Thy will be done

With adoption continuing to move forward and fears continuing to loom, I still find myself questioning “Is this really what God wants for our family?” “Is this really His will for us?” For it’s certainly not what I had planned out.
Most of us would say we want God’s will for our lives. But what if that will is to take us through tragedy to gain our trust? Or what if it means walking through pain to get closer to His heart? Would we really want that…Really?

Last night I was talking with a friend about some of my fears and questions about this thing God has asked us to do, she was so kind, listening and working through it all with me. Then she said, “It’s just so hard because first and foremost you’re a mom to the two children He’s already given you.”
And the words came tumbling out, aching but firm, and I couldn’t have grabbed them even if I’d wanted to because they weren’t my own…
“No. That’s not true,” I said (heart breaking, hands hurting from grasping for control of my own life, which is not my own), “I am and always will be, first and foremost, a child of God. He always comes first. Before I’m a mother or a wife or a sister or a daughter or a friend–I am a child of the King. And I’m called to obey. So if he asks me to do something, what else can I say but ‘Yes’?”

The words of the hymn “In the Garden,”echo in my head strong and pure…

I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.”

So today, as I prayed, asking God for wisdom and a word of encouragement, I should not have been surprised when He gave me Colossians 3:23. Because when I looked it up, I was humbled when I saw the words…

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

When you enter this the world, it’s you and Him. When you depart, it’s you and Him. And when you fold shirts and make meals and buy milk and drive and shower and talk and breath…it’s still ultimately about you and Him.
Because if it’s not, then why are you doing it at all?

Advertisements

Thou Shalt not Covet

The look in her eyes was devious. She bent low towards her friend, formed her hand into a fist and seethed, “You’d better give me that purple cat or else…”

Yes. Apparently this is how my daughter reacts when coveting. She wanted to borrow her little friend’s toy and when she was told she couldn’t, she turned into a little green monster. After warning her through clenched teeth that she’d better not threaten anyone ever again and forcing an apology from an ungrateful heart, we trudged to the van and drove home.

“Rae, do you know what coveting is?” I asked, glancing back in the rear-view mirror.
“No,” she replied, arms crossed,, face fuming, heart unsatisfied.
“It’s when we want something that someone else has. Like when you wanted that toy your friend had—that’s called coveting. And the Bible tells us we should not covet, but instead we should be thankful.”
“But I really, really wanted it, Mom!” she broke down (and I’m amazed that a child sees sin so quickly.)
“I know. But you have been given so many wonderful things, and by wanting something you don’t have, you’re not honoring God. Why don’t you pray now and ask God to forgive you and then let’s name some things we’re thankful for, okay?”
“Dear God,” she whispered out the window from the back seat, “Please forgive me for coveting. And thank you for my family and thank you that I’m not an orphan. And thank you, Father, for apple trees and that we get to eat apples from them….”

Thou shalt not covet.

Our family’s been on a “Little House on the Prairie” kick lately. In the episode we watched just days after the coveting incident, little Laura thinks she has stumbled upon a river flowing with gold, and dreaming of all the things she could buy, she asks her father, “Pa, if you had all the money in the world, what would you buy?”
Pa, lighting his pipe, laughs and says, “Half-Pint, I don’t even think I can think of anything! All I could ever want is right here in this room.”

That slammed me in the gut. Because, let me tell you, if Laura had asked me that question, I could think of probably 100 things right off the bat that I’d be on my way to purchasing had I found a river of gold….(a charming little house in the wide, open country, a new van that starts every time, a new wardrobe, complete with shoes and jewelry, dance lessons for my girls, piano lessons for myself, a weekly massage…need I go on or have you seen the depths of my depravity?)

Sometimes I fear my list of wants is greater than my list of thanks. So here I am, teaching my child not to covet, when I myself am guilty of the exact same thing. Perhaps I hide my sin better in that I don’t directly threaten God (“You’d better give that to me, or else”) but it’s the same sin. Every time I notice things I’d like to change in my house, or check off things I’d like to buy, or gripe about what’s not working now, I’m essentially saying, “What you’ve given me is not enough.”

