Sunday, December 25, 2011

weren't for you

We had such a sweet morning here with just our two Bundles.  Brother came bounding in to our room by 6am after a quick peek downstairs.  I stood to pour my first cup of coffee between presents being unwrapped and Brother yelled for me to look at his new toy.  I returned his glee.  Suddenly I had memories of my own childhood eager to share my excitement with my own mom asking her to notice each gift I had received.  I couldn't just appreciate it for myself.  I wanted her to enjoy the moment with me.  Wouldn't it be amazing if we bubbled over with joy from the Holy Spirit eager to share every gift we have been given with the people in our lives?  

I am humbled.

My mother-in-law gave me a book for Christmas called the Castaway Kid.  She picked it up to read with someone else in mind and quickly realized that I would enjoy it in light of the journey of  foster care we have ahead of us.  I was touched by the inscription she wrote on the inside cover for me.  I turned the book over to read some quotes from recognizable names about the title on the back side.  One review mentioned crying after reading the first page.  Tears welled in my eyes by the third sentence.  But not for the reason you might think.  Just a few lines into the book and God opened my perspective to something big...not in so many words of course.

"You know all those scriptures/songs/quotes about FEAR I have been showing you lately?  They weren't for you."


On Christmas Eve, My Love was sitting in front of the fireplace under four handmade stockings with our sweet gifts from God in his lap reading a book and all I could think about was we might need more stockings for next year and I hope his arms can open wider. 

I am gearing up to learn how to really pray.  To ABIDE.  There will be bundles coming into our home next year with only memories and experiences of FEAR and I want to know everything God has to say about that because honestly I can' relate.

At church this Christmas morning we sang a song called Hosanna with two lines that I cling to this holiday and into the New Year.

'Cause when we see You we find strength to face the day
 And in Your presence all our fears are washed away, washed away

I want to see the Lord.  I want strength for each day.  I want to be IN His presence.  I want to feel fears washing away from every Bundle Baby I hold in my arms because of His love.  Do big things, Father, for your kingdom in and through me.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

his prayer for me today

Colossians 1:9-14 NLT

 9 So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
 11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,[a] 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom[b] and forgave our sins.

Friday, December 23, 2011

weak heart

Will someone please remind me to read this post again some day? 

(Sidebar: Do you know Katie's story?  Watch it here.

Single.  Early 20s.  14 adopted daughers. Living in Uganda indefinitely.  Let that sink in.  OK, back to me.) 

You know, when you come across a particularly pathetic "woe is me" post I will have written in the future.  I expect one is coming.  That is why God wants me to write this one.  So I can be reminded by someone that there may be many little ones coming through our home of whom He will say to me "not this one".  He may be calling me to stand in the gap to merely love on, pray over and kiss to pieces many precious babes only for a time.  My heart is weak, Lord.  Hold it in your hands so that it will beat with your strength and purpose.

I feel like God is preparing me to learn how to pray like I never have before.  To pray with blind faith and complete surrender knowing full well that I won't have any answers given to me in this life.


a common thread

I am eating a plate of hot eggs and toast while Cars 1 plays in the background.  My Love is outside on this brisk bright blue morning helping on day four of our fence build.  We hired a friend to come down to do the work for us.  The irony was not lost on me as I sat in our nice warm house making cookies with my kids while he was outside in the wind and misting raining building our property boundary this week.

Every afternoon our friend would come in for lunch.  The kids would make him smile and laugh and he would share stories of his life.  There is virtually nothing about the decades behind him that I can relate to.  And yet despite memories of suffering and pain that he shared, we do have one huge thing in common.  A thread that sews the fabric of our friendship together.  By God's grace we both have been saved.

The Enemy does not want us to share what God has done in our lives.  SHARE!  TALK!  WRITE!  Even if you think there is no way this other person in your life could possibly understand the journey God has walked you through, tell them any way.  God unites all kinds of people into friendship.  Stories of His love and grace bless others.

Today I finish my breakfast thankful, humbled, and blessed.  We have an amazing God who desires us to boldly speak to those in our world of his amazing grace.

