Foundations

Proverbs 22:6
          Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9
          Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take            to heart these words that I give you today. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when            you’re at home or away, when you lie down or get up. Write them down, and tie them around                your wrist, and wear them as headbands as a reminder. Write them on the door frames of your            houses and on your gates.

“Bedtime” can often be a long process in our house. There are many steps that must be taken to prepare my children for the sweet “goodnight.” After baths, lotion, bedtime snack, bedtime drink, bedtime stories, rubbing backs, family prayer, Bible story, hugs, kisses, and more back rubs…they are finally…finally ready for bed! Some would argue that I need not let them take advantage of their mommy at night (including my husband!), and those people may be right. However, some nights I give in to their pleading and requests. I rub my sons’ backs an extra five minutes, I give three more kisses, and I squeeze them with one extra big hug. For I know that one day they will stop asking for their mommy to tuck them in bed. One day they will not be here in my home. One day they will be putting their own kids to bed. So, I savor the little moments while I can.

One evening in particular, my son was having a hard time falling asleep. He said he was scared of the dark and did not want to be alone. So I snuggled up next to my boy, and took him in my arms. And we prayed together. I prayed for him to not be scared, and for Jesus to lay down next to him in bed through the night. I prayed aloud, and I thanked God for keeping us safe and for always being with us. As I opened my eyes, I looked up at my sleeping baby boy. He had fallen asleep. He had fallen asleep because his mommy was there, reminding him that God was there.

This moment was a sweet reminder of how much we teach our children about the qualities of God. Do our actions teach our children that God is trustworthy and faithful? Do our words and prayers teach our children that God is sovereign and mighty? Do our choices teach our children that God is Lord and worthy of our praise? When I was with my son, I prayed aloud so he could hear me. I prayed for my son to not be afraid, because I knew that he could hear me. If he could hear me speak to God and declare that He is with us and we don’t have to be afraid, then maybe he would believe it for himself. My son found peace to fall asleep because he saw his mommy trust God, and he was therefore taught that we can trust God. We teach our children how to perceive God based on how they hear us pray to God and relate to Him. How we interact with God teaches our children who He is, what He can do, and what a relationship with Him should and could be.

What are we teaching our children about God? We can take our children to Church and read them Bible stories and tell them scriptural truths, but the most influential teaching tool we have for our children is our ACTIONS. Our actions are more powerful teachers than our words. Do you find it hard to respect somebody who says one thing, but does another? Is it not difficult to trust somebody who has a “do what I say, not what I do” attitude?

Our need to model a life that trusts God as Lord and Savior, is more important and vital now that it has ever been. We watch the news, we turn on our phones, we step out the front door, and immediately we are confronted with the sin and brokenness of this world. What are we teaching our children about God in the midst of mass shootings, gender ambiguity, world-wide conflict, and broken families? How do we explain to our children what is going on in the world today? We may not have an answer for our children when they look up at us and ask, “why?”, but, we can teach them that God is trustworthy when we get on our knees and pray to the Lord as a family. We can teach our children that God is our provider, when we turn to God in the midst of losing our job. We can teach our children that God is worthy of our obedience, when we do what God is telling us to do. We can teach our children about the love of God, when we love our spouses and interact with them in a loving and patient manner.

Will we be perfect? Certainly not!

Will life be messy? Absolutely!

Will we have an opportunity every day to blow it? Of course!

But will we have an opportunity every day to show them that God is who He says He is, and that God will do what He says He will do, and that we are who God says we are? Yes! Everyday.

What are we teaching our children about God? What spiritual foundation are we laying down for them? When our children are adults, will they have to tear down the faulty foundations we are laying down for them now? Or will they be able to build upon the firm foundation of faith we are laying down for them now? If we do not teach our children to follow God, the world will teach them not to.

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The Inadequate Woman

Today is Mother’s Day. This is the day to honor the overworked, underpaid, sleep deprived, tired, strong, beautiful woman. I am reminded of the verse in Proverbs 31, “her lamp does not go out at night.” The to-do list is never completed, the laundry is never truly done, and the floor can always be swept or vacuumed! Today I pray for the Lord to send peace and endurance to the woman who has children running around her home, ensuring there is always work for her to do. Today I pray for the Lord to bring miraculous healing to the heart of the woman who has prayed for children of her womb to dirty her home…but remains in waiting. Today I pray for the Lord to provide understanding and joy to the woman who is the mother of one amazing child, and to free her of her guilt from desiring more children. And I also pray for blessing to reign down on the woman who has been a mother to children she did not know as seeds within them. Women who were brave enough to be a mother to the motherless.

