The Faith of a Child

Never A Dull Moment – Week 3, Day 1

Over and over again in this journey of “Mommyhood,” my kiddos have shown me some facet of faith in such a poignant, precious way that never fails to stick with me and inspire me.  No wonder Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3).”  It’s that wide-eyed, loving belief and trust that little ones have that we “big ones” need so badly.  Life tends to squash it out of us, but we have to find ways to hold onto it.  My mind is wandering to the last little ones I observed this weekend: the “full out” toddler who wanted me to toss him high into the air and dangle him upside down and “gin” (again!) and “gin” and the fresh, new baby who fell asleep without a peep in Sunday school in the capable arms of one of the strongest women of God I know.  THAT is what child-like faith looks like: no matter how high we’re tossed, no matter how upside down the world looks or tired we get, we rest easy and we expect the best. We TRUST that prayers will be answered, that God’s got it… because we KNOW our God and because we EXPECT OUR GOD TO BE GOD.

Remember all of those things we considered yesterday about God’s character and all the many blessings He’s already given us?  Trust Him today to show up “gin,” to catch you “GIN!”  Expect it.  Rest in it.  Take anxious thoughts captive to it.  God does not change.  God does not fail.  God’s love for you is a done deal.  Nothing is bigger than He is.  Nothing is beyond His ability.  He’s got this thing called life and all the miraculous and good He’s done before, He’ll do “gin!”  Hallelujah!

God Does NOT Make Mistakes

Never A Dull Moment – Week 2, Day 6

I could go on and on about my kiddos and how much they have taught me and how much I love them and don’t even get me flipping through all the pictures that I could find and post to go along with this particular devotion.  Instead of all that, though, I have to highlight the most important thing:

God does NOT make mistakes.

When I brought my first-born home from the hospital my life changed in a million ways that I never even thought of.  (For the record, Mom tried to tell me about 700 thousand of them, but I wouldn’t listen… KIDS!)  The biggest issue I faced was wanting to be the “perfect” mother to this precious little squirm worm while simultaneously having no idea what I was doing.  As they say, “Babies don’t come with manuals!”  Or maybe that’s just my mom again? Anyway… a sweet friend gave me the one piece of parenting advice that actually matters. It is the only one that I purposely pass along to other mommas who are just trying to navigate the rapids of parenthood.  She said, “God gave you Caleb because YOU are the perfect mother for him. Period.” Wow. Whew.

Aside from the sweet story of my perfect babies – I’m a little biased! – THAT is the whole point of today’s reading.  No matter what it is in your life that has you questioning God’s wisdom in giving you the assignment, GOD DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES.  Every single person, situation, issue, occurrence, moment, relationship, etc. etc. etc. is intended for your good and His glory.

He has you where you are by design.  Trust Him.  He hand-picked you for the life you are living because there’s good work for only you to do.  Remember that he makes wise choices and He always picks perfectly.

And, now, without further ado, the pictures!  You knew they were coming!!  LOL!

NADM My Perfect Babies4

All In The Family

Never A Dull Moment: Week 1, Days 4 & 5

Two facing pages: both sweet recollections on being adopted into the family of God and my own earthly family; relating to God as Father and allowing Him to teach me how to mother.

When “I Love You” is Enough

I love seeing God parenting Jesus in scripture!  I don’t even know if that is a legitimate thing – theologically – to say, but it sure resonates with me!  As a “quick to speak” girl, I do an AWFUL lot of talking, reminding, and guiding where my kiddos are concerned.  I am by NO means a parenting expert.  Heaven knows a truer sentence has never been written! But, the older Caleb and Keppley get, the more I am learning to measure my words.  They don’t NEED constant reminders of what to do… that might be construed as nagging in some “tweenage” circles.  LOL!  It also might ultimately drive their Momma insane and undermine my goal of turning out two independent, Jesus-loving, contributing members of society!

