First Best

As of late, my toddler has had an intense fondness for spending time with his daddy. If daddy is home, mommy is second best. I do my best to try to include myself in their activities. Instead, my son quickly shuns me by pushing me away, or shouting, “No, No, Mommy!”.

To say this rejection hurts would be an understatement. I do know this is a normal behavior for a toddler to explore. But, he’s my first born, and he has certainly been a ‘Mama’s boy’ for so long.

I adore spending time with him, to be around his presence. It brings me great joy. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to the ‘stay-at-home’ lifestyle. Maybe it’s because he’s a part of me. But it’s most definitely, simply because I love him.

I imagine God knows these feelings all too well. I often find myself having an intense fondness for spending my time either trying to constantly acheive or by tending to useless affairs. I begin each day by tackling my daily chores, and I generally do not stop until they’re all done. I find myself frequently utilizing social media outlets. I browse many online shops and essentially waste time because I’m not intending to purchase anything anyway.

I came to the realization that when I wake for the day, God is often second (third, fourth, or even last) best. Most assuredly, God tries to include himself in my activities. He beckons me to show love by my words and actions. His Holy Spirit brings to my remembrance songs of praise or memorized scriptures. He even lays people on my heart and mind to encourage me to pray for them. Instead, I have shunned God by pushing Him, or those nudges, away. I shout, “No, No, God”, as if my work on Earth is more important than working for God’s kingdom.

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I do not know for certain, but to say this rejection hurts God is probably an understatement. God knows the true heart of mankind is selfish at best. And He knows these affairs are “normal” behaviors for those that live in the world. But I am called His child, and I am certainly required to be set apart from the world and to be ‘Daddy’s girl’.

Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LordDon’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.- 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 (NLT) 

It’s true. God adores to spend time with me, to be around my presence. He asks for the same in return. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”- John 15:5 (NLT)

It does indeed bring Him great joy. “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”- John 15:11 (NLT) 

Maybe it’s because that’s the lifestyle He initially intended me to have. Maybe it’s because I am a part of Him, made in His image. (Genesis 1:26-27). But it’s most definitely, simply because He loves me.  “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.”- John 15:9 (NLT)

With this in mind, I seek a heart change. One that can shun those so-called acheivements or useless affairs. One that places God back in His rightful position. I have declared that I allowed God to make His home in my heart, and He should always be first best.


“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.”- James 4:8 (NLT)

Hindrance to Holiness

Sometimes, I need a good cry session. This morning was good for that. Except, I try to hold my emotions inside while in front of my toddler. I dislike for him to see me cry because I know it distresses him too.

I was hurting for some of my loved ones. And while I thought I had done all I could do to help, I felt like I had hindered even more. The weight of it all was too heavy for me to hold onto any longer. So, I tried to escape. I slipped into the bathroom while my toddler was playing. I cried. I pleaded. And finally, I cried and pleaded to the Lord.

It wasn’t long before my toddler found me. I just had hoped he wouldn’t. After he saw me crying, he quickly scurried away and I felt relief in being able to continue with my affair of sorrows. However, he promptly returned with a play oven-mitt on his hand. He stood in front of me and stared for a moment. Then, he reached up with his covered hand to wipe my tears away, all while lavishing me with positive words of affirmation.

“You’re beautiful. I’m so proud of you. All better.” 

To my astonishment, his words brought me great consolation. I felt in that moment that God had used my toddler to speak to directly to me.

“You’re beautiful.” My heart hurt for how I’ve gone about trying to “help” my loved ones. I felt no validation in being valuable or compassionate to them. When I finally acknowledged my failed attempts to God He reminded me,

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;– Psalm 34:4-5, 18-19 (NLT). 

Yes, because of the Lord’s goodness I am radiant. In my brokenness I am beautiful. And I was reassured that I can trust in God, my Rescuer.

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“I’m so proud of you.” It was heavy as I watched my loved ones going through their hurts. However, I can admit that I talked negatively about their choices when I sought others for advice. In my attempt to resolve their matters with my own knowledge, I actually became a hindrance. When I finally asked God to take control, He reminded me,

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”- 1 Peter 5:6-7, 10 (NIV). 

