I looked down. I could see my feet in ruffled socks and tiny patent leather shoes. At age four I wasn’t really excited about finding Easter eggs. I was with my parents at a community Easter Egg Hunt where the wide green field was dotted with colored eggs and covered in running kids, but I wasn’t really interested. I wasn’t even bothered by the kids taking eggs out of my basket to put in their own. I had a different focus. I was enjoying the way my feet looked in my pretty shoes and socks.

I think I must have been a real trial for my parents. There they were, thinking the goal of the hunt was in gathering lots of eggs and then being disappointed for me that I was not able to fill my basket. And there I was, thinking the fun was in the beauty of my shoes.

It played out in other areas of my life as well. I was never very good at understanding cultural or social norms. Experiencing new, curious or beautiful things was more my inner drive. Like when I was three and wandered into the graveyard behind our house and and brought home some flowers. I remember being surprised when I would get into trouble. I just never saw it coming. I don’t remember intentionally misbehaving, but simply responding to my environment with the joy and curiosity that was inside me.

The world became a precarious place filled with unpredictable people. As I grew older, I became introspective and watchful. Carefully aware of the steps I took. Making statements of life softly. Experiencing quietly and alone whenever possible.

I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who patiently draws me into his arms of love. A love that is big enough to heal my wounded heart. A love that opens the wide world of me again in a new way. A love where He lives and delights in the person that I truly am.

Recently, He walked me through the backyard of my life. Those places in my past that are so troubling, I choose to ignore them. You know, I have done my time of grieving, of healing, of repenting…the whole walking out of co-dependency with counseling etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. So it came as a surprise when Jesus took my hand one day and headed in that direction. What He did was an amazing adventure. He showed me all the places where He was IN my life. I was terribly aware of where He was not, but had never actually seen or thought about where He was.

He was in the very first iris I ever encountered. The one I talked about in the Beautiful Journey post. He was there when I discovered the koi pond, the apple tree, the crazy geese that ran the fence with us when we walked to school. He was with Grandma Banta and I as she showed me about marigolds, gardens and currants. He was in the Christmas shopping trips where I was sure my brother would love an art set just as much as I did and I couldn’t wait to see him open it on Christmas morning. Jesus was there, in the neighbor’s barn, when lots of us kids jumped around the hay, throwing it up way high and at each other laughing out loud as it stuck in our hair. He came with me on my first horse ride and on all the ones that followed. He was there when I actually became an owner of a horse because of my parents’ great giving hearts.

Jesus was there when I crashed my car sliding on black ice. I could have died so easily, but I did not. He was there when Mr. Gonzalez, a high school teacher, taught us so much Spanish we started thinking in it. When my best friend and I met Suzan from Brazil and actually used our Spanish to get to know her.

Jesus showed me colors, textures, light, shadows and shapes. He led me to stories that put big dreams in my heart. To stories that taught me about the life and pain other people experienced. He was in the curiosity that fueled my imagination. In fact, He never left me. I just didn’t know it.

So the walk to my backyard with Jesus changed something in me. It gave me a new window to see my world from and a better understanding of my own identity by seeing the things that brought me joy as I grew up. Sometimes the painful things speak so loud we can’t hear anything else. The pain of my past covered up some important, joyful things…like the rush of joy in seeing the beauty of my ruffled socks and pretty patent leather shoes.

My encouragement to others is that when God invites you to the backyard, don’t be afraid, just go ahead and go. You will experience His love for you and His joy in you. He delights in you. He really, truly does.

Psalms 149:4 For the Lord takes delight in his people; he exalts the oppressed by delivering them.

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