Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oh How He Loves You and Me


Oh, how He loves you and me,
Oh, how He loves you and me.
He gave His life, what more could He give;
Oh, how He loves you, Oh, how He loves me,
Oh, how He loves you and me.

Words and Music by Kurt Kaiser
© 1975 - All Rights Reserved



I have so much to thank the Lord for this Christmas season...and every season, for that matter.

This year has delivered surprises--good and bad, smiles, tears, and an abundance of lessons. I've been learning how to love stronger, be more devoted both to my faith and to my loved ones, listen more and talk less (although I still fail miserably at this), and a plethora of other lessons. I'm not done, of course. As the children's song goes: "He's still workin' on me."
Mercy, He still has an awful lot of work to do.

Our family has gone through a pretty big change lately with Matt accepting a new job. It's been anything but easy. We sure could use your prayers. In the midst of this, we're also having to walk through deep wounds of the past, and the only hope we have is that He will be exalted and we will be healed. There is so much healing to be done. And He will--He will.

Our faith has grown more than we imagined it could this past year, and God has taught us more about His church. We worship with such amazing people who have shown genuine love for us and for Christ, and that's such a blessing. So many of our church family members have lost family members and other loved ones this year...I can't even keep count. The pains have been devastating. But Christ's love has been sustaining. Just this week one of our family members had a horrible car wreck with her two babies in the car. She has undergone a six hour surgery, and today she has become conscious...thank the Lord. I can't imagine how much her babies miss her and she them. Please keep her close in prayer and her immediate family as well. God is sovereign, and He has a purpose for this all.

I pray that this Christmas you will learn more about how much He loves you.

"...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8b ESV).

God sent Jesus out of His presence to ours as a sweet baby so that He could grow into a man and die for you and me. So that we may live in His presence forever.

Oh how He loves you and me.

Merry Christmas and
Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Unattainable Goals

"The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth (Proverbs 17:24 ESV).

My study Bible says "the ends of the earth" refers to unattainable goals. So, I asked myself:
What are some unattainable goals I've made for myself and even for those I love?


MYSELF: To have a perfectly ordered house. Laundry done at all times. Dishes washed within 10 minutes of a meal. To never get angry at the kids or Matt. To have a model body. To be an incredible cook.

MATT: To always understand my feelings. (ha!) To be a natural-born leader. To be romantic every day. To remember everything I say.

KEAGAN: To talk as well as other toddlers. To eat neatly. To conquer potty training NOW! To eat every meal. To never have accidents.

KATE: To reach milestones when or before Keagan did. To have the exact same schedule every single day. To walk NOW!

As I write these, I recognize how ridiculous they truly are. Yet, I've found myself fully expecting them on some level.
Here's the truth:

MYSELF: Keagan dumped his basket of HotWheels in the living room floor last night, and I was too tired to pick them up. Last night we had dinner early, but had to rush off to visit family who lives states away, so my kitchen is a mess right now. I probably have more than 50 loads of laundry waiting for me in our closet. I need to wash the sheets on our bed. Our bath tub needs a little attention. I'm no model, and I'm too short to ever be. There it is. And my menu looks strangely familiar every month.

MATT: Matt's a male, which means his thought process consists of numbers, statistics, and plans of action--not feelings. And he thinks I'm crazy for mine. He wasn't taught to be a leader. He's been learning on his own, and I have to help with that--encourage rather than point out flaws. And no matter how many times I tell him who is in the hospital, he won't remember it tomorrow--breathe in and tell him again.

KEAGAN: Keagan is Keagan and no one else. He is stubborn and will accomplish things when he sees fit, not when I or the rest of the world see fit. He is still just 2; he will spill things and wipe jelly on the wall. His stomach is quite small, and I can't force food in there--he'll eat when he's hungry enough. And he is going to have plenty of accidents, but I must see them as teaching moments...not moments of shame.

KATE: Anyone who knows this little thunder bolt knows Kate is just...Kate. She will come and go as she pleases, thank you very much. She is demanding, and I have to help her with that, not get angry with her. I don't have the exact same schedule on everything every day, so why do I think she will? If she doesn't want to walk right now, then she won't. And when she does, she will. Period.

Lord, help me to remember these truths and compare them with the misconceptions I have of the way life should be. Give me patience with myself and my family, as well as room for learning and growth. Thank you for the joys You've offered with them and also the obstacles, as I know they will only make me lean on You all the more.

Have you set any unattainable goals for yourself or those you cherish? Ask the Lord to redirect those goals with Christ's perspective on things.

Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Monday, December 15, 2008

He Was Born to Die

This is my favorite Christmas song, thanks to Matt and Angie. I am enamored by these lyrics and overwhelmed by God's love for us. Thank you, Jesus. I want to really live for You.

Watch the video.

Savor what Christmas is really about today. Are we teaching our children the wonder and majesty of our Savior, or are we teaching them about Santa Claus and getting presents? This day is all about HIM, and very little about US.

Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Friday, December 12, 2008

Diaper Diaries

There's a lot to learn from a diaper, I learned yesterday.

Since Keagan had started saying, “Diaper,” getting one out of the drawer, lying down, and then proceeding to try doing it himself, I thought to myself: “It's time to potty train.” I talked it over with Keagan, and I showed him his “big boy” underwear. He was ecstatic and insisted on sprinting around the house in nothing but his tidy whities right away. Oh, what freedom!

I explained that big boys don't wear diapers, and they don't pee pee in their big boy underwear either. He said he understood.

As we proceeded and managed to potty numerous times in the big boy potty chair, Keagan began figuring out that this whole growing up thing was a lot of work. And it wasn't fun. We have to stop building bridges and tunnels with our Mega Blocks and press pause on Larry Boy and pee pee when we're still sleepy from just waking in the morning and right after nap time.

It takes a lot of effort.

Yesterday I noticed that Keagan was beginning to struggle with the effort. After going potty, he said, “Diaper!” with passionate despair and anguish in his eyes. “No, you're a big boy now, remember?” I gently tried to encourage. He shook his head, “Want diaper!”

