Are you smarter than a two-year-old? I’m not.
Once again Eli performed at a higher level of faith than I’ve been able to exhibit in all my 56 years. Here’s how it happened.
Friday was date night for the kids and grandbaby fun time for me. Eli and I did some shopping where of course he selected a new truck for his special treat. I was unloading groceries and he was crawling around my feet imagining a super productive construction site with his dump truck and new cement truck. I must add its cool swiveling bucket on the back insured it as the favorite of the day.
He crossed his trucks between the kitchen tile and family room hardwood only to bump the floor strip; it moved. Oh, how exciting to a little boy who promptly lifted it from its supposedly glued position. I noticed and asked him not to play with it. He let it snap into place and continued on.
A few minutes later I was washing fruit and I heard, “Granpap fix it.” My ears perked up because I know something broke. I feared it was his new truck with the swiveling bucket.
He walked up to me with his fearless face and said, “Granpap fix it.”
His reply, “Granpap fix it.”
That’s it. That’s the lesson that overwhelmed me. That’s why I need to learn from a two-year-old. Only a child has that kind of faith.
If you don’t see it yet, let me share what I would’ve done. I often times follow my ancestor Eve. I’m told not to touch it. I touch it and I break it.
I’m terrified that I will be scolded and disciplined therefore I start coming up with excuses on why I touched the forbidden thing. I actually blame the thing. “It should’ve been glued better. I was only trying to fix it.”
Then I try to fix it myself which because I’m worthless with tools becomes a bigger disaster. So I hide. I put the splintered strip of wood back in place as best I can and I hide on the sofa in a fake sleep.
When Granpap comes home and forces me to wake, I recite my explanation and he doesn’t buy a word of it. So guilt and shame come in and I cry apologizes for being such a waste of a person. “I break everything. I always make it worse. I don’t deserve to live in the same house as you. I’ll pay for the supplies if you will fix it.”
Then I use every tool in my womanly arsenal to try to appease his perceived anger and make him happy so maybe he will like me again.
All my efforts are wasted. I’ll daily remind myself of my stupidity every time I step across that threshold. Guilt will consume my joy.
Oh little Eli, thank you for constantly displaying a childlike faith.
“Granpap fix it.”
Yes, Eli. Granpap did fix it. He didn’t scold you. He loved you before you did it. He loved you while you did it. He loved you after you did it. His love never changes.
“Granpap fix it.”
I hope I remember this the next time I blow it. The next time I sin. All He wants me to do is run to him with a fearless face and put my sin before Him and say, “Abba Daddy, fix it.”
“Abba Daddy, fix it.”
He will. He’s the only one who can. All the time He’s repairing the damage, He’s reminding me of His love. I can sit next to Him and watch how He restores the broken to a perfection I could never have imagined.
And now every time I walk that threshold, I’m reminded of His love for me, His beloved child.
“Abba Daddy fixed me.”
And if that weren’t enough, there’s always a special treat for faith, Granpap gave Eli a new kite, and they played together all evening.
I hope to never hide from another special treat. How about you? Learn something from a two-year-old?
A fellow blogger inquired about this post. I’m so sorry I failed to update. Truth is, I’m working on other projects and blogging is at the bottom of my To-Do list. But I was so blessed to know someone read and wanted to know how I’m doing. Thanks!
Here is the original and below is what I can report…
Before you congratulate me or question why, let me add, “That’s my besetting sin.”
Yeah, I thought you’d hold off on the congrats but I do hope you are forming some questions.
James MacDonald defines prestige as a subcategory under pride. The following quote is taken from page 81 of Downpour.
Prestige. “More ‘atta-boys’ for me, please.” “Tell me again how much you appreciate me and what I’ve done for you.” “I want prizes and bonuses and thank-you notes and public acknowledgments.” Prestige is a consuming need for recognition. It’s the feeling that others are always watching and the insatiable thirst for others to pat you on the back. It’s the insistence that nothing you do be overlooked or unrewarded by those in a position to do so. It’s dropping names of prestigious associations; it’s letting others know of your accomplishments; it’s the constant concern that everyone know who you are.
