Like a Child: Featuring Guest Blogger Marla Stanley

Well, I’m starting something new here on OnceLost,NowFound. Once a month, on the last Wednesday of each month, I’ll be featuring a guest blogger. I’ve asked a college friend, Marla Stanley, to kick off the guest blogging this week. Take some time, after the excitement of the Red Sox winning the World Series wears off (!!!), to check out Marla’s post, and where she blogs over at Miprip:Finding Joy. Shout out and thanks to Marla to being my first guest blogger!

Hey there, friends! I would like to introduce myself as I’m guest-posting today for Tamara. (Thanks for the invite to your space, Tamara!) I blog over at Miprip: Finding Joy and I like to talk and share about life, my family, and a few book or product reviews thrown in for fun! I would love for you to come visit me on the blog or at my Miprip: Finding Joy Facebook page so that we can share joy together!

Like a Child

She whispers a gasp, followed by “na-na”. My daughter is anticipating the slices of strawberries I am scooping into a cup for her consumption. Bringing her right hand to her chest, she signs “please?” and looks up into my eyes eagerly. I smile and show her the cup with the berries, telling her, “Come with me, baby. I’ll give you some while we wait for Daddy.” She sweetly trotted along with me to the bench where we sat and I fed her strawberries. Pure bliss.

Granting my daughter’s desires brings me incredible joy as a parent. She hardly gets everything that she wants, but when her wants are aligned with good (things that are beneficial for her to enjoy) and within our means, Mason and I do not hesitate to grant them to her. Madeleine knows this well at 1.5 years of age and she also knows that she is loved, safe, and belongs. We also want for her to know the truth about who she is and the person God created her to be. We want her to know God and His heart to satisfy her. We want her to learn to ask Him for her desires and whisper, gasp in anticipation as she gazes into His face, eager for Him to provide what is good, acceptable and perfect!

Sometimes I allow Maddy to help choose fruit at the grocery store. Last week, in typical Maddy-fashion, she gasped and whispered, “na-na”, signing “please” when she saw the bags of grapes (if you haven’t figured out by now many things are called “na-na”). Her patience was expressed well as we had to pay for our groceries and get home before she could enjoy any of her chosen fruit! We arrived home and again, Maddy did well to be patient while we unloaded groceries…until she saw me empty the bag of grapes into the sink to be washed. She is usually a wonderful helper so in that same motion of emptying the grapes, I had held out the dirty bag asking her to throw it away for me. She didn’t understand. She thought they were suddenly gone and that she wasn’t going to enjoy any of them.

Maddy’s desires don’t always align with good. Boy, can she attempt a scene when we do not grant her desires! She is a toddler after all, and though some Grandparents or bystanders may think she is perfect, she is a sinful human being just like every other small child. In that moment at the kitchen sink, my daughter’s shoulders sunk and her little lip stuck out inches from her face! She could not see that I was washing the grapes so that she could enjoy them. She didn’t understand that the process was for her good and protection.

So often I am that child…pouting over my immediate wants not being met when God is working out a plan that is better! I am so thankful for the reminder, through my daughter, that my satisfaction lies in the Lord.

“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”

Psalm 107:9

Matthew chapter 18 expresses so clearly that our faith, the foundation of our relationship with our Heavenly Father is to be like that of a child. Madeleine’s childlike belief that I will grant her desires challenged me to gaze earnestly into my Lord’s face, expressing my wants in a whisper, gasping with anticipation as I watch His process of provision. The timeline and mode rarely fit my expectations, and often I need to realign my desires, but the result is always good, acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:2).

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Fellow fighters: why we need each other.

Dare I admit it? Dare I or don’t I, Ann and I, we are kindred spirits. The cries of our hearts have sang the same tune. She exposes and pours out the poison that sickened her heart, and I nod in agreement, knowing it’s the same poison that’s sickened mine. She writes on page 143 of One Thousand Gifts:

Anxiety has been my natural posture, my default stiffness. The way I curl my toes up, tight retreat. How I angle my jaw, braced, chisel the brow with the lines of distrust. How I don’t fold my hands in prayer…weld them into tight fists of control. Always control–pseudopower from the pit. How I refuse to relinquish worry, babe a mother won’t forsake, an identity. Do I hold worry close as this ruse of control, this pretense that I’m the one who will determine the course of events as I stir and churn and ruminate? Worry is the facade of taking action when prayer really is. And stressed, this pitched word that punctuates every conversation, is it really my attempt to prove how indispensable I am? Or is it more? Maybe disguising my deep fears as stress seems braver somehow.