What they DO need is consistency and boundaries and the assurance that my love is not dependent on their performance.  They do need me to follow through when I levy consequences or put conditions on their behavior.  As my good buddy “Joe-Lee” would say, “I know I am their momma and I have got a job to do!”  But I can’t allow myself to get so caught up in trying to make them do or be whatever I think the moment demands that I forget to simply ENJOY and love them.  God made them who they are.  I need to let them grow into it even if it looks different than I at first imagine it.  It’s a hard balance to strike some days.  I’m exceedingly thankful that God gave such a precious example of it in His own parenting.  With His children, His love is a settled condition that He sometimes demonstrates by His discipline (see Hebrews 12: 5-7). To His One and Only Perfect Jesus, He said, “you are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”  Even on the Mulligans’ toughest days, THAT is the truth.

Running To Daddy

My monologue, “A Daughter’s Prayer” is all about how my earthly father reminds me of my Heavenly Father.  He may not be my “Daddy” – and I so hope what I mean by that comes across properly – but he is a GREAT DAD!  He loves me.  He taught, supported, encouraged and provided for me as I grew up and still does all of those things in many ways now.  He is the one God chose for me… there is obviously none better to accomplish what my Heavenly Father intended.

When I am tempted to see the little girl twirled and the adult daughter who still sweetly calls her father, “daddy” as something to wish for, I always remember that my dad had a different way of lifting me up and IT. WAS. AWESOME!  My dad was a diver and a pole vaulter in high school.  So, when it came time for him to interact with his little girl, he taught me to stand on his hands, focus on a point far away and balance while he lifted me slowly all the way up!  We started with him laying on the floor and worked our way up to me balancing on his hands, lifted high above the top of his 6’2″ head.  Ultimately, we almost gave my mother a heart-attack by WALKING across our front yard with me proudly balancing way up high on my dad’s strong, unfailing, “always ready to catch me” hands.  Don’t those hands sound familiar?  See Isaiah 41:10.  Fear not and be upheld, my friends!  God’s got you.  He never fails and when He lifts you up, IT. IS. AWESOME!


Are You So Foolish?

I spent the first part of this morning like I always do: up, coffee, dressed, breakfast and carpool for Kid #1, call Kid #2 to say I’m on the way, breakfast and coffee for said Kid #2, carpool route 2 and home again.  I skipped my typical first moment in the Word in favor of one more “snooze” – ding #1… you’re off to a GREAT start, Joeli.  On the way home, my mind races through the day and I tell myself passionately: You are NOT doing ANYTHING until you have your quiet time and PRAY over this day!  WooHoo!  Go me!

Arrive home: the puppy is literally black up to all four of her “knees!”  I make my way to the backyard to determine the cause of this MESS that has also found its way onto my just swept floor.  There, I find my FAVORITE sunglasses, the ones I have searched for several times in the last 36 hours, TOTALLY destroyed by said puppy!  Ugh.  Then my phone dings and I get distracted for a few minutes.  I look at the clock and 30 minutes have flown by.  How. Does. This. HAPPEN?!

Ok!  That is IT!  NOTHING is stopping me from opening my Bible, hitting my knees and restarting this day!  WooHoo!  Go me!  LOL!

I open up Journey and what do my always amazed eyes see but God’s precious, right on time, message to me; one He has delivered many times before and surely will deliver many times more: “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh? (Gal. 3:3)”

Um… no Sir. … But “I am sure of this, that [You] who started a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

WooHoo!  GO. GOD!

[Deep breath!] Thank You, Father, for grace upon grace upon grace… upon grace, UPON GRACE!  Thank you for meeting me RIGHT where I am in ways that never cease to amaze me and make me smile.  I am loved by You.  You have provided for me and it feels really nice to know that ALL things are in Your hand, nothing is impossible FOR YOU and You do not expect me to finish this race in my own flesh.  WooHoo!  Go YOU! 

