As parents, it is hard to trust in God’s plans and timing when we are working to shape our little ones into His children. We can work, teach, and give a lesson everything we have but worry our child is not getting anything out of our efforts.
Perhaps we would feel better about our efforts if we thought of it in a new way.
Last week I dropped seeds into the soft soil recently blessed by the rain. I was careful. I took my time. I prepared the soil, carefully placed the seeds, and gently covered them. I watered them. Not too much, not too little. I am doing all I can do to grow plants, but…
There is still waiting to do.
Adela is going through some changes. She is shedding off those little kid behaviors and cloaking herself with some big girl attitudes. She is opinionated. She is often defiant. She is investing a great deal of her energy into getting what she wants and maintaining control over her world. As I handle one difficult behavior after another, I battle the fear that she has not retained any of the lessons we have poured out on her about love and caring.
But, we must not be discouraged, we have planted the seeds.
A couple Sundays ago, a little turtle visited our home. Adela, always in love with animals, was ecstatic. She named him immediately and spent the entire afternoon with him. Her attitude that day soothed my heart. She listened attentively to our instructions on how to care for the turtle. She sang him songs. She reassured him when the thunder banged into the heavens. Then, before bed, she released him into the wild and told him goodbye. She understood that his home was out in the pastures and not with us.
I was so proud of her. Those seeds we have planted about love and selflessness did fall upon good soil. Perhaps we do not witness many fruits of these lessons everyday, but I know those truths are within her.
Sometimes the hardest action of a parent is doing our job-planting those seeds-and trusting God with the growth.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
What are some of the most important truths you have worked hard to share with your own children or loved ones?
My heart filled as the air rang with the giggles of our girls out on the farm. The menfolk sorted the flock and the girls and I watched and helped when we could. I am so thankful we can share this with our daughters.
Work in the adult world can seem abstract to little ones. Their parents go off to jobs that bring in income, but they often have little idea what it is. Today as we worked our sheep, I realized how exciting it is for Micaela and Adela. We included them in our labor and our dreams for the future.
I have always loved the idea of parents bringing their kids to work. There are definitely jobs out there that do not allow such a privilege for safety and various reasons. But, for the ones that do, it is so incredible to invite your children into your other world, showing them how you labor, who you help, and how your role is important. Soon our little ones grow big and then they realize something else. They realize how much we love them because we work this hard to provide for their lives.
Today I go to bed thankful that my children get to see and take part in the hard work and dreams of our family.
Probably one of my most precious blessings.
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.
Don’t looked all shocked. I’ve never been a fan of watermelon. I tell people that it is the flavor or texture, but honestly, it is the seeds that have a lot to do with it. It seems so messy and slow-eating. I usually take a pass and reach for the seedless grapes, easy-peel oranges.
Last summer, as the little ones in my house dug into a watermelon, the walls rang with giggles. It took them an entire half-hour to finish their portions and the table looked like a war-zone. And yet, they smiled about it all day long. Later, when my nephew was picked up to go home, telling about the watermelon was a top priority. I listened as he recounted his watermelon-eating escapade and realized that it wasn’t about the flavor or texture of the fruit.
It was all about the experience.
How cool, right?
My calendar for summer is already filling. I look at the dates and begin to think about the packing, the hours spent driving, and the lack of routines and schedules. It all feels so messy. But, when I remember how my nephew talked about his watermelon, I realized that there is another way to look at life’s moments. When we cling to an experience, the mess fades away.
Life is full of disorder. Little of it follows our plans. We can either live the ride or be tormented in the chaos.
This summer, I am stepping into the challenge of embracing each moment, setting aside my agendas, and living blessed within the mess.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
Are there things you avoid because you are fixated more on the inconvenience than on the experience?
I started to believe that the bag of Brach’s jelly beans was the worst thing that ever entered my home. I opened the bag and treated Adela for finishing her school work. I put a few into her tiny little hands and then returned to chores. Within seconds she was back. She needed more.
With my refusal, the begging started, followed by whining, and trailed by the first tantrum I had seen from her in months.
Frustrated and at my wits end I took her outside and we walked around together until she calmed down.
But she had not forgotten the candy.
“Mamá, I need a little more. Please, give me the jelly beans. Please.”
The whining grated on my ears. I gritted my teeth. “No, Adela. You don’t need them. Why don’t you have a cheese stick?”
She considered for a moment and then sighed. “Okay.”
Returning to the house I gave her the cheese stick. She ended up consuming three of them and a cup of water before settling into play. I shook my head, realizing that it hadn’t been about jelly beans, really. She was hungry.
