Anxious? Learn Trust in the Bathtub

When big-girl bathtime was new and DeCelie was fresh into learning how to trust, she would scream. When it was time to rinse out the conditioner and she feared the water would burn her eyes, she’d wiggle so wildly that it would

“Babygirl, you are afraid that mommy will get water in your eyes so you look down...but when you look down the water falls down too - right into your eyes. You gotta keep your head up,” I would say. She’d nod and lift her head high but then right as the warm water would start to fall over her hair - she’d panic and plunge her head down into her chest, forcing water drops down into her eyes. She’d shriek and blindly reach out in the air for a towel before hurling blame. “See! You got water in my eyes!”

“Sweetbaby,” I’d say, exhaling... “Your own fear put water into your eyes, not Mommy. You need to trust me, I’m not trying to hurt you. You need to keep your head up.”

The message would soon drip into her mind and right on into my heart…

There are times when others intentionally aim to cause pain. But how much pain have I caused my own self by holding on to fear and anxiety? How many times have I plunged my head into the shadows of my own desires in search of refuge only to sabotage it? How many times have I shifted blame onto others who were only trying to help? “See! You got water in my eyes!”...have I ever scolded God like that?

When we are fresh into learning how to trust, we do a lot of screaming. We wiggle so wild, we just about blind our souls with fear. In this panicked state, “keep your head up,” sounds unsympathetic and unreasonable. And then even when we choose bravery, we find out - our flesh still has strong reflexes. Trust is a trying process. A long work of trial and error...lots of trials, and lots of our errors. But God knows just what He's doing. He's trustworthy. And I’m so thankful He is also patient.

Charis bath.jpg

DeCelie has since learned to overcome her self-sabotaging-self-protective bathtub reflexes. While she sees trust never equals painless (she still doesn't like the pain of combing out her hair afterwards). She realizes that fighting the process only makes things longer...and harder. She wants a different "longer" - she perseveres through the pain knowing all of this is part of keeping her hair healthy so it can grow longer, (something she is committed to ever since beholding Elsa's long braid - from Frozen. Ha!).

So DeCelie has learned to keep her head up. She’s learned to be still. She’s learned to delight in the process...to trust my heart for her. 

The first day she dared to follow-through with trust, she saw I proved trustworthy. It became easier and easier for her to trust me each instance after that. And now, when it's time to rinse her hair, she has a whole new reflex. A trust reflex.

* * *

Trusting God is not promised to lead to an easy road...in fact it's guaranteed to be painful at times. But resisting is way more painful. We want to experience the baffling peace of God that surpasses even the most painful of circumstances. We want to grow in God. So we persevere past the doubt and self-sabotaging reflex. We learn to keep our head up...to be still... and to delight in the process. We begin to see...to really believe...that He is trustworthy. Then one day we find within us a whole new reflex. A trust-reflex. 

* * *

She leans her head back, closes her eyes, and relaxes as I pour the warm water over her hair. Her eyes whisper tranquility and her mouth gaps as though sleeping. Peace is a beautiful thing to behold. 

“Good job sweetie, you’re trusting me,” I repeat over and over again as I wash and rinse her hair. “Babygirl, you are learning trust...thank you for trusting me.”

#bafflingpeace,



                                           

P.S. Are you wondering (practically speaking) how?...How do I “keep my head up” when I’m dripping anxious? Check out thisthis, and this...or our whole Baffling Peace series, here.





To The Weary Momma:

To the Weary Momma,

I see you there, sister. I see you slouched over nursing that adorable baby of yours trying to connect with adults through this wide web screen. Your hair’s a mess, girlfriend...and those bags under your eyes, I see their weighin’ heavy.

But girl - you’re beautiful.

You know your baby’s tears - the gassy wailing and the midnight flailing. You have soothed him. Fed him. Rocked him. Changed him. You have labored along through those long napless days. You have trudged on tripping through those tripping sleepless nights. You are worn. You’re body aches. You had no idea it would be this tough.

But girl - you’re tougher.

You feel so alone. And in the loneliness, the tempter gossips in your ear speaking lies about who you are and how you are doing. He seeks to spin you into restless worry and spiral you down into frightened furies. He schemes to fret you up in super-mommy-striving and throw you down in martyr-complex-judging. When you fall, he scorns and scoffs. He tempts. Then he accuses. Accuses. And then he tempts.

