A lesson from a matchbox car

Jack, my three-year-old, has this bin of matchbox cars. When I hear that bin tip over, my heart sinks a bit. If you’re a mom of boys…you know the sound. The lego bin produces a similar sort of heart-dropping effect when you hear those little plastic weapons toys being dumped onto the floor.

There are a lot of cars in that bin. A. Lot. Matchbox cars are sure to top Jack’s list of most prized possessions. And the other day I got a glimpse of how precious these tiny little pieces of metal are to him. He ran out of his room, found me in the living room and begged me to help him find a missing car. He began describing this particular yellow car in great detail. I sat with him, rummaging through the pile and found multiple yellow cars. “here ya go buddy!” – “no, no that’s not it.”

By the fourth car, I’m thinking to myself, “Why is this yellow one so special? There can’t be much that’s unique about this one.”

But he was on a mission. He could not get this car out of his head. He had to find it.

It was one of those gentle reminders God gave me. “That’s how I feel about you.”

To me, the cars all looked the same. It was just another car; he had 60 more in the bin. And I reminded him of that a couple of times. But he didn’t want the 60 other cars. He wanted THAT one. Jack, being the keeper of the cars, knew when one was missing and he had to find it. And once we finally did find the car, he was as happy as could be and contently ran off to play.

“Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” – Luke 15: 3-7

 

 

I’m that punk kid.

I love my kids. A lot. 

As I’m sure you do as well if you are a parent.

When someone messes with my kids, it brings out the inner Mama bear. If I see someone push my Kate or Jack on the playground, it’s time for war. Even if someone innocently misunderstands my child, I feel angry. How do they not “get” my child. Don’t they understand how special they are? 

Imagine with me. 

There’s a boy down the street. And he has it out for my little four year old princess. He pushes her, call her stupid, tells her she can’t play with him. He makes her feel, for the first time in her little life: fear, loneliness, anger, sadness.

We find out this little boy is going to die. He has a rare, incurable disease. His only chance of survival is a heart transplant. And our little Kate is a match. Kate will have to die in order for this little boy to live. 

So we decide to lay our little Kate’s life down so this punk kid down the street can live. And she willingly agrees. 

After this transaction takes place, we offer this little boy to come live with us. He needs a mommy and daddy who loves him. We will be his home. 

He looks at us, spits in our faces and says he doesn’t need us. 

Our home remains open. Our arms extended for the day he might change his mind.

This story is absurd, right? Incomprehensible.

I would NEVER give up my Kate. Especially for a boy who tortured her. Who never understood the special gift she was. Who constantly took advantage of her. Who made her feel loneliness and sadness for the first time in her innocent life.

And then to offer him my home again and again after such rejection? 

Who would ever do such a thing?

I’ve been wrecked by the love of the Father for me. This is what He has done for me: the punk kid down the street who spit on, laughed at and beat His son. I didn’t understand who He was. And really didn’t care to know. And yet He chose to give up His precious boy to save this bratty little girl who cared only for herself. It’s absurd, right? Incomprehensible. 

Ephesians 3:17-19, “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

 

 

A lesson from peanut butter and jelly.

“Buddy, be patient. I’m almost done.” 

More whining. More impatient cries.

“Be patient. Trust me buddy, you wouldn’t want me to give you your lunch right now. It’s not ready. You’re going to want the whole thing.”

The words came out and quickly echoed back in my brain. They stuck to me like the peanut butter I was just beginning to spread across the slice of bread. 

I imagined handing my 18 month old a slab of peanut butter piled high on a slice of bread. Silliness. He may stop crying. He may even end up with his hunger satisfied. But he would miss something better. Not to mention the mess I would have to clean up.

I finished making his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, choosing to ignore the cries and the tiny hands pulling on my shorts. I cut his sandwich into triangles just the way he likes it. I’m his mother. I know things like that. His hunger would now be met in a way that gave him joy with every bite. I saw the finished picture. He just needed to wait.

I now pictured myself as that 18 month old, whining and crying, wanting my desires met on my terms. I stamp my feet and pull at His hands, wondering why He is ignoring me.

