family

Chosen

Ephesians 1:4 (NLT)

“Even before he made the world,
God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”

I hope you all will forgive me for digressing from my “Who I am” series for this week. But God spoke to me this week in an illustration that I want to share with you. You see, as I was walking home from dropping the kids off at school on Wednesday, I came across a random Chihuahua. He was in a yard that I didn’t recall him belonging to, and he started barking at me, and then he followed me briefly (and forgive me, the picture is a bit blurry–he wouldn’t stand still). He finally decided to stay where he was, but as often happens when I encounter a stray dog, I began to daydream. What if he followed me home? What if he refused to leave? What if he chose us to adopt him?

Now, you have to understand—and I mean no disrespect—but we are NOT Chihuahua people. We like BIG dogs: Bernese Mountain Dogs, Great Pyrenees, Newfoundlands, those sorts of dogs. But there’s something about the idea of a pet choosing you, isn’t there? About them adopting you, if you will. At least there is for me. So, I thought to myself that, if this dog indeed were to choose us, we might find ourselves inviting him into our lives and our home and becoming his forever family. We might.

There’s just something about being chosen. It’s like destiny, do you know what I mean? That’s one thing (among many) that I love SO much about God. He has chosen ME. He has chosen YOU. Psalm 11:3 says, “Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” There is such comfort in knowing this. The old hymn states, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!” But I dare say, “Blessed assurance, I am HIS!” Know this assurance today, and rest in the peace that comes from being His chosen.

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Mothers’ Dreams and Wishes

With Mothers’ Day coming up on Sunday, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on motherhood and what it looks like in action. And one aspect of that is that we, as mothers, have a lot of dreams for our kids. If you’re a mom, I’ll bet you can relate. But I think that we also let ourselves get caught up in some wishes that we hold onto for our kids as well. You may be asking by now, what’s the difference between dreams and wishes? Well, at least from my perspective, the two are vastly different.

If I were to list some wishes that I had for my kids, that list might include things like comfort, happiness, pleasure—fuzzy, feel-good kinds of things. On the other hand, if I were asked to list some dreams I have for my kids, I would say that I want them to display godly character. I would say that I went them to be used mightily by God and to accomplish amazing things for His kingdom. And through it all, I would want them to show humility and grace.

These are two different perspectives—one more temporal, and one more eternal. And where our focus is will, to a large degree, affect how we act out our role as mothers. I think of several mothers in the Bible who sought God’s best for their children because they placed their dreams for them ahead of their wishes for them. Think of Moses’ mother, who—in order to save his life—placed him in a basket in a river in hopes that someone would find and raise him and that he would accomplish God’s will for his life. Then there was Hannah, who—barren for SO long—promised God that if He gave her a child, she would offer him right back. And when God granted her request, she honored her promise, allowing Eli the priest to raise her son, Samuel, in the service of the Lord. And of course, there was Elizabeth—mother of John the Baptist—who conceived her child while barren and in her old age. He also was dedicated to the Lord and committed to serving Him as a messenger sent to proclaim the coming of the Messiah. And of course, let’s don’t forget Mary, the mother of Jesus, who accepted not only a difficult calling for herself, but also a difficult row to hoe for her child.

These women shared their faith and their faithfulness in common. But they also shared something else. Each of their children, in pursuit of their God-given callings, faced challenges, trials, tribulations, and suffering. Each of those children also remained faithful in spite of everything they endured. I wouldn’t describe their lives as full of comfort, happiness, and pleasure. But I would say that each developed godly character, that each was used mightily by God, that each accomplished amazing things for His kingdom, and that each showed humility and grace.

As mothers, I think it’s difficult to consider that our dreams for our children may take them into difficult places. And I’ve sometimes wondered whether these biblical mothers would have made different choices, had they known what lied ahead for their sons. But I always come to the conclusion that, no, they wouldn’t have. I believe that they placed their trust wholly and completely in a known and knowing God to do what was best, and to go with their children wherever He would lead them. I think their focus remained on the dreams that they had for their children, rather than on fleeting wishes. I pray that when you and I are faced with these choices, we will choose wisely, just as these women did.

Happy Mothers’ Day!

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What’s Good for the Heart

Psalm 46:10a
“Be still, and know that I am God.”

