Streets of Gold

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“And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” – Revelation 21:21

I feel rundown and tired. My to-do list is massive and growing. And I desperately need a nap. So I thought it would be a really good time for a post.rev21-street-paved-with-gold

Yesterday morning Peanut and I were driving down the street our house sits on and I was struck by how beautiful the trees were. Usually on other streets I’ve seen many colors—reds, oranges, golds—but the trees lining our street were almost all gold. It was remarkable. Breathtaking. Probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen on our very ordinary street. I instantly thought of the streets of gold that I will one day see when I have gone to my true home. What will a street of gold like transparent glass even look like? I can’t get my head wrapped around how much more beautiful and awesome a perfected and very real street of gold will be. But I’m thankful for that drive and that little taste I had that made me hunger for the real deal.

It has been a while since I have felt this tired. We have had an extraordinarily busy couple of weeks and at 34 weeks pregnant with our second child, I find myself feeling less capable to keep up with my growing expectations for myself. We seem to have entered a new stage of parenthood that carries with much joy but sorrow and difficulty too. Peanut is more willful than ever before but also more teachable and understanding of more than ever before. I have experienced more days recently which have ended with my reflections of “I don’t know if that worked” or “I don’t know if Peanut is getting it.” Yesterday, my star sleeper was so distraught about me putting her down for a nap that she fell asleep sitting up in her anguish, with her face against the crib.

It’s amazing how many moments like this parents can experience—they make you laugh so much when you’re removed from them, but in the moment they are definitely not-so-funny reminders of our inability to control our children or have them meet the hundreds of expectations for them that we are so desperately harboring in our hearts. I never would have thought that I had so many expectations for Peanut until I heard a fantastic talk at church on waiting, based on Psalm 143. Once the talk is available online, I will add the link to this post, but here are some of the bullet points, followed by how Psalm 143 helps parents like me:

1. Motherhood is the work of waiting. We have a vision for our little ones and we are not there yet.

2. The concept of waiting is really synonymous with faith.

3. Sometimes as mothers, we can see so little that we feel discouraged.

4. Parenthood exposes us to the possibility of deep suffering. Children break our hearts. To love is to be vulnerable, and it is NEVER a safe investment.

My addition to #4—to love was certainly not a safe investment for God. It cost him Jesus. But He deemed the permanent and everlasting covenant to be worth the temporary pain. The two encouraged application based on Psalm 143:8 were to ask God to: 1) let us hear in the morning of his steadfast love; and 2) lead us on in the way that we should go. When I heard the first, I was struck by how loud the world is and how easily it can shape our view of parenthood, other parents, and our children. The world will tell me about nutrition and the woes of toddlerhood and the ways to care for my child’s body. And those are mostly helpful things to know. But God tells me how he sees my child. His. A gift. A little person who needs Him and needs me to point to Him. I’ve never heard God speak to me audibly nor do I expect him to, but He has given me all I need to know in His word and through showing up one million times a day. How could I ever suggest that He does not speak to me of his steadfast love when I see how patient I am with Peanut on hard days? Where does that come from? I have always been one of the most impatient people I know. It comes from my Father who reminds me of His great love for me.

Now onto the second application which is so intimately tied to the first: 2) lead us on the way we should go. I have found few references to God whispering to His children when he speaks, but that is the picture that comes to mind based on how He has spoken to me. What are characteristics of a whisper? We need to be quiet and pay attention to hear what is said. It is personalized—the recipient of the whisper is intended to be the only recipient of that particular whisper. If we focus hard enough to listen, we are able to subsequently act on the whisper based on what we are told or encouraged to do. How does this apply to motherhood and the second application from Psalm 143:8? I am reminded that I need to tune out the world and be rooted in my Father’s promises for me and the help He promises to provide me with Peanut. I am the intended recipient of the counsel He provides. More recently, I’ve been trying to give my counsel and encouragement to Peanut more quietly, in whispers, whether we are alone or around other people. She most certainly doesn’t need to hear my naturally loud voice to act on my words, and neither does anyone else no matter how desperately I desire those around me to hear what I say so that I can get a great mom award or a pat on the back. As Jesus’ sheep hear his voice in the midst of a clamor of other noises, I am hopeful that my whispered encouragements and admonishments can teach Peanut to listen for her Father’s voice as she hears our voices. To remember those sweet, private moments with her Father when she hears Him and follows as He leads, as I cherish the sweet private moments of my whispered counsel and see her listen and obey despite the surrounding noise.

