Princesses Don’t Whine

IMG_1411

I remember the first time I realized I was a whiner. Yes. I remember. I remember distinctly where I was and what I was doing. It was 35 years ago and I was fussing about something (the something is what I canNOT remember).

Seriously…when I fuss it can be quite comical. Animated. Hands flying everywhere. The facial expressions, the body language…goodness, now that I think about it, it’s quite exhausting.

The one who was listening patiently to my rant waited for a pause, looked me right in the face and said, “Can I have some cheese with that whine?”

I stood there with this ridiculously dumb look on my face, I’m sure, and replied, “Excuse me?”

I didn’t get it and she didn’t bother to explain herself.

Isn’t it funny how I’ve never forgotten that? Maybe it’s not suppose to be funny, but as age and wisdom have grown on me it now brings a smile to my face. What does God think of my whining? I’m at this place in my walk with the Lord where I picture Him hanging His mighty head and shaking it back and forth while He declares to His Son who sits at His right hand, “Here she goes again.”

Lord, have mercy.

Whining is something the good Lord and I have battled with for a long time. Some habits are hard to break. It takes persistence, perseverance, and patience. It takes the power of God.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation, in which you shine among them like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.”  Philippian 2:14-16

I am a child of God. As His child, one of His greatest desires is for me is be conformed to the image of His Son and Jesus didn’t whine or complain or grumble. His Spirit will forever work in me as much as I give Him control, as much as I rely on His power and strength, as much as I depend upon Him…I can become like Jesus, not because I have to, but because I want to.

And Jesus shines not whines. He lights up the world. He radiates. Like a star in the nighttime sky, He glows. He sparkles.

Whining extinguishes the light of Jesus within me. Whining robs me of my joy, but here’s the clicker…

whining has the potential to steal the joy right out of every single person I unload it on.

Sweet Jesus, who wants to eat my whine, for crying out loud?!? For all the cheese lovers out there, I don’t care what your favorite cheese is, I don’t think there’s any kind in the world that will improve the taste of a whine, no matter how animated it is.

The book of Philippians is often referred to as the “book of joy.” It’s the underlying theme in all 4 chapters of this tiny book: joy in suffering, joy in serving, joy in believing, joy in giving…these are the chapter titles in my New International Version of the Bible. In chapter 2, Paul reminds us of the joy Christ had in serving people and He’s reminding us that we’re to imitate His example in serving others. He reminds us,

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” verse 12

Immediately following is the admonition to “do everything without complaining and arguing.” 

The life of a child of God is a high calling. It comes with a responsibility to grow up in our faith. Becoming more like Jesus is a work in progress. A journey. A progression. Because of Christ’s love for me and because of His example, I want to grow up in my faith. I want to accept the responsibility that comes with a continuous work to change the parts of me that don’t shine, that don’t radiate, that don’t sparkle. That means I want Jesus to have His way in me. I want Him to change me, to make me more like Him. I can’t do it on my own. I need the Holy Spirit’s power within me.

I want to act like the princess I am as a child of the King…

…and princesses, as part of their royal heritage, are called to serve. Before a princess can even rule as a queen, she must first be trained, taught, even tested. A princess learns to lead by example by watching and learning from those who have gone before her. A princess learns to love her people. She learns early in life that to be royal means accepting responsibilities that come with her position. It means the eyes of the world will be on her. She has to understand her calling.

The eyes of the whole world may not be on me, but in the little part of the world where God has planted my feet I want to shine like a star. I want to let God work in me so that He can work through me. That’s why I persist, persevere, and patiently depend upon the power of God to change me.

When I take my dogs out for one last potty run at the end of every day, I realize how very blessed I am to live in the country. When there are no clouds in the sky, I look up and find myself in awe of the stars in a vast expanse of darkness. The darkness doesn’t seem so dark because the stars really do sparkle and shine. It’s a happy feeling. One of joy. I’m reminded that I’m to shine just like that.

I may still stumble and fall as I work out my salvation, I may still succumb to bad habits on occasion, I may still throw my hands around and fuss every now and then, but I think the whining becomes less and less as time goes by. As I give Jesus control, as I depend upon His power, as I learn from His example, as I accept my responsibility to grow up in my faith, I learn to shine like a star.

I picture God lifting up His mighty head and nodding it up and down declaring to His Son who sits at His right hand, “Do you see that? She’s getting it! I’ll have some delight with that shine!”

