I don't think this comes as much of a surprise, but I love The Little Mermaid. I love it more than any grown woman should. I watched it so much as a child, that I can still recite every line of the film as I'm watching it.
As a child, I would pretend to be a mermaid. I would try to twirl around underwater, holding my feet together, and imagine so vividly that I was a mermaid in the depths of the sea. If they had had those fancy mermaid tail swim suits back then, I would have lost my mind over them. I may or may not have just added one to my Amazon wish list...
But it wasn't until my adult life that I found the irony in all of this.
We watched an entire movie about a mermaid who gave up EVERYTHING to be human, and our take-away, as young children, was desperately wanting to be a mermaid...thee very mermaid who so desperately wanted to be human.
I am all for imagination and pretend. I think those are fabulous things! But this example, from The Little Mermaid, is the epitome of the grass is always greener, isn't it?
This so closely parallels real life, even as adults.
How often do we wish someone else's journey was our own? How often do we wish to be as thin, or pretty, or tall, or smart, or <insert any perceived positive adjective here> as someone else?
How often do we question God and how He created us, or His plans for us?
If The Little Mermaid has taught me anything, it is that while I am wishing I was her, she is wishing she was me.
Maybe I wish I had a fabulous career, while maybe that career woman longs for children she is struggling to conceive. Maybe I wish we had more money, while maybe that wealthy couple's marriage is struggling. These are truly just made up examples to show you that we don't always know someone's whole story. So instead of wishing we were other people, maybe we should stop and appreciate who God made us to be, the plan He has for us, and our own personal journey.
Stop trying to be mermaids who would give up their vocal chords to be you.
Well, you get the point.
On the heels of Mother's Day, when life returns to the chaotic normal of to-do lists and "what's for dinner?" I have a message for all you mothers out there.
As a mother, I think I sometimes (often) have unrealistic expectations of myself. I make myself feel guilty because I'm not playing with my kids enough, or doing enough crafts with them. Maybe they've watched too much TV or played video games for too long while I've been working, or my back has been hurting. I'm not reading to them enough, or interacting with them one on one enough. I don't keep the house clean enough. I'm not Pinterest-y enough...
The more I type out that word, the uglier it gets. And the thing is, none of that is true. Satan will try to make you feel overwhelmed at every turn, make you feel like you're doing everything wrong, make you feel like you're not enough. But remember this...
One day, while I was being particularly hard on myself, I decided to think as far back as my memory could recall, of the things I remember most about my mother when I was a child.
Guess what. It wasn't arts or crafts. It wasn't reading books all the time. It wasn't getting down on the floor to play with me every single day. It is not because she didn't do those things, ever. She did, but my memories are of her being there. I can picture her, working hard on a hot summer day, in our garden, to provide food for us, while I played in the yard around her. I can remember her on bike rides and walks to the park. In later years, I can remember her working hard long days for the Post Office, and then still showing up, in uniform, to rebound for me at basketball practice, or take pictures at my games. I remember the first time I saw her cry, when her grandfather died, and my young brain didn't quite know what to say. I remember her, behind her camera, documenting every part of our lives that she could.
One of the absolute clearest memories I have of her from when I was around 8 years old doesn't have anything to do with play, or quality time, or crafts.
We stopped at the shoe store on our way to the gym one night. We were just looking, not buying that day. We left after a bit, and as we pulled up to the gym, she put her hand in her jacket pocket and pulled out a set of shoe laces from the store. She had accidentally pocketed them while looking around, and didn't even realize it. We immediately piled back into the car to go back. She was so upset. I watched her walk those 25 cent shoe laces back into the store to return them and apologize for her mistake.
Memories of my mother revolve around emotions and character. I may have just been an onlooking observer, sometimes playing on the sidelines with my sister, while she worked, but she was there and that was enough.
Mothers, you are enough. You are exactly the mother your children need you to be. You are doing the works which God has already prepared you for, and your good enough is perfection.
Have you ever learned anything from winning? What do you gain when things always workout for you? What knowledge do you acquire from things always going your way?
Don't get me wrong. There is something wonderfully fantastic about winning. There is something delightful in things always going our way, or coming with great ease, but in reality, for most people, that is not real life.
This verse is one of my all-time favorites, not because I laugh and cheer with joy during difficult times (though maybe I should!), but because, as a former athlete, I can relate. This spoken of joy is not a joy that our worldly minds think of, but rather finding joy in our perseverance, our growth, and mostly, the knowledge that God (not us) is in control.
In this, I feel the world and the scriptures truly intersect. Michael Jordan, a world renown athlete who is known by even those who do not follow basketball, understood that without failure, there was no growth, no gain, no success.
You see, this joy is deeper than any earthly joy you've felt. It is rooted in Christ and a wisdom from the Lord. It comes from only Him, and the knowledge that He is with you in whatever you may be going through, and the understanding that you are growing in Him.
