This is my 3-yr-old. 

With his warrior heart, silly storytelling, and impossibly large brown eyes, he is a source of daily joy to me. Daily joy and daily frustration.

Today he earned his first trip to the Emergency Room, which turned out to be my first close-up experience with stitches.

Three of them. 
One for each year of his life. 

He was a trooper, though, as they say. We're still not sure exactly how it happened. One minute he was sauntering into Gramma's shed, the next he was stepping into the sunlight and screaming, blood running down his face and soaking into his favorite Texas truck shirt.
He says he tripped over the pedal tractor and bumped his head. The ER nurse said it best when she asked him if it was a John Deere pedal tractor and upon hearing the whispered confirmation, stated, "well, it was worth it then!"

They asked me to hold his feet down during the stitching and it was the second time I assisted in holding down a boy in the ER and again I noticed primarily the smell. 

If I do say so myself, my son and I were BOTH troopers today.

His dad promised him ice cream for being so brave. I got some too.

This is the same three-year-old that sneaks out of his bed every single night with an impish grin and says he needs to go potty. This is the same three-year-old that I respond to every night with, "Hurry up! I'm so tired of this every night! You're going to get yourself a spanking!" and the fact that I've never followed through on the threat probably renders the genuine anger fairly useless.

Tonight he tiptoed into the bathroom where I was brushing my teeth and had the same impish grin on his face. 

My tone tonight was kind. Loving. Patient. 

I sent him back to bed with two hugs and several kisses. The impish smile remained.

And so did the lingering thought in my mind: why was I so willing to be patient and kind tonight? Obviously because he had a rough afternoon.
But what if he had, God forbid it!,  a chronic illness? Cancer even. 

I'm guessing my tone would always be softer. More sympathetic.  My mind would be more attuned to the eternal.

But he does have a chronic illness. We ALL do. Each of us is born with the chronic illness of sin on our body and soul. Why do I forget this each night? The best cure for sin is the love of Jesus Christ. So why do I forget to administer this medicine each moment of my days with my children? 

Instead of yelling and being frustrated and tired from long days of mothering, I promise to now take a deep breath and remember how tenderly us parents care for our wounded babies. Then remember that not all wounds are physical or visible. We must treat each moment as the precious gift that it is.
 
 
I got into a fight with a good friend of mine.
We have different opinions on an issue, which to me is no big deal -- we should be able to discuss it, argue our own reasons for our stance, and walk away friends.
In this case, it's not what happened. What it came down to was that I had no right to comment on the issue because of her expertise in the field (which is undisputed -- her qualifications outweigh mine).

This has reminded me that as a parent, I need to value my kids' opinions without taking personal insult if they are different than mine. As their "superior," I might feel I know best on all issues, but if I stifle their need to express themselves, how does that foster our relationship? All it does is teach them that I do not value their feelings.

As I discussed my frustrations with my sister (at 3:00 a.m.! who else can a girl call at three o'clock in the morning but a sister?!), she quoted Psalm 34:18 to me:

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

"Coincidentally" (I don't believe in coincidence, that's why it's in quotes), that was the exact verse that I'd read to the kids last night in their bedtime devotional!

I know my opinion matters to Neil -- most of the time. (Or, at least he's smart enough to pretend it does!) My opinion matters to my kids too, and to others. But it doesn't matter to all people all the time. However, God cares. It's okay to approach Him boldly and tell Him what's inside. I often have a visual of me crawling up into a great big chair into my heavenly father's lap, just like I did with my own dad as a child, and leaning my head on His chest and listening to His heart and just being held. That's what I pictured last night. I crawled up into His lap and said a simple, "Daddy, my feelings got hurt today."

It's amazing what He can do for you in the quiet, in the stillness. He cares about my feelings -- I don't need to apologize for my opinions or for my feelings if I am mad or hurt or jealous. I just need to spend time with Him, listening to His heart for me and those around me. My opinion matters, if only to Him.
 
