Takes a Lickin’ and Keeps On…

I never know what awaits me at 3:29pm each day.  The school bus rolls up, traffic halts and my son descends the rubber steps, carrying the weight of seven hours of first grade on his back. That and a half-eaten lunch, leaky water bottle and two pounds of (now-soggy) homework.

Some days, he is all smiles, bidding amongst his friends for who will sell the most magazines to earn the coveted ninja-duck key-chain, valuing in at about 53 cents while requiring $135 in online sales.

Other days, he utters not a word before sprinting after his buddies to swap trading cards.

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But many are the days when his lower lip is the first thing off the bus. A lost soccer ball, a bombed spelling test, a mean remark, a tummy ache.

Today, it was a substitute teacher.  A substitute teacher with popsicles.

Tears flowed. Words hid behind sniffles and sobs. I thought he might be hyperventilating.

Finally, the story poured out. His teacher had been out sick and her class had kept it together 5 days in a row – not a small feat for a clan of seven-year-olds. On her final day away, she wanted to treat them. So, popsicles it was!

The kids gathered on the rug to receive their treat.  Jack assured me there had been 17 popsicles, one for each little learner. But somehow in the excitement (read: chaos) of handing out popsicles to a room full of Friday-addled first graders, one little hand was missed. The 17th popsicle vanished into thin air and my little guy got skipped over.

I know how that feels. I’ve been skipped over before. Usually, it’s easy to resolve. But now and then, I am stuck without explanation, unable to simply stand up for myself and make things right.

Sometimes we get skipped over and it digs in deeper than it should.

As I was empathugging (wait for it…), I recalled seeing a lone popsicle in our freezer with origins unknown (there had only ever been one). In that moment, I knew why it was there! Even better, inside the wrapper there was not one but two (albeit freezer-burned) little ice pops. One for the seven-year-old and one for his attached-at-the-hip little bro. Score!!

…Except somewhere around 22 months ago, I birthed a third child.

Said child sat in her stroller, observing the whole scenario go down. Sure, she didn’t follow the story or the sadness, but she most certainly did not miss popsicles being handed out.

And just like that, I was the substitute teacher handing out not-quite-enough popsicles to eager eyes. I had just turned one wounded frown upside down and was about to inflict a similar wound upon my youngest.

And then, Pedialyte to the rescue!

Back when our Christmas was nearly ruined by a horrifying combo of RSV, Pneumonia and Influenza A, some genius stashed Pedialyte pops in the bottom of the freezer. They looked enough like a Popsicle, so baby girl was none-the-wiser.  For 20 minutes, I basked in the glory of three now-happy (& sticky) kiddos.

Even though kids are wildly creative in all scenarios that play to their advantage (ex: stalling bedtime), they have a one-track mind when it comes to being a victim of any injustice or maltreatment.  I must be bad. Something must be wrong with me. Creativity escapes them when it comes to imagining why someone might have said what they’ve said or done what they’ve done.

As Jack was sobbing out the story, I was brainstorming reason after reason as to why he wasn’t given a Popsicle.

None of which had anything to do with him being bad.

But when I engaged him in that process, his conclusion was

“I don’t get it. I was good! So many of the other kids weren’t! Those popsicles were for being good. I didn’t get a popsicle, so I must be bad.

He didn’t lean back on what he knew to be true.  He let his experience of being skipped over concluded he was bad.

Isn’t that what we do? Often I think God has skipped over me. I look around the “rug” and think “I should be getting one of those too!  I want one of those!  Why didn’t I get one??”  And I conclude that there must be something wrong with me.  

I’m not able to see how being skipped over might be God’s
unique provision.
(Perhaps home-popsicles curbside with mom are better than school-popsicles!)

I’m not able to see how being skipped over might be God’s
unquestionable protection.
(It’s possible Jack’s substitute teacher was instructed not to give him any school-provided food due to his allergies.)

I’m not able to see past the hand of the fallible human or the broken world to know it wasn’t the intention of the Giver. So, I don’t recognize God as the
unrepresented provider.
(If the sub mistakenly missed a kid, it didn’t mean the teacher hadn’t sent one for him!)

I conclude I am not good enough, He doesn’t love me enough, He is not really good.

All the while missing the heart of the One who gives good gifts to His children, who is a good good Father and is working all things together for the good of those who love Him.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
James 1:17


“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Matthew 7:11


“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28

These are the truths to lean back on when popsicles are being handed out and I am left empty-handed, or worse yet, licking a Pedialyte pop.

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