I have been reading in Judges lately, and over and over you find verses that read, "And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord..."
Oddly enough, I found great comfort in those words. You see, there were seasons in my life when I would have read those verses and thought, "Seriously?! When will they learn their lesson?" But this past week, I just kept thinking about how thankful I am that we serve a God we can cry out to each and every time we fail...because that is something we do again and again.
I have some perfectionistic tendencies and I strongly dislike making the same mistake twice. And, sometimes, I find myself putting that same pressure on my children. "How many times should we have to remind you...throw the snack wrapper away!" or "Be careful with your tone of voice," or "Think of others more highly than yourself...honor and prefer."
Truthfully, sometimes I feel like, "And the children of the house again did what was evil in the sight of their mother..." Anybody?
I was reminded of a story I heard several years ago. A mom, at the end of the day, began to unload on her husband...the kids did this, and the kids did that...she was venting, getting out all the challenges and frustrations of her day. Her husband...very brave husband...responded, "And just when did you stop sinning?"
I remember hearing that and thinking...I am expecting a level of perfection out of my children to the point of growing impatient and frustrated with their sin...but the truth is, I am well aware of my own sin and my need for grace on a daily basis.
As a Mom, I have been feeling challenged by the way God responded to the Israelites' "again" and "again" moments...sometimes there were consequences, sometimes there was supernatural deliverance and grace, but He always heard their cries and He was always with them.
I want my children to know that I will be right here for every "again" and "again" moment in their life. I will love them in and through it...
When we have the thought, "I can't believe they did ________! Again!" How will we respond.
"Because a thankful heart is a happy heart. I'm glad for what I've have, that's an easy way to start..."
Does anyone else hear that VeggieTales song ringing in their ears this time of year? I seem to start humming that little tune every November...#momlife. Leftovers from the toddler years.
Such a simple phrase but so true. A thankful heart is a happy heart.
Thankfulness is the remedy to discontentment, and gratitude will fight off self-pity every time.
As parents, we have the beautiful responsibility of teaching our children what it means to overflow with thankfulness. We get to help them see the world through a lens of gratitude. Yet, as usual, it has to start with us. (Oh, joy.)
I've actually always disliked that word ... "change".
I have vivid memories of being a child, teenager, and young adult experiencing great unsettledness when there was change. I appreciated consistency, routines, and schedules. (In fact, that's still fairly accurate.)
If life is going a long just fine, why do things have to change anyway? Maybe things can stay the same if I hold on tightly enough?
I've been thinking a lot about change this past week. Seasons are about to change. We're in those last few weeks of summer, and fall is just around the corner. It's time for change. The weather will change. The leaves with change.
This morning I was reflecting on how the Lord is gracious to give us seasons. Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Like a merry-go-round ... over and over we repeat the seasons. Round and round we go. The earth continually spinning, the days coming and going, and we cycle through the seasons we've come to know so well.
If I'm honest, the seasons are bit like a security blanket. I've come to rely on them.
Eleven years ago yesterday I was "nesting." I remember folding laundry, cleaning up around the house, and organizing baby clothes. I spent all day wondering when we would finally be holding Victoria in our arms.
Seems like those last few weeks of pregnancy that's what I was always wondering! I would walk in and out of her nursery a million times ... trying to imagine what life would look like when we brought our little miss home.
How would it feel? What would it be like? What would she be like?
I will never forget the day I wrote these four little words in a card for my sister. It was just after she'd had her first baby girl. I sat with a blank card in front of me, pen in hand, when a wave of emotions came flooding over me as a million thoughts filled my mind.
What do you say to your little sister who's on the brink of a new journey...she was stepping into one of the most beautiful, rewarding, exhausting, and challenging roles she will ever have the honor of walking in? I could have said a lot of things. But these four words are all I could get out...
"You can do this."
That was it.
Because sometimes all we really need is a big sister to step up and be our cheerleader. There are moments in our lives that we don't really need a list of do's and don'ts. We don't need advice or a three step plan. We just need someone to stand by our side and say, "You can do this."
Mamas, let me be your big sister today. Let me be your cheerleader.
YOU can do this.
This incredibly hard job of motherhood - You can do this.
We spent last weekend in Washington D.C. It was a much needed family get-away! We saw monuments, went to museums, saw a hockey and a baseball game, visited Mount Vernon, had a tour of the Capitol...we had three crazy awesome jam-packed days! (Homeschool Mama's dream!)
As we walked around looking at monuments and the incredible relics and treasures in the museums, I would remind myself that these were real people...living real lives...just like us.
We stood looking at the sword George Washington used in battle, the desk that Thomas Jefferson used to write the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, and the hat Abraham Lincoln wore the day he was assassinated.
We walked the plantation grounds of Mount Vernon where Washington lived. We saw the bedroom and the very bed he took his last breath in. We saw the "broad stripes and bright stars" of the American Flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write, what is now, our National Anthem.
We were up close and personal with our nations history, and it was both beautiful and solemn.
I kept thinking about the fact that these incredible men and women who made history were once just young boys and girls. They had no idea that one day there would be statues in their honor.
They laughed, cried, played games, and probably said, "I'm hungry" just like our kids do. Do you think they dreamed of adventures, never realizing they would grow up to be history makers?