The saddest part of my sin is that its root comes from an incredibly addictive insecurity problem. I’m often this little four-year-old girl begging for her father’s affirmations that never came. I want people to tell me I did a good job. I want people to think I’m special. I need to know someone knows I’m here and I did something good.
How horrible that insecurity and pride are such close sin cousins.
If you can relate, you’ll want to read on. God’s grace covers this sin. His grace offers power to overcome it. God’s grace heals and matures the broken little girl’s spirit. I’ve spent years fighting those inner thoughts and trying to control my tongue. I’ve had moments of victory. I remember more agonies of defeat.
Today, God spoke a prayer into my heart. I know that if He spoke it, then this alone will be my weapon and salvation. Here’s the plan:
Stop each thought instantly with this prayer, “Father, glorify your name through others, not me.” The others being anyone in my presence when I’m seeking prestige. I’m excited. Actually, I can’t wait for the test run. Just think I’ll get to see God glorify another in my presence just because I asked in obedience to His plan. Wow!
It reminds me of the time in 1996 when the Spirit taught me how to overcome jealousy. I was to pray the words of John the Baptist in John 3:30, “He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less.” My translation became, “Here is what I want you to do for me BUT do it for others first.” The others were always the people that stirred my jealous heart. My journal records some ‘awe’ moments throughout the years.
Now, here I go again. When I’m tempted to name-drop, list my accomplishments, or draw attention to myself, I have the power of His spoken Word to lead me to victory.
I’ll try to remember to post a praise or two in coming weeks.
What I’ve learned…
All believers can overcome jealousy, insecurity, and pride using my new favorite words in the arsenal of God’s kingdom: Believe and Yield. First believe in the accomplished work of the Gospel. The complete Gospel says: Jesus walked a sinless life to show us that “yes it can be done.” Jesus’s death on the cross absorbed ALL the wrath for our sins. His burial and resurrection give us victory over death and assures a new life in Him. He now sits on the Throne interceding for us and assuring our victory.
That is amazing but there’s more…He gave us His righteousness, therefore we are no longer guilty of sin but we actually hold the identity of Christ. He poured out His Spirit to fill us with all the power, strength, love, grace, mercy, compassion, and whatever is needed to live the victorious life until we are forever united in Glory. Now that’s the Gospel. If we believe only the parts that say our sins are forgiven and He’s coming back for us THEN we are not believing the parts that we need to live each day. He insures our sanctification. We must believe He saves us from the penalty of sin but we must also believe He gives us victory over sin each and every day.
In the blog, I used the term: besetting sin. But once I began to live out what I wrote and believe the complete gospel, I began to see I should never ever have a besetting sin. In God’s opinion, the only one that matters, I don’t!!! I only have Jesus’ record and it is perfect as He is perfect. So once I begin to believe this truth then jealousy, pride, and insecurities die as I yield to the God that lives in me.
Oh how good He is. Oh how He loves me and you.
Now how is that lived out practically, Get up each day and declare with all the faith of a mustard seed, “God loves me as He loves His Son. Jesus paid it all. It’s done. He lives in me to complete His Kingdom work. He receives all the glory when I yield to Him. So therefore, may the God-in-me love others, may the God-in-me serve, may the God-in-me move mountains. I believe your promises. I put my faith in your Gospel. I yield to Your presence. Your will be done this day. Amen”
I don’t stand in the checkout line and say, “I can count money because my third grade teacher Mrs. Bell taught me to do it this way.”
My brain stores millions of skills in neural pathways then reproduces those skills as naturally as breathing. Each function happens without giving credit to my parents, dozens of teachers, and hundreds of books. Good thing it’s subconscious because I’d fail miserably if I had to acknowledge each source. Only my life changing moments are remembered in vivid detail.
I have one memory of one fact learned in high school. I was sitting in the second floor classroom of the back wing at Collins High. My desk was to the right of the teacher, the side with the windows. I sat on the front row of three semicircles, third seat from the end. On this day, my teacher sat behind his desk in the middle of the room in front of an unused blackboard. A single textbook, Intro to Psychology, rested unopened on the desk.
