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Gear for Good: Cotopaxi Blessing Bags

God's perfect timing put two great stories of using Gear for Good into my path, stories about giving back and being part of the story of changing lives.

God’s perfect timing put two great stories of using Gear for Good in my path, about giving back and being part of changing lives. Both address the need to see through eyes that give more than spare change, instead giving the ability to change lives.

Has the Holy Spirit ever prompted you to do something way out of your comfort zone? Like giving to someone you would normally walk past or talking to a stranger who looks lonely?

On vacation this summer, God prompted me to get up from my meal, walk out to the boardwalk and take a picture of a couple who were talking and laughing, surreal to feel that prompting and just say yes.

I may never know the why on this side of Heaven, which is hard because I like the all tied-in-a-bow Hallmark movie plots, but saying yes wasn’t so scary. If nothing else, I learned to get over my introvertedness and be a bit bolder for Christ.

Last week, a dear friend of mine gave into a spiritual prompting by using some gear for good, giving to someone she would never have known except for answering his need.

Saying YES to a Spirit led prompting is freeing. Obedience is beautiful and heart changing. Click To Tweet

She watched him for weeks. Always feeling that tug. Should I do something? What can I do? Sometimes we don’t know how to help.

She saw him at the stoplight at least once a week. He might be in his late 30s, brown hair. Something about this stranger drew her attention, but she always had her boys in the car, racing to a doctor or therapy appointment.

What can I do?

He shuffles between cars, a weathered cardboard sign, “Looking for a job,” in one hand. Sometimes, she watched him pouring over heavy books.

He is cold today. She feels that tug on her heart again to do something for him, but the light changes and she is pushed forward with the surge of traffic behind her.

Go back. Ask his name. Help him.

It took weeks of God tugging on her heart for her to do something. But today, she knew she had to act.

but What?

At home, she found her husband, “Babe, this might sound crazy, but I think God wants me to do something for that man who stands at the stoplight.”

He considered what could they do, not tomorrow, but right that moment. “We have that backpack in the closet we’ve never used.”

“Perfect!” She ran through the house grateful for her hoarding tendencies at the commissary: wool socks, toiletries, some food, and a sturdy Bible filled the bag, along with some nice clothing he could wear to apply for a job.

Her husband headed out with the bag. She sat at home with the sick boys, praying he would have a long red light to be able to really stop for him.

He gave him the backpack, told him he was being prayed for. And that was it; he was tremendously grateful, but they haven’t seen him again.

God's perfect timing put two great stories of using Gear for Good into my path, stories about giving back and being part of the story of changing lives.

All they know is that they gave him some hope, kindness, a few necessities, and God’s word in a new backpack.

We are commanded to help; the obedience is in the giving back, being part of the story, without necessarily knowing the end.

The amazing part for me is that just before the holidays, a Cotopaxi representative found my blog and my passion for giving back. She asked if I would spread the word about what they are doing, using gear for good.

Want to make an impact? Be part of ending poverty when you buy, use, or gift any @cotopaxi gear. Click To Tweet

I said sure, excited to offer my blog to share their story, and then Holiday CRAZY happened; I had not really looked into Cotopaxi until just minutes before Kaitlin messaged me her story about giving away a backpack, only to find that Cotopaxi gives back through all their gear, but especially backpacks.

How incredible is that! God had reminded me of this post for Cotopaxi the exact day she called with her story.

I am especially excited because Cotopaxi does more than donate money to great causes, they fund solutions that change the story for people all over the world. Instead of ‘giving them fish’, Cotopaxi is part of ‘teaching people to fish’, ending poverty in truly sustainable ways.

@Cotopaxi does more than donate $$, they fund solutions that change the story for people. Click To Tweet
We create innovative outdoor products and experiences that fund sustainable poverty alleviation, move people to do good, and inspire adventure. Cotopaxi funds solutions that address the most persistent needs of those living in extreme poverty. Giving is core to our model.

My friend Kaitlin used some gear she had to do good. Something we could all learn from. But even better to use gear that does good.

I’d encourage you to spend some time on this site. Cotopaxi is involved in so many projects. Pick a backpack or two. Everyone can use a beautiful, durable backpack. Their reviews are some of the best in the industry.

