Dear Daughter, I Noticed…

KnightFamilyShoot(62of180)(Picture taken by Laura Patrick Photography.)

Dear Girlie-O,

I noticed the first time I held you and marveled that I had a daughter!!!  That was so surprising after having three sons.  I had to change your diaper extra times, just to make sure you were “still” a girl.

I noticed what a beautiful little girl you were, even as an infant.

I noticed how in awe your “big” brothers were of you.

I noticed how you love princesses, dresses, fancy shoes, and jewelry but also love to collect bugs with your brothers.

I noticed how you love to try on my shoes and parade across the bedroom in them.

I noticed how delighted you were to wear my necklace to preschool one day.

I noticed how you are not afraid to jump on top of a pile of wrestling brothers.

I noticed how you love to pick dandelions and to hand them to me to put in a vase.

I noticed how you love when Daddy takes you on dates.

I noticed how you loved when I painted your nails for the first time.

I noticed how you lovingly say, “my boys.”

I noticed how protective and nurturing you are of your little brother.

I noticed how independent and yet sensitive you are.

I noticed how you love Jesus and talk about Him.

I noticed how spiritually-sensitive and aware you are.

I noticed how you love to help me cook and clean.

I noticed how you love to have me rock you and how perfectly you fit on my lap still.

I noticed how tall you are getting and how I want to treasure these moments as much as possible.

I noticed how accomplished you are at helping me put together puzzles and how you won “Candyland” and “Chutes and Ladders” when we played last.

I noticed how your preschool teacher said you would be a great mother because you were protective and nurturing of everyone in your class.

I noticed how your preschool teacher said that when you grow up, you want to be a princess and marry the king — not just the prince.

I noticed how you have a great sense of fashion and color-coordination.

I noticed how you are quick to apologize when you do wrong and to give hugs.

Precious daughter, I treasure these times when I can watch you enjoy the sweetness of princesses, dolls, and tumbling with your brothers.  I love the fact that you are my daughter — in all of your femininity and strength!  I love your courage and your kindness!  You are and always will be, a princess to Daddy and me!  I love you.

W-2, I Noticed…

Dear Son,

I noticed the first time I “fell in love” with you.  It was the day you were born, and the first time I held you in my arms.

I noticed what a contented baby you were and so calm.

I noticed how you loved people and began to “knowingly” smile at people at only two weeks old.

I noticed how you loved to laugh and to make others laugh at a very young age.

I noticed your long eyelashes and knew you were going to be a “heart-stopper.”

I noticed your determination to finally conquer the skill of walking, after months of challenges.

I noticed how you love our neighbor’s dog that is three-times-your-size and how he loves you.

I noticed how you have a great imagination and love to make your animals kiss each other and talk to each other.

I noticed how affectionate you are with your kisses.

I noticed how you love to greet strangers and to make them smile.

I noticed how you brought tears to a young man’s eyes due to your friendly greeting.

I noticed how you like to help clean up your toys and then dump them out again.

I noticed how you have learned to sit at the top of the stairs and wait for someone to get you.

I noticed how you have a quick temper but also an eager willingness to love people.

I noticed how loved you are by everyone in this family, and how they all love to play with you and to hold you.

I noticed how you love to look at books.

I noticed how you absolutely love music, to dance to it, and have great rhythm.

I noticed how you call me, “Momma,” and I absolutely love it!

I noticed the time you sang to me, “I love you,” and it melted my heart.

Son, I noticed that you were an unexpected but absolutely wonderful blessing from God, for which I am completely and unashamedly thankful!

I love you.

L-Son, I Noticed…

 

Dear L-Son,

I noticed all of the times you would pick dandelions and other flowers and give them to your sister or myself.

I noticed the times you shared your only gift cards to buy me a special treat.

I noticed all the times you made special bracelets and gave them away.

I noticed the times you defended the “under-dog” and comforted the hurting.

I noticed how you play with your younger siblings and share your special toys with them.

I noticed how athletic you are and how you won the first place award for top boy athlete in your class of 21 students.

I noticed how passionate you are about life and how you put your whole heart into whatever you do.

I noticed how you wanted to be baptized, along with your brothers, last Sunday.

I noticed how you love to read books and read well.

I noticed how willing you are to work hard to help others, including moving in new neighbors and shoveling the neighbors’ sidewalks.

I noticed how you looked out for your great grandmother and held the door for her and made sure she was okay getting in and out of the car.

I noticed how you love to fix your sister’s hair and love to see her wear pretty things.

I noticed how you love people and make friends easily.

I noticed how you love back-rubs and talking time.

I noticed how give great hugs and sloppy kisses.

I noticed how you get scared easily but will courageously stand up for someone in need.

I noticed how spiritually-sensitive and aware you are.

I noticed the time when you had been hurt by someone, and I encouraged you to picture putting all the hurts in a garbage bag and then handing them to Jesus.  I noticed how I asked you then what that made you, and you said “free!”