Motherhood is certainly the work of waiting. But it is the best kind of waiting I have ever done and it is far from hopeless because the gospel is real and true. It is true when Peanut obeys. It is true when Peanut does not obey. It is true when Peanut hears my whispers and acts upon them. It is true when Peanut doesn’t hear my whispers or hears them and does not act upon them. But it is all incredibly worth it when the day comes when I walk upon the real streets of gold, hopefully hand in hand with my Peanut.

Matthew

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“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

photo-21Beware: this is not my typical post! I didn’t listen to any sermons or read any Bible commentaries for this one, so this is more of a reflection on how wonderful Matthew 28:20 is and how much it has meant to our family. I am sometimes astonished by the small ways in which Jesus reveals himself to us—ways that do not reflect an answer to prayer or something we have sought out. Yet, it happens, we bear witness to it, and we cannot help but be amazed. Enter Matthew. Not the tax collector disciple of Jesus but the furry monkey companion of our one and only Peanut. We received this particular monkey as a gift last Christmas, and out of all of her stuffed animals, Peanut singled him out as her favorite animal to have by her side during the day when we are at home and to hold tightly at night when she sleeps. I named him Matthew because we have generally named her stuffed animals after different people in the Bible as a way to introduce them and their roles in God’s full story. My vision for her nighttime companion was that the object or animal that she would hold onto or find comfort in would be a reflection of Jesus to Peanut—someone who is with us always, even when we sleep. I was not thinking about Matthew 28:20 when I named him and I definitely was not aware that Peanut would pick him out. Enter very cool small way that Jesus revealed himself to our family.

I remember when I first started putting Peanut down for naps in the church nursery and one of the nursery workers suggested keeping a stuffed animal or security blanket with her to provide her with a sense of comfort and familiarity in a new place. It seemed to be helpful for Peanut. I kept thinking about this concept more and more and realized what I really wanted for Peanut. What I really want to provide to Peanut through Matthew is not security in an object, but security in the One represented by the object. Matthew has no life, but he means something to Peanut. Right now, he conveys a sense of permanence in a very impermanent and constantly changing world. He is there when she sleeps, even when Mommy and Daddy are apart from her. He is there when she is awake, even when Mommy and Daddy are apart from her. He is the one she holds onto when she falls asleep, and he is the one she first sees when she wakes up.

I’m not sure what Peanut understands about our perspective on Matthew. But every night I pray that Peanut would see Jesus through Matthew—that she would believe his promise that he is always with us. That Matthew would be more than a monkey that goes “ee ee” as he is happily embraced in Peanut’s arms. I want Peanut to remember that she is not alone when she is awake, when she sleeps, when she is apart from others, when she is sad, when she is in pain. When I think of Matthew, I think of one of Peanut’s favorite songs to hear and hum along to when we rock before bedtime:  It goes a little something like this:

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise

Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus.

When I am alone,
When I am alone,
When I am alone,
Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus.

When I come to die,
When I come to die,
When I come to die,
Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus.

