Who has time to wonder?

When was the last time you stopped and took a moment to marvel at who God is? No? How about the last time you stopped and took a moment to just be amazed at what He’s done for you in your life? Yeah, me neither. It’s been a while. Not because I’m ungrateful or because I’m overly self-centered. I’m just busy, and I think it’s better to spend my time wisely doing the things that God has told me to do with myself while I have the time and energy to do them.

But is our life supposed to be hustle and bustle all the time? Are we supposed to be constantly on the go? Never stopping to breathe, to think, to praise, or to just be?

I struggle with this. Even when I’m supposed to be doing something fun and relaxing, I’m still thinking about how I can leverage the situation so that I’m still time efficient. Like recently when I went to the zoo with my three Forever Sisters and the Unsinkable Hoochild. I was looking forward to hanging out with them, to catching up, to being together with them, but I was also using it to get my daily two miles into the schedule so that I could get straight to work when I got home later. Nothing wrong with multi-tasking, right?

Well, as per usual, the Hoochild taught me a very important lesson that day. This kid teaches me something every time I see her, and that day was no different. She was so excited to see the sheep. This kid loves sheep. She laughs and jumps and claps her hands whenever she sees them.

Do I like sheep? No freakin’ way. I’ve had way too many experiences with sheep in my life to ever go to the zoo to see them. But I love going to the zoo to watch Hoochild see them because she finds joy in things that my grown-up attitude no longer appreciates.

Hoochild wondering at the tigers at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Hoochild wondering at the tigers at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are Luke 10:38-42.

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

This is one of those passages that makes me cringe every time I read it. More often than not, I’m Martha. I’m the one running around trying to do too much all at once. And, please don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a time and place for that. We need the people who will work hard and get things done. But there’s also a time to sit still and wonder at Jesus, and as adults–especially Christian adults–I think we lose that.

Jesus Himself said it. There’s only one thing worth being concerned about, and Mary figured it out. Mary was sitting at His feet, listening to Jesus and marveling.

Hoochild turned two this week. Two whole years old, and I just can’t believe it. It was just yesterday that I saw her for the first time when she was less than 12 hours old. It was just yesterday her mama made me hold her while I was sitting in my cubicle at work, and I was terrified I would drop her. Wasn’t that just yesterday?

Hoochild's adorable uncle many, many moons ago

Hoochild’s adorable uncle many, many moons ago

But then yesterday Hoochild’s uncle was four years old, sitting on the plastic slide in the old church’s playroom, narrating Dave and the Giant Pickle verbatim while I minded him during a ministry banquet. That was yesterday too, right? Wrong. That was like 17 years ago, and today Hoochild’s uncle is getting married. He also graduated from college this year.

My goodness. Where does the time go?

When you’re young, you listen to your elders talk about the rapid passing of time, and you think it can’t possibly go that fast. You can’t go to bed one morning when you’re 14 and wake up and be 30. That just doesn’t happen. I can testify, friends, it really does happen. It’s happened to me. And I thought I was being careful about it too.

When I think back over my life, how much time have I spent on useless things? How many hours have I wasted worrying about people and relationships and events and things that God had already taken care of–things I ultimately had no control over anyway? Maybe I thought worrying and twiddling my thumbs would be productive, but it never was. Wouldn’t all that time have been better spent in wonder at Jesus? Wouldn’t those days of frustration and anger or irritation been better if instead of giving in to my anxieties, I spent them in amazement at God’s grace?

Hoochild marvels at sheep. And maybe I don’t like sheep much, but I can marvel at my first conscious breath in the morning. I can wonder at the stars in the sky and that even amidst all their numbers, God still knows my name. I can stand in awe of the fact that God is a God of brilliance and creativity and that He made a world of infinite complexity for me to enjoy. That’s time well spent, Christians. Because you can worry and fret and stew and sulk all you want, but you won’t gain anything. But if you spend your time in wonder at God, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of who He is and just how much He loves you.

Who has time to wonder? Maybe the better question is: Who has time for anything else?

Hoochild on a stroll at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Even small wonders are still wonderful

I love going to the zoo. Wichita has one of the top ten zoos in the country, and I could go there every day and never get tired of it. But it’s one thing to go by yourself. It’s something else to go with a friend. And it’s another thing entirely to take an almost-2-year-old girl along with you.

That’s what happened to me this past weekend. I got to go to the zoo with one of my best friends/sisters and her adorable daughter, who I usually refer to as Hoochild (she used to be Baby Hoo). Now that is an experience.

Just think about it. Put yourself in a toddler’s shoes. Try to see the world from a toddler’s perspective. There’s something new to learn every day. There’s something awesome to explore every moment. Grown-ups get jaded. We’ve seen everything, done everything, gone everywhere. There’s nothing that can spark that feeling of wonder that we used to feel.

Or maybe we’ve just forgotten what it feels like to stand in awe.

Hoochild on a stroll at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Hoochild on a stroll at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 40:5.

O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
Your plans for us are too numerous to list.
You have no equal.
If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
I would never come to the end of them.

When was the last time you saw a miracle? Honestly, they happen every day. I think we grown-ups are just too busy to notice them. For us to pay attention to a miracle, it has to be something so enormous, so huge, so massive that we could never have accomplished it on our own. Right?

But how many of us can make a sunrise? How many of us can turn the wheat golden overnight? How many of us can turn a blossom into an apricot? There are so many things in life that just happen that we take for granted, because they always happen. If it’s impossible for us to accomplish and it happens anyway, it’s still a miracle, regardless of how frequently it happens.