Yes, it’s hard to give up control. But when I give up my pride is when God can be proud of me. And because of this act of obedience, God is able to move in both my life and in the lives of my loved ones.

“All better.” I have walked down similar paths and had hoped that my trials and testimonies would’ve resonated with my loved ones. The choices that they made seemed irrational and ignorant, nonetheless their choices. In my mind, their circumstances seemed grim and grievous. When I pronounced thanks to the Lord for who He is, and put my faith in Him for answers that I do not yet see, He reminded me,

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”- Ephesians 5:15-17, 19-20 (NIV)

Yes, I give thanks to God for helping me see victory whenever I walk in humble obedience to Him. I do thank God for who He is and what His power can do. Because of these truths, I can rest assured that it really will be all better. 

Through the tender actions and words of my child, I was reminded of God’s goodness. I must go to God with every single sorrow and joy. I must not subject myself or others to the schemes of the enemy. Furthermore, I must “always give thanks” to my God who is good at being in control. Who reminded me that the heaviness is not meant for me or them to carry. And regardless of my acts of hindrance, when I walk in complete obedience to the will of God my life declares that He has made me holy.


“The Lord.. heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. Sing to the Lord with grateful praise..”- Psalm 147:2-7 (NIV)

Not Following Instructions

My husband and I moved into our house two and a half years ago. I was thrilled to be able to decorate its interior with no restrictions. One of my favorite projects was inspired by a little nook in our kitchen- the perfect locale for my vision of having a coffee station.

Within a month of moving in, my husband gifted me with a three-tier, espresso-colored shelving unit. That Christmas, I was also gifted a Keurig (coffee machine) from my parents. I placed it atop of my shelving unit and adorned the rest with supplementary canisters and decorations. It was my picture perfect coffee station!

I was ecstatic to have my Keurig, but I knew little about it. All I knew was how to operate it. Turn it on, place my coffee pod inside, select my cup size, press the button, and voila! But, apart from that, I never read the instruction manual.

[Insert gasps, eye rolls, and thought bubbles here]

I’ve had a handful of issues with this said Keurig- the latest being that the water reservoir would fill up within but nothing would come out to brew. This left me flustered, shaking my fists, and mumbling stuff under my breath. I spent countless [total] hours starting and restarting this machine. All to continue having the same issue with no results.

Not only did I not read the instruction manual, but I am pretty confident that I also threw it away! Now in a state of panic and ready to toss my Keurig as garbage, I was desperate for any help. I began searching the internet and watching YouTube tutorials. What I discovered was that I needed to deep clean my Keurig every 2-to-3 months “to avoid any issues”.

Go figure! In the 30 months that I’ve had my machine, I deep cleaned it a whole two times. TWO! After learning this little tidbit, I followed protocol to clean it thoroughly. Then, I uncovered a properly working coffee machine again!

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It should come as no surprise that I have a bad habit of not following instructions with many areas of life. I had assessed my Keurig troubles and found an all too familiar correlation with my faith struggles.

Outwardly, it could appear that I have the picture perfect faith. I read devotions, go to church, surround myself with like-minded believers, listen to Christian music, and voila! But, I admit I’m not always consistent in reading the instruction manual, God’s Word.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.- Joshua 1:8 (NIV) 

I have had a handful of issues and trouble that brews. Or, things don’t brew the way I want them to, just like coffee in my Keurig. This can leave me flustered, shaking my fists at God, and mumbling words of doubt under my breath. Yet, sometimes I continue to face faith struggles in my own efforts, and without reading the instruction manual.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.- Romans 15:4 (NIV)

When my faith is hard pressed, I, without a doubt face sheer panic. I may even consider tossing my faith as garbage. And desperate for more help, I’ve tried to refuel my faith by reading other books, blogs, or articles. But.. there’s nothing that can replenish my faith like God’s Word. Not just to be maintained every 2-to-3 months, but daily, to uncover properly working faith again!


But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.”- 2 Timothy 3:14-15 (NLT) 

The Teacher

Finally! The past two days have treated us with some warmer weather conditions. My son and I were able to take full advantage of this and play outside. I was ever so grateful for this opportunity since I feel we have been cooped up inside our home for too long. Little did I realize how these small adventures would thoroughly teach both my son and I.

