Kept

It’s Friday night, and I’m doing what I usually do…exhaling slowly and surveying our cluttered dining room table. What a colorful mess! Paper, crayons, kids’ books and my books, Cole’s artwork, my Bible, Trevor’s engineering stuff, both our laptops, Chase’s current favorite stuffed animal, Snakey, various legos, pens, artwork, and DS games are scattered across the table.

A black and orange Lego scorpion glares across the table, sharp white teeth threatening a Lego Darth Vader. Crayons are shuffled back into the rectangle container that barely contains them. The Lego container crackles as I toss little pieces back in. Paperwork gets organized. The books are put back on a shelf or in our book basket and the pens and colored pencils have a home, too. Just like my mom taught me, “Everything in its place.”

But not the pictures…the beautiful pictures…

The artwork just kills me.

Okay, that’s being a bit melodramatic. But it really does bother me. Each unique picture my sons draw is special to them and to us. Cole in particular loves to draw and write and shows a strong aptitude toward the Johnson artistic genes (he sure doesn’t get it from me). His pictures have gone from being barely contained within lines to colorful, detailed boomerangs, to intricate maps with treasure, to writing silly sentences he and Chase giggle about when they’re read aloud.

Little boy humor and all… 🙂

And then there are the creative crafts Cole and Chase do in school. I’ve kept a lot of them. Too many to count. Pumpkins with spiral legs, hats that don’t fit, pictures of (stick) friends, stories with words spelled wrong, a square and triangle connected together that’s a sweet portrait of our home, and even an acorn-covered, gold-spray-painted picture frame. I’ve looked into buying special containers and under-the-bed, vacuum-sealed-packages, closet organizers and drawers for filing. I’ve shoved things into closets and hidden things under beds and stacked pictures on shelves I could barely reach.

We have one of Cole’s pictures of our home taped to the wall in our entrance way. It’s been there nearly a year and is officially part of my home decor. It used to bother me, hanging there haphazardly, but now I warn the boys to be careful not to rip it down.

Each drawing and piece of artwork is special, a piece of their hearts laid out on paper by their own imagination and fingers. Their artwork adorns every room in our house. I adore their drawings, partly because our boys put their hearts into these masterpieces and because I just…love them. They are a precious piece of our children’s imagination, and part of our home.

Their artwork shapes our memories of their childhood.

But at some point it hits me – painfully – that I can’t keep everything. Some of their artwork and crafts must be thrown away. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of times I’ve stood over the kitchen garbage can, my face tight, eyes blinking rapidly as I fold a beautiful picture or sweet note in half and throw it away.

Forever. Gone.

I truly can’t keep everything. It’s impossible. And In time I’ll forget about this map drawing, that puffy snowman, and the 3D macaroni picture Chase worked so hard on. I’ll forget. That bothers me tremendously.

I don’t know for sure that I’ll remember the cotton-ball-decorated snowman or Chase’s rainbow fish or Cole’s simple, colorful picture of our house. I hope I remember the smiles we shared over their artwork and the sweet child-like pride they had in it. I hope I took the time to praise them sincerely for their beautiful pictures, funny words and thoughtful messages of love, because these are the precious details of life that tie our emotions into the at-times hectic, tiresome, beautiful days of parenting.

Though I know very well they can’t all be kept, I don’t want to forget them.

God’s Word promises He never forgets us or the details of our lives. He’s our creator and He knows everything about us. Psalm 139:1-3 reminds us, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.” God knows every picture we’ve drawn and every thought we’ve had.

Thankfully He doesn’t have to discard anything about our lives. He keeps it all in His heart. Psalm 56:8 says of God, “You number my wanderings, put my tears into Your bottle.” God keeps track of our tears! I can’t think of anything more tender and caring than God keeping track of the tracing of our tears and then placing them inside a bottle – His bottle. And He numbers our wanderings – the times we distance ourselves from Him and the times we run back to Him. 

How He must rejoice in the latter.

I’m grateful that our value to Him is immeasurable… “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6 & 7). What a blessing that God remembers every detail of our lives, from the hair at the top of our head to each of the tiny, pain-filled tears dripping onto the ground. 

Most amazing of all is that God loved us so much “that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus is the proof of God’s unending love and care. His perfect Son, sent to atone for our sin and reconcile us back to our Creator, in order to have right relationship with Him. I’m still startled at the grace offered by God for each of us.

It’s a grace that’s undeserved, but undeniable.

So much is discarded in this life. In fact, at our earthly death, everything physical is. But rest assured we are God’s favorite masterpiece, and through our faith in Jesus, we are kept by Him.

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