After a few times of this scene throughout the day, he broke down and wailed. We sat in a chair and I began my diaper pep talk. I told him how I know that it's hard to grow up, and that it would be so much easier just to go back to the diaper where he won't have to remember to go to the potty, where he can poop and wait for Mommy to clean it up...because she always does. But that he can't possibly wear diapers forever! I told him that if he'd just work hard now and get through this stage, it will be so much better on the other side. Underwear provides so much freedom! He could play outside and run faster without so much extra baggage on the booty. He can go swimming better, and so many other big boy activities! And I told him he doesn't have to do it on his own; I'm here to help him.

Right in the middle of my diaper speech, I felt a gentle nudge in my heart.

What about your diaper?

What diaper? I don't wear a diaper, Lord; I'm 26 years old!

I think you know what diaper I'm talking about.

What? My fear of dealing with things? That's not really a diaper. That's just my personality. I'm a worrier. You made me that way, Lord. So really, it's your fault.

Silence.

Okay, Lord, that wasn't right. What am I worrying about? The changes our family is trying to make? The job Matt's about to start on Monday? The painful issues You're making us face head on? Oh, those diapers.

So there I had it: I am a 26 year old in a diaper.

Lord, I need you to potty train me and walk me through this hard time. Remind me that even if I pee my pants, you'll clean me up and we'll try it again. I love you.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cake and Steps, a Wee Little Man, Provision, and Praise







Here is Kate walking with her push toy!

Our baby girl is no longer a "baby." (sigh) She turned 1 year old on Saturday and now walks with her push toy. This past year has been so wonderful, and it disappeared so quickly. We look forward to many more with our wonderful children!

Keagan also can now sing the "Zacchaeus" song by himself, and it's so much fun to hear! His favorite part, of course, is "Zacchaeus, you come down!" He's pretty much a finger pointing expert. And right now, he's singing along with a Hillsong tune with my phone in his ear!

We are so blessed. So blessed. One other note of importance: Matt has accepted a new job, and it looks like it will fulfill our requests we've made of the Lord for provision for our family! Matt will no longer be driving to Ft. Smith every day, not on our gas bill, anyway. He will have a company van, and the company will pay for travel expenses. He still will get to "tinker" with technology, so God has smiled on us with that...even though Matt was willing to do whatever needed to make a better provision for us. I asked you all to pray a while back because we were praying about some "shifting" in our household structure, and it seems that you did! So thank you if you prayed for us! We're looking toward lessening my work load so that I may focus on our children and our family. I'm so blessed to have a husband who will work hard for us and who loves Christ so much.

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!"
Psalm 100:4

Thank you, Lord, for your sweet blessings.

Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Friday, December 5, 2008

Smackin' a Starvin' Baby

So I'm pretty sure I was involved in my funniest story yet on Tuesday night at Walmart.

Matt and I took both kids to grab a few groceries, and as you can see here, Keagan was not a happy camper about it. We were on the cookie aisle, and of course he wanted to open the package immediately. This shot is after we told him NO.
Well, an older lady happened to be on the aisle while this happened, and I glanced up just in time to receive her “You're going straight to hell” glare. I smiled, and continued shopping.

Matt and I split up to get the shopping done faster after that—I had Kate and he had Keagan. When we met again a little later, Matt came around a corner, pushing the cart and ducking down a bit with wide eyes. “Some lady keeps following me around trying to tell me what to do with him,” he said as he pointed to our wailing angel. Before I could even respond or react to this, I look to our left and see said woman whipping around the corner yelling, “Sir, I wish you'd just STOP!” She has a package of crackers in her hand, and she is not happy. “Would you please just give that baby a cracker or a cookie?” She just keeps coming closer and closer. When I thought we couldn't get any closer, she takes the package and shakes it in my face! “Can't you see that that baby is just starving? He's just hungry.” Matt pipes up with his brilliant “We're his parents, and he's got enough to eat—he's just throwing a fit” thank you very much speech. She tells us that this has just RUINED her day! She actually looked like she was going to cry! Then, the best part happened: “I heard you smack him on that other aisle, and he just cried and cried.” At this point, Matt and I stared at each other with “Is this really happening to us?” looks. (It should be noted that while this conversation ensued, Keagan was quiet.) “See, he's quiet since I came over here with these!” the crazy woman said. I had to physically turn around so she couldn't see my upheaval of laughter. I kept waiting for the camera guy to pop out and say, “Gotcha!” Nope.

“Thank you, but we're his parents and we're doing what we think is best for him. We don't want him to be a brat.” (Did I mention my husband is wonderful?)
After she realized she wasn't getting anywhere with him, she turned to me, shaking the crackers with more fervor than before. I told her I was in agreement with my husband. To show his appreciation for my support, do you know what my wonderful husband did? HE LEFT ME THERE WITH HER! (I was supposed to follow, but if you know me well, this is not in my make-up.) So, I stood with this insane human being and listened while she told me how she works in the Baptist church and had 5 (did you hear that?) children, and nothing this atrocious ever happened to her! And her daughter has two glorious children who are perfect angels and she was going to get them so their mommy could go to the Baptist church. Once she knew I was not going to take her cracker charity, she huffed around and said, “Well, I certainly hope you guys can figure out how to work this out!”

Only me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Prayer of Passion

There seems to be no other explanation other than: God is teaching me to pray for others.

Our neighbor's wife was waiting for lung cancer to take her life within six months, but she died suddenly from a brain aneurysm on Saturday evening. We only found out last night, although I had a gut feeling on Sunday that something had happened. Did I act on this? Of course not.

How much had I been praying for her...not just a simple little “Lord, heal her body” prayer, but a deep, heart-wrenching prayer for salvation and peace. Sadly, very little.

Now, a family member may be facing a brain tumor; tests to confirm this are scheduled for tomorrow morning at 6:50. Please pray during this time. God can heal absolutely. Amazingly, this person has expressed a desire for God's will to be done and is thankful for the blessings thus far. There is not even a hint of anger.

I am speechless.

