Mama on a Mission

house finch

The noise in the tree next to me was getting annoying now. The bird chirped constantly as I sat there reading. It just didn’t stop. It sounded like it was really angry about something. When I went out to the porch swing the next morning, it did the same thing again–just sat in the tree and chirped madly. Actually “chirp” may be too musical of a word. This bird was yelling its little heart out about something.

When it continued to happen the following mornings, it finally dawned on me that there may be a nest in the hanging basket right beside the swing where I sat comfortably. I pulled a foot stool close by and stepped up to peek. Sure enough, there they were–an over-full nest stuffed with three or four adolescent birds, almost ready to fly.

The twittering bird beside me was not just any bird. She was a mama on a mission.

She was doing everything in her power to protect the babies for which she was responsible. She didn’t know that I wasn’t a real threat and so she chirped away.

In another–rather tragic– example of this, we heard this past weekend of an aggressive little dog that was killed by a bear near the cabin where we were staying. The dog-owners are heart-broken and think that the bear must have been protecting a cub, as they had heard some rustling beyond the bear and the bears are not normally that aggressive. It appears that this bear, too, was a mama on a mission.

We actually call women who fiercely protect their children “Mama Bears”, don’t we? And, unless you are a mama, you probably can’t really understand the urge to protect your young.

And we are called to protect our children. But what should this protection look like?

Many years ago, my daughter was in a class with a young girl whose mama would step in to protect her at any real or perceived hurt. She was there to inflict scathing words or just due on anyone who dared to hurt her baby. I would submit to you that this is not healthy protection. And we have all met these overprotective mamas. We find them in school rooms, Sunday School classes, soccer teams, and playgrounds. They are an intimidating force, these mama bears.

But is this really what we are called to do as Moms? Are we supposed to keep our children from receiving any hurt or disappointment? Are we to view them as perfect and step up to defend for any reason?

NO. Of course not.

This is not in the best interest of our children in any way.

We laugh about it now, but we were one of those families that almost handled things the opposite way. When our kids came home with a story about how a schoolmate or teacher had offended them, our first words would be, “what did you do?”  We always knew there had to be another side to the story.

Of course, there were occasions when I was tempted to step in the middle of dissension between friends or even at school and then I would remember my mom’s wise words to me — Let them work it out.

You see, part of growing up is learning how to handle disappointment. It’s learning how to work with difficult people. And how to deal with our emotions of anger and sadness. If we parents always swoop in to keep our children from learning these lessons, we will greatly hamper them (and their future families) for the future.

Now, while so many parents are busy trying to protect their children from real or perceived disappointments and hurt, I see few parents protecting their children from the real enemy--the enemy of their souls.

Satan is alive and active and roaring about like a lion (I Peter 5:8). He is also masquerades as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14) and uses subtle ways to deceive us (2 Corinthians 11:3). He seeks to kill and destroy (John 10:10). And most of us allow him into the lives of our children in a myriad of ways–

We allow our children to choose the music we play in our cars. This is often pop music that is filled with explicit lyrics about sex, drug use, and bad language. We may even bop along with them to the catchy beat as the sinful music plays.

We put on the latest tv show or movie and laugh at the off-color jokes and shake our heads at the blatant wickedness — but never take a stand and just turn it off, explaining to them why.

We allow them to go to movies and dances and malls, all under the guise of “all the other kids are doing it”, never really knowing exactly what is taking place with these friends.

Our kids spend hours and hours with headphones in their ears, staring at an ipad screen, or playing video games that would make your skin crawl, and we say nothing. “Kids will be kids” is our motto.

When we do spend some time with our kids, we talk about the weather, the school assignment, or the vacation that’s coming up. We never talk about creation, or homosexuality, or what being a Christian really looks like.

All the while, the devil is making inroads into the hearts of your kids.

Oh, this is where we parents need to stand up and fight! There is an ALL-OUT Spiritual War going on and many of us are sitting casually by, thinking it doesn’t affect us. But, if you are not careful, the casualties will be your children.

This is where we need to step up and protect our young ones. We have a responsibility and we need to take it very seriously.

Let’s turn away from our own screens, clubs, and hobbies long enough to get to really know our children. To really understand what makes them tick and see their weaknesses. Let’s challenge them using the Word of God.

Let’s be like the mama bird, chirping loudly for all to hear, letting Satan know that you are, by the grace and strength of God, protecting the soul of the precious child in your care and this is one battle he won’t win!

