Posts Tagged With: encouragement

Because Parenting Is Hard

Being a parent is hard.

It is fun. It is thrilling. It is rewarding. But it is hard, heartbreakingly hard.

Both my boys started back to school just a few weeks ago. My oldest son began 8th grade and my youngest son began Kindergarten.

And my Mommy heart was breaking. My hands wanted to wrap around both of them for dear life and not let go.

And so I prayed. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed and I prayed.

It was still hard.

My youngest son came home his first day and absolutely loved it. He could hardly wait to go back the next day!

But as the days pass, his excitement has dwindled. At times he feels lonely. He knew nobody going in and most of the other kids already had friends.

Every day when he comes home I ask him who he played with at recess. So far he has responded that nobody wanted to play with him.

I fight back tears.

I want to run to school and ask – no, beg – those kids to please not be so mean. Pease don’t be exclusive.

He is such a nice boy. Why on earth don’t they want to play with him?

Parenting is just plain hard.

At the same time, my older son announced to me that he has decided to run for student council president.

“Do you need help making your poster?” I ask.

No, he’s already done that.

As the time nears for the candidates to give speeches and the students to vote, he warns me that he doesn’t have much of a chance:

“So-and-so is running and he is much more popular than I am.”

“So-and-so is running and she is the only girl. All the girls will vote for her.”

Again, my heart breaks because I know how much he wants it and I can’t get it for him. There is absolutely nothing I can do.

He would be excellent at it, I know.

I ask if he needs help with his speech. I ask if he needs help with his campaign. But he informs me that he’s got it.

I cringe.

Not because I don’t believe him. I believe that he thinks he’s got it, but I’ve also seen him comb his hair in the morning. And he tells me that he’s got it when it’s sticking straight up right on top.

“It doesn’t matter anyhow. Nobody’s going to vote for me” he says.

And I want to cry.

I look at him and all I can see is my sweet toddler with blonde hair and chubby cheeks holding on to his blankie. I don’t care if he’s nearly a foot taller than I am. He’s still my baby and I hurt because he’s hurting.

He, too, feels alone.

I want to hold him on my lap and love on him.

I want to pick out a band-aid to cover the hole in his heart.

And so I pray. I pray and I pray and I pray and I pray.

If only parenting weren’t so stinkin’ hard!

But here’s the problem, folks…  God is still in control. As much as I love my kids, He loves them more.

It’s true that I want to hold them, care for them, and never let anything bad happen to them. What parent doesn’t?

But my children are people too.

God is just as much in control of their life as he is in mine. To think that I am in control of any of this is just plain pride on my part.

Sometimes I need reminders to peel my death-clinching-grip off of them and to place them safely in God’s hands.

All I can do is to point them to Christ.

And what if I was always able to fix things for them? Well, they would never know their need for Him. They would never have a desire or hunger for His Word. For His saving grace. They would never get to experience the peace that surpasses all understanding or the great depth of His love. They would never know Him.

And if I, as their parents, never showed them their need for Christ, if I never pointed them to Him, reminded them of His sovereignty, then I would have failed as a parent.

And so I pray. I pray and I pray and I pray and I pray.

And I work on trusting Him with my children and rest in knowing they are securely in His hands. He is there all the time. I am not. I cannot.

And I find peace and comfort in that.

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior” – 2 Samuel 22:2-3

And, in case you’re wondering, my son did get voted in as president. But I was reminded to trust Him again when a teacher sent me a text saying, “Your son just gave an awesome speech!”

Advertisements
Categories: parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

10 Things Not To Say To A Woman Who Has Miscarried

 

I have had miscarriages.

Five of them to be exact.

Each one of them was different. Special. Heartbreaking. Painful.

Losing the fifth one was no easier than losing the first.

I blamed myself. I had failed my babies. My body could not provide what they needed. It was my fault.

I was not able to provide another child to my husband. I had failed him.

I could not produce a brother or sister for the one child we did have. I had failed our son.

My heart was broken.

Both, the emotional and physical pain seemed unbearable.

