The reckless love of God

Grace, grace, grace that is greater than all our sin.

Come thou fount of every blessing.

You are good, good, ohhh…

In “churchspeak,” we talk a lot about God’s goodness. God is good. He is only good, He encompasses good, He always is good and always will be good. We praise God because He is good. We praise Him because He is the father of all good things.

But what are these good things? What are these blessings? How do we define God as good?

I’ve been focusing this month on God’s goodness – what is God’s goodness? Is it the peace that surpasses all understanding? Is it being able to be joyful and prayerful in all circumstances? Yes, yes, of course it is. It is this – but it is so much more.

This is a bit of a revelation to me, very new, very raw, so if I say something that you think is “well, of course that’s true, dummy – how did you not grasp this?” or “Is she for real?” – Just remember – rawness and openness here.

As I mentioned, I’ve been thinking about what God’s goodness is to me in my life. How has God been so good to me?

I’ve been praying it – asking God to help me understand more of Him. Yes, God brings peace to my anxious mind. God is full of love – not hate or division. God gives unlimited grace, despite us being so undeserving. God gives mercy when we have gone astray.

It’s all this – and more.

In worship Sunday, it hit me – hard, really hard, where the tears started coming without being prepared. I wasn’t prepared to meet God in that sermon. My voice is sore, so I can’t sing, I was a few minutes late – I wasn’t really in a worshipful mood.

But it really doesn’t matter when God has something to say, does it? It certainly helps to be in a place to worship, but I believe because of my requests this month on wanting to see God’s goodness – He responded.

God’s goodness in my life –

I see it in my church, where I worship freely, with believers of God, believers who want to know more about Him and want others to know the love God has for them.

I see it in my friends – oh, and I could see so many in that one service – friends who I have depended on, who I have served beside in ministry, who have encouraged me when I was despondent, prayed for me in the darkest times. I could give so many names of sweet loves who have built me up, over and over, because of love.

My relationship with my husband – I take it for granted too often that we do have such a solid, steady relationship. We definitely have our moments – please don’t hear me ever say that we are perfect – but the family and the life we have built together is wonderful, and I am so grateful to have him as my helpmate.

God’s goodness – it’s in all that and more. I can remember conversations I’ve had with individuals, divine interactions with strangers, people who God has put in my life, molded me, influenced me, changed me.

Again – for some of you, this is no big surprise. But for the past decade or so, I have worked hard to pull myself away from material blessings. Yes, I have been blessed materially – but I never want that to be the focus of my love for God. So to remember days and people and situations in my life where I have seen His glory, where He has used others to bless me – it was humbling and eye-opening.

God has been so, so good to me. I see His goodness with new eyes.

Parenting, Sweet girls

Blood and guts

The Artist may end up as a doctor…or the next Stephen King.

Earlier this month, Kyle had a minor surgery. I say minor, but he did have 12 staples and was home a couple of days recovering. So minor – but it was still surgery.

We let TA know about the surgery, that Daddy would not be able to play around for a while, etc. Especially that first day, even though he would be home with us, TA, her sister, and I needed to let him rest. Then we would see how things progressed throughout the week. TA was relieved that Kyle wouldn’t have to spend the night in the hospital, and the first day she was gentle and kind, and every morning she would ask, “How are you feeling today, Daddy?” Kyle quickly recovered and started walking around the house, and we took his gauze off, revealing 12 staples. Because we know how TA loves blood, guts, and gore, we decided to show her.

His staples absolutely fascinated her.

But then – she wanted to take them out.

As in – she wanted to be at the doctor’s office when they were removed so she could take them out herself. Because what 5-year-old wouldn’t want to do that?

This is nothing new for TA, though. Kyle is a Type I diabetic, and he has an insulin pump and a sensor to track his blood sugar. TA loves to watch him put in new pumps and sensors. She loves watching him check his blood sugar with a stick, when that occasionally occurs. When her baby sister has a cut or a scrape, she wants to check it out, wipe it down with alcohol, and slap a band-aid on it.

So, again – her desire to take the staples out – it was just her.

The day Kyle got his staples out, I picked TA up from school, and she asked, “Did Daddy get his staples out today?”

“Well…he should be at the doctor’s office now.”