Then turn them into blessing bags for people in need.
  • Toiletries:
    • deodorant, dry shampoo, baby wipes, nail clippers, nail brush, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste
  • Food:
    • sandwiches that don’t need refrigeration, gift cards to close places
    • non-perishable food items like nuts, granola bars, protein bars
  • Clothes
    • socks, gloves, scarves, hats, sweatshirts, t-shirts, underwear
  • Hope
    • write a letter sharing your testimony
    • put in information for a local church shelter or job outreach program
    • a pocket Bible

Your blessing bag will make a difference to the person who receives it and all over the world when you use Cotopaxi gear.

Have you ever just obeyed a Spirit-led prompting?

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Stepping-Stones

Yesterday, as we were leaving church, I stopped to chat with our youth pastor. I asked him how he is feeling about getting ready to be a first time daddy. He laughed nervously and said, “OK, but ask me again in a few months.”

I wanted to tell him it will be OK, that you can plan, but you can’t really be prepared for how a baby changes life. I tried to explain, but I couldn’t find the words to truly express what a magical journey parenthood is.

God carefully crafted parenthood, every step. He planned how children grow with how we learn. They start off pretty simple: feed, burp, change, and sleep. Once we master that, they start to roll over, then sit. Our family started off a bit more challenged than most. In the NICU, every time we moved her something beeped. We spent those first few days afraid to touch her, but learned to take her temperature, give her a bath, and feed her once she was allowed to eat by mouth. We got the hang of diaper changes and dressing our premie in her teeny tiny clothes after a few days. Even so, I drove away from the hospital feeling like, “You’re letting us leave with her??”

Everything was new again once we got home. We spent time learning about sleeping routines, gas drops and gripe water, using the baby monitor, and washing the baby laundry in Dreft.  After a few days, we had a routine. Then she grew a bit, her needs changed, and we figured it out again. Every time she changed, I had just enough ability to stave off complete chaos. When I got the hang of that stage, she would change again. Some days felt exhausting, especially since my husband deployed right after the adoption was final and days after I went back to teaching full-time. I look back and think, wow, I survived that year. It was rough stuff, but never harder than I could survive. Sometimes, circumstances were harder than I wanted, were tougher than I was in the moment. Not to say there weren’t failures and disasters, but nothing was ever so hard I couldn’t get through it.

God always gave me just enough, just enough energy to survive the day, just enough wisdom to not lose my mind. When I think about how God provided for me as a parent, just enough patience, just enough knowledge, I am reminded of the story in the desert from Exodus.

Exodus 16:16-18 “16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’ ” 17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed.”

God provided just enough manna for the Israelites in the desert each day, not too much, not too little. He gave them just enough to rely on Him for another day. He wanted them to know they lived on His word, by His grace and power, not by human means.

Now that our sweet daughter is four, testing boundaries, asserting her opinions, we have days I feel I have this parenting gig ‘on lock,’ and days I feel like I want to lock her in her room and cry. I don’t have all the answers, but when I cry out to God for the strength to control my emotions, for wisdom in the moment, He always answers. The answers always come when I am truly seeking His desires for my heart. And when I hear His voice, I am never the same.

This weekend every meal has been a struggle.  I don’t know what her issue with food is this week, but I do know that I can instruct and guide or let my frustration damage our relationship. I haven’t stumbled on any magical answers. We use a timer, stars on her chore chart, and now she gets served nothing else until she finishes the food she was served, within reason. I am learning that I cannot control her, I can only teach her to control herself, and mostly by example. Before I react, I reach for the peace of God.

Today when I started to get frustrated, God’s answer to my quick prayer was, “Is this an emergency? If not, don’t treat it like one.” I was able to keep calm, enforce the rules, establish consequences that were fair and reasonable. Then I laughed with her, made it fun, praised her when she took bites happily. She raced to finish her milk before I finished my water. I focused on being empathetic without letting her just have her way.

thoughts-4I had enough answers for today. And our Christian walk with God is kind of like that. If we’re listening, He gives us what we need for where we are in Him and in life. By reading the Bible, we know what the finish line looks like, but have no idea how we personally will get there. I picture a path of stepping-stones carrying us over the torrents of life. We can’t see all the way across. We can only see what we need for right now, but somehow it is always enough. When I truly put my faith in Him, I always have enough strength, enough patience, enough energy. When I rely on myself, I can slip off the path, getting drenched in the murky waters, but when I open my Bible and my heart, the next stone rises to meet my step.