And really, the only other person to go through this with me was my husband. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I didn’t want comfort from other people. I craved it very much. But after the first, I heard such hurtful things said by well-meaning people that I chose to not tell again. Here are a few of them:

  1. “At least your baby died now, before it was born.”  I didn’t want my baby to die at all and especially now. I wanted to feel it move in my belly. My husband wanted to lay his hand on me and feel him kick. Most of all, I wanted to hold him, to see what he looked like. Even if he had passed away after one month, I still would have gotten one month. I would know if my baby was a boy or girl. I would know what color of hair he had, how big his hands were, watch him yawn, and rock him to sleep. This comment is hurtful because I feel like this was the worst time to lose him. Some time is better than no time and I’m the only one who seems to understand that.
  2. “Something was wrong. That’s why your baby died.” What I will hear you say is “Something is wrong with you. That’s why you lost your baby.” I feel guilty enough. Please don’t compound that.
  3. “You are healthy. You can have more babies.” Here’s the problem, I don’t want another baby. I don’t even want to think about another baby. I want THIS baby. I am already in love with THIS baby.
  4. “At least it’s not a real loss.” What do you mean it’s not a “real loss”? It’s not “real” just because my baby never took a breath outside of the womb? I still don’t understand this one. There was a life there. A heart was beating and now it’s not. What is not “real” about that?
  5. “You can try again soon.” This is not the same as #3. The last thing I want to do right now is rush into another pregnancy. I need time to morn this loss and for my body to recover.
  6. “You’ve already got one.” Believe me, this is not comforting. My baby was an individual. It’s not about numbers anyhow. It’s about life.
  7. “It’s just a miscarriage.” No, it’s not. You’re not the one involved so you can be detached. I have known about my baby for some time and have already come to love it. I cannot just shrug it off and go on.
  8. “Don’t talk to So-and-So. She is newly pregnant.” What? Miscarriages are not contagious. Hearing about another woman’s miscarriage is not going to induce your own. But talking about it can open up space for women to discuss their fears. And, if anything were to happen, she would know she was not alone. There is another person out there who understands and is going through it too.
  9. “Be happy for others who are pregnant.” Someone very close to me was pregnant at the same time when I lost my first baby. A few different people reminded me to “Just be happy for them.” It felt very dismissive of my pain. I was incredibly happy for them. I took comfort knowing that in a few months I would still get to smell that new baby smell and count little baby toes.
  10. “So-and-So’s miscarriage was worse than yours.” I don’t remember entering a contest. But miscarriages are terrible. Period. End of story. I need to be able to grieve as I see fit and not worry about how it stacks up against the experience of others.

So what should you say or do?

While it is true that there is nothing you can say to make it better, just knowing you care is comforting. Give her a hug. Cry with her. Pray with her. Send her a card just to let her know that you support her. Be a friend.

The farthest I got with any of my miscarriages was 16 weeks. Other than my husband, my sister was the only other person who knew. When I suspected something was wrong, she drove me to the doctor’s office. She held my hand during the ultrasound. She cried with me when they confirmed there was no heartbeat. She sat on the bed with me and just held me as we sobbed together. There was nothing to say, nothing to do. But knowing that she was with me, supporting me, and loving me was exactly what I needed. I will NEVER forget the tenderness and gentleness she showed me on such a painful day.

Categories: miscarriage | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Farewell, My Friends

A year ago I sat out with a small goal: Keep a blog showing how God’s Word applies to everyday life. Show that it is not outdated. Show that it is for us. Show that it really can be read, understood, and practiced.

It was never my goal to have a deep, theological blog. Because that’s just not me. I just wanted to share God’s Word and encourage others in their daily life.

But about six months in, I found the challenges of keeping up a blog regularly to be quite daunting, especially for someone who is not a particularly great writer. Coming up with new things to write about proved to be more difficult than I anticipated. Putting my thoughts and ideas into words that another person can read and understand is not easy.

But the most difficult thing for me is finding the time to write. It just isn’t there. I have spent many hours on each blog that I have posted: writing, editing, rewriting, correcting, finding the perfect picture, making sure I’m not taking a verse out of context, checking grammar, etc.

All of this is to say that this will be my last post. I will be shutting down this blog in a few days.

I want to thank each of you who have stopped by to read a few of my thoughts. Some of you have emailed me, talked with me personally, or sent me text messages. Thank you for doing this. I cannot even tell you how much I appreciated your encouragement. Without it, I would have felt all the time I was spending was in vain and probably would have shut this down a long time ago.

There are many ways you can spend your time and I want to thank you for spending some of it with me.

