Friday, January 30, 2009

"Curbing Evil"

So, I realized that to tell my children to "be good" was an impossible thing for them...they could never be good enough...and to tell them to "just behave" would never get to their real needs or explain truth to the gospel was my only hope as a mother in charge of 2 almost 3 little ones....where would I begin?

What does the gospel say? We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 so one thing i would need to instruct my kids was that they were sinners. They don't know this. They learn it as the "law or rules" in our home show them that they are rebellious. Just as the law of God is used in one sense to show us that we are sinners. It also acts as a tutor to help them understand their need for Christ.

Galatians 19-24
"What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed (Christ) to whom the promise referred had come......But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe....So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith"

I realized that to train my children "with the gospel" was not really a matter of "how to's" (though the "how's" would come about) but a matter of deep truth that I must understand and view them through, in order to train them up in the Lord and for the Lord.

When I see my children and their rebellion, I have to view it through the "gospel lens". When Sally does not obey what I have commanded her to do, it is because of her sinful heart...always. The bible also refers to it as "foolishness". Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him. I am to train my children in the wisdom of God. And to understand your child's foolishness is wisdom.

I can teach my children how to behave correctly...and I do...but I can't expect them to be without always comply. My instruction and our spankings are to show them that they are sinners and actually can't ever be good enough. My instructions or spankings will never remove the sin in my child's heart. It simply "curbs evil"...helps lessen it or corral it to the side, if you will, until Christ comes forth and washes their sin away....and gives them new life by grace through faith in Him alone.

so rather than getting embarrassed at the grocery store when Wesley Grant throws a toy in the face of an old lady because he doesn't want to talk to her...(heavens!!) or get aggravated at Sally when she has not done what I asked her to do after the 80th spanking and the 85th time I've instructed her....i have to adjust my perspective and see that those are simply eternal opportunities to bring forth instruction and the rod to tutor my children towards Christ. I'm just "curbing evil" until the spirit opens their eyes and ears to see their sin and need for Christ.

So, one thing is that they are sinners...and they sin...the next thing would begin to change my own understanding of myself...that it is more about the "roots" rather than the "fruit"...more later..

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Children....."The Gospel..."

"When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" Galatians 2:14

"Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs" Jonah 2:8

It took a new verse to me and an old one from college to begin pointing me in ways that would not only change my parenting, but my life as well! We have begun to see blossoms of fruit coming (you really don't see fruit in kids until 4 or 5yrs!) and found "how's" of doing things to serve our "why's" of doing things...and that was good...we have walked down the road of success and failure with spankings (now called disciplines in our home- thanks kovacs!), time outs, first time obedience, schedules, language....but even so, i felt this longing...longing to give my kids something that wouldn't teach them "how"...but more the depth of all things...all life...jesus...

you are probably saying, "come on, they are only toddlers!"...i know, but as i struggled with my own sin, i found a picture of myself in my kids, their behaviors and responses to life....i found the need for the gospel beyond their joy of eternal life.

About the spring of 08 stew and i found ourselves overwhelmed with the gospel...good news that had saved our souls....(thus, our third child- Karis- God's grace) We found it not for our eternal state with God, but for our life now. As I would read of my friends who encountered "idol" worship in other countries I stummbled upon my own idols...hidden in the depths of my heart...where every good american keeps them.

With the help of Tim Keller, Stew and I began to find so many places where our lives "weren't in line with the gospel"....and we could either keep clinging to them and forfeit the grace that was ours, or we could fall into the grace of God in Christ and let him save us in the smallest parts of our heart..."

So, a simple truth we preach to ourselves became a in our home...I am more wicked than i could ever imagine! How freeing it was to begin really being honest that I couldn't master or control all things and be that right wife, friend and parent...I could never have the approval of others or my children that would satisfy my need for love....i didn't have to live up to the image that past and childhood would demand of me....I was more wicked than i could ever confess....BUT

I was more loved than i could ever imagine....don't stop...listen to me....Christ has made all things right with me before God...Christ has approved and justified me before God, Christ has become the worthless idols of control, approval or image were no longer needed since i became a christ-follower. God loves me more than i could know...yet my prayer was Ephesians 3:14-21! that I might know how much...and most of all, BELIEVE it! As Ephesians 6:19 tells us, I had to hold up my shield of faith as I became more aware of my sin.