“CALL HIM! CALL HIM CALL HIM!” she urged. “I want him to bring them home!”

“Bring what home?!”

“The staples!”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. My dainty fairy artist wanted her father to bring his post-surgery staples home.

I called Kyle up and told him her request.

“Yeah, she told me about that this morning,” he said, laughing. “Tell her I will do what I can.”

And, of course, you know he brought those staples home to her.

That evening, right before dinner, Kyle handed the staples in a plastic bag to TA.

Her eyes lit up like it was Christmas all over again. She jumped up and down, squealed, and then ran to her room. In a couple of moments, she came back and said, “Come here! Come here! I have to show you something!”

We went in her room and saw her accomplishment. TA has a “special things” section in her room, on top of her dresser.

Right beside a covered red rose toy from “Beauty and the Beast” and a photo of her and Disney princess Belle, she had placed the plastic bag of staples.



#isms, Volume 4

The Engineer: “Where are we going?”
Me: “To the dentist.”
The Engineer: “Sissy goes to the dentist.”
Me: “Yep. Her teeth are going to the teeth spa.”
The Artist: “They’re going to take my teeth out???!!!”

The Artist: “When my sister turns 3, will she still be a baby?”
Me: “Well, you two will always be my babies.”
The Artist: “No — will she be a baby, or will she be a kid?”
Me: “I guess technically she’ll be a kid.”
The Artist: “I don’t want her to be a kid. I want her to be a baby.”
Me: “Why?”
The Artist: “Because she’s so cute!”

The Artist: “So you teach?”
Me: “Yes. I teach college students.”
The Artist: “And you’re Dr. Judith.” Bursts out laughing. “That’s so funny.”

(Finding The Engineer climbing up the bottom side of her sister’s bunk bed…)
Me: Don’t climb up the bunk bed that way! Go up the ladder!
The Engineer: I’m not crying. I’m climbing.

(While painting a frog)
The Artist: “The pee pad is green.”
Me: “The what?”
The Artist: “The frog’s pee pad.”
Me: “LILY pad.”

Me: “What do you want for breakfast?”
The Artist: “A breakfast bar.”
Me: “Do you want anything else with it?”
The Artist: “Yes. A chocolate bar.”

Doing Social Studies homework:
Me: Circle the picture that shows the children being responsible. This picture is of a kid walking a dog. Is that responsible?
The Artist: No.
Me: What? Why?
The Artist: Because he may have been walking the dog without asking his parents if it was ok.
Me: Ah. Well, let’s say he did ask his parents.
The Artist: Oh. Good point. Yes, he’s responsible.

To her Sunday school teacher…
The Artist: “I drove myself to church today because Mommy is sick. Daddy is picking me up today.”
None of that was true…good thing she was in Sunday school.

Me: “He’s like Mr. Chris.”
The Artist: “You mean like Santa?”
Me: “Huh?”
The Artist: “Chris…Santa.”
Me: “No, it’s not Kris Kringle.”

(after being in time out)
Kyle: “Are you ready to say you’re sorry?”
The Engineer: (angrily) “Sorry.”
Me: “You need to say you’re sorry to me.”
Engineer: (glowers)
Me: “If you don’t, you can go back to time out.”
Engineer: (walks back to time out)

The Artist: “I wish we had an Elf like Snowflake (the Elf on the Shelf at her school).”
Me: “Your sister would touch him.”
The Artist: “We could put him somewhere high.”
Me: “We’re not supposed to touch him. He’s magic.”
The Artist: “We could just tell her not to touch him.”
Me: “She wouldn’t listen.”
The Artist: (Resigned) “Just stop.”


Jesus, Parenting

10 seconds to start

“Attention…present Bibles…start.”

From fourth grade throughout high school, I participated in Bible Drill. I learned Scriptures, learned relevant answers to basic theological questions (i.e. “What does the Bible teach us about sin?”) and knew key passages in the Bible, such as Jesus’ birth. I could find Ecclesiastes, the Gospels, Ephesians – any book – in ten seconds or less. From fourth grade to high school, I hid God’s word in my heart.

Bible Drill is so important for these young kids – every year they memorize 25 Scriptures, compete in front of their peers and family members, and every year they do the same – they learn and start to comprehend God’s word. Even now, over two decades since I was in Bible Drill, I remember verses I memorized when I was 10 years old.