John 14:26 ESV  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

When I finally let the Holy Spirit start working in my heart, I noticed His teachings, how he brings ideas to my attention. He gives me a perspective separate from my own and strength to love others with His love.

Yesterday, I was completely wiped out. All I wanted to do was watch TV and order pizza. I didn’t want to wash a dish or cook a meal or fold a sock or even be mommy. My husband has been working late every night and hunting the nights and days he didn’t have to work. It has been two weeks of being almost completely on my own with multiple medical appointments, softball practices and games, and a few days with a sick kid (fighting catching it myself). I started feeling selfish and resentful, but I knew it wasn’t what God wanted me to demonstrate to my husband. I asked for the wisdom to know how to act and the heart to treat him correctly.

Normally my husband cooks on the weekends, but I sensed that wasn’t what he needed. I offered to make dinner as soon as we came home from church, while my husband went to play with our daughter. They got a couple of hours to just play. They both needed that so much. My day didn’t get easier; my attitude shifted. I had the chance to love my husband. I let him hug me, told him I was tired. Then I realized he must be, too. He had worked from before dawn until 9 or 10 p.m. for several days in a row, so I asked him what he needed.

One, he needed me to listen to him. He needed my attention and compassion. As I listened to him talk, I realized he needed me to give to him more than I needed him to give to me. Instead of being selfish, God gave me just enough wisdom to suggest he spend the afternoon in the woods and to let himself enjoy it no matter the outcome, a deer for the freezer or not.

And miraculously, I had just enough energy for my day, just enough strength to take care of the kid and the dishes, to pack his lunch and prep his coffee, handle counting practice and story time, and to be ready to listen when he came home from his adventure, in which he slipped and fell into a creek because there were no stepping-stones. When he tried to jump it, his foot got caught on a tree root. He crashed down backwards onto his tree stand backpack. He literally lay in the creek, angry and alone, feeling water seep into his clothes and boots, stuck in the mud because the weight he was carrying got pulled into the thick, Georgia mud.

I had already been thinking about this entry, had already titled it stepping-stones thinking about the power of God’s provision and direction for our parenting, our lives, and our faith, but as I listened to him, laughing as he acted out his fury at the tiny creek, I thought to myself, thank God for His stepping-stones.

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Why Should You Stop Throwing Temper Tantrums

My temper tantrums? As parents, we don't often think about our tantrums, but I've grown increasingly convicted about my anger, especially towards my daughter.

My temper tantrums? As parents, those generally aren’t the tantrums we think about. But over the past few years, I have grown increasingly convicted about my anger, especially towards my daughter. And one verse today just wrecked me.

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And I want to come to you from that place right now: not a place of having conquered, but still conquering, sometimes still failing. But I see God’s work in my heart as I grow more and more.

My temper tantrums were damaging my family. Yours are, too.

God has called us to stop throwing temper tantrums now.

I’ve been trying to rewrite this post for days, but God was calling me to go deeper than I even understood yesterday.

We’re missing a correct perspective on the importance of the children in our homes. The worldly view either elevates children to the masters of the home or diminish them as satellites to the central parents.

Both perspectives grieve God.

God should be the center of our homes as the sun is the center of the solar system. When the sun is in its rightful place, all the planets are exactly where they should be. If the sun changed by even the tiniest degree, the planets would not hold their perfect orbits. Chaos would reign in the galaxy.

When God isn’t the center of your home and heart, chaos reigns. When you’re the angry mom (or dad), fear of provoking your temper changes the dynamic for every moment of your day. Even the most joyful moments are colored by the terrible knowledge that the peace is temporary.

Is that really the message we want for our homes, spouses and children-that peace isn’t real or permanent?

Hebrews 12:14 ESV  Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

How we live in God’s perfect peace with holiness is how others can see the Lord. How much more so should we live to demonstrate that peace for those God has given us the responsibility to love and raise.

This is the verse that just wrecked me today.

Matthew 18:10 ESV “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

I had to just stop and weep over how much I imagine my daughter’s angels have protected her from me.

I stand here with you today, grieving the temper tantrums I have thrown, walking beside you in changing our hearts.