Before I heard this news, I read Jesus' prayer for himself, his disciples, and the world in John 17. The passion here is nearly audible. Jesus loved these men deeply; they were his closest friends—the ones with whom he spent the most rigorous times, yet the most joyful times. I can imagine that they shared an equal amount of tears as well as laughs together. This was his family on earth, whom he dearly loved.

Prayer is sometimes a last resort, when it should never cease in the first place.

Lord, teach me to pray with passion and fervency for Your people.

Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cockadoodledoo to you too!

I was reminded of this story today and wanted to share it here. I hope it makes you smile!

Keagan had just learned what a rooster was and how it says, "Cockadoodledoo." Each time he would see one, he'd immediately and uncontrollably start yelling and pointing while dancing in place. We call his slick move "The Running Man."

Matt and I were eating at a restaurant with him and Fallon one day(remember this, Fallon?), and he kept turning around in his seat, yelling loudly, "Cockadoodledoo!" We couldn't figure out where the rooster was and tried to quiet him with more food, so as to spare us of further embarrassment. After he rather loudly refused to recant, I turned around and followed the path of his pointed index finger. Only it was no rooster...it was a man wearing a cowboy hat with a Kentucky waterfall mullet spilling out the back! I couldn't argue...I could see the resemblance!

Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Practical Proverbs: On Being “Teacher”

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”
(Prov. 9:10).

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning”
(Prov. 9:9).

“Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray”
(Prov. 10:17).

“My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching”
(Prov. 6:20).

“For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life”
(Prov. 6:23).

“...keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye”
(Prov. 7:2).

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher”
(Luke 6:40).


Okay, so that last one isn't in Proverbs, but it's one of those wise nuggets that holds much truth.
Let me explain...

I seem to think that Keagan will not emulate my actions or words that are not so good...just the ones that are righteous. Keep dreaming.

I've recently figured out just how much I say, “Oh my gosh.”

Keagan was working himself into a frenzy trying to get a box, mind you, to ride steadily on the back of a truck. An empty box. No big deal, right? Not to him. This is a Hot Wheels race track, extra long...box.

When it was looking like the world would end, he collapsed onto the floor, face down, and shrieked, “Oh no, Oh gosh!”

I nearly died. Yeah, that's what you sound like, I heard from deep down.

Note to self: Every moment is a teaching moment.

Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

All scripture taken from:
English Standard Version (ESV) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Practical Proverbs: On Being "Mom"

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it"
(Prov. 22:6).

“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him”

(Prov. 22:15).

“Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart”
(Prov. 29:17).

“Whoever pampers his servant [child] from childhood will in the end find him his heir”
(Prov. 29:21).

“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die”
(Prov. 23:13).

“Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright”
(Prov. 20:11).

She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet"
(Prov. 31:21).

"Her children rise up and call her blessed..."
(Prov. 31:28a).

Lord, hide Your word in my heart, that I will have wisdom to raise up my children to love and honor You.

Amen.

All scripture taken from:
English Standard Version (ESV) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Teaching by God's Design

The word “teach” (in various forms, including past tense 'taught') appears 41 times in the ESV Bible.

By trade, I am a “teacher.” I get dressed up in relatively formal clothes, don mascara, gather my own children and get them in their car seats, and off we go to the baby-sitter's house. There they will be well fed, frequently diapered, entertained, and...taught.

Keagan is learning some Spanish because our baby-sitter (who, I might add, is a very strong believer in Christ) speaks Spanish fluently. She teaches him to sit down in Spanish, to pick up the toys in Spanish, to throw trash away in Spanish. These are all wonderful things, and during this time of necessity, I could not be more thankful for our children's exceptional caregiver.

Back to me.

Upon dropping my two children, both under the age of 3, off for the day, most mornings I run back to my car, jump in, barely clear my foot from the slamming car door, and barrel down the highway toward the school where I teach.

I teach college freshmen and sophomore students. On paper, I am supposed to be teaching them how to write a research paper that would accept their illiterate hind ends to a large university. The truth is: I teach them life lessons. One day I did an entire lesson over getting out of debt, buying a car with cash only, and snowballing their money to pay off existing debt. Some cared and actually listened. Others confessed they were still on course with their plan to jump into a $400 car payment for an $18,000 car, for which they will eventually pay well over $24,000.

This is not rocket Science. It is not even Composition. It is LIFE.
And the reason I am doing this is because someone did not get their morning memo explaining their job description.

Like some of my students' parents (but certainly not all), I've not been doing my first and foremost job. Why?

Because I've been too busy doing someone else's.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (ESV copyright Crossway Bibles, 2001).

Many, many times throughout the Bible, God gives the blueprint for raising children. This is merely one example. Guess who it always involves. The public school system? The church? The baby-sitter? No.

The Parents.

*Please pray for our family, as we are looking toward a shift in lifestyle according to the admonition we have been hearing from the Lord.*

(And just for fun, the word “mother” appears in the ESV Bible 13 times.)

<>< Cara

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fun Fall Photos!

Here are my little pumpkin eaters this fall. I can't believe how quickly they are growing. We had their pictures taken today at my mom's house. You can figure out who the "ham" was!
(All photos taken by Donna LaRosa.)






Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Days Go By

Oh, how they grow. This was just before Christmas for Keagan and Christmas morning for Kate. I can't believe my babies are growing so much. Keagan makes sentences and Kate is saying "Baba", "Mama", and "Dada." And she's pulling herself up to stand. We call her Sasquatch because she is so solid, not to mention LOUD!
Needless to say, they are a joy.

"But Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven'" (Matthew 19:14).

English Standard Version (ESV) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.




Friday, September 5, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children."
Ephesians 5:1

"Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord."
Ephesians 8-10

As I read these verses, I thought of Keagan--how he has started imitating and mimicking Matt and me. He wants to do what we do. He wants to say what we say. He wants to be like us.

This is not always a good thing, though.

Some days, I fall painfully short of a model worth mimicking. Some mornings I am grouchy. Two babies never fail to poop at the same time, the wipes dispenser is mysteriously bare, and I can't find Kate's pacifier anywhere, even though she owns a running total of around 6. My tone is often demanding and curt, and my patience is almost nonexistent.