If you are reading this, farewell my faithful friend. It has been nice growing with you, searching scriptures with you, and sharing thoughts with you. I do pray that this blog has not only encouraged you from time to time, but also showed you that God’s Word is still relevant, He is still on the throne, and nothing happens outside His control.

Sincerely,

Gerri Madison

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lessons From A Prayer failure

 

Today I sat down to pray. My prayer started off something like this, “Dear Lord, I thank you for the opportunity to come into you presence again today… Did I get that load of laundry started yet today? (No, no! Back to business!) As I was saying, I am in awe that You called me to Yourself and that I get to call you Father…  I really need to get this floor vacuumed. (No, no!)

Does this ever happen to you or am I the only Christian who has a problem with my mind drifting during prayer? Why is it so hard to focus when we pray?

While I have not found any great way to quit daydreaming, there are a few ways I’ve found to focus my mind better during prayer. In fact the reason I’m writing this today is because I need to be reminded of them myself.

The first and most simple way is to vocalize your prayers. I’m not saying that you have to shout them from your roof top or even say them loud enough another person could hear you, but simply moving your lips can help keep your mind focused. Even the amount of energy you will spend putting your thoughts into words and sentences will often be enough to discipline your mind and keep it from drifting.

One of my favorite things to do is to pray over the Scriptures. That means that you are connecting your prayers to your Bible reading. There are a lot of great strategies out there like the One Year Bibles. Just find whatever works for you but always read it slowly and carefully. The truths you will encounter could very well be the basis of reflective praying. You can also do this with some of the better hymns. I have prayed over “It Is Well” thousands of times. (Please know that hymns are NOT a replacement for the Scriptures but can be helpful in prayer life).

Another variation of this is to look through the Scriptures to find verses that support your prayers then pray those Scriptures back to the Lord. When I was petitioning the Lord for my youngest son, I remember praying a prayer that went something like this, “Lord, we desperately want another child. Your Word tells us that Sara, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth, and several other women were barren. Yet, you opened their womb and gave them children.” Then I would read the Scriptures that told the story of each of these women and end with asking Him to add me to the list with these ladies.

Something else that may be helpful, and my husband uses regularly, is to develop a prayer list. It can be quite difficult and daunting to pray faithfully for a large number of people and concerns without some sort of prayer list. Our church puts out a prayer list weekly as many churches do. This can be a great beginning place but certainly you will want to add to it other people and concerns of our own acquaintance. This is sure to be updated weekly as your church’s prayer list is updated.

Another excellent discipline in praying is to enlist a prayer-partner. That is someone that you meet with regularly, say once a week, go over prayer concerns together and then pray together. This will most likely prove to be a very intimate time with you and the other person. And intimacy in one area can very easily lead to intimacy in another area. So always make sure that if your prayer-partner is not your spouse, that it is someone of the same sex.

I have been fortunate in the way that I have been able to be pray-partners with a couple different ladies in my life. The first was when I was a freshman in college. Another young lady, who was a senior, invited me to pray with her. This quickly became a weekly meeting and continued on through the rest of the semester. I learned much more from her discipleship than words can express. We still remain very close friends today.

Prayer can be hard and frustrating. Still, a wandering mind is no excuse to not do it. How are we to have a relationship with the Lord if we never communicate with Him? I do hope that I am the only Christian that has a problem with a drifting mind, but I really don’t believe that I am. I have practiced each of these methods at different times and they each been of great help. I do pray that they will be of some help to you too.

Categories: prayer | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Because Freedom Comes When We Burn The IOU

 

image

“What is it, Lord?”

There’s been this battle off and on over the years. Sometimes it seems gone, then it wells up, wild again, snagging my stability and dragging me down into the mire to wallow … then drown in my own self-pity. And it’s ugly.

You think I’m exaggerating? That’s how it feels, right? When something slide-tackles us we go from sure-footed faith to flat on our backs in one fell swoop.

It was this that I was hashing out with the Lord, asking Him to reveal His perspective, my sin, what the root was–you know, all that ugly heart stuff that has to be worked out.

His answer: Burn the IOU.

Oh … that.