Honestly, I still struggle with my temper at least once a day. Most days, I win the battle now, but some I don’t.  I’d rather not publicly admit that anger is an issue in my heart and home, but I’ve decided if my honesty can help other moms, my brokenness is better than staged perfection.

I stand with you, grieving my temper tantrums, walking beside you in changing our hearts. Click To Tweet

Being a mom is filled with lots of joy. My daughter’s giggles and snuggles cheer my heart, and I love watching her grow in her faith and become her own little person.

But parenting is also filled with HUGE mountains of frustration.

I swear, leaving the house is absolutely Kryptonite to my normally sweet child. “Go put on your socks” is met with a raging discourse against socks or a Supreme Court worthy debate about wearing cowboy slippers to the park.

“Yes, I picked up my room,” is almost certainly a lie.

(#MomProTip I discovered if I want her to play quietly in her room, send her to clean it. She won’t clean much but will pull out lots of toys and play.)

And frustrations build. Momming is enough to drive anyone crazy, full of routine requests, fighting the same battles over and over and over. Add the stress of housekeeping, bills, work, difficult relationships (even marriage), and I start to fall apart.

I’ll feel like I’m barely holding my Hindenburg emotions together with duct tape and the next frustration rips through my false calm like flames.

For me, the first step in healing came from realizing that the root cause of my temper tantrums is sin.

SIN? Really?!? How is it MY sin when my child doesn’t obey?

God expects us to have emotions, not be ruled by them. When we let anger overcome us, we are not demonstrating fruit of a Spirit-filled believer.

Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV “Be angry and do not sin . . . and give no opportunity to the devil.”

When we throw temper tantrums we damage the trust our children have in us, in our love, in our stability, in our faith.

God expects us to have emotions, not be ruled by them. Temper tantrums damage relationships. Click To Tweet

We give Satan footholds into the lives of our children. With our temper tantrums, we build weak places in their hearts that Satan can exploit.

I know that Satan will use any opening I give him. Totally unacceptable! So, I had to root out where my anger comes from. Primarily stress, pride, and lack of self-control. Yep, sin.

We hold onto stress like it’s our human right to explode during difficult circumstances, but God’s answer is not to.

In the calm moments of motherhood, It’s easy to write this, but when I have a headache and my kid won’t stop talking long enough to eat her dinner, it’s much harder to demonstrate self-control over the frustrations.

How Do temper tantrums come from selfishness and pride?

I wanted today to go my way. I wanted to be on time, or she asked for more of my attention than I wanted to give at that second.

And I used to snap.

Living with the me of the past had to be miserable. No one could anticipate my mood or my threshold for the day. I am truly grieved over the temper tantrums that ruled my life for years.

I am truly grieved over the temper tantrums that ruled my life for years.

Every day I would wake up and promise myself to be better, and most days I would fail, robbing me and my family of joy and peace.

I couldn’t control myself because there was an anger born of selfishness inside me. Until I began to die to that selfishness, I wasn’t able to be different.

I had to see others, including my children, as more important than myself. I had to grow in humility.

Philippians 2:3 ESV “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

God’s highest commandment to love others comes before keeping house, writing a blog, folding laundry.

Sometimes, I am still tempted when faced with blatant disobedience, but I am more often able to reflect humility and look at their sin with grace and compassion, without having to join them in anger.

James 1:19-20 ESV “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

The purpose of my life as a wife and mother is to produce righteous fruit in my life, in the lives of those with whom I fellowship, and the lives of my husband and children.

The anger of man doesn’t produce God’s righteousness.

So what are we supposed to do?

My temper tantrums? As parents, we don't often think about our tantrums, but I've grown increasingly convicted about my anger, especially towards my daughter.

Psalm 4:4 ESV / “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.”

If you’re angry, go sit on your bed, think about your own heart, and be quiet!

I love that – God invented time out.

Taking a few moments to get myself under control in prayer always changes my attitude, setting aside my selfishness, exchanging it for God’s peace.

Temper Tantrums? Psalm 4:4 - God invents time out. Go sit on your bed & search your own heart. Click To Tweet

When I quietly sit and reflect, God reminds me how He loves them and His perspective. He shows me how to solve the conflict over being right.

It sounds too good to be true. Just pray?

It’s where I start. Prayer opens my heart to hearing God. Then through scripture, His wisdom reaches into my life: guiding, convicting, changing.

In this communion with Him, we are granted His peace.