In Jesus’ sweet, faithful name… from the grateful heart of Your easily distracted, much loved Daughter.  Amen.

Mother to Daughter & Back Again

I found a scrawled little “poem” under Keppley’s seat this morning entitled “My Mom”:

My Mom’s favorite color is green.
Her favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip.
My Mom’s favorite game is Pictionary.
Her favorite mood is happy. She is happy sometimes.
Her favorite sauce is steak sauce.
That’s all!

You Mommas know I smiled at her words and winced a little that I’m only “happy sometimes”, because really, really, I’m happy almost all the time, but I clearly don’t let it show often enough. I immediately knew I would write her a response and then my thoughts turned instantly to a written exchange my own Mom and I had. She started it when I was seven – Keppley’s age now. My reply was her 35th birthday present, written when I was 18.

Our Night
by Charlene Young, my Mom

Last night was our night
Everything had to be just right
Reservations for dinner and a show
I wanted your face to glow.

Hours before – you asked what to wear.
You insisted we dress alike –
even down to the hair.
Same color dress, you chose the perfume.
We both checked the mirror before we left the room.

I said you looked like an angel
And you giggled and said,
My gold necklace is my halo
that slipped over my head.

We ordered the drinks and our meal.
We talked and we laughed,
then we made a deal.
As long as you were good and did the
things you should
I just might let you decide when to call it a night.

I introduced you to the singer and the fiddler too.
I wish you could know how proud I was of you.

We talked until the show started
Then we watched – me – only half-hearted.
I watched your face – you were so excited.
You seemed so grown up, but I wasn’t delighted.
It was hard to sit and watch a show.
I felt sad – I could almost see you grow.

You ran into your teacher and a friend joined us.
And for your evening, all this was a plus.
You clapped, and you danced, and oh my, what a flirt!
Watching you grow up – will it always hurt?

Honey, I love you and I’m so glad
For the time we spent together and
the lovely evening we had.
And I thank God in heaven
For our night out – Mother and Daughter, age seven.

Joeli’s Reply
By Me, Charlene’s Daughter

That night was just right
Etched in my memories as a night of nights
Reservations for dinner and a show
Made not only my face, but my heart glow.

Hours before
I asked what to wear.
I wanted to be like you
even down to the hair.

You said I looked like an angel
And I giggled and said,
My gold necklace is my halo
that slipped over my head!

We ordered drinks and our meal.
We talked – How I loved you!
Then you made me a deal:
As long as I was good and did the
things I should
You just might let me decide when to call it a night.

You knew everyone: the singer and the fiddler too.
You introduced me. Mama, I was so proud of you.

We talked until the show started
Then we watched – me – whole-hearted.
Mom, thank you for that special time. I was so excited!
Being with you made me feel so grown up.
I was delighted!
It was easy to sit and watch a show.
With you, I felt safe and loved and free to grow.

I ran into my teacher and a friend joined us.
And for my evening all this was a plus.
I clapped and I danced, but Mom, I wasn’t a flirt!
Mom, growing up and moving apart – will it always hurt?

Mommy, I love you too and I’m so glad
For the time we spent together and
the lovely evening we had.
And I thank God in heaven
For our night out – Mother and Daughter, age seven

It’s funny how growing up hurts all the way around. Becoming a Mommy makes you love, understand and appreciate your own a little more. I bet if I had been the one to start this exchange way back when I was seven I would have thought my Mom was “happy sometimes”. Being an adult isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be and “happy” is a little hard to find some days. But if I had really been watching my Mom on “Our Night”, I bet would have seen something even better than “happy”. I bet I would have seen deep-down, soul joy at time slowly spent with her little girl – her little gift. I know, because when I really see my Keppley, my mood goes way beyond “happy”.