But girl - you’re an overcomer.

You are learning.
You are growing.
You are re-finding where your help comes from...

Step by step, from strength to strength, and glory to glory...
You are learning to lean on your Helper.

Peace be with all the tired mommas tonight...



When the mirror mocks and you feel like joining, the Helper reflects Jesus: the perfect image-of God-bearer. You see that blinding radiance...you see Him there deep inside you, working a brilliant masterpiece through all of this. Yes, He is working all these pieces into something beautiful - in you and through you. 

When the crying is too loud and the sleeping is not enough, the Helper whispers, “But Christ is enough”. And His enough is louder. So you call on Him...“Lord, I need You to be all that You are in this, right here where I am...right here in my hurting and tired heart, body and soul. Your mercies are a geyser. Your lavish love never runs out, there is nothing too big...or too small for You. So Helper, help me see Jesus is more than enough for me.”

When the loneliness tempts you to despair, the Helper is right there to usher you to hope. He never left. He never will. He always will be with you. It’s a promise to all who have believed on Christ. So you draw near, “Helper, silence the tempters lips. Mute his accusations. Soothe me as I soothe my baby’s cry. Please feed me as I feed his insatiable appetite. Steady Rock of Ages, rock me as I rock his body tonight. And Lord, change me...change me as I change his diapers.”

Dear Weary Momma, I hear your prayers. And now I join you...

“Thank You Father for sending Your Son - God with us...and that through Your Son, You sent the Helper to live in us. You remain in us. Let us remain here in You. Step by step, from strength to strength, and
from glory to glory...may we strand strong in Your strength. In your grace. In your hope. In your peace. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

Sister, I see you there.
You are looking more and more like your Savior through all this....

And girl - in you, He's a sight to behold.

Peace be with you,

                    

Spaghetti Gospel

I set the bowls of spaghetti down and invite them to sit down on their little chairs - the chairs with last month’s glitter glue dried on the backs and this morning’s oatmeal still stuck in the slats.

“Let’s use our manners.” I remind.

“Gank-yoooou”

“And let’s say thank you to Jesus.”

“Gank you Jesus!

“Amen.”

“Amen!” they echo.

I stand towering awkwardly above them with my bowl at my chin, startled at how hungry I feel.

“Mom, sit by us,” DeCelie says.

I kneel down on the linoleum and set my bowl at their table, shoving another bite in my mouth.

“Mmmmmm,” I hum and a chorus of echoing, “Mmmm’s” resound.

Charis studies the way her big sister twirls the fork and tries to do the same but her noodles keep falling short, she can't catch a bite. Amused, I watch in silence as she finally lowers her fork. Her eyes dash about looking for new options before she dives her hand into the bowl, lifts a mass of pasta, and drives her hand into her face. The noodles whiplash and sauce splashes everywhere. 

I giggle trying to say, “Let’s use our manners” but say instead, “Why don’t we all use our hands?”

The girls pause and stare at me, noting the rare spontaneity of their mother. DeCelie erupts with enthusiasm and Charis shouts in agreement, “Yea!!!”

So I put away my fork, and together we all dig in - snorting with mouths stuffed.
We lick the bowls down empty and poke fun at our sauce-stain-goatees.
We clear the table and wash our hands.

Then together we decide: while manners are important...sometimes it’s more important to get our hands messy to learn a different manner altogether...

"The Spaghetti Gospel"   www.chereehayes.com   - Photo Credit, Joey Rozier:   http://bit.ly/1oJn8A7

"The Spaghetti Gospel" www.chereehayes.com - Photo Credit, Joey Rozier: http://bit.ly/1oJn8A7

I want to choose this every day...to lower myself to more linoleum, experience life at their level, and get messy for them. 

I want to be more like our Savior…

Towering above in the Heavens, He didn’t wait for an invitation to come and meet us low. He put away the old covenant manner - His hands were the only true way. Pierced hands. With them He shoved death into a grave and showed who was Life that third risen day. He lowered Himself to raise us with Him to Heaven’s heights. 

