Give it a try.

God has blessed me with 11 grandchildren… so far.

Currently they are ages 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, 4, 3, 3, 2, 1, and 6 months. I look at that roster and marvel at the joy and creativity they bring to life.

IMG_1284Most interesting are the ideas they have. Take Micah, for example, age six. During my last visit, we had thrown away a cardboard box, after which Micah had sequestered himself with it. A few minutes later he reappeared.  “Look everybody! I made my own sandals!”

Even one-year-olds have clever ideas. After little Lizzie first spotted her birthday cake, she knew immediately what she needed to do. Wanting to get maximum pleasure for minimal effort, she moved in on the cake in the most efficient way possible: by sucking it. Good idea!

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IMG_0620Emerald, at three, found a new way to play Dominoes – on the piano keys. Or maybe it was a new way to play piano, because she began plunking the new “keys” as soon as she’d finished arranging them.

Skylar at seven initiated a game of hide and seek – with a twist. We were instructed to hunt for items she’d hidden that were, if we looked carefully, fully visible. None of us found this one – her pink purse, camouflaged in a bush of pink flowers. (Center of picture.)

Pink purse hidden

Kids are a fountain of fresh ideas and love to experiment with them. Many turn into failures, but that’s how they learn. We adults monitor from afar and intervene if something has potential to harm.

Grown-ups have plenty of ideas, too, and love to try them out in much the same way children do. But if we’re Christians, we’d better run those ideas past God first, because they can be contrary to what he’s already told us won’t work. Just like children, though, we often try our ideas anyway, sometimes bringing long-term misery. Taking God’s advice over our own is always a better strategy.

Sadly, it’s not easy to adopt another person’s idea over our own, especially if it comes in the form of a warning. It means shifting gears and accepting that his recommendation is better than ours. It’s especially difficult to do that, if we have an emotional attachment to our idea. In that case our hearts try hard to overrule God’s wisdom. We say, “I know you don’t like this, Lord, but I just want to do it!”

Sound like a child?

Maybe that’s why God does, indeed, call us children (1 John 3:1), because we have no trouble acting that way. At least he says we’re his children.

Surely our heavenly Father doesn’t love us any less when we go against his counsel and our ideas fail. Just like an earthly parent, he uses those failures to teach us.

But the best idea of all might be that each time we have “a good idea,” we run it past him before we plunge ahead.

“Be imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Ephesians 5:1)

Sounds Good

The other day, I wasn’t getting anything accomplished at home so decided to run the long list of errands I’d been putting off – seven stops.

Self-checkoutLast on the list was Walmart, and by the time I got there, I was dragging. While shopping at mega-stores, I usually have too many items to wade through the self-checkout process, but today I had only half-a-cartful and went for it.

Struggling to figure out the code for onions, I looked toward the self-check employee for help, and she stepped right over. “You don’t have to scroll through all the produce pictures,” she said. “Just look at the sticker on your onion. See that number? Punch it in right here.” She pointed to the screen, encouraging me do it myself.

Then she said something I didn’t expect. “You sure do smell good.”

Arm and HammerI looked at her face and saw she was just a teenager, which made her compliment all the nicer. “It’s my laundry detergent,” I said. After smiling at me, she moved away to help someone else, leaving the sweetness of her remark behind.

I thought about this young girl as I pushed my cart toward the doors, wondering if she was always kind like that. And then I thought about my own off-the-cuff remarks and how often I give in to whining, complaining, or criticizing. Those things seem to come naturally, while voicing words of benefit to another often takes studied effort.

The Walmart girl had been a wonderful example of how it ought to work. And right away I thought of another good example: God.

The greater part of his words to us are kind ones, full of positive promises. They’re meant to encourage us when we’re low and strengthen us when we’re weak. They dissolve our fears, give us hope, deliver peace. Best of all, they’re words of love. If I take in more of God’s sweet words, surely more sweet words will come out of me.

Grocery cartWhen I next went to Walmart, I looked for my favorite self-check girl, anxious to have another conversation with her. It was her uplifting words that were drawing me back to her. I’m pretty sure God’s uplifting words are meant to draw me back to him, too. And though the sweet-speaking Walmart girl wasn’t available that day, God was.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace…” (Colossians 4:6)

Where are you?

Although traveling has its perks, arriving home is best of all. But there’s one thing that trumps even that: greeting those we love when they’re coming home to us.


Recently I’ve had the joy of making several trips to the airport to collect Birgitta, Emerald, Nelson, Linnea, and baby Nelson (5 months) as they arrived from a variety of places on different days.

Airport connection.Each time while waiting, I scanned the mob of unfamiliar faces, squinting to find those special ones I knew and loved.

And each time, suddenly there they were, emerging from the crowd – my people.

I wonder if that’s how it’ll be when we travel from earth to heaven. None of us knows exactly what that will be like, but leaving familiarity and entering this new realm surely must include at least one nano-second of searching for the face of Jesus.

Scripture tells us that as soon as our souls leave our bodies, those of us who believe in him will be with him. But how will we know which one is him?

Long ago when I was 8 or 9 years old, I remember asking Mom that very question. It was bedtime, and she was kneeling next to me after having prayed. “What does Jesus look like?” I said, having tried to envision him as we talked to him.

“Well,” she said, “he was Jewish, and the Bible says he didn’t have any special look that made him stand out from the crowd. My guess is he had dark hair, brown eyes, and a beard as most men did then. And that’s about all I know.”

Later she read a verse to me from Isaiah: “He… had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” (53:2)

As a child I found that fascinating, because others in the Bible had been given good looks. For instance, King Saul was “as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel.” (1 Samuel 9:2) But Jesus, who could have created his own body and face to be exceptional in every way, chose instead to make himself plain – nothing special to look at in either form or beauty. So, I wondered, how would I recognize him among the heavenly crowd?

Today I’m still wondering. The marks of crucifixion won’t identify him, because many others died that way and will have similar scars.

Airport connectionSo I thought of all my recent trips to the airport. Maybe recognizing Jesus will be much like recognizing my loved ones in a crowd. I know them well enough to identify them anywhere. Maybe as I continue to know Jesus better, I’ll recognize him easily when the time comes.

But even if that doesn’t happen, 1 John 3:2 says, “We know that when Christ appears… we shall see him as he is.” So, just as when I spot my people at the airport, seeing them as they are, I might recognize Jesus the same way.

And if all else fails, I’m confident he knows what I look like, so maybe if he notices my confusion, he’ll simply call out my name and wave me over.

“I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)