As promised, my response to my own angel girl:

My Kep’s favorite color is black (or maybe red!), but definitely NOT pink.
Her favorite ice cream is chocolate, but Mom’s lime pops will do in a pinch.
My Kep’s favorite game is anything outside with her friends. Or Twister if she has to be inside. Or maybe “Boomerang” with Caleb… which is probably really an outside game.
Her favorite mood is sassy (the good kind!). She is sassy most of the time unless she’s being silly or determined.
Her favorite sauce is ketchup… or ranch, if she’s eating veggies.
My favorite girl is her.
That’s all!


Be A Christmas Mood Maker This Year!

For those of you that really want to celebrate Advent with your Kiddos, but are about to throw in the towel because, once again, it’s December 2 and you haven’t even started yet, here’s a list of simple ideas to spread some cheer that don’t take much time or preparation. OK, “Host A Neighborhood Drop-In” IS number 12, but that’s only because it was already on my calendar for December 12! I intentionally made the first 2 days super easy and the 3rd with store-bought Hershey’s Kisses in mind so you could “catch up” – or more accurately, JOIN ME in a late start! That’s right, I compiled the list and I still didn’t start on December 1!

Keep in mind also, that you get to choose what you do: make a “Top 10” List and do one thing every Friday, Saturday and Sunday plus Christmas Eve. Combine your favorites and have some awesome “Christmasy” family nights this month – whatever! The main thing is to celebrate with your families, keep your focus on Jesus and make the mood of your home festive. Last night, my son told the MC of our town’s Christmas Tree Lighting that his favorite thing about Christmas is “the mood that hangs in the air”. Such a proud “Mommy Moment”! I realized later that I am the “Mood Maker” in my house – and so are you! It’s not about the plan or the execution. It’s about the “mood”. Merry Christmas, Friends! May your mood be merry and bright! May you know peace on your little corner of the earth and joy that somehow spreads to the whole world!

1. Read the Christmas Story in Luke 2. Pray that God will show your family how to celebrate Jesus every day this month.

2. Make a paper “Countdown Chain” – as you remove links, write one way you celebrated Jesus that day on it. Save them all to review on Christmas Eve.

3. Take treats to the staff at school/church/work.

4. Adopt a family in need. Matthew 25:40

5. Pay for the person behind you in the drive thru – be sure to leave a Christmas card for them with the cashier!

6. Drive through a live Nativity – if you’re local, “The Living Christmas Story” at Union United Methodist Church is one you might like!

7. Have a “snowball” fight… rolled up socks work GREAT in SC!

8. Family game night – complete with hot cocoa and candy canes.

9. Donate everything in your family change jar to the Salvation Army Bell Ringers. Remember, the widow in Luke 21 gave all she had.

10. Go grocery shopping for the sole purpose of donating the food you buy.

11. Pay someone’s past due library fines! See Romans 13:8 and thanks to our Children’s Minister, Mr. Chris, for this idea!

12. Host a drop-in for your neighbors!

13. Two Words: Christmas Lights! Think popular local venues – like Saluda Shoals or the Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks if you’re here in Columbia – or a pajama-clad ride around your own neighborhood!

14. Watch your favorite Christmas movie – don’t forget the popcorn!

15. Fill out Christmas cards! Pray for the recipients.

16. Bake Christmas Cookies.

17. Make a gingerbread house. They even have foam ones at the craft store!

18. Tape quarters to note cards expressing the love of Jesus. Tape the cards to vending machines around town!

19. Wrap presents together!

20. Go on a search for Baby Jesus – see how many Nativity scenes you can find & leave a note thanking your neighbors for remembering the reason for the season.

21. Super Secret Sibling Shopping Spree – take your Kiddos to buy their siblings’ presents… make sure the present remains a surprise!

22. Go Christmas Caroling!

23. Make reindeer food for Christmas Eve – equal parts oatmeal & glitter. Don’t forget to sprinkle it in the front yard when you leave cookies for Santa!

24. Snuggle up and take a look back at all the celebrating you did this month. Thank Jesus for coming, living and dying for YOU. Merry Christmas!

