Conversations

Prince Charming

May I have this dance?

I look up from my lonely seat at the table to the gaze of the One inviting me to dance. They are kind and gentle eyes. I’ve not ever been asked to dance before. I don’t know if I even know how to dance. Everyone else seems like they are having a good time, but what if I can’t dance? What if I humiliate myself? What if I step on his toes or trip over my own?

 

He extends His hand, waiting for mine. It seems like an eternity passes as I question whether or not I’m good enough to dance with Him. There is some reason after-all why I’m sitting here at this table alone.

I finally place my hand in His and He gently helps me to my feet and leads me to the dance floor. I sway nervously as He takes the lead and I do my best to follow. Somehow I’m not tripping over anyone’s feet! In fact, I feel like I’m gliding on air. A million questions begin to rush through my mind. The question on repeat is “Why did He invite me?”

 

I manage to make it all the way through the first dance without embarrassing myself, no doubt due to His tender and masterful leadership. We kept right on dancing. With each song that played, I felt more alive and calm all at once. Every dance seemed to be better than the last. As my eyes met His, I felt as though I was the only one in the room and again wondered, “why me?”

After a stop in the music, He invites me to rest for a bit with a walk and some fresh air. The night is beautiful – not a single star missing from the sky. I begin to get teary-eyed looking at the expansive night sky, considering how small I am in such a magnificent universe. Somehow He knows my eyes are welling up even though I am trying to keep it together. He offers me His handkerchief and asks tenderly “Why are you crying?

 

It is easy to talk to Him. Something about His presence has a peaceful effect.

“Looking at all the beauty of creation, this great display of The Father’s magnificent glory, I wonder how I could have earned this attention from you. I am not as beautiful as all of this, nor am I as good as you. How is it that you have shown your attention to me tonight?”

 

He motions to a place where we can sit to continue our conversation.

He raises His hand, gesturing to the sky, “Each one of these stars has its own beauty and should one of them not be there, the sky would lose its brilliance. You are like a star.  You have a beauty all your own that cannot be replicated or replaced. Without you, the world is not as wonderful. There is nothing that you did to earn my attention but rather, you have had my attention from the moment My Father pointed you out to me. I know that you are imperfect, but that is why I am here. If you were completely good and perfect, you would not need or notice me. Just like these shining stars don’t work hard to be noticed and yet they capture our attention, there is nothing you can do or fail to do that would take my attention from you. I am here for you. I am here so you can have peace, joy, and to give you what you cannot see or get on your own – unconditional and unearned love. My attention is for you not because you earned it, but because my heart is for you.

Conversations

Who Am I?

Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child.
And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
Galatians 4:7

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Who am I, really?

What am I doing?

Why am I here?

I can’t seem to do anything right. I’m just failing all over the place. What good am I?

These are thoughts I struggle with far too frequently. I am my own worst critic, especially when things aren’t going according to plan (specifically my plan). This morning, after what feels like a very long week couple of weeks, I was definitely down on myself again. I was thinking about all the things I’m not doing well – I’m not being a great mom, or a great wife, or excelling at work, or keeping my house clean… the list just seemed to go on forever.

I pulled out my Bible to find help and encouragement and read just a few short verses in Galatians chapter four, and paused on verse 7. “What does a good, well-rounded (not stuck up) heir to a wealthy fortune look like? How does someone like that behave every day?”, I asked myself. I came up with a few things: confident, secure, they know who they are, they know how their father is respected.

But right now, I don’t feel like I look or act that way at all. I feel like I’m “failing all over the place”, not measuring up. So I asked The Father, “What does this mean – that I am Your heir? How should I be acting?” I started to write down what came to mind: strong, loved, confident, teacher, encourager, learner, studier, held, wise, helped, capable…img_5407

This mindset shift reminded me of who my Father is which then helped me begin to remember who I really am. All that muck and self-guilt that I started my morning with – that is not what my Daddy-God says about me. That’s not who I am. “Failure” is not one of my labels. I am not a failure, because my Daddy-God is not a failure. I still have things to work on. I’m an heir, not a perfect heir. But I’m not useless, purposeless, or a “failure all over the place”.

Sitting on my couch with my coffee in hand, I thought “Yup. I do know this. Got it.”

I was thankful for the reminders and did have more peace, but I had an almost casual response. I still wrestled a little with my thoughts.

And then came the tap on my shoulder.

I was listening to the radio in my car (I rarely do that these days) and a brand new song by Lauren Daigle was playing. It was about what God says about us. It was exactly the things my Daddy-God had been speaking to me earlier this morning!

Tap. Tap.

“Are you listening to what I’m telling you, little one?”, says The Father. “You are MY child. My child is not defined by averages, successes, or feelings. You are my very own Daughter. There is nothing we can’t do together and I’m always right here to help you, to hold you, to give you exactly what you need to do all the things you need to do. Who are you? -You are loved, you are strong, you are held, you are able. You are Mine.”