I love how this song so aptly captures what I hope Peanut can someday understand, with that understanding starting in her Matthew days: that Jesus is all that she needs and all that she desires when she is awake, when she sleeps, when she is alone and when she approaches the day she dies. And God certainly can use something as small and lifeless as Matthew to convey—Jesus is all we ever need, and thankfully, he is with us. Forever.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

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DownloadedFileIf you haven’t actually read this book, you are probably at least familiar with the story. It is one of Peanut’s favorite books. For those of you who are not as familiar with the book, the general story progresses like this: a caterpillar hatches out of a tiny egg in the light of the sun. He is born hungry, so he looks for some food. During his first week of life, he eats holes through several healthy fruits in increasing quantities as the week progresses. On the last day of the week, he gorges himself out on some not-so-healthy foods including chocolate cake, cherry pie, and an ice cream cone. His poor eating choices on that one day causes him to have a horrible stomachache. Thankfully, the next day he finds a nice, green leaf to eat through and as a result, he feels much better. Then, the reader is told that the caterpillar has become a big, fat caterpillars so he forms a cocoon, hangs out in there for two weeks, and voila, he comes out a beautiful butterfly.

I wrote that entire summary without picking up the book. It’s been read a lot in our house. But it wasn’t until recently that I started analyzing the book with a spiritual lens. I suspect that none of the meanings I have derived from the book were intended, but just as with any book or movie, or really, any aspect of our daily lives, there is something we can glean from God. Here is what God has reminded me of through this story:

1) Only living water will satisfy us. Forever.

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John‬ ‭4‬:‭13-14

Here we have a caterpillar who is born and he starts to look for food. However, nothing seems to satisfy him. He is still hungry after days of eating, and then he makes the unfortunate mistake of filling himself with things that he thought would satisfy him—things that appeared and sounded so delightful. But in the end, all they did was give him a stomachache. Thankfully, on the day after the caterpillar’s unfortunate food consumption, the caterpillar eats one nice, green leaf, which causes him to feel much better.

It wasn’t the quantity of the food he consumed that was significant—it was the kind of food at issue that made the difference. His gorge fest caused him pain and anguish, but his consumption of one food the next day both satisfied him and caused him to feel better. To me, this contrast represents the world and it’s temporary minor pleasures and Jesus and his forever, all-satisfying pleasures. Do we forego the temporary for the permanent or the permanent for the temporary? The answer is easy—we want the eater that causes us never to be thirsty again. The water that carries us through this life to life forever (John 4:13-14).

Although the answer may be easy, it is certainly far more difficult to apply. Every day we have options presented to us. How do we know that these forces are even at play? Jesus answers this question in John 14:26: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” How do we know whether we are pursuing the world or Jesus? How do we even identify that there are such choices before us? The Holy Spirit, our helper who Jesus promises will teach us all things. And we know we can count on this help because Jesus says we can.

2) God promises to finish the work that He started.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians‬ ‭1‬:‭6

So we know about the caterpillar’s gorge fest. How does the book end? The caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly anyway. Why? Because that’s what he was designed to become from the very beginning. It wasn’t his consumption that determined his fate. It was his design. He was created to become a butterfly. So that is what he became. His not-so-great eating decisions did not and could not change that.

We were created in God’s image. Because sin entered the world, our image-bearing capabilities became seriously marred. But thanks to God alone, through Jesus, a good work was started in us not through any worthy works, but through a free gift. Regardless of whether we strive to live like Christ or not, if he started a work in us, he will complete it. We will become His beautiful work in the end, and that is what we will be when we die. Forever. Nothing we do or don’t do will change the end for which we were designed.

3) God’s promise should be transformative rather than condoning.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” – Romans‬ ‭6‬:‭1-4‬

The natural question that follows the conclusion that nothing we do can change God’s design for us is—well, why does it matter how we walk? How we live? Paul answers this question in Romans 6:1-4.  Our knowledge of our beautiful butterfly end should transform us to live consistent with that end in sight. Just as we were designed to become beautiful butterflies, we were designed to reflect that end and Jesus, the source of that end, now. If I could add to the story, I would add a couple of pages on how the caterpillar has the option of again eating more ice cream cones, pies and lollipops after he consumes the nice, green leaf. What will he choose? Well, this caterpillar in my fake story has been redeemed. So he is going to pick the nice, green leaf, because he has tasted and enjoyed the goodness it has provided him. Why would he go back to the things that never satisfied? So, too, we should not take advantage of grace but joyfully walk in it and never turn back to that which never satisfied.