Gulp.
I’ve made myself sick. Literally. And I’ve tried so hard to appear brave, but really all I’ve been is afraid.
I’m reminded today that it’s always the perfect time to trust, because I am always held. That it’s a good thing that things have not been in my control, gone my way, small and out of control as they have made me seem. Because all the more they show who’s really in control. And instead of chalking up the loss of appetite and the losing weight and the headaches and tremors to “stress”, I could confess the real cause: my sin. I have failed to trust and I have waved clenched fists at Heaven, demanding signs and answers. I could, like James encourages us, confess my faults to others so I may be healed. (James 5:16). I could forsake the idea that I could be afforded said healing before taking the necessary steps Scripture commands me to take in order to be forgiven for the sin, and granted the healing needed to clean up the damage that my sin has caused. I could stop asking, “God, heal me! Take away the anxiety!” before I’m ready to do the hard work of relying on the power of the Spirit to resist the temptation to fall into anxiety and worry like I have been so quick to do my entire life. After twenty-five years, how could I imagine it would be easy? But I’m not promised easy. I’m promised the power and presence of God Himself, and I could stop forgetting that. I could start fighting. Fighting fear, fighting lies, fighting the Enemy, fighting the idea that I can rest comfortably in my sin with no consequences because at least I don’t do this, or that, or _________. My sin always has consequences, and they don’t ever affect just me. I could heed Paul’s advice to not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9), to keep fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12).
Readers, you are strangers, friends, family members, acquaintances. But if you’re a believer, we’re in this together. I think God tells us not to just confess to Him but also to one another because He knows we need each other. It’s how He made us. No man is an island, and if you’re struggling with something, sometime else has, too (1 Corinthians 10:13). That’s why I’m so glad Ann found the courage to expose her poison. Because if someone else has been tempted like I have, and has found the strength to fight it, maybe I can, too. Maybe I can remember the power to fight is right at my fingertips, living inside of me. Readers, whether I know you or not, can we engage in this battle together? Can we remember there’s strength in numbers? Can we commit to confessing our faults to others–whether that’s to your spouse, small group, a close confidante or group of friends? Can we find the courage to come up alongside fellow fighters and say, “I’ve been there. Here’s the way out.”? Can we resolve to do the hard work of letting the Spirit’s power work through us to rid our hearts of poison, and fill us with Him in order to flow out of us? Too much is at stake to simply throw in the towel, to lie down and let the Enemy get the upper hand. He’s already been defeated, and we’ve got to show him who’s Boss. The God of the universe has called us to live for His glory and proclaim to others how to do the same.
If you’d be so brave, I’d love to hear feedback on how you’re making headway in the battle. How have fellow fighters come alongside you and encouraged you in the battle? How have you done the same for others?

To Be Moons: Suspended in Grace, Reflecting the Light of the Son.

You can come to the end of a long, tiring, trying week.
And your kitchen can smell like the trash you forgot to set out this week and your house can be all out of sorts because you simply haven’t.had.time to pick up.
And you can choose the Better Thing.
The dishes will still need washing and yes, the bills will still need paying. But for right now, you can choose to sit. Still. At His feet. And it’s okay to feel like you can’t help but to write about the moon. Who knew it could be so beautiful? It reflecting the light of the sun. You can come home to a glance at your reflection in the bathroom mirror, and see cheeks ripened from letting cold October air fill your lungs to the rhythm of legs overturning bicycle wheels on the return from the back shore. And it can hit you: you radiate when you look at Him.

“Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Psalm 34:5 ESV

 You could whisper the name of Jesus over and over again, and let His peace wash over you. You could remember, when the darkness threatens to overtake you, that Light has already won. And He who holds that white orb reflecting sunlight suspended in space, He holds your heart suspended in grace. He is worthy to be trusted with it. And any thoughts contrary to that don’t hold any weight—so you don’t have to let them convince you they do. In fact, you must do the very opposite. You must proactively fight against them. Tear them down.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 ESV

The moon, hanging cratered in the sky, emits no light on its own. Its only illumination is that which is reflected off the sun. We see light by night when we see the moon face the sun—when the eyes of the moon look at the face of the sun. And so, even in darkness, we are guided by the light of day.

You and I, we could be moons. We could look to Him, fix our eyes on His face, so that everything else grows strangely dim. And strangely enough, that dim-sightedness to the problems and lies that loom, that appear to be mountainous monsters who might have the power to tear us down, it opens our eyes to the Light and the Truth: the truth that these threats, monstrous as they seem, have no power over us. We, in Christ, in fact have the power to tear them down. Our cratered faces, carved by scars of fear and pain and hurt and loss and grief and sin and evil—could be no longer darkened. We could reflect the Son, all His radiant Beauty. And we could guide those in the dark by the light of Day.