Just the day before I had read Matthew 18. Here Jesus tells the story of the master who forgives his servant a massive debt, equal in today’s wages to about eight million dollars. That’s a big debt! So after this debtor has been forgiven this insane amount, he goes and finds someone who owes him a pittance (relative to the other debt it’d be equivalent to about thirteen-thousand dollars) and …

… seizing him, he began to choke him saying, “Pay what you owe.” (Matthew 18:28)

This picture is etched in my mind whenever I think about forgiveness. Whenever we hold a grudge against someone, it’s like we are seizing them and choking them, saying with our hearts and attitudes, “Pay what you owe!”

Whenever we hold on to unforgiveness, we are that man, seizing and choking those around us because we can’t just let it go.

Forgiveness burns the IOU.

Whatever it is that someone owes you, forgiveness takes their IOU and sets it on fire. Burns it. Destroys it. Lets the person go free.

But here’s the thing, sometimes we’re the ones who wrote the IOU.

What I mean is, sometimes that person doesn’t even know they are “indebted” to us. So often we have expectations of others, what they “should” give us, what we expect from them, what we want from them, and then when they inevitably fail us and don’t deliver the goods that we expected (love, acceptance, kindness) we write ourselves an IOU and clutch it, white-knuckled, holding onto that grimy, tattered IOU because we think they owe us that love, that acceptance, the kindness.

The picture isn’t pretty, is it? I don’t want to go through life clutching onto an old ratty, wadded up IOU, inwardly demanding that person pay me my due.

BURN THE IOU.

As long as I think that another person owes me acceptance and love, I’ll be miserably clutching that IOU.

But freedom comes when we burn it, release the debt, let that person free and we will find …

That we are free as well!

Jesus says some wild things about forgiveness, friends. We do well to take them to heart and consider any way we are clutching old IOUs. Chances are, we wrote them ourselves.

Jesus clutches no IOUs.He paid our debt with His blood when He said, “It is finished.” Paid in full.  More than eight-million dollars, a lifetime of debt, more than could ever be paid. He did this for us.

I don’t need to seize, choke, demand. I can forgive, let go …

And burn the IOU.

 

Image result for picture of papers burning

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14-15).

Categories: forgiveness | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Because Death Is The Ultimate Healing

 

My four year old son and I were playing downstairs today. “Mommy, will you show me that sewing machine” he asked. He was pointing to an old one. One that I’ve never used.

The one that belonged to my grandma.

She passed away more than four years ago. I looked over at the machine and realized that since my father gave it to me, about two years ago, I have never even taken the case off.

“Sure,” I said to my son.

I knelt by it, unsnapped it, and lifted the case off. There was the machine that my grandma sat by for uncountable hours. My grandfather bought it for her in the 1940’s. She clothed herself and her family with this machine. She made matching dresses for my sister and me with this machine. I have many clothes for my Cabbage Patch Kids made at this machine.

Memories came flooding back.

I sat and stared at it. Nothing is more “grandma” than this sewing machine.

It even smelled like her.

A small piece of her fabric was left under the needle. Bobbins were filled and a spool was in place. Her measuring tape lay under the wheel.  Just like she left it.

I stared more. Tears filled my eyes.

Then my son asked, “Mommy, who did this belong to again?”

“My grandmother.”

“Why does she not need it anymore?”

“Because she died, Sweetie.”

“Where is she now?”

“She is in heaven with Jesus.”

“When we go to heaven will we see her?”

“Yes.”

“Will we take her sewing machine to her?”

I’ll admit that I did smile at this question. “No, it is not needed in heaven,” I responded.

My son went on playing but I sat there and continued to stare at that sewing machine. I couldn’t help but to feel the sting of the loss. It just hurts so badly!

There aren’t even words to tell you how much I miss her. It is too deep.

I spent much time at her house as a child. There was little as fun as being at grandma’s house. We always baked chocolate chip cookies (my favorite), played Old Maid, went for walks, and listened to stories from her childhood.

When it was time for my parents to pick us up, she and my grandfather would sit outside in their chairs while my sister and I ran around and did cartwheels, flips, handstands, and whatever else we were capable of. They clapped and made such a production about it that we were sure we were both Olympic bound.

And when my parents pulled up in their car and we climbed in the back seat, we would always turn around to look out the back window. And there would be my grandma and grandpa, standing at the edge of their yard, waving good-bye to us. I can still see them.

I sure do miss them!

