What a Trip to the Grocery Store and a Child’s Love for Balloons Taught Me…

It is a regular occurrence: the trip to the grocery store. Most often, the trip is made with my two little ones, and I have to admit that I really do enjoy having them with me (Although, I will never argue a trip by myself for some quiet time as well!). Provided we don’t go during a time when naps are approaching or when we are all a bit overtired, the grocery shopping typically is smooth. ūüôā

Recently, I have found myself chuckling a bit as my oldest son has started to associate different stores with the specific items we will usually see or purchase at each. He will shout out the name of the store and then immediately after, he will list the associated item. (I have also begun to learn what a creature of habit I truly am! Children teach us a lot, don’t they?) At one particular grocery store (we have one main store in which we shop and then two others where we get the extra odds and ends), he knows that one of the special treats we sometimes take home is a balloon. Oh, how his face lights up when that balloon string is placed gently in his hand with the instruction from the clerk: “Now, hold on tightly. Don’t let it go.”

What the clerk does not realize is that my child’s mind is thinking just the opposite: “I love this balloon because I get to watch it float to the sky when I get home.”

Yes, it is true. ūüôā My son has learned (after losing one of his balloons to the sky accidentally a couple months ago) that he actually loves to watch the helium filled object drift away into an unknown place in the sky. So, now every time we get one of these balloons, it is gone as soon as we get home, and my son is one happy boy.

I have found this quite comical but also very indicative of my boy’s methodical mindset. He is always trying to figure out how things work and why things do what they do. I love it. ūüôā What I didn’t realize is that the regular occurrence of releasing the balloon would teach me something about faith this last week.

We arrived home and, as usual, he couldn’t wait to get out of the car and have me help him let the balloon go into the sky. We quickly positioned ourselves on the garage platform where he asked me, “Mama help?”

Up until now, I would have had him slip it into my hand, and at that point I would have released it for him. Yet, something in my heart told me that on this particular day, I needed to encourage him to try himself to let it go. The next moment, I will remember vividly. Rather than releasing it right away, it was as if his hands couldn’t let it go. So, I proceeded to encourage him and then showed him with my hands how to “release” the balloon. Yet, his precious hand couldn’t release it’s grip. I continued to cheer him on and started to help him by slowly and gently prying his two-year old fingers from their tight grip around the string. Our first attempt just led him to switch hands and continue to hold on all the tighter. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to let go; rather, it was if he wasn’t sure he could do it. (Believe me, he still was insistent that this balloon float to the sky. ūüôā ) Finally, I showed him one more time how to open his fingers, and then I slowly helped his hands make the same motion. At last the balloon began its ascent. The picture next was beautiful: My sweet boy stood there, his face showing sheer delight as he waved and said, “Bye-bye. Bye-bye balloon.” He was so proud.

This moment with my son taught me something about faith that day. Isn’t this just like life? We all have those “balloons” in which we grip onto so tightly. Those balloons can be anything–maybe it’s a fear, or a root of unforgiveness we are holding onto from being wounded so badly by someone close to us. We all have them. We all have a balloon that, when encouraged to let it go, we just can’t do it. Even though we know the release will be freeing, we struggle. We want someone else to do it for us because we are afraid. Yet, what I am learning more and more (and yes, I still struggle with those balloons in my life), is that it is worth it to step out in faith. Even though the release is hard, the rewards of having faith far outweigh the pain of letting go.

This last week taught me a lot. I learned that I want to release those things that I grip onto in my life more easily. I want God to catch those balloons the minute I release them. He is waiting. He is waiting for all of us to let those things go and then to feel the sweetness of waving as we say, “Bye-bye balloon.”

Unafraid and Unashamed- Devotional Reflections #1~ Written August 15, 2012

Beautiful...

When my first son was born, I soon realized how the hours in the day seemed to slip out of my fingers more quickly than before I had a little one. ūüôā Along with the many things that I was unable to accomplish during the day, I also realized how hard it was for me to sit for an extended period of time and do my Bible study. And so the “mommy guilt” set in…Was I failing God because there were days in a row where I didn’t open my Bible? Was I a “bad Christian”? Yet, God gently and graciously spoke to my heart: “My Child, I know you are tired, exhausted, and feel badly for not being able to spend uninterrupted time with me each day. I understand! I love you with an everlasting love, and I will meet you where you are at today.” And so He did…While I wasn’t able to open my Bible each day, He gave me priceless moments with my child in which He which He whispered His truth into my heart. I felt prompted to write them down for the purpose of hopefully being able to also encourage other moms as well. I pray they uplift your heart and that they remind you of how much you, precious mama, are loved. This post begins the first of a mini-series called, Devotional Reflections. May you be blessed and feel embraced. :)\
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Small hands with tender fingers stroking her face. Piercing blue eyes staring into those of the one¬†who loves him. Arms outstretched and unashamed. It as if he says, “I am your beloved one.”¬† Oh, how beautiful and free.

It was a morning like any other, and maybe some would still consider it a normal day when all said and done, but for me, it was one that is forever etched in my heart and mind. Little did I know that one interaction would give me a new perspective on what it means to walk freely, forgiven.

