Sunday, September 28, 2008


To delve a little deeper into the topic of my last post, let me share a personal experience that has really taken my understanding of "relationship" with Jesus to a whole new level.

It was shortly after the birth of our 5th child, Timothy. My husband and I had been discussing whether or not we felt like our family was complete and how in the world we would ever come to such an impacting decision. I grew up in Jesus with the mindset that whatever He wanted, I wanted, no matter what. "What a great attitude!", you might think. I won't deny that this commitment has saved me from many dark roads. But what about when He turns the table and says, "no, whatever you want is what I want!" This is exactly what I was hearing while I was torturing myself (and my husband) with the pressure of making the "right" decision about children.

So what did I want exactly? I knew I was ready to give my body a break and stop subjecting my family to the "take a number!" syndrome of my limited energy, time and patience. There had certainly been a huge measure of grace and provision in every way during this season of birthing children; and I am continually amazed that I get to be the mom of such amazing children! But as many of you know who have watched me grow and shrink every year and asked me "isn't it about time for another?", it has been a looong season. I wanted to have strength and energy again to chase them around, carry them to bed, wrestle on the floor, etc. More importantly, I longed to have some measure of patience again, to easily take the time to pray with them and ask them what Jesus was showing them. I was ready to focus more on investing in my children, for eternity. So here I was, crying all these things out to my Daddy in a blubbering, hormonal, post-partium state, when I really sensed that His pleasure was in my pleasure! As He is often so gracious to do, He began to reveal a truth to me through the earthly relationship with which I am most familiar.

In my relationship with my husband, how pleasing would it be for him if I only ever did what he wanted me to do? So much of his delight is in seeing me laugh, rest, rejoice and enjoy! It seems we were made to be fulfilled in serving each other. Covenant means giving relentlessly and unconditionally. I would be robbing Brian of a huge blessing by not allowing him to serve me. We were made for relationship! Giving and giving and giving, but also receiving. We cannot give what we cannot receive. The Bible says that we love only because God first loved us. I feel that way about Brian. He loves the love out of me!

So it is in my relationship with Jesus. He knows my heart is to love and serve Him. And now, He is showing me how He loves to see my longings fulfilled. He's after my heart; many other things (obviously within His truth) can be negotiated. There are certainly times when obedience is the mandate and it is usually clear to my spirit even if my flesh wants to fight it. But I believe "free will" is not just about choosing between "right and wrong", but sometimes between "right and right." It was meant to be a gift to us from a loving Father!

Monday, September 22, 2008

"So what do you think?"

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don't lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path" Proverbs 3:5-6

I've heard a lot over the years about the first half of this verse. And rightfully so! It is power-packed with a whole lot of truth and freedom wrapped up in a simple exhortation. The part that has been hitting me between the eyes lately is: "In all your ways acknowledge Him..." Hmm. It is too easy for me in the whirlwind of life to just keep zooming along, oftentimes making decisions without even asking Jesus (or my husband for that matter!) what He thinks about the situation. Now I'm not talking about bacon vs. sausage or outside vs. inside play. It's the decisions about my children's health, whether or not to offer my help when it means a sacrifice on my family's part, whether it's time to change the rules or extend more privileges, etc. You know, the decisions that are certainly not trivial, but not always life-changing either.

These decisions often don't have a right or wrong answer. Regardless, He has promised that if I acknowledge (recognize or notice) Him in all things, He will direct me on His path. Isn't that what relationship is all about? He may not have a "perfect" plan or answer in every situation, I think sometimes He just likes to hear from His kids!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Tongue Part 4

Okay, okay, I know I might seem a bit of a fanatic about this "word" topic. It's something the Lord has been working in me for awhile and I just have to get it down in writing!

Whether we like it or not, our words help to shape our children's understanding of their identity. For example, early on in parenting, I learned from someone wise that when I praise my children by saying "good girl!" I am really saying "you are good because of how you just performed" or "your goodness is rooted in what you do or don't do." I know this may seem picky, but it's really true! The Bible clearly states that we are good, or righteous, simply because Jesus made us that way when we chose to believe in Him by faith. (Check out the book of Romans for more on that.)

However, it is good and necessary to affirm our children for their good choices, Godly behavior or simply a job, well done! "Great job!" "Well done!" There are many other ways to encourage our children in this area. Sometimes, I even follow-up my affirmation with a reminder that I would have loved him/her just as much if he/she had made a poor choice or not done as well at a task. They need to know that they are good just because Jesus made them that way and NOT as a result of what they do. We all need to know this, not just as "head knowledge" but in our spirits and souls! Oh, how much heartache I would have saved myself over the years if I grew up being fully convinced of this unconditional love, acceptance and gift of righteousness!

Jesus, let our children NEVER doubt the truth of their identity: they have been made righteous. Period.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Too Simple to Be True?

I've often heard veteran parents joke with first-timers about the baby "manual" that was missing at birth. When I first became a parent, I remember having a moment with Jesus of sheer excitement quickly turned to being overwhelmed with ALL the things I wanted to be sure to teach my children about Him. This sense of almost panic overcame me as I expressed my desires of wanting to teach them all that I learned the hard way, saving them the pain that I endured....I cried out to the Lord, "How in the world am I going to make sure they learn all these things. How can I know for sure that they will love and follow You all the days of their life?" His gentle response came back to me "All they need to know is how to love Me and love those around them. The rest will come." Can it be that simple!? How easily I forget the power of love and the two greatest commandments. And just as easily I forget the greatest teaching tool - my example.

Seven years and five children later, I still must be deliberate about frequently removing my vision from the nitty gritty and looking at the larger picture of life: loving Jesus with all I have and loving those around me. Boy do I need that reminder on the days when "you-know-what" hits the fan (sometimes literally, it seems!) and my actions are less than loving. Although this truth is simple, it is not always easy. What a relief to know that I can't ruin my kids as long as they are surrendered to Him and my heart is pure before Him! I then go back to a place of re-setting my affections solely on Him and letting Him be our Daddy.