But as I look at my little Jack with all the love and pleasure a mother could give, I have a deeper understanding of my Father’s love for me. He just wants to give me something better. He’s not withholding. He’s just completing what He started for me. Something that will truly satisfy. And He’s my Father. He knows exactly what that is. He’s creating something that will give me joy with every bite. 

I just need to wait. 

Control vs. Freedom

I have two kids now. And one of them is a two year old. There are a couple of implications from these facts.

#1. I am getting less sleep (not an important point for this post but one that is on my mind nonetheless :))
#2. My two year old is testing me much more in this new season
#3. God is teaching me SO many things about His relationship with me

Here’s an example.

I love Kate dearly. And many times I admire and love her fierce independence. But her need for control over EVERY situation utterly exhausts me. I cannot handle being told where to sit, how to hold a book and what the name of that animal is even though it is clearly a tiger and not a lion.

And although it is irritating for myself, I mostly feel sad for her. While she was concerned with how mommy held the book, she missed out on the chance to be caught up in the story. And while she planned ahead whether mommy or daddy put her into her car seat, she killed the anticipation and excitement of a trip to the park.  And when she refused that hug, she missed out on a moment of love from her daddy.

One day I was venting to God. I was tired of having to address this issue over and over and over again with Kate. “God, why can’t she just relax? Why can’t she enjoy the moment? Why can’t she just be content? Why can’t she let us love her like we want to? Why can’t she lighten up?”

And he gently replied, like He always does…

“Why can’t you?”

Oh the parallels of parenting. It was a much-needed conviction.

I need to relax and let go. I need to lighten up and have fun. I need to let Him love me like He wants to.

Thanks for the reminder, Jesus.

A bit of our journey

I’m taking the lazy route. Andrew posted this a while back on his blog, and I’m stealing it. I’ve been a bit paralyzed to summarize God’s hand in our lives throughout the past year and a half. So I’ll let Andrew do the work. Click here to see what’s been going on.

Putting on my glasses

This year I got glasses. Andrew has told me for over 2 years that I need them. But I didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t want to take the time to go to the doctor and investigate the problem. Why? Because I thought I was completely fine. I truly thought my eyes were perfect. And then one day I gave in. I decided to make the call. Sure enough, I have needed glasses for years.

The moment I put my glasses on, I literally squealed at the lady behind the counter. It was unbelievable the things I could see. For the first time, I realized how bad my eyes were and how desperately I needed the help of glasses.

And throughout this past year, God has given me another pair of glasses. He has stripped away so many things in my life, and it has forced me to see clearer than I ever have before. There’s not all that junk hiding my view anymore. He’s taken away the safety and security I’ve hidden behind. The stuff that made me think I was OK. He had to get me to the point where I was ready to admit that I’m really not OK. I really might have a problem. I’ve seen some things about myself this past year. And they aren’t very pretty.

Halfway through writing this, I thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t write another negative post. Maybe I should write about the amazing grace of God throughout this journey.” And then I realized, that’s exactly what this is. You have to look deep sometimes, put on your glasses and see the really hideous stuff that lies within, to realize how truly amazing God’s grace is.

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”- Luke 7:47. And I want to love much. So here’s to confessing my depravity in hopes that God’s great forgiveness produces an authentic and true love.

1. I am selfish. Very selfish. I want things to go my way. I want things to be easy.
2. I don’t care enough about other people. I want to love like Jesus does. But I fail quite often.
3. I trust in myself a lot more than I trust in God. To surrender means I give up EVERYTHING, including control.
4. I care way too much about what other people think.
5. I’m sometimes afraid that I’m going to miss what we’re “giving up”… that I’m not going to be as happy without those things.

– Those are just the tip of the iceberg. The flesh goes deep. And the longer you wear your glasses, the more details you’ll see: the dirt, the dust, the grime you never noticed before.

But here’s the Gospel:
Romans 7:24, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” and Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

God’s love has been so real, so deep and so faithful to me. I can’t believe He’s chosen me. Asked me to trust Him with everything. Because I am far from deserving. It’s grace beyond reason. The glasses He gave me were more than worth admitting I might have a problem. Yes, I can see the ugliness inside of me but the grace of God is more clear and sharp in my vision than ever before.