The Season of ‘No’

The Season of ‘No’

“We don’t swim in the toilet!” No.

“Don’t feed your breakfast to the dog!” No.

“Don’t eat MY breakfast!” No.

“Don’t pee on the floor!” No.

Whew! You guessed it: these are some commonly overheard phrases in my home. Life with a toddler- what a season! Some days I feel like all I do is utter the word ‘no’ to her in one way or another. It’s a frustration to constantly speak it, but I can, in fact, accurately imagine that it’s frustrating to be on the receiving end of that word as well.

But why do I tell her no, or forbid her from doing things? Is it because I’m a big ol’ bully who just wants to be boss? Of course not. I don’t let her splash in the toilet because, germs. I don’t let her feed the dog because she needs the fuel herself. I don’t let her steal my food because, well, some things are meant for Mom. And I don’t let her pee on the floor because other people need to use that part of the house, too.

Hmm. Sounds like some of the reasons God may tell us ‘no’. Sometimes things are bad for us. Some decisions take away something we need. Some things are simply not meant for us, and some bad choices make messes for other people.

God is compassionate. Despite how it feels, and despite our limited understanding, He doesn’t ever tell us ‘no’ or take away simply because He can. For every ‘no’ there is a reason. Like I tell my kids- I don’t ask them to do/not to do things for nothing. There is always a purpose! Sometimes it’s to their benefit, and sometimes it’s to protect the interest of others. God sees the whole picture; so far beyond what we could even imagine. He knows every detail and all that is to come. Even in our doubt or disappointment, let’s choose to trust His ‘no’s’.

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:11-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Pieces & Promise

Pieces & Promise

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NLT

– • – • – • – • –

Guys…. Something happens to me when I walk into a fabric store.

I don’t know if I can quite explain it, really. It’s an emotional mixture of calm and giddy, paired with a sharp decrease in logical reasoning. I suddenly forget all of life’s problems and get excited for every new line of fabrics that come out. Then, I forget all about the other beautiful fabric I have at home and begin rationalizing the purchases I’m about to make with reasons that aren’t very rational at all:

  1. “Someone is bound to have a baby sometime, somewhere- this adorable print will be perfect for that!”
  2. “I know I don’t NEED another sewing notion but this coupon makes it too good to pass up!”
  3. “This fabric would look great with the other stuff I have! (Even though they won’t be going into the same project. 🤷🏻‍♀️)

And the list goes on of course….

There is just something about the process of creating that seems to put all things into perspective once the cutter starts rolling and the machine starts buzzing. The sounds of my sewing room alone are enough to put my spirit at ease. It’s interesting, isn’t it, the way a quilter looks at piles of broken fabric pieces with stars in her eyes? It seems fundamentally true that someone with a heart to mend and create can always look at brokenness and see building. They can spot fragments and see a future. They admire pieces and see promise.

That is how God sees you, and sees me. He looks at the pieces of us left behind by our own sin and by the sins of others which have affected us, and I imagine He is both calm and giddy; both confident in His perfect skill to mend us, and thrilled by His almighty power to create newness in us. He isn’t the one to have caused our brokenness, but He is eager to begin a good work in us and carry it to completion when we come to Him. He looks at our disassembled state with great plans to give us hope and a bright future. What a comfort it is that our God is one who mends and loves all our broken pieces- and refuses to leave us incomplete!

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

– • – • – • – • –

UPDATE:

If you read my New Year’s post, then you know that taking up quilting was one of my resolutions for 2019. I’ve (finally) recently finished my first quilt and thought I’d share with my craft-loving readers. I’d love to know if any of you quilt or craft, so feel free to share in the comments below!

My first quilt, made in crib size for my daughter:

Things My Kids Say Thursday #10

Things My Kids Say Thursday #10

Son (8 yrs.): What is tofu?

Me: It’s a food people eat instead of meat, why?

Son: I always thought it was food made from toes.

– • – • – • – • –

I was a good mom and corrected him.. BUT if I’d had more presence of mind through the laughter I could have let him go on thinking that and had a pretty fun surprise meal waiting for him later…. 😂

“I made this for you!”

“I made this for you!”