I don’t remember Mr. Morris ever giving a test. He assigned reading and then he chatted about whatever popped into his head. Everyone loved him.
“Women can make men do anything they want!”
In that hour, he gave the girls the tools to make life fun. He warned the boys that they didn’t stand a chance. I left class motivated to put the lesson to daily practice.
There’s a scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where Maria taught her daughter Toula the same truth. Frustrated Toula cried, “Ma, Dad is so stubborn. What he says goes. ‘Ah, the man is the head of the house!’”
The wise mother responded, “Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.”
Then the movie went on to teach a wise method to use this power. Maria instructed, “We must let Kosta think this was his idea.”
The scene that follows was brilliant. In a few short lines, Kosta exclaimed his brilliant plan, in the exact words Maria had guided him to discover. The bewildered Toula stared at the satisfied Maria while Kosta patted himself on the back for such genius. Everyone was happy. No one got hurt in the process only because this was a scripted movie. Life is not so easy.
Since the Garden of Eden this truth is undeniable. I offer two reasons. One, men are visually stimulated. Adam looked at his deliciously naked Eve with the juices of that forbidden fruit still on her lips and he chose to rebel with her. For this reason, the porn industry is a growing multi-billion dollar evil in our society.
But there’s another reason, we are by nature a stiff-necked people and will always rebel against a law from outside us. We don’t like being told what to do. Yet, like Maria proved, we joyfully embrace the same law springing up from within us.
Here’s how it works, take a stiff-necked woman who is selfishly wanting to rule over the man to get something to satisfy her lust and then have that same motivation controlling an equally selfish man who doesn’t want to be dominated and only wants to satisfy his lust of her body and well, you soon have domestic violence and divorce. Everyone gets hurt.
But suppose this stiff-necked couple learn a higher truth. What would happen if they let the Almighty, loving, unselfish God take possession of their necks, their heads, and their wills?
Many nights I put myself to sleep taking my favorite protagonist through adventures I can only dream of having. She’s young, beautiful, gracious, but most of all brilliant. She exceeds the intellect of the Einstein’s throughout history. She creates life-saving technology, pens best-selling novels, gives guidance to world leaders, and solves unsolvable crimes.
When Yahweh God offered King Solomon anything he wanted, Solomon asked for wisdom. Brilliance, the proper genius, is my highest unattainable goal. Maybe that’s why I love the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The new BBC series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman excels in bringing a 19th century character into the modern technology of the 21st century. The edgy photography, superior writing, and brilliant acting have made this series to be an instant hit. Only three shows per season and we addicts have to wait far too long between seasons.
My protagonist is oftentimes a female Sherlock Holmes though she is kinder than this self-described high functioning sociopath Sherlock. She’d never belittle others with, “Dear God, what is it like in your feeble little brains. It must be so boring. Look at you lot, you’re all so vacant. Is it nice not being me? It must be so relaxing.” Then to the mortician who Sherlock despises he adds, “Anderson, don’t talk out loud. You lower the IQ of the whole street.”
In episode one, after four victims of apparent suicides, yet all died of the same poison, Sherlock deducts a serial killer. He loves the brilliant killers, “They’re always so desperate to get caught.” Why? “Appreciation. Applause. At long last, the spotlight. That’s the frailty of genius, it needs an audience.” Now I’m beginning to wonder if I should pray for brilliance. Can humans handle such a gift? Solomon proved he couldn’t.
A Study in Pink offers this puzzle: “Who do we trust, even though we don’t know them? Who passes unnoticed wherever they go? Who hunts in the middle of a crowd?” When Sherlock finally comes face-to-face with the killer in a game of chess with one move, one survivor; I find my favorite lines.
Sherlock sits across the table in a vacant classroom late at night. He refuses to move until he studies his opponent. “You didn’t kill four people because you’re bitter. Bitterness is a paralytic. Love is a much more vicious motivator.”