I encourage you to share today with even the most unlikely of people you may meet.  For every interaction with another human being is a divine appointment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

suit of armor

Two days ago I got a text from a friend who I haven't seen since we stopped at her home for dinner on our road trip across the country 2 1/2 years ago.  And yet somehow it feels like she lives right next door.  She has four sisters like me and our soul connection grows deeper from there.  Her text was in reply to a recent post I wrote about spiritual warfare and I answered by admitting that there can't be any gap in the armor.  ABIDING is the only way to be fully clothed for battle.  This feels like a battle.  Apparently the reference I made to a passage in scripture was a repetition for whatever God was already teaching her.  He is cool like that.  Fellowship AND accountability are imporatant, people.  Even across the miles.

Yesterday I opened up my One Year Bible where I did the reading for September 28th on December 20th.  And there perfectly planned was Ephesians 6:10-18.  Isn't He awesome?!

Today I was back in Isaiah and read 59:15-17a.
Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who tries to live a godly life is soon attacked.  The LORD looked and was displeased to find that there was no justice.  He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed.  So he himself stepped in to save them with mighty power and justice.  He put on righteousness as his body armor and placed the helmet of salvation on his head.
Seriously God?!  I didn't even know references to the armor of God were in Isaiah and this scripture seems to apply to my day perfectly.  I mean, if the LORD put on armor to do the will of the Father shouldn't it be good enough for us too?

Are you prepared for whatever the enemy might fling at you today?  Because if you are trying to live a godly life you will be attacked.  Showing up to fight the enemy with just two little fists (the equivalent of a relationship with God that you once had in the past) and whatever cute outfit you picked out to wear on December 21, 2011 you might get battered and bruised in the storm.  Some days require a full suit of armor.  These are the days of our lives.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

all aglow

I was vacuuming the family room yesterday evening when I saw this beam of sunlight illuminating a box in our coffee table.
 I turned off the machine and bent down to find God calling

A Bundle Boy puts his head in the box as he wonders what I am doing and absorbs the light into the side of his face.  A game of peek-a-boo with a bright smile.
A move to the other side of the table brought the discovery of a Bundle Girl knelt down low like her Mommy.  A vision of humility.

 I lifted my eyes from this new perspective and saw God's Word aglow in the shelf above it.
 The staples to the start of my day are asking to be reached for even at day's end.
 I stood up and looked out the windows into our back yard.  And in all His glory He painted me a beautiful night sky behind our house like he does EVERY evening.  I am thankful I slowed down enough to turn and see it.  To acknowledge his mighty power and to choose to live with a heart of gratitude in this moment.

Monday, December 19, 2011

a word and other words

Yesterday we decided to take a Sunday morning road trip and drove to our old church so we could see our "family". Brother had been talking about his old teachers recently and how much they missed him ;). It has been two months since we moved here and it seemed like time for a return visit.

I sat down in the third row waiting for the service to begin. J walked in with his seeing-eye dog to his normal front seat. After sitting for a minute or so he got up and start wandering back a couple rows and settled in the chair next to me. I told him who it was and he went on to chat and heckle his way through the worship time and morning announcements. He made me laugh. The sermon was great and of course spoke right to my heart. We miss everything about being there. After the service was over, J started talking to me right away. "God gave me a word for you. Do you have some time?" Um. What do I say to that? I mean, it is not like I could just walk away. I am not sure this has ever happened before. Yes, friends and loved ones have shared verses and encouraging words seemingly out of the blue but in God's perfect timing. But this guy doesn't even really know me. It this isn't exactly the kind of thing that happens at our non-denominational church. I brought his family a meal after his wife had their baby. I passed on some of Bundle Boy's baby clothes to them. I chatted in the hallway with J once last year before the Christmas breakfast. I know his wife better, but really until the pastor came down to talk to us after the service and asked how we (my Love and I) were doing in our new place, J didn't even realize we had moved. Not that we would expect him too. I was intrigued by his statement though. What does a random word from the Lord sound like? I asked him if this happened to him often. It didn't.

He went on to share some interesting things. Not like a prophesy. Just thoughts that must have come to mind while he sat next to me. Thoughts that he didn't feel like he could walk away without sharing. He felt like I was carrying some heavy burdens and that I needed to give them to the Lord. That the months ahead should be spent really getting to know the Lord as my best friend (can you say abiding, anyone?). He asked if he could pray for me and then went on to lift up some sweet concerns on my behalf.