Please forgive me, Father. Help me to be thankful for the here and now and for all the blessings you give each day. Help me add to my list of thanks and subtract from my list of wants. Thank you for my family and my friends and my church and my home…and for apple trees.

Try, try again

So many times I feel caught in failure’s fist.  Stuck in self-saturated sin, unrighteous to my core, and wanting to reject the cross because I just. don’t. deserve it.   

I think am like the Israelites.  This special, chosen people rejected God to worship fake, unworthy heaps of metal. They forgot the God who rescued them out of Egypt and saved them from slavery. They followed other nations’ ideals instead of obeying the Word of the Lord.  And then–oh, how it broke God’s heart!–they removed Yahweh from their throne and replaced him with a king made of bones and blood. 

But there is a part of this story I just don’t understand–instead of cursing them, instead of writing them off and picking another people to cherish–God shows grace.  When they come to ask for redemption, admitting that they deserve death (1 Sam. 12:19), God’s reply through the prophet Samuel is this:

“For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.” (1 Sam. 12:22)

So this is grace.  Not forsaken.  Not because of who we are, but because of who HE is.  He shows grace because it pleases Him.

But I love that God knows humanity’s nature, knows that grace is complicated and messy, knows that we want to both accept it and reject it.  So he says:

 “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart.  For consider what great things he has done for you.” (I Sam. 12:24)

And this too is grace.  These commands to fear the Lord, serve him faithfully, give thanks for what He has done…all grace.  Because he knows we’ll want to….we need to.  So not only does he allow us to try, try again, he asks us to! 

It’s his grace that redeems, and it’s his grace that lets me wake each morning to try again.  And so I do.

Grace to a Four Year Old

Today you pushed your baby sister, your face flashing in indignation, and while she fell, betrayed and crying, your self-righteousness suddenly faded to sorrow. Realizing what you’d done–seeing the soul-crushing weight of your sin–you sobbed, “I should get hurt too!”

Punishment is right and just. It’s what makes sense. We should be punished–for every surge of anger, every smug thought, every cruel and taunting word, every pride-filled motive and self-centered motion. HURT is what we deserve.

But then comes grace.

So my reply to you, sweet girl, as you whimpered, seeing yourself as you truly are:

“I know, Rae. But that’s why Jesus died. He took all the pain and punishment, all the hurt that we deserve and he bore it upon himself. That’s called grace.”

I don’t deserve it. And neither do you. And so it remains–amazing (overwhelming) grace.

What do you fear?

Please forgive me for not posting in….oh, SO long. I’ve been writing for my friend’s (amazing!) site, http://www.allthingsformom.com, so I’ve been slacking off here.

But I wanted to share something I’ve been challenged with recently: the fear of the Lord.

How many times have you seen a child hit their parent? Or perhaps you’ve witnessed a child speak in a demeaning or disrespectful tone to another adult? Or maybe you’ve looked on as a teen blatantly disregarded the rules so he could be in the in-crowd? Where is the fear of consequence!? Where is the fear of their parents!?

Where is the fear of the Lord?

What is the “fear of the Lord”? It’s talked about all over Scripture, especially in the book of Proverbs. We are told that the “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 1:7), that “the fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom” (Prov. 15:33), and even that a woman who “fears the Lord is to be praised” (Prov. 31:30)

Whenever I think of the fear of the Lord, I’m immediately reminded of C.S. Lewis’ series, The Chronicles of Narnia, where the Lord is symbolically paralleled with the mighty lion-ruler, Aslan. When asked if Aslan is safe, one of the Narnian creatures replies, “Safe? Course he isn’t safe! But he’s good.”

We’ve talk to Rae about how God is the strongest, most powerful being in the whole universe and that he can do anything he wants. She’s asked, after reflecting on this, “Can he kill me?” To which we honestly reply “Yes, he can.” She–WE–should fear him in this sense of being “afraid.” God is not to be mocked. He is holy–perfect, unique, and set apart. We should not casually speak His name nor talk about Him flippantly. We must fear Him–fear His wrath, His perfection, His jealousy. We must fear Him because He is God.

