Playing Hide and Seek

Lately my kids have been on a hide-and-seek kick. Generally from each other, though occasionally they just <love> to hide from me... especially when they're playing and I'm not even aware that I'm in the game.

They think it's hilarious to hide when I call them.

The other day after a particularly frustrating round of me calling and looking for my oldest (all the while not knowing she had decided it was hide-and-seek time) I came to my momma-whits-end. I had started by simply telling her it was time to get in the car. She disappeared. After 5 minutes I was generally yelling around the house telling her is was time to get in the car. After another 5 minutes I was actively searching for her and yelling even louder to come.get.in.the.car. We were late. I was frustrated. I had finally realized somewhere along the line that she was in fact, playing the game and not being <completely> disobedient.

And yet she was being completely disobedient.

And now several people would be late to a  function that would make many others have to change their plans as well.

That night my husband and I were talking over the general hide-and-seek situation. As I was bemoaning her general lack of behavior and how it vastly changed the outcomes of our afternoon, God gently reminded me that I had done the very same thing to Him... on more occasions to count.

How many times had He told me to do something and I didn't? I ran away. I hid. Like my daughter I literally went the other direction and disappeared. How much of His Word, meant for my good and instruction, have I disobeyed? Sometimes inadvertently, sometimes I was simply 'playing' a game and not listening, and other times I intentionally and purposefully didn't listen.

I was immediately convicted that my own games of hide-and-seek with my Father have (I'm sure) caused my fair share of frustration and Fatherly angst. Several situations in which I didn't do what I was supposed to ran across my memory-banks. Ugh. I wonder how many people were depending on me to obey? I wonder how much blessing I lost out on because I didn't listen to what I was told? I pondered who I made 'late' and who had to change their 'plans' because I was MIA. Innumerable I imagine.

But God is good, and even in those dark thoughts He reminded me of something else. That just like I had done for my daughter (probably a bit less angry...) He will also come looking for me. When I was lost, He came after me. Yelling my name, searching high and low.

Better yet, HE is never hard to find, because He never plays games with me. If I need Him, He is there- right there, always ready and willing to be together. There are no games, no hide-and-seek, no wondering where He could be.

In that moment and in the moments after, I have found that wonderfully reassuring. I have a God and a Father who looks for me and is always with me. He will never leave me or forsake me. He will not tire of searching for His wayward daughter, nitwit that I may be at times.

Deut. 31:8 "It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” ESV

Jeremiah 29:13 "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." ESV

Isaiah 41:10 "...fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." ESV

Amen and Amen!

Holding Hamsters and Grudges

Over the Easter weekend a tremendous and long-awaiting event occurred at the Douglas house. Jake came to visit us for the weekend! My sons in particular had been looking forward to this time together since last fall when we heard that there was a chance he might come visit. Since then almost every weekend came the expected, "Is Jake coming this week?" So, after many months, the special visit arrived. We picked Jake up after school on Thursday, settled him in his cozy little room at the house while both boys busily made plans for the long, 4-day weekend. Before long, all 96 hours of the Easter weekend were lovingly and thoroughly planned for Jake and our family. Quite frankly the first 20 hours were spectacular. Jake fit in with the family wonderfully, participating in all the kid's activities, eating what we gave him, and generally being quite pleasant. Our visit was going swimmingly.

Until he disappeared.

Or rather, I should say, until my 4-year Jonah old let him out of his cage....

And just like that, Jake the hamster was gone. The class pet, the children's Kindergarten mascot, who I was ultimately in charge of keeping, well... alive.... was MIA.

Before I knew it, my generally low-key, tidy world (I write this with the caveat that I have 3 children under 6, a dog, and a cat <who's role in this story will soon become apparent>, so take "low-key" and "tidy" for what you will...) was turned upside down. Instead of making dinner, I made non-lethal hamster traps (Google it, it's a thing). Instead of cleaning my house, I searched my house. And quite frankly I was irate. I was furious. Not that the hamster was lost necessarily, I was angry that my son (who we had already caught messing with the cage multiple times) had disobeyed me once again. I was 1003% O.V.E.R. him!

Me, who is used to high energy, high adrenaline, high trauma work... was seeing RED at my son's defiance. I was fuming. I called my husband, telling him to prepare himself for my mood and <his> child when he got home. I prepared for a long night, praying for a miracle; reasoning that it was Good Friday after all and surely if Christ could take the sins of the world upon Himself than certainly He could find and restore a rodent back into his cage. (Yes, my prayer was actually and literally that I would wake up and find little Jake happily and safely back inside his quarters... I know, I know... one can never accuse me of thinking or praying small!)

