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Archive for July 2008

God, Now

“I can’t wait until Bug can use his words.”

“I can’t wait until Drummer Boy learns to use the big potty.”

“I can’t wait until the business starts to be more consistent.”

“I can’t wait to see Baby Girl M on the outside.”

“I can’t wait until this summer heat is gone.”

Sometimes I spend so much time looking forward to a time when things will be different that I miss the daily joy and blessing of now.  We swore we wouldn’t do that with our children–getting caught up in anticipation of the next stage.  And, usually that’s the easy one.  Even in trying moments, we are still able to say “not yet!”  We are anxious to see the boys’ next steps, but not too quickly.  We can see the joy in soaking up all the current stage has to offer in sweet moments, cute sayings, wide-eyed grins and the fact that they still want to give us hugs and kisses.

It’s the other life situations that get us.  Those grown-up struggles with work, money, relationships–life–are the ones about which we can so easily say “there’s nothing to gain here.” We get tired and frustrated.  We want to move on.  We can’t envision joy, happiness or blessing in the given circumstances.  It’s like we’re in perpetual intermission, waiting for the next act to begin.

I’m reminded of a simple prayer my mother has often prayed:  “Lord, help me to learn quickly.”

It carries with it the basic understanding that there is a purpose in every situation.  There is something valuable to learn that can move us further along to a place of joy.  When the circumstances are tough, when they are hard to endure, all we can do is learn quickly.  Glean what God has for us so that He can move us forward.  Finding the purpose means finding the blessing.  Now.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the Lord.” (psalm 27:13-14)

God is good now.  His promises aren’t confined to streets of gold.  I can experience His abundance, His eternal joy and peace here on earth today–in my real life, regardless of the circumstances.  I CAN “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  It is available immediately.

If I spend my days on earth waiting to be happy, and I measure that happiness by the people, jobs and things in my life, then I will live in perpetual disappointment.  If I can learn to see the goodness of the Lord where I am living now (rather than where I might be), then I will fall on my knees in gratitude for what He has given me.  I can learn to be content and accept the wisdom He has for me in THIS moment.  I will not spend my energy complaining or hoping for a better day.  I will not be so presumptuous as to discount the gifts of the Lord because they are not what I had in mind.  I can trust Him to fulfill my desires, and flourish within His blessings.

For the wonder of each our
of the day and of the night
hill and vale and tree and flow’r,
sun and moon, and stars of light:
Christ our God,
to Thee we raise
this our hymn
of grateful praise.

For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth, and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild:
Christ our God,
to Thee we raise
this our hymn
of grateful praise.

“For the Beauty of the Earth”
by Folliot Pierpont

tiny messages . Lessons in Recklessness

I was sitting on the floor of the living room–not necessarily an easy task at the moment with a 7-months pregnant belly out to there–and 18 months of pure squiggle (a squeal-fueled giggle) energy were coming at me full steam.

Running at maximum toddler capacity, my little guy flung himself into my arms with a resounding super squeal.  I gave him a little squeeze, a big “I love you,” and a few cheek nibbles as the various oversized wooden screws in his hands made contact with eyeglasses, ears, nose, etc.  Then, it was full steam back to the wall at the other side of the room to start again.

We repeated the process more times than I can count, with my little guy alternating between Mommy and a left detour to give Daddy a turn.

Full steam.  Turbo drive.  Volume 10.
That’s how my little 18-month-old gift does everything.  He’s on a personal mission to prove that no matter what you do, you can have more fun and be more successful at it if you are also squiggling at the top of your lungs!

Despite the household craziness his approach sometimes creates, I often find myself just soaking it up.  He’s reckless, giving himself completely over to whatever he’s feeling at the moment–whether it’s the trying times of hurt feelings, frustration that a toy won’t work right and disappointment at hearing “no” or the joyful times of shouting newly-learned words, a full speed, fully squiggled chase with brother and the ever-popular hug episodes described above.  There’s no doubt that whatever it is, he’s completely abandoned himself to it.

It want to cultivate that caliber of freedom, to act without hesitation when I feel strongly about something.  Or, to elevate the mundane to that level of love, joy and excitement.  I can imagine it most powerfully chrystalized in that moment of an 18-month-old flinging himself into Mommy’s arms.  No reservations.  No holding back.  No fear.  Just pure joy and pure love.

It reminds me of another love:
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sin, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.” (Ephesians 1:7-8)

Can I be the one to fling myself without fear into the Father’s arms and bathe in His lavish love and grace?

Can I open up my arms and receive the one in need, ready to give His lavish love and grace in human form?

I hope so.

The tiny messages God continues to include with our gifts — 2 little boys and the anticipation of 1 little girl, each with open eyes, open ears, open hearts, and much to teach. “Behold children are a gift of the Lord…” (psalm 127:1)

tiny messages . Yes I Am

“Yes, I am.”

It was a statement that brought a cackle from both my husband and me at the dinner table.  In the course of conversation, our 3-year-old had done something that prompted me to say, “You are SO smart.”  Then, in agreement… “Yes, I am.”

Of course, anything that produces a laugh from Mommy and Daddy must be repeated.  So, a moment later I got the request, “Say I’m so smart again.”  With my cheerful compliance came another “Yes, I am,” this time accompanied by much giggling from everyone.

One thing I’ve learned about 3-year-old speech is that it matches up very closely with the heart.  Three-year-olds haven’t yet learned to choose their words carefully, to monitor their phrases to fit the circumstance, to “spin” their opinion based on the situation, or to distance the spoken word from their true thoughts and feelings.  When I listen to my 3-year-old, I know that I’m getting exactly what he’s thinking, what is most important to him at a given moment.

I’ve also learned that whatever I say in my 3-year-old’s hearing — just in the course of conversation or in specific attempts to teach him — will probably eventually come right back at me.  And, in true 3-year-old fashion, I know that I’m getting back an honest picture of how he’s interpreted my words.

That’s why I enjoyed hearing the “yes, I am” — twice.  There was no overblown pride with the statement, no bravado.  It came out as just a statement of fact.  It told me that he believed he was smart.  And, it reminded me just how important kind and positive praise can be for my children, how powerful it can be in giving confidence and setting right the assumptions they learn about themselves.

He had been told he was smart, and he believed it.
A precious understanding for a 3-year-old heart.

“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” (proverbs 25:11)

Our world sometimes offers an overwhelmingly out-of-balance negative message — one that strips and diminishes.  Even in our home, it is so easy for praise to be out-weighed by the speech of stress, worry, exhaustion, busy-ness, annoyance, or correction.

“Yes, I am.”
A powerful reminder that it costs me nothing to say it more.

You are smart.
You are precious.
You are sweet.
You are strong.
You can jump high.
You can run fast.
You are growing.
You are kind.
You can share.
You did a good job.
I’m glad I have you.
I love you.

The tiny messages God continues to include with our gifts — 2 little boys and the anticipation of 1 little girl, each with open eyes, open ears, open hearts, and much to teach. “Behold children are a gift of the Lord…” (psalm 127:1)

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