“I made you this!” These are often the proud words of:

A. Anyone who has ever considered herself crafty, or

B. Any child who has ever finger painted, paper crafted, or demolished his or her parent’s personal belongings and glued them into a new creation

(Photo credit: Karly Santiago)

It’s a highly anticipated moment to finally gift someone with a creation from your own hands, whatever it may be. The long hours and unwholesome- I mean loving words that go into making a special gift make that moment worth it. Bringing life to piles of stuff and making them into a fully formed and materialized idea is a special experience. Some may see it as a frivolous use of time or materials, but I see it as an opportunity to explore a characteristic of God- one we exhibit because we are made in His image.

The first five words of the Bible are these:

“In the beginning God created…”

God was a creator. It’s easy to remember that He made the heavens and the earth and so on, but have you ever stopped to think how plain and boring He could have made each thing? The sky could have been white and the earth could have been shades of gray, and so on with every creation in between. He could have created one food with one flavor for us. (Thank you God that you gave us good food, amen!) But stop and take a look around- God…. was a creator. He created purposeful things and beautiful things, and countless combinations of the two.

(Photo credit: rawpixel)

This is an exciting observation for an artistic person like me because Genesis 1 gives another truth not long after this first inspiring verse. It says that human beings are made in God’s image. So if God is a creator and He made me to resemble Him, that means that there is some creative power in me, too.

Somewhere along in life I stumbled upon this perspective-changing quote from Leo Buscaglia:

“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”

Maybe you’ve talked yourself out of creative pursuits, either believing they aren’t worthwhile or that they won’t sustain you. It’s certainly not unheard of for a person to do this, but I’m here to encourage you to make wise use of the gifts God gave you! I believe that there is a way to honor God with every skill and talent He gives us. And what’s more- I believe they are connected to how you pursue your purpose. Our purpose in this life is to love God and love people, but the beauty is that God has blessed us with so many ways to do those things. He made no mistakes when carefully deciding what skills to give to each of us.

If you sew, make items for those in need. If you are useful with building, help an unable neighbor with some much needed home repairs. If you paint, make a beautiful piece for someone who needs cheering up. There is always a way show love through your own personal God-given skill set.

What are some of your skills and talents? How have you found ways to use them to “gift back to God”?

Waiting is Hard

Waiting is Hard

“JUICE!” cried my tiny boss, when asked if she would like her purple butterfly cup refilled. Her little feet stamped and stomped, rambunctious with anticipation.

“BOD#%ZTX!”*

*(Translation: ‘bottle’.)

The volume of her demands was rising, as if controlled by an internal radio knob. She was almost in full meltdown when at last- the bottle of juice was in plain sight. Her whining turned to giggles when she realized that I had not made her any false promises and the object of her desire was just moments away. Suddenly the waiting for her became bearable, and she became content knowing that she would receive what she’d asked for.

(Photo credit: Brooke Lark)

– • – • – • – • –

Man, I can be a toddler. Waiting is hard, right? Whatever my proverbial juice bottle, I tend to want it when I want it, especially when it’s something big. I bow my head to pray about it, and then open my eyes half expecting it to already be before me. Even when I pray for God’s perfect timing, I still hold out hope that His timing might fit my schedule.

Our wish lists aren’t always fulfilled on the “Christmas Day” that we have imprinted on our minds when we ask for them. Sometimes the wait even dampens our faith or enthusiasm for our prayer life. It’s so much easier to hold onto that prayer of perfect timing when we see the juice being poured into our bottle right before our eyes because patience is just easier when a reward is promised and visible.

(Photo credit: Annie Spratt)

The comfort in waiting is that regardless of your request, God does promise a reward:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NLT

  1. Give your worries to God
  2. Pray- tell God what you need
  3. Express your gratitude

God’s peace- His perfect peace- is our promised reward when we do these simple things.

I myself am in a season of waiting. I stumbled into a closed door recently, mostly because I had a mask of expectation obstructing my vision. It made me realize that sometimes the blessings sneak in through the window, or the back door, or heck- parachute down from the sky. We don’t always see where God’s answer is going to come from or what it’s going to be. We can’t always expect to see someone filling our order and handing it to us. When we wait, sometimes the answer is an easy ‘yes’, sometimes the answer is ‘not yet’, and sometimes the answer is something even better, though we may not fully understand the entirety of that in this lifetime.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:8-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God is planning something big for your life. His plans are above yours or mine and so we have to keep an open mind for what our answer may look like.