To the Precious Ones reading this, if you are struggling with your thoughts today, know that you are His. You are held closely by The Father, who loves you so dearly, without condition. You are helped by Him. He is able to do anything you need Him to because you are His child. Who you are is not defined by the measurements of the world around you. Who you are is declared by your Daddy-God. You are priceless to Him. You are His very own precious, beloved child and all He has is yours.

What do you hear The Father say about you?

Kingdom Living

I’m Hungry

 

“I’m too hungry!”

This is a declaration I often hear from my 5 year old, usually at the end of the day when dinner time isn’t coming fast enough. It is such a strong feeling for her that everything she knows she’s capable of doing, like walking, ceases to be possible. She will even drop to the floor as if she had been wandering through the desert for days without food and water and look up with this face of “I can’t do it any more! I’m too hungry to move!” While this is quite comical to read, and the first few times she did this were also a little funny, it slowly became habitual and of course, as good parents, we have not permitted it to go on and are working to help her correct this behavior. We acknowledge that she’s hungry and then remind her that she does have to walk and that we of course are going to get her food to nourish her body.

Its amazing how life, especially with my children, intersects with spiritual truths.

When my babies were babies, they couldn’t talk and tell me how hungry they were. They would cry or reach for food on their own, when they got older and could do sign language they communicated a little bit better, but for the most part, it was entirely up to us to figure out when they needed to be fed and then to provide them with that food. 

When I was a “baby Christian” the same was true of me with God. I didn’t know how to find what I needed to fill my spirit and I didn’t know how to ask God for help or how to recognize His voice when I was feeling discouraged or angry or needed wisdom about the next step to take (1 Peter 2:2-3). The Father faithfully made Himself available to me in so many ways, things I didn’t even know at the time were helping me and “feeding” me. I regularly attended church and most days I read the Bible. I also listened to good Christian music that encouraged and strengthened my spirit, read Christian novels that contained messages of truth relating to God’s Word, creative outlets like drawing and writing that I was able to use to express both my needs and my adoration, and I had relationships with people who loved me, lovingly challenged me, and taught me how to apply godly principles. The Father lovingly and graciously provided all of this “food” to me so that I could grow and not be “too hungry”.

As my babies have grown, they have become more able to wait for mealtimes but also more able to get food on their own. My five year old can get snacks from the fridge like yogurt, cheese, fruit, bread – easy stuff that doesn’t require any cooking. My ten year old however can do a bit more like make sandwiches and cereal and even cook eggs or mac ‘n cheese. As they have grown, we have taught them how to find and make food on their own and they have also asked to learn with us when we’re cooking.

As I have grown with God, I can look back and see similar seasons where I’ve learned how to find and go after my own spiritual food. Through church services and special events like youth camp, vacation Bible school, Bible study groups, etc. The Father has taught me how to pay attention to the whispers of His still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13), how to seek Him first (Matthew 6:33), how to worship with literally everything in me (1 Samuel 6:14), how to study the Bible so that I can understand the rich morsels He has placed there (Colossians 1:9-12), and most importantly how to pray – how to talk to Him, to communicate with Him about my needs and my joys, my concerns and my greatest appreciation and admiration (Matthew 6:5-34). I have grown from being entirely dependent on God just putting things in front of me, to depending on God to provide the ingredients so that I can eat and drink full meals that we make together. I still have a long way to go before I’m cooking up gourmet dishes to feast on with my kingdom family, but The Father is such a patient Teacher. He always provides the best ingredients, making the food rich, healthy, and perfect for my soul. From time to time I stay out of the kitchen a little too long and start to feel my spirit grumble. I sometimes walk up to The Father and say “Daddy, I’m so hungry, I’m starving for more!” (Psalm 42:1-2) And He so graciously reminds me He’s never left me to fend for myself and points me in the direction of the ingredients (the Bible, worship music, prayer) and sometimes even starts pulling things out of the pantry (a new song, a scripture I’d forgotten, a short text message from a loving person). He places them in my hands and we begin cooking together again.

There is also a bit of caution that we have to take as parents, that our children don’t just eat sugary sweets and carbs all day, but that we provide and even insist on healthy food like broccoli, carrots, proteins, etc. If I don’t have healthy foods in the house, they can’t eat them. If I don’t provide a way for each of them to get these healthy foods at their individual skill level, they will reach for the un-healthy foods every single time, and it never satisfies them. They are still hungry. 

