Last night I dreamed that Leesy woke up and I could not find the top to the bottle. So she drank out of it like a cup. This morning I found a half empty, and topless, bottle on the kitchen table.
I am suspicious that it was, perhaps, NOT a dream.
Like my confusion last night, there are many times that I confuse my dreams with God’s purpose.
It’s hard to know. There are so many decisions. Good choices. And it is easy to either stop trying or over commit.
But God has been working in my heart. I don’t have to know all the details of His plan. But He does want me to know His voice – to know Him.
Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live.. Isaiah 55:3 ESV
Leesy refuses to sit in her highchair. We held her food hostage until she sat in the chair. We bribed her with candy and bottles. But after days of battling, and a super cranky baby, we moved her to a booster seat. She was happy to sit with the big kids and we were happy that her mess was confined to something – even if it includes a sticky table.
I know a few no nonsense mothers who would shudder at the thought of giving into a stubborn child. But really, it just wasn’t a battle worth fighting.
But I do know a battle worth fighting. The battle we cannot see.
Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-13
Sometimes, it overwhelms me. I see the absence of absolute truth and the sin that darkens a corrupt world. I look at the battle within my own self. And I see the steep barriers that my children will face.
This world is dark. Sad. Fallen. Evil.
But, isn’t that the beauty?
God sees the worst.
I have spent many seasons in life consumed in myself – in my own failures, hurts, and problems. Caught in my own anguish, I have denyed compassion to the very people God purposely set before me. God sees my selfishness. My thoughts. My corrupt heart.
And still, He loves me.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4
Even when my heart was boldly centered on myself, God dearly loved me. And that is so much sweeter, so much fullfilling, and so much more amazing than loving me at my best.
He loves me at my worst.
This morning, the kids had on neatly pressed cloths. I painted all the girls nails – sparkly glitter included. The boys gelled their hair and cut their dirty fingernails back.
Then we went to church.
And the message included clips from a movie about a family who survived a Tsunami. Even though the family was ultimately united, it was heart wrenching to watch the desperation as they searched through the devastation for one another.
It certainly put fingernail polish and hair gel into perspective. And it really made me question my sense of urgency – the urgency that God has called in us to search for the lost. To share His love.
Quite convicting. My life is so self centered. I live mostly within the bounds of my family. Largely oblivious to the desperation in this fallen world.
But now, the question remains, how can I move my conviction to action?
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10
Tell Eli you love him. And you will get one of the following responses:
I love you too, Chicken.
Ha, ha, Broccoli head.
I love you. You are a Chicken Booty.
There is not a serious bone in Him. And yet, he does take 0ne thing serious. He has a BIG God.
He gets scared like all little kids. But he knows that his God is bigger, tougher, and mightier than anyone or anything.
And it gives him courage.
That tough, courageous boy bursts through even in the midst of fear. Not because he is strong but because his God is strong.
And when I fear, I thank God for my little boy. Because he reminds me of just how BIG my God is…
Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. Jeremiah 32:17
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
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.
And definitely Wonderful.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. Psalm 119:2 NIV
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.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. Psalm 29:2 NIV
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