My husband told me he had one rule for me today…I was to rest. He wanted me to relax, and rest from the daily grind of maintaining the home. The weekends are usually my time to catch up on the house work, but this was probably one of the best gifts he could have given me…that, and a coupon book of back rubs that I can redeem at my choosing! While my husband was sweeping the kitchen (and looking very handsome while do it, I might add!), he asked our older son to help him with the dust pan. As he was sweeping away the dirt into the dust pan, he looked at our son and said, “you can never get it all into the pan.” Can anybody relate? No matter how hard you try, there always seems to be a line of dust that is reluctant to follow suit into the dust pan. If you are a sinful creature like me, you may sweep that little line away so it disappears across the floor. Nobody will ever know…

There will always be a line of dirt you cannot sweep into the dust pan. There will always be a reason to feel like an inadequate woman. There will always be something nagging you at night, keeping you awake. There will always be a reason to feel that you are failing as a mom. We could have cleaned more – loved more – accomplished more. We could have yelled less – worried less – scolded less. How do we balance work and home? How do we honor God in our jobs and our careers, and still have the 1,000 gallons of energy our children and husbands require of us to give? How do we ever have peace when we never feel at rest? How do we take care of ourselves, so we can be better for our families, when we feel guilty every time we choose “me”?

Hello, my name is “the adequate woman.”

My sister, my friend, my fellow mother…you are not alone. You are beautiful, because you are made by a perfect God who only makes masterpieces. Give yourself permission to rest today. Give yourself permission to not be perfect. Give yourself permission to not have the cleanest home on the block. Give yourself permission to love more and worry less. Give yourself permission to accept a compliment. Give yourself permission to play with your kid and tackle your to-do list later (because eventually your child will stop asking you to play with them). Give yourself permission to care more about the intangible moments of childhood, for they are all too fleeting. Give yourself permission to stop comparing yourself to the other moms around you.

And give yourself permission to believe that no matter where you fall on the “mother spectrum” today, you can turn to Jesus. Waiting to be a mom…dreaming of motherhood one day…right smack dab in the middle of the glorious adventure…looking back at your days as a mother and wondering where your place is now…soaking up every moment with those who call your granny. Whether your name is mama, mommy, mom, mother, or friend…today is your day. Don’t let today pass you by without finding rest at the feet of Jesus. Allow our Heavenly Father to fill every inadequacy within you, with His grace and mercy. Invite the Lord to heal your longing, bring peace to your pain or loss, and speak truth to your feelings of always missing the mark.

The love of Jesus is not available to you when you are a “better” mom, have a cleaner home, have better behaving children, spend more time with your kids, or have children at all. The love of Jesus is not conditional upon how we rate on the “perfect mom” scale. Hear the Lord speak to you today, “My Beloved. I meet you right where you are. Right now, with your career on your mind, and children on your heart, and dirt on your floor, and inadequacies in your fears. I am here. Rest in Me. Invite Me in to make you the mother – the woman – who would honor me in whatever season you are in. Every time you feel inadequate, come to Me. Every time you feel like you failed, come to Me. Every time you are overwhelmed, come to Me. I can handle your tears, your cries, your shouts of joy, and your whispers of worry. Let Me do the work. Take My peace. Let Me be your strength. Take My rest.”

The Endless Battle

This morning, in the crazy frenzy of getting ready for school and running out of the house on time, I found myself saying these words to my oldest son: “Why do you always fight me? You fight me on everything. Do you not trust me? I love you and I will always want what is best for you. So when I tell you to do something, I wish you would just do it. You don’t know better than me. I have been on this planet longer than you, and I may know a thing or two. This seems to be an endless battle with you.”

Now, my son is six years olds, and I am sure that he stopped listening to me after the first five words. And I’m also sure that he didn’t really understand everything that I was saying. But as I was ranting and raving, I suddenly stopped. And I heard the Lord say these exact words to me.