The terrifying truth here is: Keagan does not choose only the good and right and true things to emulate in me; he imitates the bad right along with the good.

We learned this the hard way one afternoon while making grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. Matt was in charge of the feast while I was busy at the table with Keagan. The cheese was not cooperating for Matt, so, without any thought, he huffed, "Crap." Not two seconds later, the dreaded word came clear as day out of our 2 year old's mouth. "Crappp." Pronounced better than any other word in his limited vocabulary.

Needless to say, this was a stark awakening for our family.

We have to ask ourselves: Who are we imitating?

Who am I imitating? Am I really seeking to have the mind of Christ? Do I truly believe that a soft answer turns away wrath? Am I honestly seeking to live in God's Will and not my own?

Keagan is my son, and he wants to be like me.

We are God's children. Do we want to be like Him?


All scripture taken from:
English Standard Version (ESV) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.


Cara



Thursday, August 28, 2008

The C Word

I was talking with my friend Fallon earlier about "Confession." I don't know about you, but when I hear this word, I cringe.

It's scary. It's overwhelming. It's too personal. It's risky. It's...HONEST.

After the conversation, I sat and looked at the specific places the Bible points toward "confession." There are different types of confessions: There is the confession of sins to God for forgiveness, there is the confession of Christ as Lord with our mouths, and there is the confession of sins to others. Of course, the latter is the most intimidating (to me, anyway). I usually want to appear as if I have things together, like I am generally a good person. Confession is a great way to shatter these selfish motives and misconceptions of our faith. For me, confession is a good way of keeping me humble.

Of course, the most important confessions we do are our admissions of sin to God.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

For me, these times of confession ensure my honesty with God and also keep the lines of communication open. Once the air is cleared, so to speak, my relationship with God can go so much deeper. I suddenly am not focusing on myself, but am free to petition for others' needs. (This, by the way, is a great avenue to humility, too.)

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed" (James 5:16).

This is the same guy who said we should look at trials as joy! Why? Because these times test our faith, which in turn gives us steadfastness, or perseverance. I think everyone would agree that we desire perseverance. But are we truly willing to endure what it takes to develop such a gift?

I then read a very personal confession from Paul:
"For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing" (Romans 7:18-19).

I have written these exact thoughts countless times. I daily, no hourly, struggle with the war within to do God's Will. My flesh wants to do what will benefit itself--certainly not what will benefit others. I am amazed at how quickly I can go from handing my whole heart over to our God, to scratching and clawing to have it back. "But I want ____" and "It's easier to do____" constantly pluck at my insides. I want to make my Lord proud of me, but it's such a struggle. I want to hear "Cara, well done, faithful servant," when I meet Him. But will I?

This is my confession.

What's yours?

All scripture taken from:
English Standard Version (ESV) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.


<>< Cara

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Elmo Loves Keagan and Kate


And Keagan and Kate certainly love Elmo back!
We took them to the Convention Center this morning to see Elmo Makes Music live.

I think Kate may have had a better time than Keagan did! She wore herself out jumping quite vigorously up and down on my lap and squawking every time they sang! She has recently
developed a habit of rocking constantly, which is me made over. Needless to say, she LOVES music! Keagan had a few...moments throughout the show. Those things are just a little too lengthy for little ones! But he did enjoy it, and we're glad we took him!

Cara

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Yakel Board of Parents

After a very lengthy meeting to assess our family status, the executive decision was made to...
KEEP THEM.








Saturday, August 2, 2008

Humility in Light of Holiness

“And I said: 'Woe is me! For I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.'”
Isaiah 6:5

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me.'”
Isaiah 6:8


Isaiah has just received a vision of the Lord. He has been given the indescribable imagery of the glory of the Lord, and he is overwhelmed. His immediate response to this breath-taking scene is to deem himself “unworthy.” He recognizes that, when sized up next to this all-powerful, all-knowing BEING, he is but a breath of hot air. He admits this freely. He is unclean, and not only that, but his roots are unclean. He comes from unclean people, so the legacy was begun long before him, and it will continue thereafter.

After Isaiah's first response (what his only response possibly could be), he then hears the Lord ask if anyone would be willing to do His work. Without hesitation, it seems, Isaiah (I can imagine with quite a degree of humility) jumps up, ready for the front lines. The Bible does not allude that he hesitates in any way, not even for a second. He is ready for the task.

Here's what grabs a hold of me in this passage: Isaiah volunteers for the job after he proclaims his unworthiness and the Lord's Holiness. He acts out of sheer Humility.

Merriam-Webster gives a few synonyms for this word: “not proud or haughty, not pretentious, unassuming, insignificant.”

Not until we come to this realization that we are insignificant does God consider us for His mission. He does not need our talents. He does not need our quick wit or ingenuity. He certainly doesn't need our impressive four page resume.

Our God is one who would wait until the college applications have all been reviewed and the scholarship winners announced. Then, He would bring up the ones not chosen, the ones who didn't meet the standard...and He'd use them. Why? Because now that there's no question about whether or not they have gotten a little too big for their breeches, they can be used for His perfect mission without the risk of ulterior motives.

In the sight of God's awesome power and might, we can do nothing but admit our insignificance and menial existence. (I know: Could we be a little more positive today?!) But it's true. God is worthy of ALL praise, and we are worthy of none.

Oftentimes, I am guilty of trying to jump immediately to Isaiah's second response: “Here am I! Send me!” instead of first admitting my own insufficiency compared to God's Holiness. Initially, that doesn't sound too awful, right? At least I'm willing to serve, right? At least I'm not sitting on my behind, right?

Not really.

God does not need me. In our self-esteem-starving world, we so desperately want to believe otherwise. But He does not need us. However, He does want us. He wants us to partner with Him and work for His glory and honor. But to do that, we must learn to put off our selfish desires. This means we cannot expect a pat on the back or a “good work” for the sacrifices we make or the behind the scenes tasks. These things must remain just that: “behind the scenes.” At least in this life.

