"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

God's Wings

"How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men find refuge
in the shadow of your wings."  (Psalm 36:7, NIV)

Recently, I've contemplated this idea of finding refuge in God's wings.  The Bible is replete with imagery involving eagles' wings, especially in Psalms.  Yet, my attention was drawn to this through a verse in Ruth.  Boaz tells Ruth, "May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge." (Ruth 2:12, NIV) Ruth, a Moabitess, has left her homeland and forsaken her gods to pledge allegience to Naomi and her God.  She has abandoned any family in Moab and adopted new family in Bethlehem.  She is now seeking shelter in God's arms. 

I thought about this when I helped dress my sleepy 10-year-old earlier this week.  Every once in awhile, her eyes won't open in the morning, so I pick up one body part at a time and dress her.  Then, I hoist her arms around my neck while she wraps her legs around my body, and I carry her small frame into the kitchen where she eats her Reese's Puffs breakfast of champions. The eagle's wings image popped into my brain.  Just as she found refuge in my arms, so I nestle in my Father's arms. She didn't want to face the day and needed me to give her some extra love. Perhaps my willingness to give her additional affection, allowing her to curl up in my arms gave her the boost she needed.

Mornings don't always materialize in this manner.  Typically, I begin by sweetly and gently cajoling my daughter out of bed, sometimes with a beautiful morning song.  When that doesn't move her, I resort to a firm, "Time to get up now.  Let's go." After that, the threats begin with the ugly mom voice.  "If you don't get moving, you'll lose dessert for 5 years and go to bed early until you're 16."  However, this morning was different.  And, I thought about God's arms as I wrapped my arms wholly around this little trusting person.  Just like what I do with God, only He doesn't ever bark at me when I don't get up quickly enough. 

Unfortunately, the day will arrive when my daughter will grow too large for me to wrap her up completely in my arms.  But, God's arms are never too small. The wingspan of eagles' wings is 7 feet, almost 1 1/2 times my 5'4" body. I don't know what size Ruth was, but I do know that she found refuge in the shadow of God's wings. She left her country, her dead idols and a bleak future in Moab.  While grieving the loss of her husband, she travelled to a new country with her mother-in-law of all people for the prospect of an uncertain future with a God she barely knew.  She gave God her grief, and He gave her hope.  

In the 35 years that I've been a Christ-follower, I've lost track of how many occasions I've buried myself in God's arms.  God has sheltered me, held me, loved me through my teens, in the midst of marriage hardships, through financial challenges, in the middle of raising children.  He is the One in whom I've taken refuge over and over again.  Even more than I love to cuddle with, protect and shield my little girl when she can barely open her eyes to face the day, He desires to shelter me from the storms this life brings. He hopes that I'll seek refuge in Him rather than a friend, food or finances.  Maybe He even longs for me to be more like Ruth, the foreigner, the former idol-worshiper.    

Father, help me to find my shelter in you, just like Ruth did.  She didn't cling to her past, but looked forward to a hopeful future.  She took a risk and trusted You. She moved forward and didn't let fear hold her back.  No matter what happens in my future, I pray that I would continue to seek refuge in You who cover me with Your wings.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Drama Queen is Born

Sparkly, Bubbly, Bouncy

My youngest child has epitomized these adjectives since she burst onto the scene 10 years ago February 7.  She came into this world dramatically, and she's been a drama queen ever since.  I checked into the hospital expecting the pitocin-induced labor that I experienced with the older two, but Maddie had different ideas.  Partway through the process, the doctors and nurses wheeled me into the operating room for an emergency C-section due to Placenta Abrupto.  Perhaps Maddie didn't think a conehead would bode well for princess status and caused a little commotion just to make sure that crown would look fabulous on a perfectly shaped head.  In any case, she made her entrance known to everyone like Hollywood divas do walking the red carpet on Oscar night.  I didn't realize at the time, that she is a walking, dancing, skipping miracle.  A few years ago, I learned how life-threatening my condition was and that this impetuous angel might not have survived.  To the staff's credit, they were remarkably calm and didn't waste any time delivering Maddie.  The doctor sedated me, cut me open and sewed me up more quickly than it takes to sing the National Anthem.  Maddie's grand entrance set the stage for her future dramatic performances.

In the past 10 years, she has played the lead actress in grocery stores, friends' homes and at Disneyworld throwing tantrums.  On one particular occasion, she should've received an Oscar for Best Fit of all time.  Let me just insert here that sometimes parents are just plain stupid when they stay at Disney until midnight with a two year old.  Nope, not smart at all.  Her dad wrapped his arms around her little body to contain her.  Instead, she began to kick fellow tram travelers while screaming, "Daddy, you're hurting me.  Stop hurting me!"  The only people who were hurt were the poor innocents she was kicking due to her loss of self-control.  Still, her choice of words caused me to wonder if Child Protective Services might pay us a visit.  When the tram stopped, people jumped off faster than they would run out of a burning building.

It goes without saying that she has played starring roles as a Drama Queen.  She's never been content to play the supporting actress.  She's the social butterfly, party organizer and chatterbug.  When relaying an incident with friends, Maddie says, "They're so full of drah-mah!"  When a friend's seat is moved away from her, Maddie expains, "Oh, they were talking too much."  When I ask why she takes her tests in the hallway instead of the class, she states, "People distract me with their talking."  Every report card, every conference with the teacher, I expect to read and hear the same thing.  Maddie talks too much and needs to focus on her work better, but she's a pleasure to have in class.  Of course, she is.  Maddie's a party waiting to happen.  It's the work she doesn't like to do. "Fun" is Maddie's modus operandi. 

Energizer Bunny is what I've always called that be-bopping little girl.  From the moment she awakes to the moment we beg, plead and force her to go to bed, she is bouncing, chattering flipping.  She tumbles four hours at gymnastics and still has more battery life for eating dinner, doing homework and negotiating to stay up late like the teenagers. "It's not fair," she cries about her 9 o'clock bedtime. She always has one more story to relay to us and one more stuffed animal to find.  By this time, my energy is sapped and hers is recharged.  "Get in bed, so we can pray," I snap.  Makes for a lovely ending to the day, don't you think?

As strong-willed as that little munchkin is, she is equally big-hearted, compassionate and loving.  Maddie is quick to remember those in our family who need prayer.  Thoughtful, she asks provoking questions and converses with others as an adult would.  Not too long ago, Maddie and I were talking to a former principal of her older siblings.  He told her to tell them "hi" from him.  She said, "I don't think I'll remember since they won't be back until next week."  He looked amazed. "Wow, you are something, aren't you?"  Yep, no matter the age, Maddie can communicate with them without intimidation.  On another occasion, we were discussing what the word "innocent" meant.  I explained what it meant and she said, "No offense, Mom, but you've made mistakes."  I wanted to say, "No, duh," but I figured that would be a little rude.  That kid not only says the darnedest things that make me howl, but she also asks all manner of questions spurred by her desire to learn.
I am grateful for this little miracle who just entered the world of double digits.  In spite of the stop-growing-drops her father continues to sprinkle on her, she continues to mature physically, emotionally and spiritually.  She's ecstatic those drops aren't working.  Now she's setting her sights on 11. I, however, am hoping time will slow down just a little bit, so the eight years I have left with that joy-filled, spunky girl will seem like an eternity. At least, that's my wish most days.