But Mom! When God Uses Children To Teach Us About Himself

I’m becoming more and more convinced that the Lord gives us children in order to teach us more about Himself.  To allow glimpses of His infinite wisdom in our finite experiences.

How so?

Let’s start with my Little One.

This past Christmas was a bit of an emotional roller coaster for her.  Day after day she expressed a deep desire for two very specific Lego sets.  (Let me just say that Lego Ninjago knew exactly what it was doing by coming out even remotely close to Christmas.)

I can’t tell you how many times we talked about those two sets.  We looked them up on every online supplier just to see if they were still in stock and who had them for cheaper.  We had to convince her not to spend every single cent she had, plus some of her sister’s, to buy it for herself before Christmas ever came.  Those Lego sets were the thing of dreams.

So of course, they were wrapped under the tree just waiting for the great reveal!

Then, with only about a week left until Christmas, she informs us that she has asked Santa for … an Elf on the Shelf.

What??!?!!  Excuse me?  Where did this come from?!

And for about 1,000 different reasons, that’s not happening.  As we lovingly explained to her that fact, she was crushed.

But why?  Why was she crushed?  Because all of her friends have one and she feels left out.  I’m so sorry kiddo, but that’s not reason enough.

Here it comes folks.  The Great God Moment.

She goes to bed, still upset, and I think to myself, “If she could just be patient for a few more days… What is already coming for her is so much better than a silly little doll.  It’s all she’s been dreaming of!”

I kid you not, I just felt like God was looking right over my shoulder going, “Yep.  I know what you mean.  It’s kind of like that dream that you’ve had.  You know, they one that you sit and talk to me about for hours on end?  But didn’t you also get upset with Me when I didn’t give you this other odd-ball thing that just popped into your head out of nowhere?  If you could only be patient for a little longer, what you have coming is so much better than you can imagine.”

You can bet that one hit me hard.

But God didn’t stop there.  I’ve got two daughters and He planned on using both of them.

My Oldest is basically a crazy cat lady in training.  I’m pretty sure she wants an indoor cat more than most people want their favorite sport team to win the championship.  The desire consumes her.

Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen.  It’s not like we haven’t gone down the road of animals.  We have.  And we have learned that we are not good animal parents.  It’s for the good of everyone, animal included, that we don’t bring a cat home.  It isn’t that I like to see her upset, I just know that it’s for the best.

And I’ve had to tell her that time after time, after time.  She just won’t give it up.

In fact, just the other day, when she began acting weird about going out of town, I finally got her to come clean that what she really wanted was to go by the Pet Store.

To which I said, “No.”  That wouldn’t be fair to her since it wouldn’t end the way she wanted.  I was trying to spare her feelings, really.  But it didn’t work.

Turn on the tears.  And the wailing.  And the gnashing of teeth.

Here it comes y’all.

I looked at her and said, “I am not the cause of your pain.  You are.  You allow yourself to have hope that there’s a chance I will change my mind.  But I don’t.  I don’t change.  My answer is always the same, and for reasons you don’t want to hear.  This pain comes from your failure to accept my answer.”

Oh goodness!  There’s God, right over my shoulder again saying, “Tell me about it!  It’s kind of like that thing you keep asking Me for even though you know almost as much as I do that it’s not the right thing for you.  My answer has never changed, only your ability to accept it.”

Okay.  Okay, I got it.  Well, I mean, I think I got it.

God has a plan.  He’s got a plan for me.  He’s got a good plan for me.

Can I please just trust Him?  Can I trust His timing?  Can I trust Him when He closes doors?  Can I trust that He hears me?  That He sees me?  That He loves me?

Can I trust that He loves me enough to keep me on the path that He has for me even when I get as distracted as a dog chasing a squirrel??

Man, I’m trying.

But if I forget again, at least He has two beautiful girls to use to help remind me.

Lord, please help me keep days of waiting from becoming days of doubt.  You are the God of split seas and crumbled walls, I know that You are ABLE!  Keep my eyes on YOU!


You’ve Got A Friend In Me … Sort Of

I’ve got a confession to make.  I’m not a very good friend.  I’d like to be, but I’m not.  You see, I’ve got this problem where I’m a whole-lotta selfish and self-righteous, which is really just a cover for being terribly self-conscience.

The truth of the matter is that I’m afraid of rejection.  I’m afraid of not being good enough, of not living up to some standard.  I’m afraid that someone’s going to figure out that I’m really no good.  So I keep myself at a distance from everyone.  (Except John.  He’s stuck with me.)

And that’s how I approached the Throne of God for years.  Imagine how a poor, mousy servant girl would approach the king for a request.  That was me.  Here was the Great I Am and I’m coming into His presence.  What do I have to offer?  What will my praise bring Him?  Why would He ever listen to my petition?  I felt like I somehow managed to slip in while no one was looking, and that I had better play my cards right or risk being kicked back out where I belong.  Rejected.

Lies.  Every one of them.  That’s what Satan wanted me to think, because if I believed that Jesus would never really want me, then I would never really seek a relationship with Him.  I would never seek to grow, and that’s the easiest way to backslide into a life of sin.

The same is true of earthly relationships.  If I believe that I’m not good enough, and that no one would choose a relationship with me, then I become distant and bitter.  I begin to make up lies to make myself feel better.  “Those people are snobs.  They don’t care about anyone but themselves.  Those people aren’t good enough for me to be around.”  And that’s when I become the unrepentant sinner that Satan wants me to be.

It was only after spending time in His word and surrounded by His truth, did it finally solidify in my heart that Jesus really loved me.  Wanted me.  Sought me.  Jesus said in Revelation 3:20,

I stand at the door and knock.

He knocked.  And while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me (Rm. 5:8).

