Friday, February 26, 2010

On My Knees

You know, there are many difficult things in life. Some I have experienced and many I haven't. I have walked through the fires of depression, rejection, and overcome several major obstacles in my life. I have given birth three times (soon to be four), and two of those times has been without medication. (Yes, by choice. I am crazy, I know). But, out of everything I have ever been through, nothing has rocked my world like parenting. When I stepped into the world of motherhood almost 9 years ago, I had NO idea how much it would change me and challenge me on a regular basis. God has taught me so much through my children. He has used them to teach me about what love really is, and what it is not. He has taught me about how to forgive myself, my past, and other people. He has used them to teach me about how He is my Jevovah-Jireh (my Lord who Provides), because no one can really ever "afford" to have a child. He has shown me through them that He is my Jehovah-Rapha (my Lord who Heals), for there where hurts in my life from my childhood and decisions made as an adult that haunted me that were not healed until my children came along. He has shown me that control is an illusion and that He is the ONLY who deserves the name El Elyon (God Most High). I have become more patient, grace-filled, and merciful, but also more firm (which believe me, is a tough balance to find and even tougher to maintain).

And yet, as my children get older I am finding that I am being challenged on a whole new level. I am the steward (along with my husband) that God has entrusted with the job of shaping the heart and will of my children. Of course, I know that it is God who draws all men (and women) to Himself. But, we cannot deny the important role of a parent in a child's life. My children are now 8, 7, and 4, and we are constantly fighting the "battle of the wills". I want my children to obey-they on the other hand want to make their own choices. We have graduated from disciplining their behavior to training the heart's motive behind the behavior. It is requiring very intentional parenting on our parts, which is MUCH more time consuming. It requires wisdom and discernment, which only come from God Himself. I mean, there are times when my children insist that they were "only kidding" or "just playing" or "telling the truth" and I really don't know what the truth is or what the right answer is to "solve" the problem. The Bible says "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child" and "the heart is deceitful above all things and without cure". Only a personal relationship with God can "cure" the diseased heart. I get frustrated with the meanness, selfishness, uncontrolled anger, lying, stealing, lack of respect, and so on that come from my sweet children with such ease. And yet on the other hand, I see so much of that in my own heart and their behavior shines a very bright light on my own sin. How to do you discipline one of your children when you see so much of the same in yourself? It is ridiculous. I know it is my job and I take my job very seriously. So as I work on my children I am constantly reminded that I need to allow God to work on me.

Anyway, so I realized something recently that has put all of this into perspective for me. I didn't overcome depression-God did that. I didn't heal my fear of abandonment and rejection-God did that. I didn't overcome debilitating guilt-God did that. I didn't will myself to be more patient, merciful, and grace-filled-God did that. I don't come up with great ideas on how to deal with my children-God does that too. So, you may ask, what DO you do? I PRAY! I have decided that I will fight the battles that I can fight, and the rest of them I will fight on my knees. I can't do this, not on my own. Without God and the power of the Holy Spirit I will never succeed. Praise God that He has made a way for us to succeed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

If we are the body...

I met with a sweet friend this morning who is going through a divorce. She has been married for a long time but after years of trying to make the marriage work, they have just decided that it is over. They are both Christians but just have not been able to find a common ground that both of them can stand on. There has been some speculation about the reasons for divorce and whether or not it is biblical, and even they have struggled with the latter, but this is really not about the divorce. It is more about how we a the "body of Christ" are supposed to respond to this sort of thing. We have hundreds of people in our local churches that are hurting in ways that some of us can not imagine. There are people getting divorced, people addicted to alcohol and drugs, there are people addicted to pornography, sex, and food. There are people who are on the verge of suicide or even worse, families dealing with a family member who has taken their own life. The list of hurt can go on and on.

In the area of divorce, especially between two people who claim to be Christians, many people seem to struggle with how to be there for them. People speculate about the details behind the divorce, wonder WHO is a fault, and judge whether the divorce is "biblical". The person going through the divorce many times winds up feeling "outcasted" by the very family that has claimed to love them. I know many time people just don't know how to respond, so they don't. But, I would ask this question...how would we be there for someone who has lost a spouse or child to death? In many ways a divorce is no different. It is in essence a death. A death of a dream, a relationship, a future. It is painful and lonely and scary. At the point when the couple decides that divorce is the only viable option all the other questions really should become irrelevant. It is not our place to play judge on whether or not the divorce was biblical or who fault it is that it is happening. And on the point I would just like to say that in my own experience with marriage any problems that Michael and I have had in our marriage are usually as a result of both of us doing or not doing something. It is typically a collective effort between the two individuals. That being said, I know that this isn't the case in EVERY divorce, sometimes it is very cut and dry.

So, as the body of Christ, let us not shy away from hurting people. And if you think about soemone you know who is hurting, whether you know them well or not, say a little prayer for them. But don't stop there, drop them a note, call them, or go by and see them and let them know you were thinking about them and praying for them. You might be surprised by how few people have actually loved on them that day. And if we are the body then that is our greatest commandment...TO LOVE.

Oh, and before anyone gets mad and feels that I am being judgmental myself, let me assure you...I am preaching to the choir on this. I am not without fault when it comes to all of the things mentioned above. I have been very convicted lately to really LOVE people and I am trying to pray through what that means and what it looks like. I am still trying to figure that out.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Getting Close

Ok, so I haven't blogged in a long time, a really long time. I have thought about it many times but just have not had time to sit down and actually get it done. As most people who have children would agree, life during this phase of your family is very busy. And the more you have the busier you can get. I have been raising my own children, along with three other children for almost a year and a half now. The artist is 8 1/2, the athlete is 7, the diva is 4, and then I have a 2 year old, a 1 year old, and an 8 month old that I watch. Of course, to make things even crazier I am also 7 months pregnant. Most days I love it, but at the end of the day I am exhausted. Most people have the same two questions: Was this 4th baby planned? And will I continue to keep kids after the baby gets here?

The answer to the first question is yes and no. This baby was not planned by me and my husband, but she is most certainly planned by God. Our initial reaction to the news was shock. I would be lying if I said that we were excited when we first found out. Our lives had hit a new level, our family was to a point that traveling was easier and fun. We were out of the diaper and nap stage and relatively happy about it. Oh sure, I would get baby fever every now and then, and then as quick as it would hit, it would leave. Our newfound freedom was nice and it took some time to grieve that loss and embrace the idea of starting over again. Now, 7 months later we are excited at the prospect of having another entity in our home. We are getting excited about what she is going to look like and what kind of personality she will have. We are praying for an easy baby, but if we don't get that then God's grace will be sufficient.

The answer to the second question is a little more fuzzy as I have not quite decided what I am going to do. I know that I am going to take the summer off but after that I am not really sure. What I do want is to focus on getting to know our new baby and helping the entire family adjust to her presence in our home. So, what fall holds, I don't know, but if I do start watching children again it won't be 3 of them, that's for sure.

So, with 10 weeks left until our baby girl arrives, I thought I would try to start blogging again. Facebook is great and all, but it is impossible to tell stories on them. So, keep checking back because I have a list of topics that I want to write about.

My Little Blessings