 

 

 

The Fifty Dollar Bill

50

Taking our anger out on those we love most seems to be a pretty typical pattern for many of us.

If something bad happens at work, on the team, or at church, most of us tend to keep our cool. It isn’t until we are in our own homes that we react emotionally to the painful incident or bad day and end up hurting those closest to us by lashing out in anger.

The other day, I found an old checkbook that I no longer use. I ripped up the few remaining checks and threw the whole thing in the trash. For some reason, I glanced down at the wastebasket. Was I surprised when my eyes fell on “part” of a $50 bill!

At first, my thought was no way! and I quickly reached down and pulled out the piece, not quite believing that it was actually real. Then I panicked a bit — did I actually just rip up a $50 bill?

I started searching a bit frantically for the pieces. In just a moment, I had found all three. I carefully put the pieces in order and then started taping them back together.

Will the bank accept this bill? I think so –although I’m not quite sure — never having done this particular foolish thing before.

But will it ever be the same again?

No, it will not. I can never make that bill magically into one whole piece again. It will always be taped for the remainder of its days in circulation.

What makes this even sadder is that I never intended to rip up that $50 bill. It just kind of got in my way, unknowingly hidden within the pages of an old checkbook (I still have no idea why it was there or any recollection of putting it there).

What a great picture of what so often happens with our closest relationships–

We are frustrated or upset about an issue that has nothing to do with anyone at home. Yet, as we are letting go of the angry or hurt emotions, we often end up ripping our loved ones into pieces. It isn’t our intention, it just happens.

The thing is, just like that $50 bill can never be put back together whole, so we can never truly repair the damage we do to our relationships. Oh, we can patch things up and forgive each other and move on but the damage has been done. While we can forgive, we rarely forget. How helpful it would be if we just didn’t let these things happen in the first place.

Life is so short. And most of us have been so blessed with deep, abiding relationships with our families and even some friends. Let’s make sure that no person is ever in the path of any ungodly anger or emotion we end up displaying (which is certainly sinful under any circumstances, but seems to be doubly bad when we end up hurting others in the process).

Let’s protect our relationships. They are fragile. And oh so precious. No bad day is worth causing those we love hurt and pain. Let’s not let something that won’t matter a bit in eternity erode our relationships with our spouse and children. It’s so not worth it.

Spreading the Rose Petals

wedding

As most of you already know, Saturday was Wedding Day around here. Our oldest daughter was married on Saturday and is now happily honeymooning with her groom in the Caribbean.

Saturday dawned bright and clear. It all felt a little surreal, quite honestly. After a flurry of activity and many camera clicks, we were finally ready for the five o’clock ceremony.

I walked down the aisle with the best man, aware that all eyes were on me for that brief moment. I breathed a sigh of relief as I sat in my appointed seat and eyes were moved elsewhere.

I then watched my daughters walk down as maids of honor, followed by the bridesmaids and groomsmen.

And then came the children.

If you know my daughter, you know that she loves children. First came two beautiful nieces, their hands tightly holding the strings that were attached to the big, round balloons floating above their heads. And then came a handsome and very serious nephew, pulling a wagon which was supposed to hold two baby nieces. However, we heard a howl in the back and so only one adorable and wide-eyed baby girl was in that wagon.

And then came the official flower girl and ring-bearer. The ring-bearer was another nephew and the bride has been the flower girl’s nanny since she was born. This charming couple was tightly holding hands. Meanwhile, the basket holding the white rose petals stayed filled to the brim. They carefully walked down the aisle. I thought she forgot about the rose petals, but when they got to the front, they dropped hands to go different directions and that is when she put her small hand into that basket and pulled out a handful of petals. And then another. And another. She just kept pulling out those petals and spreading them over the ground where the bride and groom would soon be standing.

I finally told her that it was probably enough and she dutifully moved to her position beside the maid of honor.

I then had the privilege of standing and turning, as all eyes turned towards the stunning bride. It was an overwhelming moment and the next hour flew by, as we listened to two of our favorite pastors in all the world present very helpful challenges not only to the couple, but to us, the witnesses.

It was a beautiful ceremony and reception and I am proud of all the thought and effort that my daughter put into making the evening a wonderful experience for all who attended. It was her hope– and ours– that it would be God-honoring, first and foremost, and also enjoyable. I hope that we accomplished that.