My prayer is that I (and you too) will learn to train ourselves to immediately respond with Humility in light of God's Holiness. And then, let's see what He can do through us!



All scripture taken from:
English Standard Version (ESV) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

"Humble." Merriam-Webster's Dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1997.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Git Right or Git Left?

Besides the beautiful colloquial language here, what else is--wrong--with this phrase?

I can't even recall the first time I heard it; I was probably too small. Sadly, I would bargain that this is the case for most of you reading here.

I know I've seen in 2nd Timalachuke this phrase IN RED LETTER! So, Jesus clearly chanted it often. (Stop looking for 2nd Timalachuke. It was one of those books that didn't quite make the canon...)

Say that phrase again with me: “Git right, or git left.” Upon saying this [ridiculous] phrase aloud, I'm compelled to dissect it in the following manner:

*Can we ever really get anything “right?”
The Bible says in Romans 3:10: “None is righteous, no, not one..."
English Standard Version (ESV) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

What exactly does 'righteous' mean? It means “just” or “right.” So, if the Bible directly says we cannot be right, no matter how hard our feeble minds work at it, then why are we wasting our time and energy?

*Ephesians 2:8 clearly spells it out for us: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own DOING; it is the gift of God, not a result of WORKS, so that no one may boast.”
English Standard Version (ESV) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles (emphasis mine).

*The phrase implies a common misconception that, however unintentional, drives many people further away from the cross.
It implies that you must “fix” yourself before you can come to Jesus. I like to remember a short man named Zacchaeus. He was the equivalent of your favorite IRS representative. This guy was openly dubbed a “sinner.”

“And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.' So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when [the crowd] saw it, they all grumbled, 'He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.'” Luke 19:5-7
English Standard Version (ESV) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

*Jesus obviously liked to raise a few eyebrows and go against the mainstream thought process.
Just like Zacchaeus, I am dubbed a sinner. I have to make a choice every five minutes to either serve Christ and make Him known...or to consistently deny Him. Sadly, I deny Him more than I'd like to admit. But the point is not just that. The point is that we recognize that we CAN'T be perfect, or good, or right, or just. We acknowledge it, and we embrace it. I can even find a smidgeon of relief in that, can't you? Suddenly, the pressure's off...

The stage lights are down. The audience has left.

It's just me and God.

It's just you and God.

Back to the hillbilly phrase. So, what do they really mean? I'm sure people who say this have the purest of intentions. They clearly are just wanting people to get saved so they will not spend eternity in hell. The thing they don't realize is that people who do not know Jesus intimately, who have not crawled up in His lap, will not understand it. The truth is: Jesus is waiting for us to STOP TRYING, and to drop everything, even the things we think are important, and come just as we are to Him.

I think our new phrase should be: Get Christ and Get Life!

.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Stars Are His Handy Work

"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked
off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure,
and weighed the mountains in scales and hills in a balance?"
Isaiah 40:12 (ESV)

This verse could not have come at a better time.

Just when things seem impossible, and we are growing weary, God always seems to give me a diamond in the rough. This is my diamond.

We at Fuel are in a season of stretching and growing and pruning and shaping. You guessed it: We did not sign up for a day at the spa, it appears, but rather, the gym. (Did I mention I'm not fond of gyms?)

I love to close my eyes and actually TRY to picture the IMPOSSIBILITY of what Isaiah is saying here: that someone can scoop up all the water on this planet and hold it in the depths of his hands, and that it would only be enough to whet his appetite for a drink. And someone can rake up all the dust and the dirt and the gravel and the clay of this earth, and it would only be enough to fill his measuring cup. And someone has a scale much like an old grocery store's scales that can hold not just produce, but mountains.

That someone is our God! And HE IS MIGHTY! I love to serve a God this big. As I read this verse, my musical mind immediately began dancing to a song I sang as a child:

"My God is so big, so strong and so mighty!
There's nothing my God cannot do! (for you!)
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty!
There's nothing my God cannot do! (for you!)

The mountains are His, the valleys are His.
The stars are His handy work, too!
My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty!
There's nothing my God cannot do! (for you!)"

My prayer is that you will rest today in knowing that our God is SO BIG, SO STRONG, and SO MIGHTY. And whatever it is that seems impossible to you right now, that you will see His strength and capability in your weakness and incapability.

Cara

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Beauty of the Withered Hand

Here's the thing: I'm going to be transparent here because I'm hoping it may speak to someone who may presently be dealing with a similar type of inner battle.

I teach 3 and 4 year olds at our church. I truly love having this great privilege. I used to work with 3, 4, and 5 year olds as a teenager in VBS and some in Sunday School at the church I grew up in. These children are not ashamed or afraid to say just about anything. I will never forget one year at VBS, I was playing “kitchen” with a little girl, and I noticed her curious little eyes periodically wandering toward my hand (I have a very large scar covering my entire right hand because of slight birth complications.) Being forever self conscious about it, I made a point to use only my left hand while playing with her, and I think I even was trying to sit on my right hand! She did not take the hint. She finally fixed her sparkly eyes on my own and asked something like: “What's wrong with your hand?”

What's wrong with your hand?

This was always the question I got. It did more to me than just annoy me; it chiseled away at my self importance, my self worth. But only because I let it.

Instead of realizing that this piercing question was birthed from a tiny 4 year old, I let myself sink into offense. I think I told her I was born that way. That generally is my cop out when I don't feel like exposing my whole life story (which happens to be a great one!) If I were to say, “I had surgery when I was a baby,” then that would only lead to another question, which would lead to another, and another.

Fast forward about 10 years. Here I am teaching them again. But I've learned something.

Children this age are curious, inquisitive, easily amazed, trying to figure this whole thing out, and best of all—they are formative. Almost anything I say to them, they believe, wide eyed and full of awe. They ask those “hard” questions that no one else asks, but secretly wants to know.

What's wrong with your hand?

Why do you walk like that?

Did you know that you say you'll do something, but you never do it?

Why do you say “you know” in every sentence?

Did you know you're being selfish?

Jump back to the little girl's first question for a moment. I notice now as I replay this scenario in my mind, that the simple context of the question is HUGE.

