Monday, March 22, 2010

A Quarter of a Century- Plus One

Each year as my birthday rolls around, I like to contemplate where I am in life and some of what’s happened in the past year. I feel like this birthday marks an emerging of sorts out of a dark, brutal year into a year of hope and discovery. As I struggled with postpartum depression I felt like I was simply unable to see any light at the end of the tunnel, but even though I couldn’t see it and simply didn’t even believe it existed, God still brought me through and now there are many days where I’m fairly dazzled by the brightness surrounding me.

This last year I’ve learned so much. I learned that life is hard and that’s normal for this world. I learned that it’s okay to feel like crap and I don’t have to try to make myself feel or seem happy. I learned that when I let people in and share my struggles and weaknesses with them that some of them will let me down and leave me worse than when I started. But I learned that some few precious people will sink down into the muck with me and pull me back out. I learned a bit more what it means that God is my dad. I learned that I can talk to Him about anything- He already knows it all anyway. I learned more about myself and how sinful I am, but I also got to see growth and good things happening in me. I guess what I’m trying to say is, it was a good year.

Thank you, God, for walking with me this year and holding my frail little hand in your big, strong hand. Every time I tripped, You caught me and every time I managed to run, You cheered the loudest and ran with me. I love You, Daddy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Regulative Principle of Worship and How My Floors Got Muddy

There is a school of thought that says that God has given us strict and detailed instructions on how we are to worship Him and any deviation from these instructions or any addition to them is wrong. This topic comes up with some frequency in our household. Well, an interesting example of this occurred yesterday.

I had been cleaning all morning trying to get the house in some kind of order for the Bible study I was hosting that afternoon. After lunch I sent the kids outside to play. A few minutes later Evangeline excitedly ran inside with a little flower for me and Malachi quickly followed her with a bouquet of his own. But before I even looked at the flowers I noticed the trail of muddy footprints that followed my children across the freshly mopped floors. I’ve told them before to not come in the house with their boots on. At that moment I didn’t want their extra offerings- the flowers they picked for me- all I wanted was their obedience. They would have shown their love for me so much more if they had not picked the flowers, but rather obeyed me and not caused extra work for me. So the thought that God is picky about how we worship started to make sense. All the extra ways of worship aren’t actually pleasing to Him if they aren’t what He wants.

But if we stop there then aren’t we just right back to a gospel of works?

After I scolded the children and they showed remorse for disobeying me, I then turned my attention to the beautiful flower offerings. I gushed about how beautiful they were and I added them to my flower vase over the sink. I kissed my babies on their heads and thanked them for bringing me something so beautiful. No, they didn’t get it right. Yes, I still had a mess to clean up. But I know they were trying to please me and show me how they think I’m a special person. If I can forgive my children’s mistakes and accept their imperfect offerings then surely God can do even better. He demands holiness, but this little thing called Grace comes into play more than we realize. God’s favor toward us can overlook millions upon millions of stupid things we do. He still kisses us on our heads and He knows that we think He’s pretty special. And someday we’ll be able to show Him true, perfect worship when all our sin is stripped away. Oh, what a happy day that will be!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Why I Hate Doing the Thing I Love

I've got a love/hate relationship going on with homeschooling. Yeah, I know it's the right thing to do, but sometimes I feel like I can't take the stress anymore. And I'm not talking about the daily stress of trying to get everything done around the house, take care of a baby and a toddler and teach two school-aged kids. I'm talking about the stress of comparing myself to other homeschoolers and feeling like I'm continually coming up short. It's like everyone else is in the know and I'm the only one who can't seem to figure this thing out. I know that's not true, but I still feel it. I hate wondering if my kids are behind because I'm not teaching them well enough or maybe they're just not as smart as the other kids. And I'd hate, hate, hate for my beautiful kids to ever feel that I think they're not smart enough. Because I know that my children are learning and their little souls are being feed and nurtured.

I know that Jesus has equipped me with everything I need to be a good teacher and mommy to these kids. But still I feel like a failure. I guess this is where the whole grace thing comes in. Even if/when I make mistakes, God's got me covered. He's not going to let my kids fall by the wayside because I'm not a perfect teacher. If He wants them to grow up to be well-learned, faithful disciples then He's going to make that happen- even if all He has to work with is little old me.

I can't fail. Even if all I can manage is a feeble attempt then God is going to take that and run with it. If He can create an entire human race from a pile of dirt, surely He can use me to mold my children into something beautiful.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom

My mom taught me many crucial life lessons in her tenure as my teacher, but I think the one that has shaped my adult life the most is her teaching me to not be a wimp. She told me that sometimes the only way to get rid of pain is to go through it and get it over with. This maxim helped me through the births of my kids, but also through much of life’s everyday struggles. I can still hear Mom saying, “Your mama didn’t raise no wimp.” And that’s what I keep telling myself.

So today, on the anniversary of the day of her birth, my thoughts are turned toward my mom, my teacher, my friend. I’m not one to idolize the dead and elevate them higher than is right, but I do think it’s right to give credit where credit is due. My mom shaped me into the woman I grew up to be. She taught me every day as she lived out her life what it means to be a godly woman. She showed me how to be a loving mommy, how to sacrifice for the good of others, how to keep going when it seems like all strength is gone. She taught me to not run away from pain, but to bravely walk straight through it, knowing the whole time that God has got me by the hand and that just on the other side of this pain is peace and joy.

My mom wasn’t perfect. She was a sinner just like I am. But she was the perfect teacher for me and God made sure she taught me everything she was supposed to before He took her home. Now every day I live out her wisdom. There is pain now in this broken world, but I’m not going to run from it. Life is hard, but the only way to get rid of the pain is to walk boldly through it. My mom walked through it and she made it to the other side where there is peace and joy forevermore. My mamma wasn’t no wimp. And, by the grace of God, I’m going to be just like her.