I noticed the time you were so upset because of forgetfulness on your part and as a result, your little brother had gotten hurt.  I noticed how when I asked you why you wouldn’t let me comfort you and what the lie was you were believing, you said, “That I am not to accept love… because I didn’t deserve it.”

I noticed how much better you seemed after I explained to you that was a lie and told you the truth: that you are forgiven, precious, and loved by God.

I noticed that you are an excellent student and received the highest award for top grades.

Son, I noticed that you are sensitive, caring, a fighter for good causes, enthusiastic, energetic, and affectionate.

Son, most of all, I noticed how thankful I am that you are my son — my sweet “light-bringer.”  I love you!

D-Son, I Noticed…

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Dear D-Son,

I noticed all the times you sat W-2 brother down beside you and practiced piano while he banged on the keys.

I noticed all the times when you unselfishly played with and entertained your younger siblings.

I noticed all the times you gave your special toys and trinkets away to family and friends.

I noticed all the times you curled up against me at church.

I noticed the time you took my hand to walk with me at the field trip because you were so happy to have me present.

I noticed how eagerly you introduced me to your friends at school.

I noticed how hard you tried to run, throw, and jump at your school’s Field Day.

I noticed how you worked to learn the rest of the 24 memory verses in order to earn a week at boys’ camp and learned them weeks before they were due.

I noticed how you studied in school and got straight A’s all year.

I noticed how you tried so hard to pay attention and to get a good report on your behavior, and I noticed how tears filled your eyes whenever you were reprimanded.

I noticed how hard you worked to make your science poster turn out well and how delighted you were when you got first place.

I noticed how you have such patience and perseverance in making crafts, building stuff, and with everything you do.

I noticed how your eyes twinkle with a love for life.

I noticed how you giggle and how you protest vehemently against being tickled.

I noticed how you journal and love to write thoughtful notes to people.

I noticed how you love to read and are prolific at it.

I noticed how you are so much like your daddy and want to be an engineer just like him some day.  And I can see that happening.

I noticed how you surprised you were when you received the “Christian Character” Award at school this year for your class.

I noticed how you wanted to be baptized this year.

I noticed, Son, your heart for God, and nothing makes me happier!

I love you, Son, no matter where you go and what you do because you will always be my very own precious son!

Thinking Of The Duggars…

Dirt hit the “fans” within media circles this past week.  Once again, scandals were uncovered, involving another conservative, homeschooling family — the well-known Duggar family of the “TLC Series’ 19 & Counting.”

The juvenile criminal record on Josh Duggar, the oldest son of the 19 Duggar children and recently resigned director of the Family Research Council, was recently made public.  In it, the records reveal that Josh Duggar at ages 14 and 16 was charged with sexual misconduct.  (I won’t go into detail.)

Now, 11 and 13 years later, these sins are brought before the public in one harsh wave.  It’s brutal to read about such abhorrent sins, especially among fellow Christians.

There will be many opinions on whether or not Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, the parents, handled this situation correctly.

I challenge us all though that if this were/was our son, how would we have handled this situation?

  • Do we deal truthfully with sins that are heinous to face? 
  • Do we bring appropriate justice to the offender, even if it’s our own child
  • Do we humble ourselves and truly listen and acknowledge the abhorrent wrongs committed against the victims and seek their restitution? 
  • Do we make excuses or try to shield our children from the consequences of their sins? 
  • Are we more concerned with our public image then with the condition of our hearts and our children’s hearts?
  • When our children sin, do we shame them, or do we we seek true healing for them and redemption?

We may never know if Josh Duggar is and was truly repentant over his sins.  Was what he did wrong?

Absolutely, undeniably, horrifically wrong!

What I want to address though is our responses to the offender.  It is so easy to start hurling the “stones” of accusations when we discover that once again a person was caught sinning.

“Hurling stones of accusation” is different than seeking appropriate justice and dealing truthfully with the offender. 

It is the attitude and the goal. 

It is how we view the sinner and whether we seek revenge or whether we seek justice.

Seeking appropriate justice and dealing truthfully with the offender does not negate grace.  Grace never ignores the offense or minimizes the pain of the victim.

We though who preach grace must understand that grace doesn’t just apply to us; it applies to everyone — even to the worst of offenders.

Grace is Jesus. 

He saw all the ugly horror of sin and bore its unbearable weight in life-crushing, soul-agonizing torture.  He brought the hideous to justice by exchanging His own completely pure and sinless “robes of righteousness” with the “putrid” and grotesque sins of even the “worst” of offenders.

We, who are Christians, are not followers of Christ because we are saints and sinless  We are Christians because Christ exchanged our sins for His righteousness.

Christianity and Christian ministry isn’t for non-existent “perfect” people.  Christianity is comprised of sinners who have been redeemed/forgiven.

