We are celebrating another child who happens to be turning thirteen. What do I write about her, to her? Do I think back to being this age and what I needed to hear? Yes, that is what I will do as another gift for her.
Abbey Grace, you get to decide what kind of person you will be. You get to choose to believe the truth about who God says you are or stake your life on the ever changing opinions of others. You get to decide what clothes you wear and not look to what is popular or what might draw the most attention. You have your own sense of style that is unique to you, wear that. Child, you have the attention and affection of the King, what more do you want? Do your best in school, but your worth is not to be based on performance. I love you just for being you, no need to try to earn a thing. Above all the noise and distractions, listen for God’s voice. He longs to speak to you and tell you the story He has written of you before you were even born. He speaks anywhere and everywhere, make time continually to listen. Then do what He tells you and know I am cheering you on.
Remember, you are one of a kind and accepted. Do not try to conform to the popular mold being duplicated in the halls of the middle school. Be you! Your confidence comes from within, a deep knowing you are loved enough to have Jesus die for you. You are pure and set apart just for Him. Walk with your eyes always on Him. Listen as He whispers in your ear during the day and enjoy the adventure. You are a delight and precious in His sight. I am so thankful I get to watch His plans for you. I love and trust you more than you will ever know. I believe in you, sweet girl.
Yesterday our oldest son turned seventeen. As you know, the time goes by so fast and the memories can bring tears easily. Running through the memories that led up to yesterday, I had to think about what to write, what to say about this child. Do I list words about his character or write about my hopes for his future? All of those words would be true, but I wanted more. So here it goes…
Jackson, I love you. I simply love you because you are my son. You can do no more or no less to diminish my love. Love is not to be earned. You were given to me, entrusted would be a better word, and it is a privilege to be your mom. I accept you 100%, remarkable as you are. Putting you in my idea of a “perfect son” has never worked. You have an identity that only God can give you and I consider it an honor to help remind you of that everyday. You bring one of a kind ideas into this world and into our home. Steward well all He has created you to be and know I will always be your biggest fan.
Being without can sure change your mindset. I can get so bored doing the same chores everyday and complain about laundry never ending and food flying out as soon as it is brought in. And then you can’t do laundry, food becomes precious for days, being warm becomes the goal and little else seems to matter. A priority shift happened these past few days and so did my heart. One would think the pandemic marked me for good, but I needed a reminder.
There have been many sweet moments and plenty of hard ones too. One of my favorite things has been reading books to the youngest one. Children’s books are the best! Most are simple and fun, just like a child. That is what I have noticed during these snow days, returning to simplicity. The extra gets removed and what’s important gets put back in place. Because being at home and all the work that goes along with raising a family is right where the Lord has me. Much may go unseen, but it matters to the ones in front of me and should not be taken for granted. Perhaps this time I will not have to relearn happy.
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” James 1:2
See tests and challenges as a gift? We are freezing here, water pipes are breaking, power comes and goes and I am not a camper. A notification just popped up on my phone that said, “Cold pushes Texans to their limits”. And there is the key to open the gift. At the end of ourselves, where faith takes flight or remains demanding our own way, we show our true colors. Will I trust God to be God and provide all we need or choose fear… again? Today, with a cute beanie that has a butterfly embroidered on it, warmly covering my head, I will trust Him. The butterfly reminding me that I am “a new creation”. A new creation that trusts her Heavenly Father. And who knows, we might become a camping family after all.
“For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:25
It is pretty cold and has snowed where we live. The power goes off for long periods of time, so my husband keeps a fire going. There is nothing like a blazing fire is there? The kids have gone in and out today to play in this rare snow. When they come in, they are wet and freezing cold. Where do you think they go first? Right to the fire.
Maybe we have been spiritually out in the cold for way too long. Perhaps we have gone astray in our thinking and concluded that we know better than God. We can come up with all kinds of reasons to justify our thoughts, opinions, words and actions. I know I certainly have, but that does not change the truth. What do you say we come back to the warmth of our loving Shepherd, who truly knows how to take care of us? As far as I can tell, the storm will not be over until He returns and the best place for us to be is beside Him.
“This is how much God loved the world; He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one needbe destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the whole world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in Him is acquitted…” John 3:16-17 MSG
Telling the truth is the most loving thing we can do this special day. One way we can tell the truth to those around us is by living it. The last few days I was not living like I believed God loved me. Instead I chose to spin in fear, but not today. His mercies really are new every morning. So today we live truthfully, believing with all our heart that we are whole, forgiven and loved. We are free to live loved.
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm32:7
The last few days have been hard and fear came rushing in like the cold temperatures that have hit Texas. It started with the massive 100+ car accident that happened here and spiraled from there. One son headed out on a fun road trip with friends and another heads out in a few weeks. What if this had happened to them? Accidents can happen at anytime, but this triggered irrational fears over even the shortest drives. I knew this was not sustainable and I needed to tell the Lord the truth about how I was feeling. He is a safe place to hide and a good listener.
It has been a struggle, but peace comes once again when I “take every thought captive” and choose not to dwell on what could happen. Music that has words of truth helps too. You would not believe the songs that have played just now by “random”. This world offers plenty of opportunities to live in fear, but I do not have to take them. Besides, it would ruin the days and I would miss what is true. I also have a ukulele concert to listen to given by one sweet little girl.
“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6
Does knowing that God is working in you give you confidence? It does me and helps explain some of the circumstances, conversations that happen and scriptures that I read. It is also encouraging to know it is a good work because sometimes it does not feel that good. We had one of those experiences with our kids yesterday and the Lord used it to do a work in my heart.
We had been out on a date and got home to untangle hurt feelings between two siblings. An older one had called a younger one something mean and it broke her heart. She cried and cried. There was nothing to do but hold her until the tears stopped. As the tears were coming to an end, she asked a profound question, “How did he know?”. She believed what she was called and a fear was exposed. How often have we done this very same thing?
The reaction I had completely shocked me and I had some untangling to do as well. Wow! The work the Lord did was good. He showed me again how much He loves us and how He never wastes an opportunity. He is a good Father and we can trust Him to work in our lives.
“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion.” –Brennan Manning
What would happen if this became how we viewed ourselves and others? We would stop the labeling of ourselves and anyone who does not share our opinion. We would have more interaction with our neighbors, people in our community and anyone else we came into contact with during our day. We would not be able to ignore others because they are beloved by God. Are we not suppose to love too?
People are not easy. We each have a personality, likes, dislikes, opinions, experiences, baggage and ideas. So much influences who we are today and who we are becoming. Some is good and some not so good. Add in this pandemic and off the chart fear peddled at every turn and what we have is a mess. What do we do to get out? We correct our definition of ourselves and others. Join me?
“So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.” -Nehemiah 4:6
What are you building with all your heart? Isn’t that a great question? Maybe another way to ask yourself this question is, what will outlive you? What has God put in your heart, like he did Nehemiah, to build? Who or what are you investing in? If you do not know, ask God. If He put it into the mind of Nehemiah, why would He not speak to you too? Whatever it is, let’s decide to do it with all our hearts. Could be the work we are doing now will be for generations to come. May God bless the work of our hands.