Trash or Treasure?

January 1, 2011 at 8:42 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , , , , )

 

Since we discussed perception in my last post, (It’s been so long, you may have to go back and re-read it!) I thought it fitting to share the following encounter with someone who forever changed the way I view my seven-year-old daughter, Grace.

For those of you who do not know, Grace is an artist.  Hidden or not, if there’s a blank paper plate, paper towel, or piece of paper in our home, she’ll find it.  She loves markers and glue, paints, and glitter –and any other MESSY thing that she can get her busy little hands on.  She creates and creates and creates to her heart’s content, leaving her “mark” on everything she touches.  That new perfectly cute purse she got for her birthday, now unrecognizable, lies deep below icky layers of lace and beads, rhinestones, and glue.  And that adorable new Bible she got for Easter has been forever “upgraded” with a fresh pen outlining. 

Give a “creative” child like this to a perfection-seeking clean freak mother…and you’ve got problems!  I can’t deny that my heart rate elevates every single morning when I walk into her room and see the permanent blue stains on my beautiful mocha carpet.  I cringe every time I walk past the bathroom door and see the streak of red fingernail polish that taunts me, “I’m still here and there’s nothing you can do about it!”  But perhaps the thing that has always gotten to me the most is the…trash.  Yep, I’m afraid you heard me right, the T-R-A-S-H.  My child loves trash!  There, I said it!  She even brings home other kids’ trash in her lunchbox!  Pringles containers, juice box straws, candy wrappers!  She views each individual piece of junk as sacred…a treasure….the perfect addition to her latest work of art.  From ski slopes made of plastic shoe inserts to bug houses made from slim jim cans to toilet paper roll binoculars, this child takes great pride in…well, trash!  Now, you have to understand that my personal motto is, “When in doubt, throw it out!”  If there is not a specific place for something in our house, then to the curb it goes!  So, you can only imagine the conflict this oxymoronic  “trash art” has created between the two of us.

Well, I learned to choose my battles over the years.  I’d let her “do her thing” and then secretly sneak her precious “creations” into the trash when she was in bed.  I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve actually been caught a time, or two, or three or four!  “MOMM-A!”  She’d wail.   Her tearful eyes full of angry betrayal, she’d dramatically scold me,  “How COULD you throw this away?”  After carefully removing soggy noodles and smoothing leftover spaghetti sauce off of her masterpiece, she’d march back to her room and slam the door.

Though I never meant to really hurt her, I thought her little projects were worthless junk.  While I didn’t even realize what I was doing at the time, SHE knew that Mom did not value her abilities.

As only He can do, God used a completely unrelated set of circumstances to bring someone new into my life.  Through an email to Streams Ministries, I began to develop a relationship with a wonderful, encouraging, godly woman who I knew only as “Kari.”  Soon, when we went to The Art of Hearing God training by John Paul Jackson, BJ and I had the opportunity to meet this “email stranger” that I had already grown to love.  As we spent time together sharing, I felt a connection with her like never before.  Perhaps it’s because the love of God literally oozes right out of her.  Perhaps because there is not a judgmental bone in her body.  Whatever the reason, I was profoundly impressed with her- -her attitude, her character, her heart.  I genuinely valued and respected her as a person.  During a ten minute break from our class I overheard a gentlemen asking her about her art.  My heart quickened!  She’s an artist!  Instantly, I was filled with an overwhelming desire for her to teach my Grace how “real art”  is to be done.  We had been searching for someone willing to teach Grace for quite a while.  I was so excited about the possibility that I had practically sold our house and packed us up to move to the Dallas area in my mind.  After class ended that night, I went to her and asked about her art.  I shared with her about how creative Grace is but also expressed my embarrassment of her “trash art.”  I’ll never forget her words.  She leaned over to her husband and called out in her amazing New York accent, “She cawlls her dawghter a trash awtist!  Who does that remind you of?”  She began to share how she, too, is a trash artist!  We laughed as she shared about collecting old windows and various items from the curb, how it sometimes embarrasses her husband when she’s searching for trash, and how much joy she finds in taking things that others view to be worthless and creating something lovely from them.  As we toured the offices and she pointed out her art, each piece so meticulously and joyfully crafted, I was absolutely overwhelmed.  This amazing person-this amazing artist-with such love and passion for her work and for her Maker- was a grown up version of  my “Grace.”  I cried and cried that night at the realization of how I had not valued anything about my precious daughter’s gifting.  Sure, I loved her with my whole heart.  But I did not see value in who she is and what she loves.  I did not recognize the joy that transforming trash into treasure brings her. 

When we returned home, my sweet friend Kari sent me the following message regarding Grace’s spiritual gift:

” Not only creatively, but in the natural, it is the ability to see those broken and in need ( those that have been left on the side of life’s road) and pour into them and bring healing and show them the true value they are.  This is a gift I believe Grace may possess.”

Again, my heart broke.  I wept as the spiritual truth washed over me.  God made this child this way for a reason.  She’s not like me and that’s a GOOD thing!  She was never meant to be like me!  God has an incredible plan for her.  She will change lives, perhaps even more than those of us who are not willing to look past the dirty, the broken, and the unlovely.  Her creations are beautiful, valuable expressions of who she is inside and of who God made her to be to others.  From now on, I will treasure every single one of them.