I would have never put love and vicious together. Synonyms like brutal, ferocious, savage, ruthless, heartless, and barbaric stand in stark contrast to love. Yet, I marvel at the power of these words to illicit a vivid picture in my brain. Right now, I’m momma-bear ferociously protecting my babies from harm. Yes, love can be vicious. Sherlock has once again challenged my intellect and renewed my passion to learn.
“And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more…” 1 Philippians 1:9
“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else…” 1 Thessalonians 3:12
Now, there’s a huge challenge in God’s word. It’s not an option. We are commanded to grow in our love for others.
Love should never be put on a diet. It has to expand.
We expand in our knowledge of God as we read his word. We expand in our faith as we walk through the trials of this life. But how do we expand our love?
To grow in love, we must add more people into our lives. Every time we open our heart to someone new, we open a new path of expansion. We gain a few heart pounds.
Because God is such a compassionate God, his training regime is so much fun. He feeds and expands our hearts with grandbabies.
Those precious little babies enter a family and turn everything upside down. Just when we think you can’t love any deeper; here comes a newborn.
Our hearts threaten to explode from our chest when we hold that bundle in our arms. I imagine its something like an elephant squeezing into a peanut shell. Or more appropriately, its like the Almighty Creator God squished into a newborn’s body lying in a manger.
The blessings of grandbabies: We don’t care that they can’t love us back. We know they will someday. We don’t care that they are so much work because we know someday they will work along side us. We’re counting on future rewards and it works for us.
When we put a stopper on our heart, we fail miserably. When we see the hurting empty lives all around us, we have to say, “If God can grow my heart to love this baby, He will grow my heart to love my neighbor, my boss, my classmate, the homeless family, the abused child, the orphan or the widow.
Now here’s the best part. If God blesses me with such amazing joy and maturity because I willingly love this baby, how much more would He bless me if I chose to love those who may never return my love.
I must choose to love because whether it’s family or strangers, we are never promised a future return.
I welcome Caleb Drew Jones to my heart. My heart expanded a whopping 8 pounds on April 3. It will continue to grow as he does. I’ve already received the first smile and my eyes leaked from the overflow of joy. I’m anxious to hear the first giggle, to have him grasp my finger, and ultimately squeeze my neck.
But I think the greatest blessing is the lesson Caleb’s already taught me. Go out and find others to love because God is faithful to his promises. As I open my heart, He fills it with more of Himself and that expansion can then love others.
I’ve said that truth countless times. My head knows the doctrine of justification. Sadly because I’ve never defined it, I exhibit no power in those powerful words.
After reading, “Because He Loves Me” by Elyse Fitspatrick, I can define what the Father sees when He looks at me, His beloved daughter.
Read slowly; don’t miss this. Imagine each statement as you look at your reflection before a Holy God.
Jesus’ perfect record has become ours. Because God has accredited or imputed Jesus’ perfect obedience to you, when God looks upon you, he sees you as a person who
- Always does the things that are pleasing to him
- Is so focused on accomplishing his will and work that doing so is your daily food
- Doesn’t seek your own will but seeks his will instead
- Doesn’t seek to receive glory (praise, respect, worship) from others
- Has always kept all his commandments;
- Lives in such a way that your life brings holiness to others
- Loves others and lays down your life on a consistent basis
- Lives in such a way that the people around you know that you love your heavenly Father more than anything else
- Seeks to obey every command so that righteousness will be fulfilled.
…In God’s opinion (the only one that matters!) that’s your record today.
Page 74 “Because He Loves Me”
Anyone saying, “wow, wow, wow” with me right now? If not, then you’ve missed the astonishment of these truths.
If you’re like me, you will need to lean in a bit closer to that reflection and probe for any evidence of these virtues. If we can’t see Jesus and others can’t see Jesus in us, then maybe, there is a pride issue.
I have to remind myself over and over that his righteousness is now mine and that the way my heart harasses me is more a function of my pride and self-sufficiency than a sincere desire for godliness. If godliness before him is what I was really after, then one look at the cross and empty tomb would suffice.
But I can see that I’m frequently more concerned about whether I approve of myself than the fact that he approves of me. I sinfully long to be able to look at my life and feel good about my personal accomplishments and it is that desire that spawns crushing guilt.
