Hurricane Lily

I admit that when we named our youngest child, we weren’t thinking about the fact that she would share the name with a hurricane, a very bad one, at that. There was no way we could have foreseen such activity from her, either. I’d already had one child, so when I had to jiggle my belly and consume large amounts of chocolate before this one would even roll over or stretch, I figured, “This is gonna be easy!” Ha! I would like to say I am sure in those moments the Lord above chuckled with a mysterious and knowing twinkle in His eye.

Oh, we weren’t clued in at first. No! She was a sweet little baby..she cooed and giggled and fluttered her little lashes. I couldn’t have been more pleased!

Fast forward a mere 8 years later… Holy Cow! Let me say, I love my Lily! She is a boisterous, energetic ball of fun, but I had no warning signs, no premonitions, just BAM! Hurricane Lily! She doesn’t stop until her little body just gives out. She wakes up ready for the day (most days…we all have our days) and she goes to sleep in pretty much the same strain of energy. I marvel at her. I am convinced that if I could bottle that I would be a quatrillionaire! (And yes, it would be a number! I would make it a number. I’d be a quatrillionaire!) But seriously, she is teaching me.

This child is ignited and saturated with passion! She passionately loves, and she vehemently hates! And she can switch from one to the other in zero point three seconds. It’s fascinating to watch. It doesn’t take much, either. It can literally play out like this: “Oh yes, you made brownies! You are the best mom in the world!! Wait. No milk. You HATE me!” I admit it’s a little stressful, wondering what might set her off…but here is another thing about her whirlwind of emotions – they play out quickly. She absolutely does NOT hold a grudge. She has a great memory – she does like to tattle on her sister, but when it comes to her grievances, she will sooner let them go than anyone I know…myself included.

She’s compassionate. It’s as if she instinctively knows, “This person needs me to be sensitive.” She is a good helper. In first grade she sat next to a girl that lost one of her arms to cancer – Lily made it her job to help Aiyana color when her arm got tired, and when we prayed at night, Lily always remembered Aiyana and prayed for her. In fact, this summer, when we got the news that Aiyana had gone to be with Jesus, the hurricane stopped; she looked at me with big blue eyes, wet with tears and said, “She’s coloring with both hands now.” Yep. That’s my Lily.

She loves to make others happy. It thrills her to make us laugh, and most the time the humor is potty-related. But, she makes me belly-laugh faster than I can type LOL. She brings a smile to my face when she is concentrating on something, and when she gets it, the brightness in her eyes is precious. She writes love songs to Jesus, and tells me, “Momma, I love you one million and 76, but I love God twenty million and 77!” She loves her Daddy more than any other man on earth, and she has often pouted because he is married (and shoots me a sideways evil-eye because he married me.) She’s not perfect. We still struggle with sharing from time to time, and not a day goes by that I don’t find a new claw mark on her big sister; but she’s 8, I give her grace.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, today, as I was cleaning up her room (and ironically, she keeps it very tidy most days), I realized I miss her while she is at school. She really is a light in this house. She brings me more joy than I ever imagined, and I know that she makes God smile, too – probably more so then myself, because He knows what all those characteristics mean, and the woman of passion and purpose that she will one day become.  But for now, I’m still waiting for the bus to come, waiting until I hear Hurricane Lily storm in. She’ll probably rush in with a tattle on her tongue over something her sister did or some funny story she heard at school, or urgently request a new Barbie (probably a Ken doll because she is convinced that the one she plays with is cheating on President Barbie with Mermaid!)  With her, you never know, but I love it. Around here, life is never boring!

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A Painting Snake

It all began in the garden of Eden, when the birds were singing and the lion was napping in the embrace of the lamb, a thought entered the mind of man, a lie was spoken and doubt was planted, and we believe it still today: “God is holding out on us.”

Whether or not we consciously admit it, we believe it. No matter how long and how hard we speak to the opposite that God is love and He is nurturing and He is kind, there is still the part of us that doubts, that wonders, that thinks the same corrosive thought. Oh satan is good, a smarmy charmer in snakeskin, he knew just what to say to make us doubt. So, when the question was posed, “Didn’t God say not to eat from this tree?” He knew good and well, that the next rational thought would be, “Why?” He waited, no doubt with an eternal smirk on his face as he planned the fall of all mankind as Eve searched for an answer, and then he pounced, forever bringing to question the love and honesty and Truth of God, “You will not surely die…You will be like Him.” You can sense the audible gasp in the garden! What? You mean, our Creator, the One that says we are created in His image, the One that loves us and made us, He doesn’t want us to be like Him?” And the lie sets root and the thought sets deep and all mankind is left to doubt, “God is holding out on us.”

Isn’t this the very lie that holds us back? We would be bolder in our faith, speak louder, reach farther, live courageously, hope unswervingly, but what if…? What price will we pay? How much will He ask? Can I trust Him? We cautiously wade out, not trusting that the water can hold us…that walking is too hard, or the step wasn’t small enough or large enough, and so not even two steps from the bow we are clinging to the boat. We shout to the people in the boat, “Look. See? Trust Him!” and the whole time they are watching with eyes wide, disbelieving because why would they even venture to the side if you can’t even let go?

