Thursday, January 26, 2012

Need Some Grace?

Snuggling on the couch tonight, the boys and I watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie, which was a first for all of us. I grew up in a sitcom watching family...Little House was not on the radar screen. Anyway, in this episode, Laura stole a music box from Nelly, the town brat. Nelly found out and bribed Laura. Finally, Laura had enough and confessed to her father.  At the end of the show, a boy was still using the knowledge against her, not realizing that she had already come clean. He smirked and said, "You know why you'll do what I say..." Laura smiled and said, "Not anymore."

If only it were that easy.

Sometimes we confess and the weight is lifted. Sometimes we come clean about something and even though we know it is done, we still let it drag us down. We continue to carry the burden of our mistakes, allowing them to dictate who we are and how we should act. We feel guilty, like that adds to our confession or something.

Can I just take a minute and encourage you, if you are still living under the weight of your sins, to stop giving an ear to that voice. The enemy will continue to taunt you as long as you let him. Tell him to get off your back in the name of Jesus, and he has to go. He will find someone easier to pick on.

My church has been doing a phenomenal series on grace. Need to leave some baggage behind? Click here and check out last week's message. It may just change your life.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Quarter Century of Parenting

You may have heard the saying that to become an expert in something, you must keep at it for 10,000 hours. I did the math and that comes out to a little over 416 days. I need to make a bold statement here: That saying does not apply to everything.

My oldest child turned 25 yesterday, and that amounts to 219,000 hours of parenting exactly. (Since each child has individual needs, I think we should get simultaneous credit for hours spent on other kids as well...) I still would never call myself an expert. I'm sure my kids would agree.

Here is some of what I've learned, though, in a quarter century of being a mom:

  • While there may be predictable events, such as walking, talking, and learning to ride a bike, no child is predictable. Get some guidance from the baby books, but keep in mind that your child hasn't read them.
  • You can do a lot of things wrong with your child as they are growing up, and they can still turn into decent people. To say there are things I wish I'd done differently is an understatement, but my daughter has grown into a compassionate, funny, intelligent, beautiful adult. She is the kind of person I would choose as a friend, even if she wasn't related to me.
  • You can do a lot of things right, and they will still do things differently than we had hoped they would. I remember the first time Jessi sat up straight and pulled away from me. She was about 3 months old, and up until then had kind of shaped her body against mine. But on this day, she pulled herself forward and there was a space between us. I felt something akin to panic stir within me as I realized I wasn't just holding a baby, but a real person who would make choices and pull away from me no matter how hard I tried to hold her still.
  • Time really does go quickly. I can remember well-meaning old women (45-ish) telling me to treasure these moments of childhood because they grow up so fast. I wanted to tell them to mind their own business and get on with my pity party of frustration. They were right. While hours and days might feel like they last forever, years fly by. I remember my own 25th birthday like it was yesterday, and can't believe my daughter is celebrating hers.
  • You will learn more about yourself parenting than about your kids. Sometimes we learn just how selfish we really are as our needs/wants are often put on hold during the child raising years. Sometimes we learn that we have an amazing capacity to love, a love that has the power to break our hearts at times.
  • I saw a t-shirt once that said "Parents of teenagers know why some animals eat their young." Yup. That's all I'm saying. Yup.
Being a parent, know matter how you get there, is a privilege. It's been my privilege to watch my daughter grow into someone I am proud to call my friend, and laugh with as she navigates these waters herself with her daughter, Sophie. The last lesson learned: that curse your mom puts on you... you know the Jessi knows it too now.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Journey Continues...

Finally got my computer back; it's been on  a two week vacation at the Best Buy Computer Spa, and of course while I didn't have it I thought of a million bloggable things. Now it sits, refreshed and ready to go in my lap, and I can't think of a darn thing to say.

It is ironic that my last post was on hope. Tonight is the night before a conference that could change everything. Or nothing. For a little background, you can read the beginning of our journey here and the middle of it here. 

I keep saying that I know God has a purpose in all of this. Of course He does. He's God. He doesn't do things just to see how it will all play out. He already knows. I won't even pretend to know His whole purpose; I may not know that until I see Him face to face, but I know that He will redeem all situations and make them whole and beautiful, glorifying Him.

At first I thought I was just supposed to keep looking for the silver lining wherever He planted me, an annoying glass-half-full person, which I do actually believe to some extent. I can't glorify Him if I'm whining and complaining. But, and here's what clicked for me the other day, it is also not glorifying to Him to see injustice and do nothing.

There is a such thing as righteous anger and He has filled me with it. Self-righteous anger is all about getting what I want. Righteous anger is about righting a wrong. Sometimes those things get the opportunity to work together, and tomorrow that just might happen.

I always say that we shouldn't pray for an easy road, but to travel the road with God as our travelling companion. These last few months have been a serious road trip, with sights and experiences I wouldn't have had otherwise. But I am hoping that I just saw a sign for the next oasis just up the road apiece.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Fierce Hope

A few years ago I heard of the concept of choosing a word for the New Year instead of a list of resolutions. In 2010 I chose the word endurance, partly because I was training for a triathlon, and partly because I know that I tend to start things with a bang and finish with a whimper. Truth be told, I don't remember the word I chose for 2011, and don't feel the need to look it up.

My word for 2012 is born from a place of deep longing, of waiting for promises to be fulfilled, of frustration. The word is hope.

Now, hope tends to be a wishy-washy word, heard with pleading, wheedling, and whining. Or pessimism...I hope but I don't believe.

Oh Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Hope was never intended to be a negative word. It is defined as waiting in joyful expectation. At least that is my summary of the definitions I have read. Fierce hope prowls, walking the parameters of its enclosure waiting...anticipating what is to come. Fierce hope is restless, knowing that the promise is around the corner, never doubting, just...waiting.

Hope and faith link arms, supporting one another on the journey, remembering that hope that is seen is not hope.

When I get tired, when I feel discouraged, my fierce Hope will growl, deep in my soul, reminding me love never fails. "Oh Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with Him is great love..."

When I am not sure of my next steps, my fierce Hope will encourage me that the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His steadfast love.

When I just need to rest on this journey, my fierce Hope draws me closer, reminding me that He is my hiding place and my shield; I hope in His Word.

My fierce Hope has a face; it is the face of my Lord.  My Savior and my God, He alone is my Hope. Active, living, able. And I will live in joyful expectation with Him.

Hope. My word for life in 2012.

"May the God of HOPE fill you with
joy and peace as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with HOPE
by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13