I heard later that the flower girl told her mother, very logically, that it wasn’t possible to drop the petals before she let go of the ring-bearer’s hand. Ah, the wisdom of children.

As I was thinking about her words this morning, I had to smile. You know, she may be on to something there.

How often do we try to hold on to our own dreams and desires and please God, too? It’s like we want the best of both worlds. And, yet, it is absolutely impossible. We cannot totally experience the all-surpassing peace and joy that God promises us until we let go of our own desires. Of course, the most awesome thing of all is that when we do this, God changes us and fills our hearts with desires that please Him.

During the ceremony, one of the pastors talked about how God’s purpose for marriage can only be accomplished if we die to ourselves. He then added that living for Christ can really only be done well if we die to ourselves.

Yes, that is exactly what I saw in the flower girl’s actions. You can’t really do what you have to do until your hands are free.

You have to love the simple lessons we can learn from children.

Now, I’d better get going. I have a ton of wedding clean-up to do :)

 

My Best Advice for the Bride and Groom

weddedbliss_small

How in the world do we prepare you for marriage? It’s like trying to prepare for an earthquake or tornado– really quite impossible. You really can’t fathom what it’s like until you are smackdab in the middle of it. That’s really why is it so incredibly scary. Well, that, along with the fact that, as Christians, we know it is for good. So it’s not like we can change our minds next year if we don’t get along.

As I was thinking a bit about this, I thought I would just share a few things that have helped your dad and I along the way. Stuff we learned early on and stuff we learned later but wished we would have learned early on (these are in no particular order)–

1. Worry most about the opinions of God and your spouse. You will get so much advice in life. People telling you how to live, what to buy, how to raise your kids. When it comes right down to it, only what God and your spouse think matters. Don’t let your decisions be dictated by your parents (yes, that means me,too!), your siblings, your friends, or your church. Instead study God’s Word together and come to a mutual decision.

2. Remember that God has designed the man to be the spiritual head of the home (Ephesians 5:22-25). Oh, how we women get so uptight about these verses, but if the husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church, then it is a joy to submit to him. Of course, this is in a perfect world, right? Which is where we don’t live. But we need to keep working at it. This is so important because, when you come to an impasse (which you inevitably will) someone needs to make the final decision. God has designed it to be the man.

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Before you get too far into an argument, ask yourself if this really matters. So many times your dad and I would fight over the dumbest stuff. Does it really matter where we go to eat or what color we paint the room? Sure, some of these little things add up (like being consistently late, etc) and need to be worked out, but let the little stuff go. (I can almost hear you, Jess, telling me that I have not been a very good example in this area, and you would be so right–I am still working very hard on this one).

4. Apologize sincerely. If you mess up, admit it.

5. Accept apologies whole-heartedly. Don’t stiffen your back and refuse to forgive. Nothing good comes from that.

6. Talk openly about everything. No conversation should be off-limits– from what happened at work today to how you feel about sex to how your feel about your parents to theology. Talk about everything. Communication is so very important in moving a marriage from a simple partnership to a deep and abiding friendship.

7. Keep family relationships as a priority. We have learned that friends come and go, but family is forever.

8. Keep God at the center of your relationship. Pray and study the Word together. Have discussions about spiritual things. Find a good solid church and be committed so that you are regularly fed good spiritual food.

9. Be genuinely interested when you listen to each other. We all love to talk about our hobbies and interests. You will deepen your relationship considerably if you are an active listener.

10. Please don’t let us (your parents) ever come between the two of you. It is so much more important to Dad and I that you honor God and each other, than that you do what we want you to do. If we get intrusive without realizing it, please tell us. We are here to support you and offer advice, but only if and when you want it.

11. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are struggling, don’t be embarrassed or too proud to ask for help from us or your pastor or someone else you trust. Sometimes you need some help and that’s okay!

12. And, finally, and really probably most importantly, remember that all marriages go through stages. You will have days –maybe sometimes even longer–where you don’t even really like each other. You will wonder how you can possibly live with this person for the rest of your life. But hang in there, because the good times will come again! Don’t give up. Obey God’s Word by choosing to love even when you don’t feel like it and then wait, because the feelings will return.

I am so very excited for you both! It is made so much more exciting by the fact that I can see God’s hand so clearly at work in how He brought you together and how perfect you are for each other. We are looking forward to having another son and watching the two of you live your lives together for God’s honor and glory.