Father, let them see You, inside of me.
I don’t want my manners - I want Yours.  
May I have the same manner, towards my children - the same manner as Christ…

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God
something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, 

he humbled himself  by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name
that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,  
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue
acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,  
to the glory of God the Father.”
- Philippians 2:5-11

In Hope,

                                    

 

 

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The Question that Took My Breath Away

I turned off the lamp and knelt down by DeCelie’s bed. Lifting the covers up and over her shoulders, I tucked her in and rubbed her back...tracing slow circles over her little four year old frame.

“Can you read me a Bible story?” she asked. 

“I can tell you one,” I offered and she agreed that would do.

I had been reading in John chapter three that week, so I told her about the man named Nicodemus and how he came to Jesus with questions. This led to several questions of her own. So I left the book of John and started from the very beginning of the New Testament.

She got out of the bed and grabbed her nativity scene and pointed to the little baby in the manger, “That’s when He was born.”  

“Yes,” I smiled agreeing and went on to share how He grew up. “He lived a pure life. He always showed love.” I said before adding, “But we don’t always show love. We can be mean and disobey.”

“Not me,” she protested.

I paused, surprised by her quick defense, “Uh...oh yes, DeCelie...you too. And Mommy too! We all have not loved as we should.”

“No, not me” she protested.

I lifted an eyebrow and smirked, “DeCelie you lied to me today. You disobeyed and you didn’t share with sister.” 

She smirked back, as though impressed with my rebuttal, “Well...not anymore.”

I exhaled with empathy, “Sometimes we are unloving. But God knows...that is why He sent His Son - so He could cover all those unloving things with His great love…”

We talked about how Jesus died to take the punishment for our sins. I could tell she was tracking with me. She even shifted her position so she could listen with her whole body. She preferred these stories to me rubbing her back?

“Did He hurt?”

“Yes He did.”

“Did He bleed?”

“Yes He did. He did it all for us...to save us.” She shifted her gaze in thought...she seemed sad. I tapped her side - gaining her full attention again, “But ya wanna know the good news?”

She looked up at me, eyes eager.

“He didn't stay dead...Now He’s alive!”

“How?” she asked, more upbeat now.

“The power of God.”

“The power inside Him?”

"Yes...yes!" I nodded.

"Where did He get the power?"

I paused, noting her thoughtful question, before answering, "...From his Father."

"Where did He get it?"

"Well, He always had it."

“No..." she said shaking her head. "Someone had to give it to Him,” she giggled and almost rolled her eyes; so tickled with certainty.

"Well, He is all powerful. No one gave it to Him. But He can give it to us. Now, since Jesus rose again, those who believe in Him can receive His power to live a new life...a life that loves and serves and gives."

She paused thinking. I thought about it too. This truth was big...no one could ever fully comprehend its endless measure. He is all powerful. And He, in all His power would now live in us?...to powerfully lead us in a new life for His kingdom? This mystery...the hope of glory. I didn't expect her to understand yet.

“Okay, honey, now let me rub your back.”  It was way past her bedtime now.

“Can you sing me a song?” she asked and I nodded. “Then can you bring the real music in and let me listen to it?”

I grinned, half offended and half amused, “the real music” oh brother. Yes, I’d bring the radio in and yes, first I'd sing a song. I closed my eyes to remember the lines...“Jesus reproached for our disgrace/ no sin He choose/ tempted the same...” Before I could reach the chorus, she lifted her head and interrupted with a question that took my breath away…

www.chereehayes.com

www.chereehayes.com

“Can you pray for Jesus’ power?” 

My eyes popped open. “Yes. Yes, you can...would you like to pray?”

“No, I want you to pray.” 

“Okay.” I nodded. “Heavenly Father...I pray…”  Attempting to take in the full significance of the moment, I knelt there in the quiet re-living her question over and over again, can you pray for Jesus’ power? I thanked Him in the silence.

Noticing, she spoke up, “Why did you stop?”

“I’m...I’m thinking...” I said blinking back tear-filled eyes.

“You need to keep going,” she urged.

“Okay,” I agreed giggling, “Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son....for powerfully raising from the dead.”

“Into your heart,” she inserted. And now it became clear to me that indeed she had a very specific prayer in mind. I struggled to remember when I had introduced her to the idea of Jesus coming into a heart before recalling her question when she was younger. She asked where Jesus lived and I told her that He lives in His new body in heaven and He lives in our hearts, through His Spirit, when we believe.

She remembered.

“Lord, I pray that…” I continued.

“Into your heart!” she inserted again.