Fast forward to Saturday morning and Jake was found. Actually our cat Fievel was the one who discovered him and brought him to me like a good cat should. I, rather, found more specifically pieces of him. All over my bathroom floor. #goodmorningtome

I would have been mad except I literally don't think my anger from the previous night could have gotten any higher. I was legitimately perhaps the angriest I'd ever been at one of my children. The fallout from his decision to defy me continued on and it was not lost on me how much of a headache this visit was turning out to be. It was totally lost on Jonah though- he seemed to not even remember how or when he had opened the cage, only that he had. And though very sorry to see the bits of Jake all over my tile floor, he clearly hadn't made the connection that it was his disobedience that caused the hamster's untimely death. It was infuriating that I couldn't make him understand, and though he is only 4, I found myself resenting the ensuing expense and time to find another flippin' rodent, the embarrassing text to the teacher about the situation, and generally living down what, for anyone else that's not in the situation, is a hysterical story (the humor was not lost on me.) I resented him for it. Jonah could do nothing to fix the situation or even help it... an acknowledgment of guilt would have been nice at least. I was still angry.

Until my husband told me what had happened the previous night at church.

While I was busy (read: frantically) searching the house, christian-cussing under my breath about spending Friday night looking for a missing hamster who wasn't even ours... my husband had taken Jonah to a Good Friday walk-through at our church. I'm pretty sure it was more to ensure the tot's safety from my wrath than for his spiritual sake, but nevertheless at the end of the walk-through, having learned all about what happened to Jesus before and during his crucifixion, there was an opportunity to nail sins or burdens on a life-sized cross. When Gabe ask Jonah if there were any sins he needed to tell Jesus about he apparently replied, "I lost Jake." And taking a way-too-big hammer with a fresh nail, he nailed that black piece of paper his daddy had written his little sin on to the cross.

cross-300x225.jpg

Que: massive mom-regret and a wee bit of self-loathing...

I was hit with a tidal wave of conviction. 24 hours later and I hadn't forgiven him yet, I was still dealing with the fall-out of his sins and disobedience and I desperately wanted him to understand what he had done.

It doesn't matter Bethany.

He doesn't understand anymore than you do of what sins you've committed. He and you don't need to... that's for Me to deal with, just as you are for him.

He asked for forgiveness. I have forgiven him.

You need to as well.

Ugh. Just like that, once again my kids show me the face of God and in that light the current unflattering state of my soul. If God can forgive then I certainly must as well. No grudges, no resentment, no record of wrongs.

Well... maybe a blog about that time our cat ate the Kindergarten class hamster... which, let's be honest, will live in internetland forever.

Naked Joy

Good morning dear ones, wanted to encourage you this morning with some nude words. This is from a post I contributed to Mom-Sense last week but thought you may enjoy it as well. In short, I want us to be naked with joy, nude in our cleanliness, praising our Savior in nothing but our birthday suits.

I'd been praying over what to share with you for a couple days and God's answer came to me in the form of two very wet, very naked, little boys last night. Praise God for kids right?

Bath time at our house is an Event. Usually the degree of filth has reached epic proportions before I start noticing that particular 'boy smell' (because, yes, I'm THAT mom...) Fortunately my boys love bath time, shower time, pool time, pretty much anything that involves water. So they get thrown in the tub, shower, pool, bucket, whatever nearest H2O-containment system that's available; add some soap, occasional bleach (just kidding!), aLOT of elbow grease (and/or soaking time- I swear there's some chemical reaction that occurs between boys skin and all manner of dirt, dust, and grime which takes place making the bearer of such filth virtually impossible to easily or expeditiously clean!!) and viola! momentarily clean children.

They. Love. It.

If your kiddos are anything like mine, those short moments right after a bath are unusually crazy. Our house usually sees two little ones tearing around the place like feral cats, screeching, running, jumping, wrestling, and otherwise completely uninhibited by anything around them. Completely naked. They love the feeling of clean that comes fresh out of the bath- the freedom, the complete lack of inhibition.

My boys have no shame after their washing.

And neither should we.

There's something to be said for regular washing- there's more to be said for regular, INTENTIONAL, spiritual cleansing. Our souls and hearts too easily get grimed up by the everyday filth of living on this side of heaven. It's a thing dear ones. Just like our houses need constant upkeep, so also do our spirituals houses.

Scripture talks over and over about the cleansing nature of holy water- confession, repentance... the Holy Spirit. Psalm 51 is a perfect example, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭51:2‬ ‭(ESV‬‬). Verse 7, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

Dear ones, only God can fully clean all those dark and dirty places in our lives. Sometimes, as in my own kid's cases, that cleansing needs soaking- it needs time to slough away, because it's been there awhile. I think we all have areas that need some prolonged Holy Spirit saturation. What are yours?

But what naked, clean JOY comes after such a cleansing! "Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭51:12‬

Confess your filthy areas today dear one and find the fun in being naked, unashamed, and irresistibly joyful before Abba. Uninhibited spiritual nudity, the kind that bears no shame, carries no guilt, and can run and play with the Forgiver of Sins is what must endlessly please God.

It does my momma-heart good to know my children are clean and wrecklessly happy (and I do mean wreck....). I can only imagine it brings the same feeling to our Heavenly Father!