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Fly, Birdie, Fly!

baby duckling

I reached for a pair of socks. Once again, I had to root around for awhile before finally finding a matching pair.

I knew that someone had been in my sock drawer and I had a pretty good idea who. This nest is just getting a little too small for the six of us who live in it.

“That girl!” I thought, “it is time for her to leave and move into her own house…”

And then it hit me.

She is leaving. Very soon. For good.

This happened a few weeks ago. But how quickly time flies and now here we are: The week of the wedding.

You know, from the time our children are little we raise them to become responsible adults. We want them to live their own lives, hoping that it will include love and marriage and children, if that is their desire. We prepare them to leave us. We want them to fly!

But I guess no one ever told me that when our children start experiencing new beginnings, so do we!

You see, for awhile, I felt more like the exciting and new beginnings of my children were indicative that all my life’s dreams and hopes were ending. And in many ways they are. To get married and raise kids is all I ever wanted in life. Life as I knew it is drawing to a close. I still fight the feelings of nostalgia and sadness sometimes. I think only a mom who has faced the empty nest can truly understand this.

But recently I have realized that, in so many ways, I am starting a new beginning, too. Gradually– or was it suddenly?–I started going to the grocery store by myself. And then we went on little weekend trips and didn’t have to worry about a babysitter. And as they got older, my freedom increased and continues to increase.

So what am I going to do with it? Play? Work? Give my husband some of that attention that I poured on the kids? (that is his favorite option!) Start a new hobby or new career? Waste time watching TV?

Yes, this is one child and I still have three at home. But, I can feel the winds changing very quickly. And this Saturday will not only an indicate a fresh start in the lives of these precious young people, but in our lives, too–one that will include additional children (it is our goal to make the word “in-law” a positive thing!) and, hopefully, quite a few grandchildren.

Life is changing. Elisabeth Elliot says this about change: With acceptance comes peace. Yes, I think that may be true.

And so, while I still feel like life has gone a little too fast for my liking, I am so excited and thrilled for my daughter to be experiencing the wonderful adventure of marriage with the young man I’ve prayed for for all of her life. How faithful God is and how blessed we are.

The first birdie is leaving. Let the empty nest process begin.

 

 

 

The Messy Middle

FR

Before I even begin this post I may as well just make a confession.

I do not excel at cleaning my house.

You know how you go into some homes and everything is so spotless that you don’t even have to look into the closets to just know that they are probably organized by color and size? The fact that you could eat from the floor gives pretty solid proof that their pantries probably do not hold any old boxes of crackers, a bag of chips with just a few crumbs remaining, or empty tasty-cake boxes?

Anyway, that’s not my house.

I am just not one of those women who is checking my pantry every day for empty boxes. I am not one of those women who is cleaning out my cabinets every week…er…month…or even year?? I confess, I just believe there are so many other important things to do!

If you are one of those women who keeps a really neat house, then your family is blessed! Many have been the–shall we call them discussions?– regarding my method of housecleaning. Now, I do want you to understand that I do not keep a hovel. My house is basically clutter-free and clean–at least the areas that you can see when you visit!

BUT if you look into any given cabinet or closet…well, just don’t do it, okay? It may be dangerous. I try to stay after them. I really do. But–like I said– there are so many other things to do and, with six “not-so-tidy” people living here, well, they quickly become disorganized again, anyway.

But yesterday, I decided to tackle my family room. I don’t think I had actually thoroughly cleaned the cabinets in that room for several years. They were therefore unusable. I had a basic idea what was in there, but knew I would probably find a few surprises, too. I also decided to change the furniture around to make for more seating and to clean out a few other baskets.

The messy middle came about 30 minutes into the project. This was exactly why I didn’t want to start in the first place! And why I had put it off for so long.

So. Much. Stuff.

What is this? What if I give this away and then I need it again later? What in the world does this cord belong to? Where is the case for this dvd? Why do we even have this dvd?  If I haven’t read this magazine from last year, I wonder if I ever will?

While I was in the midst of all that clutter and stuff, which was spread all over my kitchen table and family room floor, one of the kids came in.

“Wow, this is a mess.”

Yes, I know. Thanks for telling me.

Another one came in.

“Whoa! What are you doing?”

?? Really? I thought it was obvious.

