All We Like Sheep, Dust, & Grasshoppers

view God lift eyesWelcome back to our series on sight. Today’s post is by Angela Parlin from So Much Beauty in All This Chaos.

Sometimes we need to be reminded what’s true about ourselves.

The swirl and chaos of life leave an Out of Order sign on our insides. We forget. We simply lose sight.

We lose sight of what’s real and true and important. Our eyes fill up with what’s in front of us, whatever mountain we have to climb, the challenges we face. And so we need to remember we are God’s masterpieces, and He treasures us. He made us wonderfully and with intention. He wants us to draw near to Him.

By God’s own definition, we are wanted and chosen and so very loved.

But sometimes I wonder if we don’t need to be reminded more often who God is—instead of who we are. I sat in my corner chair-with-a-view this morning, looking out at the sky and the birds and the backyard trees, realizing the freedom I find in lifting my eyes to heaven.

When I fix my eyes on Jesus, I’m free from so many thoughts of me. From so many needs. So many desires. So many distractions.

The truth is, I don’t only need a better view of myself each day—I need a better view of God. I need to fill up with who He is, not only focus on who I am.

I need to think less of me, and more of Him.

I was reading Isaiah 40. In which the prophet compares human beings to a variety of things. Some are questionable. Isaiah continues to point back to God, but nothing comes close to comparing with Him.

We are like grass that withers, like flowers that fall. But the Word of the Lord will endure forever.

We are the flock He gathers in His arms. He is the Shepherd who carries us close to His heart, who gently leads those who have young.

We are only a drop in a bucket. We are dust on the scales, like unto nothing. But He holds the dust of the earth in a basket. He weighs the mountains on His scales.

He stretches out the heavens like a tent to live in. He blows on the rulers of this world, reducing them to nothing.

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth. 

And from His view? We look like grasshoppers. Grasshoppers! Now that’s humbling. Which is really the point.

God is our incomparable Creator. His understanding is so far beyond ours. He even calls each of the stars by name.  He’s never exhausted, never weary. He is power and might. He’s the everlasting God, the amazing Creator of the ends of the earth.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens.

Our lives tangle up in chaos, often. We stumble. We fight. We exhaust ourselves. We hope. We hurt. We pray. We seek help. We work hard. We lay low. We escape the chaos when given the chance.

But through it all, our Creator is near. He always loves. Always sees. He’s always just. Always right. Always giving. Always true. Always worth following. Always on the throne. Always worthy and awesome and incomparable. His beauty remains.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth…

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

(verses 28-29)

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens.

Because sometimes, we just need to be reminded of what’s real and true and important.

Angela ParlinAngela Parlin is Dan’s wife and Mom to 3 rowdy boys + 1 sweet girl. She spends as many days as possible at the beach, and loves to watch romantic comedies, organize closets, be with her people, and play with nature photography. But more than anything, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to all the beauty He weaves throughout the chaos of our lives. Join her at So Much Beauty in All This Chaos!

Twelve Birthday Wishes for My Tween Daughter

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My precious daughter,

You were born strong. Pink, squalling, hungry, determined, and given a perfect score of 10 for newborn health, you seemed to know exactly who were were and what you wanted from life the second air brushed against your lungs. Holding you tight against my chest, I realized a new kind of brave burned inside my bones, the kind that would allow me to take on a mountain lion with my bare hands if you were in danger.

My repertoire in loving expands each day I mother you.

We’ve sorted through tantrums, danced in princess gowns and steadied ourselves against attacks from bullies. I watched you grow from a little girl who explored with Dora; prepared plastic meals from her toy kitchen; and memorized every song from all of the Barbie movies to an almost-woman who sings Adele’s Hello like she wrote it herself; loves making breakfast for the family on Saturday mornings; and blushes at the mention of Thor.

This year, you turned 12. That’s big. And we celebrated big with an ice skating party. I even ordered fancy–and delicious–cookies from a delightful little husband-and-wife-owned business in New York City. The owners, Gabe and Holly Valentino are a true team as they both manage separate careers while working together to run their shop Baked to Measure.

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We both love cookies and found these too perfect to resist, but I bought them for more reasons than they’d make extra-cute party favors. For starters, Holly reminds me of a grown up version of you. I don’t know her personally, but from her Instagram feed alone, you can tell she’s filled with spunk, creativity, compassion and courage. She’s the type of woman who isn’t afraid to grapple with risks to move toward her dreams and I see the same in you.

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The other driving reason for the skate-shaped confections? I wanted to remind you that whimsy is for girls of all ages. That even though you’re getting older, you’re allowed to get excited about your birthday and plan a party for the little girl within.