Bemused, I considered what “Jelly Beans” I have in my life. We all have things we use to refuge deep hurts, quick Band-Aids to cover wounds without fighting for a true cure. For me, television and social media are go-to’s when I feel frustrated. But, while they distract, they rarely fix anything. Whatever I am unsatisfied with, it waits for me to turn off the television or computer.
I always think, “Just a little more.” Just a little more time watching that movie or reading that book or catching up with friends and I would have felt emotionally solid again. Or, just a little more chocolate and I would no longer feel disappointed or sad. Or, just a little more coffee and I would have the energy to be a fantastic mother today.
None of those will ever fix me. If I really want to find emotionally stability, joy, and energy then I need to dig for reasons behind my hurt. Just like Adela and her desperate need for jelly beans-- if I had gave in, her body would have still craved good nutrients and hydration.
Jesus’ warning in Luke 21:34 speaks deep to my heart:
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.(NIV)
There is so much around us that can weigh us down and we will always crave more until we learn to go to God for real answers and healing.
Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth.
What do you always find yourself needing “just a little more” of?
“You’ve got to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else.”
I heard that a lot the first few years of parenthood. Friends and family encouraged me to take care of myself. I clung to that advice, my license to devote a fraction of my life to my health.
But, there was a problem.
Every time I felt like I wasn’t cutting it as a parent or wife, I also felt like I didn’t deserve to care for myself. Bizarrely, I started to rate my level of performance and then decide if I had earned a walk out doors, or a special meal that I enjoyed. After all, If I wasn’t taking care of anyone else, then I didn’t deserve to take care of myself. That warped view sent me into seasons of despair or unhealthy physical habits that I had to dig myself out of later. It became a sad cycle.
Starting this year, I dug for verses that would become a power house to keep myself on a healthy road. There are many in God’s word that encouraged me.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NIV
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
3 John 1:2, NIV
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.
Proverbs 17:22, NIV
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 31:17, NIV
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
I love these verses. There is enough truth in each of them to fuel my determination for change, but the one that I clung to changed my world.
But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8, ESV
I, Lora, am the work of His hands. I am precious and unique and made for His wonderful purposes. Me, just me. Not me, the mom or me, the wife or me, the sister, daughter, friend, etc..
I am precious and God wants me to find rest and health. I don’t have to earn the right for it…I was born into it with His love and grace.
Funny how one little way of looking at my world from a different angle has filled me with joy. I am excited to be healthy. I no longer look at it as another task I must perform in order to better serve others, instead I look at it as a precious gift from my Abba Father who sees me first as His child and longs for me to come to Him for spiritual health, emotional well being, and physical guidance.
And, as I changed the way I looked at caring for myself, I have a heart that abounds in love and joy more than ever before. I am parenting and partnering with my husband feeling loved and cared for by my Abba Father.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Today, my hope for you today is that you drink that water and have quiet soul time not only because you want to better serve others, but because you, just you, are loved by Abba Father.
The world froze. Goose bumps traveled up and down my arms.
“Papa, ap-pa-pa.” Micaela took a deep breath, fisting her hands. “Papá.”
Jovani swallowed. My eyes stung.
Micaela was talking.
Since then words have been popping out of her mouth more and more frequently. The speech is garbled and difficult to comprehend, but Micaela is working hard at it.
Thanks to my precious, amazing, and awesome God.
Several months ago I read the story of the deaf mute in the book of Mark (Mark 7:31-37) I loved how Jesus sighed and then commanded the ears and mouth of the handicapped man to open. Speech came forth. Excited, I put down my Bible and ran over to Micaela. I prayed. I truly believed that if I prayed hard enough, with faith, then like the disabled man in the Bible, Micaela’s mouth would open and speech would come forth.
I tried not to become disheartened and continued working with her. Her speech therapist kept encouraging me, she would point out the tiny improvements that pointed towards continued development. I kept praying and praying and praying.
I clung to hope. It was the only thing that gave me energy to continue.
To be honest, the clear word popping out of Micaela’s mouth a few mornings ago took me completely off guard. But, looking back, I realize that progress had been continuous, I just didn’t accept it. I had wanted more.
Have you ever heard the saying, “We pray not to move God, but to move ourselves into His will.”?
I prayed to move God. To convince Him to give us a miracle. But God planned for me to experience hard work, perseverance, and hope. The result of both a miracle and the slow-progress work would have been same—Micaela talking. But, an instant miracle would not have taught me perseverance.
