twust in da ward.

parker - july 2009 - age 3

*sigh* my parker. i know i have said this before - and i also know i will say this again - i never desired to have boys. i grew up dreaming of ribbons and bows and a baby girl with big brown eyes, exactly like the one in which God so graciously gifted me with. and then came my parker. the instant i held him in my arms, every fear or apprehension about having a boy mysteriously evaporated and the cliche i had always heard became a reality there in that hospital room: there is something special about baby boys and their mamas. my parker epitomizes the phrase "all boy". he is rough and loud and has a natural affinity for all things related to super heroes, bugs and dinosaurs. he is the roughest rough and yet, the sweetest sweet. my pregnancy with parker came as a surprise and he is - undoubtedly - the best surprise any mother could ever ask for.

i love the way the Lord uses our children to reveal Himself to us. if we allow the eyes of our hearts to be opened, the landscape of this place called mommyhood changes dramatically. the mundane becomes profound. and the ordinary, extraordinary.

when we surrender our lives, open our hearts and allow Lord to permeate every facet of our lives, something truly amazing happens: He uses all of it - to teach us, to change us, to transform our hearts.

last week, we were all in the car and i was having a disheartening moment in thought. i thought to myself, possibly out loud, "Lord, what am I going to do?". without missing a beat, almost as if it were in direct response to me, parker says "twust in da' ward wid all of your heart". i turned to look back at him, "what did you say?". he repeated "twust in da ward...". tears filled up in my eyes. it was the very first time he had ever recited a bible verse out loud. what sweet music to my ears.

"I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."- Psalm 119:11

of course, i'm not sure parker understands the whole concept of trust at the age of three. he came home from a friend's birthday party on saturday with a large splinter in his right foot and he certainly wasn't "twusting" mommy or daddy remove it. when i was a kid, my mom always removed my splinters while i slept. i was naive to think it would be so easy with this child of mine. he woke up immediately every single time - kicking, screaming and throwing punches. hard ones. our attempts were futile, even when chris and i tried together to hold him still. tiny tweezers and a tiny thrashing foot were no match for us.

ironically - or rather, not - i had been asking/praying/pondering over my life, my heart, the narrow - and not so narrow paths - i'd chosen. why i'd chosen them. why, despite knowing God and having accepted Christ as my savior as a teenager had i still continued to run away from Him, reject His love, and disobey His word. frankly, i wanted to know what in the heck had been "wrong with me" all of those years. do you love how i say that as if it were all so far in the past and not, like, this year? i have played the role of the prodigal son and 'the little boy who cried wolf' more times than i can count. needless to say, i've had some trust issues myself... um, with myself. if there is one thing i know about myself - and let's face it, there really IS probably only one thing i know about myself - it's that i am absolutely certain that nothing good dwells in me, apart from Christ. just as paul wrote: "I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out." Romans 7:18 (ESV)

me too, paul. oh, me too. i love the Message version of the bible, which translates paul as saying something very similar to what i've said myself in verse 24: "I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my [rapidly fraying] rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?" of course, paul doesn't leave us hanging. he gives us the answer in v. 25: "The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different."

i've known this verse for years and yet, still made countless, empty promises to God of how I would do better, try harder... you know, be perfect and all. because i could totally do that if i just tried hard enough, right?, wrong. paul knew the right answer. my three year old knows the right answer, "twust in da ward". what had been in the way of my knowing? or rather, my believing?

all of these things were still in the back of my mind - and my heart - as i drifted off to sleep on sunday night. and there, in the stillness and the darkness and the quietness of my room, a piercing light - not completely unlike a light bulb in my head - it came as a flash. in a momentary thought:

"my child is going to sleep, perfectly content with this giant, painful splinter rather than experience the pain that comes before healing."

i sat straight up in my bed. instinctively, i threw my hand over my heart.

we spent monday morning at the pediatrician's office having the now infamous, ginormous splinter removed from parker's foot. when it comes to parenting, i am the weakest link. and there should be some sort of rules for that. you know, the weak link shouldn't be the one that holds the newborn baby for shots... or holds the three year old down for splinter removal. in the waiting room, he looked at me, very seriously, "are dey gonna take it out?". "yes", i said. "I don't want dem take it out!". he stood up, pranced around in his little brown crocs and looked at me with such hopeful optimism, "but mommy... wook! i can still walk on it". [enter flash of light again]. had i said that before?

i was blinking hard - either from that now familiar, piercing light or the tears in my eyes - i'm not sure which. and in that moment, i couldn't tell if what i was explaining to Parker in three year old terms was meant for him or for myself: "you can't walk around forever with a splinter in your foot. it could become infected and the infection could spread... eventually, you wouldn't be able to walk on it at all. and yes, it is going to hurt... but it has to hurt before it can heal... and even though you can walk on it right now, you are going to be able to run again soon and it is going to feel sooo much better."

one band-aid and one spider-man sticker later, parker was running to the car. "see, parker, didn't mommy tell you? that's what trust is."

"Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
He's the one who will keep you on track."
- Proverbs 3:5-6 (The Message)


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