In recent days I have discovered something about myself that disturbs me. It is something that has always lingered underneath the surface of my existence, but has never been exposed in full light until I had children… funny how that works.

It all started to come together for me a few weeks ago as my husband and I struggled intensely with our 3 year old about bed time. Each night for over a week our sweet little girl suddenly turned into a maniac; she screamed, threw herself against her bedroom door and stomped on the floor demanding to be allowed to stay up and play with us. As most parents can probably imagine, this pushed us to the brink of sanity. I shed many tears of frustration and spent much time begging God for this season to pass so that my tears could give way to joy once again. Little did I know that this attitude was my real problem; the mindset that my suffering is a roadblock to my joy, is not only incorrect but it is actually the thing that robs me of joy more than the suffering.

I did not come to truly grasp this until I listened to a sermon by Timothy Keller called “Praying Your Tears” which was recommended to me by a friend months ago. In the sermon he makes the point that tears to do not just give way to joy, they produce it (2 Corinthians 4:17). Keller states that we are to invest our suffering and tears into our prayers and that is what turns them into a harvest of joy. This idea affected me profoundly. I suddenly realized how much of my time I spend thinking “If I can just get through this then I will be ‘happy’.” I keep trying to get past my suffering and in many ways I feel guilty that I am suffering at all because it always seems that I should be stronger than that.

I now realize this attitude has cost me much joy, especially in my parenting. My struggles in life will never be pleasant otherwise they would not qualify as struggles, but holding the hand of my Savior as I walk through them will change me and produce a joy that runs deeper than mere happiness. Happiness must always be derived from something, like circumstances or a relationship. Joy is harvested from the investment of our heart, soul and tears. Happiness fades with the changing of circumstances, but joy is as steady as our Savior’s love.

So let’s face it, life is riddled with a wide variety of struggles and many tears, but these are not roadblocks for me to avoid. The struggles are meant to slowly remove the toxin of sin from my heart so that it can beat with a life born of the spirit; the tears are meant to wash away the worldly haze from my soul so that it can breathe the reality of Jesus. However, none of this can happen if I waste all my time trying to get around my pain instead of pouring it into my conversations with God. This means when my 3 year old is throwing a tantrum that could raise the dead, I can freely cry out to Him knowing that in that moment I am learning to trust and pain planted at the feet of Jesus is not wasted but will grow into a joy that surpasses all understanding.

Moment of the Week!

Posted: July 20, 2013 in Moment of The Week

One afternoon I went upstairs to get Elaina up from her nap. As I opened the door to her room, I saw her sitting on the bed with her mouth full of something. “What do you have in your mouth?” I demanded. “A book!” she said through her bulging cheeks. “Spit it out!” I said as I held out my hand. Obediently she regurgitated a mouthful of chewed paper. I looked down to see one of her books lying on the bed with its pages completely chewed through. “No, no!” I said still recovering from the shock “We don’t eat our books!” Truthfully I never thought I would have to say those words, but at least I know she was telling the literal truth when she said she had a book in her mouth.

The issue of bathing suits and modesty seems to be a pretty hot topic this summer. There have been two very popular points of view circulating in the realm of social media and since I am a mother of growing girls I feel that this is an excellent opportunity to discuss the subject.

The first point of view was published in an article by Rachel Evans (click here for article) who makes excellent points about the effects of legalism; however, her conclusion implies that women should not be concerned about what impact their wardrobe has on men. According to Evans, God made their bodies beautiful and therefore they should simply dress for themselves. She insists that modesty is subjective and that as long as a woman has dignity on the inside, it doesn’t matter what she wears.

The second point of view comes from a video by Jessica Rey (click here for video) who feels that women’s bodies are beautiful but sacred and should be clothed as such. She also expresses a concern for the effect that skimpy bathing suits have on men and challenges women to be conscious of how they dress.

So what is the answer? Should we wear two piece bathing suits or should we not? Should we care what men think or just dress in whatever makes us comfortable? What do we teach our daughters to do?

First of all, I think it’s helpful to remember that everything we do as Christians is not about conforming to some set of rules or behavioral standards but about pursuing the pleasure of our Savior. In every aspect of our lives, whether it is the work we do, the entertainment we indulge in, or the way we dress, our mindset should always have the glory of His name in view. My point in writing this is not to lay out a set of rules to follow, but to challenge us to keep God at the center of our thought process.

To be honest, I don’t think it really matters how many pieces a bathing suit has, it matters what message it sends when you are wearing it. I have seen two piece bathing suits that are adorable and modest and one piece bathing suits that are as skanky as a Britney Spears music video. As women of God we need to listen to the spirit inside of us and use the common sense that God gave us … if we are distracted by all our exposed body parts when looking in the mirror, chances are everyone else will have the same problem and perhaps that bathing suit is not the best choice.