I can name countless times in my life when this cycle has taken place: I doubt God and fight Him and question Him and argue with Him in the moment. Then at the end of the journey, I look back and see that God was right there with me the entire time, even when I doubted Him. I look around me and see that the Lord perfected me through the storm and I was better for it. I look up and see that God was once again faithful, even when I was not.

Can’t you just hear the Lord speak these words to our souls?

“My beloved daughter. Why do you always fight me? Do you not trust Me? Have I not proven in My Scriptures and in your life, that I have your back? Have I not given you every reason to trust Me? I love you and I will always want what is best for you. I will always work out what is good and right and true for you. I will meet your every need. I promised you that I will absolutely never leave you nor forsake you. And I don’t forget My promises! Even in the worst of storms, I never left your side. I was there to wipe your tears and hold your hand. When I tell you to do something, walk along the path I have laid. For when you do, you have the guarantee of My provision and My protection. I am the God who hung the stars in the sky. I am the God who sculpted the mountains with my bare hands. I am the God who tells the wind to blow and the rain to fall. I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I am the God who parted the sea and saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. And I am the God who sent my Son to be the ultimate and perfect sacrifice. And I am the God who defeated death, rose from the grave, and has given you the Holy Spirit to be your constant Helper. And I am the same God who is right here with you, holding you in the palm of My hand. Have I not given you every reason to trust Me? Beloved, this endless battle does not have to continue.”

Matthew 7:9-11 —– Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

When the Stakes are Low

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it.

The Lord is currently blessing me with a chaotic…and beautiful season of being a mother to two vibrant young boys, ages six and three. My boys are the light of my life, the laughter in my day, and the smile in my rain. Being a mother to them and raising them up to know the Lord and serve Him, is the absolute greatest honor. My boys are pros at bringing meaning to my life…

They are also pros at testing my patience at bedtime. This abundant adventure known as “bedtime” has come every day since my oldest was born, and yet I still have not mastered how to wrangle two squirmy little boys into bed and make them fall asleep on command. If anybody knows how to summon this power, I am all ears! Let’s see, that is over 2,000 “bedtimes” I have had as a mother…and still every night I feel like I need a pep talk with Tony Dungy himself, before facing the undertaking that is “bedtime.” I am sure some of you are about to suggest how-to books for me to read, or maybe you are about to scold my lack of strict parenting. But, let me tell you, there is something that happens to my two sons when the clock strikes 7:30pm. I loving refer to this at “the witching hour.” Suddenly 7:30pm rolls around and my boys are hungry (even though they weren’t hungry when we all sat down for dinner), they are thirsty (even though I just poured out their milk they said they didn’t want), and they sure as heck ARE NOT TIRED (even though they almost fell asleep sitting in the sofa). Oh, and let me bring you in on the magic that happens when a little six or three year old boy gets out of the bathtub…they are transformed into energized naked little Tasmanian devils. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I just went to bed myself at 7:30pm and let them find their way to their beds themselves. Eventually they will just pass out…right?

But, every night, mommy will always be there to set the limits and provide boundaries. And they will fight me, but I will not give up. Why? Not because it makes me a more godly mommy to have my sweet perfect little kids in their perfectly made beds before 8pm. But because I want to teach my children obedience and limits, when the stakes are low. Right now, their small world is wrapped in the security and love their mommy and daddy provide. And this is the best time to teach them how to distinguish right from wrong, and the consequences of choosing good and bad. You see, if they live in a home where they are expected to respect bedtime, then they will comply with a home in which they are expected to respect curfew. As I teach them to say kind words to each other, I am planting seeds that will enable them to treat their peers and co-workers with respect. As they are held to a standard of obeying us and their teachers, they will be able to continue this standard in respecting their employers and leadership in the real world.

Love your child enough to set limits and boundaries when the stakes are low. When the consequences may be a time out, and not a trip to prison. When the consequences are cake or no cake, and not life or death. Proverbs 3:11-12 reminds us that the Lord disciplines those He loves, just as a loving father reproves his son. We are following in the footsteps of our Lord, when we set boundaries and limits for our children. You are not being an unloving mother when you use this one word…”NO!” Rather, you are loving your child enough to teach them the safety and beauty of this word…when the stakes are low and they are in the protection and security of living under your roof. For one day, in the blink of an eye, they will be released into a world that has forgotten what the word “no” means.

Proverbs 3:11-12

11 My son, do not despise the Lord‘s discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights.