the foolishness of too many things

All the markers were strewn around his feet. He stretched his chubby fingers, determined to pick up every one and carry them across the room. But he was too ambitious – every time he grabbed more than three the first two would fall out.

I just watched as he bent over with furrowed brows and his little bum in the air. He started grunting after several failed attempts and my heart swelled. He didn’t want just two markers or even three and he certainly didn’t want to make several trips across the room. He wanted all of them at once, no exceptions.

Oh, little one, I understand.

Everybody thinks you are crazy (seriously, kid – fifteen markers at once is never happening), but I get it. I get that those markers became super important the minute they became impossible.

Sometimes I wish it was culturally acceptable for me to just hang out with my bum in the air and grunt while I try to do what is obviously impossible. I don’t know why I wish that (I know I will have to give up eventually), but maybe it has something to do with our efforts as adults to keep things hidden.

I don’t want my foolishness out in the open. I don’t want to be caught with my bum in the air and furrowed brow, determining to do something impossible and foolish. But little ones – they get a “pass” when it comes to things like this because they don’t know any better.

I watched this little guy pick up and drop the markers until something shiny distracted from his frustration. And, I thought, I understand.

But there is something else – something about growing and knowing and being aware of what is good and wise and possible.

As much as I wish I could be foolish without consequence, I am glad to be rescued (to some degree) from futility. Deep down, I don’t really wish to go back to ignorance (even though it looks carefree and blissful at times).

I am grateful for knowing what I know on this side of things. I’m grateful for God’s promise to grow us from one degree of glory to another and that He teaches us what is foolish and what is wise. I claim this wisdom daily as I walk out steps of faith in obedience.

It just feels… complicated sometimes.

when little children understand that badness needs a remedy

I enjoy anything Rain for Roots or Sally Lloyd-Jones. Just quality folks with the kind of creativity that touches the spirit of little ones, you know? Well, their collaboration with the Rain for Roots CD is brilliant and so recently I made it my soundtrack while I chauffeur little ones around the city.

One little one said (after a tantrum heavy hour),

“I feel bad…
because I was bad.”

I had to stop swaying to “Jesus is Alive” in the front seat to ask,

“What’s that, sweetie?”

“I feel bad…
because I was bad.”

Oh, the beauty and tenderness of a fragile heart! I melted a little bit and pleaded silently for wisdom – not the high brow kind, but the singing and dancing and leaping kind.

Have you ever been inside a moment where you know the Gospel is begging to be shared – just right there in front of you like an open door? Have you ever started to walk through in faith and found yourself on the threshold thinking, “This sounds CRAZY! How is this ever going to make sense?”

And then the longer you talk about it, the more you are convinced that you’re not making sense. That’s the moment you start praying simultaneously for God to graciously rip out your words and replace them with His – one of those supernatural things where the person hears something you might not even be speaking.

Just me? Hm.

But this little one, she was listening.

She was listening to another child who was once lost, but a child who was found by God. She was listening as I talked about why we feel bad when we are bad… about how our badness hurts other people. I told her that her badness hurt me, because badness always hurts people.

“Are you hurt?”

I said I was, but that there is something called forgiveness.

And that led to talking about God, who taught us how to forgive – who sent His Son out of love but was hurt in the worst way. His Son was even killed because of people’s badness.

“He walked on this ground?”

Yep, He walked on this ground – like a person.

“And then they killed him?”

Yes, that’s pretty bad, huh?

“Yeah, that’s really bad.”

This God who offered forgiveness for the badness of those who hurt Him also offers forgiveness to us if we believe Jesus is God’s Son and has the power to forgive us.

We pulled into the driveway and gathered everything from the backseat. As we were walking up the sidewalk, I said, “You know what? I’m so glad I saw you today. You are very special.”

“Even though I was bad?”

“Yes, even though you were bad.”

And especially because you were bad, dear child! I wanted to say. Especially because you understand there is badness in you that makes you uncomfortable and sad and sick with guilt. 