Without the cross, there is no hope.
Without defeat, there is no glory.
Without death there is no life.
Often times we wonder why bad things happen. We might wonder why things aren't going our way.
We're good people, right?
We pay our taxes.
We go to church...most of the time.
So why don't things seem to go our way?
Here's the hard truth. We won't always know. We won't always have all the answers. Sometimes, bad things happen, because we live in a corrupt world where there is a lot outside of our own control, no matter what we do.
But here is something to take comfort in. These bad things can draw us closer to God. We can learn from them. We can grow in them. And sometimes, they are meant for just those things.
This is not always the case. I will not sit here and tell you "everything happens for a reason." Often, just really, horribly tragic things happen to people, and this is not the verse you should share with them for comfort. I am talking about the things most people complain about daily; money, jobs, aches and pains, things.
When things go my way, I often forget about God. Not completely, but in a general busy life kind of way, in which I might not call my parents for more than a week. I don't talk to Him as much. This is something I continually strive to improve upon, but I have found that I am not alone in this. Many of us only turn to him in trouble. Throughout my life, those troubling times have served as a pause, in my journey. Not a stop, or an end all, but a yielding to Him who has the right of way.
Hindsight is always 20/20. But after those times, I realize how they drew me closer to God. How I turned to Him, suddenly in need, and how He took my hand and led me through. I have story upon story, that maybe one day I will share here, of how these pauses taught me patience, wisdom, and most importantly, reliance, on Him. It was good for me to be afflicted.
Whatever you may be going through now, whatever has you feeling stuck in your journey, I pray that you would pause, and allow God to move.
My oldest son wants an Xbox, badly. I don't think he even knows why, except for the fact that one of his friends has one, so they must be cool.
He's never getting an Xbox, but you can't tell him that.
I mean, you can tell him, but he'd be certain you're wrong.
About every week or two I come home from the grocery store with new cereal. Whenever the sale is right, and the coupons match up, we get the good name brand stuff, and Kellogg's has been running an Xbox promotion where some of their cereals offer the chance to win an Xbox, inside the box. It is advertised over the entire side of the box, so you can't miss it, and Elijah certainly doesn't.
There is probably less than a 1 in a million chance that he's going to win that thing. But every time I come home with new boxes, he behaves as though that Xbox is already his, and makes plans for it. His hope, his belief, that one of those boxes is going to be his golden ticket is downright foolery, yet so endearing. And I can't help but laugh each time he gets so excited about the prospect. And each time he opens a box that says, "Please try again," I wait for the disappointment, but he just shrugs his shoulders and says, "Well, you'll be buying more cereal soon!" with the most hopeful (some might say, idiotic) grin on his face. And that's that.
Jesus instructs us, without question, to have the faith of a child. (Matthew 18:3, 19:14, Mark 10:14-15, Luke 18:17)
Though the Xbox may be a poor example of this, and Elijah isn't actually praying for it, it still speaks to the amount of hope and faith I see in my children on a regular basis. I can apply this to so much more than material wants. When my aunt was sick with an incurable cancer, and given very little hope for survival by her doctors due to late detection, my then 5 year old son prayed for her every single night. He prayed for things I hadn't even thought of. Adults tend to pray for the things we think are rational and reasonable. I was praying for healing of course, but mostly that God would guide and direct her doctors to make the best decisions for her health.
My child prayed that "she wouldn't get sick," that the medicine would "help her and not make her sick." I will never forget hearing him pray this. He was only 5. We had not gone into great detail about the illness or treatments, but he somehow knew this, and my aunt was pretty much the healthiest sick person you'd ever meet. Not only did she survive, but she worked her physically demanding job landscaping throughout most of her treatment.
A few years later, when our oldest daughter asked for a sister, and my husband and I (him more than I) were pretty sure we were done with three, I told her to pray about it, but to understand that even if Mommy and Daddy did decide to have another baby, we couldn't guarantee her a sister. She prayed fervently and patiently about this. Her sister was born less than a year later.
I am not trying to say that everything a child prays for, they get. That's not it. But God so much as tells us to have a foolish amount of faith; that that which is foolish to the world, can be done through Christ, and Christ alone. He instructs us in this, and points this out in small children. Children don't rationalize odds. Children don't compare the possible with the impossible. Children who are taught of a God who can move mountains and part seas, actually believe that He can move mountains and part seas! And so often we teach our children these things which we, ourselves, have forgotten as we've grown older and "wiser." This is a foolishness I need. This is a foolishness I strive for.
I want to be that woman we meet briefly in Matthew 9:20, and again later in Mark 5.
She has been suffering, in pain, for 12 years. Yet she believes, without a doubt, that she can be healed, just by merely grasping at the tiniest piece of fabric on Jesus. Foolish right? I want to be that fool.
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
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