The Only Thing You Cannot Mess Up

Through the windows of our den, came the screaming, “Mommy, Mommeeee!” It was my girls’ voices and they weren’t shouts of unshared Barbies or swing-sharing injustices, they were fear-filled screams. I dropped the sunscreen for which I’d briefly stepped into the house, and ran to meet them where they stood next to our in-ground pool. Their screaming continued as they pointed to the pool where their 23-month old brother was face down in the water, chubby hands and feet desperately flapping.

Immediately, I was in the pool, pulling him up-he took a deep breath as soon as he was in my arms, and then began sobbing. And, as we stood in the shallow end, me still in flip flops and a cover up, him sobbing on my shoulder, I began to weep.  It only took seconds for my mind to begin that terrible parade of what-ifs.

I had been foolish–I had left a little one who couldn’t swim near a body of water, which is never a good idea whether it be for seconds or minutes. What if I had run upstairs for my headband instead of just grabbing sunscreen in the den?  What if the girls had been on the swing set and entirely missed seeing him fall in? What if my foolishness had resulted in us losing our son? Through my tears, I whispered, thanks to Jesus who had sustained and saved Beckett.

Later, as I recounted the incident, again crying, to my mom, I started my litany of what ifs.  And, I am so grateful she stopped me, and answered my what ifs with this, “Then, God would have made another way to rescue Beckett.” Yes. Of course. Because, even in my mistakes and my foolishness, it is God who orders the steps of my children; it is God who establishes them, equips them, calls them, and allows the breath to still be in their lungs each morning.  God’s plan is far greater than my foolish mistakes.

Mommas, read that again, God’s plan is greater than what you can do. Your foolishness, your mistakes, your impatience, the things you get right for your second child and feel guilty about totally blowing for the first–none of it. Today, rejoice with me in the words of Psalm 37,

“A man’s goings are established of Jehovah;
And he delighteth in his way.
 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For Jehovah upholdeth him with his hand.”  (verses 23-24)

We have the privilege and responsibility of raising up these little people to follow hard after God’s purpose for them, but God’s plans will stand firm even in our failings.

A Letter to My Daughters on Marriage

My Treasured Daughters,

“‘Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.'” (C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves)

Yesterday, I sat for a few moments in the shade of our honey locust tree while baby boy napped and watched you play “wedding.” You were, of course, princesses, who would be marrying princes–we’d just finished a swim in the pool, so you both draped beach towels around yourselves to act as skirts & capes.  I watched and remembered my own imaginary weddings I had planned and executed with my elementary friends. This letter will be the first, I pray, of many the Lord will allow me to write to you as there is much that premarital counseling & books doesn’t tell you of marriage.

After Jesus, your daddy is the best decision I ever made.  But, though I chose the date we wed, my dress, his tux, each flower for my bouquet, and the earrings worn by my bridesmaids, I did not choose him; He was chosen for me, and I for him.

In his book, The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis writes about friendship,

“…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,’ can truly say to every group of Christian friends, ‘Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.'”

Though, Lewis writes about friendship, the same holds true for marriage. God chose Mark and I one for another. Now, this may not seem more significant than simply a turn of a phrase.  After all, regardless of who chose, we are married now. But, recognizing that God handpicked your husband is critical for the well-being of your marriage. Recognizing that every good gift is from the Father is essential.

Because when the honeymoon is over, and he leaves his dishes near the dishwasher instead of inside it, I may be tempted to grumble.  When his entrepreneurial drive requires sacrifice, and owning a business demands flexibility of schedules and expectations, I could get cranky.

But, when I acknowledge that he was chosen for me, I must, then, recognize that my grumbling and cranky faces are not against my husband, but against the one who chose Him for me.

If your husband was chosen for you not by you, you must gladly submit under God’s mighty hand–every late work night and every frustrating trait are under the control of that secret master of ceremonies. And, sweet girls, if you can get this, you will avoid so many “discussions” and disagreements with your husband because you will value you him as one chosen, with all his personality warts & glories, for you. And, you will know that any grumbling to him or about him, is truly grumbling against your Papa God.

I’m in no hurry for you to trade your beach towels for real wedding gowns, but I look forward to meeting the ones God has chosen for each of you.

With love,


Tell Me Again, Daddy

Hearing the Father's Delight

{A repost from last June, in honor of Daddys}

I have a brand new title: Auntie Jenn.  Saturday night, my first niece, Selah Grace was born—she is, of course, perfect and miraculous and Auntie Jenn is already planning her Christmas gifts.

Sunday morning, Audrey, blurry eyed from a late-night hospital visit to meet her cousin, slipped into our room as Mark and I finished getting ready for church.  She wasn’t too tired to rehearse the details of the night before—how tiny Selah was, how cute her hat looked, and how Selah’s daddy looked so happy to hold her.

”Daddy, did you feel happy when you held me?” Mark scooped Audrey up in the way only daddies can—the way that makes my tall six-year old look, again, like my tiny baby girl.

“Oh, yes, princess.  Oh, yes.” She wanted to hear (again) the story of the first time Daddy held her—what did he think, what he said to her, how did he feel.  Her smile widened as she listened to the delight of her father for her.

It’s Monday—you might have had some late nights this weekend like we did, or you may have worked extra shifts, you may be starting the week with a sick child, a new obstacle, or perhaps the same old struggle that was facing you on Friday.

But, Momma, can I encourage you today to delight in your children rather than tolerating them.  Audrey beamed as she heard her daddy’s delight—I pray you had parents who delighted in you and who loved you without conditions.  But, even if you haven’t known the delight of an earthly parent, you are equipped to delight in your children.

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Quiet your heart….do you hear it?  Not yet?  Keep listening…

Your Father God is singing over you.  He knows the day He began to form you beautifully and wonderfully in your mother’s womb.  And His delight in you doesn’t fade with your sin and mistakes—you are His, made in His likeness, just like your children.  Accept the Father’s delight over you today, and as you do sing over your children—let them hear your delight for them, exactly as they are, today.

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