I drove away from that house with all sorts of prayers that God would replace my words with His and melt the heart of this little one so she can know His forgiveness and love. I prayed that she would understand what it means that Jesus is alive.

ALIVE and daily offering to break the cycle of badness with the weight of His forgiveness and grace. ALIVE.

Because badness needs a remedy and His name is Jesus. And He is ALIVE!

let LOVE fly like cRaZY

thoughts to make your heart sing

“Why does God need us to make a big deal of Him?”

Just take a listen to this devotional (designed for tikes) read by the author, Sally Lloyd-Jones. And then maybe spend some moments thinking about God’s invitation for you into His forever happiness. Today, He is inviting you to glorify Him because he knows what your heart needs to be happy… Him.

Sometimes, the simplest lessons are the most affecting. The mature believer is not one who is found to be the most well-read in doctrine or the most well-versed in competing theologies. No, the mature believer is one found accepting the invitation to glorify the Lord, believing boldly while knowing it is by grace that one receives.

Paul Tripp says it better in this clip, “Knowledge Does Not Mean Maturity.” He is speaking to pastors in the ministry, but I confess my puffed up chest about knowing things and “academizing the faith.”

He says, “You can be theologically astute and be dramatically spiritually immature.” That’s a crazy bold statement and it hits hard with the growing number of reformed thinkers.

And that is why I’m drawn humbly into the pages of a children’s devotional – knowing that I will come before the Lord always as a child. I will always need more of His wisdom, grace, strength, love, and kindness.

And He will always invite me to shake off my pretenses and dance with joy, unashamed, in His forever happiness.

I highly recommend picking up a copy of Thought To Make Your Heart Sing and don’t feel like you have to give it to a little one, either.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

grace means she giggles

Does this little blue-eyed baby know?

Maybe she thinks she is a baby super star and that’s why she gets chauffeured around town and has meetings with important people.

But does she know that we got stood up today – her and I in McDonald’s? Does she know that the important people didn’t make an appearance? Does she know that I wanted to cry but I smiled instead and that’s when she cooed right back.

Does this little blue-eyed baby know that her world is chaos?

Today, grace means holding on to God’s sovereignty and savoring the moments I can spend with a precious little one even if the moments were reserved for someone else. Today, grace means this little one has no idea she was forgotten. Today, grace means that this little treasure is known by God. Today, grace means she giggles and coos as I chauffeur her about.

Today, there is grace for my broken heart that smiles at this precious little.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.

The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!
(Psalm 146 ESV)

a tree I’ll grow

I had a no-show today and it’s tearing me up.

How can you just not show up to see your little baby girl? What is more important?

I’m shaking off my judgments and getting a good helping of humanity today – the unfinished, raw, and unruly kind of humanity. We are all capable of this, we are.

Still, it’s tearing me up.

This is the love I wish all the children could crawl into – the kind that never leaves and always stays, the kind of love that is older and stronger than this breath of life, the kind of love that has roots deep like a tree.

I don’t know who this song is sung to, but I’m singing it today.

Sometimes melodies are just better than plain words.

 

like magic

Everyone warned me – these kids were going to go ballistic when they left their mom.

My heart melted a little bit when the little guy practically raced into my arms at daycare; it was like he knew where we were headed. We gathered up all the day’s things (and mercy! the day has so many papers and mittens and shoes and stray toys) and then we gathered sister and got into the car.

I had been told they didn’t do well in the car, especially little Mr. Man. But apparently the other folks didn’t know the secret. The little fusses almost immediately died down when we set out on the road and I cranked the tunes.

It was like magic.

I saw heads bopping and I think I heard a few notes floating around in the backseat, too. We got into a groove, those kiddos and me. I finger played my steering wheel like animal on the drum and that was a big hit. Sister shouted accounts of the day’s events while brother cooed and I multi-tasked my prayers for safety and peace and joy and the classic “help!” And we made it. We pulled up still friends with dry faces.