One of my favorite books of all time—Edge of Eternity by Randy Alcorn—carries one of my favorite dedications of all time. I tweaked it a bit so it relates to our lives rather than the book specifically:

I extend my deepest appreciation to the King, my best friend and constant companion. Your grace is truly unfathomable. May my life bring You pleasure. If it does not, it’s worth nothing, but if it does, then that makes every minute invested in it—the fun ones and the not-so-fun—worthwhile. Thanks for going on ahead to prepare a home for me–and for faithfully working to get me prepared for it.

God is preparing our true home and preparing us to become what He designed to be able to enjoy our home. Our lives should count for Him because His grace truly is unfathomable!

God has certainly wowed me with more opportunities to share different things about the gospel with Peanut than I expected by the time she turned 18 months, and how sweet they have been! As Peanut’s mom, I suspect that I will be a witness to some gorge fests as the years go by. But I hope to be around long enough to see Peanut become that beautiful butterfly.

Identity

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“I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

crossOne of the interesting things about Peanut’s quickly growing vocabulary is that we get more glimpses each day of how she is processing the world around her.  A recent favorite activity is to point to photos around the house and pictures in books and identify the particular person or object.  Despite my correction, there are two people Peanut insists are “Mama”—Lisa, a cute African-American girl in one of her favorite books, “Corduroy,” and Tutankhamen, the old Egyptian pharaoh, whose illustrated photo appears in a lift-the-flap “Questions and Answers” book.  I love these exchanges when I turn to Cadence and explain, “No honey, that’s not Mama, but that looks Mama, doesn’t it?  That’s Lisa (or Tutankhamen).”  She looks at me, smiles, then looks back to her books and points to the pictures and again says “Mama.”  “Dada” has not been so fortunate.  He has been commonly associated with a picture of a cow in one of Peanut’s books.  I wish Peanut could explain that one to me.

For some reason, these repeated exchanges have made me think a lot about identity—not even mine as much as Peanut’s.  I’ve wondered how she will see herself.  She is half Caucasian and half Indian, and in our surrounding communities, bi- and multi-racial babies are becoming more and more common.  And then as I get this far in my thinking, I stop myself.  Wait.  Why in a question of identity, is race one of the first things that comes to my mind?  Where is that coming from?  The world defines us and answers the question of “What is your identity” based on a host of external characteristics—the sorts of things about which people engage in small talk.  Where are you from? What’s your background?  What do you do?  Where do you live?  Did you grow up around here?  Where did you go to school?  How many kids do you have?

Jesus and the Word turn this question around of “What is your identity” and base it on an internal reality that has nothing to do with me or you.  Galatians 2:20 is not a subtle suggestion but the boldest possible characterization of the identity of a Christian: “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  This means that Christ IS my identity.  Apart from Christ, I am dead.  Because of Christ, I am alive.  Galatians 2:20 takes the question of “What is your identity” and in reality, completely alters the question to “WHO is your identity.”  When I look in the mirror, what I am supposed to treasure and value is the person who lives inside of me.  This is not to suggest that my background, the things that I do, the places that I have lived and currently live are of no significance.  Those are all a part of me and God’s story for my life.  But my identity?  How I characterize myself?  How I should view myself in the morning, at night and during every waking moment?  That should always be based on Christ, because it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

I was particularly helped by an old John Piper sermon on Galatians 2:15-21, entitled, “I Do Not Nullify the Grace of God,” with this particular excerpt on verse 20:

What then remains? Verse 20 puts it two ways. First, “Christ lives in me.” Christ remains. He rose from the dead, and he took over where the life of pride and self-direction had died. The great and awesome mystery of the gospel is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). . . . A Christian is a person who has died with Christ, whose stiff neck has been broken, whose brazen forehead has been shattered, whose stony heart has been crushed, whose pride has been slain, and whose life is now mastered by Jesus Christ. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me!”