As for men, I like to think of it this way. Men are naturally more visual creatures just as women are naturally more emotional creatures. How would women respond if men said they were no longer going to be concerned with whether they hurt our feelings or not because words are not bad things and they should be free to say what they like? It seems like that would be using their freedom for their own glory and satisfaction. So as women, is it really honoring to God to say that our bodies are not bad things so we should be able to expose as much of it as we want without worrying about the affects it has on men? Seems like that would be a double standard. No, we are not responsible for a man’s lust, but biblically we are responsible to not dress in a way that exploits his weakness. (1 Corinthians 8:9 and Romans 14:13)

In regard to our daughters, I personally feel we must teach them that their bodies are beautiful, exquisite master pieces of God’s creativity and as such they are sacred. They should clothe themselves in a way that inspires respect, reflecting both dignity and beauty. This is modesty and in my opinion it does matter. I found it very interesting that in her article, Rachel Evans says that the word modesty used in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 signified orderliness, self-control and appropriateness, but insisted this definition had nothing to do with sexual, only material modesty. However, I believe this scripture encompasses both. The spirit of the passage is concerned with the hearts of believing women. In the end, there’s no difference between the woman who flaunts her wealth to incite envy and the woman who flaunts her body to incite lust.

Now I think it is also important to note, that as parents we should pick our battles wisely on this subject. I once knew a girl whose dad absolutely forbid wearing ankle bracelets because he thought they were immodest. The focus was strictly on the behavior, there was no concern for the heart of his daughter and the result was rebellion. As I mentioned before, it is not a set of rules we are pursuing but the person of Jesus Christ. If we teach our children to fall in love with Him then the glory of His name will be the focus of all they do including how they dress, and to me that is the best any parent could ever hope for.

Moment of The Week!

Posted: June 17, 2013 in Moment of The Week

A few weeks ago I was sitting with the girls at the dinner table trying to get them to focus long enough to actually eat their food. As usual, Lilah was more interested in talking than eating and Elaina was taking great joy in stuffing way too much food in her mouth and then spitting it out. Getting frustrated, I put my head in my hands and tried to contemplate a new strategy. When I looked up, Elaina had her foot on the table and was meticulously stuffing wads of rice and cheese between each of her toes. At that point I felt the only thing to do was laugh and just let them go watch cartoons while I cleaned up the kitchen. Sometimes you just have to know when you’ve been beat!

For The Moms

Posted: June 12, 2013 in Favorite Articles
Tags: ,

An excellent post from the pastor at our church… Be encouraged!!

http://jasonjohnsonblog.com/blog/the-good-mom

Moment of The Week!

Posted: June 3, 2013 in Moment of The Week

In April Lilah was a flower girl in my sister-in-law’s wedding. At the rehearsal the night before, she was in a pretty bad mood and spent most of her time curled up in my lap, so attempting to be a good mother, I tried cheering her up by talking about the beautiful wedding dress she was going to get to wear the next day. I told her she would be a princess and she would look just like Cinderella, etc. Finally, she sat up and looked at me with a very concerned face and said “But Mommy, where is my husband?” “What?” I said, surprised that she was even listening to me. “Where is my husband? I’m getting married tomorrow in my Cinderella dress.” I tried to explain that her Aunt Lydia was actually marrying Prince Charming at the wedding but it didn’t seem to faze her and she persisted in telling me that we must find her a husband. Not sure what to do, I decided to play along and pointed out some random guys at the rehearsal to be her husband. Of course, she promptly refused all of them. I then suggested that maybe we wait until she was a little older to find Prince Charming to which she finally agreed. So the moral of this story is to never under estimate the romantic genius of a three-year-old… they apparently know more about how the story should go than we give them credit for.

I have recently become addicted to a TV show about fairy tale characters trapped in our world by a curse; the story line is intricate, the characters are interesting and for someone like me who is always looking for good parallels to scripture, it gives much material to think about.

One of the common themes in the show is that all magic has a price. Every time a character has their heart broken or is desperate to save something precious to them, they seek magic to solve their problem. However, every time the magic is used it always costs them dearly and in most cases, if salvation is to be found they must fight that much harder to gain back what has been lost. For instance, in one of the episodes the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland desperately desires make a better life for his daughter so he makes a deal with the evil queen. The queen promises him that if he uses his magic hat to get her what she wants then his daughter will want for nothing. However, in the end she ends up leaving him in Wonderland where he can never see his daughter again. Although his daughter is well taken care of as promised, the cost is much more than he could have ever imagined.

This to me seems like a perfect parallel to sin. Sin promises to be the ideal way to acquire what we want and get around the difficulty of our circumstances, but just like in the case of the Mad Hatter, it costs us more dearly than we can comprehend. When we hurt do we circumvent the pain with sex, drinking, gluttony, apathy or even anger? Do these things not cost us our soul in the end? When we have a deep desire to obtain or save something do we idolize it and sacrifice all else in the quest to pursue our desire? Does this quest not leave us empty, longing for the eternal? This is because no matter what sin promises us, there are no shortcuts to true life and salvation.

Just like the magic in the story, sin always has a price and it never gets you where you wanted to go in the first place. The only way to rise above the brokenness of this world is through a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is our Prince of Peace who conquered sin and the terrible curse of death. We must cling to His every word, resting in the promise that He is coming back for us and eternity awaits when we are finally brought home for the great wedding feast. This is the gospel and it is the ultimate fairytale.

So my challenge is this… As parents let us never waste an opportunity to show our kids the beauty of the gospel; weather it’s a bedtime story or a TV show about fairytales, the threads of redemption give exquisite depth and intricate beauty to everything we encounter. It sure would be a shame to miss it.