What's wrong with your hand?

She was taking what her 4 years of wisdom concerning what people “should” look like told her, and comparing it with what she presently saw: something very different—something wrong. This did not make it anything but a hand, did it? Of course not. It just looked different. To her, it was not “perfect.” To me, it is not “perfect.” But simply put, it is still a hand. And it is my hand, nonetheless. It is my hand that happens to work quite well, I might add.

It has proven quite convenient with many activities I've engaged in throughout my life thus far: perfectly sinking a basketball through the net, clutching a bat and swinging it to whack that softball toward the outfield, moving its fingers to cover the holes on a clarinet and make some pretty good music (if I do say so myself), twirling a flag and sending it rocketing into the air only to be caught by that same hand. I could go on from writing to holding my babies...you get the point.

I treasure my hand simply because it is my hand. I don't need any other reason.

Now, take what I've just said and try to view it in respect to the body of Christ. There's the head, the neck, the shoulders, the arms, the HANDS, etc. These are all parts that work together to perform one purpose, whatever it may be.

Having one of these parts with a scar is better than not having it at all, right? I'd say so. For the first time, I am seeing the dilemma of the [ugly] hand as something beautiful. It is beautiful because:

1.God doesn't amputate. He mends and physically restores.
2.God sees fit to bring the low up high, and even the high down low.
3.We “imperfect” people can now be a part of something “perfect.”

I love to look through the Bible and see these imperfect people God chose to use to bring about His Will. Jesus' genealogy is bursting at the seams with losers, with the lame. These people give me hope. Just as my hand is a little less than perfect, so am I a LOT less than perfect. But that doesn't mean I must be cut off and thrown in the trash!

I can still use my hand.

God can still use me.

God can still use you.

Just because one part of the body doesn't look like we think it should look, doesn't mean it is not fulfilling its purpose. I've spent too much time asking, "What's wrong with _____" and not enough time asking, "How can I bring it to its greatest potential?"


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<>< Cara

Friday, June 20, 2008

For My Super Husband

This is a little late for Father's Day, but I wanted to share how thankful I am for my amazing husband, who also happens to be the BEST daddy in the world!


*He gets up early and hopes one or both of the kids wakes up so he can see them before he goes to work.

*When he could be resting and doing something just for himself at lunch time, he calls me instead to see how my day is going and how the kids are.

*Even though he is tired from his total hour--plus commute to work every day on top of his actual work day, he walks in the door with a smile and enough energy for wrestling his rambunctious little boy.

*If dinner is not ready, much less decided upon, when he arrives home, he never complains. He just says, "It's okay. We'll just have something quick."

*Even though he knows he has to wake up early and leave, where I get to stay home the next day, he still feeds Kate her night cap bottle before heading to bed.

Happy (LATE) Father's Day, Matt! I love you so much, and I am truly blessed to be your wife!
I love watching you with our children. Thank you for all you do for our family.

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Love, Cara

A Photo Tribute to Kate...

I hope you enjoy these photos of our Kate. We call her Kate-a-roo, and you can probably see why: she is so bouncy!
P.S. I'm not sure why, but this is cutting off part of the right side of the pics.



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<>< Cara

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Keagan’s First E.R. Visit

I write today with a heart of thanksgiving for how God protected my son. Sunday night Matt and I took the kids out bike riding. The weather was nice with a cool breeze, and it just seemed perfect. We were on our street, just a few hundred feet down from our house. We were actually headed back home, just talking and enjoying the time. Suddenly (and I do mean SUDDENLY), Matt's bike just started wobbling this way and that, and in an instant, they crashed. The bike shoved Matt to the left, and Keagan (being strapped in the infant seat on the bike) went to the right. I cannot erase the image of his head meeting the pavement from my mind. Everything slowed down at that moment. I nearly forgot I had Kate on the back of my own bike; Matt had to remind me of this so I didn't jump off and run over to them. All I could do immediately was scream and yell at someone...who happened to be Matt. I wasn't very kind, which I regret. Luckily, he loves me and forgives me easily.

Matt frantically got Keagan out of the seat and stood him up on the street. Keagan immediately began vomitting, and of course that scared me to death! I grabbed Kate out of her seat, and we ran up to the house, leaving the bikes in the road of course. I had forgotten my wallet in my bike pouch, and only remembered it right before we left, so I had to run back to get it. I was SO tired on that run. My mind would not function properly, either, in those moments. I could not get my brain to comprehend how to fasten Kate's car seat belt. Matt kept having to tell me to breathe and that he needed me. All I could do was wail (very loudly) and shallowly breathe. At that moment, I truly didn't know if Keagan would be okay or not. He was really out of it, and his eyes looked weird to me. He kept trying to slip off into sleep, so the entire drive to the hospital, I kept shaking his little legs and talking to him to keep him alert.

We were there no more than 2 or 3 minutes when some of our friends showed up to help us out. They took care of Kate, which was an enormous help. I could barely talk to the admit lady because I still had not fully caught my breath. She was very patient with us, though. They got us in very quickly, I suppose because it was a head trauma, which tends to be more cause for concern than some injuries. Before I knew it, they were already taking him back for a CT scan. I still cannot believe what a good boy he was through the whole thing. He cooperated so well in the scan. The thing that made him the most angry was the neck brace that he had to wear. He doesn't like to be restrained in any way. His Papaw got there and helped calm him down and make him laugh, though. Our good friend Matt is a nurse at the hospital, so his presence helped our case out tremendously. They looked over the CT scan and thought it looked pretty good. They couldn't send it off to the professional because of some power or technical difficulty, so we actually got to leave fairly quickly. We just had to monitor him for a while.

When we got home, we let him eat grape Popsicles. He watched a Veggietale and then climbed in his bed. He was sheerly exhausted. And so were we.

We are just so thankful that he is okay. It wasn't looking good at first, but the timing of when our friends were called and started praying and the rate of his improvement shows how powerful prayer is. So, thank you to everyone who prayed for us and those who came and helped us out.

Keagan is much better now. He was tired and sore on Monday, but now is fully back to being Keagan, if you know what I mean!