The lie becomes more pervasive when we face the unexpected. When we get the diagnosis we didn’t want. When we hear the words we never thought we’d hear. When we face the circumstance that we never wanted and even begged God about. When we pray in belief and still our loved one dies. These are the moments that the lie wraps itself around our timid faith and we begin to call into question every good, loving, nurturing, kind characteristic of God. And the enemy whispers, “He’s holding out on you.” We agree, though we might never admit it. “Yes! He could have healed her! He could have rescued her! He could have saved her! He could have ended it!” And bitterness grows…and distance deepens…because the God that we now picture fixes us with a steely gaze and could care less about our pain, and isn’t as powerful as He once appeared. And the enemy sneers…because he’s given you the picture that he wants you to see, the picture that will strip you of hope and rob you of peace and kill your faith. The same picture that snake’s been painting for a very long time.

But, I don’t find this picture of God. Even in the desperate sin of man and the overwhelming sadness of misfortune and illness and pain, there is not a single glimpse of this God. We can believe that lie only so long as we don’t pick up the Word of God…because when we pick up the Word of God – the reflection of Himself, His Story of His nature – we find far more. We see the eyes of a loving Father that even in the fall of man, protected and nurtured them to be a mighty nation. We see the love of a Saviour that looked beyond the grime of sin and shame to the heart and need of a people that would surely die without His sacrifice. We see a gentle Shepherd that will leave the 99 in the gates protected and provided for to search out the little bleat that insinuates danger. We see the passionate Lover that will romance us and seek for us and all the while desires the joy of knowing that we seek and long for Him. We see the Almighty God that calms the seas and heals the unlovely and sets the imprisoned and depressed free. We see the Friend that sticks closer than a Brother that weeps and grieves at loss and beckons us closer so that He might comfort our tear soaked souls. We see this God, Who gave it all, Who took it all, Who bore it all…not because He was holding out on us…but because He wants to HOLD US. Our desperation leads us to His grace. Our fear seeks His peace. Our longing needs His fulfillment…and He doesn’t hold back. He gives. The enemy knows this…and knows the power that this picture of God holds…a power that he will never have, a love that he’ll never know.

So the rational question we all face in the midst of adversity is “Why?” I’m asking it, too. But the answer isn’t “God is holding out on you.” I know this. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know that my God is loving, caring, nurturing, forgiving, giving, and compassionate…and though He may sometimes tell us “No” it’s never because He’s punishing us. I believe this. Enough to step out of the boat. Enough to pray again, and believe again and hope again and trust again…and if you could see me now, you’d see that I’ve let go of the side of the boat.

Waiting Room

There is no greater weight than waiting. It weighs heavy and doesn’t budge. You can’t push it or pull it or put it off. Waiting is a burden. It doesn’t matter what you are waiting for. I think when you have to wait it is the closest you get to understanding that you are not in control. When you are forced to wait you are reminded that there are some things that aren’t instant and as much as you feel like you can do anything, you are limited.

I don’t do waiting well. Can you tell? Whether it’s waiting on my place in line or the phone to ring or an email to be returned, waiting and I are not friends. I really don’t do waiting well when what I’m waiting for is so very important … Like waiting for a baby to be born (especially your own!). Every day feels like a million and you think, “Maybe if I went to sleep I could wake up and she’d be here and everything would feel less long.” Sadly, my morning sickness wouldn’t let me sleep for 9 hours much less 9 months! And time doesn’t pass all that fast when your head is in the toilet.

Waiting on death is miserable. I’ve been there, too – waiting for a healthy heart to stop beating while the rest of the body slowly shuts down. You beg for God to move swiftly and gracefully all the time hating yourself for making that call, because wouldn’t life be best? Not always. You watch the family struggle and watch the body slowly look less and less like it should, and, all the while, deep down, you know He knows and you Know He is working even when you can’t see, but it is the waiting that gets to you, tires you out, upsets you.

Waiting on God to reveal His will is hard. Whether it’s a vision that you’ve foreseen and believe will come to pass or whether it’s the next step in your career or ministry, it isn’t easy. You wanna spin the dial or find a piece of wool somewhere or any kind of fabric really, I’ve even used paper. I’ve never found a piece of paper bone dry the next morning…that would be something, but I’ve never had that happen. It messes with your mind, because you know He is there. You know that He hears, and you Know that He has a plan…if only He would pull back the curtain and fill a sister in! (Oh wait, or brother).

I wanna go back to the days of detached hands scrawling words on the wall. Heck! I’d even take an airplane writer in the sky, it doesn’t have to be so miraculous. I can just see some guy in a hangar waiting to take off and all the sudden he gets an idea and before he really knows what he is doing he’s written: “Leave your job” or “Take the second door” or “Wear the heels!” Of course, it might cause all kinds of confusion for others that see it, but hey! I know what it means! I’ve seen that door, I’m leaving that job! I know just the heels! Sighhh. Yeah, now that I think about it, it probably wouldn’t work.

Waiting. I am. Are you?

“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14