Wowed by God’s Work in Me [day 23: work]

I’m one to stop and smell the roses. It seems I’ve rubbed off on my kids in this case.  My daughter is adept at noticing details of the day like cotton candy sunsets and full moons. She stops to admire a rosebush in the middle of a mess of weeds. My son notices every plane that flies overhead and can pick out a kite stories above as we ride in a crowded car. He stops to greet each dog (true story!) and explodes in joy at the sight of a butterfly in flight.

You don’t have to teach kids to be wowed by the wonderful world we live in. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we are admonished in Scripture to become like little children.

Another reason may also be to encourage our dependence on Jesus. Surely, this child-like awe of our Creator and total dependence on Him are paramount to cultivating and sustaining a life-changing faith. I love how Psalm 104 nods at both of these.

The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever:
The LORD shall rejoice in his works.
He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth:
He toucheth the hills, and they smoke.
I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live:
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
My meditation of him shall be sweet:
I will be glad in the LORD.
Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth,
And let the wicked be no more.
Bless thou the LORD, O my soul.
Praise ye the LORD.

Psalm 104:31-35

Throughout this chapter, the Psalmist celebrates Gods works of both creation and providence. His mighty work didn’t stop when He looked and said, “It is good.” He is intimately involved in lovingly sustaining His creation. And He is intimately involved in lovingly sustaining me. The power that put the world in motion and keeps it spinning precisely according to His divine will is alive and working in me. I can trust that the work He does is good for me even when it doesn’t feel like it.

God doesn’t need me to be wowed by Him, but it benefits me to celebrate small in His work I see in the world and the work He does within me. When I cultivate this daily habit of celebrating small, my meditation of the Lord can be sweet and my heart can be glad. I’ll rejoice in His work, and I’ll totally depend on Him just like a child who paints pictures in the sky and never ceases to be amazed at the puffs of perfection. He is totally helpless but totally happy because the world is just as it should be.

While that babe may not know who created the clouds or keeps his heart beating, I do. I put my life in His hands each day because I know He is only capable of good work in the world — and in me, too.

How can you praise God’s provision in your life?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

Faithfulness to Feed despite Fear of Rejection [day 18: share]

Yesterday, for the very first time, our daughter tried the traditional meal of Nepal, dal bhat which is made up of a lentil soup and rice. It was a big deal because this day has been coming for 2 and 1/2 years! We hooped and hollered and promised her a trip today to go buy some new movies. How many times had a plate of dal bhat been offered to her? Countless times! Her school serves it every day. We always thought peer pressure would be enough to get her to eat it, but after nearly a week of her refusal to eat, her teacher called to request we start packing her lunch.

She’s always been a picky eater — so much so that I wondered if we would ever have peace at our dining table. Per the suggestion of the pediatrician we consulted with, we kept serving her the same food we were eating with one thing on her plate we knew she liked. Whether she refused or dug in was up to her, and we were not to pressure her lest we give her anxiety about mealtimes. We just kept putting the plate in front of her.

So often, I feel a similar struggle in efforts to share Christ with friends and neighbors. Yesterday, I confessed that fear of saying the wrong thing keeps me from sharing the gospel and living as a bold witness for Christ. Another thing that has hindered this work of God in the past is the fear of my message being rejected. “What if they get mad? What if they think — or worse, say — I’m rude and should have kept my big mouth shut?” ‘What if’ is so rarely a good starting point in my thought life.

In the moment, it feels like the worst thing that could happen. And it is absolutely heartbreaking to hear someone reject the work of Christ– especially so if it be someone you love. I have found comfort knowing that it is only my responsibility to present the message in a palatable form. It is God who works in hearts to change lives with the truth of the Gospel.

When I celebrate small, I celebrate the share. I recognize my inability to force my faith upon someone — as I’ve learned with my small children—  and I lean hard on the Lord who declares His desire to win all people into His family. I don’t know who will come along and water the seed I’ve planted with simple words. I don’t know what lies beneath hard exteriors and harsh words. I can’t foresee how a friendship may flourish and what further opportunities He may give to continue to communicate the truths of the Gospel.

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building (1 Cor. 3:5-9).

Like daddy and I are on the same team teaching little people what nourishes their bodies, we are laborers together with God in reaching the world with the Gospel message. We are afforded the amazing opportunity to work alongside the master of the universe to accomplish His will — though we know Who does the heavy lifting. In His glorious grace, He allows us to reap the rewards. We aren’t promised immediate yeses and full embrace of the Gospel when we step out in faith to share Jesus, but we are promised He will be with us. Truly, His presence trumps positive outcomes.

We can positively praise when the Gospel is presented, — not only when it is received. Faithfulness is to practice hospitality in presenting plates loaded with the good stuff of the message. Acceptance or refusal is on the receiver, and we rejoice that the message has been heard. We nourish our relationships by fully sharing our lives with those we love and live with. Sharing Jesus should be a natural outflow of that life sharing. We must only be faithful to keep showing up and placing the plate before them trusting that one day, “Yuck” will turn into “Yum” as they savor the sweetness of what the Savior has done. Our earnest prayer is that they will “Taste and see the Lord is good” as we do each day.

How can you share Jesus in a palatable form today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

It’s OK to Grow as You Go [day 17: grow]

I have fond memories of playing in the park while my brother was on the baseball diamond as a child. There was flower picking, gravel scooping, and begging mom for slushies. It was the magic childhood is made of — at least, that’s what it seems like looking back. Little friends would chat, and sometimes we would get past “what’s your name?” and “what is your favorite color?” No one had ever told me not to talk to other kids about Jesus, so I asked my playmates if they were saved like they had any idea what that meant. I barely did. I just had Jesus in my heart, and everything on my heart came out eventually.