Now what? I didn't know if I should tell him what was on the horizon for our family or if I should just say thank you and walk away. I decided to share briefly. I told him we were preparing to begin foster parenting in the spring and that God had already been telling me that I needed to learn how to really abide in him. That perhaps fears were creeping into my thoughts and I need to surrender all that to him.

J's response? "No, that's not it."

I burst into laughter out loud.

I guess he thought my "burdens" were something else. He has a funny personality so I just take what he shared from the heart and choose not to be concerned with what he thought God was trying to tell him about me. He said he would pray for us whenever God brought us to mind in the future.

This morning I opened up my God Calling devotional before reading in God's Word and saw this:

"Our Lord, give us that Perfect Love of Thee that casts out all fear."

Really Lord? I am not afraid!!!!!

It went on to read...

"Never let yourselves fear anybody or anything. No fear of My failing you. No fear that your faith will fail you. No fear of poverty or loneliness. No fear of not knowing the way. No fear of others. No fear of their misunderstanding. But, My children, this absolute casting out of fear is the result of Perfect Love, a perfect Love of Me and My Father. Speak to Me about everything. Listen to Me at all times. Feel My tender nearness, substituting at once some thought of Me for the fear. The powers of evil watch you as a besieging force would watch a guarded city--the object being always to find some weak spot, attack that, and so gain an entrance. So evil lurks around you, and seeks to surprise you in some fear. The fear may be a small one, but it affords evil a weak spot of attack and entrance, and then in come rushing despondency, doubt of Me, and so many other sins. Pray, My beloved children, for that Perfect Love of Me that indeed casts out all fear." -December 19

We are experiencing some spiritual warfare around here. The evening "conversation" I had with My Love was anything but encouraging. The enemy is looking for any way possible to cripple us so we are incapable of being used by God.

I opened up Ephesians next and read this...

Eph. 4:

(17) With the Lord's authority let me [Paul] say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused.
(22) throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception.
(23) Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes.
(24) You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God's likeness--righteous, holy, and true.
(26) And don't sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry,
(27) for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil.
(29) Don't use foul or abusive language (sidebar: oh yes I did!). Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
(31) Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior.
(32) Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

It is 7:25am. Bundle Brother is sitting next to me on the couch listening to his Disney mereader that was a gift from KB. I have not eaten breakfast yet but I have been fed. Today I choose to start my day chewing on God's word.

Don't worry. We didn't let the sun go down on our anger and are thankful His mercies are new every morning.  If you haven't been in God's word yet, what are you relying on to nourish you today?

Now it is 7:30am. Time for breakfast. ;) Hey, a girl still has to eat.

Friday, December 16, 2011

of fear and abiding

I haven't had any original thoughts lately.  Nothing of my own to share here.  My Love has been out of town so I have been rocking the single Mom thing but to be truthful I was distracting myself  with TV series on Netflix long before that.  God continues to speak to my heart though.  One word keeps repeating itself even though I keep trying to tell Him it doesn't apply to me: fear.  I am not a worrier.  I am not afraid.  Fears do not consume my daily life as I know it does for some.  And yet, God keeps telling me not to be afraid.  That abiding in Him will thwart any future fears on the horizon.  When fear AND John 5:1-5 were talked about for awhile on Sunday morning I pretty much got the message loud and clear.  Anyway.  Here are some other unoriginal ideas God has been giving me lately.  Enjoy!

"You shall have My Joy.  But Life just now for you both is a march--a toilsome march...  The Joy will come, but for the moment do not think of that, think simply of the march.  Joy is the reward...  Joy is the reward of patiently seeking Me in the dull dark days, of trusting when you cannnot see...  Joy is as it were your heart's response to My smile of recognition of your faithfulness...  Stop thinking your lives are all wrong if you do not feel it...  Remember you may not be joyous, but you are brave, and courage and unselfish thought for others are as sure signs of true discipleship as Joy."  -God Calling, December 16

I know, right?  Oddly specific to where I am at right now.  Want some more?  How about a promise of some spiritual warfare?  Fun!

