And What Do You Buy God?

Five or six nickels and dimes line up precariously on the white pine bed railing, as my four-year old and I shove toys into piles in his room.

Sitting cross-legged, I sort toys and bag up giveaways. “Daniel, I found another one!” He races over to pluck the coin from my hand, and carries it triumphantly up the ladder to his bed railing.

My brother flew home this week, my eldest son walked the stage in flowing red robes on Tuesday night, and we celebrated his graduation party on Saturday. Throughout the week leading up to it, our family cleaned, painted, and landscaped like madmen. And my silly prayer to God all week? Lord, please let the tulips keep their petals and beauty until after the party. I wanted the guests to have that splash of color in the yard, and even more so, I longed for my horticulturalist brother to enjoy them with me.

Graduation party day came, and my vibrant red, purple and yellow tulips were still there. Nodding in rain, blown by the wind, they were still there — weeks past their duration date– still there when my brother drove up to see them.

The party went wonderfully, the food multiplied, the hard rain held off, and we delighted to linger long with people over ice cream sundaes and hot coffee on a cloudy day. Conversations flowed, grass-stained teens played volleyball for hours, and we had a wonderful time.

And the tulips? They held their color, waving in the wind.

Five or six nickels and dimes line up precariously on the white pine bed railing. Surrounded by Legos, cheetahs, and valiant plastic green army men, I sort toys into piles, and sit in Daniel’s room, listening to him. He tells me of games he plays, and battles his cheetahs have been in, and he occasionally hands me toys to sort. I listen and clean; listen and love him; listen and bring order to the disarray.

And the joy in him wells up. This time with him, this one-on-one listening, this listening to the smallest details of his life, fills up his love bank and bursts him wide open.

“You beautiful, Mom! I love you.” And we work some more. I work quietly behind the scenes, restoring order and beauty to spilled toys, spilled out bits from a busy life that hadn’t yet been dealt with.

Love spills into him, and over him, falling out around him, and he breaks into happy leaping.

“Mom, I buy you something?” he asks suddenly, touching his six or seven coins lined up on the bed. These were his coins that he was saving in the ceramic blue and white pig. Coins he was saving to buy a Lego set.

“Mom, I buy you something?”

“Wow, Daniel, that’s really sweet and generous of you. I’m okay for right now, but maybe later, okay? Thank you!” I stammer and affirm him.

I get this. This desire to give back to the One who sits in my disarray and listens, to the One who spills love to me with simple gestures, like tulips bobbing in the wind. The love spills up and over, and I burst into wondering what I can give back to Him. And the nickels and dimes line up precariously on my white pine railing.

“Thank you, God! Thank you for so much. I buy you something?And the line it slips out my mouth in quiet humor to my God all weekend now, a shared joke between me and the Godhead. His letters tell me that a life of worship and obedience is what speaks love to Him right back, and so I gather my heart and leap into worship. 

Hi friend! I’ve missed you. What has this last week been like for you? How are ways you speak love back to God? (Those in email can click here to join the discussion.)

Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose, and Ann at A Holy Experience.

Coins photo credit.

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  1. Mommy Emily on June 7, 2013 at 3:33 am

    aw Jennifer, this is so beautiful. I love how God cares about everything, including the tulips, and how our children show us his pure adoration. what a lovely day you had! bless you.

  2. LOLITA on June 7, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Such a sublime act of worship. Thank you, Jen. It is so awe-inspiring, how you compare thoughts for God in the everyday dealings. I so love that "love spilling over and our from Daniel" because of your share time, ordinary yet quality time.

    Blessings and I miss you too.

  3. Janis Cox on June 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Hi Jennifer,
    Thanks for commenting on my blog. Somehow you ended up in the spam folder – but I found you.
    Adoration – giving thanks – awesome isn't it?

  4. Unknown on June 12, 2013 at 2:00 am

    This is beautiful!! I love your lyrical way of writing! 🙂

  5. Helene on June 12, 2013 at 7:53 am

    if I can suggest? Go buy something for God! Get 3 ten dollar gift cards to McDonalds and give them to the first three homeless people you see. (This will earn them not only dinner but a place out of the heat to wash up and rest for a few hours) And when you give it, know one hundred percent that when you lend to the poor you lend to God.

  6. Jennifer Dougan on June 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Emily, always nice to talk with you, and to pop into your world too. Thanks, friend.

    You come to my mind off and on, and I smile and pray for you and your family, and your book ministries.


  7. Jennifer Dougan on June 12, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Lolita, thank you. 🙂 How have you been?!


  8. Jennifer Dougan on June 12, 2013 at 9:13 pm


    Those pesky spam folders, eh? 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by.


  9. Jennifer Dougan on June 12, 2013 at 9:16 pm


    Your kind words make me smile. Thank you!


  10. Jennifer Dougan on June 12, 2013 at 9:21 pm


    Thanks for your ideas, and for stopping by my blog. It's fun to think about how to spill back our love to God, isn't it?

    Jennifer Dougan

  11. cabinart on June 15, 2013 at 6:40 am

    This is precious. You are so patient with your little guy, just listening, hanging out. Most moms I know would be slamming through the tasks, urging the child to keep moving, not understanding that he just wants to hang out with his mom.

    I think God is more like you than like most of the moms I know.

    That's a relief!

  12. Jennifer Dougan on June 20, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Hi Cabinart,

    Thank you. I'm so glad that I got it right this time, with Daniel in his room. I confess to sometimes racing through life and chores too, sadly. He is such a sweetie! Who couldn't love that little man?! 🙂


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