Death stinks, doesn’t it! If you have ever loved someone who has passed away, you know how difficult it can be. How lonesome you feel and the void that is left.

But for my grandmother, her last couple of years here on earth were not pleasant. She was in and out of the hospital. Life became a struggle for her. Because first one thing was wrong with her health. And then another thing. And then another thing. And then another thing until she took her final breath.

And now she struggles no more. No more pain. No more rides in ambulances. No more tests. No more pills. No more falls. No more sleepless nights. No more cramps. No more swelling. No more injections. No more of any of that.

Because death is the ultimate healing.

When someone passes away, I often hear “So-and-So lost their battle with cancer today” (or whatever the affliction may be). But here’s my problem with that: If they are truly a child of God, they didn’t lose their battle. They were finally healed.

It may be true that my grandma had congestive heart failure. It may be true that she had pneumonia. It may be true that she was diabetic. And it may be true that she had several other health problems. But she didn’t lose her battle with any of it. She was finally healed of all of it.

As a follower of Christ, this is exciting to me.

I don’t yet have the health problems that my grandma did, but I’ve had problems. I’ve had the flu many times. And head colds. And chest congestion. And issues with my sinuses. And migraines. And an intolerance to gluten. And pneumonia. And spider bites. And many other bumps and bruises. The list could go on and on.

But I hold onto the promises of Scripture. And take comfort that one day I will be like my grandma and be healed of all of that. No more any of it.

Because I will join her in the presence of the Lord where sickness and disease does not exist. And I, too, will finally be healed!

 

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Categories: death | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Because Loyalty Is Important

 

Lately, my family has been talking a lot about loyalty. It begins with loyalty to Christ, loyalty to our family, loyalty to one another, and loyalty to the body of Christ.

We, as the parents, must model loyalty to our children. We must set an example for them.

We start with showing loyalty to them. Every weird comment someone makes is a chance for me to show loyalty to my children. In public, many people make comments without even thinking about what they are saying or the little ears that hear the comment too. I work to respond to the comment by showing my loyalty to my children. A comment I hear a lot is, “Two boys. How exhausting!” I try to say something like, “Oh, they are so fun. I am very blessed to get to have not only one, but TWO boys!” The point is that my children hear over and over again that I am happy that they belong to me.

There is another much more sneaky way that I can show disloyalty to my children. Every gripe, moan, and grumble of discontentment about my life they may hear as disloyalty to them. When I complain about my post-pregnancy body, the lack of time alone, driving a minivan, making fun of my own social life, and in general talking bad about motherhood, they hear that I am complaining about them. They know that they are specific reasons for these problems. Don’t let your attitude be an attitude that insults them. Children belong with their parents. Let the message they get from you be one of overwhelming love, joy, excitement, and contentment.

Loyalty extends to our everyday life in how we deal with one another. We do not allow our boys to make fun of one another, tell embarrassing stories about one another, or choose friends over siblings. If my older son has a friend over, they must include the younger brother. This is an expectation in which the parents must live out first – we do not tell embarrassing stories about one another, making fun in unloving ways, remind one another of their shortcomings, or sharing stories about each other’s weaknesses. Loving one another as yourself should encompass your family, begin with them, and be demonstrated by them. This is also a wonderful way to instill loyalty in each family member.

There are a number of meaningless and silly ways that divisions are created in the family. For an example, we used to have a list of chores that each family member was responsible to complete. But we noticed that one person would see something needed to be done and not do it simply because it was not their chore. We did not feel that this created loyalty in our family, but division. It is now our rule that if you see something that needs to be done, do it. It does not matter if you made the mess or not. Everyone cleans up after everyone. There is no great injustice done if a child who did not shoot the darts out of the Nerf gun is the one cleaning them up. Because the child who did play with the Nerf gun will be cleaning your dirty dishes tonight or folding your clean clothes tomorrow morning.

Does this seem strange? Why should someone clean up a mess that they did not make? We desire our children to have a much larger view of themselves, one that includes the people around them. As they grow into adults, we want them to serve the church and community without calculating what they have done for whom. We want them to serve freely, openly, joyfully, and lovingly. We want them to serve without even thinking about it. And we might as well start here at home.