I started to get discouraged and overwhelmed. I would escape to my computer every 15 minutes or so to check e-mail and Facebook. Anything to escape the dreariness of what lay ahead. I did not want to finish this job. But it had to be done. For goodness’ sake, we couldn’t even eat a family meal until this job was finished.

And so, I finally made myself sit and work without any escape. I forced myself to finish the big job I had undertaken, even though I didn’t really feel like it.

After it was all done, I looked over my rearranged and clean family room with the satisfaction of a job well-done. It was so miserable in the middle, but the end result made it so worth it!

Oh, how true this is in so many areas of life! Raising kids can get very messy in the middle, can it not? Marriages can get pretty messy, too. As can extended family relationships, church situations, and job situations.

Oftentimes, we warily stand back, so fearful to address an issue. Sometimes we are just lazy. And sometimes we are just too busy. We just figure it will have to go away sometime. And, very occasionally, that does happen.

But, just like my messy cabinets weren’t going to disappear, most problems aren’t going anywhere, either. And just like the cabinets grew worse– more layers of dust, more stuff, more disorganization, so do our problems grow bigger and deeper. And so we need to face them head on and deal with them. And, YES, dealing with it will be messy and unpleasant and hard work. But we can’t give up in the middle. We have to keep going so that we can get to the other side.

And when we do, we will feel a peace and satisfaction that is comparable to little else this world has to offer.

The messy middle is no fun. That’s the truth, plain and simple. But the results are so worth it.

And now you know far more about me  and my house-cleaning practices than I wish you did but don’t let it be said that I’m not willing to sacrifice my reputation for the Lord ;)

 

Teaching Our Children to Work

working

One of the most disheartening changes in this culture over the past 30 or so years is that children are no longer taught to work. Instead of teaching our children a good work ethic and diligence, we are teaching them that everything else is more important. We have an epidemic of laziness in this country.

This becomes obvious rather quickly, I am afraid, when you watch young (and some not so young!) people work in public. We can size up pretty quickly which waitress or cashier we don’t really want. They are slow and incapable. They are more interested in their conversation with a co-worker. They don’t give any effort to their job because it’s “just a job”.

Owning a business that hires young people as our employees has also made this change rather obvious to my husband and me. It is a rare thing to find a hard-working, diligent young person these days. Most applicants expect to be given a good salary, great benefits, and lots of extra incentives, but they don’t want to work for it. They expect it all to be handed to them on a silver platter, giving nothing in return. Thankfully, there are still some hard-working, young people full of integrity out there but the pickings are getting slimmer every year.

I know many of us feel that there will be enough time for work when our children grow up, which is true to a certain extent. However, if they are never taught to work when they are young, they will not magically learn this when they grow older.

Of course, I am not suggesting that we use our children as our slaves, but we need to stop the sports and playtime long enough to have them join some of the family chores. Kids who know how to work are better citizens, less self-centered, and tend to look at what they can give to the world, rather than what they can get from it.

Have them join Dad in helping to fix the shed or do the lawn work on a Saturday or help Mom bake or do laundry during the week. Don’t worry if it isn’t done perfectly.  It is more important that your child learn to help fold towels, than that the towel is folded just right. Sometimes when teaching children to work it is hard to remember our priorities, isn’t it?

And, YES, your kids will complain. If they don’t complain when you ask them to do something, be pleasantly surprised. My kids complained most of their lives. And sometimes they still do. But we have made it clear that if they are going to live here and take part in all of the benefits of living here, they will also take part in the work involved to have what we have.

We cannot forget that we are responsible for preparing our precious children for their future lives. Their future life is, most likely, not going to be about sports or dance or getting good grades. There is a place for these things but how important it is that we not get so busy running around with activities that we have no time left to teach our kids how to work.

But there is a second aspect to this, as well. Not only are we to teach them how to work, but we are to set a good example. How do we talk about our necessary duties? What attitude do we have about Mondays? Do we work for God’s Glory and enjoy each day or are we “Working for the Weekend”, as the old 80s song says?

I failed at this one many times, I am afraid. Being a homemaker has its challenges–a big one being that we determine our own schedules, task lists, and priorities. The other challenge is that we never get to pack up for the day and leave it behind. We are always on call, 24/7. This can be a bit of a challenge for someone like me. I have learned a lot over the years, but this was not originally an easy thing for me. Having a positive, selfless, and diligent attitude was not something at which I excelled, quite honestly. I would change that now. Hindsight is always 20/20.