"There is no miracle so wonderful as the miracle of a soul being kept by My Power.  Forces of evil batter and storm, but are powerless.  Tempests rage unavailingly.  It is like a cool garden...set in the midst of a mighty roaring city.  Try to see your lives as that.  Not only as calm and unmoved, but as breathing fragrance, expressing beauty.  Expect storms.  Know this--you cannot be united in your great friendship and bond to do My work, and in your great Love for Me, and not excite the envy, hatred, and malice of all whom you meet who are not on My side.  Where does the enemy attack?  The fortress, the stronghold, not the desert waste." -God Calling, December 14

Well at least I'm not crazy.  There is some spiritual warfare going on and it is disguised in many ways.  And yet there is more.  Remember the fear reminder?

"Love and fear cannot dwell together.  By their very natures they cannot exist side by side.  Evil is powerful, and fear is one of evil's most potent forces.  Therefore a weak vacillating love can be soon routed by fear, whereas a perfect Love, a trusting Love, is immediately the Conqueror, and fear, vanquished, flees in confusion.  But I am Love because God is Love, and I and the Father are one.  So the only way to obtain this perfect Love, that dispels fear, is to have Me more and more in your lives.  You can only banish fear by My Presence and My Name.  Fear of the future--Jesus will be with us.  Fear of poverty--Jesus will provide.  (And so to all the temptations of fear.)  You must not allow fear to enter.  Talk to Me.  Think of Me.  Talk of Me. Love MeAnd that sense of My Power will so possess you that no fear can possess your mind.  Be strong in this My Love."  -God Calling, December 12

I try to tell God that I am not afraid but he clearly is trying to prepare me for something he knows is coming.  Sidebar: When I read the above passage it was the third time in a weak I had heard the word 'vanquished'.  Weird, huh?

"There may be many times when I reveal nothing, command nothing, give no guidance.  But your path is clear, and your task, to grow daily more and more into knowledge of MeThat this quiet time with Me will enable you to do.  I may ask you to sit silent before Me, and I may speak no word that you could write.  All the same that waiting with Me will bring comfort and Peace.  Only friends who understand and love each other can wait silent in each other's presence.  And it may be that I shall prove our friendship by asking you to wait in silence while I rest with you, assured of your Love and understanding.  So wait, so love, so joy." -God Calling, December 10

Sometimes I wonder how anyone else reading this devotional could possibly have it apply to their exact day the way it does to me.  But God is awesome like that.

He has also be speaking to me through scripture (in Isaiah and Galatians this week) and sermons and emails and visits from friends.

So I sit here this morning with no real original words.  God is speaking.  He is teaching me of the march ahead and raging storms and abiding to prevent fear and waiting in silence.

I know it has been awhile since I last posted.  The gaps in writing might be wider in the near future.  But God is busy working and preparing our hearts.  And sometimes to get a heart ready for something big a lot of other junk has to be dealt with first.  Pray for us.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

picking up stones

The other night I was reading with Brother in his Jesus Storybook Bible after Babydoll went to bed.  It is usually My Love's job but he was out of town for work.  Suddenly I saw how sweet a time this is for My Love.  To snuggle with our growing Big Boy in his bed (that used to be My Love's as a child) and read to him about our Savior and Lord. <3  They don't always read.  Sometimes they tell stories.  Sometimes My Love falls asleep on accident.  Sometimes they watch Veggie Tales clips on his phone.  It is a time of day that is all theirs and I am happy they get to share it.

Bundle Boy asked for me to read the pages about David.  A story known to almost everyone.  It tells the account of a young shepherd boy who chose to stand up against the giant Philistine Goliath.  A boy who grows up to be the next king and who would be called by God as "a man after My own heart". 

I was struck by an aspect to the story that hadn't stood out to me before.  David saw this huge task before him.  He trusted that God would equip him to handle it because by all his earthly strength there was no way he could defeat the towering Goliath on his own.  He HAD to trust.  I noticed this time though that David reached for five stones to be used in his sling shot against his enemy.  God had complete knowledge that it would only take one.  And yet he didn't require David to exhaust his trust in Him.  It doesn't mean David didn't trust him enough because he grabbed four extra.  It just means (to me) that God knew that asking him to put all his faith in this one stone having perfect aim might have been a little too much.  I mean he was already a young boy standing against a "giant".  One out of five was bound to work though.  And since David was already completely weak in this scenario perhaps God knew that he could only ask so much of David before what was once trust crippled into fear.

