"Dear God, please heal Aunt Kristie and please let us not be too sad about Mom."
Not sure what words you heard last night, but this is what I heard as I tucked Laura and John's youngest child into her sleeping bag.
Words that brought a smile to my face at the same time they made me sad. Words that caused me to catch my breath and wonder at how a child who has lost so much in the last few months - both her mom and gramma - could still turn an honest heart toward Her Heavenly Father and pray.
Or Katie-Ru, as I like to call her.
She's got the gift of making even the grumpiest of us - caught in our most grumpiest of times - smile. Big, bright blue eyes so alive with joy. Blonde hair that never stays quite combed the right way because, as soon as it is, she's off running and twirling and dancing and tossing her head about so that it gets adorably messed up again. A grin that extends beyond her whole face, and into her entire body. I swear I can see Kate smile even when her back is fully toward me and her face is hidden.
She's a gem of a kid.
I love her.
I love her for the way she lights up a room. I love her for the way she comes full-speed at you for an arms-wrapped-tight hug. I love her for the way that she honestly shares how she feels. I love her for the way God has used her to encourage my heart when my heart needs to be encouraged.
And I love hearing her talk to God.
What's it like to hear that?
Oh, I could tell you easily what it's like for me.
But this morning - as the three Rider kiddos and my 2 wonders are happily playing and as all feels both right and wrong at the same time in my life - here's what I wonder:
I wonder what it's like for God to hear her.
I wonder how He attentively bends His ear to her voice.
I wonder how He waits patiently for her to gather her thoughts and offer them up to Him.
I wonder how He captures each and every word and receives it as sweet incense, a pleasing aroma.
I wonder how He delights to hear the honest wonderings of a little girl whom He knows so intimately, treasures so carefully, dreams over so boldly.
But, I must admit that I also wonder...
God, do you cry?
Does Your heart break for her like mine does?
Do you hear those words from a little girl without her mom and a part of You - however that may work - is overwhelmed with the difficulty of it all for her?
And God, as long as I'm here asking you a few question, I've got one more for you: what's it like for You when You have full power to make things different, yet You know that that is not how Your perfect storyline must play out? What do you do about that?
Hmmm. I'd love to tell you that I have the answer to that one, but I don't.
All I know this morning is that I think I have a lot to learn from Kate.
Actually, I think I have even more to learn from her mom.
You see, the reason Kate offers up her honest, expectant prayers to Her Heavenly Father is because she has been taught to do so by her mom and dad since before she could speak. She was taught - both by example and with words - to offer up honest, expectant prayers and to entrust them to the God who promises to, one day, set all things right. She - and Sarah and Jack too - was taught this because her mom (and dad) took God seriously when He said:
Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got!
Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts.
Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children.
Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street;
Talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.
Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder;
inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9 MSG)
So - as I just got word that my tumor markers are still in the normal range and as I sit here listening to laughing, crazy kids wreaking havoc in my house - I am thankful. Thankful certainly for the easy news, but even more thankful that I get to see with my own eyes the blessings that are coming from Laura taking God at His word. Blessings from believing that the foundation she, as a mother, was building for her children will matter in the future. Blessings from the countless prayers offered up on behalf of her children. Blessings from the countless hours spent teaching them truths about Him and countless hours spent modeling for them what a life sold out to Christ looks like.
Thanks, God, for giving me fresh glimpse of this. Thanks for mixing the bitter and the sweet and using that mixture as a reminder that my choices today as a mom have a lasting impact on my children. That my prayers on their behalf matter. That the truths I teach them - whether by word or by example - matter. That the foundation that I'm helping build for them can protect them from the harshest storms and the most bitter winds. Thanks for the reminder that You, Lord, really do bring beauty from ashes and turn mourning into dancing.