Did their moms and dads have a clue where their sons and daughters were headed? Do you think they knew they were kissing the scraped knees and wiping the tears of future Presidents? Did they know they were raising children who would, literally, change the world?
Do you think their parents knew who they were raising?
I don't think George Washington's mother knew the little boy she tucked in every night was going to be the first President of a new nation. I don't think Abraham Lincoln's parents knew he was headed for greatness or surely they would have given him more than one year of "proper education."
They didn't have the ability to see what the future held, but they had enough wisdom and insight to raise men of character.
What about the people who changed the world, and we don't even know their names?
We stood at war memorials and honored the many men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. I thought of the women who's husbands never returned home, the children who never saw their fathers again...they are heroes too. We don't know their names or their whole story, but their place in history is just as significant.
We are left with the question, "Do we know who we're raising?"
Just like the parents of so many who have gone before, we don't know where our kids are headed. Someone, right now, is raising a future president. Someone is raising the next Billy Graham or the next Thomas Edison. Someone is raising another Jim Elliot and Amy Carmichael. It's happening in their homes right now, and they don't even know it.
I am raising the mothers of my grandchildren, and that means I'm raising women who will change the world.
I don't know what the future holds for my daughters, but I know they are headed for greatness...not because of what they will do but because of who they will be.
Let us be diligent as we raise our sons and daughters to become men and women with strength of character: men and women who will stand resolute on truth.
We need to raise children with a sense of significance. We are a part of something bigger than today.
"Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise." - Andy Stanley
I am so aware of my need for grace...my need for a Savior. Every. Single. Day.
Without Jesus I have nothing.
Over the last several years I have become more and more aware that my precious daughters need a Savior too. Our children are born into a broken world, and they need Jesus just as much as we do.
Just because our children's struggles, challenges, and sin issues look differently than ours, it doesn't mean they are in need of Jesus any less.
Our weaknesses and challenges may seem harder and greater than theirs, but they need Him just as much as we do! Our sin may seem bigger and more ugly, but their sin is still sin, and they need the forgiveness of a Savior.
To sin means to "miss the mark." The Word of God is our standard, and when we sin, we are missing the mark...we are living below the standard. We miss out on the abundant life we could be walking in because we're stuck in our sin.
It's our responsibility to show our children what a relationship with Christ looks like.
We should be modeling repentance and forgiveness.
I want them to know how to run to Jesus, not away from Him, when they have failed.
I want them to know how to find Him when they feel weak.
I want them to see and feel the power of forgiveness and the beauty of grace.
I want the words "please forgive me" to flow easily from their lips.
What's the best way for them to learn these principles? My living them.
If I want those words to flow easily from their lips, they better be flowing easily from mine.
If I want them to run to Jesus when they have failed, they better see me doing the same thing.
If I want them to extend forgiveness, they better see me offering it.
Have you ever heard your voice coming from your child's mouth? It's nice when it's the good things they are parroting...it's not quite as nice when you see your own sin mirrored back at you. I can think of so many times I have stood listening to one of my girls thinking, "That's me."
Our children are soaking up the way we live and the way we speak. If we want our children to find the Gospel...to find Jesus...then we better be living it in front of them.
This is such a weighty, and yet, at the same time, a freeing idea. When I get caught up in thinking that I am going to "mess up" my kids or "miss something" in our training them, it's time to take a step back.
We need to keep the one thousand foot view...keep the big picture in front of us. If you're like me, there are plenty of days that you're parenting from a zoomed in perspective.
Sometimes we need to zoom out and get a broader perspective. Don't miss the forest for the trees.
I realize that everything my day holds...every issue that comes up in my own heart...all my failures and struggles...it all comes down to me and Jesus. Ultimately, it's the same for our kids.
We say this to the girls on a weekly basis, "Repentance opens the doorway for grace." We are teaching them to come to us and not hide from us when they have failed...and in those moments, we can direct them straight to Jesus. We get to represent Him to our children.
What an honor as parents - we get to be His voice, His hands, His feet.
This Easter season, let's keep in mind that we are not the only ones in need of a Savior. Our children need to know the power of the cross and it's work in their lives!
If we live like we don't need Him, our children will never know that they do.
Do you ever just need a do-over in life?
This last Christmas was a do-over for our family. Christmas of 2016 was to be our family’s first Christmas in our new home; however, my Dad was in the hospital fighting for his life, (another story for another day) and we spent two weeks at UT Medical Center. When Christmas 2017 rolled around, the girls kept referring to it as our “second first Christmas” in our new home. They called it our “Christmas redo,” and we went with it.
In fact, it was a redo in more ways than one. A couple of years ago, I got my husband, who deep down has farmer in his blood, an awesome Carhartt coat and work overalls. We had just bought our farm, and even though we weren’t living there yet, I knew he’d love it and start making use of it! Well, first let down…the work overalls didn’t fit, and then a few months later, in the craziness of moving, the coat went missing. Guess what Casey got for Christmas this year? Coat and work overalls (that fit this time)! A win for the redo year!
I was also the happy recipient of a redo gift. For my birthday last year, Casey and the girls got me one of those bath tub trays - holds a book, drink, candle, etc…. Sadly, it didn’t fit the tub and was promptly returned to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Christmas this year? New bath tray. Redo!