By no means is any of this corroborated.  It is just my thoughts.

Sometimes I look before me at this "Goliath" coming and KNOW I am not ever going to be equipped even on my very best day to do anything worth my own glory.  I am completely weak.

But even though God is asking me to put all my trust in him he also knows there is only so much my human mind can take.

So I grab five stones.  Not because I fear one may not hit its target.  But because I know God can choose which stone he wants to use for his purpose.  My job is to not be afraid if the first one doesn't knock the giant down.  For even though my tools look incapable of making any difference, God can use anything given freely to him for his glory.

Monday, December 5, 2011

drove you

"Fret not your souls with puzzles that you cannot solve.  The solution may never be shown you until you have left this flesh-life.  Remember what I have so often told you, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."  Only step by step, and stage by stage, can you proceed, in your journey upward.  The one thing to be sure of is that it is a journey with Me.  There does come a Joy known to those who suffer with Me.  But that is not the result of the suffering, but the result of the close intimacy with Me, to which suffering drove you." - God Calling

Sunday, December 4, 2011

snot smeared sheet

My daughter has a cold right now.  She is being a real trooper about the whole thing.  After a week of snot she is just starting to get a little red around the nose.  Quite appropriate for this time of year I guess.  I am thankful again and again for two young nose blowers.  The cold season is so much easier when a little kiddo knows how to blow.  The endless wiping can be monotonous.

Tonight I watched her eat the quesadillas her Daddy made for us.  Or rather heard her eat.  With each bite she managed to chew a few times before gasping for air.  It sure is hard to breath when you have a cold.  There is so much you take for granted until things don't function as they were meant to.

It got me thinking.  Isn't God amazing!?!  I mean, of course he is.  But he created two ways for our bodies to inhale oxygen.  There are seasons of our lives where the cares of this world overwhelm us.  They can be life-changing situations that seem all consuming.  It isn't until we have to take an intentional breath out loud that we hear and realize how thankful we are that God is physically breathing for us.  That our very existence is relying on the only pathway of air we have left.  Him.

Every morning this week, Babydoll has woken up with a nose completely snotted over.  Yet another reminder that without God's grace we would be incapable of anything.

Colds pass, seasons change, and we return to breathing thoughtlessly through our nose and mouth without a second of pause to say thanks.  How quickly we lose all gratitude for the gift of sustained life that we wept over with overwhelmed love not too long ago.  When we woke each morning and sat in the dark knowing the reality that we are nothing without him.  But today we act as if we don't need him.  As if we got this breathing thing down.

May it not take a "cold" for us to wake up from a snot smeared sheet and remember how much he loves us.  And how much we need Him.

Friday, December 2, 2011

the voice of christ's love

I spent 30 minutes walking around Costco today the other day.  The kids and I browsed the toy aisles for fun and brought home a few food staples.  In that amount of time three separate people decided it was their responsibility to parent me.  

The first lady came up behind me to tell me my "pocketbook" was just sitting there (in an empty cart) and anyone could just take it (while I stood five feet away helping Brother hop on a big boy bike with training wheels that he doesn't know he is getting for his 4th birthday).  I just smiled and reached for my cart.  It kind of annoyed me though.  I immediately wondered if the world thinks living a life without constant fear equals naivete.  I am thankful I didn't say anything but then of course later regretted that positive words didn't come to my mind quicker as another opportunity slipped through my fingers.  I guess I was more interested in engaging with my kids than who might hypothetically take my purse.  If someone wanted to take it from my cart while I stood five feet away maybe they needed it more than I do.  Note: I don't want my purse stolen.

As we were leaving, the lady checking our receipt drew Bundle Boy a smiley face on the back and asked him, "What do you say?"immediately after handing it to him.  Thanks lady but I think I can handle encouraging good manners.

We weren't twenty feet out the door (still in the breeze way) and a guy coming in looked around with a panic before asking me, "Does she belong to you?"  Babydoll was walking as fast as she could ten feet behind her brother and me.

On our way through the parking lot (note: I was holding Sissy Doll now and had Brother in my hand walking next to me), I got to thinking.  I am used to a way of life where everyone is independent of each other.  If you don't look me in the eye while running me off the road than I don't exist in YOUR world.  My first response to someone engaging me was cynicism.  "Who do they think they are?  Where is all this advice when my kids are acting crazy in the grocery store and I really need help?" 