Cara

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Letter to my Handsome "Wild at Heart" Keagan

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Dear sweet Keagan,
My first—my surprising, joyful, exuberant first:
You have been our little “bud” from the day we were told you were going to be our strong boy. Your daddy and I both quietly prayed that you would be a boy, so our hearts overflowed with joy when we knew God had answered our prayer! You were our refreshing surprise, and you continue to faithfully live up to this humorous truth. I will never forget that we had a kitty named Scout when I found out about you, and I was home with her by myself (Daddy was at work), and I verbalized to her for the first time that I was going to be a mommy! What an awesome and even scary thought! I must admit that I was scared—scared I wouldn't have what other women called that “motherly instinct” to know how to care for you. While you grew in my tummy, every new stage intrigued me and awed me so much that I could lay for hours, waiting to feel you kick one more time. It was the most beautiful feeling I had ever felt. I bought books to read to you, and your daddy placed headphones on my tummy so you could hear the rhythm of “U2”. You have been a precious and strong part of our lives from long before we ever saw your sweet face.

Your Papaw called you “Fred” from the second we heard you were a boy right up until the day you joined us. I must admit that I was nervous that he would nickname you that forever, but do you know what he said the first time he saw you? He said, “Hello, Keagan.” So, you don't have to worry about “Fred” anymore!

Your daddy was so nervous the night you arrived, but that was the moment when he realized just how much he could love you. He went with you while they put you under the oxygen hood to hold your hand and make sure you were not scared. He took so many pictures of you (imagine that!) and came back to me so that I could see our brand new, handsome little man. My heart melted when I saw that he had gotten a picture of you with your tiny hand wrapped so securely around his finger. You already knew that he was your daddy. That moment meant more than you could ever know to him.

I was scared to death to bring you home that first night, and so was your daddy. We cried together when your skin turned more and more orange by the minute late into the night. You were just a little jaundiced, but we didn't know a thing about babies, so we had no clue what could be wrong! But it didn't take us too awfully long to get the hang of diapers and bottles and burping and of course snuggling. I remember one night I fell asleep, and the next thing I knew, it was morning, and your daddy was in the living room, rocking you. He had held you all night long so that I could get some rest. I think he rather enjoyed the guy time he got with you.

I never knew what people meant by “time flies” until you came along. As I write these words to you, more than two years have slipped between our fingers since you transformed our duet into a trio. We look at pictures of you, and laugh and smile at all of your dimples and hilarious expressions. You have always been our little entertainer and the center of attention. In fact, if I am not paying attention to you, you simply pull my face close to yours and repeat what you were jabbering about! It always makes me smile so big. I have a hard time getting onto you quite often, too, because I'm trying so hard not to laugh at what you have done! Thank you for being such a joy in our lives.

One thing about you is that you are fearless. There are very few things that scare you. I see a smidgen of pride in your daddy's face every time he tells someone how brave you are. Obviously, this daring quality of yours keeps your daddy and me on our toes! But we would not have you any other way.

I want you to know how much you have changed me and matured me. You have made me understand what it means to sacrifice things, what it means to truly love from the depths of my soul, and even what it means to hurt more deeply than I ever could imagine. As I write this to you, you are sleeping in your bed with a fever. I can't stand it when you are sick, because I can't take it away from you. I cherish the moments that we can snuggle together (because you are not a snuggler when you are well), but of course I do not wish sickness upon you just so I can hold you close.

One of my favorite smells in the whole world is your sweet hair when you get out of the bath tub. You play so hard each day and hide away dirt in places I didn't know possible, but your fresh, clean skin returns each night to tickle my nose. I used to hold you as a tiny baby and wonder what sort of things you would some day love to do, and now I am having the time of my life helping you discover those things. You absolutely adore dancing to music, mornings, welcoming Daddy home, shuffling your small feet through sweet grass, saying our prayers together, dogs, flowers, dinosaurs, wrestling matches, pop tarts, bananas, bath time, and even “night night”. I draw you close to my chest each night and thank our wonderful Lord that He chose to bless your daddy and me with such an incredible little ball of love and energy like you. You know, your name means “fire ball” or “passionate”, and that certainly is what you are. You don't believe in doing anything half-heartedly. Please don't ever let go of this gift.

You have taught me so many things, Keagan, and I am so grateful for them. You have taught me how to trust God and let go of my own will, to laugh at things that I don't want to laugh at right away, to make the most of each day we've been given, and much much more. Just when I feel exhausted and that I am ready for the day to be over, you come into the room holding your little Bible, wanting me to sing the “This is the way we love the Bible” song. You have always known just how to melt my heart. And that's okay. I suspect you always will.

My strongest prayer for you is that you will mature into a man who loves Jesus and seeks His will above all else. I pray that your strong will and bravery will never diminish, and that you will be a leader to others and a follower only of Christ. God promised us that the work He has begun within us, He will never leave undone; He will finish it. You are one of the most precious works God has begun, and I know that He has quite an adventure in store for you! I wish I could press pause and soak you in sometimes, but I know that time must march on, and we must walk with it. I am so proud to walk with you. I promise you that your daddy and I will lead you in the direction we feel is always best, the way we hear God telling us to point you. This journey will not always be smooth and newly paved; you are certainly going to have a few flat tires along the way. But you will never be alone. Never. I pray for the day that you will understand how to trust Jesus Christ as your savior; I can't help but smile to anticipate such an amazing day.

I love you so much, Keagan, and I love being your mommy so dearly. You are truly the tickle to my tummy and the cherry to my pie. I can't wait to see the strong, handsome man God will grow you into. But until that day comes, I will continue to relish every sweet “Mama”, every high pitched squeal of sheer delight, every soft kiss, and every new step you take in this great big world. I couldn't be more proud of you.

With all my heart,
Mommy

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Letter to my Dear Sweet Kate

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My precious little princess:
I want to tell you just how happy and blessed your daddy and I are to call ourselves your parents. You are our soft, sweet whisper from the Lord. I have prayed for you long before I found out about you! I wanted a little girl so badly; I asked God if He would somehow grant my request and send me a little girl to love and cherish. And here you are.