To Shine Like A Star

The first year God inspired me to design our family’s Christmas card was over twenty years ago. I was sitting at a stoplight waiting for a “Go.” Out of nowhere, in my mind, the picture of baby Jesus appeared, silhouetted against a white backdrop. I had mere seconds to sketch it out on a napkin I retrieved from the glove box. By the time I got home, I knew God wanted me to design a Christmas card. A few days later God birthed a verse: Sweet and simple the Christ child came; the heavens proclaimed His holy name.

I never dreamed that a Christmas tradition was in the making with that first homemade card. Each year, I sketch out the design for the front of the card on mylar or thick paper. I cut a stencil. I use only 3 colors; gold, pine green and brick red. I paint on white card stock. I handwrite each verse. It brings me such joy to know that our family and friends receive such a precious gift from God through me. It’s way bigger than anything I could have dreamed up on my own. It’s a ministry. When an unsaved friend of ours tells me every year how much he looks forward to our Christmas card and that it’s the nicest he receives I realize God has a purpose that reaches far beyond my human creativity. Our unsaved friend has heard the gospel message more than once through these cards.

God has inspired these cards in some very unique ways. Sometimes the picture appears first. Sometimes the verse. I’ve been awakened in the middle of the night with inspiration and I’ve been inspired by a pastor’s sermon. (I had to doodle that one on my bulletin.) One time I sat in my grandmother’s rocker for three hours…waiting…doing absolutely nothing…before God spoke a word. That’s what you call being still and quiet before the Lord.

And sometimes I’m even cleaning house. That’s how the story of Ignatious came to be. Proof that God works in mysterious ways. “Ignatious the Star” ranks as the most beloved and the most unusual of all my cards.

It was August and I was vacuuming, not one of my favorite house cleaning chores. As I pushed and pulled that heavy upright a phrase began to resound in my ears, “There once was a star named Ignatious, who dreamed of being so spacious….”

I stopped vacuuming and actually laughed out loud. What would you have done?! I had no idea what it meant, but over the next few months I would hear this same phrase over and over again while I washed dishes, pulled weeds in the flower beds, painted walls, shopped for groceries. At one point, I started rapping it as I dusted furniture, “There once was a star named Ignatious–boom boom–who dreamed of being so spacious–boom boom.” And I danced a little with every swipe of the dust cloth. Holy Mackerel, I thought I’d gone mental.

Usually around Thanksgiving I start thinking about my Christmas card. I tell God I’m ready and ask Him to speak to me. Wouldn’t you know? The minute I asked God to inspire me I heard that familiar phrase. I stopped. I actually took a seat. I stared off into space and with tears of gratitude that I’d not lost my mind after all I received the rest of the story:

There once was a star named Ignatious, who dreamed of being so spacious;

Though smallest of all he still shown with awe, forever humble and gracious.

He hovered and twinkled and sparkled and sprinkled his light through the darkest of night;

So happy to stand and be part of God’s plan, he was such a glorious sight.

One day he asked God to give him a job, to prove himself to be helpful;

God said, “I’ll give you a task far more than you ask, but only because you’ve been faithful.

Today My child will be born reconciled to bring others to eternal joy;

The light from your heart will shine from the start bringing others to My baby boy.”

Ignatious grew grand and began to expand, his heart overflowing with love;

God’s gift though small was given to all and His light shone down from above.

I’ve had a few friends tell me this would make a great children’s book, but I don’t know. Somehow I think God had a message here just for me. God reminded me through the story of Ignatious that He’ll use anyone with a heart that’s willing and obedient. Sometimes our tasks seem small and insignificant, but God doesn’t see it that way. He gives us small jobs to test our faithfulness and we learn humility in the little things. When we prove ourselves worthy He knows He can trust us with more. No matter how small or how big the task, we have the responsibility to shine…to hover and twinkle and sparkle and sprinkle wherever God sets our feet…to be happy just to stand and be part of God’s plan.

We’re all called to shine the light of Jesus. To point the way to the Savior. We’re walking Christmas cards and who says the spirit of Christmas is only for the month of December? What a wonderful thing to receive inspiration from God while sitting at a stoplight or in the heat of a summer month or while cleaning house! Small things. Mundane tasks. Dreaded Chores. Hovering in one spot. Lighting just one room. It’s all important to God. It’s all part of God’s plan because…

a small thing can turn into a big deed…

a mundane task can turn into an extraordinary work…

a dreaded chore can turn into an anticipated event…

one spot can become many places and one room can become a mansion. My name may not be Ignatious, but I can still be a star.

“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” Daniel 12:3

So, I think I’ll ask God to give me a job and see how helpful I can be. Who knows? Maybe if you look into the nighttime sky this Christmas season you’ll see a star with my name on it. I would love to see you hovering beside me.

Shine on, dear friends, shine on.