Just before Christmas I was able to squeeze in a local Christmas lights sight seeing with our youngest children. Unfortunately we spent almost an hour in traffic before seeing any displays.

We sat there as patiently as we could, my husband playing games on his phone to distract himself and the girls chatting in the backseat. A little voice came from behind me…

“I wish I could name a cloud,” Monica Jr. declared.

She was probably remembering when I shared that Peter had payed for a star to be named after me when we were dating. It was a cute idea; naming a cloud.

“Well… that’s a neat idea honey, but clouds don’t last so it would be silly to name them. They’re just vapor in the sky that floats away.”

The words I spoke were oddly familiar:

Men are only a vapor; exalted men, an illusion. Weighed in the scales, they go up; together they are less than a vapor.

Yes, even the exaltation of having a star named after me would not last. That distant ball of fire and the records naming it for me would all one day be vapor just as my earthly life and name.

Along with even the beautiful flowers of this world, I will fade.

But I have a new name.

God named me.

I have new life.

That name is as eternal as the life I have found in Him.

He named me because He has given me permanence in His kingdom; a right to reign alongside His Son, even.

What an honor!

I don’t know that I ever grasped the significance of being named by God so deeply as I did the day my toddler decided she would like to name a cloud.

I don’t know that I have ever been so grateful that my Father has chosen to call me His and give me a new name.

I pray that you take seriously the implications of such a simple, yet permanent gesture. We may not know our new names yet, but we can be sure that they are everlasting just as we are everlasting in Christ Jesus.

May you walk in that new name; in truth and in confidence of your Father this year.

Your sister,

Monica

*If you would like to but have yet to accept Christ as your Savior, I would be honored to walk with you through this step! Feel free to contact me here, and I’ll be in touch ASAP šŸ˜‰

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Iā€™m not the type of person that people tend to get loud with. Maybe thereā€™s something in my eyes left over from a life of survival, or maybe I just know how to dodge ignorant people like Neo dodges bullets. Itā€™s probably a little bit of both. Yet, I found myself in an interesting situation today. As I knelt on the floor to clean up after my boss she stood there yelling over top of me. I laughed to myself in a slightly maniacal manner and told God how dissatisfied I was with my current occupation. As I went on cleaning, the exhausted tyrant (who had skippedĀ her nap) grew louder. She fussed as multi-coloredĀ candy sprinkles fell from her mouth and onto the floor where I was still collecting them. She had gotten into something she shouldnā€™t have and I was stuck cleaning the mess while she cried about what I would not let her have. Do I even need to make a cleverly worded mention of how this parallels the way we treat God?

Time and again I jump into things I have no business meddling in. Time and again I let my fleshly cravings dictate what piece of the world I will conquer next on my quest for satisfaction. Time and time again, He is there to pick up the pieces and show me how He is the answer to theĀ void I feel. I stomp my feet and scream. I scream at Him sometimes when the pain isĀ too intense. There are appropriate times for this type of prayer. It can be difficultĀ to decipher between healthy and unhealthy complaining. I haveĀ gained some wisdom in this by trial and error. When I screamed and begged for Him to change something, it wasĀ often in vain. But when I cried out and begged Him to change me, well…thatĀ is a prayer He has never failed to say “yes” to.

There is always something God wants to do inside me when the tension becomes unbearable.

Today as my toddler cried out at me, I cried out at God. Then I cried out to Him. Thatā€™s when my perspective shifted and the world righted once more. Monica Jr was still cranky and sleepy and I still had a ton of chores to do. I still didnā€™t want to do any of them. But with my heart softened, I went through the motions and decided to see things His way. Suddenly, instead of being trapped in a kitchen as an indentured servant, I was transported to the best training ground for leadership this worldĀ has ever known: Christ-like motherhood. If I could handle this little monster screaming at me then I could do anything!

Nothing incredible happened on the surface. I apologized to my husband for my brief crankiness and he stated that he hadnā€™t even noticed. Iā€™m still undecided if this is a win on the part of my self-control or a setback in our communication, but Iā€™m going to go with the former for now. Point being, I was not crying out at my husband either. I used to do that often. His recent deployment has brought things out of me I knew were there but didnā€™t feel like accessing so long as I could get ā€œhelpā€ by complaining. Where our marriage used to be bound with angst (concocted by yours truly), it is now almost too good to be true. I have grown in my walk with the Lord and stopped (almost completely) treating my husband like it is his job to fulfill all my needs. If ā€œhappy wife, happy lifeā€ holds any truth, then Iā€™ll just keep drawingĀ near to the Lord for the sake of my husband as well as myself.

My true joy and peace is in Him.

He is the One who notices when I cry and curse under my breath while I am scrubbing floors. He is the OneĀ whispering,Ā “I have aĀ good purpose for you”. His voice callsĀ me to higher thoughts than negativity and hopelessness. He is the One who is there with me when IĀ sprint to my prayer room, lock the door, and crank out a quick praise because without awareness of His presence I am basically a train wreck. He is the One who gave me each of these words as my uneventful, very long day finally came to a close. Jesus is the One I will someday hear saying ā€œwell doneā€ā€¦ but if I listen hard enough, if I draw closely and still my soulā€¦ I can hearĀ Him already. He is pleased with me today.

And you? If you are trudging this same road, or any road where you choose Christ-likeness amid chaos. If no one told you… He is pleased with you as well. Well done my brothers and sisters. Well done.

Until next time…

Your sister,

Monica