The only way to silence my heart and find solace is to continually remind myself of my new identity in Christ and to be satisfied with that alone.
Page 75 “Because He Loves Me”
The Gospel is our life, our hope. We must daily review Bethlehem, Golgotha, Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives. Until we are convinced that because of His great love, He came as a baby, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, was buried then rose from the grave, and is now seated in Glory. He loves that much.
“I believe He won’t stop loving me until He stops loving His own Son.”
How can we not passionately love and obey such a God?
It’s one of those days: the kind where nothing goes right, nothing feels right, and nothing fixes the problems.
On these days I like to stay in bed. I know that sounds ridiculous but actually staying in bed is better hiding under the bed. Yep, I have those days too but I don’t like to talk about them.
I’d be under the bed today if it weren’t for my BFF. He called and though he didn’t say much; he never does. He just always says and does the right thing at the right time.
He tells me what’s wrong with me without making me feel like pond scum.
He warns me of the approaching landmines and guides my steps.
When I’ve made a fool of myself; he holds me tight until I feel his tender kisses.
When the world is collapsing around me; he anchors me. He assures me he’ll never leave me. His presence shatters my fears. His love tenderly pulls me from the fetal position into a warrior pose.
When we’re together, I’m complete. His laughter makes my heart sing. His tears make my heart ache.
I am amazed by his love, astounded by his faithfulness. Having him is having everything.
He steadies my pendulum.
I can scream in his face, curse his name, reject his love, ignore his voice, avoid his presence, and spew my hatred over all his goodness. Yet when I come to my senses, see my life without him, he is waiting for me. He renews me without shame or guilt.
He’s my reality when nothing makes sense. He’s the only reason to get up each day: My first love, my best friend, my Supreme Satisfaction.
By the way, my BFF walked on water to pull me out of my pit.
Just saying his name, Jesus, brings tears of joy.
I can now get dressed. Jesus. Anyone have a tissue?
I had read several books on the power of prayer. I could quote testimonies of life-changing prayer encounters of saints throughout history. I knew scriptures that displayed glory-filled prayer miracles. And truth be known, that’s what I wanted, all the time.
Truth be told, it’s not always like that. We should never judge our prayer lives by the highlights of others’ testimonies. They have behind the scenes seasons just like us. But any encounter with God is a life-changing prayer.
Solomon was right. After all, he was pretty wise. He said there would be seasons in life. In those seasons your prayers will match the mood of your heart.
There will be times when you sing His praises,
There will be times when you scream your frustrations.
There will be times when you confidently ask,
There will be times when you groan in confusion.
There will be times of cheering His answers,
There will be times of weeping the agony of defeat.
There will be times He sits close and instructs,
There will be times when you plead, “Where are you?”
There will be times when you hear, “Well done!”
There will be times when you lament, “Woe to me!”
There will be times when you intercede for others,
There will be times when you beg for yourself.
There will be times of silence and solace,
There will be times of jubilant dancing.
But in all the times, the goal is to behold Him
“Write about what you know.” Gil gave this advice to Anne and she wrote a best seller about her life at Green Gables. Wonder if it will work for me?
I know distractions. My mind is immersed in a swirling sea of frustrations, ideas, truths, lies, plans, and desires. I can’t seem to nail one thing down and stick with it. Wow, I can’t believe I finished the stenciling in one day. I love it.
My prayer life suffers when I’m like this. How about you? Do you struggle to stay focused? I just remembered my friends are coming for our prayer fellowship and lunch tomorrow. I better find a dessert recipe and go to the store.
When I’m like this I feel a million miles from God. Life gets harder when I’m not in His Presence. I really miss Eli. What excuse can I use to call Tori?
I determined the other day to spend time with the Lord or die trying. I settled into my comfy recliner with notepaper, phone, tea, and of course, my Bible. I knew what to do from all the years of teaching people about prayer. I look out the French doors to begin worship.
The backyard really needs some work. I wonder if we can afford a play set for Eli. I need curtains for the door. I’ll put the tapestry from Ireland on the right side to balance the hall tree on the left. Yeah, that would be perfect.