I was able to witness some new developments in my toddler as we explored the outdoors. This was the first time his newly 2-year old mind was able to comprehend what his eyes were seeing. He would point to or pick up objects in order to learn of their name. I was able to expand upon his knowledge by informing him what he could and could not touch, what was safe and unsafe, etc.

His newest interest has been collecting rocks, as his treasures, from all over the yard. In doing so, he has unearthed some unwanted vulnerabilities. We have discovered an infestation of red ants, exposed a variety of holes, and have collected piles of these rocks to remain unused in various new places. However, this has revealed even more opportunities for me to teach and provide him with chances to grow in knowledge of his world around him.

I see a parallel here between my toddler and I, and myself with God. God is ever increasing my knowledge and understanding whenever I seek it from Him. Which He is able to teach me through my experiences and through His Word. Scripture emphasizes to “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.- Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV). Whether I’m teaching my child, or God is teaching me, we are setting valuable lessons to guide growth and stability through this life. 

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Just like my son who collects treasures of rocks, I’m collecting heavenly treasures. These are found when God teaches me to live set apart from the world. In doing so, God unearths some unwanted vulnerabilities within me. Through Him, I have discovered an infestation in my life from the enemy’s schemes. He has exposed a variety of voids that I have sought to be filled by sinful pleasures. I have collected piles of heavenly treasures but left them to remain unused in various new places. However, this has revealed even more opportunities for God to teach and provide me with chances to grow in knowledge of my world through Him.

These opportunities to increase in knowledge and understanding through life’s lessons are valuable to the heart of God.

let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.- Proverbs 1:5&7 (NIV)

I’ve already been given Jesus’ example of life on this Earth to know the difference between what I can and cannot touch, what is safe and unsafe, etc. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.- 2 John 1:9 (NIV). Christ’s example of life on this Earth is found in scripture. And since Christ abides in me, I have His power and authority to advance me even farther in His well, thought-out instruction.


“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”- 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV). 

 

Abandoning My Past

For a long time I had feelings of disdain toward my earthly father. He caused me much pain and hardship over the course of my life. I grew up with an ever increasing void in my heart due to certain choices he made.

Although l would like to point fingers and say he abandoned me, that’s not really the case. I was the one that ultimately abandoned him. I felt I was better off without him. I resolved in my heart that I could find my own way, make a new name for myself, and become greater than he amounted in my eyes.

Because of my hurts, I viewed all relationships through an attitude of pride. My poor relationship with my earthly father caused me to have a skewed concept of how my relationship should be with my Heavenly Father. Instead of making a complete distinction between the two, I ultimately combined them into a singular category.

I was always on the run from my past hurts. And I felt so unloved. I had a hard time understanding how God could ever love me any greater. This lead me to ultimately run from God too.

Consequently, I had trouble committing my whole self to God relationally. I figured I could find my own way. I figured I could make a name for myself, all by myself. I figured I was greater at being God.

All too often I have found, and still do find myself looking ever so narrow-mindedly at my situations and thinking, “There’s nothing more and I must accept what comes my way.” As a result, I try to march onward in my own strengths and efforts.

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It took me two decades to learn to combat this lifestyle with the Word of God, which speaks truth. I learned to humble myself before God, to be obedient to Him, and to seek having a real, intimate relationship with Him. He has since revealed to me so many lies that peer through the depths of my past ways of thinking. And now my thought processes can proclaim His truths!

  1. God is not to be limited by my mere human thoughts. “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”- Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT) 
  2. I do not have to face any situation in my own strengths and efforts. The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.- Psalm 28:7 (NKJV)
  3. God’s love for me is not restricted and based upon my choices. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.- Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV)
  4. God will never abandon or reject me. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.- John 14:18&20 (NIV)
  5. God will lead my way. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.- Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
  6. God gave me a new name through Christ. ..But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.- 1 Corinthians 6:11 (NLT)
  7. God is good at being God. I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.- Deuteronomy 32:3-4 (NIV) 

Indeed, I’m still healing and learning the difference between the role of my earthly father and, God, my Heavenly Father. But God has equipped me to discover His truths. He seeks to have a real, intimate relationship with me, His child. And, His love is far greater than anything I could ever imagine.


“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”- Ephesians 1:4-6 (NIV)