Thursday, March 24, 2011

Monkey See, Monkey Do

I affectionately call Eden "The Guinea Pig" and Caroline "The Copycat."  As my firstborn, Eden was a bundle of novelty and wonder, which left me with a constant stream of questions and doubts about my effectiveness as a new mommy.  The beginnings of her delicate life were filled with trial-and-error attempts at doing whatever I could to help her grow into the best child possible without losing my mind in the process. 

Caroline was and continues to be an entirely different story.

Things are a little less stressful the second time around.  Therefore, Caroline's first two years have been somewhat divergent from those of her sister.  I remember most of the important lessons that I learned from Eden's infant-to-toddler progression, and this has provided much comfort that I'm not too far off base in mothering little Caroline.  However, Eden did not have a big sister to follow around as she embarked on those first two years of life.  Caroline, on the other hand, has the benefit of shadowing someone older and seemingly wiser than herself.

It is entertaining to watch Caroline as she interacts with her doting sibling.  One of the most adorable (and sometimes the most alarming) things that I have observed in my second-born is her desire to mimic everything Eden does.  During this current phase of her life, Caroline wants nothing more than to be exactly like Eden.  She watches Eden intently to see how she plays with her baby dolls, how she eats her chicken nuggets, how she flips the pages as she "reads" her books, and how she flings herself off the side of the stage in the sanctuary as soon as church services are over.  (I know. Scary.)  

As I witness this persistent yearning in my child to be just like her sister, Ephesians 5:1 comes to mind.  It says, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children."  All of us, at some point, have longed to be like someone else, whether it was a sibling, a friend, or maybe a mentor.  But no matter how wonderful earthly examples can be, there is none that compares to the model provided in Christ Himself.  As a child of the Most High God, I am called to pattern my life after the One who gave His life for me.  Although I cannot achieve earthly perfection as He most certainly did, I must strive to live as Jesus lived and study His ways daily so that I can be molded into His likeness.  Lord, please transform me by the renewing of my mind as I offer my body as a living sacrifice for You alone.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Right Response

I find it quite humorous that Caroline's knee-jerk response to almost every question I ask is "No."  Do you want to go to bed, Caroline?  No.  Are you ready to go for a ride, Caroline?  No.  Are you having fun, Caroline?  No.  Do you want some chocolate, Caroline?  Uh huh.  Notice I said ALMOST every question produces a "No."  She does have limits.  And when it comes to chocolate, the answer is always yes.

I realize that this is a byproduct of her age because her older sister used to do the exact same thing.  When Eden was a wee little toddler and she would uncharacteristically become quiet somewhere in the house, I would yell, "EDEN..." And she would call back, "NO!"  At least I knew she was still breathing.

Even though I can sometimes chuckle at her misplaced negative responses, there are other times when it's not so cute.  There are circumstances when she says no and she most definitely means it.  In those moments, I usually have to exert my authority as her mother and firmly hold my ground in light of her rebellion.  This produces pain and disappointment for both of us.  However, I love my daughter and I want to protect her and help her choose the right path. 

As a child of the Almighty God, I must willingly obey His voice.  When I am faced with the option to either say "yes" or "no" to His plans, I need to humbly submit to His leading and know that His way is best.  Following Christ does not mean that I will always be comfortable or that I will always receive everything I think I want.  But being faithful to Him will produce spiritual fruit in my life that will cause me to radiate with His presence and bring glory and honor to Him.  Please help me to follow You with every ounce of energy that I have today, Lord.  Your will always exceeds my greatest expectations.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Failures and Forgiveness

I am not an easy-going type person.  I'm sure those of you that know me well just snorted Dr. Pepper out of your nose because that was the understatement of the year.  I have never been described as "laid back" least not to my face.  A better portrayal of my personality might be "high strung" or "type A."  So when I encounter situations that bring stress and frustration (such as getting myself plus two preschoolers out the door in 5 minutes when I have about 15 minutes worth of things to do), I tend to morph into my own version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  This is not a pretty picture.

