Do you have childhood memories of your parents giving you “friendly reminders” of how you should behave? I sure do. Some of them were biblical – “Adam and Eve thought they could hide from God, but they couldn’t, and neither can you. He knows everything.” Some of them were not biblical – “Don’t you forget about the boy who cried wolf, he lied so much that people just stopped believing him!” Well, I have spent my fair share of time trying to hide things from God and crying out to people over and over for un-needed attention. And now, years later, I am, as my Dad says it, absolutely getting “paying for your raisin”, that’s for sure.
This summer we decided to potty train our lovely baby girl. “We”
I didn’t give my man a choice decided this would be a good time because my darling husband would be off from work and I would have some help. Let’s put it this way: we knew this particular child wouldn’t be, how shall I say, easy to train. To do anything.
As we had with our two previous children, we talked it up big time before it was go-time. “Oh no, you’re not a big girl yet, but next week, you get to wear big girl panties!” “Only babies go in the potty” “Potty training is going to be so much fun, you’ll get stickers and M&M’s – it’s going to be great!”
You know how they say you should never lie to your children (or anyone, really)? Obey that one. It pretty much always backfires. That darling husband of mine, that I mentioned earlier, was now reminding me daily
more like hourly of how my daughter reminded him so much of me. Gee thanks, babe. Apparently, it is true that out of our three children, it is amazing that they inherited every single negative trait from their mother, and not a single one from dear ol’ Dad. Team Holzberger has defied genetics. Remarkable.
Anyway, Miss Abigail was all excited about this new adventure, mainly due to the mention of “N&M’s” (as she calls them) and stickers. Isn’t it amazing what we can get our kids to do with a sheet of stickers from the dollar store? That is, for a day or two. After two weeks of talking up “potty train-ing and only two days of actually doing it, Ms. Independent informed us that “I all done ride the potty train, Mama.”
Ya girl, Mama’s all done too. I vaguely remember
only because I’ve tried to block these months out completely debating with myself how important this whole potty training thing really is. I mean, let’s be honest, you don’t see too many eight-year-olds out there in diapers. At some point, she would become socially embarrassed and figure it out for herself, right? Sounded like a plan to me.
I regained my brainpower and we pushed on towards the goal. No. More. Diapers. But I’ll be darned if those diapers didn’t hold in the nastiness for us. What ignorant bliss we lived in during the diaper time. I think it is similar to childbirth – if women truly remembered how painful it was, each family would only have one kid. The same is true with potty training, somehow you are able to forget the seven thousand trips to the potty each day…the smell of fresh pee in the carpet and the uncertainty of where it is…the loads and loads of laundry that is done in such a short amount of time because you refuse to spend fifty bucks buying the kid thirty pairs of panties. Somehow you block it all out. That is, until it is time to ride the potty train again.
The worst part of this precious baby girl’s potty training experience was that she turned into an attention addict.
I have absolutely no idea where she gets that from. She quickly figured this whole deal out. Hmmm…if I say “I gotta go poopy!”, every grown up in the room immediately stops what they’re doing, jumps up, and rushes me away from what I’m doing. That’s right, it didn’t take long. Anytime she would be close to getting in trouble, I’d be walking toward her to spank her hiney discipline her and she’d cry out, “I gotta go poopy!” If there was something on her plate at dinner that she didn’t care to eat, she’d eat all the rest and then amazingly she’d say,“I gotta go poopy!” If we were at a store and she was tired of being in the cart, despite the fact that it was F-U-L-L of perishables…that’s right, “I gotta go poopy!” at the end of every stinkin’ aisle. I kid you not, we probably jumped up and rushed her in there forty times a day – at least! All for nothing. She flat out wouldn’t go. Oh no, she would always wait until we had gotten about six feet away from the bathroom before just pooping in her panties. “Mama, I poop on Dora” she’d tell us. She absolutely knew what she was doing. She just wanted the attention. The girl is smart, I’ll give her that. But, what she hasn’t yet figured out during her brief two-and-a-half years on planet earth, is that her Mama invented stubborn. She wasn’t winning this one.
After a day or two, Ryan and I had some time to reconvene and discuss our new plan of attack. There was no going back, we had to make this thing work. Both of our boys were fully potty trained, even at bedtime, within 2 weeks.
Oh man I love those boys for that – I think I’ll go buy them a toy. But not sister friend. We were pretty convinced that she was perfectly content to “poop on Dora” until she was in middle school. Our strategy had to change. And it did. No more stickers for pee-pee, she had that down. If she did have an accident, she didn’t get to pick out her next pair of panties. I swear half the time she just felt like a wardrobe change. She’d be barely done pooping and shed smile and say “I want Princess panties now, Mama!” And most importantly, if she said she had to go, she went – and stayed forever, whether it meant missing dessert, or a TV show, or finishing a game. We had to make sure she knew how important it was to “say what she means and mean what she says”. Now, before you report us to CPS, please know how bright this little girl is. She has two big brothers who adore her, she talks like a four-year-old, and can flat out manipulate just about anyone with her charm. This had to stop.