"Honey..." I smiled, "Do you want to pray?"

She dug her face down into half her pillow, smiling shy. So I continued.

“....Will You give us the power of Your Spirit? Come and powerfully live in our hearts, God.”

“And in Charis…” she added.

“And in Charis,” I repeated, peeking to see her eyes tightly pursed in prayer.

“And in brother…”

“And in brother,”

“and Daddy.”

“Daddy.”

“And you.”

“And me, Lord”

“And Uh-Celie.”

“Yes, Lord...and DeCelie” I said with a joy so burning deep I could taste it. Salty tears.

“And Uh-Celie” she repeated with finality.

"Thank You Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen."

I kissed her forehead and struggled off my knees to leave. But how do you leave a sacred place like that? Wiping my tears, I somehow managed and tip-toed out the door to fetch the radio as promised. Just as I stepped into the light of the hallway, I heard her begin another prayer...this time, all by herself. I paused and hid myself beside the door - holy-eavesdropping:

“Dear Jesus...gank you for power in my heart for helping and sharing and loving. We love you...”

                          

 

 

P.S. This post was shared on Holley Gerth's "Coffee for you <3" link up.
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I See Hope

“Ready jump!” I shout and we lift high to the pulsing dubstep sounds, Eye On It by Toby Mac. The infectious beat moves us. We dance and jump with wild abandon.

DeCelie shouts out a “good idea”. She calls it the cha-cha and instructs us to line up and put our hands on each other’s shoulders. DeCelie demonstrates, placing her fingers by Charis’ neck - her ticklish spot - and Charis can’t stop laughing. We bop around in the conga line renamed the “cha-cha,” until the chorus drops and I announce again, “Let’s jump!”  And we do. Like complete maniacs. 

Conscious happiness jolts through me and I'm smiling something furious. I spin around just in time to witness what was near inevitable...

My smile falls with her little body. I can see what’s about to happen before her head of curls makes impact. I hear it...the wall's punch packs a blow louder than the music. 

I run to her. With no time to turn it down, the song continues to pump through the speakers - now sounding more like a frightening soundtrack at the bloody car crash scene of a movie. Only there is no blood. Just tears and two-year-old blood-curdling screams. High piercing decibel - long pause in between - wait for it and brace yourself for the next one- kind of screams.

I rock her there kneeling on the floor, kissing and whispering comfort in her ear. I taste her salty tears and feel her lean into my hold. I think she might be done with this dance. Instead she braces herself on my arms and bravely stands. Just in time for the last chorus, she decides it's better to keep jumping.

Her tears glisten on her cheeks. Her jump is less enthusiastic. But she jumps...jumping for the joy that is higher than her fall.

Her pain still burns. Her determined hope burns hotter still. She overcomes... 

hope.jpg

I think of the “walls” I’ve hit. I remember how the diagnosis punched. How I screamed helpless in my pillow when the chemotherapy and radiation failed. I remember the pool of tears. And I remember the gracious day I braced myself upon His brace to stand in hope. I see Charis jumping now and I see that hope in motion.

Friend, you've been wounded. Come cry. Weep. Embrace God’s arms and scream. Let Him whisper comfort in your heart. Come closer and let His compassion catch the stain of your pain. He did. That day is scarred in His hands forever. (John 20:20,25)

Remember that day. Refuse despair. Keep hope. 

And remember the coming Day. It doesn't feel like it right now but His hope says it will get better. The Last of last choruses will lift you off your feet, believer. And in that new Day, He will wipe every tear from your eyes. For good. (Revelation 21:1-5

As you wait for that new Day, the pain of the Fall still punches daily. But His coming kingdom is also now...and it's rhythm is infectious healing. So...

Inhale God's comforting Word, friend.
Wait on Him (not your will, but upon Him and His goodwill). 
Listen for the healing rhythm of His grace again. 

Exhale and...

Brace yourself upon His brace. Stand brave.
Dance in the song of His kingdom.
Jump with wild abandon.


The track blares from the kitchen.

Charis' Afro bounces with her. Curls dance in the air. She squeezes her eyes shut, tears fresh on her lashes. She presses the bump on her head. She keeps jumping.

Friend, I can see you there too....pressed down but pressing on.

You seek the Joy that is higher than the Fall. 

Yes, I see you there. And I see hope.

chereehayes.jpg

                                     

 

 

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