As ridiculous as this may sound, I recently prayed for a free caterpillar for my youngest son, Little Man.
Little Man is an outdoor kind of guy. Anything that grows, crawls, or breathes completely fascinates him. Considering his not insignificant focus and anxiety struggles, nature has become his personal sanctuary. If there’s a snake or chipmunk, a locust exoskeleton, or deer prints (in the snow) to be spotted, he likes to investigate, research, and track results. We’ve grown a sunflower and planted many things in our soil. They’ve all been their own special brand of therapy.
Four days ago, he found a small caterpillar, Smiley. We had no idea where it was in its life cycle, or rather, how close to the chrysalis stage, but we were about to find out.
I did my research and kept it in an appropriate container with leaves and a stick. After getting a little fatter and crawling around as a happy green color, he scrunched up and turned black one day. Little Man assured me this was the chrysalis phase, and sure enough, he was right, only Smiley never made it up the stick to hang in a J shape. Without the proper “hanging position,” all my sources told me he’d have lopsided wing structure/ability. What’s a girl to do?
To no avail, for 15 minutes, I chased a wiggly chrysalis around the table trying to tie a string on a stem at the end, dutifully following Chrysalis Rescue instructions to string it up so it could develop “balanced wings.”
It then occurred to me that this must be what happened to me years ago. I didn’t hang my chrysalis correctly.
Ever know that feeling? Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: assumed defeat, balancings of the clouds, breaking free, bring it to completion, caterpillar, chrysalis, cocoon, day of Jesus Christ, double-minded, false sense of safety, false sense of security, finished work of the cross, freedom in Christ, God's purposes, hanging in the balance, he who began a good work, hiding place, holds you back, Job 37:14, my shield, naysayers, Philippians 1:6, psalm 119, Savior, self-protection, sell yourself short, trusting God, who God created you to be
In light of the recent “National Dog Day,” I was reflecting on my newly shorn Shih Tzu Samson. Like his namesake in the Bible (Judges 13-16), he is strong and very hairy.
(If you’re not a dog fan, hang in there…I’m going somewhere with this—and as a sidenote, how can you not be a dog fan? Wink.)
My daughter and I spent an hour and a half one day out in a doggie-gated area of our backyard taking the clippers to our resident fuzzball. It was mother-daughter bonding time: many laughs over our mild-mannered but fed-up Samson. He was mostly patient as we practiced our haircutting skills, trimmed a little more beard here and there, gave him a manly tail shape, and assessed where we missed and he still looked a bit shaggy.
But under all that hair was a robust dog, strong and youthful, playful and now much cooler. Our home isn’t air-conditioned, so I could almost see Samson breathe a huge sigh of relief, pant a little less, and feel a bit more spry with the weight of his “wool” off. He looked like a lamb, fresh from the shearing.
Oh, Samson, Buddy! We forgot how unencumbered you are without the heavy weight of your hair! How free! How cool! How lovely!
I thought about myself and others carrying around burdens. Maybe you are too. I considered what we look like—even feel like—when we take a few layers off, when we start stripping off the layers of worry and care.
Granted, we cannot always do that. We all have responsibilities and commitments, right? We can’t simply “drop hair” like Samson and now run about footloose and fancy free in the yard.
Or can we? Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: 2 Peter 1, anxiety, burdens, casting all your anxieties, casting your cares, cleansed from his former sins, confirm your calling, discontent, faith, faith in God, fear, guilt, He cares for you, isaiah 61, It is finished, national dog day, negative emotions, overwhelmed, self-blame, self-control, self-doubt, shih tzu, supplement your faith, trusting God, worry
Recently, I was sitting on the Boston T staring at the feet of many people. Wow, her toenails need painting, just like mine. Cool wedges…wonder where she got them? He is dressed to the nines. I wonder what he does? Does he like himself at the end of the day? Oh my, that child needs a new pair of sneakers for school; I hope his family can manage that.
I’ll admit I wasn’t looking at the whole person. I just was gazing at feet. I wasn’t trying to make assumptions. As a writer, I visually see things and then have a nonstop ongoing dialogue with myself in my head.
I also receive snippets from God throughout the week as to what to write about, and “subway” came through crystal clear.
The next day, at the suggestion of a sweet mentor, I was listing so many questions I have for God. I truly have more questions than answers. I don’t imagine He was exhausted from my list, but I sure was. And then an area I had been praying about for a while came into focus on a day when I was troubled that my father was so knocked down by chemo that he couldn’t continue the treatments that week.
I was so scared to carry out the actions I felt God was telling me to take with regard to another person. It was an area of constant rejection and pain. Am I tough enough for the response, God? Maybe we should try this at another time?
And there it was, plain as day: Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: anxiety, chemo, communicating with God, Give us this day our daily bread, God with us, God's provision, God's purposes, God's vision, God's will, hand of God, hand of Jesus, in earth as it is in heaven, matthew 6, more of heaven, on earth as it is in heaven, perfect peace, relationship with God, subway, talking to God, the Lord's prayer, thy will be done, trusting God, warm hand of Jesus
Ever feel like screaming:
“God, where ARE you? It’s the eleventh hour, and I’m beyond impatient waiting on you to show up!”
In a crisis situation, that desperate plea sounds pretty reasonable, right? We’re frantic, and we cry out. There’s nothing wrong with that. David did this repeatedly in the Psalms. God isn’t afraid of our honesty. In fact, He welcomes it.