The people are so different here than anywhere I have ever lived.  They are simple and kind and aware of the people around them.  As a child of God, why am I not doing the same?  Don't get me wrong.  I have done my share of blocking a random toddler who was trying to exit Chick-fil-A without a parent as I was coming in.  I am not completely self-absorbed.  But am I really aware of the people God has put in my day today?  Am I thinking about how I can help them even if I have my hands full of kids and am thinking about disappointing circumstances?

My sentiments were confirmed while at Chick-fil-A later (note: a different time than I referenced before.  I promise we don't go there that often.  Although as we were leaving this particular visit I ran into someone we knew while in California, who visited us at the hospital when Brother was born, and now happens to live in our neighborhood here.  More on that later.).  My kids were a few feet away admiring the in-store Christmas tree while I placed our order.  Wow!  As I type this it sure sounds like I don't have control of my hoodlums.  I am just not the type of Mom that has them chained to my waist.  They are always nearby though.  Anyway Babydoll tripped on a strand of lights, catching her fall, and the woman behind me in line lunged forward to see if she was okay.  Seriously people?!  Where we used to live the whole restaurant would have just stared blankly holding their place in line even if she had busted her lip wide open and was bleeding all over the place.

How easily we let the world around us affect us!  We should look different from the norm.  Whether we live in the country or the city.  We have been inadvertently taught that we should mind our own business or that someone else will come around and help them.  It is not our responsibility to get involved.  

The woman in Costco would probably have felt terrible had she seen me later frantically looking for my stolen purse.  She meant well.  Are we equally aware of the world around us?  Are we thinking with the mind of Christ?  Are we willing to be his hands and feet at anytime in any place even if that means losing our place in line?

The world around us should stir us to action.  It should give us a voice.  The voice of Christ's love in a lost, dark, and dying world. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

a hard lesson for a three year old

"Can I bring two toys?" he asked after I announced we are getting ready to go grocery shopping.  "Yes," I confirmed.  Sometimes he asks to bring three but the norm is one per hand.  A few minutes go by and I hollered out, "Where are you?" as I loaded his baby sister in the Volvo.  "I'm getting my toys!" he responded.  You see this is a big decision for a 3 year 11 month old little boy.  He wants to bring his most prized possessions.  Which two will enjoy the car ride during our morning adventure?  Which two are his favorites of the day?

He settled on a police SUV that lights up and a Mighty World police man.  He loves these simple toys that fit nicely in his growing big boy hands.  The truck was a gift from his aunt and the action figure was one of his first given to him at his second Christmas.  I thought to myself just this week how much use he has gotten out of those little guys.  Even Babydoll carries one around here changing out it's hat and hair piece.

I hit the road with bundled Bundles in the back seat.  The skies were blue and the sun was shining bright on this brisk 40 something late fall day.  Winter is coming.

As we pulled into the parking lot, Brother undoubtedly asked, "Does it say no toys allowed?"  I often read him signs telling him the rules about playgrounds (no dogs allowed) and fast food play areas (no shoes allowed).  I have made other rules for libraries and big chain stores (no toys allowed).  So sometimes a cherished toy makes the trip in the car but is not able to come inside with us.  Not today.  "Yes you can bring your toys," I answered his expected question.

I didn't find any car shaped carts which is actually better because I can never fit everything I need to buy in those things.  Bundle Brother hit the streets with his jeans tucked into his solider rain boots, puffy brown vest layered over his brown thermal shirt and topped with his dad's old "solider hat".  I could freeze this exact little boy in time and keep him forever.

We started into the store talking a lot about all the huge veggies we saw in the produce aisle.  "Look at that sweet potato!  It is as big as your head!"  He lifted the spud next to his cheek to measure scale.  "And wow!  Check out this tomato!  Isn't God amazing?!  He made this." I said.  He picked up the cucumber in the bin next door and married them together announcing they were Bob and Larry.  I laughed at his wit.

The kids did really well this shopping trip unlike last time just before Thanksgiving.  The shoppers who were blessed to be amongst us then were both thankful to see us go and happy my kids did not belong to them.  