“You are Lord of creation and Lord of my life”
“No I Am not!”
“You love all those distractions more than Me.”
He was right. He always is. I would much rather think about Eli and his sweet smiley face. I get more excited about decorating my house than I do reading His Word. I’m more interested in pleasing my friends than pleasing Him. Like a divine power point presentation, the truths flash in rapid-fire sequence across my mind.
The only logical thing to do after this revelation is to get off my feet and on my knees in repentance. The problem is not the distractions. The problem is, I desire them more than Him. The problem is in my heart, not my mind. I can’t take every thought captive when I love the thought.
Let’s get honest. It’s always a love issue.
Father, Holy God, have mercy on me. I now see that the distractions are not the issue, my heart is the culprit. I don’t love You the way You deserve. I’ve lost the desire for You above all things. I don’t get excited about being with You. I don’t thrill at the thought of a moment in Your Presence. I want it but I want these others things too, even more so.
Oh please forgive me for the weakness of my heart. Please forgive me for the wasted days while walking in the things of the world. Please forgive me for being unwilling to see and savor only You. Please forgive me.
I’ve been lazy. I know it takes effort, perseverance, and passion to guard my heart. I refused to even try. I listened to the lies of the enemy and believed You were angry with me and would never accept me again. I doubted Your mercy and grace for a wayward child.
Here I am for I have nowhere else to go. Who else has the love I so desperately need. You alone have the answers. You alone have grace abounding. Restore me for without You I am lost. Amen
“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:1-3
Our precious grandson celebrated his birthday! One year ago, life as we knew it changed drastically. He came in and turned us upside down in the best of ways. He is God’s living breathing visual aid. Eli has taught me more in one year than I could’ve learned in ten without him.
Here are my Top Ten lessons along with adorable pictures of Eli taken by his momma.
Cry loud and often. When you are in need, in pain, or just bored, cry out until God comes to your rescue. Our Lord wants us to depend on Him. Jesus says, “Ask (beg) for anything in my name and I will do it.” John 14:14
Live your life without a care in the world. Run as fast as you can, climb the highest obstacles, and touch everything. Explore your world expecting God to provide your safety. 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…
It’s okay to act like a baby. Be silly, laugh, giggle, put food on your head, play peek-a-boo, sing without music, dance to your own beat, cheer for yourself, care less about how you look or what you wear. Life is one big adventure, enjoy it. John 10:10 I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Never ever give up. If you fail the first time, try again and again and again until the task is mastered. Repetition is paramount. Just as mom and dad keep picking up those toys you love to drop, God will patiently give you chance after chance to get it right. Philippians 1:6 …being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.
The simple things in life are best. Boxes are better than toys. Cabinet doors, pots and pans, mom’s glasses, straws and shopping bags entertain longer than electronic toys. Rocks taste as good as candy. Daddy’s lullabies are as grand as opera. Psalm 116:6 The LORD protects the simplehearted.
Live contented. The size, décor, or expense of your home is immaterial to happiness. A baby steps in mud puddles regardless of the expense of his shoes. Never own anything that can’t be smeared with ketchup. Let it all go and live! 1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
Trust Love. There’s security in love. Without love a baby wouldn’t cuddle into your arms to fall asleep, take your finger to pull you along for a walk, run into your outstretched arms, or squeeze your neck while slobbering kisses over your face. One must know love to give love. 1 Corinthians 13:2…and if I have the faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Change is inevitable. People won’t always cheer when you poop, laugh as they change your diapers, and sing as they clean up your spills. Growing up means change, taking responsibility. 1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn babies, crave spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.
The sin nature is a wicked force. No baby has to be taught how to have a tantrum, take what doesn’t belong to him, or run from the truth. It comes naturally and grows with each new day. Every baby needs Jesus. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
There’s a grand plan in the works. Babies naturally go through developmental stages. One level leads to another, for countless generations it’s been the same. Yet there can always be the exception that stands out…be special. Jeremiah 29:11 “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Happy birthday Eli!