My heart leaped for joy when Dr. Stewart said those long awaited words: "It's a girl!" I really knew deep down all along that you were a girl, but it was nice to finally know for certain. I will never forget--your daddy and I walked out of the office that day holding hands, unable to control our grinning and laughing with each other because we were so delighted. We talked about how different it would be to have someone so delicate after being accustomed to your brother--our rough and tumble little cowboy. Our hearts were swelling with amazement and fulfillment already.

I called your Mimi right away, before we even got back home to share the incredible news with her. She, of course, was tickled PINK right along with us. She had been waiting to buy you sweet frilly gifts until we heard the news for sure.

Immediately, my mind bustled with every little adventure you and I would share together--the ones our whole family would enjoy, but mostly those sacred moments you and I alone would know together. Middle of the night feedings, afternoon snuggles in the rocking chair, bedtime stories of princes and far away fantastic places, your very first step, first birthday party and all the glorious ones to follow, whether you will enjoy Veggietales like your big brother or not, first word (maybe it will be Mama?), shopping for that perfect dress for your first day of school, first report card, first crush, first job, first kiss...I don't want to miss one single second.

The first time we saw your face was such an exciting moment. You didn't waste any time getting out here to meet us; the doctor barely made it in to welcome you into the world! Your daddy and I both immediately said how you were an exact copy of your brother--with a bow in your hair! We hugged and kissed you and passed you around to Mimi and Papaw to show you off. I will never forget how beautiful your little finger nails were right from the moment you arrived, like you'd already had a manicure! I held your sweet fingers in my hands and breathed a prayer of thanks to the God who ensured your safe delivery into our arms.

Kate, I pray for you every day, and I thank our gracious Father that He somehow saw fit to bless our lives with your beautiful presence. And so, we are giving you to His purpose so that you may become the woman He has created you to be. I commit to live my life before you to be the best example I can of a mother who follows and seeks the Lord. I pray that if I teach you nothing else, that I will teach you how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. He loves you much much more than your daddy and I love you--and that's more than I can tell you! Never ever forget that you have a purpose that He will fulfill in you one day. Your daddy and I will be here every step of the way that God grants us to guide you and teach you the ways of the Lord.

I wish I could protect you from all the bad things that can and will happen to you, but the harsh reality is that I cannot. You will be disappointed and hurt by this treasure we call life at times; you yourself will disappoint and hurt others. But always remember that no matter what may happen to you or whatever you may do--your daddy and I will always love you, and most of all, Jesus will always love you. He created you in 2007, but He loved you before the beginning of time. I know that these moments of holding and rocking you while you nestle close to me will all too quickly melt away, but I will cherish them always--your precious soft baby smell, your bare gums behind dimpled grins, soothing babbles, miniature fingers that wrap securely around mine. These small wonders will be exchanged for a life of beautiful, mature smiles and intelligent conversations. I will savor every step of this marvelous journey with you.

With all the love I possess,
Mommy

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Living Among the Dead

Fifteen more minutes—maybe twenty—and the sun will slowly dissolve behind the trees. My rigid shadow rests, quivering on top of the head stones lined up in an orderly row before me. Why do they have to be in perfect rows anyway? How ironic it is that our dead take such precedence over our living.

“HENSON” reads the evenly etched, white stone in front of me. The letters are spaced in perfection with “The Infant of Mr. and Mrs. Henson” below it. May to August of 1909. 3 months of a sweet morsel of heaven. 3 months of smiles saturated with tears. 3 months of “what if's.” 3 months of anguish-filled dark corners to hide the weeping. Or did he pass suddenly, with no warning? Did she walk in to find him in his crib, and cradling him in her arms, discover that he was already being cradled in Jesus' arms? Or did she hold his miniature hand through the long 3 months of sickness and pain? I wish the white-washed stone could whisper the truth to me—tell me the legacy of this tiny wonder. I make a feeble attempt at quieting my soul by looking away to a different stone. But there just a couple of feet away is a devastating copy. “The Infant of Mr. and Mrs. Henson.” This one is a girl; she lived longer than her brother had. December to June a couple of short years later. As if it wasn't enough for these bereaved parents to have one child taken from them, here they have two. It must have been an illness, I'm sure by now. My heart begins to slowly sink into my chest, and I remember that I am not alone today.

My son is skipping, running free just a few yards to my left. His innocent 2 year old mind has no idea that he is galloping over decorated boxes filled with dead bodies—his body that is fueled by life, that bleeds red when pierced. His thin blond hair playfully dances in the crisp breeze. His rouged cheeks are lit with a pure smile; there is no death in his mind. It simply does not exist. All things to him are glorious. He loves cars and trucks and bouncy balls and bath time and dancing and running and singing and snowballs and swing sets and grape juice and books and pickles and cookies...and Mommy and Daddy. These things furnish his world, and I am the centerpiece right now. And there is nothing and no one important enough for me to forfeit such a place of honor.

In my mind rings a truth I have been told since I was three years old: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son...” I stop and drink in the sight of my son running from stone to stone. He is talking to each stone, saying, “Hello,” and then, “Bye-bye.” He bends his play-scraped knees to lower his ear next to one stone. He is waiting for a reply, completely oblivious to the irony of this very moment.

I am examining my love for this little boy, and I shamefully recognize that I in error suppose I love him more than God—the very Creator of his soul—does. “For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother's womb,” I hear from someplace deep inside. My heart that was sinking a few moments before is now steadily fluttering with awe and praise for this beautiful miracle. So this is why God touched my life with such an unspeakable honor of being called “Mommy”—so that I may, even in just a minuscule of a moment, experience a sampling of how agonizingly difficult it was for the Father to willfully commit his only Son to this earth, knowing what pain would befall Him. I begin walking toward my Only Son and, catching him, I reach for his hand. He shrieks with delight and wraps his tiny fingers around mine with a surprisingly strong grip. I taste the sweet dusk air and breathe out a prayer of thanks that God gave this ultimate sacrifice...so that I will never have to.