We all want that miracle. We love hearing about the astonishing intervention of our loving Heavenly Father, but when we learn to move within God’s will we receive priceless training and strengthening.
I do believe that I won’t stop asking for miracles in my life, but I must not forget to thank God for giving me a place in the movement of His plans.
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
Have you lived through a similar situation in which you did not receive the miracle but had to learn to move within God’s will?
Adela traced the letter with her pointer. Glitter stuck to her finger. She giggled.
We have spent tons of time working on writing her name. Learning how to write isn’t simply knowing what the letter looks like, it is also spending time teaching your muscles how to move to form the letter. A.K.A. muscle memory.
As the weeks pass, it has been interesting watching which symbols come easily to Adela and which are difficult to make her hand comply with her head.
I totally understand her pain. I have been putting in the challenging work of teaching my mind, heart, and head to give God unlimited space in my life. Day after day I work against ingrained habits like worry and being addicted to lists and deadlines. I push against what I have learned to do over three decades of living. Muscle, mind, and emotional memory are powerful things.
As I learn to be patient with Adela’s slow progress, I remind myself to live in God’s grace. The most important thing is that we are doing the work. We are putting in the time and energy so we can learn valuable skills. I would rather spend years of my life working to re-teach myself how to live in God’s presence than to give up because of how difficult the task is.
Some day I hope for this:
That my inner monologue becomes prayer.
That my days feel incomplete if they are not begun and ended in devotion time with God.
That I respond to feelings of fear and frustration by realizing I have stepped away from my trust and faith in Him.
That I no longer push for my own agendas when I feel myself outside of His will.
That I am content living in His timing and plans.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
What habits are you working on now that require you to push against what is already ingrained in you?
All those tubes and monitors frightened me. Her tiny body lay a breath away from Heaven.
She pulled through. A new fear settled in my heart. We were bringing home a baby with special needs and an unsure future. Life would never go back to normal.
The first few months I battled terror and guilt. I was so scared. Her health was fragile and no specialist could tell us what her future would be like. Fears assaulted me in the quiet. Would she ever walk? Eat? Talk? Make friends? What would my life be like? Would I spend the rest of my life caring for a delicate child? Was there more that I could do for her? Did we have the right therapists? Doctors? Was I missing something?...
It became hard to hold our little Micaela and simply enjoy her sweet smile or the way she felt in my arms. And that, that inability to give her a single moment of pure love, scared me more than anything.
Desperate, I begged God to fix my heart. What kind of parent was I that I couldn't love her like I loved our older girl Adela?
God answered and He made a beautiful offer. If I would give up my tomorrows and live only in the day, then I could rest in His peace.
I've always been a planner. What I saw as a strength was an Achilles heel to my faith. I had lost that illusion of control and without it, I faltered.
Micaela's life liberated me. I had to let go. I had to give God all our tomorrows and rest in His provision of the day...day after day after day.
Today Micaela ate a Graham cracker in my arms and giggled when her favorite song came on. She is precious to me. Precious because she is my daughter. Precious to me because her life brought me freedom.
Are you clinging to control your future or are you resting in God's promises?
Bits of weeds, dirt, bugs, and sticks scattered. I walked and pushed, walked and pushed. Behind me fell a neat line of cut foliage.
I smiled. My shoulders dropped. If having an open mouth hadn't been a hazzard, I would have sang.
If only all of God's tasks for us were like this: One job at a time. Predictable outcomes. Visual progress.
Many things in my life require work of the mind, heart, and body with no confirmation of results. With faith I keep pushing against bricks walls.
Are you pushing brick walls, too? Are you fighting for a marriage that feels like it is crumbling around you? Are you attempting to teach manners to a defiant child? Are you battling a disease? Are you holding the hand of a friend deep in depression? Brick walls come in many shapes and sizes.
Have you read the story The Unmoved Rock? If you haven't, you must. To summarize, God asked a man to push against a rock all day, everyday. The man did so for years. Eventually he became discouraged and cried out to God. God showed him how much the man had grown by performing the hard task. He had grown strong and resilient. But, He told the man that God was the the one that could move the rock. (Read the full story here. From Bible.org)
Today I am thankful for mowing, for a task where I can see results. But for all those other things that I am struggling for, I must instead look at the progress inside myself. I look at the patience I have gained, the ability to laugh and shake off little hurts, the heart that is learning to run to God for completeness...
Thank you, God, for having me push for the impossible. I will do the work, but remember that it is You who moves the mountains.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
What are you fighting for today? Even if you don't see much progress out in the world, do you see the progress in you?
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