Monday, June 30, 2014

The Bottom of the Ice Cream Cone

My mom isn't one for sweets.  She eats pretty healthy and has incredible will-power.  But one thing she can never say "no" to, is a McDonald's soft-serve ice cream cone.  Ever since I was a little girl, every trip to McD's involved one of their delicious ice cream treats, and quite often a quick run through the drive-through at Mom's whim would score us a cone.  Out of this irresistible craving of hers began this little tradition in our family.  It went something like this: One day Mom told us that the last bite of the perfectly crunchy cone, packed with the last bite of the creamy ice cream was the "perfect bite," and therefore giving that to someone was a declaration of love to the person you gave it to.  And so began many offerings between she and us of that last perfect bite of an ice cream cone.

Recently, we explained the symbolism behind the bottom of the ice cream cone to my girls, and so the tradition continues with them now.

Today, in the car, I pulled through the drive through to treat my girls to a cone, as my mom had done so many times with me.  Heaven, being the oldest, eats fastest.  She loves sweets.  She also really loves me.  It's a hard call when she gets down to that last delicious bite.  So today, she sucks out all of the ice cream, nibbles the cone down till she can barely hold on to the edges, and then proudly gives it to me, being the first to offer it, and in keeping up with this sacred Kelly tradition.

Riyah, my little bird, who only eats little bits of anything, and is recently extremely aware of the nutritional value of food, wasn't sure she wanted one in the first place, and quickly tired of her ice cream cone.  However, instead of just being honest, and saying she didn't want anymore, acted as though she was doing something heroic by handing me the entire cone.  I'm not complaining, but it was very obvious there was a hidden motive behind her "act of love."  She just didn't want to have to finish.  Since she couldn't throw it away, I was her best option.  Besides, she couldn't be shown-up by her big sister!

Essie, whose favorite thing right now is "kai keem" (ice cream,) enjoyed every moment of her cool treat, watching it melt and drip down her arm and all over her shirt and car seat, licking away at the tower of creamy deliciousness.  A couple of times, I had her give it to me so I could "help" her by licking up the drips and melted surface.  One of those times I took the paper off for her because she usually starts eating the paper right along with the cone.  "Thank you, Mommy!" she exclaimed in her sweet toddler voice.  So enjoying her dessert, I expected her to eat every last bite like she usually does.  But all of a sudden I heard her say, "Here. For you, Mommy!"  Thinking she was all finished, I glanced up, expecting to see her holding out her icky, sticky napkin.  Instead, I saw my blue eyed little sweetheart, with a big generous smile, holding out the last bite of her ice cream to me.  My two year old - my selfish, world-revolves-around-me, everything is MINE, two year old, TOTALLY GOT IT!  She held out her offering of love with so much joy, and total selflessness.  It made my heart explode!

I got to thinking about the girls and their love-gifts, and it made me contemplate what kind of love-gift giver I am to God.  He lavishes on me so much blessing and goodness; do I try to give back to Him the "perfect bite" of that goodness He has so kindly given to me?

Am I like Heaven?  Do I suck dry every bit of blessing in my life, and give only the bare minimum back to Him, looking on myself with pride?

Am I like Riyah, only giving to Him what doesn't inconvenience me.  Is there any sacrifice in my gifts, or are they out of a feeling of obligation and comparing myself to others?

Am I like Essie, giving the best I have, out of pure love;  giving that which once pained me to sacrifice, with abandonment and pure joy?

What kind of giver are you to the Lord?  I think all too often I am more like Heaven and Riyah.  Today was a sweet reminder to check my heart, learning from the example of my two year old, remembering to give my time and resources cheerfully and out of true love and gratefulness for my Lord, who gave so much more than an ice cream cone - He gave ALL for me.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. - 2 Corinthians 9:7

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Man He is Becoming

When you get married as young as I did, you are marrying a man who is still very much a boy.  You look at him and see all his potential, you see him for the man he will be, but not yet is, because in all reality, your'e still both kids.

