Encouragement 101, Taught by a child

images

I have become the student.

Kezara, my friend’s two-year-old daughter, has taught me some lessons I will forever be drawing from. This precious girl sees me through a lens of love that I can’t wrap my mind around. I haven’t tried to win her heart; I just have it. When I visit, she pours love out  on me. Sometimes, by taking hold of one of my legs and squeezing with all her might. One day she sat on my lap facing me. Staring into my eyes, she took her little hands and put one on each of my cheeks and then leaned forward and hugged me.  Then she sat back and repeated this several times.

Spotting me en route to the coffee pot first thing in the morning, she yells “Lizzy’s awake!” and I’m greeted with great enthusiasm. One particular morning I was in the bathroom, so she knocked until I let her know I was going potty. Then, I heard the pitter patter of running feet (hers) as she raced to the kitchen. She excitedly announced to her parents, “Lizzy’s going potty! Lizzy’s going potty!” Shouts of “hooraaaaaay!” (with a bit of laughter) ensued from my friends.

Her brilliant two-year-old mind was celebrating my success in potty training and she was not shy in doing so. If I made a smoothie for breakfast, she’d rejoice that Lizzy was making a smoothie. I started feeling pretty amazing about myself (ha ha) and wondered what else she would “catch” me doing and then celebrate it.

Father began to speak to me and teach me more of his nature, through the actions of a child.

The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take.

This verse has taken on new life. Think about this: when children are small, every “step” towards growth is celebrated. A child’s first step, first laugh, first word…all of it is made a big deal of. Rightly so.

My Father is no different towards me. He sees every step I take. Every time I do something I’m afraid to do. Each moment I turn my heart to him. Every. Little. Step. In fact, not only does he see and affirm me continually, he doesn’t despise the areas I need to grow in.

We get older, but we never outgrow our need for encouragement. To be celebrated. To be told “I’m proud of you”. “I see your heart and it is beautiful.” “Good job”. “You’ve been sober for 60 days! I know that had to be hard.” “I see how you are contributing around the house, it matters and I appreciate it.” The examples are endless, but you get the idea.

At times I have viewed myself through shame and how far I still need to go, but he sees how far I’ve come. No need to hang my head. I can look at him, confident of his full approval and acceptance.

Those who look to him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.

We don’t have to be ashamed when we look at him, because his eyes aren’t seeing our flaws. They are seeing our beauty.

These last couple weeks have so impacted me as I’ve pondered this. It’s affecting how I view others. Breaking perfectionism, so instead of focusing on what others haven’t done or should be doing, I’m LOOKING for ways to catch others doing something I can celebrate.

When I can celebrate my own little steps and know my Father is too, I surely have space in my heart to extend this reality to others.. Simple, but powerful.

For he knows we aren’t perfect. God is mindful of our frame. He has compassion on our humanity, mingled with plenty of affirmation. If we can only allow ourselves to see and then receive this.

I can’t wait to be with Kezara again. She sees clearly, and challenges me to the core. The Kingdom really does belong to the childlike. And as I wrap this post up I hear the Father (with Kezara’s voice) saying, “Lizzy wrote a post!” =)

 

Hope, the weapon in my hand

photo-manipulation-hd-water-desert-tree-wallpaper

I have a promise from the Father. Everything I walk through can become the weapon in my hand to release others into that same freedom. This is my joy and has been a compass for my heart when it needs navigating.

Recent events have found me gasping for hope, like someone gasps for air in a near drowning experience. Hopes “seem” to have been dashed. It has been a battle. And it’s not the first time. Life has its share of setbacks, disappointments and unfulfilled desires. Linger in that place too long, though, and hopelessness has a fertile ground to grow.

No! With great force my heart stands up against this intruder!

Isaiah 35 repeatedly speaks of water coming to replenish and refresh the dry places. Life from barrenness. In essence, hope coming out of brokenness. Hope can even create something out of our nothings.

And then it says “there (in the desert) the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God.”  IN THOSE VERY PLACES where we thirst God will reveal himself.

This is good news indeed for the waiting heart!

Next verse:

With THIS news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees.

Are you familiar with this battle? Are you needing to be strengthened in your spirit to not lose heart? You aren’t alone. We are in this together. We all need to be encouraged from time to time. That’s why I am writing this post for my own heart. I am prophesying life. I declare that my Father is trustworthy, despite my limited vision.

Hope, rise up! I know I will see God’s goodness. I already have, many many times. Shaking off unbelief and sorrow, I refuse to think that my current dilemmas have the last word. Or that he will not fulfill the promises he has given me. He is limitless and I belong in a kingdom where goodness and mercy will pursue me every day of my life.

I am taking a new grip.

I am standing on these shaky legs.

I take heart. I take courage. I take hold of hope.

Water is coming. He is coming.