As I got older, fear of not presenting Jesus perfectly or having something in my life that would block the effectual working of the Gospel kept me from exhibiting this type of boldness. I knew I didn’t know everything, and I thought, “If I share my faith, someone is going to ask me a question I can’t answer.” So I just didn’t. I started to hear things like, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” I began to think it was OK, as long as I didn’t live like the lost, to keep my mouth shut about the greatest gift ever given to me. I’ve come to find out I was wrong. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

I needed someone to tell me, “It’s OK to grow as you go.” I needed permission to share my faith without an undergrad in apologetics. I wish someone would have encouraged me to live faithfully as a Christian witness, speaking the truth in love while humbly admitting when I made mistakes. I would have benefited from a reminder that fear is a tool of the enemy which keeps me from fulfilling the will of God laid out in the Great Commission. Maybe someone did tell me, and I just wasn’t listening.

But now I know — when I celebrate small, I thank God that I don’t have all the answers. I find joy in the fact that I will never know everything about Him or truly understand the scale of what Has he has done for me. I relish each opportunity to share Him, and I trust Him to do a good work in spite of me. If I wait to live missionally until I’ve achieved spiritual giant status, I will miss out on great things God wants to do through my life. As I celebrate small, I praise Him for the understanding He gives along the way, and I trust He will polish my witness in his power while covering my flaws in His blood.

I think back and wonder how things would have been different had someone given me permission to be imperfect. I trust God was working even in my silence, but I think I think I’ll speak up from now on. I may have to pretend I’m still the brave little girl picking dandelions and spilling my heart to anyone who would listen.

What keeps you from living missionally?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

Tales of A Trying Mom [day 14: try]

“I’m trying my best, you guys! Give mommy a break!” I’m not so proud to say I’ve uttered these words in sheer exasperation at my kids who were more than likely begging for their third snack before 8 a.m. at the time. I think I get more exercise running around the house in the morning than I do in my 20-minute cardio bursts!

At my best, I’m just trying to be a good mom — my definition of which changes daily, setting a standard I can never catch up with. At my worst, I am just trying to make it to bedtime when I can catch my breath and turn something on the TV I can actually wrap my head around. It is exhausting evaluating my efforts. What would be “good enough?”

I feel the pressure of big dreams for my kids. It is compounded by news articles stating preferable bedtimes and screentime limits lest my children’s brains melt — or worse! On top of just keeping them clothed and attitudes in check, I have to worry about whether they snatched something out of the cupboard containing high-fructose corn syrup. At every perceived failure I think, “I’m a bad mom.”

Is that true? Is it lovely and good? Is it something profitable for me to dwell upon (Philippians 4:8)? Or does it just make me hold up on the couch behind a pillow barrier and throw Cheetos across the room to my kids while I wallow in my inadequacy? Thinking I’m a bad mom does not make me a better mom. Shame is a lousy agent of change.

When I celebrate small, I see myself for what I am — a trying mom. I’m flawed and imperfect, but I am endued with power from on High. I have the Holy Spirit living and working inside of me, and I am wholly loved and accepted just as I am. When I celebrate small, I praise God for His mercy when I try and fail, and I praise Him for His grace to allow me to see any fruit from my labor. I am grateful for the desire He puts within me to glorify God in motherhood and to train my children to love and live for Him.

When I truly drop the ball, I first go to my heavenly Father for forgiveness and then to my children. I’ll tell them how I love them and dream the biggest dreams for them. I’ll point out God’s kindness to me in allowing me to be their mother despite all my imperfections. And I’ll assure them we can confidently put our trust in Jesus because He never will fail us. I’ll look into their wet eyes which are probably royally confused at this point and tell them I will never be a perfect mom, but I will always be a trying mom. As long as I’m trying to point them to Jesus and magnify Him in my life, that will be good enough.

Does your evaluation of your role as a mother need to change?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

How I Invite Him in for the Good of my Kids [day 13: invite]

Five Minute Friday: INVITE

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I have befriended a woman in my neighborhood who has a daughter just a year older than Jo. Naturally, I want to get together with my friend so I bring her along to spend time with her “friend”– I use the term loosely in this case. The problem is, for whatever reason, she just has little to no interest in being friends with this little lady. She’s sweet as can be but they just haven’t hit it off. We keep getting together, and every time the girls giggle a little more and sit a little closer. We are getting there.

In some ways, I want to force my daughter into a relationship with Jesus, too. I want so badly for her to trust Christ and surrender her life to Him. But she’s still young and lacking understanding. I can’t invite Jesus into her heart — that’s something only she can do — but I can invite Him into our lives. I invite him to our table where we break bread and talk about our days. I can invite him on our walks when the words of our hearts seem to flow out more naturally. I invite Him to the foot of the bed where we read books and pray in His name each night before bed. I invite Him into crinkled covers when she slides next to me in the morning as I read my Bible.

I can’t make her know Him, but I can help her know about Him. As I invite Him into our daily lives, I give her opportunity to crack open the door of her heart just a little bit more. As I celebrate small, I praise Him for each opportunity He gives to talk about His goodness, to lean on Him as a family during hardship, and to thank Him for the big and little ways He shows up in our days.

I trust that a relationship that arises naturally out of a true appreciation of who He is and what He has done for her will be real and rooted. Truly, it is not something a mother can force on a child. I’m still going to keep trying in the case of our neighborhood friend though.

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How can you invite Jesus into your daily life?

Talk to me in the comment section below!