Philippians 4:7 ESV “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In the face of heartbreaking struggles or mind-numbing frustrations, the peace of God is beyond my ability to explain, but is so real.

I’ve felt it, wash over my heart like silk, changing my perspective and emotions in an instant.

With joy and thankfulness for my full life, I ask to have the correct attitude toward this season as wife and mother and set aside my anger.

God has been working on my temper tantrums for years now.

I can safely say He’ll be done with me about five seconds before never, but I know I’m making perfectly imperfect progress every time I pray for His peace, patience, and maybe some time alone to pee.

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Packing Peanuts

My daughter had a science themed birthday party this year. I was searching for a cute gender neutral party theme, and thought science experiments would be something different and extra fun. All the kids wore labs coats and colorful safety glasses.DSCN7229 - Version 2 They blew touchable bubbles from test tubes, and we performed several easy experiments. We covered the lawn with mentos and diet coke, the kitchen with vinegar and baking soda. The party was a blast.

One of everyone’s favorites was the packing peanuts experiment. I took an empty 14 oz. can and on the sly, filled it with acetone. I had a large (2x3x2 ft) box FULL of packing peanuts sitting in the garage. I asked the kids how many packing peanuts I could fit inside the can. “Two?” “Ten!” “No, twenty!” Tiny voices shouted out estimates. I dropped a small handful into the can. The green styrofoam peanuts instantly disappeared. I added another larger handful, then another. Eventually, kids crowded around me, and we were all shoving packing peanuts into this little can as quickly as we could. They were disappearing as fast as we could get them into the can. Everyone was amazed, including me. I knew what it would do, but didn’t know how fast or that it would seriously devour the entire box of packing peanuts in minutes. Science is fun.

But the image of that empty can just consuming everything has really stuck with me over the past couple of months. God used this experiment as a tangible object lesson for me. That can represented my life, my heart.

Since my childhood, I’ve had a roaring emptiness inside me. Some of it has been there since the first day of kindergarten when my classmates teased and ridiculed me. I was bullied literally from the first day of school, coming to believe I was too weird and ugly for anyone to like me, too disgusting for anyone to love. Since that time, I’ve never felt like I belonged anywhere. As a teen, trying to fill this yawning hole in my heart led me to make poor decisions. I longed for some social acceptance and sought it through a string of boys who further emptied my cup of self-esteem through various forms of physical and verbal abuse.

Of course the more I tried to fill my heart with the things of this earth and my flesh, the emptier I became. I tried to fill it with partying, drinking, men. Not only did nothing satisfy the aching need inside of me, the shame of my actions only tore at me more and more.

I had accepted Christ when I was six, but, after decades of falling away, I only became a disciple a few years ago after God had been gradually working on my heart for years. I can’t remember the date, but I can pinpoint the moment the Holy Spirit truly opened my eyes, helped me understand God’s love for me and others. I’ve realized now that my whole life, from boyfriends to husbands, even to adopting my daughter, I’ve been trying to fill my heart with things or people.

Holding my daughter’s little girl body, my heart bursting with love, I realize she is already 4, growing up way too fast, and even though she’ll always need me to some extent, being her mommy is only a temporary identity. I must have a permanent identity in Christ.  Loving her has come the closest, but even that falls short. Nothing of this earth can come close to a relationship with God. There’s a hole in my heart that can only be filled by You, Lord.

This may seem like a strange praise song. But the lyrics, can completely be pointed toward God. As I listen to it over and over now, writing this blog, I am teary-eyed, praising God for finally showing me the futility of my hamster-wheel-life, for softening my heart and teaching me to let Him fill my needs, be my comfort, my truth.

Life’s ambition occupies my time
Priorities confuse the mind
Happiness, one step behind
This inner peace, I’ve yet to find

Rivers flow into the sea
Yet even the sea is not so full of me
If I’m not blind why can’t I see?
That a circle can’t fit in where a square should be

There’s a hole in my heart
That can only be filled by you
And this hole in my heart
Can’t be filled with the things I do
Hole hearted
Hole hearted

This heart of stone is where I hide
These feet of clay kept warm inside
Day by day less satisfied
Not fade away, before I die

I spent years chasing ambition, earthly priorities, ‘happiness’, but could never find lasting peace. Why couldn’t I see that I couldn’t fill that hole with the things I do? My sin and pride had hardened my heart to such an extreme I was almost purposefully self-destructing. When I was near to crushed, I would call out to God, but, once the storm had passed, get distracted by self and flesh yet again. This last time, my husband’s fourth deployment, his absence during our daughter’s first year, his year in combat, another long separation, had just about destroyed us both. I called out for God in desperation, brokenhearted.