When i turn to my idols...i am saying that i love or need something more than Christ....i must have this or this is more important than Christ. But as a Christ-follower...i don't have to battle this...Christ has taken me out of that battle and justified me...saved me for glorify, now, all my sin that happens points me to Christ...the one that i offend also is the one i wait for to bring me into the light of his Righteousness by which my sin debt is already paid ...Micah now, every chance i sin, is every chance to be renewed in Christ!

so how would I teach this to toddlers? an infant? more later....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Children...."Love is..."

As wisdom became our theme in our home with WesleyGrant, it began to provide language for us in our is wise to "obey, be kind, share, be self-controlled, ect..." and it began to give not only WesleyGrant language, but me and stew language.

There has been quite a journey since we've become parents and we've only tasted it....but God has been gracious to walk with us and show us things just in the right time...

It was March of 08...Sally was getting older and began playing with wesleygrant. Their little evil hearts began to expose it's tank of sin as each other interacted with the other. I went to the Lord and asked for help.

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." psalm 32:8

okay, Lord.

Matthew 22:35-39

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

If that is the greatest thing God has commanded us to do, I need to train my kids in that. So, 1 Corinthians 13 took on a whole new look for me. "Love is patient, kind....not easily angered...ect.." So new language began in our home is 'this' and we love God and others. This is what God is like and this is how we are to be.

Love has been a leader in our home...and though it was another turn and growth in my parenting....still had no idea that there was more to come....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Children....continued..."Wisdom became my theme"

I keep this journal that I record the lessons I am learning as a parent...hoping one day to hand it off to my girls....not so much to tell them how to do it (although it will give some of that) but to help them see my journey as a mother and be encouraged. I was looking back through it and have been reminded of God's grace that He gives to mothers.

I became a mother at age 27 in the first year of my marriage with stew. I was excited and scared all at the same time. My mother had been sick since I was 12 years old, and so I was nervous, not feeling like I knew what it was like to be a mother. But the Lord had prepared me way before I knew it. He had 2 women specifically in my life that had been mentoring me since college....and they directed me to Jesus....who would be the help and well of all parenting skills I could ever ask for.

I had just put wesleygrant to bed...he was 2 years old. I sat on the couch and said, "LORD! I can't do this anymore! He bites, throws temper tantrums, and nothing seems to be working." We had just moved to Austin and the insecurity of being a parent only heightened as we were around new people and all I wanted was easy, disciplined, "pretty" children to introduce them to. But had quite the opposite. I was bitter at my son in many ways.

The spirit spoke to me in that moment as I confessed my "woes"...I looked at a collage of pictures of Wesley Grant and cried out to God, "why me?!". But in that weak moment, God spoke life into my soul as a mother and pointed me to Himself.

"That is MY child!" "Whom I have created for MY purposes." "His character and everything he is, is what I made!" "Right now he is reigned under sin, but I have made a way to free him and all that is captive under sin, will be reigned under Jesus" "You are to point him to ME...I will do the rest" "He is not for you, he is for ME!" "Turn from your bitterness, and follow me."

I was humbled and broken in my heart...I had been bitter and only saw negative as to my son's character. But God would begin changing my heart...."How Lord?!" "How do I turn him to you?!"

"Be patient, child...I will show you..."

2 Timothy 3:14-17
"You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the WISDOM that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

Scripture began to heal me and point me to how I might be a mother....I realized I was teaching him to be "good"...when that was impossible...he is a sinner...Romans 3:23..."all have sinned.." I wanted him to BE for my appearance, rather than who he was created to Be for..GOD's GLORY!