My church – the church where my babies were dedicated – also participates in Bible Drill. I have served as a Bible Drill teacher for five years now, going on my sixth. We are led by wise, dedicated Bible Drill leaders who give their hearts to this ministry each spring. And every year, it keeps getting better.

This year, I have my same girls that I’ve had since they were fourth graders. This is their last year of children’s Bible Drill before they become youth. I met them as 10-year-olds, spent four months out of the year with them, teaching them the rules and procedures, praying with them, and teaching them Scripture. It is a weighty, precious blessing that I know I took too lightly when I first started. Now, though, especially as The Artist is only four years away from her own Bible Drill participation, my heart leaps to see my girls returning for their “senior” year.

It’s not just these kids, either – it’s their parents, the ones who bring them every Sunday and who go over verses with them. These are the parents who have prioritized learning God’s word, and I am so grateful for them. I am able to teach them for 90 minutes once a week – but they have to have parental support at home.

The Artist comes with me on occasion to Bible Drill. She sees these big kids and sees how well they know Scripture and how quickly they can find passages in the Bible. She knows her books of the Bible – sort of – and she knows that come every January, Mommy helps with Bible Drill.

One day, she’ll participate in Bible Drill. She’ll be 10 – ten!! I can’t even fathom our life in four years. It changes so much now, from season to season, and I can’t picture The Artist as a 10-year-old. What will she be doing in school? Will she still be interested in art? Will she be in piano lessons then? Will she be playing tennis?

Our options seem almost endless in activities in which for her to participate – and I am so thankful to live in a city that offers her so many possibilities. And while that is such a benefit to our family – I also want to remember what is lasting and eternal. I want her to be smart. I want her to be athletic. I want her to be musical. I want her to be artistic.

But, most importantly, I want her to be kind and to know God.


What do I do without a treadmill?

During December, I noticed my treadmill skipping. It’s happened before, but Kyle has been able to lubricate it with silicon and fix the issue. When I noticed the problem last month, I told him about it, and he set to fixing it.

Only this time, when he lubricated the belt – it didn’t fix the problem.

Have I mentioned that I’m a lazy runner? I really am. I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but I run to eat. I enjoy waking up, hoping on the treadmill and running while watching my TV shows on my phone. Then, when I run 3, 4, or 5 miles, I jump off, head in the shower, and am ready for the day. I know I can run 3 miles in 29 min, 4 miles at 39 minutes, and 5 miles at 49 minutes. Outside, it varies. One day I can run 3 miles at 28 minutes – the next day at 33. It’s not consistent. And while it’s not a big difference, I do like the uniformity.

Having a treadmill, for me, is super convenient. First off, I don’t have to worry about weather. Rain, ice, or snow – I don’t worry about it. Because I can run in the warmth when the weather is below freezing, or when it’s storming outside, or, more often than not in Louisiana, when it’s hot as Hades.

Then, there’s the issue with children. I run a lot during their naptime, which is helpful when Kyle’s away.

Lastly, I don’t have to worry about dogs chasing me when I run on the treadmill. And, if you’re a runner, you probably know this is often an inconvenient issue.

That being said – my treadmill went on the fritz mid-December. And Kyle’s maintenance didn’t fix it. So what was I to do?

Well…run outside.

Again, most runners do run outside. Most runners hate the treadmill, and for good reason. It’s repetitive. It’s boring both because you don’t move and you don’t have inclines or declines. You can’t really run with a partner on a treadmill.

But – it is easy to get miles in.

I have been running less, that’s for sure. Turns out when I’m working, I actually am more productive in all aspects of my life. I thrive on structure and predictability, and over the Christmas holidays, we really didn’t have a lot of either. But I ran, often with a running partner, and I even found myself enjoying the sub-freezing temperatures (29 degrees is sub-freezing) and even the hills. (Though I did not like the one “naked” run I had to do without a partner and without music – quite boring.)

I ran solo on Christmas and had a doe and two fawns run right in front of me in the middle of the day! I felt my strength improve as I ran the piney hills of my neighborhood. I caught up with my running partner, who I generally only get a chance to see when we run.

It was good. It was grand.

But I did miss my treadmill.