But verse 20 puts it another way, too: “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” There is a new “I”—I do still live. But look who it is. It is no longer an “I” who craves self-reliance or self-confidence or self-direction or self-exaltation. The new “I” looks away from itself and trusts in the Son of God, whose love and power was proved at Calvary. From the moment you wake in the morning till the moment you fall asleep at night, the new “I” of faith despairs of itself and looks to Christ for protection and the motivation, courage, direction, and enablement to walk in joy and peace and righteousness. What a great way to live!

What a great way to live indeed.  There are so many questions that we seek to resolve about ourselves.  And if you’re like me, you so easily and quickly run to several sources except for the One that matters most.  It is such a joy to know that these questions truly can be resolved by one simple answer.  And in the end, that is all that really matters.

When I was younger, I remember seeing a video of Martin Luther King, Jr. on TV and I asked my mom, “Are we the same as him?”  I can’t really remember my mom’s answer on that one apart from a correction and clarification.  I wonder if a day will come when Peanut will look in the mirror and ask, “Mommy, what am I?”  Because of Galatians 2:20, I know I will answer, “You are God’s,” and I am hopeful that I can also remind her that Jesus has made his home inside of her and that’s who matters.

Blessed Through Preeclampsia

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019Geyen,Cadence-1Wow!  The beginning of summer has definitely caught me off guard…and definitely caught me post-less for sometime now.  Interestingly enough, this post is not going to be of the usual sort, but a plug to check out my wonderful friend’s blog and the story of our Peanut’s birth which happens to be on it!

My friend Nell runs a fantastic blog at Whole Parenting Family and she also happens to be the one that helped me get this blog started.  She publishes a Birth & Parenting Series as part of her blog and was gracious enough to share our story of our little Peanut’s surprising and yet God-driven-every-step-of-the-way arrival.  Writing Peanut’s story allowed me to experience such a flood of thankfulness for God’s sustenance and faithfulness through it all.

So, for this week, rather than spend time at Mom of My Word, check out “Blessed Through Preeclampsia.”  We are excited to share our story with you.

The Next High

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the next high“This is the day that The Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching Peanut flip the pages in her books, walk around with toys in her hands, and babble—either to her toys or about her toys. I took the moment in as it may have appeared on the outside. There was nothing out of the ordinary about this encounter with Peanut. She had done and continues to do a lot of these things on a daily basis. I felt content as I watched her, but I most certainly was not rejoicing in these ordinary moments of the day. I know that it was my heart and not the mundane nature of it all that caused me not to rejoice during that time because there are countless ordinary moments during which Peanut just completely takes my breath away. I am overcome with love for her and I can’t help but giggle away myself as we go through our daily routine at home. On these days, I am appreciating this huge blessing in my life. I am rejoicing over what my Father has given me, recognizing that such an ordinary day is no ordinary day in his eyes—and it shouldn’t be in mine.

I can so easily be driven by what I would call “the next high.” Some days, I find myself anticipating the next event or milestone. When my husband and I were engaged, the next milestone was getting married. After we got married, the next milestone was . . . no, not a baby. A dog. After we got a dog, the next milestone was being pregnant. After I was pregnant, the next milestone was the day Peanut was born. Every subsequent milestone ensued in the months that followed—when Peanut first smiled, first laughed, first sat up, ate solids for the first time, crawled, stood up, said her first words, walked, and reached her first birthday. On the days when I was driven by these events as highs, on the surface it may have appeared that I was savoring each and thankful for each day. But I knew there were days when I simply had my heart set on the groundbreaking excitement to come. I don’t know much about addiction, but it seems that with each subsequent high, more is required to achieve the same effect.