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As you squished your eyes tight to blow out your candles and make your birthday wish, several wishes of my own swirled inside my brain. In honor of your 12th birthday, here are my 12 wishes for you as your head to middle school and grow into a woman.

I Wish …

1. That you find beauty every time you glance in the mirror and every time you search inside your heart.

2. That you always rise above labels and never attach words like fat, ugly, dumb, skinny, or popular to your identity.

3. That you own your mistakes and learn from them, but never, ever allow them to define you.

4. That you refuse to numb your feelings. Your bitter ones. Your confused ones. Your jealous ones. Your sad ones. Your spitting-mad ones. Your happy ones that you might feel you don’t deserve. Instead, explore the emotions that toss you to your knees and the ones that raise your eyes toward the sun. When you own what you feel, you’ll be less likely to let your feelings own you.

5. That you always feel proud to be your daddy’s girl, even when you don’t find his jokes all that funny.

6. That you cling tight to a sense of wonder and never take the beauty of this world for granted.

7. That you keep singing.

8. That you slam the door on shame each time it knocks.

9. That you always know that you are loved and wanted just as you are. No matter what you choose or who you become, your father and I will forever love you.

10. That you keep your spunk and stand up for yourself and others.

11. That you forgive. Those who slight you. Those you betray you. Those who disappoint you. Those who slice your core with ugly words. Forgive them all, yourself included.

12. That you remember that were fearfully and wonderfully made by the One who felt that you were worth dying for.

Love,
Mommy

When You’re Too Overwhelmed to Breathe

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Sometimes the world feels too big and I feel too small. Calming my soul during moments of chaos can add to the burden and I can feel as there is one more thing I need to do that I’m not sure how to do. In times like these I know that keeping things simple help me focus on the things and people that matter most.

At (in)Courage today, I share some easy-to-remember scripture verses that ease my heart in moments of panic. Please join me there.

Hanging Out with Royalty – Guest Post By Liz Curtis Higgs

 

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A day after Liz Curtis Higgs’ latest book, It’s Good to Be Queen: Becoming as Bold, Gracious, and Wise as the Queen of Sheba landed in my mailbox, I headed to Charlotte, North Carolina for a retreat with Liz and other fellow (in)courage contributors. From the second she greeted me with a hug, I knew why Liz can write so profoundly and encourage so lavishly … it’s because she’s blessed with the gift of seeing people.

Liz doesn’t just look at you, she looks for clues about what makes you tick and what you hold most dear. I think it’s the knack for Holy Spirit-guided connection that helps enable her to vividly retell the stories of history’s most engrossing women through a spiritual lens that magnifies God’s role in events and allows the readers to glimpse the character traits that can be found in us all.

There are many jewels to be gleaned from It’s Good to Be Queen …  the value of openness, boldness, honesty, generosity, and graciousness are just a few of my favorites. In her guest post below, Liz highlight the importance of seeking wise counsel.

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Hanging Out With Royalty by Liz Curtis Higgs

When the queen of Sheba heard about the wisdom of King Solomon, she traveled across the Arabian Desert to ask him some tough questions. Turned out, “nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her” (1 Kings 10:3).

Imagine having all your questions answered by one person! Like Google with skin on. But Google can serve up only the collective knowledge of humankind. King Solomon shared wisdom from on high. “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6).

God, the source of all wisdom, cares about everything that matters to us. That thing you think is too small, too insignificant for God’s attention? He not only cares about it, He also knows what to do about it.

Friends may offer sympathy, a tissue, a listening ear, but God brings us what we really need. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

Wisdom—even more valuable than knowledge—is ours for the asking? You bet.

A dozen years ago, Donald Rumsfeld, then U.S. Secretary of Defense, made this classic statement about knowledge: “There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know.”

Seriously? Unknown unknowns? People are still laughing about that one.

Except there really are things we don’t know we don’t know. And all those things? Those are the things God knows.

When we throw up our hands and say, “I don’t get it, Lord,” He says, “Exactly!”
”As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

I am so grateful that God gets what we don’t get, knows what we don’t know, and loves us where we are. His knowledge and insight stretch far beyond the stars, yet He graciously extends them to us.

When the queen of Sheba headed for Jerusalem with her caravan of camels, little did she know that the One who waited for her was ready to answer her every question. He waits for us as well, beloved. Just ask.

“Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89)


Blogger’s note: I received a free copy of It’s Good to Be Queen as a no-strings-attached gift from the book’s author, Liz Curtis Higgs. I am under no obligation to review or write about the book, but have shared the guest post and my own personal observations about Liz because I have been truly touched by her writing and sincere desire to encourage and equip women to use their talents for God’s glory.