(Photo credit: Annie Snow)

If you are in a season of waiting, I’m praying that this time develops your vision for blessings, and that you may see God’s goodness and answers all around you. I hope that your wait is made as short or long as is necessary for God to develop patience and perspective in you.

How Delightful!

How Delightful!

The room was dimly lit with the sleepy light of a late summer day of rain. The rocking chair I’d settled into was neatly angled from the corner of our comfortable living room, and in close proximity to the fresh country air pouring in from the wide open window. The sound of water up against the porch awning was gentle and unobtrusive, more comforting than any lullaby.

I rested my head on the back of the rocker as it glided back and forth. I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude. I was thankful that my husband was off working at a job that provided for our family, that my son was sitting in classes he enjoyed, and for the bliss of being nestled beneath the weight of a sleeping baby.

(Photo credit: Danielle Dolson)

“This is Heaven,” I thought. I knew even then that it was one of the best moments I had ever, and maybe would ever, experience in my lifetime. I was deeply contented and my heart was truly delighted.

“Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:3-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Oh, those traveling verses! Have you ever come across a line of scripture that begins to follow you around? You start to see it on wall hangings, on a passerby’s t-shirt, or maybe more subtly in a book you’re reading or in conversation with a stranger.

This Psalms passage has been making itself known and as I read it again, a line jumped out at me: “take delight in the Lord”. Do you ever find that there are some common phrases in the Bible or church setting that we kind of take for granted and may not have spent time figuring out? This line occurred to me as a “taken for granted” kind of line, particularly because of what is said next: “take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desire.” Well sign me up! The last part peeked my interest because of course, who doesn’t want to be granted their heart’s desire?! It’s like the Bible is saying- God will give you whatever you want, just follow this simple instruction! So naturally you backtrack to examine the instruction more carefully, (and while there is more to it) its true meaning becomes clearer.

(Photo credit: Monika Grabkowska)

To get a better grip on the phrase “to delight in”, I tried to plug it into my own life. Here’s what I came up with:

  • I delight in peaceful rainy days with the windows open like the one I described earlier.
  • I delight in funny cat videos.
  • I thoroughly delight in long slow walks through Joann Fabrics with a hot coffee in my hand.
  • I delight in seeing my kids play well together and not push each other into piles of Lego’s.

The phrase begins to take shape. “Where is your heart?” it seems to say. Now I could edit my post and put “I delight in doing God’s will and studying His Word” at the top, but if I’m being honest, it wasn’t the first thing I thought of. The little joys in life- which are certainly supplied by God- were my more immediate thoughts. Of course there is delight in living a God-led life, but it’s often His blessings that catch our attention first.

While it’s good to enjoy what God has given us, we shouldn’t allow it to replace our delight in the Lord. As the passage says- take delight in the LORD and he will give you your heart’s desires. The gifts in this life are to be enjoyed, but soon pass away. Our heart should find its happiness in the One who never fades or ends or changes, because then our joy will be unwavering, too. If we delight in the Lord, our desires will naturally evolve to ones that are good and pleasing to Him, and I believe He will in turn grant them.

(Photo credit: Lesly Juarez)

“He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭18:19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

So what does God delight in? He delights in us- our hearts devoted to Him! There’s no need to get caught up on figuring out any more than that. Just as we delight in our children, so God delights in us. Psalms makes sure to rule out the unnecessary as well:

“You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand — you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭40:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God doesn’t need us to check serving, attending service, or activity in a small group off of our list- even though those are things that often come naturally as a result of a devoted heart. He just wants to be the priority on our list. When we study His Word and really grasp what it is to have His Holy Spirit living in our hearts, we will find delight in Him and doing His will becomes a natural side effect.

“I delight to do Your will, O my God; yes, Your law is within my heart. [Heb. 10:5-9.]”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭40:8‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

It’s the beginning of what I hope is a delightful holiday week for you all! Enjoy your many blessings as you reflect on them this week- and feel free to share a little about them in the comments below!