Just as a stroked the last of the mascara on my eyelashes, the sounds of my sweet son could be heard from upstairs. As I made my way to him, my heart was again reminded of the tremendous gift that God had given to me by sending him into our lives.  He truly was a miracle. Having found true healing from a past eating disorder that had plagued my mind, body, and soul, I had spent years desperately praying that I would be able to conceive. Pregnancy test after test, I became discouraged by the negative results again and again. Would I ever hold a child that had grown in my womb? Would I ever have the privilege of wiping little tears from rosebud cheeks? Would I ever feel the tender hands in mine as I listened to my little one utter simple, child-like prayers before bed? Yet God knew the deepest desire of my heart; He had not forgotten the cries that poured from my soul. And, in His perfect timing, he sent us our first son, His beautifully created child.

Now my little boy lay awake with anticipation in his eyes. The soft creaking of the floor was a familiar sound for him as I approached, ready to swoop him into my arms. Reaching his bedside, I stopped, and in that moment, our eyes locked. It seemed as if our hearts beat to the same rhythm. And then, in the next instant, my precious boy did something that I will¬†never forget.¬†Without reserve,¬†shame, or fear, he reached with both¬†of his hands and tenderly¬†placed his¬†hands¬†on¬†my¬†cheeks, all the while, never losing eye contact with¬†me.¬†We were one. No one¬†and¬†nothing else mattered in that moment but our relationship. Our souls¬†danced¬†to the same song, never losing step with¬†each other. In words spoken loudly from his heart,¬†he said to me,¬†¬†“Mama,¬†I am yours. Hold me, and let me rest my head upon your chest as I trust your love for me.”

As I picked him up, I found myself reflecting upon that brief but powerful interaction with my precious child.¬†His heart knew that he could reach for me and that I would respond with unconditional love. He¬†did not have to do anything to prove his¬†worth or his¬†value; rather, he trusted my sweet embrace.¬†The Lord spoke to my heart saying, “Beloved child, I love you. You are mine. Come to me without reserve, without shame, without fear and let me feel your tender hands upon my cheeks. Let me wipe your tears. Let me hold you as you rest upon my chest. I am your loving Savior who will not reject you in¬†your messes, your hurts, your failures, or your pain. Rather, I stand here with open arms ready to swoop you up and carry you through it all. I am full of grace. I am the Lover of your soul, the One who has paid for every one of your sins¬†through¬†my shed blood on the cross.¬†You are forgiven,¬†child.¬†¬†Oh, how beautiful and free.

“Lord, thank you¬†for what you are teaching me through my children.¬† You¬†indeed,¬†are the lover of my soul. You are the one that has forgiven me. Help me to come to you as a child today, unashamed.¬†I want to trust your grace.”

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

Just a Moment~ Devotional Reflections #2~Written on Sept. 24, 2013

As a mother, I often find myself reflecting upon those moments with my child that seem to freeze time. Recently I had a moment with my son where nothing else captured my attention more than his tender heart and actions that communicated so much without any word spoken.

The night was like any other. I tucked my son in for the evening and joined my husband on the porch to gather some long-awaited conversation from the day. As husband and wife, as well as young¬† parents, we know how easy it is to let those moments of togetherness slip away beneath the craziness of dirty diapers, countless errands, work, and just sheer exhaustion. After sharing our thoughts on all that the day had held, we went into the house only to find that the baby monitor from our son’s room was lit up–he was crying. We realized that his leg had somehow woven its leg between the crib bars and was clearly stuck. Dad quickly made his way to the bedroom and¬† fixed the problem, as dads thankfully will often do. He then beautifully reassured our boy with gentle embraces and whispers that promised security and safety as he rested. He was placed back in the crib and turned out the light once more. As he made his way downstairs, all seemed to be okay. My husband’s protective hugs and gentle words had soothed our babe. Yet, moments later, the cries began again. This was not typical of him, as he normally would go right back to sleep, and my heart knew that I had to listen to my mother’s gut: for some reason, there was still doubt in his mind that he was safe to rest his sweet head,¬† and he needed just one more reminder that all was well.

When I entered his room, he sat there with tears streaming down his baby soft cheeks. I scooped him into my arms and brought him to the rocking chair where he immediately buried his face into my shoulder and snuggled tightly on my chest. I rocked in a steady back and forth rhythm and spoke to him that he was held and that he was safe. It was the next moment that is still vividly etched in my mind. Suddenly, between the rocking motion, he propped himself up off of my chest and looked directly into my eyes. He then brought his lips toward me and gently kissed mine as if to say, “Thank you, Mom, for your snuggles that told me I was secure. I can now rest my head and let the night bring me sweet dreams.”

I will not forget this moment. It was just a moment, but it taught me so much about how the Savior does the same for me. When I find myself crying in the night, I know that He will gently rock me and whisper, “All is well.” He will never reject me in my fear, nor will He withhold his love from me when I feel so alone and weak. He is always there, ready to scoop me up in His arms and to hold me tight when the night is just too dark to close my eyes. When I need just one more reminder, He is there and will never leave my side.