It is so sobering to realize that these little (or not so little) lives that we have been entrusted with are counting on us to teach them everything they need to know before being thrust into a pretty hard and cold world. We can’t get so caught up in our desires to provide them with special and fun experiences that we forget to teach them how to work.

And, trust me, your kids will thank you later. And so will their boss!

 

please note: This post has been updated and expanded from its original form, which was written for The Prudent Life, my homemaking blog.

A Look Back

journal

In just a few short weeks my oldest daughter will be getting married. My dining room is filled with boxes and wedding supplies as she prepares for her big day. She and her fiance are busy fixing up an old house they were able to purchase. It is fun to watch them together, as they work on wedding plans and prepare to start their new life together. But it is also frustrating because my daughter lives here and her stuff is here, but she isn’t really here. Know what I mean?

And I wondered how I felt the summer before my August wedding? Was I as in love? Were my parents frustrated with me?

But I didn’t have to just wonder. I could actually look back. Because, as you may already know, most writers journal. And so I have some kind of record of my feelings about life since about 5th grade. I have pulled out those journals every great once in awhile as I have raised my teen girls.

So a few nights ago I decided to pull out my journal from the summer of 1988. I had not read those words since I had written them. It was strange to read the words of my former self. I am the same person. And yet, I am not the same person.

In those pages, I read about events and relationship dynamics that I had totally forgotten. And guess what? I had some of the typical problems with my parents, too, as an adult living at home. Only I had a different perspective back then. I had not remembered any of that.

It was also interesting to see what I had written about my future husband and myself and the problems I anticipated us having as we headed off into marriage. And all these years later, I could see that I was right. They were the problems that we have faced over and over again in our marriage.

As I told my husband about my insight into our future as a 22 year old, he jokingly said, “well, I guess you shouldn’t have married me.”

But I can honestly say that never crossed my mind. I’d marry him all over again in a heartbeat. And so I responded, “If it wouldn’t have been those problems, then it would’ve been different ones.”

Yes, we have issues. Every marriage does.  There is no perfect relationship. (Why do we think there will be? Could it be the romance novels we read? Or the chick flicks we watch? Why in the world are our expectations so high?)

But we work through them, one step at a time, with candor, forgiveness, a sense of humor, and total commitment.

And how gratifying to realize almost 26 years later, that we have made some progress. We are not the same people we were when I was writing all those years ago. We have changed and matured and become just a little bit more like Jesus as we have added years. Oh, those flaws flare up and still stare us both in the face sometimes, but it isn’t as often. And it isn’t as severe.

I don’t know if you have your life recorded in journals. If you do, why not pull one out and take a few moments and look back? See how far you’ve come. If you don’t, then just take a few moments and think about how far you’ve come. Whether you are 25 or 95, think about your past years. Has your marriage relationship improved over the years? Have you become more like Jesus? Praise the Lord if the answer is yes. The Holy Spirit is working to sanctify you, just as we believers are promised in scripture (I Peter 1:2). But if it is no, don’t despair! Start today to create a new future! One step at a time. It is never too late! (And remember, real and lasting change can only be found after our relationship with God has been made right. If you don’t know Him personally, please click here.)

Our future is created one moment at a time. We are given choices each and every day–we can choose our attitude, our responses, our reactions — and these small choices are what creates the person we will become.

I didn’t think so deeply back when I was writing that summer of 1988. I didn’t realize all of this. Now, looking back, I can see that the prayers of my parents and grandparents helped to keep me on the right track. So that’s my second point. Pray for your kids and grandkids. There is so much we don’t understand when we are young. And most of us don’t want to listen to anyone tell us about life. Let’s cover the young people we love with much prayer.

It was interesting to take a look back. And in some ways I’m jealous. Starting out in life sounds fun and exciting. But then I realize– I wouldn’t really want to go back and learn everything all over again. So, here I am, middle-aged and headed into the future. Still determined to become more like Jesus through the little choices I make every day. Failing daily, but always brushing myself off and starting over again!

 

Don’t Let it Go

Frozen_21

Oh my goodness. I was looking up the lyrics to the popular song “Let It Go” for a different blog post (which will still be coming one of these days) and found something so worrisome, I just have to share it.