This morning was one of THOSE mornings.  We have had a very busy week.  My daughters are tired.  I am tired.  They do not have telepathic capabilities, so they are not able to instantly discern where mommy wants them to be and what she wants them to be doing.  As a matter of fact, on this particular morning, they could have cared less.  All they wanted to do was stay in their pajamas and watch a little bit more of Jungle Junction, thank you.  But we had an appointment and I almost lost my mind trying to get Eden and Caroline dressed and our bag packed and ready to go.  As we were making our exit to the family vehicle, I felt great remorse over my bad attitude.  I stopped and told my daughters that I was sorry for being so mean.  Eden turned and smiled at me and said, "It's okay, mommy.  I forgive you."  Then she ran over to me and hugged my leg as tightly as she could.  Caroline had no idea what was going on, but she ran over and flung her arms around my other leg as well. 

This was one of those mommy moments that spoke volumes to me about the love and forgiveness of my Heavenly Father.  I make mistakes.  I really know how to take a wonderful day and turn it into a complete mess. And my sinfulness separates me from God.  But as soon as I acknowledge my sin and seek the Lord's forgiveness, He immediately draws me back to Himself.  I do not have to jump through any hoops or work my way up any ladders.  He loves me and forgives me, regardless of what I have done.  He sees straight to my heart and knows how sorry I truly am.  I am so thankful that I can never fall out of His grace.  Lord, help me to forgive as I have been forgiven and show others the love that You have lavished on me. 

Friday, March 4, 2011


"But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.  For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress."  Psalm 59:16

Eden is my little songbird.  She is known for her ability to sing many songs of various genres.  Sometimes I will catch her standing in front of the bathroom mirror with her head tilted to the side and her hands clasped together for effect as she belts out a moving ballad.  At other times, you might find her running in circles, giggling and singing the latest kid tune she has learned at preschool.  And then there's moments like yesterday, where she sat in the grocery cart at Publix and made up a song for her own amusement (and the amusement of other random shoppers) while I did my best to focus on which brand was offering me the greatest deal.  Even now, I can hear her singing "O Christmas Tree" into her Mr. Microphone while she is supposed to be napping.  I am convinced that she will audition for American Idol someday.  And, yes, I will be one of those mothers who they will invite into the audition room so I can stand there with tears in my eyes and mouth the words while she explodes into song.

Some of my favorite moments are when Eden will quietly, or not so quietly, sing the praise songs that she has heard throughout our days together.  She lifts her voice in reckless abandon as she praises God in song.  Her sweet innocence leaves her uninhibited as she fills the car or the house with her joy.  She does not care what she sounds like.  She simply cannot resist the urge to sing.

God has given us a voice for a reason.  When we encounter the greatness and wonder of God, we cannot help but sing forth His praise.  You may be thinking that you are not the singing type.  Or maybe you feel like people might cover their ears if you were to hum a few bars.  But God is not concerned about our singing skill level.  He is concerned with the attitude of our hearts.  A heart filled with praise for the living God is powerless to contain its delight.  When we are moved by the Holy Spirit, our love for God should pour out of our souls in ceaseless praise and adoration.  Go ahead...sing a song of love to your Creator today! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I put my trust in You

"You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.  Are they not in your book?" Psalm 56:8

It is reassuring to realize that the Lord does not waste our grief.  You might be walking through a valley right now, and it seems long and cumbersome.  It feels at times like it might never end.  You might begin to despair of hope and think that maybe you are the only one who has ever experienced what you are going through. 

There have been many times when I have tossed and turned in the night, desperate for relief.  So this verse brings solace in the midst of doubt and discouragement.  According to this passage, the Lord keeps "count of my tossings," and He collects my tears and places them in His bottle.  They are not going to waste.  As a matter of fact, the difficulties that I face today are preparing for me "an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Corinthians 4:17).  My trials are temporary.  But He has brought me here for an eternal purpose, even though I cannot see or understand His plan at this time.

Desperation gives way to fear, and fear sometimes results in hopelessness.  But Psalm 56:3 says, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in You."  When the day has been lengthy and the afflictions many, I put my trust in You.  When I feel like I cannot endure one more discomfort, I put my trust in You.  When I want to give up or give in, I put my trust in You.  Why?  Because only the Savior of my soul is able to give me the hope, the strength, and the comfort that I so desperately need.  I put my trust in You.