And it did. Within a couple days of us really cracking down on her, she stopped “crying wolf” on us and started really telling us when she had to go. Don’t worry – there were still accidents, and we were fine with that. She is only two-and-a-half, after all. But she was actually being honest and not manipulating the situation every stinkin’ chance she got. It was great! She was proud of herself. We praised her like crazy. And, I got to retract my thoughts of dipping into her college fund to buy stock in Spray n’ Wash. All was well.
But, in the midst of it…when I
and when I say “I”, I mean Ryan was cleaning out bath tubs of poop, it wasn’t fun. Not one bit. I remember telling a friend, “I know she’s only two, but why can’t she just say something and mean it! We’re her parents for goodness sake!” This wise friend said “Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t always say what I mean and I’m a grown up.”
She had me. Immediately I knew what God was telling me through all of this. And it stung to even think about it.
How many times have I cried out to Him, “God, if you will please just make me well, or get Ryan this new job, or keep us safe, or fill-in-the-stinkin’-blank…then, Lord, then I will follow you wholeheartedly.” Or maybe when things are tough, I cry out “Lord, I promise I’ll change, I promise!” But, do I? Do you?
I cannot count the number of times I have cried out to God from this stinkin’ couch. Honestly, modern mathematics cannot display a number that high. I’ve begged God. I’ve bargained with God. I’ve tried so hard to please God. I’ve vented anger at God. I’ve ignored God. That’s right, friend, God and I have been through a lot on this piece of furniture. But, still, He is with me. He doesn’t give up on me and He will not give up on you.
We all have a warped sense of who God really is. All of us. I’m pretty sure that even Billy Graham, or Beth Moore, or your own pastor will admit to the fact they can’t fully understand God. He is perfect and we haven’t ever seen anything close to that in our lives. We all come with baggage. Some of our baggage might be designer and others of us may have hand-me-downs, it doesn’t matter. It all affects how we see our God.
For me, I tend to think that I haven’t done something right. When this most recent spinal fluid leak happened, it was very easy for me to slip into the thinking that I hadn’t “appreciated” the health that I had this summer enough. I hadn’t served God enough with my time. I hadn’t been thankful and humble enough. And you know what, it’s probably true. I am grateful for the amazing gift of perspective God has given me through all of this, but I would be lying if I said that once I was feeling better, that I didn’t rely much more on myself than on God, like I had from the couch.
way beyond a freakish amount of a lot of time to think about this. And I have come to this conclusion: I think God cares more about our hearts that our actions. What I mean is…if I “cry wolf” a hundred times, I know He’ll be there for me and never leave me, but I think He cares more about why I’m crying to Him in the first place. For me, is it just that I want to be well? Once that happens, I won’t need Him anymore? For you it may be something else? Maybe you just want to get married…or have a better job…or lose weight…or have a baby? I don’t know. But He does. He knows the desire of your heart and He knows your motive of crying out to Him.
It boils down to the answer that the very wise Kay Arthur said when confronted with a difficult question of God’s sovereignty. She was asked how do you handle the extremely tough situations like a mother burying her child? How can that God be a good God? What she said was both simple and profound. “You either trust God, or you don’t.” Period.
I either trust Him or I don’t. Whether I get well or get worse. Whether you get a job or food stamps. Whether you get married or get left at the altar. You either trust God or you don’t.
I heard it said once that “God wants for you what you would want for you if you knew what He knows.” Please take a minute and read that again, friend. It is profound. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows the names of your great-grandparents and your great-great grandchildren. He can be trusted.
But please hear me when I say this: that doesn’t make this thing easy. Trust me, it aint. In fact, sometimes it is pretty unbearably hard. I often feel like the world is passing me and my couch by. It is going around in circles just fine without me, thank you very much. Not true. I am still breathing in and out, friend and if you are reading this, I assume you are to. God is not done with us yet.
So, when you cry out to Him, mean it. Have the right heart about it. And if you don’t have the right heart about it, then pray for it. He is faithful to answer the prayers of his kids. Trust Him.
Now I want to leave you with some TRUTH to soak on. I have commented on what these verses mean to me. So many of them are crucial to trusting Him. Get to know His character and you will get to know His heart. It can only do you and me some good. Some wonderful, amazing, blessing kind-of-good. Not sure about you, but I could use a healthy dose of that, friend.
