To-do lists and Eternal Lists

Didn’t we already learn this?

I often found myself thinking this in my undergrad years at Hope College. I was training to become a teacher, though I loved my classes and found them wonderfully challenging it took me awhile to realize that repetition was a vital part of the learning process.

Repetition is actually the key mastering something–Papa God knows this well.  I am thankful He is a gracious and patient teacher who is willing to speak the same lessons to my heart over and over.

One of these lessons my heart needs on (almost constant) repeat is guarding myself from busy days that are full but empty of anything of eternal value. Yesterday, as I got Beckett up from his afternoon nap, my pre-dinner to-do list was running through my mind.  But, I was weary (being nearly 30 weeks pregnant can do that to you) and he was awake, but still sleepy.  So, we snuggled for awhile, and as I lay on my bed with him curled up beside me I started to feel guilty thinking of what I should be accomplishing.

And, at that moment, our patient teacher spoke to my heart–make a list.

Make a list?

Make a new list; not a to-do list–let my Spirit show you the list of what you did today that counts for eternity.

So, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I made a list on my phone–and, the things I didn’t accomplish mattered a lot less, and the eternal perspective from yesterday, I pray, will help me today.

Maybe my list will help you see that setting aside the busyness is okay; maybe it will show you that you really accomplished so much this week when you look with the right perspective.

Yesterday’s list: listened (without my phone in my view) to Charlotte tell me about preschool, read books with my littles when asked to, let Beckett walk rather than ride in a cart when we ran errands to Costco & Carters–held his hand, let him move slowly, did Charlotte’s hair this morning how she wanted it styled (not how I wanted it), snuggled with Beckett after naptime, held Audrey’s hand all the way home from school and listened to the stories of her day, made simple meal for my family.

Does the list surprise you?  It might not seem like things of eternal weight, but the Holy Spirit continues to show me that nurturing real, quiet, deep relationships with my children opens their hearts to the parent who they cannot see, Father God.

Mommas, keep at it–let the Holy Spirit show you how beautifully weighty those moments of books, and listening, and holding hands are.


The Real Reason We Should Read with Our Kids

It has nothing to do with those reading logs in their homework folders

Every single momma knows that we should read with our people regularly–teachers tell you beginning in preschool, posters and programs and the public library proclaim it, and for those who actually watch live television, there are even public service announcements about reading to your children.

Reading equips our children to be better communicators and thinkers–I agree, wholeheartedly, with every read to your kiddo campaign–I am an english major after all. But, I’d like to add a reason to your list that the library and your child’s second grade teacher won’t tell you.

You should read with your children because stories are powerful. For generations, Christ followers have struggled with what to do with literature–they have banned it, burned it, and called it a waste of time. Though, these concerns are not often associated with children’s books, I want to assert that as mommas who are raising arrows for the kingdom, it is essential that we create habits of regularly taking in excellent stories at a young age.  My argument, even though I’m an english teacher, has little to do with our children being advanced readers or better writers at school, but rather because I believe that we “…were created in the image of one who expressed his inmost nature from the beginning as the Word” (Donald T. Williams).

Of all the ways our Father could have chosen to reveal Himself to us, He chose words–He chose story.  The Bible is many smaller stories all telling the greater story of God’s love for us and what He would do to preserve the chance at a relationship with us, His beloved.

So, yes, we should fill out our students’ reading logs for school, and participate in summer reading club at the library, but not just so we raise smart kids.  Let us do this so we raise great storytellers. I would agree with Donald T. Williams when he writes, “…for people are most like God the Maker when they create a world and people it with significant characters out of their imagination.”

Imagine what might happen if instead of just proficient students, we were to raise up a generation of storytellers.  What might happen to the music industry? What kinds of truth-filled movies might be produced that are not shallow or filled with mediocre acting, but rather stories so captivating the world can’t ignore them? What blogs might pop up? What kinds of novels and poetry? You may be raising a pastor who will help capture people’s hearts for Jesus by the use of story–Jesus sure loved to use stories.

So, read stories, tell stories, let the Bible be a BIG, glorious story in your home — let us raise up a generation who knows how to tell a good story and captivate those who don’t know our Creator.

When You Need His Truth

I can still see my brother-in-law sitting beside my sister-in-law’s bed in the Intensive Care Unit last May–his head was resting on her beside as he held his iphone, which played the song, “Here’s My Heart, Lord.”  As I stood in the doorway of the room, gripped with sadness and fear, the words of the song permeated the atmosphere. “Here’s my heart, Lord. Speak what is true.”

In the days that followed, God did indeed speak to each of our hearts in different ways and at different times, but it was always truth.  He used His Word, His Holy Spirit, and His precious people to speak truth to our family as we sat in the ICU waiting room. We claimed the truth that God is a healer, that He is in control, that He wasn’t surprised, and that He is good. My sister-in-law, walked out of that hospital weeks after the doctors, essentially, told us to say our goodbyes. Hallelujah to the God of miracles.

As many of you know, we are expecting to add a fourth arrow to our quiver at the beginning of May. After a second ultrasound, our doctor reported to us that I have a condition called placenta accreta.  I will spare you a blog full of medical jargon and explanation.  Here are the facts that matter for this post–our sweet son is beautiful, perfect, and will continue developing wonderfully (he is also already working on his chubby cheeks as he’s measuring 2 weeks ahead by way of size); the risk factors with this condition really only come into play during delivery–it’s riskier for me (not for our boy), and he will need to be delivered by 36 weeks. (If you want more information on the condition, just Google it).

As we walked out of our OB’s office, thoughts were moving quickly and in fragments through my mind–I might be asleep for Ryker’s first hours of life, I need to call my mom, I don’t have diapers for him yet; should I? No, not yet.  I’d been talking with God about my fears since getting the phone call that we’d need a second ultrasound to determine whether I did indeed have this condition. I had walked into the appointment with a confident peace that regardless of the doctor’s report, God is working good, but the enemy is so good at poking holes in our peace.

After all the facts and information, and all the, we aren’t quite sures the heaviness of it all began to settle in on my heart as did the old fear and lies of the enemy.  And, once again, as I did in May, needed to cry out to God for Him to speak truth to my heart.  The kind of truth He spoke to us when my sister was in ICU–a truth that surpasses human understanding and medical reports.

And, mommas, our God faithfully began speaking to my heart–I could feel Him lifting me up out of fears, as if He gently placed his hands under my chin and pulled my gaze to meet His own.  And, I could hear the truth that I’ve found in this song so many times since May.

‘Cause I am found, I am Yours
I am loved, I’m made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free.

I don’t know what makes your thoughts feel fragmented today–medical situations, broken relationships, grief, financial strain, a rebellious child, feeling like a failure as a wife or mom–whatever it is, let your Father lift your eyes to meet His and let Him speak truth to your heart. Hearing His truth changes everything.