Archive for February, 2013

Like most Christians out there I spend a lot of my time trying to hide from God; particularly when I know what I should do but I don’t want to do it. It’s like when my three-year-old child knows she should share her toys but instead hides under the table with the doll she stole from her sister. She knows she is in the wrong, yet somehow thinks I won’t notice the screaming from my other child and by hiding she will be able to hold onto what she views as her happiness. I play this little game of hide-and-seek with God more than I care to admit. Fortunately for me, He always finds me and sometimes it is in the most creative of ways; like speaking through an animated asparagus.

On a typical day with the kids I was sitting among the mess of toys watching Veggie Tales, which is a staple item for all Christian parents. I was tired, cranky and feeling very pouty about the circumstances I was in at the time. My husband, my children and I had been living with my parents for a year and a half waiting for a house to be built by a builder that was having “issues” which is code for “totally incompetent on all levels”. Every time we turned around there was some new problem that delayed our house from being finished and on this particular day I just couldn’t take it anymore. My eyes welled up with tears as I let the frustration of my circumstances crash over my soul in successive waves. I just wanted out. My husband and I had both agreed that this was the right thing to do and we genuinely felt we were going where God wanted us to go; however, in that moment none of it mattered. I knew I should be resting in God’s sovereignty and provision but to me this was pure insanity. I just wanted what I wanted so I could feel “happy” again. I didn’t want to do the right thing anymore and I certainly didn’t want to talk to God about it because I knew He would probably speak truth that I didn’t want to hear. I was hiding; or at least I was trying to hide but it didn’t take long for God to crash my pity party. The Veggie Tales episode playing on the TV was Josh and The Big wall and I hadn’t been paying much attention until I heard a voice say “Wait! Don’t you see what you’re doing?” A little startled, I sat up straight. It was Junior Asparagus reminding the vegetable version of the Israelites what had happened when they didn’t trust God’s provision, choosing instead to do things their own way. He reminded them of all God had done for them; little things like parting the Red Sea and making food rain down from heaven in the middle of the desert. Then he closed with this phrase “Don’t you see! Sometimes God asks us to do things that don’t make sense to us… But when we remember that God made us and loves us and always wants what’s best for us we can be sure that His way is the best way.”

Who says Veggie Tales are for kids! I was a grown woman blown away by the theological genius of a talking asparagus! But even more than that, I was blown away by the fact that God loved me enough to use whatever He had to in order to find me. I was hiding like a three year old under a table desperately grasping onto what I thought would make me happy.

Well, after all that I honestly didn’t want to feel any better but I did. Not because my circumstances suddenly got better but because I knew that if He could use an animated vegetable then He could use anything, and that meant even when I was trying to run I couldn’t really hide from this God who pursues me in love. So the next time you feel like playing hide-and-seek with God just remember He will find you and He just might use the theological genius of Junior Asparagus to do it.

Moment of The Week!

Posted: February 25, 2013 in Moment of The Week

My oldest daughter Lilah is extremely social. Every kid she meets is her new best friend, but sometimes the other kids do not necessarily share her friendly sentiments. One evening we were having dinner at Willie’s and she was happily playing with her sister in the sandbox when a little boy, probably about 6 or 7 years old came along. She immediately stopped what she was doing and walked over to the poor guy and began peppering him with questions. He tried to walk away but she followed him. He ask her to leave him alone but she just stared at him quizzically. Finally, in desperation, he looked to his parent’s for help but they told him he needed to suck it up and be nice to her. I felt that was an appropriate response and we began discussing with his parents how one day his attitude towards a girl following him around probably change. However, not wanting the poor kid to develop a complex I finally told Lilah to come sit at the table for a while to eat her fries. She quickly came over and I asked her if she had been trying to make friends with the boy. “Yeah,” she said thoughtfully “But he’s not listening.” Everyone at the surrounding tables erupted into laughter and agreed that some things never change even with age.