Luke 12:34
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

The kids and I spend a lot of time walking near our house. It’s practically a year-round activity for us. Gotta love the Texas weather, right? And it’s really my primary mode of exercise. Honestly, I haven’t been to the gym since Tijge was born—almost four years ago! So, you can probably imagine that we walk at a pretty good clip and we try not to make too many stops. I need to keep my heart rate up if I’m going to get a good cardio workout.

But today, as we near Valentine’s Day, I’m reflecting on one walk in particular—one we took last spring. It was a beautiful day, so we set out on a 4-mile loop. But about halfway through, I stopped dead in my tracks. A particular scene caught my eye and I had to stop for a couple of photos.SSPX0047

I know this phone photo doesn’t do it justice, but you get the idea. And I got the message: Stop. Take in the beauty that I’ve created for you to enjoy. Don’t be in such a hurry. Stop. R-E-L-A-X. (Go Pack Go. 🙂 )

Then, around the 3-mile mark, we passed Duke and Jake’s house. They are two dogs that the kids adore, but that are always fenced in. Well, at one point, I’d left a little note in their mailbox for their ‘mom,’ commenting on how the kids would love to meet the dogs someday. And she actually called me! She said that, sure, the kids could meet the dogs sometime and that we should text her the next time we passed by and saw her car in the driveway. Well, wouldn’t you know it? She was home. So we stopped again. We visited for a while and made some new friends. Tijge played with the dogs, but also on the playground, in the dirt, with the shovel….and he loved it.

As we left and headed home, I briefly considered how much of a ‘waste’ this walk had been, in terms of physical fitness. But then I realized that these moments, these memories, are what’s truly good for the heart.

Little Minutes

Psalm 39:4-5

“LORD, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days;
Let me know how transient I am. Behold, you have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.”

As I was lying in the hotel bed with Tijge, he took my hand and held it as he drifted off to sleep. I was reminded of a habit that we had briefly gotten into a few weeks before. He would lay down and go to sleep, only to wake up at around midnight—at which point, he would sweetly ask, “You want to lay by me a little minutes?” Of course I do. Well, invariably, I would fall asleep and end up spending the rest of the night with him.

At one point, Chris expressed concern that this might get to be too much of a habit. Probably, I reasoned inwardly, but then I thought about the day that would no doubt come—sooner rather than later—when I would no longer be able to comfort him; when I wouldn’t be “cool” enough to be seen with, let alone to lay or snuggle with. And then I will miss these nights, and I won’t remember the midnight wake-up call, or his tossing and turning, or my stiff back and neck. I will only, and very fondly, remember those few extra minutes with him each night.

Little minutes, indeed.

Scraps

Luke 15: 20; 23-24

“So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off,
his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son,
threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Bring the fattened calf and kill it.
Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

“Daddy, made a mess.” This phrase is forever etched in my memory. Over a decade ago, as a 20-something single, I heard a gifted speaker and teacher utter those words as part of a message aimed at an audience of teenagers. He was sharing an illustration about his daughter, and how she would sometimes be eating Fruit Loops in the back seat of the car when she would spill them (or dump them out, as the case may be), and then casually call to the front seat, “Daddy, made a mess.” He compared her nonchalant response to us, as children of God. He explained that, often, we are careless with our decisions and our actions; then we turn to God, expecting Him to drop everything and clean up our mess. When he shared this story, I had no children, and no intention of ever having any. And yet, the story resonated with me. Largely for this reason, I think, I tend to see my kids through a lens that allows me to relate their behavior to spiritual lessons. I say all of that to introduce today’s “lesson,” or illustration, if you will.

Enter Laredo. Her breakfast sat on the table: fresh strawberries, Cheerios, and raisins (a favorite of hers at that time). I left her at the table and turned away for a minute. When I looked back, I was surprised to find her squatting down beneath her high chair, eating dried-up food scraps that had admittedly not gotten cleaned up from the night before. Gross.

But, when you think about it, it’s not so much different from the rest of us. For example, consider the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), eating pig slop in a barn when there was a feast waiting for him back home. We also are, very often, content to sit with our table scraps and garbage, instead of embracing all that God has for us. Remember that we are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), and that God longs to bless us in ways that we can’t even imagine. We need only let Him.