But this fear also brings comfort. When Rae is scared at night, who else should we call on but the Lord to protect her? If He is mighty and powerful, then He is certainly able to save her from the monster hiding behind her curtain! If we truly fear Him, then we can also trust Him. If we know His character–His righteousness and justice–then we fear Him because of this, but we trust Him for the same reason.

So often we are ruled by fear of other things. Fear of Man takes priority over fear of the Lord. We fear what Man will think or what Man will say or what Man will do. This should not be! When my child disobeys me in a store–in front of thirty people–my thoughts should not reflect worries about what others are thinking about me or my child! No! My thoughts should instead revolve around my fear of the Lord and the desire to teach my child to fear Him as well! If I worry and obsess about what Man thinks, my child will come to see that I am a fool and a hypocrite. Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”

Or sometimes we fear circumstances. And as a result, instead of obeying and doing what we know God has asked us to do, we list excuse after excuse to try to alter His will! Instead of trusting, we worry. Instead of faith, we fret. Instead of being open to radical callings, we resist with barriers and boxes that keep us familiar and safe.

OH, that I would FEAR the LORD! That by fearing Him, I would trust Him more and glorify Him…and teach my children to do the same! That by fearing Him alone, I would gain the wisdom promised in Proverbs, and be able to teach this to my children.

“The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied” (Prov. 19:23)

Heaven is…a wonderful place

After tonight, if you were to ask my three and a half year old daughter what heaven will be like, she’d probably tell you something like this: “Well, it’s very beautiful and there’s a humungous pool and lots of barbies and I get to dress up like a princess every day and have icecream for dinner and it kindof looks like my house but even better and it’s funner than even the park or the beach and I can sit on Jesus lap, or Mommy’s if I want to and…”

Rae’s in that “asking questions” phase, and tonight she was all worked up about heaven. It all began with her first random question: “Will we come back here after we go to heaven?” Of course I answered simply “No,” which brought about a torrent of tears: “Why not, Mommy?! I like my house! My room is the best place and I don’t want to live in heaven!”

I think to an almost-four-year-old, home IS the closest thing to heaven. There’s people here whom she loves and who love her, and she feels safe and happy here. So I replyed, “Well, heaven is just like our house…but even better!”
This, of course, led her to dissect her room–she had to name everything and ask if heaven would have it. For exmple, “Will heaven have barbies?” “Yes, Rae, lots of barbies.” “Will heaven have books?” “So many books you can read a new one every night!” “Will we get to wear pretty dresses in heaven?” “Of course! You can dress up every day like a princess!”

So, although there may not be any mention of Berenstain Bears or flowered bedspreads in heavenly refrences in the Bible, I hope that the Lord doesn’t mind me taking a few liberties with the idea of “streets of gold.” Because ultimately, I want her to look forward to heaven! I want her to know that it the only place she truly belongs. I want her to feel completely confident that being with Jesus will be more than her little heart could ever imagine.

Like the old hymn says…”When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!” Come quickly, Lord Jesus…

Baby Got a Booboo?

a mom blog

This past weekend while I was on our church’s women’s retreat, Hubby was in charge of the girls. On Saturday, He sent me picture via text of Rae’s face with scrapes all over her nose, a bloody, swollen upper lip, and sad puppy-dog eyes looking up at the camera. “WHAT HAPPENED?!” was my obvious reply. Apparently, they had finished up a shopping trip at Kohl’s and were walking outside on the icy sidewalk. Hubby called to her hold to his hand, but she yelled back over her shoulder, “I can’t, Dad! My hands are too cold” and she stuffed them in her pockets. .But even as she was speaking, she slipped on the ice and fell face first. And with no hands (or “bumpers” as my brother calls them) to catch a fall, her face got the brunt of it.
Poor baby. Blood was everywhere, practically squirting Hubby in the eye as he struggled to haul both girls back to the car (no one stopped to help…typical, right? Why take time out of your busy trip to Kohl’s to help a man struggling with two little children, one of whom is bleeding profusely from her face…?)
Well, I managed to keep my calm and avoid blaming Hubby for this unfortunate event. He felt awful, of course, and said to me, “I never, ever want to be a part of something like that again.”