The deal is, I’m not good enough.  I’m not perfect, but I am loved.  So, I’m trying to make a difference in my life.  I’m trying to let Jesus’ love soften this heart of mine.  I’m trying to restore relationships and build new ones.  I’m trying to open myself up, because God made us to be in relationships.  After all, we are made in His image, and He is a triune God, three in one.  God Himself is never alone, so why should I seek that way of life for myself?

I want to care about you.  I want to pray for you.  I want to be excited for what excites you.  I want to listen to you.  I want to do those things, but I’m not very good at them yet.  There’s a lot of selfish that I’m trying to get over, so please be patient.

And don’t be alarmed if you get a text, letter, or email from me out of the blue.  (I don’t know if I’m quite ready for actual phone calls.)  Nothing’s wrong.  I’m just working on being a better, less self-righteous, friend.


Every Kid Lies

In the final years of my teaching career, I made the decision to use the first day of school as a “Get to know Mrs. Dragoo.” Now, normally, the first day of school is usually spent getting to know each other, the rules, and the procedures.  But here’s how I saw it: if you have a good understanding of me, then my rules and procedures would be much more readily understood and followed.

So I began every year with a little Powerpoint presentation of the Top 12 Things You Need to Know about Mrs. Dragoo.  I had things like, “I’m a rule follower and perfectionist,” and “I like to joke around so try not to be offended,” but the one that always caused a commotion was, “I don’t trust you.”  Which I followed with, “Kids lie, steal and cheat.  Yes, you do.”

You might be surprised at how offended children will become when you tell them you don’t trust them.  This is when I would be bombarded with, “No, I don’t.  I’m a good kid.”  This would, of course, lead to a lengthy conversation in which I game this example:

If you know that I have a hard and fast rule to have a pencil for my class (which I do), but realize when you get here that you don’t have one, and you see my own supply on my desk, even knowing that my things are off limits (which they are), would you still go get one or risk the consequence?

And that’s when it hits them: they really are liars, thieves, and cheaters.  At this point, I would go on to explain that while those tendencies are “normal,” they wouldn’t be tolerated, and they wouldn’t stop me from loving each one of them.

Because I’m on a mission to show Jesus to these kids.  And just like those kids, Jesus knows that I’m a sinner, flawed and prone to self-preservation, but that doesn’t stop him from correcting me or, above all, loving me.

Once the children know that they won’t be fooling me with their practiced “innocent” routine, it leads to a much more honest relationship in which they are allowed to be real, and so am I.  Because we are sinners, but it’s important that we don’t enable each other to live in our sin.

And this is how I work to raise my own daughters, recognizing that they are sinners, but not enabling them to live in their sin.  This is especially difficult for the younger children to recognize.  When the time comes for correction, they most assuredly will take the route of immediate self-preservation, not considering the consequences.  As we grow older, we finally come to understand that it is easier to take the one correction than to compound it with lies upon lies.

For example, my girls have a daily requirement to study.  I’m very flexible about what that can be: math problems, spelling, handwriting, Bible study, or just about anything they can come up with.  Everyday I ask them what they chose to study.  Recently, I had the feeling that the little one hadn’t been completing her study time as faithfully as she should be, so when she told me that she had studied her Bible that day, I requested a more detailed version.  What exactly had she studied?

Jonah was her answer, but she couldn’t remember a single detail from the book of Jonah.  Red Flag.  I explained that I needed to take care of a chore and that when I returned, I expected to hear more about Jonah’s life.  When I came back to her a few moments later, she informed me that it had not been Jonah that she read about.  In fact, it had been Moses.  Very well, tell me about Moses.  She put on her most “Matter of Fact” face and began to tell me all about how Moses had built a great big boat and filled it with lots of animals.

Unfortunately for her, I’ve read my Bible.

I instructed her to stop her informational session, looked directly into her big, blue eyes, and said, “This is your last chance to tell the truth.  Did you study today?”  Finally, the truth came out, as if I didn’t already know.

It’s no secret what-so-ever that John and I do not tolerate lying.  The punishment will always be more severe if you lie to us.  We feel that having an honest relationship is critical if we are to raise up trustworthy adults.  We’re working on it, but we’re not there yet.  Obviously.

I let her know that she would be receiving a consequence, not for her failure to study, but for her insistence to lie about it.  Then I told her to meet me in my bedroom.

She was more than a little surprised to see me come in with her Bible in my hand.  I explained to her that since she had apparently not been paying attention to her Bible stories, that she was now required to go back into her Bible to study Jonah, Moses, and Noah, you know, the guy with the boat.  (Ge 6-9)  Plus she had to use her Concordance to look up the word “liar” and see what the Bible said about that.  She then had to write a report about everything she learned and where she found it.

And then she got her punishment.

I needed her to know that I care about her, and why it’s important to be honest with me.  I needed her to realize that I already know when she’s hiding something from me, and it only puts a distance in our relationship.  Just like when I try and keep my sin from Jesus.  It’s pointless.  He already knows.  I’m not hurting anyone but myself, because the correction is coming.  How much easier is it to acknowledge my sin and turn from it than to hide it and continue to turn to it?

It took her four days to get through the life of Moses, and everyday I got a report.  Not exactly the circumstances I desired for her to have when studying her Bible, but I dare say she won’t confuse Moses and Noah ever again.

I have really great kids.  They love Jesus, love us, love each other, and love others, but that doesn’t give me the false hope that they aren’t flawed and fallen sinners.  Because they are.  We all are.  My job as their parent is to recognize their sinful nature, love them in spite of it, and work to teach them a better, more honorable way.  They way of Jesus who says,

Neither do I condemn you.  Go now and leave your life of sin. (Jn. 8:11)