Ps. My daughter is amazing, by the way. Independent? Yes. Stubborn? Yes. Strong-willed? Yes and yes again. But, I thank God in advance for the numerous counts of joy she has already brought and will continue to bring us in years to come. I also thank Him for the even more numerous days we will fall to our knees talking to our God about her. Pray for us now. She will be a teenager in 10 ½ short years!! J And I am happy to announce that, for the first time in seven years, the Holzberger house is a diaper-free-zone, friend. Wahoo! The potty train ain’t stopping here no more. Thank you Lord!
Psalm 145:17 “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”
Whether we “feel” that or not, Scripture says it is true, so we believe it. He is not a mean-spirited God eagerly waiting to strike you down when you screw up. He is righteous (right, just, correct, lawful) and kind (faithful, godly, holy one). He is near to you. Please friend, call upon Him.
Psalm 145:8-9 “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all, He has compassion on all he has made.”
Ok, so far we have been told that our God is gracious. He's full of compassion. He's slow to anger. He's of great mercy. He's good to all. His tender mercies are over all of His works. And, He is righteous in all He does. I don’t know about you, friend, but that sounds like a pretty amazing God. One who is worthy of our praise and honor, whether things are going the way we would like for them or not.
(Basically you could read all of Psalm 145 for some great insight as to how wonderful our God is and how we should, in return, continually praise His Name.)
Deut. 32:4 “He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”
This foundation, our God, is the only foundation worth standing upon. All others will crumble. Including our flawed view of God, that will crumble too. What will stand is Him and Him alone. He is the Rock, the perfect place to put my trust.
Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah, Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for you.”
This was a fascinating verse to study! I am ill-equipped to translate it all to you, but I will tell you this: Jeremiah was in a very difficult state of being here. He had prophesied something to the King of Judah that upset him and so he threw him in jail. Even there, God spoke to him about all that would happen regarding the attack that was imminent from the Babylonians. This was the real deal here. Jeremiah began this prayer to God in verse 17 that exalted who God was. It most assuredly reminded Jeremiah of who exactly was in control here: the God that never, not once, ever faced anything at all too difficult for Him. Like Jeremiah, may we be reminded of the sheer awesome power of our God. No matter what we face, it is NEVER too difficult for Him.
And this one is just perfect to end with:
Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to him, who is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen!”
Oh friend, this is a good one. Please indulge me while I share a couple more translations of a portion of this verse. I often get a kick out of seeing what other adjectives and word choices these brilliant scholars decided upon when making these different translations.
Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV) “Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…”
Ephesians 3:20 (NASB) “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…”
Ephesians 3:20 (AMP) “Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]—
And although I believe The Message Bible to be more of a commentary that actual Biblically accurate Scripture, I often love how it words things for me.
Ephesians 3:20 (MSG) “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”
Do you get it friend? He is able. He is more than able. And His desire is to bless us. But, be aware, that in his perfection, His righteousness, His sovereignty, His will – He knows what would bless us most. That is often hard for controlling, prideful people like myself to accept. But, it is a pill I’m wanting to swallow.
Believe in His goodness. Believe in his desire to want good for you. Far more than we can even dare to dream about. His desires for us are beyond that. For all my girls out there, I want to share a story that the wise Priscilla Shirer shared about how God wants to go above and beyond. This hit home to me and I hope it will for you too. She described a sweet friend of hers who was married to a wonderful man. And while wonderful, he wasn’t much of a romantic. He often forgot important dates, rarely brought flowers, and pretty much never planned romantic events for the two of them. So, as her birthday approached, she didn’t hold much hope of him going above and beyond. She honestly would have been happy if he just remembered. When she got home, she went into their bedroom and as she entered, she was shocked! Her footsteps were lined with rose petals and there was a card on her bed. Whoa. Do you see how he had already gone way beyond her expectations? Then, she opened the card and instead of him just signing his name, like usual, she read all about his love for her and how much she meant to him. My goodness, now he had absolutely gone way beyond her way beyond. And then it directed her to find a gift for her. A gift? She must be dreaming!? She went to open the gift and inside the beautifully wrapped box was…an umbrella. An umbrella!?! Ok, now this was much more like the practical man she married. But, then she opened the note taped to the umbrella and read “Thought you might need this. I hear it rains a lot in Paris.”
This, friend, is how God desires to go way beyond our way beyond. This woman just wanted her man to remember her birthday. But, she a card, roses, a love note, and a trip to Paris! That is just a glimpse of how beyond God wants to go.
So, please walk this road with me. I am talking to myself every bit as much as I am talking to you. Do not cry wolf anymore to our great God. Say what you mean to Him and mean what you say. Cry out to him with a pure heart, in praise and thankfulness and humility. He is there for you and for me.