Raising children brings so much joy. Inexplicable joy that can only be seen as gift, it's so priceless. Today I want to share some of the joy the Lord's flooded me with lately. He's so good and when I look on these children, I have evidence of God's love for me. Tangible evidence marking my walls and floors with mud, and piling my world with laundry. It overflows sometimes, this joy, and I have to share it.
A couple weeks ago the boys entered a children's fishing derby. There were prizes for the first caught, the biggest caught, and the most caught. Paul caught a 14.5 pound catfish, earning third place for size, but there were no third place prizes. Still, the catfish thrilled.
In case you didn't know...hamsters love pasta. Furthermore, when hamsters eat pasta, it's better entertainment than your favorite comedian's best monologue. Exaggeration you say, surely? Oh, but no, my friend; I kid you not. With surprising speed, they voraciously fill up both cheeks with it, looking more ridiculous with each centimeter. Try this at your house (plain pasta).
The beloved turtle was observed and let go, but not without posing for a picture first. He brought much wonder and entertainment to my children and to the neighbor kids. At his release, he found nothing better to do than to burrow in the mud, real quick like, as though he cared not what joy he brought and what fame he amassed. Oh, but to be so humble.
Dear God, thank you for the wonder of a semi-rural Ohio backyard...for frogs, crayfish, snakes, squirrels, chipmunks, praying mantises, bettles, ants, grasshoppers, worms, birds, butterflies and turtles. My children have a glorious gift here...a childhood full of wonder. Sincerely, A Grateful Momma.
Dear God, thank you for daughters who get dirty, and then clean up real nice and soft and pretty. Thank you for precious pictures I can show at their wedding, proving to their grooms that they're marrying girls who believe in living. Thank you for this climbing tree at our favorite nature park.
While I smile joyful today at giggling girls dancing in the sprinkler, thanking the Lord for the richness of this life, there are dear people hurting elsewhere. Here and here. There is a dear one who understands His heart and purpose and teaches it with poetry, from Uganda this time.
Our Savior says: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Oh...but the trouble hurts. Hurts deep.
Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing
We'll have joy and pain in this life. Sometimes it balances, but other times, it's more pain than joy.
Here's a secret: Our response should be the same in both.
The same? How can that be? How can we respond the same to both joy and pain, when one makes us want to dance, and the other makes us want to lie down and die?
I wanted to lie down and die once, when I lost a baby. And again when my husband lost his job and we had four kids, one just three months old.
And I've wanted to freeze moments of joy, many of them, forever, they tasted so good.
The more I live, the more I learn...offer it all up. Offer it to the One who's overcome. We are His, bought and paid for, and that makes our joy and pain His too.
Offer it up, and share it. We can't turn away when someone hurts. Nor can we put on a false face and hide our own pain. We can't hold our blessings with tight fists, as though we've seen the last of them.
It's all about receiving from the Father, vertically, and sharing His love, horizontally, to those around us. I have a good grasp on life and purpose when I remember these three things.
Vertical in, horizontal out, offer it all up to the one who's overcome.
Pain and joy have this in common: God's glory shines in both. We have the privilege, if we dare to be His servants, of sharing in that glory. Sharing in it brings the greatest sense of purpose, the highest fulfillment there is this side of Heaven.
Make the most of this vapor time we have here....let His glory shine through you.
Isaiah 60:4 . . . the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
Psalms 63:1-3 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.