Clean Socks & Baby Steps

I’ve been pondering a conversation my son and I had recently. It was a very brief “conversation” of the “hustle up… we gotta get out the door” variety. I don’t remember the exact words, but as is so often the case, the words weren’t really the important part. It was the tone of the conversation that has been tumbling around in my head. It was the tone that has caused me to consider the weight of my words before letting them fall carelessly out of my mouth and laugh at myself a little when they do.

Caleb [from his room]: “Moooooom! I don’t have any socks!”
Me [from the laundry room]: “Um… there WERE socks laid out with the rest of your outfit. What happened to them?!”
Caleb: “OoooKaaAAY. I meant there aren’t any more in my drAAAAAWWWWer. [Pause] See how I talked that way since you kind of said your part that way?”

Ugh. Yes. Yes, I do see how you did that.

For some reason this child goes through socks and underwear like it’s his job and there have been MANY mornings that I searched in dismay for a clean pair of either/or while wondering how in the world he’d managed to go through them all since the last time I did laundry. He’s gotten upset. I’ve gotten upset and defensive about my laundry schedule and distressed that my child was apparently EATING his clothing in his sleep… or something. But THIS morning I knew there were socks for the day. I was in the laundry room washing up more socks and undies for the next day and yet, my child was hollering at me about his lack of clean clothes. I felt righteous in my tone and my frustration over this nothing thing came right out in my response to my dear first-born. And then, he called me on it.

Thankfully, I saw the irony. I laughed and said something like: “Yep… I heard it! Sorry. I’m working on the laundry today and you’ll have socks for tomorrow too.” Baby steps.

Actually, Caleb and I both took several really great baby steps in the right direction! Caleb was thinking ahead! “Sure, I have socks for today, but what about tomorrow?” I have no idea why he was checking out his sock drawer since a pair was laying right by his clothing, but I’ll take it! He’s becoming more responsible. He’s considering his options. More importantly, he’s picking up on the importance of tone AND he made light of what has definitely been an AM Point of Contention between us in the past. He took responsibility for his own words and tone. And so did I. I laughed at myself, said I was sorry and didn’t let my son’s tone get my own undies in a twist. Isn’t that what grace looks like for us human beings: seeing yourself in another and giving them a pass when they act crazy? Recognizing that you might not have the whole story and being sweet even if your gut reaction is to get snippy or lash out?

Our morning could have quickly spiraled into a big hot mess of ugly, but it didn’t because we extended each other a little grace and recognized that socks aren’t worth fussing about. I thank God for the baby steps. A million of them in the right direction make all the difference in the world!

The iPod Incident: An Unexpected Lesson in Answered Prayers

So, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a TINY bit obsessive compulsive… about SOME things.  [Let me pause here for certain members of my family and close friends to stop laughing and wipe the tears away from their eyes…]  My latest obsession has been my daughter’s 3DS and my son’s iPod that mysteriously went missing at exactly the same time.  And I do mean exactly the same time.  See, we don’t allow “screen time” in our house during the week.  So, iPods and 3DSs don’t really have any chance to get lost except on the weekend.  Thank God!  That, right there, is reason enough for any of my fellow OCD Mommas out there to implement the “No Screen Time During the Week” policy as far as I’m concerned!  

Anyway, both of these fairly expensive, much loved electronic devices went missing on the same weekend.  The weekend in question was February 23-24, better known in the Mulligan House as the “Mom was out of town and then totally wiped out because she spoke at a big conference with Laura Story” weekend.  That, simply to say, I wasn’t paying much attention to where anything was on Sunday afternoon.  Monday was spent “redeeming” the weekend: doing laundry, putting things away, organizing etc. etc.  And, frankly I did a fabulous job: no baskets of stuff hanging around or piles waiting to be sorting!  I even dusted, for heaven’s sake!  So, on Tuesday or Wednesday, when I finally realized that said electronics were amongst the missing, I didn’t even know where to look! 

