the way of trust

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My dear daughter

I see it in the way your eyes frenzy, the way your cheeks puffed red with play now fill with  frustration as you recount to me how the other children won’t do it the way you want them to.  I see myself in that frustration, that anger, that frantic grasping.  Oh my girl, how do I help you when I am just like you?  It’s about control, dear girl.  Maybe one of your greatest battles as you grow up and even into womanhood will be over the issue of control.

Ask any woman around, and if she’s honest she’ll agree.  You can trace that common thread among us all the way back to the Garden, all the way back to Eve.  The way she fell for it straight from the snake’s mouth, the lie that God was withholding something better for her.  The lure that she could procure a better reality for herself if she only reached out her hand and grasped for it, rather than reach up her hands and ask for it.  Wait for it.  Surrender it.

It’s going to be about trust for you and I, my sweet girl.

You’re the firstborn, and I don’t know much about being a firstborn because I was a middle.  But I do know it’s harder for the firsts.  Borne in you is a natural desire and gifting to manage, organize, corral, and lead.  These are beautiful gifts, important, and leadership will probably come naturally to you.  However, these strengths can be hamstrung by a desire for control and you might as well go ahead and get your eyes wide open to it.

I see it in women around me, I see it in myself.  We are so very afraid to trust the hand the Lord has dealt us as His good for us, His love to us.  We want so much to see our husbands do things this way or that way, instead of gently being led by them, entrusting ourselves to God in placing us in this union with this man who had all these faults we didn’t see when we married him (never mind all our own faults).

We want so much to pummel our bodies into the shape of this woman or that woman, failing to recognize or accept that God formed and fashioned us with a certain build and we each have a unique beauty to offer, even if it isn’t what mimics the magazine covers.

We want so much to have these kind of children, this sort of lifestyle and income and home, and we bend ourselves in a million crazy ways trying to achieve it, almost until we break.

We don’t want the good gifts God has given us, we look out and see a better life that we believe we can construct and reach out a hungry hand and grasp for it.  We don’t like limitations and boundaries and we certainly don’t like surrender.

So often the work of trust is the work of staying empty.  Being okay with a temporary emptiness, resisting the frantic urge to fill the void.  Instead of reaching out and grabbing that apple, reaching out that hand and leaving it empty, open, waiting, surrendered.  Waiting for God to fill it.  Enjoying Him instead of the thing we think we must have.  Trusting Him as we ask, finding our way to contentment if His answer is no.

The antidote to control is trust, my girl.  T R U S T.

When I say this to my own soul, I feel weary with another “do” I must perform, another thing to work at.  But the very essence of trust, I’m learning, is that it isn’t primarily a work that I must produce, a work of mustering up feelings of trust, but rather it is a work of remembering and resting.  Go back and review who God is, remind your soul who He is, what great things He has done.  Start in Psalm 103, if you need a place to start.

“Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s…”

(Psalm 103:1-5)

Go on a littler further and see His hands stretched wide on the cross, stretched wide so that He could remove your sins far from you, as far as the east is from the west

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  

(Psalm 103:11-12)

Ground your soul so deeply in who He is, marvel over His love and His work toward you and on your behalf.  Can you trust this God?  Is He not good?  Is He not full of love toward you?  Are not all His ways toward you grace and love?  

“The Lord is good to all,
And His tender mercies are over all His works.”

(Psalm 145:9)

You won’t understand how they are love and grace, especially when the rose He hands you comes prickled with thorns.  All you can know for sure are His precious promises, His inerrant and unfailing words, and you can find rest for your soul here.

This is where trust is born: remembering again who He is, how He loves, what He’s done for you, then resting in it.  Ceasing from striving, from straining, even the strain to understand all the “whys.”

This is no easy task, child.  It is a choosing, a literal exertion of will.  Choose to stop, to still, to smile, even, in the safety of your Father’s hands.  Let yourself be held.  That is the work of trust.  Doesn’t that sound so welcoming, so irresistible?

“Against insurmountable obstacles and without a clue as to the outcome, the trusting heart says, ‘Abba, I surrender my will and my life to you without any reservation and with boundless confidence, for you are my loving Father.'”
-Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust

Gloriously, the outcomes, the trajectory, the end results are not really in our hands.  (Walk into any cancer ward and talk with anyone receiving a diagnosis of any kind and you can’t escape that truth.)  We can either fight against this reality or we can accept it, and the difference will show in how much joy we have in our time here.  You and I, sweet girl, we can run our race ragged and angry and out of breath with fear, or we can run abiding in His love, resting, trusting.  He means for us to have joy, joy to the full.  He’s a good, good Father.

“He who heeds the word wisely will find good,
And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.”
Proverbs 16:20

“The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined clearly delineated plan for the future.  The next step discloses install only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment.  The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future.  Why?  Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise.”
Manning, Ruthless Trust

“The Lord upholds all who fall,
And raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look expectantly to You,
And You give them their food in due season.
You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in all His ways,
Gracious in all His works.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.”

(Psalm 145:14-19)

Where to go with your Question

“You see, every little girl–and every little boy–is asking one fundamental question.  But they are different questions, depending on whether you are a little boy or a little girl…Little girls want to know, Am I lovely?  The twirling skirts, the dress up, the longing to be pretty and to be seen–that is what that’s all about.  We are seeking an answer to our Question.”
(Stasi Eldredge, Captivating)

You are beautiful, my girl.  Beautiful.  You take my breath away.