The same is true for me and the food my spirit needs. The “mountain top” worship experiences or sermons or special events or miracles are so amazing and are a stark reminder to me of the distinct power of God, however they are not the only food I need. I have to eat daily – not weekly or monthly. When I wait until Sunday church services to receive from The Father, I only get a little bit and while it is really good, it doesn’t satisfy me, it doesn’t keep me full all week long. When I experience a great sermon or conference or witness a miracle, the wonder and amazement of that lasts for a little while, but just like a sugary or carb-loaded snack doesn’t keep my body full and satisfied, neither do those encounters with God keep my spirit full and satisfied. They are good and useful for encouraging me and reminding me of God’s goodness, but by themselves, they don’t build up my spiritual muscles. The Father daily provides experiences and truth for my spiritual and eternal health and growth, but I have to use them for that. (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-5) They don’t always “taste” as good as the thrilling, emotional experiences – in fact sometimes its like choking down kale – but ultimately it brings greater joy and satisfaction and the best of all, growth in holiness. This holiness I’m growing up in is The Father’s greatest and best for me.

 

Conversations

Happy Father’s Day, God

Dear Papa God,

This is the time of year that we set aside to celebrate fathers so I thought I’d write you this short letter just to tell you some of the most special things to me about You, my Papa God (Abba).

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The thing you do the best is: love

I have given you plenty of reasons to be impatient and frustrated with me and really, I wouldn’t blame you one bit if you decided you’d had enough. I certainly have had enough of me and my failings. But in spite of all my failings, you haven’t ever given up on me. And, Papa God, its so much more amazing to me that every time I mess up you have always been right beside me with your hand outstretched, ready to pick me up and whisper to me as you pull me close once again. I love hearing you say, “I love you. Nothing you can ever do or say will make me love you less or any more than I already do because I love you so much, I gave up my very best just to have you with me all the time.” I love climbing up on your lap and leaning my head against your chest so I can hear your heart beat as you speak loving words of kindness, grace, truth, and instruction to me. You give me so much grace, forgiveness, and mercy – all things I don’t deserve and never earned – all because You love me. 

My favorite thing you’ve made is: kids – especially my kids

Actually, its really hard to pick just one thing out of everything you’ve ever made! The amazing sunsets and sunrises on the water are so breathtakingly beautiful – I don’t find anything like those in the store, and your hand crafts each one uniquely and perfectly beautifully. And colors all around – your paint palette is amazing! From the pink and purple night skies to the brightest flowers and greenest grass, you make the best stuff, Papa God. And then there’s the people and animals you’ve made – you are so creative! What an amazing imagination you have! And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the stars and the entire universe! But ultimately when I look at the amazing children you made, just for me and the wonderful husband you gave me, I am in such awe. From the smallest things came these two complex, beautiful, life-filled beings that only the best Creator could have ever designed and fit together so perfectly.

My favorite thing to do with you is: talk to you and listen to your stories 

I get so much joy from spending time with you, Papa God. My heart is so thrilled to hear you in our time together. I don’t always do a great job of listening to you (you speak kinda soft most of the time) but I’m learning. And every time I hear you for myself, I just want to stay in that place with you. I don’t want to go anywhere else or be with anyone else or do anything else, I just want to sit with you and listen to you and see all the mind-blowing things you want to show me. I love to hear your sweet voice. I love to see pictures you draw in my mind’s eye as you speak truth and life and love to me. And I love that you listen to me too, Papa God. I know I can go on and on and on…hahaha a little like my sweet 5 year old. But you are so loving and kind to listen to me. And when my heart is heavy and my tears come so fast over the smallest issues, you still sit with me and listen to me, and comfort me and remind me that you’re bigger and stronger than all those problems.

My favorite thing about you is: you pursue and don’t give up on me

It warms and thrills my heart to think about you dancing and singing and rejoicing over me! You are an amazing dancer and singer – I just know it! And oh how you have forgiven me and beckoned to me so many times! I don’t deserve your continued pursuit. Though I would have stopped a long time ago, you are not one to give up on any of your kids, and I’m no exception. And because of how you don’t give up on me and you continue to pursue me, I feel encouraged to approach you. I know that you won’t forget about me or special events in my life, even ones that I don’t realize are worth celebrating, you are determined to celebrate me all the time – simply because you love me. What more approval and affection could I want? I know I’ll find true, pure approval and affection from you, Papa God. How can you be so excited over any small obedience of mine? How can you be so determined to never give up on me? Yet, you are and nothing at all will stop the joy I experience in knowing that you rejoice over me.

 

Papa God, I don’t want to leave this letter; there is so much more I could and should say, though I don’t know if I can find all the words. I don’t want to stop remembering you and thinking about how good you are, and how amazing and strong you are, and how sweetly loving you are to me. I don’t want to leave this precious time with you. But I know that no matter where I am, I can always lift my head up and you are right here beside me, ready to listen to my praises and to speak lovingly to me. You are the best and only, Papa God, and I want to be with you and to be just like you.

Pick me up,Papa God? Hold me closer?

Teach me more, Papa God. Tell me more of your stories; I love the sound of your voice.

I love you, Papa God.

Happy Father’s Day, Papa God.