Sunday, March 11, 2012

Good Gifts and "Squishy Animals"

I just totally made my son's day. Yes, I feel like a hero- capable of causing the kind of joy in my child's heart that causes foot-dancing happiness and sunlight-radiating smiles. The wonderful thing about my son's happiness is that it only cost me a couple of dollars- and it rocked his little world.

I took all three kiddos to Target today to make my sons' birthday lists. Their birthdays are within a few days of each other and we have their party coming up, so I like to take them to the store and let them decide what they would like for their birthdays (my family prefers to get a detailed "list" so that the kids don't receive items that they already have or that they won't play with). While we were there, my son spotted this little red stegosaurus "squishy animal" ("squishy animals" is what we termed those slimy-feeling rubbery pellet-filled animals- they are usually reptiles, dinosaurs, or amphibians, but we also have some sea creatures. They are quite revolting, honestly.) Lucas, who is five, is an avid collector of squishy animals. He has a ton of them, and any extra bit of money he gets is used to buy more. He loves each one- he knows if there is one missing, cries if one gets messed up, and has named each and every animal in his collection. We haven't seen the icky creatures at Target in a while, so he was over the moon about finding one- especially since it was his favorite color and unlike any of the other animals he already owns. I snapped a pic of him with it to add it to our list, and we moved on.

Fast forward a couple of hours... my son was still thinking about that red stegosaurus. He came into the room and said, "Mommy? There was only one of those squishy animals left (this is true- it was in the wrong place and we couldn't find any others). What if someone else buys it?" While my husband and I tried to reason with him, he became quite distraught over the fact that the red dinosaur might not, in fact, come to live with him (knowing that these were all items he wanted for his birthday, which is still a couple of weeks away). In a show of heart-breaking despair, his big green eyes filled up with tears. This was less a fit (he's not prone to fit-throwing or even acting spoiled) and more a a little boy with a truly sad heart. There was no loud crying, no demands for us to get it for him- just a sad little boy with quiet tears and a sense of loss.

My heart broke a little bit... because I KNOW what it feels like to desperately want something and genuinely not know if you will be able to have it. That is what we are facing right now, in fact. My husband, who works for himself in the construction industry, is facing the (very exciting) prospect of a possible salaried position, working locally, doing what he loves. Some perspective: Not once in our entire marriage have we ever had a "salaried" position. There are not very many of those in his line of work. When you do what he does, you do jobs as they come, get paid when they are over, and live by faith in God's provision each and every month. We never make the same amount from week to week or month to month. Some months he has so much work that he doesn't know how it will get finished. Some months- especially in this economy- there is very little work. A salaried job means that we will get paid the same amount every week, whether or not there is any work going on. Not just "salaried"- but it will provide for us abundantly. It will cover all of our bills and expenses with money left over. MONEY LEFT OVER! It's an amazing prospect for us.  Don't get me wrong- God has been faithful throughout all the years of our marriage. He has provided for our needs, even when it felt like things were hopeless. Eight years of irregular income has done a lot to strengthen our faith and reliance on Him. But now... the thought of my husband having a steady, regular income- one that allows budgeting and sufficiency and giving, one that means that he won't be pacing around the house when work is slow, stressing about bills...

I want this to happen. I want it so, so much. 

It's almost painful how much I want this.

So I keep praying, asking God for this provision, and hoping that I can rejoice in whatever God's answer is, knowing that what He deems best is more than sufficient and always has been. But...

I want this to happen. I want it so, so much. 

So, just like Lucas, there is this pain of wanting something but not being sure if it will happen... and the thought of it not happening is enough to bring tears to his big green eyes- and mine as well.

I stood up, put my shoes on, and put that precious little boy in the car. I drove him to Target, walked him back to that toy aisle, found that red squishy stegosaurus, and bought it. His joy... oh, his joy! Not just in attaining that precious gift he so desperately wanted, but also in the knowledge that his mommy would be willing to do that for him. I told him, "This doesn't mean that you will always get everything that you want, Lucas... but, if it is in my power to give you something, and that something will bring joy to you and is not harmful for you... I will try my best to do it." The look in his eyes, the smile on his face, said that he understood my message. He has a mommy who loves him enough to drive him to Target to get him the desire of his little 5-year-old heart.

On the way home, with my son radiating happiness from the backseat, naming his new friend and looking forward to getting home and introducing "Stega" to the rest of the squishy animal menagerie, I was reminded of this verse:

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

This brought so much peace to my heart. I have a Father who loves me enough to give me the desires of my heart when they are in my best interest! I am still going to fervently pray for this job (and I humbly ask that you take just a second and petition Him on behalf of my family as well)- but knowing that my Father is happy to give me good gifts when they are what is best for me. I have seen His hand working for my good enough times to know this to be absolutely true. This job may or may not be what is best for my family right now. Do I trust Him enough to decide that for me? Do I trust Him to supply my needs and the needs of my family? Yes- even if the need is not, in fact, monetary- but, rather, more faith in Him. The Bible says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19) He will supply what we lack. He will provide what we need. The hard part is trusting less in my self-righteous "knowledge" of what I need, and trusting more in His vastly superior knowledge of what is best. And when God gives- He gives abundantly, and to His glory! Whether that is the job I desire, or the faith I need, or the love that is mine through His son... well, I love the way the KJV sums this up: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

So tonight, I feel like a hero... but I also feel a bit more at peace.

Father, I just thank You for yet another opportunity to learn more about Your character through interactions with my children. I thank You for the opportunity to, in a small way, demonstrate Your giving nature to my sweet little boy. I ask, Lord, that You will give me a heart like Lucas's... a heart that is grateful and joyful in the gifts that You give me- but also for the spiritual maturity to recognize those gifts, even if they aren't the ones I necessarily desire. Lord, I ask- I beg- I beseech You for this job for my husband! But I also ask You for a heart that is grateful to You for whatever You decide to do in this situation. I thank You that You will do the best for me, whatever that is- and pray that I can glorify Your name whether or not I get the outcome I want so much. Above all, I thank you for the gifts I already have in You- abundant, undeserved grace and love from a holy and magnificent Father, the daily bread You faithfully provide, and the sweet family You have entrusted me with. The blessings are many, Father. Thank You. Amen. 

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