Have you ever had to apologize to your kids? I have; and to be honest, the words “Mommy is sorry” can sometimes taste like a mouthful of salt water. After all, I have lots of good reasons for why I lose my temper. Not only do I say the same thing 10 times, in 5 different ways and still no one listens to me, but I also have a headache and have needed to pee for over an hour.

But somewhere in my soul The Spirit reminds me of how often my relationship with God looks very much like my relationship with my children, only His reactions to my childish behavior are always full of mercy and grace. Now I am not saying that children should not be disciplined or rebuked for bad behavior. However, there are more times than I care to admit when my reaction to their poor behavior is harsh and born out of frustration instead of love. (see Proverbs 15:1)

So in the wake of my bad response to their bad behavior I have two choices; I can brush past the whole situation and act like the wrongdoing doesn’t exist or swallow my pride, apologize for my bad reaction and thus demonstrate to them what it means to be transparent.

Transparency is defined as being free from pretense or deceit. It means to be real. As parents, whether consciously or unconsciously, we strive to be seen as inerrant by our children because we fear that if we are seen otherwise we will lose their respect. I believe this to be false. When I was a child, one of the things I admired most about my dad was his ability to say he was sorry. When he lost his temper or made a poor decision, he would always come to me and my brother and not only say he was wrong but he would ask for our forgiveness. In doing this he solidified in my mind that he was always honest and transparent in whatever he did. The truth is, kids eventually figure out that their parents aren’t perfect and because my dad never pretended to be, he won a respect that has lasted on into my adult years.

So, does knowing this make apologizing to my children any easier? Not really. The words still taste bitter coming out of my mouth, because like a true human, I still want to be seen as justified in my fits of aggravation. However, I take comfort in knowing that God is using even my short comings to teach them something about saying sorry when you’re wrong no matter what the circumstance. After all, no one is perfect and if we set a precedence of pretending to be, then how do we ever expect our kids to learn transparency towards us?

Recently we started potty training my oldest daughter which means we try to leave the bathroom door open for her to get to her potty. However, it didn’t take long for my youngest daughter to discover the opportunities that this reality affords her. As I was washing the dishes a few weeks ago I noticed that my little one was unusually quiet, which as all parents know, is a sure sign of trouble. I turned off the sink and ventured over to the kids bedrooms. As I passed the bathroom door on my way, I saw my youngest daughter out of the corner of my eye. She was standing over the toilet, holding her Ariel doll by the feet and swirling her head round and round in the water, giggling with delightful enthusiasm. She was so very happy with herself; but all good things must come to an end and unfortunately I had to be the one to rain on her crazy parade.  I spent the following few minutes calming her down and giving the Ariel doll a bath in sanitizer. We now keep the bathroom door closed.

Today I am going to be candid and confess that I have a great many fears.  They range from an irrational fear of creepy crawly things to a very real fear of losing the people I love the most, but somewhere in the top 10 list of things I fear is the fear of being known.

For the last ten years or so my husband and I have loosely attended a couple of churches but primarily we have kept the people in them at an arm’s length due to a myriad of bad past experiences. In these years we have learned to feed ourselves spiritually by listening to audio studies produced by organizations like Denton Bible, Breakaway and The Village Church. Our fellowship with believers has primarily revolved around our families and through this we have been sustained and safe.

However, in recent months we have felt the conviction to reconnect ourselves to the larger body of Christ. This of course, means that we can no longer just float on the outskirts of a church, we need to find a body of believers that we are willing to invest in.   In the last four weeks my husband and I have endeavored to find such a church home for our family and I must confess that at times my fear of being known has almost overwhelmed me to the point of running away.

My past experience with church is steeped in legalism. In most cases it manifested itself as a very subtle social pressure and in other cases it was quite explicit but either way, I never measured up and I lived in constant fear of losing approval. I was never myself and always strove to be like whoever was the most spiritually acceptable person in the group, which meant I was never really known by anyone. This was my own fault and it was a disservice not only to myself but to all those who were around me.