Psalm 34:18 ESV “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

And He, beautifully, pulled me out of my sin, graciously wrapped me in His arms, comforting me, drawing close to me.

James 4:8 ESV “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. . .”

God is putting verses, wisdom, and people in my life, showing me that He loves me and is calling me to Him. I am learning that I am forgiven and redeemed by grace, no sin too great to forgive. He continues to demonstrate that He is my portion, my comfort.

Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

As a Sunday school kid, raised in a Christian home, I should have known that I couldn’t fill my heart with my works, that I couldn’t ever do enough to earn salvation. It is a gift. He takes us as sinners, and cleans us up.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

My heart sings these words. What freedom to know that Christ has washed me clean, my old self has passed away. I am new in Him. And this glorious truth, brings me to His feet, wanting to learn, to follow.

Proverbs 3:5 ESV “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

My own understanding got me nowhere fast. I was broken and so violently destructive that I was unwittingly breaking everyone around me. God put my daughter in my life because He knew that my love of her and for her would challenge me to want to give her a heart full of Jesus, to do my best to protect her from the empty life I’ve lived.

Psalm 51:10 ESV “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

What a fantastic prayer. I am a new creation, and God will clean my heart and renew my spirit. I don’t have be a slave to my sin or shame anymore.

Hebrews 10:22 ESV “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

I was talking with my closest unsaved friend the other day. He said, “Man, you Christians must feel so beat down all the time from not being good enough.”

Ephesians 4:18 ESV “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”

My heart broke for him, knowing that he is still in that struggle with the emptiness inside. I’ve been there.  Yet, I rejoiced that he opened the door to tell him the Truth.

2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

I said, “You might think that from the outside, but there is freedom in God’s grace, acceptance in His forgiveness. I don’t have to be good enough. I can’t be. I just have to accept God’s gift and follow Him.” I can’t know if he could hear me, or if his heart softened towards God at all in that moment, but I can pray that continuing to let God fill my heart, be my portion, lead my life can be a light to others still lost in their sin.

And be grateful . . .

Romans 6:17 ESV “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,”

 

 For more on a similar subject by a wonderful blogger, check out Kimberly Suchta “To All The Girls Who Didn’t Say No”
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It isn’t the rule that matters

Today, my daughter needed to tell me something while I was in the bathroom. We’ve instituted a rule that if the door to the bathroom is closed, she is to knock before entering and/or wait, unless she has an emergency or something is really important. She’s four, so we give her some latitude with what she considers important (i.e. her brother holding a toad in the living room), but today she by-passed three closed doors to get to me. Opening all of them without knocking. So far she has only done this with me, but the rule is partially in place to avoid her walking in on her father or nearly adult brothers, or heaven forbid, a guest.

She stood at the bathroom door, peeking in at me. “I need to tell you sunthing.” I sat there, trying to decide what to do. Her little voice  was so quiet and sweet.

Was it life or death to make her follow this rule? Part of me said, just listen to her, what will it hurt? It will be faster just to hear her out.

But then I realized, that it wasn’t important to make her follow this specific rule because it was that important of a rule, but because if she doesn’t learn to follow the little rules, she won’t learn to follow any of them.

1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Despite being a rule follower myself, I realized I’ve been letting a lot of little ones slip around here. Instead of holding her to the rules, I try to be nice, taking circumstances into consideration. However, she doesn’t understand the complicated mental processes I’m going through when I decide to let a rule slide for a single circumstance, all she sees is that she can’t count on the rules, that I’m not consistent.

Instead of being nice, I’m really being incredibly unfair. She doesn’t know how to behave because there is no consistency. The result is a lot of discord and disobedience, frustration and anger. I decided that making her follow every single rule every single time might not be right, but I need to be way more consistent. Teaching her what to expect from me every time will help her feel safe and secure in a home that has structure with logical consequences. If we are our children’s first Bibles, first glimpses of God in how we reflect Him, I need to be as Christlike as I know how to be each day, and part of learning to be Christlike is to be consistent.