There seem to be a couple of different interpretations of this verse, at least according to Matthew Henry’s commentary on it. On one hand, it could be in reference to the Sabbath day—a holy day in which we rejoice in serving the Lord, a day set apart from other days. But a broader interpretation suggests that it could be a reference to each day because the Lord has made each day, “a continual feast, which ought to be kept with joy.” I remember a friend of ours recounting a sermon he had heard in which each breath was described as grace. That made me realize how ignorant I am of God’s daily grace in my life, in my husband’s life, and in Peanut’s life.

On that same day, that very same ordinary day, God showed me how wonderfully spectacular he causes ordinary moments to be when our eyes are opened. Peanut generally lets out a few chuckles and laughs during mealtime, but during dinner on that particular day, Peanut had a laugh attack—with food in her mouth—that went on for five minutes. The best part besides the hearty laugh of my sixteen-and-a-half pounder was her very clear and expressed intention to also make us breathless with laughter. We still replay this video often at night when Peanut is sleeping and we miss the warmth of her daytime presence. There is never an ordinary day with our little Peanut.

I do not want to covet these moments but I want to be thankful for them, rejoice over them. I want to rejoice over the moments when my chin rests on Peanut’s head and I can barely hear remnants of “Canon in D” that accompany Peanut’s very own composed tunes on the piano. Over the daily rides in Peanut’s tricycle as she is overjoyed about fire hydrants and parked cars. Over Peanut pointing to animals in her book and mimicking the sounds of our voices as we read them aloud to her. Over bath time as she proudly makes baskets by her tub or tries to drink soapy water out of her bath cup. These moments happen every day and I know they are not meant to be overlooked.

I regret that I am so often ignorant of how enveloped I am in God’s grace. But I am thankful for a patient, kind God who seems to be opening my eyes more each day so that I may see what he is doing around me, to me, for me. Perhaps we have days that outsiders would label “ordinary,” but we have an extraordinary God—one who daily pours upon us the richest of blessings. I have a front row seat to Peanut’s life, which in reality, means I have a front row seat to daily mercy and grace at work from our great God.

The Daughter, Part 2

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Well here we are! I certainly have been busy chasing my cute little walking Peanut all around the house. That, and I’ve been busy going on dates with my husband. Does it count as a date if what we do is go shopping for a pair of shoes for Peanut? It was one of our favorites! At least it ended with some frozen yogurt. Here is the continued list of ways our sweet girl has made me reflect on the Christian life:

5) The daughter looks like her father.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

Even if Peanut and her father were on opposite ends of the same room and you saw each of them separately, you would know she was his. If my husband was an Indian baby girl, he would be Peanut. Peanut looks like her father in almost every way. Soon after she was born, we even noticed that she has exactly the same lips. Peanut is the spitting image of her father, and no matter what, she will always be his.

It is stunning to me that God would make us in His image—that we would be so loved and significant that we would each reflect aspects of His image that demonstrate His beauty and majesty. We may not enjoy the physical, visual proximity that Peanut and her father enjoy, but yet, as we grow in our love and affection for him, we are able to reflect the Father in ways that it becomes simply undeniable that we are His. We can look so much like Him, and we also have the capability of looking very different from him. We are indeed his sons and daughters. So let us strive to be like him!

6) The daughter is amazed by all that surrounds her.

“My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being!” Psalm 108:1

I think Peanut could enjoy herself just about anywhere. She loves watching people, taking things in, being outside to stare at the trees, leaves, sidewalks and birds, and everything else in between. She is wide-eyed and captivated by everything before her, above her, behind her. I think the picture that accompanies this post captures that pretty well. It is amazing how easily pleased she is by watching and observing. It is also amazing how much she is moved by the simple sight of Mommy or Daddy or any other familiar face after even the briefest absence.