Even so, there are four fundamental misconceptions with these statements, and believe me, I’m guilty of wrong belief myself!
- God is not with us.
- He might not respond, so we have to get His attention again.
- It really is the eleventh hour.
- It’s about us.
As for Number One, can I just say here that Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: 1 john 5:14, christ who lives in me, cross of Christ, Deuteronomy 31:6, down to the wire, eleventh hour, faith, galatians 2:19-20, God answers, God hears us, God with us, God's purposes, he hears us, He will not leave you or forsake you, immanuel, in the valley, It is finished, listening to God, Lord your God goes with you, matthew 1:23, relationship with God, rescue, time lords, trusting God, waiting on God, where is God
My kids and I have been participating in a local Vacation Bible School this week. As a group leader traveling around with a group of 14 third graders to all of their various centers (music, missions, craft, Bible, and recreation), I’ve had a very close-up view of not only each child but also the way in which they interact. While it’s a fun and loving environment, when you spend 17 hours of your week together, I can tell you that not every moment is smiles and lollipops. Character development is hard work!
As with family, we see our best and worst qualities. I can see how hard it is for some to fight temptations of pride, self control, or negative thinking, while others face the internal battle of putting others down, not taking turns, having to be the best, or bulldozing over others to get attention. Sound like adult qualities too? Um, yup! I see a few of those in myself daily!
But the amazing thing is:
I can also see the potential gifts and strengths hiding behind the areas of struggle.
Whether we’re 8 or 80 years old, Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: areas of struggle, character development, created for good works, God's gifts, God's plans, God's purposes, grace is sufficient, power made perfect in weakness, refiner's fire, sanctification, social anxiety, strength in weakness, strengths, the gift inside, trusting God, vacation Bible school, walk in good works
Since our return to the Boston area in 2009, every other year my family vacations in a different Canadian province. We started off at a KOA cabin near Niagara Falls, then two years later spent a few days in Québec City, and this year we are in a tiny cottage on Covehead Bay, which is fed by the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the beautiful Maritime province of Prince Edward Island. Currently, we are looking for Anne of Green Gables.
Board games, bike rides, drives through potato farmland marveling at old countryside churches, grilling steak tips, and walking long trails with the dogs are how we unwind. Vacations don’t have to be frantic, expensive, or fast-food unhealthy. I’m so glad we made a deliberate choice to get our serenity on and breathe in the salty Atlantic water as we walk around the bay.
This week has been a time of getting reacquainted with the kids, reminding them we are more than just taxi drivers, moneylenders, and activity cheerleaders. The best of ourselves is reinvesting in the best of ourselves. It’s so good to replenish and fill up again. I hear that still, small voice whispering into my heart lessons to take away from breathing in deeply and not being busy.
And sometimes, it’s when we’re in vacation mode that we feel freer to Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: becoming His light, bike path, Canada, Dr. Who, facing fears, faith in Christ, faith in God, fear, fear of heights, Gulf of St. Lawrence, lamp to my feet, let your light shine before others, light of God, light of the world, light to my path, lighthouse, Maritime province, matthew 5:14-16, Prince Edward Island, Psalm 119:105, Scottish, Stanhope, trusting God
I grew up just outside Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell and, for that matter, the Statue of Liberty, were important visuals to me of all that America stands for. As I’ve been walking through stores and seeing red, white, and blue adorning every aisle, I’ve had a lot of opportunity this week to consider what freedom really is.
I could focus on so many different topics: what our soldiers uphold for us every day, the Constitution, freedom from religious persecution, opportunities to receive an education, safe harbor within our own borders, and even our leisure, which is completely unheard of in so much of the world.
While I love my country and appreciate everything about it that protects my liberties, I celebrate my freedom in Christ every day because Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross (and resurrection) makes all of the following possible (and more!): Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: forgiven, forgiveness, fourth of July, free in God, free of labels, free of my past, free to bless, freedom, freedom in Christ, fruit of the Spirit, God's purposes, grace, His promises, His truth, identity in Christ, independence day, liberty, living generously, not compare to others, peace, peace of God, rest in Christ, Throne of Grace, to not be judged, to not judge, trusting God
I came home the day before Mother’s Day from a long-overdue visit with a friend. We had a lovely time as she introduced me to her favorite chocolate shop in Cambridge. I enjoyed an iced milk chocolate (yes, indeedy—that specific!) mocha with the purest chocolate I’ve ever tasted. It slid down my throat like silky cocoa sweetness with a “Yippee!” as it landed. It was vacation in a cup.
We tooled around a bit, stopping in a naturals store where I picked up a ginger lotion and peppermint essence for my sinus headaches. I don’t usually spend that kind of time shopping for me; it was so incredibly soothing: talking with my sweet friend, walking around in the beautiful sunshine that decided to stay in Boston for a while, and even taking the T, with its rocking rhythms as it jerks forward and later glides to a halting stop.
It was a sensory delight in every way: scents, sounds, sun, smooth mocha intake. I got my peace on in a big big way. And then—then I came home to… Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: blessings, fort, fortresses of rocks, God's plans, God's provision, God's purposes, his bread will be given him, isaiah 33, Jeremiah 29, listening to God, place of defense, relationship with God, sensory integration, trusting God