After the visit with mom, we gathered all the day’s things once again (how they can get multiplied and strewn about, I do not know) and I braced myself for the breakdown. I had been warned that it would get apocalyptic up in my car once they said goodbye. I got quiet and let the farewells fill all the space in the air. Mom loves these littles, of that I am sure.

They got belted in my backseat and there was a moment we just kind of teetered there on the cliff. Would we fall over that edge and spend the car ride in apocalypse freefall or would we fly instead?

The music accompanied our ascent and we sang all the way home.

It was like magic.

Why is this round trip car ride so significant? Does it deserve to be published into anonymity on the internet? I say yes and let me tell you why.

These little ones have had life ripped out from under them like a rug. Everything familiar and everything “home” is no longer true – it’s all turned upside down. Nothing is as it should be and no one makes sense when they try to explain it to their sweet little souls.

And then they get into my car and I get overwhelmed at the moments we share. What do I say? How do I pour out dump trucks of love when they are belted in the backseat and we only have 30 minutes? How do I become someone familiar?

I’ve never been so thankful for Christian radio in my life. We sing, I drum, they hum, and we all bop our heads to the sound of truth making melody.

The reality is I don’t know. I just don’t know how to make them believe they are precious and all this mix up isn’t their fault. I don’t know how to tell them that their little people world is turned upside down because some big people made bad choices. I don’t know how to make them understand there is a God who made them, loves them, and wants to be known by them.

And so we sing.
And I pray with broken heart that the truth sinks in: Jesus loves them and keeps every promise He makes.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy


Boys become kings, girls will be queens
Wrapped in Your majesty
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free
Shout Your name in victory
When we love, when we love the least of these
When we love the least of these

Break our hearts once again
Help us to remember when
We were only children hoping for a friend
Won’t you look around
These are the lives that the world has forgotten
Waiting for doors of our hearts and our homes to open

If not us, who will be like Jesus
To the least of these
If not us tell me who will be like Jesus
Like Jesus to the least of these

**As part of my job, I regularly supervise interactions between children and parents with the hope that they can be reunified after the issues have been resolved.

eat your crusts | things we make up

I remember looking disdainfully across the lunchroom table at my childhood friends – whose plates were covered with crusts from the cheese sandwich that accompanied chicken noodle soup day.

I knew the crusts were the part of bread that would make me strong and healthy and smart. Inside the crusts were magic ingredients that only fools would refuse. I ate my crusts every time I had the chance and looked with pity at my friends who didn’t know or believe what I knew and believed about bread crust. My disdain came from the repeat record playing in my head, put there by grandparents and parents and other old relatives luring me into the accomplishment of finishing my food:

“Eat your crusts – they are the best part. That’s where all the good stuff is!”

Literally years later, I realized the crust is no more nutritious than the soft and squishy inner loaf. It sounds trivial, I know, but it was kind of a big deal. Of course, I’d seen bread made and even made it myself, but one day I realized that my belief that the crust is better was absolutely false.

I don’t hold it against my family (I had two things working against me: my gullible nature and my very real hope that I could eat things that would make me grow taller) because they never actually said that the crust was more nutritious or that it would make me healthy and smart. I had somehow established that on my own, maybe to rationalize my eating it while my friends in the lunchroom made cartoons with theirs on the long brown tables.

What I’m trying to say is… we want to believe something. I want to believe that my actions are motivated by a purpose and that that purpose is true. The trouble is when we start with wrong information or gather wrong information to support what we believe.

I remember (I am embarrassed to say how old I was) looking at a piece of bread, trying to find reasons why nutrition would travel to the outside of the loaf during the baking process.

I know bread crust is a funny place to begin thinking about research, but a child is sometimes very similar to a scientist in the sense that she is curious and motivated to find answers. As I read social science research about child welfare and family structure and inner city crime, I wonder about the motive behind the research.

It’s humbling to be wrong and even more humbling to discover you have piled up evidence (or made up evidence) to support something you believe.