Well, when Momma can’t find something – even if it’s not hers – ain’t nobody happy in the Mulligan House!  So, we searched and lamented and stressed and cried and fussed and every time the missing electronics crossed my mind, we did it again.  I literally began asking God for 3 things: 1. Keep the DS and the iPod safe.  2. Show us where they were!  3. Keep the fact that I didn’t know from driving me completely insane.  In order to appreciate the fact that I am really not exaggerating my distress here, you need to know that I still have flashes of anxiety regarding a Walkman I lost my junior year of college… 20 years ago!  Really.  Blessedly, God began to answer number three really quickly!  Had He not, I may have been hospitalized before number two could ever happen!

The next weekend came and went.  I did an EXHAUSTIVE search of the Suburban, the Jeep and the church… because when your Daddy’s the Minister of Music and your Momma’s the Sunday School Director, SOMETIMES you get to take electronics to church on Sunday afternoon…  to no avail.  They were gone.  Totally lost!  I had texted Papa, Joey’s Mom, Hannah Beth’s Mom and Mrs. Dianne – the lady who cleans the church.   There was nothing left to do except learn a lesson in responsibility and keep on truckin’.  But, of course, even with God’s undertaking, Momma’s mind kept calmly turning to “Where the heck could those things be?!”  Several times, I had flashes of brilliance and as I was going to check a coat pocket or my bag of props from the conference, I giddily thought: we’re about to find them!!  But we didn’t. 

Until last night!  I went into my daughter’s room to do something, when all of a sudden I had an overwhelming urge to see if she had been cramming things under her bookshelf when she “cleaned her room” daily.  And there, crammed way over to the left – to her credit, the side her DS is supposed to be plugged in on! – was her DS, case and all!  Momma lost it a little, but was generally thrilled that we had found the DS and overjoyed that we now had a REALLY good reason to go ahead and clean up the rest of the stuff I found under her bookshelf.  And clean out her nightmare of a closet.  And her hideous “junk drawer”.  I told you: I’m a little obsessive compulsive… about some things!  Kep whispered to me as we finished up her room, “You know what, Mommy? God answered my prayers.  I was really praying that He would help me find my DS.”  Bless her heart!  She’s got a little of her Momma in her!  There was celebrating at the dinner table!  Praise was offered to the Lord!  And Caleb wanted to know if I had found his iPod too.  Bless his heart.  We asked God, as a family, to keep his iPod safe and to help us find it.

I decided that even though God had answered MY prayers also and I was not obsessing about the iPod any longer, I couldn’t, in good Mommy Conscience, just let it go completely until I had done a big “search and rescue” in Caleb’s room too.  So, this morning, that’s what I did.  I organized, dusted and vacuumed – even under the bed.  I cleaned out his junk drawer and checked every pocket of every coat and bag in his closet.  But I didn’t find his iPod.  I left his room, praying, “God, please keep the Pod safe until we find it and use this to teach Caleb a lesson in being responsible that he won’t forget.”

Then, I decided since I was on such a “roll”, I would continue my super-cleaning!  I was dusting the rocking chair from Caleb’s nursery that now sits in our upstairs landing because his sister had asked that we put it in her room.  Heaven knows it needed a good dusting before I put it in that freshly cleaned room!   I had wiped every nook and cranny of the base then lifted up the cushion to clean under there too, when what to my wondering eyes appeared – stuck WAY down under the side cushion – but my boy’s iPod!!  WooHoo!  Go God!  Go Momma!