Now my struggle is to not repeat the mistakes of the past.  My value is not found in how people see me or in my own attempts at awesomeness, it is found in the fact that I am a child of the King, redeemed and blameless. It is this truth that allows me to be known without fear and to love without reservation or expectation.  So the point of this post is really to just be honest and maybe by being honest I will inspire others to do the same. After all, there is no way to confront a fear unless you acknowledge that it is there in first place.

Moment of the Week!

Posted: February 10, 2013 in Moment of The Week

Several weeks ago, my husband and I took the kids to Willie’s for dinner so they could play in the sandbox while we attempted to eat our food in relative peace. It was actually a lovely meal and we left with a small sense of euphoria that we had a family outing with no tantrums or embarrassing incidents. As we pulled out of the parking space we heard a muffled thud on the roof of the car. A bit concerned, my husband asked “What was that?” I sat silently. Our oldest daughter started talking so he brushed it off until we heard the thud a second time. This time I looked up at my husband with a sheepish expression and said “That is my to-go cup of iced tea. I left it on the roof after I put Elaina in her seat.” My husband just rolled his eyes, laughed and said “What am I going to do with you?” When we reached our destination the entire roof of my car was covered with tea and there was a mostly empty Styrofoam cup wedged in the roof racks. Yet another priceless mommy moment!!

Well, the day that I thought would never come has finally come. It is the day that I can officially say that we are both moved in and settled into our new house. In the last two years, our family has walked a journey that has been immensely difficult, intensely emotional and wrought with many unexpected twists and turns, but today we get to celebrate God giving our family rest.

There really are no words to describe the gratitude my husband and I feel for God’s mercy on our family and as we have spent time reflecting on all He has done there is a question that seems to keep drifting to the surface of our minds; What is His purpose in showing our little family such great mercy?

Now to answer this question, one only needs to look as far as the last four weeks since we have moved to our house. In the first week, my mother-in-law had a sudden change in circumstances and needed to stay with us for a few months.  While some might view such an event as an inconvenience, we saw it as God showing us how to use the house He had given us to serve others and not to simply hold it as a trophy of our own efforts. This also brought meaning and purpose to all the time we spent watching the generosity of my parents as they opened their home to us, which meant it was actually a blessing on many levels.

On the third week of us being in our house, we heard a sermon from the pastor at our church regarding living life on the mission of God’s glory wherever you have been placed in this world. (Click here to listen to sermon) It was a dynamic message that spoke to the heart of how we felt our lives should be lived out in our new home. Little did we know that God was planning to teach us how to apply our belief that very evening when our teenage next door neighbor got locked out of the house while her godparents were out of town. She ended up needing a place to sleep for the night so even though we didn’t know her and were a little nervous about giving a stranger our daughter’s room for the night, we said a prayer and took a leap of faith. Needless to say, everything worked out fine and it has provided the opportunity for us to get to know our neighbors, which is always the first step to loving them as scripture commands.

So I think it’s safe to say that the answer to the question regarding God’s purpose for the mercy He has shown our family is to pour it back out to the people He brings in our life. In the last month, He has reminded us that this house belongs to Him and He has given it to us for the mission of sowing His love, mercy and truth into both our family and our community so that He is glorified.  As a parent I desperately want my children to see this principle in the reality of who we are. It is my fervent prayer that God will never let us forget His great mercy on us and that no matter where life takes us we are always living out a mission for His glory.

I also want to challenge all of my fellow parents out there to think about how they are living out the mission of Christ so that their kids can see what it looks like.  For us it has been learning to share the gift of our home but for someone else it may be showing your kids how to serve others by helping to fix your dad’s car; or maybe you just show your kids how to care about people by getting to know the guy who serves you coffee at Starbucks.  What is it for you? How are you living on mission?