Today as we start this new year, I urge you to take a few moments to view those God has put in your life differently.  Your child is not a brat.  Your spouse is not a mistake.  God put specific people into your life to mold and sharpen and perfect you!  It may take some work, but I promise you, it’ll be life changing.  Give up your old mindsets and see others with “God vision.”   And remember, just because someone is not your idea of perfect doesn’t mean they’re worthless.  Take time to find the valuable treasure in the midst of the trash!

Thank you so much Kari for letting God use you so powerfully in my life. 

You are precious and I love you!

 

                                                                       

 

 

 

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Un-doing the Damage

December 9, 2010 at 8:22 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , , )

Since it’s just us here, I’m going to get right down to the dirty truth.  I struggle daily with an awful disease.  A disease that eats away at my mind and attempts to rob me of all things good.  The disease of perfectionism, the enemy of peace, enslaves all who entertain it.  And hard as I try not to, I definitely entertain it!

I often tease my parents, blaming the two of them for my perfectionistic tendencies.  You see, my brothers and I are actually the offspring of  “Superman” and “Wonder Woman.”  Both of my parents are amazing individuals, unbelievably hard-working over-achievers who never, ever quit.  They do things right.  No shortcuts.  No exceptions.  You can always count on them because they always, ALWAYS come through.  Wonder Woman never sleeps and Superman never complains.  I grew up in that atmosphere, so I’ve never known anything different.  When you have super parents, you can’t help but to want to be super.   And when you have your own kids, you naturally want them to be super, too!   

Well, it didn’t take me too long to realize that my kids weren’t the slightest bit super.  They didn’t even come close to meeting my “super” standard.  At first, I overlooked their flaws and encouraged them to strive for better.  (Like a normal parent) But when the days of falling short turned into months and then years, I couldn’t help but to focus on their shortcomings.   Each time they didn’t rise to meet my standard, I valued them a little less.  I certainly didn’t realize that I was doing it at the time, but I was.  Consequently, they valued themselves a little less each time as well.  And unlike their perfectionist of a mother, they quit trying to meet the standard altogether.  I pushed harder.  They resisted.  The cycle continued until I ended up with a couple of broken kids-my personal view of them expressed through my own mouth causing all the damage!

Most of you know that God has been using the teachings of His servant, John Paul Jackson, to totally transform me from the inside out.  Back in July of this year, my husband, BJ, and I had the opportunity to attend John Paul’s Art of Hearing God training course.  We went desiring to hear the Lord’s voice and boy did He ever speak!  Just not at all about what I expected Him to!  One of the first teachings John Paul shared with us was on the Law of Observation.  This law basically proves that what you look at will conform to the way that you look at it.  In other words, how I perceive someone is how they will become when they are around me.  And if they are around me long enough, they will form a habit of being what I perceive them to be.  Whoaaaaa!  That’s a real problem right there!  You mean what I say today and how I view my children right now will affect who and what they become later on down the road of life as adults?  NOT good.   I immediately realized that I was setting my kids up for a lifetime of failure, and I knew that something had to change FAST! 

It makes sense if you think about it.  If we continually encourage good character traits in an individual, tell them how valuable they are, and remind them of what they are going to become one day, that person will strive to self fulfill those words.  On the other hand, if we constantly tell someone that they’re lazy, ignorant, ugly, or worthless- they will eventually begin to believe it -whether it’s true or not-and self fulfill those words.  In fact, we don’t even have to verbalize it.  Our opinion of others often leaks out through expression, tone, and body language.  So basically, we can take part in holding others back from their destiny simply by the way we view them.  Wow!  Deep stuff, huh?  How can we avoid that mistake?  After all, we say the things we say for a reason!  We generally pass judgments on others based on past experiences with them. 

Well, John Paul teaches that we need to change the way that we perceive others.  I explained it to my kids as needing to have “God Vision.”  We need to see others in light of where God is taking them – not where they are today.  That rotten good for nothing husband will continue to be a rotten good for nothing husband until you change your thought process.   That nag of a wife will go to her grave as a nag unless you perceive her to be something else.  That awful gossip won’t find the strength to change until she sees that you believe she’s better than that. 

Only with this “God Vision” can I now say that God has an incredible plan for my unbelievably strong-willed yet ultra sensitive son.   With all of the drive and tenacity and passion of a grown adult crammed into his little body, he lacks knowledge and wisdom and life experience.  But, in time, when he develops the discipline and character he lacks and joins forces with his destiny, He WILL accomplish great things.  And God must have something truly wonderful in store for my tough as nails outspoken little fireball of a daughter-for He has created her so incredibly strong!  What battles she’ll one day fight…and win!  Once we channel her passion and creativity for His purposes, she will set the paths of all those she encounters ablaze for Him!

People aren’t perfect but they can be perfected as long as we don’t hold them back.  Our words, our attitudes, our perception of others-these all have the power to speak life or death.  I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of killing destinies-including those of people I don’t even know!  I want to be one who helps drive people to reach their calling and fulfill their God-given purpose in life-not watch it pass by.  Though a completely foreign concept at first, I’ve found that “God Vision” gets easier the more you utilize it.   So one word, one thought, one expression, one display of body language at a time, I’m un-doing the damage that I’ve created in so many lives over the years.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. ~Proverbs 18:21

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