I watch you dance in the sun, twirling in the twirliest dress you can find, usually with a few tutus layered underneath to make it more poofy.  I delight in you, my girl.  I delight in the fact that right now, you are unashamed in your asking of the question: am I beautiful?  Do you delight in me?

And, oh, yes I do.  You are stunningly beautiful in my eyes, but you are a world of other things too. You are the kindest and most sweet-hearted girl I have ever met.  You literally bubble over with love, always so happy to see others, taking time to talk with each person you see.  You love people, love to play with others, love to make others feel welcome.  You can’t stand to see someone cry without running to hug and comfort them.  You are incredibly creative and imaginative.  You are so strong physically, especially for being so much smaller than other girls your age.  You love to read more than any other person I know, and I treasure each time you ask me to sit and read with you.  (I hope this never changes!)  You forgive easily.  You tell the truth.  You love to help.

All these things are surely part of the reason I look at you and see such beauty, because we are not just our physical bodies, and we are not just our souls.  For some reason, in His wisdom God saw fit to enclose our beautiful souls in a physical form.  We don’t get to choose so many things about ourselves, physically, spiritually, emotionally.  We only get to choose whether we will accept who God has made us to be, or deny it and suppress it and fight it.

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My dear sweet girl, today I wanted to tell you a little story.  A story from my growing up years, the painful, hard and awkward years transitioning from being a little girl to a woman.  I think I was in middle school at the time, 8th or 9th grade.  My older sister was everything to me.  Four years older than me, she was so cool, beautiful, creative, everything I wanted to be.  I always compared myself to her.  What was more difficult was when others compared me to her.  She was more outgoing, funny, likeable.  I was quieter, shy, never knew what to say when put on the spot.  I hated the spotlight (still do).  Often I craved the attention she recieved, or the love really, because that’s how I translated it.  She was so beautiful and I felt so plain.  Ordinary.

I was in 8th or 9th grade.  My older sister had heard some big modeling agency was holding a model search in our town, and she wanted to go try out.  I don’t remember all the details, but I remember that my mom was going to take her, and I went to tag along.  I don’t remember if I wanted to go or if mom just suggested I come along.  I wasn’t planning on trying out, of course.  You see, I already believed deep down that I was plain.  In my eyes, my sister was beautiful, but next to her I was just plain, ordinary, common.  There wasn’t even a thought in my heart to ever try out for a modeling career.  But then we were there, and my mom was like, “why don’t you go, too?”  Who knows what her reasoning was, but I know she was only doing what she could to be the best mom she knew to be.  Hope dies slowly in the human heart, and for some reason, even after we’ve convinced ourselves we don’t care about that thing anymore, something comes along that wakes our desire up again…

(The rest of this post is over on my new friend Lauren‘s blog today!  Hop over there to read the rest of it.)

 

And She’s Four!!

My darling little girl
Look at you here, four weeks old:

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We had no idea the joy in store for us when we would hold you for the first time, when God would deliver you to us.  How wise He was, how kind He was, to give us you, sweet girl.  What a bright light you’ve been in our lives.  So full of joy, so hilarious and so dang smart and so strong-willed!  We pray that God gets a hold of your strong will and uses it mightily for His glory, as you have such strength to offer already, in your tiny little precious heart.  You tell me all the time that you love God and that He lives in your heart.  I hope you know how precious that is to your mommy, who wants so much for you to receive the very best in this life, and the very best you can receive is JESUS.  He will make all the good things come true and all the bad things come untrue, as we read so frequently in your little story bible.

This year with you has been a blast.  You’ve been the biggest joy and help to momma during my pregnancy with your little sister, and what a happy big sister you are!  It makes me so happy to see the way you adore your little siblings and take such care with them.  You’ve fallen in love with all things girly and fancy, and I don’t know a single other little girl who is fancier than you right now, other than fancy Nancy herself!  You change outfits approximately 17 times a day, which can sure make me crazy sometimes, but when I stop and just take it in I have to laugh at your creativity and zest.  I’m so glad that you see being a woman, womanhood, and being a momma as something precious and to be treasured and enjoyed, and I hope that doesn’t change!  I love your imagination and your excitement over the smallest and simplest things in life.  I love our snuggles in the morning when you run down the hall to find me on the couch with coffee.  I love dancing with you and twirling you.  I love your love for books (may it never end!) and that we can share in the fun of losing ourselves in a big stack of library books.

You are so special to me.  Even when you are crazy and naughty, which is inevitable given the two parents you came from, I adore you.  I’ll never stop loving you, no matter what, with an always and forever, never stoping, never giving up, unbreakable love.  That’s what it’s like to be a momma.

Happy 4th birthday my little mupsel.
Love,
Mommy

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to make you feel my love

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dear phoebe

last night we cut into the cake and discovered that this baby growing in mommy’s tummy is a girl!  you screamed and bounced in your chair, so excited.  from the very beginning you said you wanted a sister.  then lately you’ve been wanting another brother.  and late last night, after all the excitement had settled and we were tucking your sleepy head into your bed, your little precious face clouded over, your big solemn eyes became troubled.

“Mommy, can I get back in your tummy,” you asked.

“Will the ‘new girl’ sit in the front seat?” (your special favorite treat lately is when mommy lets you sit next to me in the car when we drive our back road home.)

and oh, my heart squeezed for you.  do you know how special you are to me?  no one and nothing ever can replace you, my girl.  your quirky, silly, wild, hilarious, exuberant, scrawny, gorgeous little self is entirely unique.  you’ll always be my very favorite firstborn ever.

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having a sister can be hard sometimes but there is no other relationship like it on this earth!  I think you’re going to love it.

love,
mommy