And there's something amazing about getting to journey with this person for such a long time and watch the transformation happen from the potential to the reality.

I love this quote by Susan Sarandon from the movie Shall We Dance, ”We need a witness to our lives.  There's a billion people on the planet, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything.  The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things, all of it, all of the time, every day.  You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it.  Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness'."

I've been the witness to his life for more than 15 years now.  It's been amazing to watch him grow.  Maddening at points along the way, I will admit, when I would like to rush this process along.  But he is beginning to fill out all the space of who he is as a man and it's awesome to watch.

Last night was one of those moments.

Last week he brought his bags home.  Work is slow.  We knew this was coming working construction, we just didn't expect it so quickly.

I was out of town, so he was going to wait until I returned to let me know, but I had to call him to let him know that with "this" and "that" our savings wasn't stretching as far as I had expected, since last month he had his week of school and another week when work was slow and we took off to Tucson - two weeks out of the month with no paycheck.  Then he told me: he'd brought his bags home that day.  Yikes... money is tight, and it's gonna get tighter.

We were at peace, but we started praying.

After the weekend was over, he came up with a plan.  He was going to go look for work, or go to school, or both if he could manage it.  He had gotten wind of a possible job, and was going to go with a friend to see if he could get hired.

My husband likes having a plan.  And when he has a plan, he doesn't like to change the plan.

An hour and a half after he went to sleep, he got a phone call.  3 days of work, and they would be leaving in an hour.

The poor guy was so tired, it took him 25 minutes to make a decision.  He could stay, get some sleep and hope that they picked him up at the other job site for at least a couple of weeks.  Or go, exhausted and for sure have 3 days of work this week.  It was agonizing for me to watch, and only a decision he could make.  I would have been supportive either way.  So, I just prayed for wisdom.

He decided to go, and I felt so overwhelmed in this moment of watching him step up further into the manhood I've always seen him capable of; the man he's becoming.  He made a very selfless decision for the good of our family last night, and I admired him so much for it.

A recent study says that men don't mature until they're 43, eleven years later then women.  I don't know how you put a number on that.  I hope there's a side to my husband that never matures, and he always stays young at heart.   Even so, it is an honor to be that witness to his life and watch him go from boy to man.  As his wife, I have to be careful not to step on that process because I think I have a better way.  Sure, I'm called to be his help-meet, but one of the most important ways that I can help him is to just step out of the way and pray, and let God lead Him.  God wants to raise our men up to be leaders, and providers of our families, and to do some really hard things.   But we wives need to ask for God to mature us also, so we'll be wise enough to see when we need to get out of the way.

Don't grow weary in doing good... don't grow weary in praying for your husband and holding into that hope you had the day you married him, of the man he would become.  Believe the best in Him and give Him opportunity to grow, and you will get to witness these miraculous moments of your husband you love so much, becoming his future self... the man God planned for him to be.

Psalm 34:3 Mama

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

He Prays For Us

"...yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors."
(from Isaiah 53:12)

I love this characteristic of Christ. He prays for us! He prays for us because were sinners. He felt all our sin laid upon him. He knows the weight of it, and the hold of it. He has compassion on us in our sin struggles. He took our punishment for our sin; it makes sense that he would pray for us. His heart is that we would be delivered and walk in victory and righteousness through obedience to the will of God. As the old saying goes, "Jesus loves you as you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way."

Should we not also be following Christ's example? We also should look on others in their sin struggles with compassion, and pray for them.

If we know God's word, we can rightly judge what is sin. If we live like Christ, we will not bring judgement upon the sinner, we'll pray for them and love them regardless of their sin.
And who knows? Maybe through the power of that compassion and Christ-like love, captives will be set free.

Christ has scars from the nails that held him for our sin, and we have scars from the shackles that once held us in our sin.

Lord, let us remember what You have done for us, and remember that prayer is more effective than judgement.

❤️ Johnna

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