Psalm 108:1 is the life verse we picked out for her because it is our daily hope and prayer for Peanut. And really, it should be our daily hope and prayer for ourselves. If only we were as wowed by our surroundings and everything the Father has created as Peanut is. How much more would we reflect the beauty of our Creator by enjoying and expressing thankfulness for all that he has created! God has used Peanut to open my eyes to the wonders that surround me. Walks with Peanut have become more than just opportunities for fresh air. Storms, snow, the ordinary sidewalks and tall trees have all become wonders to my eyes. Even the lights in our house and the ceiling fans at Grandma and Grandpa’s amaze me. Most of all, as I see how much Peanut is enamored with us even during the ordinary play times and meal times at home, I feel such a growing desire to love the Father the way Peanut loves us. She is at peace and feels the greatest joy in our presence. That’s how I want to be.

7) The daughter can sometimes be unlovable…but is met with unconditional love even in those times.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Peanut turning one has come with more than just walking and jabbering. It has also marked the beginning of expressions of will—know as the occasional temper tantrum. Sometimes she does not even realize her own strength or the targets of her flailing arms or legs. Usually they are triggered by something she wants that she is not getting, or something she is trying to reach. But sometimes, like a couple of days ago, it is inexplicable. For a few minutes I occasionally get anxious. But then I just talk to her, even in the midst of the crying or screaming. I tell her how much I love her even when she is mad at me. I’ll hold her if she will let me. Then as she calms down I give her big hugs and kisses, and remind myself why she is a gift to me.

Unlike the anxiety I feel sometimes in the midst of a tantrum, not knowing what to do and what Peanut needs, God has no anxiety. He knows each tantrum we throw better than we do. But he loves us anyway, and knowing full well what we are capable of at our worst, he died anyway. He died for the unintentional sins and the intentional sins of the whole world —those times when we know God is our target and we choose to flail our arms and legs anyway. The beautiful thing about that verse in Genesis which describes that we are made in God’s likeness is this: Christ died for us even when we looked the least like our Father—in our most sinful state in contrast to his ever perfect, never-changing holiness. Such great love.

8) The daughter endures hardship and perseveres to the end.

“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” James 1:25

It is just so amazing to watch Peanut walk. Besides the fact that she is probably the smallest walker ever at a whopping 16 pounds, she is non-stop action. She loves doing laps around the main level of our house. When she first started, she would make it about ten steps, plop down, and then stand herself up. Every time she plops down, she gets right back up again and continues to go around and around. The plops don’t even phase her—it’s almost as if she understands that they are part of the natural course of walking. And now that she is used to walking and standing up on her own, she likes to make it more of a challenge by carrying weight along in the form of some of her larger stuffed animals. Count on Peanut to brave the journey and intentionally make it more adventurous.

What does it look like for the Christian to persevere? I think it looks a lot like Peanut walking. We proceed through our lives, with the same destination in mind: heaven. We know we will endure suffering and fall multiple times—the Word promises us these things. What is it that the Father wants us to do? He wants us to persevere. Endure to the end without wavering in our commitment to reach our destination. Embrace what it is that He places before us and know that we will be home soon.

Friends of mine know this well, but one of my favorite books is “Edge of Eternity” by Randy Alcorn. It is an allegory of heaven and hell and simply fantastic. Peanut’s voluntary entrance into the challenges of walking makes me think of this allusion to bearing one another’s burdens in the Christian life for the sake of the gospel. The travelers of the Red Road Home are given a message from the Woodsman: pick up rocks and carry them in their sacks. They are told, “In the morning, you will be both glad and sad.” What is intriguing is that the travelers who pick up many rocks as they can discover that their sacks feel lighter than those who pick up few. What is even more intriguing is their discovery in the true “morning”: when they arrive in Charis, they empty their sacks and discover that beautiful gems have replaced the scraggly rocks that had made their home in the sacks. Those who had gathered much were glad, and those who had gathered little were sad.

Let us be inspired by Peanut! Let us persevere with gladness and pick up numerous sacks along the way. We will surely rejoice and be glad when we hear those sweet words at our destination: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”