Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Nicknames

Spuds McKenzie. Spud. Killer. Buzz. Derry-boy.

My husband gave all of our kids nicknames. Many nicknames for each of them, and it’s a sign of affection to get one. He never really ponders them; they just fly out of his mouth and somehow stick. Those listed above are some of the ones he gave our son Derek early on.

Each of Derek’s nicknames reflects a part of him; he was called “killer” because of his competitive drive on the soccer field. Spud was shortened from Spuds McKenzie, and given as a result of a major black eye that made him look like the terrier in commercials. Buzz came from the haircut that he sported for years. Derry-boy? Who knows!

Now that Derek is older his nicknames have changed. When Derek had a job delivering pizza he became “pizza man”. Now that he’s a teacher Alan calls him “The Professor”. Or if he’s on the soccer field it changes to “Coach”.

Derek for nicknames

But my favorite nickname for Derek is “son.” The word alone carries a depth of meaning. In many ways it defines our relationship because it represents all our shared experiences, shared memories, and shared struggles. It means we are family, with all the rights and privileges that come with it. Most of all, it means that because he is my son, he can count on me to be there for him. There is nothing that Derek can do that will make me quit loving him.

God gives us, His children, nicknames too.

Redeemed (Psalm 107:1-3; Isaiah 35:8-10; Isaiah 51:9-11). Friend (Luke 5:20 Luke 12:4; John 15:14-15). Beloved (Colossians 3:12, KJV).

My favorite nickname? Child of God. (John 1:12-13; 1 John 3:1-2; Romans 8:14) It reflects who I am to Him. He deliberately chose that word because He knew it’s one I could understand and relate to. It communicates the depth of His love for me.

I love Derek—and all my kids—very imperfectly. God is a perfect Father who loves us without condition. Without measure. Without flaw. There is nothing I can do that will change the fact of His love for me.

I am His daughter.

Further reflection:

1. Do you have any nicknames? What do they say about the relationship you have with the one who gave it to you?

2. What does it mean to you to be called “a child of God?”

Abba, You are a perfect Father. Thank You that You have given me the right to be called a child of Yours. I love to picture myself as one of those kids that, while here on earth, You always made time to be with. Thank You for not only allowing me into Your presence, but for welcoming me as Your daughter, and that there is nothing I can do to change the reality of Your love for me.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Joy Comes in the Morning

Pain etched itself in the expression on her face. It was so much harder to watch my daughter go through it that when I did it myself!

Wyatt was, even then, reluctant to make his appearance (http://www.aneverydayvoice.com/2014/02/just-temporary-home.html). He was already a week late, and now, a full 17 hours after being induced, delivery was finally growing close. But it wasn’t easy.

Wave after wave of excruciating contractions rolled through Megan, so close together as to feel like a single one. Straining and groaning, she struggled to push him out. The intensity of the pain seemed like it would never end, but there was no other choice than to keep pressing on.

It’s a lot like life.

It can be fraught with pain. At times it’s hard, it seems endless, and it hurts. We cannot escape it, so we just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Yet in our suffering, something is born is us that could not happen any other way. Our character changes; qualities develop; trust in Jesus deepens.

…suffering produces perseverance; perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.                                                                                                  Romans 5:3-4

We are changed by our struggles, and while we would never ask for or choose suffering, we so often we look back on those times and recognize how much we learned, and how near God was to us during it.

At 2:41 am Megan’s suffering was over, and joy came in the form of Wyatt Alan.

Wyatt newborn

One day, all of our suffering will come to an end, too. It may not come today, or tomorrow, or even in this lifetime. Jesus told us that this world would hold trouble (John 16:33). He also promised that one day:

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”                                                                  Revelation 21:4-5

All will be made right. No more suffering. No more pain. Only Jesus will remain, and the joy of eternity with Him.

“…weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5b

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.                                                                                                            Romans 8:18

Further reflection:

  1. Describe a time that you felt like your suffering would never end.
  2. How are you different from having gone through that?

Father, thank You that, even when we are suffering, Your plans are good. You never, ever leave us to suffer alone, and You do a new work in us, creating qualities that were not there before. Thank You, too, for the promise of heaven, when all will be made right and suffering will be no more. Until then, help me to see Your purposes in the midst of pain, so that You have Your way in me.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Just a Temporary Home

Her Facebook comment read: “Wyatt is in no hurry to come out.”

My youngest daughter, Megan, was almost a week past her due date, and at that very uncomfortable, “I am done with being pregnant” stage.

Wyatt, however, was altogether too happy to stay right where he was at. And why not? It was warm, it was cozy, it was home.

Wyatt's sonogram

Still, it wasn’t as comfy in there as it used to be. Being a big baby meant space was getting pretty tight. There wasn’t much freedom of movement anymore. That’s because the womb is just a temporary home; he was not created to stay there. He was really designed for this world.

If only he knew how much his mom and dad (and grandma…) were anticipating his arrival! If only he understood our love and how wonderful this world can be, he might long to be here, too.

But he couldn’t. The womb was all he knew.

It’s the same for me.

I love this world! The warmth of the sun kissing my face. The riot of color in a mountain meadow. The melodic, gurgling sound of running water. They bring me such delight, and I cannot imagine anything better.

But like Wyatt, I wasn’t created to stay here. It, too, is only a temporary home, and I was created for an eternal one.

If I really understood how much my Father loves me, I might not be so satisfied to stay here. If only I truly realized how much He is eagerly anticipating my arrival, my attitude might not be quite so complacent. If I could actually picture how wonderful heaven is, I would not cling to this place, because it is only a poor shadow of what’s coming.

Heaven is my true home.

I’m not in a hurry to leave, but it’s going to be awesome when I get there!

But our citizenship is in heaven... Philippians 3:20a

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.                                                                                       Psalm 73:24-26

Further reflection:

  1. What do you love best about this life?
  2. How do you think heaven will be different?
  3. What do you feel when you think about going there?

Father, heaven becomes more precious all the time as people that I love join You there. Thank You that this life is not the end of things, it isn’t even what we were created for! We were created to know You, to love You, and to worship You. In heaven, someday, I will be able to do that perfectly. Then, I will finally be truly home.