A few years ago I decided to paint faux tile for our kitchen backsplash. All the other options were out of our price range and I was ready for the kitchen to be done.

I didn’t have a well thought out plan before I started – just a vague idea of painting something that looked like tile. I painted a base coat & it looked too blah.   So I went over it with a paper towel and a lighter color and made these sort of swishy marks. Mottled, really. It was barely discernible, but it added texture & depth.

Kitchen tileLater I drew a grid and painted grout. It was too crisp, so I took a darker shade and added slightly jagged lines along each edge. That was when it started to look like tile with shadow and dimension.

It was April and I’m from Texas, so I was missing the open fields of Bluebonnets… and somehow they ended up on the “tile.”  Stems, grasses, leaves, then the start of flower petals… As I looked at what was finished, I got more and more ideas of what to do next.

Sometimes I like to imagine the days of creation. I know God knows the beginning from the end, but he was so creative! Did he pause every once in a while and get excited about adding something new, like me with my “tile”?  Is that how the duck-billed platypus happened?

“Let’s put a duck bill on an otter and add webbed feet in front and claws in the back, and it will lay eggs like a duck, but nurse its young like a poodle.  Oh – a tail like a beaver would be perfect!”

Platypus

Whatever the six days of creation were like, one thing is certain. God delighted in adding beauty, creativity, and variety to everything from landscape to creatures to weather patterns to food. Our days are filled with variety and delight because he intended us to have it.

He could’ve provided a single food to nourish and sustain us, but he didn’t.  He is capable of it. Remember the whole manna period when the Israelites were in the desert? When they complained, he added quail. Only quail. Quail until they were disgusted with it. But his normal mode of operation is variety.

While my kids are young, in a way I stand in the place of God in their lives.  In later years when they hear “God is father,” some part of how I’ve parented them will inform what that means.

We have an in-house joke that I can provoke my children all I want since I’m a mom and the Bible says, “Fathers don’t provoke your children….”  (Ephesians 6:4), but in reality, I don’t get off easy just because I am the mom.

No, I am an image bearer of a God as much as my husband.  And my parenting choices define “parent,” too.

Personally, I get caught up in laundry, meals, education, manners – all things that are important and needed, but it can get to be a little like manna & quail if I’m not careful.

After all, why did God create humanity?  In part, for relationship.  Not because he needed relationships, but because he wanted them.

And why did we have these kids?  So I’d have something to do?  Admittedly, I often respond to comments about the size of our family with a good-natured, “it keeps me out of mischief!” But really we had kids because we hoped to enjoy them. (Incidentally, we do.)

So lately I’ve been wondering: What if each day were about making each kid see I am delighted with them?  What if my purpose is to show them how special they are?

Of course I cannot neglect my responsibility to care for them, instruct them, and provide for them. But what if I use my creativity and gifts to do all that is needed with variety, beauty, and delight?

What if I live out a picture of a parent who really, really wants their kids – even when they make poor choices, disobey, and require great sacrifice to restore them?

Wouldn’t that prepare them to embrace God as Father in their adult years?

Isn’t a right relationship with God the best thing I can offer?

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Photo of platypus by Stefan Kraft.