Lessons from Daniel & a 6 month old

Baby Jay made it to 6 months today! And wow, I can’t believe we made it. 

Recently, I got to teach on Daniel & the lion’s den from Daniel 6 at our Bible study. To my surprise, a point I focused in on was gratitude. I think God really put that one on my heart for myself… I struggle with gratitude. My strength is in negativity & I’ve learned over the years the opposite of negativity is actually gratitude. I’m such a stupid little butthole that I’d look at the people who could be positive all the time & just assume they were lying or looking for attention. Now, I strive to be them.

Because, I have a lot to be grateful for. More than I can understand or my ungrateful, negative heart can even see… Well, choosing to be grateful has made a real difference in my life. Especially in the midst of raising a kid. I was just at the point where I felt like I was starting to lose myself. All of my thoughts are about the baby or my basic needs (like when I was going to eat & shower. But not: what is God doing in my life, how are my friendships going, who can I love today…) I was starting to feel hopeless, but I thought that was just normal. Then, I got to look into Daniel & how he responded to suffering. 

Now, let me preface this: when I started studying Daniel, I thought: there is NO WAY in hell I’m going to compare my life to his! He was kidnapped at a young age, raised/brainwashed into a new culture, faced multiple death threats because he believed in God. Now, I can relate to absolutely none of those things. Yet, he sets an example, as I learned – in the face of fear, run to God, no matter the situation. I think the danger is letting “little” circumstances in life pile up thinking I can handle this myself. Then, one day, you’re isolated, only knowing how to deal with the big stuff alone. So, in the mundane, we need to learn to seek the Lord for help so when the big trials come, we can stand firm no matter what. And that’s what I got to see in Daniel. Between his trials, he prayed and thanked the Lord. He made that a habit. I think Daniel could see God more clearly than I ever could and this knowledge urged him to praise and thanks the living God. I trust his insight and have felt the need to follow his example. 

Let me tell you what, gratitude does change it all. And even when I’m in pain, or afraid, or feel like I’ve ruined everything & everyone hates me – being grateful changes your entire perspective on life. Even being alive is something to be grateful for every day! 

Another thing I’ve really been grateful for in my gratitude lesson lately is grace. Being a mom has changed me, and not in all the best ways. Again, my thinking has totally changed as my life has. And frankly, it’s really inward. Even though I’m thinking of my kid all the time, it’s still my kid, my time, my schedule. I see how much more rigid I’ve become. It’s scary… I remember being so carefree. I long to be like that now. To be like my sister or my own mom – they’re really great examples I want to be like someday because they will literally drop everything if I ask for help. No schedule gets in their way! No tiredness or just feeling sad… And my sister has a toddler & a baby on the way! Jeez, it’s so cool. But yeah, that’s not me. I’m much more scheduled and planned than I thought. I knew I was controlling, but actually, turns out, I’m a control freak. And that sucks. I’m seeing how much that hurts my friendships, my marriage & misses opportunities the Lord has probably been putting in front of me to take. Those exciting adventures he puts in front of you that you can easily miss if you’re sticking to your plan for the day (all about me!) So, grace has really been huge to me lately. In so many ways I am not a good person. So many nights I fall asleep thinking about all the ways I was mean, rigid, judgmental, hurtful… But then, Jesus enters the conversation: and he says, I forgive you. And then my friends enter the conversation, my husband too, my family – and they forgive me for my inward, controlling ways. 

I had the pleasure of catching up with a friend and our conversation ended on “being quick to repent.” She’s a strong willed lady whose been through some crap in her life. And now, she’s so quick to acknowledge her own sin and move forward with the Lord. I’ve been trying to practice this as I see my sin lately. It’s been so freeing! Instead of sitting in guilt or promising to be better next time – simply saying, “I messed up, I’m sorry” – wow. That’s it! That’s all I can do! I can’t fix myself. I pray for me, for my friends, that we can all learn to be quick to repent. To say: yeah, I’m not good, I mess up, can you forgive me? Then go on living & learning. I hate how much I hate being wrong or wronged. But how many times a day do I wrong others? The only solution is grace. I am very thankful for my friends that have stuck in there with me through it all. I am so far from a good friend. I get in my head, I get insecure, I get jealous which leads to imaginative feuds and conversations and bitterness. All because I think I know, my negativity, and my inward thinking. Where would I be without Jesus? Completely alone. Or with some sorry souls that would be so annoyed with me every day! 

All that to say, I’m really grateful for my baby. I think in some ways God has been using him to teach me about gratitude, too. He literally smiles at everything. I am astonished. Where did this happy baby come from? Zak & I aren’t the most fun people. Our idea of fun is a good book & some good beer with a quiet night pondering the depth of the universe… not everybody’s cup of tea. Definitely not fun. But this guy, wooooohoooo, he’s a good time. He laughs & laughs. He observes & coos at all the new things he’s learning. He begs for you to relate to him every second and loves everyone that will give him any attention… Wow. I feel like I’m really learning what Jesus means when he says that the Kingdom of God belongs to little children. This audacity & innocence to enjoy life is what it must be like when all you know is love, security & see through a lens of excitement… it is what it must be to be close to a loving Father, God! May he keep teaching me gratitude through this little guy
And here’s a pic if that’s what you came here for: 

Jay is 6 months!

Thanks for reading this. I really like writing. I’m really grateful for the time to sit down & write today. And I’m really grateful that my little, limited life here in Ohio that is so absolutely small & meaningless, is actually rather significant to God. 

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