I still hope Caleb, and Keppley, both learn a lesson in responsibility from these last 10 days of distress over their missing electronics, but I have to say, that I am truly praising the Lord this afternoon that the lesson we ALL got to learn today is that God answers prayers.  He knows every hair on our head and where all our stuff is!  He knows what stresses us out, when it’s best to leave things lost and when it’s best to reveal them to us.  He knows what we need and how long we need to struggle until the lesson is learned.  He will take our anxiety from us if we ask Him to and yield control to Him.  And just when we think that’s the lesson we’re supposed to learn, He’ll make it more about His goodness than our need to learn our lesson.  I am so glad God keeps searching for and rescuing me when I’m “lost”.  And I am SO glad I get to tell Caleb that God answered his prayers today too!

Embrace the Crazy

OK… this post has less to do with Speechless Ministries per se and more to do with my own craziness, which clearly impacts everything I do – including speaking to various groups as God gives me the opportunity and writing and performing dramas.  Plus, anyone who visits the site should know the real me and, really, that was kind of the point of the “blog” section anyway.  So, here goes: I just left my kid at the karate school.  That’s right: TOTALLY forgot what time I was supposed to pick him up!  Picture it with me: I’m in the kitchen cooking dinner, which, since we’re being honest, really should warrant a news crew!  I never cook.  It just so happens that this fall I made some taco soup and miracle of miracles, my Honey loves it and requests it often.  When you only have one “specialty” and your man requests it, you cook it.  Period.  So anyway, I’m in the kitchen cooking dinner and my cell phone rings.  It’s Sensei.  My heart does a little leap!  Not because, mind you, I have forgotten to pick up my child, but because said child is, after all, at KARATE and he could be hurt!


“Hello… Mrs. Mulligan?  This is Sensei calling on behalf of Caleb.”

“Yes?! [Geez, Mister, get to the point… I’m freaking out here!] Is he alright?!”  Note that I have still not realized WHY the poor man is calling!

“Yes… yes, he’s fine, but… class is over.”

“OH MY GOSH!  I am so sorry!  I am on my way as we speak.  I am so sorry!  I was thinking class was over at 7:30!  Oh my gosh!  See you in a minute!!”

The Suburban could not move fast enough through the streets of my town and the whole way there I kept thinking, “Ugh!  I usually try to hide my craziness a little better than this!’  How totally crazy is that?  I know Sensei to be a Christian man and he was all smiles and “no problems” when I got there.  My sweet first born actually argued with me a little when I apologized, saying it was his fault that I was late.  Bless his pumpkin heart.  In the end, all was well and we made our way back home laughing and talking like we usually do.  But as I finished dinner, I decided I shouldn’t try to hide my craziness from anybody.  I’ve officially decided it’s a good thing that my true, slightly disheveled self is now out there for Sensei to know and laugh at over dinner.  (Note I am assuming here that he couldn’t have POSSIBLY realized I was crazy before now!  Ha!)

It’s a good thing because if we’re honest with each another, we’re all crazy in some way.  Some of us are better at hiding it or polishing it up, but the bottom line is, we’ve all lost our minds somewhere along the way.  If you haven’t, you soon will.  And that’s OK.  “Crazy people” need a sense of humor and understanding friends and family – and, incidentally, a really good calendar app on their phones!  “Crazy people” need grace and lots of it.  We need God.  And when we stop trying to hide the crazy, we let God and everyone else get a little closer to us.  We realize more easily how good God and those family and friends have been.  And we are much better equipped to love them from the kind of heart that loves best: an honest, true, open one.

So, the next time you are feeling a little crazy, remember, first of all, that you are not alone.  You can confidently say to yourself, “No worries… I’m sure Joeli is somewhere losing her mind at this very moment!”  And most importantly, remember that God is well aware of your crazy and wants to use it to keep you honest!  Embrace the crazy.  I think we’ll all be better for it!

Through Faith-Colored Glasses

The following post appeared as an article in the last issue of Living Real magazine.  Take a look and keep your eyes open for the next issue due out sometime in September.  (My article will look familiar to you if you have visited to the blog before!)  Many blessings and may you always see life through your own “faith-colored glasses”!

