Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day. -Psalm 139:13-16 (The Message)
Today is the last day of school for both Jesse and Alex. Both kids will be home by 1:15, and I plan to throw them in the car and take them down to the best ice cream place I know and celebrate. We began our school year with a feast at Olive Garden (Alex’s choice, not Jesse’s). We are smart enough to ask Alex to choose within reason because we’ll end up at Subway or McDonald’s, and we already frequent those places on a weekly basis. Tonight, we are splurging on an end of the year celebration, and Alex has chosen Benihana. It’s gonna be awesome. You can see how excited Jesse was at Olive Garden this past August.
Steve and I were invited to the awards ceremony at Alex’s school this morning. It was our first time being asked to go. Alex was given a certificate of achievement for Bible, and we were happy for her. My daughter does not often receive awards. She is the girl that is an average student but works her butt off. She is not the best volleyball player, but loves to play. She doesn’t stand out as the funniest or the most artistic, but indeed she has her parent’s sense of humor and can write and draw beautifully. My daughter struggles with math, has some anxiety about not being good enough, and cries big tears when she feels like she’s let you down. She is sensitive and caring, and she is very much in the phase of life where she is figuring things out. She’s learning how to be a friend as she will soon be in her teen years, not only with her peers, but also with Jesus.
Alex has achieved things this year that could not be measured with a grade on a report card. This year, Alex showed great strides in time management. She worked ahead of schedule with homework and projects amid a hectic sports schedule. Alex navigated some tough friendships; she cried for a few weeks trying to figure out the madness of middle school drama. She also got up every day and courageously went to school, even when she didn’t want to. She also found friendships outside of school this year, forming close relationships with girls on her volleyball team and Wyld Life Leaders. She raised money to pay for a mission trip she will be serving on in a few weeks. Alex is growing closer to her brother and learning to ignore the silly things a four year old boy often says, like “butt” and “fart.” One of the coolest things I’ve experienced with Alex is her growing relationship with Christ. She is engaging in conversation with Him and His Word on a very personal level. She is seeing that Christ’s love is for everybody, mostly the people who don’t always act nice or look like they have it all together. Christ’s love is growing deep and wide.
Our girl has also struggled. She has not made all the right choices all the time and even felt despair. She is discovering that especially then, God is ready to pour His love into her. She is still growing in the principle that she doesn’t have to earn His love; that she is worth it…no matter what. Steve and I will continue to tell her that.
I have to be honest with you, I didn’t know how to feel at that awards ceremony this morning. I was excited for our girl to have this moment of recognition, and yet I was struggling from running down to her and pulling her out of the crowd to tell her that this is cool, but it’s not everything. She was deemed worthy before she even took her first cry, and no award will come close to that.
Today, I want to say that you are worthy. You don’t need a piece of paper to tell you that. You have a God that is reaching out through people, places, experiences to throw His arms around you. He has a purpose and plan for your life, and sometimes it may feel like you don’t and it’s all crap. But it’s not. He’s using the valleys, the difficult times too to work in us and around us. Sometimes we mess up, and it’ s good to cry those big, ugly cries. It’s good to feel pain to know that change is a good thing, and it starts with us. When we can do that, we take away the shame and we can live, really live right where we are. May we take risks, dare to even fail, to know and build faith that we can get back every time. I pray this for Alex and anyone else needing that today.
May summer be a tall glass of lemonade on a hot day. Let’s play, laugh, try new things, and offer lots of grace to ourselves and others.