something.  With my confidence in Him, and my trust in His plans, my life is something because He is something.

…Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
    who draws strength from mere flesh
    and whose heart turns away from the Lord.  Jeremiah 17:5 NIV

..But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.  Jeremiah 17:7 NIV

 

My Sweet Spot

My Sweet SpotThe kids were outside swimming.  But Leesy and I were sitting on the patio with the dog.  The dog licked up some of the splashed pool water.My Sweet Spot

And to my disgust, Leesy leaned down and licked up the same little puddle.

My Sweet SpotIt’s amazing how many germs make it into a little toddler’s mouth. I try to prevent and protect her but it’s how she explores her world.

The world is all relative to her mouth.

And that doesn’t change much as we grow up.

My quiet demeanor may deceive others into believing that sweetness always pours from my mouth.  My husband and kids, however, would attest to my unpure heart.

My first impulse when I am frustrated, overwhelmed, or mad is to let that spew out of me and onto those I love most.

And I hate that.

But God, certainly, has been working change in my heart.  For a very long time.

I actually used to think that I was immune.  But I wasn’t immune, I just had not been pushed to my limit.  I had not been tempted.

But a husband and four kids later – my patience, sweetness, and anger has been pushed and frustrated.  And I know without a doubt that I am prone to fall into Satan’s schemes.

But in this realization, I stepped out of dependence on myself and into dependence on God.  And He changes me from the inside out.  As He breathes His truth into my heart, my focus changes.

It’s simply not about me and what I need.  It is about Him.  His glory.  And His absolute goodness, beauty, and wonder.

And in that perspective, a chaotic laundry folding session is no longer the last straw wearing on my heart.  It is a beautiful teaching moment that God has entrusted to me.

And in those incredible moments, that I fully rely on Him, temptation doesn’t even tease my heart.

I simply rest in my sweet spot – in Him.

For in him we live and move and have our being..  Acts 17:28

 

The Impulse to Torture

 

 

Recently UpdatedFrom Sweetheart to Stinker.  Overnight.

I don’t know what happened.  My helpful, sweet little one year old suddenly became a glass grabbing, hitting, hair pulling, crazy girl.

But with her beautiful, joy filled smile, she deceives us into believing that her motives are still so pure and innocent.  And yet, the moment she tries to steal the tierra from the top of her sisters head, that cute little smile turns to pure oneryness.

But, if she is like her Daddy, she may learn to control her impulses to torture others (sometimes, anyway), but she will always have that special gift of….. fun.

When my husband and I first met, I was attracted to his gentle spirit.  But I quickly learned that he also had a less gentle side.  He loved to tease.  Maybe even torture.

I remember him holding me down to tickle me until my ribs hurt from laughing so hard.  Over the years, he has left those 4th of July snap and pops under the toilet seat, sang out of tune, poured salt into my cokes, squirted me in the face, snapped me with hand towels, taped the dogs feet, and tapped rhythms on the table until he drove us crazy.

Early in our marriage, I appreciated the fun factor he brought.  And I created my own ways to create a squeal or two out of him.  I have dumped buckets of ice in his shower, painted his toe nails in his sleep, and hid all his underwear.

But as our responsibilities have increased (children), that fun became less appealing and more annoying.  I felt all dryed up.  Like the pace of daily living sucked all the life out of me.

All I wanted him to do was stop.

But fortunate for me, God knows what I needed.

My goofy husband has persevered.

He makes me smile.

Laugh.

And giggle.

 

 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.                  Proverbs 16:22 ESV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emotions

emotions

 

I love those preschool pictures depicting happy, sad, angry, and giggling faces – those ones where kids have to match emotions with the pictures.

But kids feel even if they can’t necessarily communicate appropriately.

Emotions are not learned.  It is just the way God made us.

I don’t like to feel sad, angry, frustrated, or disappointed.  But I wonder, if I didn’t feel sad, would I know joy?  If I didn’t feel anger, would I know contentment?  If I didn’t get frustrated, would I understand fulfillment?  Or if I was never disappointed, would I comprehend hope?

After struggling with depression and anxiety, I have a better understanding of hopelessness.  A darkness unlike anything I have experienced stole my hope.  And it wasn’t until I understood that vivid hopelessness, that I understood Hope.  Hope in Christ is not a feeling, a mood, or an aspiration.  It’s a real, tangible love that is always present in my heart – despite my feelings, mood, or aspirations.

I pray, of course, that I won’t ever fall so deep into despair again.  But I have certainly had my days and my weeks where panic, anxiety, and a heavy heart invade my life.

But it is different now.  I am different now.

My Hope in Christ does not rescue me from this world and its fallen ways.   But it does provide me with unending Hope that can never be stolen.  Through tears and frustration, I can know that my God and Savior is holding me, loving me, and delivering me.

Even when I feel hopeless, I am not.

Because my Hope will never be disappointed.

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13