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  That’s what the Bible says; right there in Hebrews chapter 11, verse 1 – the very beginning of the Faith “Hall of Fame”.  Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see – at least with our physical eyes – is a basic element of the Christ-follower’s walk and yet sometimes I wonder if we understand what it really means.  If I was really sure of what I hope for and truly certain of what I do not see, I think my life would look completely different.  I think I would be absolutely fearless and bold, compassionate and kind to a grander degree and completely stress-free in the knowledge of God’s love and the security of His sovereignty – if I was REALLY sure… if I was really certain. 

I started pondering how what we see (or in the believers’ case, what we are sure and certain of) affects how we behave, this summer when I found myself in the optometrist’s office with both of my children.  They had some trouble with the standard eye exam at their well check-ups and, even though their pediatrician thought they were probably fine, he referred us to a specialist – someone who looks at children’s eyes all the time.  So, there I sat with my son and my daughter as the doctor examined their eyes.  My son walked away from the exam with glasses that he should wear all day long, but that he can really function without.  My daughter, Keppley, was a different story.

When the doctor dropped lenses over my own eyes to allow me to see what my baby girl was seeing, tears immediately threatened to fall – and absolutely would have if she had not been in my lap.   The “sharps container” on the wall that I had been instructed to focus on became an almost indiscernible, undefined blob of khaki and orange.  How in the world had my little girl wandered through life this way without my notice?  How did she make it through preschool – 5 days a week – and learn her alphabet, shapes, numbers and colors without being able to SEE? The rush of questions and concerns for my daughter came fast and hard as I fought to keep it together for her benefit.  I knew it wasn’t the end of the world.  I knew that glasses could correct her vision, but I just didn’t understand how I had missed it.  I didn’t understand how SHE had missed it.  I was sad that she had gone through so much of her short life, literally in a blur.  And that was all before we left the doctor’s office!  After a trip to Lens Crafters and an hour wait, both of my babies had brand new specs and Keppley’s life was transformed.

Her eyes were truly opened and it made all the difference.  She first saw with her “new eyes” in the main corridor of the mall: lights that used to be one big glow were now a multitude of tiny individual sparkles. Her wide eyes and huge grin told the whole story.  She sat silently staring out the window, smiling at the cars and trees and buildings we passed on the way home like she had never seen anything like them before.  And I guess she hadn’t.  I remember telling my husband that, to me, her voice even sounded different.  Over the next few days I noticed that she ran faster on the playground and was especially struck when she caught my eye from 50 feet away, flashed a brilliant smile and gave me a “thumbs up”.  She had never done that before.  It occurred to me that she had probably never noticed before that I was smiling at HER.  How sad that she had missed her Mommy smiling over her, simply enjoying the girl she was.  How sad… and yet we – as God’s children in Christ – miss it every day.

Without faith, life is a blur – just one big indiscernible, undefined existence that can be scary and hard to navigate.  Without faith, we are unsure and walk with trepidation, constantly worrying about what’s around the next corner and fretting over when we will run into something else.  We do the best we can and manage to muddle through, hopefully adjusting and picking up what we need along the way somehow.  And most of the time, no one else notices the wandering.  A lot of the time, we don’t even notice it ourselves.  But the spectacles of faith can transform our lives.

With faith in Jesus Christ, we can be sure and certain – even when we can’t see.  According to His Word, those who look to Him are radiant – like my beautiful girl when she first looked through those new glasses.  Faith transforms our wandering into wonder.  Our whole perspective can be different.  By faith, we can see clearly, live fearlessly and run boldly unencumbered and with complete abandon, taking Him at His word and trusting that He is with us.  In Christ, we are set free – to work and play; to serve and do all things for His glory.  By faith, we can be sure that God has us.  And we can be sure, according to His Word, that He delights in us.  Nothing makes Him happier than when we keep our eyes on Him, run full speed ahead and recognize that He has been smiling our way all along.  For surely, “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)

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