It’s easy to overlook the “small” miracles too because they aren’t the miracles we want. We ask for miracles. We ask to win the lottery. We ask to get away with a lie. We ask not to get caught. And we promise all sorts of things if God could just make this one miracle happen. And when He doesn’t give us our way, we give up on Him. We start thinking that He doesn’t do miracles anymore.

No, friends. That’s not the case. God does wonders every moment of every day. He’s so busy doing miracles that we don’t have time to list them all, but if we have our eyes shut, we’ll never see them.

Are you tired right now? Is today going to be one of those killer days where you don’t get a break and where everything just seems to go wrong? Is today the day you could really use a miracle?

Try looking at life from a toddler’s eyes. Think about a little girl who recognized a real live sheep for the first time and put two and two together and knew it said, “Baa!” (And then spent the rest of the time at the farm exhibit shouting “Baa!” in the faces of every sheep she encountered.)

That’s what wonder looks like. That’s what awe feels like. Discovery. Like standing in the sunrise after a thunderstorm.

Look out your window. What do you see? Clouds? Birds flying? Sun shining? Grass growing? None of that could happen without God.

It’s not that God has stopped doing miracles. We’ve just stopped looking for them. And we’ve told ourselves that nothing God does can impress us anymore. We’ve replaced the wonder at God’s creativity with science. And the science isn’t wrong. But is a flower any less beautiful because you can identify pistil from stamen?

So stop being so grown up today. Take a walk and look for a miracle. Maybe the only miracle you’ll see is a “small” one, but a small miracle is still impossible for us.

5 lessons from my favorite little girl

One year ago today, something amazing happened. I got to see a remarkable little girl who I’d been waiting to meet for a very long time.

I’m a stereotypical single person. I’m not very comfortable around kids. They kind of scare me, to be honest. I don’t know what to do with them. I didn’t babysit as a kid. I worked in libraries. Books were way easier to take care of. They didn’t wander off or need changing or fed.

But when this little girl got here, she changed my mind about kids. Not that I didn’t like them before, but for the first time, I really wanted to be around one—her specifically. And as I’ve watched her this past year, I feel like I’ve really learned a lot about who God is and how He sees us.

HooChild feeling generally exasperated

HooChild feeling generally exasperated

Today’s verses are Matthew 18:2-4.

Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Kids are easy to dismiss sometimes because they’re small or because they haven’t experienced a lot of life, but from what I’ve seen, kids have a better grasp on God and following God than grownups do. So I thought, in honor of HooChild’s first birthday, I’d make a list of some of the things she’s taught me in the last 365 days.

1. Get dirty. It’s more fun.

HooChild defeating a cupcake

HooChild defeating a cupcake

Kids don’t worry about their clothes or their possessions. Probably because they didn’t have to buy them. And in a grown-up’s world, that’s a bad thing. It’s irresponsible to treat our hard-earned possessions so carelessly. And there’s truth in that, but what we grown-ups forget sometimes is that even though we’ve worked, it’s still God who gives us all we have. We should be thankful, yes, but we shouldn’t worry. Because if we get dirty doing God’s work, He’ll provide what we need.

2. It’s the simple things in life.

HooChild with her favorite toy--a sock

HooChild with her favorite toy–a sock

How many times have you watched a child miss the point of an expensive gift? You spend a bundle on a fancy toy and the kid is more interested in the box it came in? Turn that around, friend. Who missed the point? Kids have a marvelously sensible view of life. They don’t need fancy toys or expensive gifts to be happy. They see the simple things as wonders. As adults, we lose that. And we shouldn’t. Life really doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it.

3. Sometimes you just need your dad.

HooChild sleeping on her dad

HooChild sleeping on her dad

And then there are the bad days when nothing goes right and you just need to remember that God is in control. But there’s something in grownups that doesn’t allow us to receive comfort. We see that as weakness. We think we have to power through no matter what. But we don’t. And sometimes the battle really is too much for us to handle on our own, and there’s nothing wrong with leaning on our Heavenly Father for a little bit.

4. Look for joy everywhere.

HooChild, Easter 2014

HooChild, Easter 2014

We live in a beautiful world, full of marvels and miracles, and grownups rush past them all too often. We need to slow down. Take in a sunrise or a sunset. Wonder at a dandelion gone to seed. Watch a bird build a nest. Stop and smell a flower or the scent of cut grass. It’s all amazing, but we can’t enjoy it if we’re too busy to notice.

5. Make each moment count.

HooChild, June 2014

HooChild, June 2014

Time goes so fast. So fast. And in those fast, fleeting moments, it’s so very easy to forget what matters and focus on things that don’t last. Don’t. You know what those things are. They may be different for every person, but we all know what they are in our own lives. Stop focusing so much on the things that only matter for a moment and start focusing on the things that will matter tomorrow and the day after and the day after and the day after.

Baby Hoo has finally arrived! Meet Audrey Kay Hoover!

Baby Hoo has finally arrived! Meet Audrey Kay Hoover!

A year ago today, I got to see a tiny little girl all swaddled up at Wesley Hospital, 10 hours old and strong enough to hold her head up. This coming weekend, we’re going to walk around zoo together and I have a sneaking suspicion she’ll tell us exactly what she wants to see. She’s a tiny bit opinionated.

What do you need to learn from the kids in your life? What truth have the children you know taught you? Are you open to it? You should be. Jesus thought children were important, worth spending time with, worth investing in. So pay attention. That answer you’re looking for might be as obvious as the next kid you talk to.

 

(photo credits to HooChild’s mom and the amazing Melissa Dinsmore)