This was one of Rae’s first big “boo-boos” (except for a time when she fell 5 feet out a window…but that’s a different story–and a lot less bloody). And it served as a reminder to me that although we’d like to, we cannot protect our children from everything. We can’t protect them from getting boo-boos, or from the playground bully, or from a broken heart–not even from death. I struggle with that relinquishing of control. I struggle with saying, “Yes, God…I realize that these precious little bundles were never mine to begin with and so I give them to you.” But it’s a gradual submission, I guess. A gradual recognition that despite how much I love them, God will always love them more. A gradual extension of trust, a gradual admission of faith.

But Rae seems to be handling it okay. When she looked in the mirror the first time after the boo-boo, she said, “I don’t look so good. The kids goin’ ta laugh at me and say I’m like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.” Well, Little Miss Rudolph–I think you look just plain wonderful.

Thanksgiving Prayer

THANKSGIVING PRAYER

We thank you, God, for life and breath,
for love and food and happiness.
We thank you for our soft, warm beds,
a place to lay our weary heads.

We’re grateful for our mothers,
for our fathers, sisters, brothers.
For our children, growing strong and safe,
we ask you’d guide each step they take.
We thank you for our friends so dear,
those far away and those right here.
And for those we love who’ve gone ahead,
we thank you for the life they led.

Our hearts rejoice at what you’ve done
by giving Christ, your precious son.
We thank you for the price you paid
and ask that we would bless your name.
May you become great and we become less:
Honor yourself in our thankfulness.
Amen.

Gody.

A mom blog

Kids pick up on so many things that we take for granted. For instance, have you ever noticed how many nicknames end in the sound “ee”? For example, our dog, Jonah, we call Jonie; then there’s our sweet Ally and sometimes we call Rae “Reggy“. And not only that, but many “endearing” names have a similar end sound (sweetie, Mommy, honey, etc.)
Well, yesterday I was in one of those grouchy moods (you know the kind…the “I know I’m grumpy for no reason but could you just stop asking me questions and leave me alone” mood). And after Rae asked me “watcha doin'” for about the twenty-seventh time, I looked at her and said, “Rae…please just go in the other room. I am in a bad mood and I need some time to get my heart right.”
With a look of generous sympathy, she nodded and said, “I know, I know” (in other words, saying she knew what to do). She went over to her little wooden table, folded her hands and commenced to pray, “God, please help Mommy’s heart not be such a bad mood. And…Gody? (apparently her sweet little nickname for God–yes, tears were rushing to my eyes)…thank you for helping Mommy be happy. Aaaamen.”
I bent down to eye level and said to her, “Oh, honey…God already answered your prayers. Thank you for praying for Mommy.”
And thank you, Gody, for using my daughter to remind me what an intimate God you are.

Can’t fake it

A Blog about Faith

I’m obsessed with craigslist. I’ve been looking for this “Rose Garden Cottage” for Rae’s birthday and finally found one! New, it costs around $150 (how they can charge that much for a child’s playhouse that’s built out of nylon and plastic confounds me), but I found one on the magical craigslist for $30! Since it was local, we all went to see it. We pulled up to the house, and I went to meet the woman who was selling it. As we were chatting about the weather, her grand kids, and the mess of toys that have taken over our homes, my husband got out of the van to put the cottage in. She surprised me by saying to him, “You’ve got a quite a catch here, I hope you know! She’s so sweet!” I blushed at the complement (and at my husband’s concurrence.)
Once we all got back in the van, however, something sparked an argument between Hubby and I, and I’m forced to confess that I said some pretty wicked things. As I was lamenting my side of the argument, however, God stopped me in my prideful steps: How can I be so sweet and pleasant to a complete stranger and so grossly mean to my own husband?
It can be so hard to live for Christ in my own home. Sometimes I think it’s the place where I’m most challenged to face my flaws. Isn’t it easier to speak pleasantly and politely to the grocer in the check-out lane than to talk to our children in a similar way? Doesn’t it come more naturally sometimes to forgive a friend who’s wronged us than to extend the same grace to our spouse? I am praying that God will give me the strength to love my family the way He does. I want them to see Christ in me! Oh, that HE would become greater and I would become less! And when I fail (because it’s bound to happen)..maybe I’ll hide away for a while in a little Rose Garden Cottage.