It is this recognition of our own sin that should cause us to seek not only justice but also to walk humbly before our Righteous and Holy God. A God of truth and grace, of justice and of mercy.

The story of David, in the Bible, is a reminder of the ugliness of sin and its consequences.  It is also a picture of what forgiveness and grace looks like.  David was an adulterer and a murderer.  Consequences from his sins did affect his family.  A son molested his sister.  Another son murdered a brother.  Yet, God calls David “a man after God’s own heart.”  Why?  Because David truly repented.

And because God is the father of the prodigal son, watching for his prodigal sons and daughters to come home.  Because Jesus came to redeem sinners — not the “sinless.”

Did this absolve David of the consequences of his sins?  NoDid it offer him forgiveness and the opportunity to be made whole?  Yes!

Did grace merely trivialize the offense, or did it face the offense and bring it to full excruciating justice?

Did grace offer just a facade or did it offer a complete and total transformation that exchanges heinous sins for Jesus’ own pure righteousness?

Christianity is the Gospel of grace, redeeming and transforming sinners who have repented and been forgiven and have “returned” to their Heavenly Father.

Yes, it’s hard to understand this kind of grace.  But where would we be without it?

Let’s pray for the Duggars…  Pray that as they truthfully face their own brokenness, they find the grace of God that leaves us humbled, forgiven, and redeemed

Let’s pray for the victims.

May they finally be able to give voice to their pain and may it be acknowledged. 

May they find the grace to begin or to continue in the process of finding true healing. 

May they be protected from more pain while seeking appropriate justice. 

May they finally be able to see themselves as no longer “abused” but as beautiful, whole, pure, and healed.

Finding “Freedom” (Guest Visit From A Good Friend)

Added in support of the flickr-ites in the UAE currently being blocked from flickr by their phone company.

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=25416&searchId=d5aa1729c8c253e5d917a5264855eab8&npos=76)

With permission, I wanted to share a powerful testimony from a good friend.  This is her story:

When I was 13 years old, I was tormented at school. Bullying is what they call it now; but in the late 80’s, it wasn’t even noticed.

I rode the bus 45 minutes to and from school, and from the moment I stepped on that bus, the boys would start barking at me. Calling me a dog, hitting me, flicking rubber bands at me…and hitting my eye. Everyday I was tormented with these “mean” boys on the bus.

I guess if you looked at it from their perspective, I was an easy target. Short, curly hair (“brillo” they called me), big glasses, crooked teeth, and the most “uncool” wardrobe anyone at school had. I was socially a mess.

The entire 7th grade year went this way. I felt so rejected. ugly. unworthy. Fast forward into the high school years, and I finally figured how to fix my hair, got contacts, and some better clothes. I stopped getting teased. I started getting dates. But, inside I never felt good enough. I always felt like everyone around me was staring, laughing and judging me.

When a boy asked me out I always said yes, because I was in TOTAL shock those boys even noticed me. Granted….these weren’t boys from the Varsity team or even what was considered “good-looking,” but I was delighted to have a boy LIKE ME! Sooooo….fast forward into my adulthood.

Figured out how to “fit” in. I did all the “right’ things….hair, makeup, fashionable clothes. Worked hard for a great career of Interior Design. Was doing OK in the eyes of the world. But I could never get rid of this horrible feeling that I never, ever…EVER would fit in.

Compliments were painful; yet, I desired them like I need air. Even though I was a Christian, I wasn’t really walking Freedom. I always (and I mean ALWAYS) felt like someone was laughing at me. Pointing me out to judge. I was overly-sensitive. I was a wounded adult who still felt that no matter what she looked like or what she accomplished she. wasn’t. good. enough. I was mentally stuck…at 13. I’m 39 now, 40 in a few weeks.

Because of our MAGNIFICENT Lord, I do have freedom now!

At Encounter [a conference], I asked [a couple from the prayer team] to pray for me. I felt the Lord pressing me to dump this junk of self-hatred and to walk with Him in freedom.

Sobbing, I recalled specific stories to [a couple from the prayer team]. Pain rushed in like a tornado filling my heart with such angst that I cried from the depths of my soul. I wanted healing so badly, and my spiritual ears and heart were open. And then I heard the Lord calling me: “Daughter, you are beautiful. Daughter, you are mine. Daughter, you are perfect in my sight, washed clean in my eyes!” Then He showed me a white dove flying away. It was beautiful. And as prayer was poured upon me the truth set in!!! I finally GOT IT! I finally understood what my Identity in Christ REALLY IS!

I left that safe huddle of prayer and felt full. Redeemed. And LOVED. I no longer looked around the room, wondering if people were making fun of me!

What freedom to live when you only care about what GOD thinks of you!!!! THAT. IS. TRUE. FREEDOM!  A week out from [the conference], and I still feel so complete. I go into stores now and could care less if anyone looks at me. I am the Lord’s little girl, and He loves me just the way I AM! Thanks for letting me share.