You see, little girls (and even quite a few little boys) are singing this song at the top of their lungs across this nation. As Christians, most of us tend to view Disney as fairly innocuous. And before you think I am on some vendetta against Disney, let me assure you that is not the case. I love stories with princesses and happy endings as much as the next guy.

But reading these lyrics made me realize that they are not neutral when it comes to what is being pushed on all of us in this nation. And what is that? It is that there are no absolutes. We are all free to decide in our own mind what is right and what is wrong.

Here are the lyrics I found–

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

I know that many of you will think I am –as the cliche goes–making a mountain out of a mole hill. Others of you will shrug your shoulders and not care. But please keep reading.

Am I suggesting that we ban Disney movies from our homes? No, that is not my point. That is between you and God.

What I do want to talk about is teaching our kids discernment.

If you see something on any kids’ movie that is completely opposite of biblical truth, do you speak to them about it? Do you discuss it and share with them why this does not agree with God’s Word? Even two year olds can understand that mommy and daddy want to honor God and this song or phrase doesn’t do that.

But are we even having the conversations?

These conversations are pretty easy and productive when your children are small. They are like little sponges and it is a wonderful time to fill them with the resources they need to live a life that pleases God. However, as they grow older, it takes a little more courage, because you will get ridiculed and teased by teenagers and they will think you are very annoying and maybe even a little crazy.

Just keep going back to the Word of God.

You see, it’s not my opinion or your opinion that matters. The only opinion we should care about is God’s. If we can teach our kids that from the time they are little, we will be well on our way to raising young people who put their faith in God.

Now to go on a little rabbit trail–

I know that some of you are probably thinking that it is hard to even know what God’s Word says with all of the interpretations out there. And I agree with you. I have seen, in the last few decades, the flood of scriptural “interpretations” and confusing commentaries on scripture that have been let loose on the church so that even we Christians can get confused about what God’s Word says exactly. This is when I go back to history– what has the true church taught for thousands of years? Because, let’s be honest, God’s Word didn’t change 50 years ago to give a carte blanche on man’s sinful desires (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

So, instead of using the “Bible is confusing” as an excuse to avoid good discussions, why  don’t we commit right now–today– to study the Bible ourselves and see what the Holy Spirit has to teach us? If you don’t know where to begin, then click here for a great website to get you started on studying God’s Word.

It is only by doing this that we will have the knowledge necessary to combat the attacks against scripture that are coming from all sides– even in the form of an “innocuous” Disney movie.

 

 

My Four Mirrors

four mirrors

When I had babies so many years ago, I don’t think that I fully realized something.

Wait– let me rephrase that. I know that I absolutely did not realize something.

Each one of my babies– in one way or another– would mirror some of my own worst sinful traits and most annoying habits.

They say that kids change you. And that is certainly true. And, quite honestly, I expected to be changed. It was coming face to face with my own sin on a daily basis that I wasn’t quite expecting.

I have great kids. I am so blessed. But almost every day, I will spot a bit of selfishness or anger or backbiting or gossip, and, while with my mouth I am “encouraging them” to stop what they are doing, inside I am frustrated because I know–as sure as I know the sun will rise again tomorrow– where they learned that behavior.

It is rather interesting to me that, as parents, we often have the toughest time getting along with the kid(s) that are just like us. Could it possibly be because of this dynamic? These kids that are like us force us to come face to face with our sin almost every day. And we don’t like that. It irritates and frustrates us. Our pride is hurt over and over again, because we know we haven’t conquered this sin in our lives and now we’ve condemned our children to struggle with it for the rest of theirs.

Could that possibly be part of the reason?

Whatever the reason, I do believe that, instead of growing frustrated, we need to humble ourselves and recognize the sin in our own lives, while we do the necessary task of raising our children.

How important it is that we do not pretend we are perfect while we discipline our children, while all involved — children, spouse– knows full well we are not.

Life is changing now for me. My kids are young adults and my role looks quite different. And the mirrors grow so much clearer. I can see some of the struggles and battles they are going to face because of the example I set. And I feel like a failure.

But, then I remember God’s grace and the victories over sin I have experienced through the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. No, not perfection, but victories. I am not the same person now that I was twenty years ago. God is slowly, but surely, sanctifying me and making me look more like Jesus.

And I know that, through their obedience to God’s Word and the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit in their lives, my much beloved children will also have that same victory in their lives as they mature.

Now my main job is to pray.

 

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