Today Sissy Doll had managed to eat her way through half a sleeve of graham crackers when Brother yelled out, "MY TOYS!"  I told him he left them in the car and then I remembered his hands being full as he tried to walk Babydoll through the parking lot.  "Do you remember where you left them?" I asked.  He has a very vivid memory.  With it being the first of the month there is no way I was going to weave up and down the aisles again in search of a couple toys that could be anywhere three feet from the ground or lower.  "They are by the bananas," he recalled.  That made sense.  By the time we got to the tiny chilies he was definitely empty handed.  We ventured back.  No sign of them.  We continued with our shopping through the cold sections and I talked to him about the lost and found.  He was intrigued.  He kept asking me how it worked.  

Once finished we got in line to check out.  He started to melt thinking we were going to abandon his precious gifts somewhere alone in the store.  I pledged that we would go to the lost and found when we were done buying our groceries.  As I stood there paying for our basket of food, Bundle Boy yelled out, "That little boy has my truck!!!!"  Two cash registers over was a man with four young kids that looked two and three years old.  I didn't see the truck.  I said a few words to Brother as I finished my transaction.  He said it again.  "That little boy has my truck!"  He started to cry when he realized I wasn't going after them to retrieve them.  They were exiting the store just before us.

The family didn't hear or see us.  That is when I knew this was going to be a hard lesson for a three year old.  I knelt down and told him that maybe that little boy needed the truck more than him.  That maybe he doesn't have a lot of toys and this little truck would make his day really happy.  I told him we could go to the lost and found and ask about the police man.  Apparently Brother noticed that the little boy had it too.  He was crying by now.  Not a tantrum cry but an I-am-so-disappointed cry.  He loved those toys.  In fact, he chose those toys to bring with him so he could enjoy them while he was out on my errand.  He didn't choose to bring toys that wouldn't have bothered him if they got lost (which is what we as adults would have done).  He brought his favorite toys of the day.  

We walked out of the store.  He grabbed my hand and whimpered while clearly upset.  The woman pushing our groceries out to the car was trying desperately to cheer him up as we journeyed to our far away parking spot.  He buried his head in my leg as we walked.  Sometimes no amount of encouraging words can get you out of how bummed you feel.  I tried to explain to her what happened but English was her second language.  As she loaded our trunk I put my most precious gifts in their car seats and one car lane over I saw the father loading four little kiddos in to his car (perhaps all his?).  I saw the car in the boy's hand while my son sat crying in the second row.  

I tipped the lady (that is just what you do here) and went to buckle my sweet boy in.  I told him how proud I was of him and how it makes God smile when we don't demand our own way but think of others before ourselves.  I reminded him how happy those toys made him and how happy they will make that little boy.  I told him that God has given us everything we have and we have to be willing to let it go even when we aren't ready.  I also told him that Christmas was coming and he would be getting more toys. ;)  What?  He is only three.

How easy it would have been for me to walk over to that guy and tell him that those toys belong to MY son.  That he just accidentally set them down while we talked about spinach and that HIS boy should give them back to their rightful owner.  How we are entitled to have them returned and my son loves them very much.  I could have said it nicely and quietly enough as to not cause a scene.  But in exchange for my son's tears would have been his son's.

Would that have pleased God?  Would that have taught my son (and myself) that this world is not our home and we deserve nothing in this life?

Sometimes disappointing things happen.  I am beyond thankful that the list of disappointing things during his nearly four years of life has been very short and extremely trivial.  But how will we respond to each circumstance that crosses our path?  Will we say yes Lord use me however best brings you glory?  Will we deny self when the opportunity arises?  Will we spend time searching for the best gifts that we have been given and still be willing to give them up at a moment's notice?

Five minutes into the drive home my heart was heavy for my little boy.  He welled up with quiet tears a couple more times when he realized he would never get to play with those toys again.  The mama bear inside me wants him never to be sad or disappointed.  He was halfway through a cheese stick (which instantly brightened his mood) and he announced, "I can play with my 'nother toys!"

That's right, Little Buddy.  God has given you more than enough.  Are we willing to let him use the best that we have however he sees fit?!

You can be sure the next time Brother looks for two toys to bring with him to the grocery store, he will reach for his favorite of the day once again.  Will I be so quick to do the same?