Hebrews 13:8 ESV “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

He never changes. His ways are all the time, for everyone, even when, in His mercy, He created exceptions to the rules and sent His son to redeem us from the penalty for our sin. All we have to do to know what He expects is to read the instructions ( i.e. the BIBLE). When I finally came out of the bathroom, after ascertaining that her “sunthing” was neither emergent nor important, she happily told me some little adorable animal fact she had seen on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. I didn’t have to get upset or raise my voice. I just had to be consistent. This is the rule. This is the expectation. I will happily hear you in a moment, please be patient. She walked away knowing I cared, I want to listen to her, and knowing what I wanted her to do. Wow.

Later today, she tried to act up while a friend was over, throwing a fit over the guest child’s toy. I was focused on our conversation, but took the time to put her into time out, to make sure she was sitting quietly, not shouting at me from the step, then to send her to her room when she couldn’t control herself. She started to throw a fit, but when I counted to three, she ran to her room, sat in her rocker and waited for me to come get her. Being consistent, gently firm, and unwavering helped her understand what I expected and how she should behave. Considering that she went from laying on the floor in front of the stairs yelling that she had no toys to play with to sitting quietly in her chair waiting for me to tell her she could come out, I call that a parenting win. I didn’t have to get angry. Her failure to comply was her problem. I just had to be consistent.

Most parenting experts can tell you, all it takes is ONE exception to an expectation, and children understand all bets are off, whether that expectation is giving up a pacifier or sleeping in his/her own bed. If a parent caves once, children know to exploit that weakness. I’m fallible, I’m weak, but I have to be more consistent because I love her, and want her to know what that means. As an educator, I know I know better, but I didn’t realize how much I had been letting slip in the name of “kindness.” How hard would it be to worship and follow a god like I’ve been acting? I’ve been holding her accountable to a rule, except when I don’t feel like it, then getting angry when the rule isn’t followed the next time.

Thank God for GOD. His law is forever. We can understand who God is and who he calls us to be.

Luke 16:17 ESV “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.”

I’ve read most of the Bible at least once, some bits way more times, and some parts, I’m working my way through. But when you put it all together in context, with understanding of the WHOLE scripture and the Holy Spirit, God becomes very clear. He is who He is, all the time. If he calls us to be transformed from the ways of this world into His ways, isn’t being consistent and faithful part of becoming more Christlike?

Hebrews 10:23 ESV “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

God is faithful, always. We can know if we confess our sins and believe, that we are forgiven. We are called His sons and daughters. He gives us that to KNOW, not to hope in or assume, but to know because He is faithful. We understand our responsibility and the infinite grace God shares because of who He is.

1 John 5:13 ESV

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

So that we may KNOW that when we believe, when we act in accordance with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, that we have been redeemed and saved. Shouldn’t my daughter be able to know who I am, what I expect from her, all the time, or at least as much as humanly possible? and to know thy my discipline is guidance and love just as we know to accept God’s discipline (see Hebrews 12) as it brings us closer to sanctification. 

1 Corinthians 1:9 ESV “God is faithful, by Whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

God is our Faithful Father, calling us, guiding us, disciplining us, restoring us in gentleness, being hard when our hearts are hard, but always holding to the same standard, ‘do not sin.’ I have a hard enough time not sinning when I know what the rules are, when the expectations are clear. I feel a bit ridiculous for expecting my daughter to follow fluid guidelines as if she could read my mind, knowing which time I “really meant it.”

Turns out, it isn’t the rule that really matters. It is choosing to have a few fair rules and enforcing them consistently with love, mercy, and compassion hopefully developing a child who knows how to love others as Christ has called us, and yet knows when to question an unrighteous rule because she truly believes something is wrong, not just questioning and rebelling against everything because she doesn’t have a firm foundation.

Matthew 7:24 ESV

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

Another day of making sure my actions, my prayers, and my words reflect the words of Christ to teach her to build her life on the Rock because He is always faithful.

Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; – See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Faithfulness-Of#sthash.CQmSqPYz.dpuf
Lamentations 3:22-23

The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

– See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Faithfulness-Of#sthash.CQmSqPYz.dpuf

Lamentations 3:22-23

The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

– See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Faithfulness-Of#sthash.CQmSqPYz.dpuf