 
Ever notice how children can give you spiritual insight far beyond their maturity or understanding?
My 3-yr-old son does this for me often. I think I'm close to him because we are similar in personality and I understand his thinking patterns.

I listen to this kid's prayers every night before bed because they are infused with so much carefree creativity and belief that it's inspiring.
This morning, this is what he told me:
"When I'm quiet, then sometimes God talks to me and you know what He says? He says, 'No hitting your sisters! No scratching your sisters! No pinching your sisters! You have to be nice to them.' God said it's our job to take care of everybody in the whole world, but right now I have to take care of my girls and my whole family."

I love this kid! How right is he? It's our job to be the hands and feet of Christ -- to take care of the world by meeting both their physical and spiritual needs. Your own family is a great place to start. This can be accomplished by the authority we have in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

What an encouraging start to the day. :)
 
 
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You ever have one of those days where you realize that God has decided to SHOUT at you because you just aren't getting it??

Lately I've been feeling at a spiritual deadlock, an impasse that bound me to a sense of pointlessness about holiness in general. Now, of course, my heart knows differently, but it's difficult to get things through my thick skull.

I go to a spirit-filled church that believes in the individual being baptized in the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. And I believe in this too. But I've been someone that's been seeking this out for many years -- dare I say, decades?! -- and have never had this experience. Now, I fully believe I've been filled with the Holy Spirit (and I'll spare you the details for now), but the speaking in tongues thing? Nope. Even though many of my most dearly beloved family have had this phenomenon in their spiritual walk, I have not. Every few months or years, my frustration with this rears its ugly head and I get mad at those who tell me what I'm doing wrong, why it's so important, blah blah blah. I feel like screaming, "I KNOW! I believe it's important too!" After one particularly heartwrenching trial, a dear friend gave me good advice. She said, "Ashlee, stop going after the gift, and just focus on going after the Giver."

And that's what I do. I focus on God and know that He lives in me, evidence in tongues or not. My self-edification comes from the fact that I stand on His Word and know that He says:
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. -Romans 8:11
Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. -2 Corinthians 1:22
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? -1 Corinthians 6:19
But there are many times I just want to give up, stay where I'm at, and know that God loves me no matter what.

And then God shouts at me to get my attention. Like today.
Here's a part of what my Oswald Chambers devotional entry said today:
An elevated mood can only come out of an elevated habit of personal character. If in the externals of your life you live up to the highest you know, God will continually say -- "Friend, go up higher." ...Compare this week in your spiritual history with the same week last year and see how God has called you up higher. ...Growth in grace is measured not by the fact that you have not gone back, but that you have an insight into where you are spiritually; you have heard God say, "Come up higher," not to you personally, but to the insight of your character. ...God has to hide from us what He does until by personal character we get to the place where He can reveal it.

And then I went to my MOPS (Moms of PreSchoolers) meeting today. Our mentor mom is teaching us out of one of her favorite parenting books called "Five Star Families." The chapter she did today?
It was on growth -- growth as a mom, growth as a family unit, encouraging your children's growth... She even quoted the author as saying, "If the shoe fits, then you haven't left enough wiggle room for growth." Which leads me to my last item...

I took my two girls out shoe-shopping for spring tennis shoes today. (Another story in itself!) I was amazed that their shoe size had gone up so much since we'd bought school shoes last September! The word that kept tumbling through my head? Yep. Growth.

So yes, Lord, I get it. I will continue to grow and push myself and get out of my comfort zone in order to see what you have in store for me. I will trust in You, abide always in You, and let you mold me into the image of Christ. Help me to stop being so caught up in myself and to remember always that glorifying your name is my highest purpose.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. -Isaiah 43:19 (one of my favs)

Be blessed in this spring season of growth and renewal, readers!

EDIT:
My 97-year-old Grandmother that raised me gave me a birthday card last month that expressed her regrets in some aspects of how she raised me (though I think I turned out pretty darn good!). She ended the card with, "I'm learning. May I improve." Now if someone that wise can still be open to personal growth... well, let's say that it speaks volumes to me.