Thus, WISDOM became our theme...I will teach WesleyGrant what is wise...and trust the Spirit to convict of sin and point to Jesus...little did i know that my life as a mother would change so drastically that day....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Aunties came to town!

If you've called me and I haven't returned your call........texted me and i haven't responded....emailed me and wondered if i got it....well, i've been a little checked out and having good girl time with my best friends who are truly like my sisters and my kids call them their aunties! It is so fun! 

Sometimes friend are just more than friends...they are family!  And these ladies are it! Aunt Panda, Rachie, T, Wendy, and Christy!!!   We've had a blast together this week, toured austin's finests and all stayed together in our home remembering good times!! I love you dear friends!! You are gifts to me and my children!! Thank you for coming to see us!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Gospel...according to WesleyGrant

ME:  "Good morning wesleygrant...would you like some cereal?"

WG:  "Yes, mommy, thank you...." (pause)  "mama, I love you"

ME:  "I love you too, son!"  "I hope you always tell me you love me, WG"

WG:  "Yes, mommy....I will always love you..."  (pause)  "I will always obey you too, mama!  ALL TIMES!"

ME:  "That is wonderful, WG, but I have to tell you that you will not always obey me..."

WG: Quickly..."Yes I will!"

ME: "Do you know who did always obey?"
   as i was attempting to "share the gospel"...exciting thinking wow! i can share the gospel with him....he interupts and attempts to share with me....

WG:  "Mommy, It is just like the boy who ate the pig food (prodical son)....he ate it but then he went back to his daddy. (the father) and his daddy hugged him."   "He obeyed mommy...."

ME: I attempt to tell him that is right and further explain, but he keeps talking....

WG: "mommy, remember when i had poopoo stuck in my bum? (poop in his bottom, ie constipated)

ME: "yes, you needed more fiber..."

WG:  "well, a bee catched my poop and didn't let it come i had to eat fiber"

Sally comes in...

ME:"Sally you want some cereal?"

Sally: "Yes"

WG: "sally, i will share my cereal with you and make you some apple pie later!"

Sally: "NO BUBBA!!" (yelling)

ME: "Sally, that is not loving..."  "WG, can you share the gospel with sally and help her understand how to love."

WG: "yes..."  "Sally, We obey all times like the boy who ate pig poop and then caught his father...and then poop came down inside of me and the bee caught it...I had to have Jesus and then it came out! "

ME:  "thank you wg..."

Sally, very confused...but no longer yelling....

wow...and that is the gospel according to my wesleygrant...=)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Neal and Christel's Wedding!

Today was the BIG day!! Our sweet friends and now neighbors got married!  Neal and Christel got married at the Allan House downtown and it was beautiful!!   My kiddos did great! I was so proud of them...they even managed to steal the dance floor and create an audience! oh my goodness! so funny! It was so fun! We love you Neal and Christel!!! 

Children, Part 1

I've been reflecting a lot on my role as a mother...every year I go away and evaluate it...pray over it and beg God to help me.  This year I have been moved by the thought of "building a home"...with every little thing, I am building something...

But most of my days look pretty much the same.

I get out of bed each morning so that I could do everything I did the day before. 
I wash the dishes so they can be dirtied again.
Iwash and iron the clothes so they can be worn and wrinkled again
I wipe noses so they can run again. 
I pick up toys so they can be played with again.
I sweep and mop the floor so mud could be tracked on it again.
I cook meals so that I can go to the grocery store again.
I make beds so they can be slept in again.

Some days I wonder: if I do all I do, only to have it undone, am I really doing anything?

I got this and used it to describe my day EXACTLY from a blog entry I read from Carolyn Mahaney.  Then, she encourged me when she spoke from experience and after her girls are grown...

"I realize that all of the mundane, repetitive days were actually full of significant, enduring work. A home was being built. A family was being knit together. Four souls were being shaped for eternity." Carolyn mahaney

So, I am pursing with hope all the days seeking to build my home to glorify God, knit my family together and shape souls for eternity...may you mothers be encouraged as I am...more later...