But the heart of what I want to say does not have to do with any parenting style or choices at all. It has to do with Christ. When I put Him first and keep my eyes focused on the cross, failure is completely avoidable. We will not fail our children, our spouse, church body, or community if we are obedient to Christ. Loyalty to anything or anyone begins with loyalty to Him. If I am loyal to Christ, I will forgive easily; remember how He has forgiven me even though I don’t deserve it. If I am loyal to Christ, I cannot be without joy. If I am loyal to Christ, I will gladly serve my church, community, and family. If I am loyalty to Christ, I will look for opportunities to encourage my brothers and sisters, especially when I notice they are struggling.

The truth is that my children do not really belong to my husband and me, they belong to Christ. He is just allowing us to raise them for Him. It is our job as parents to help them grow consistently and to never let them forget Who they really belong to. We want them to be loyal to Christ throughout their whole life. And only by God’s grace will we show them how this is done.

 

 

Categories: Loyalty | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Enjoy Today

 

I have noticed in the past several months that my son’s voice is changing. I guess it is to be expected. He is thirteen years old after all. But it’s still a change.

And he’s not the only one. Anytime I’m around any of his friends I can hear it in them too. We have a neighbor boy who is on the same football and basketball team as my son. His mother and I are taking turns giving rides. When it’s my turn, I purposefully ask this boy a lot of questions. Just so I can listen to his changing voice.

Things are physically changing in these boys. They are growing up.

And I like it here.

Sure, there are times I long for the days when my son would curl up on my lap while I read a truck load of books to him. Or we would see what we could create out of play dough. Or play in the sandbox together. Or snuggle until we both fell to sleep. There are times I miss the sweet, precious, tender times with my toddler and preschooler.

But on the other hand, I look forward to his high school years. I look forward to watching him play football and basketball. I look forward to the contest and projects. It’s exciting to think of all the opportunities that will be available to him. Oh, those will be great days too!

But great days are happening right now.

Today.

It’s true that my son’s childish voice that he had a year ago is gone. The voice he has now is not that of a teenager and definitely not that of a man, but it’s somewhere in the middle.

And it’s nice here.

I like picking him up from practice and him telling me about funny things that happened during school and practice. I enjoy packing a lunch for him every day, sneaking in a surprise once in a while, and hearing his excitement about it.

Because time goes so fast.

I’ll blink my eyes and he’ll be in high school. I will no longer be picking him up from his practices or school because he’ll be driving. I’ll no longer be packing him lunches because that’s just not cool in high school.

And then I’ll blink my eyes again and he’ll be in college. He will have developed the voice of a man. He’ll pack up his room and move away from home for the first time. He’ll make new friends. Opportunities will be opened to him that he didn’t even know existed. He may even meet his spouse.

Thinking about these times, either forwards or backwards, can exciting or despairing.

Remembering the times I shared with my son as a preschooler can be despairing when I think of a time that is gone that can no longer be revisited. Or it can be exciting to think of all the fun times we had together.

Looking forward, into high school and college, I can be despaired that he will no longer need me as much. To think that he is growing up and in a few short years, will no longer be living at home could easily cause me to despair. But it is also exciting for all the reason I listed above and more.

But time goes on ticking. Second by second, minute by minute, day by day.

Time doesn’t stop.

It is very easy to grieve for the loss of yesterday or so anxiously anticipate tomorrow that we often forget to enjoy today.

Psalms 118:24 tells us, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Today is a gift too.

I like to listen to my son and his friends talk so I can hear their changing voices. In a few months none of their voices will sound like it does right now. Today. It will be gone and never able to be recovered again.

So I’m going to soak it up. Enjoy it. Listen to it all I can. Because even though this is a short phase, it is a time created by God and given to me. And I will rejoice and be glad in it!

Categories: encouragement | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What about the difficult child?

 

To those who have been with me from the beginning, this may seem familiar. That’s because this was my very first blog published. But it is one of my favorites. Not that I feel that I’ve been blogging so long that it’s time to start reblogging, but it is a good reminder. One that I need nearly everyday. A reminder of the way my Heavenly Father sees me and my grotesque sin. Yet, he chooses to have mercy, grace, and show me his amazing love. This is not really meant to be a blog about parenting but one to remind us of His undeniable grace. With all that said, I hope this is of encouragement to you.

 

an ancient wheat threshing floor

I spoke with a mother today who has a child that she and her husband adopted, as well as a biological child. And the poor mother, I feel for her, confessed that she knows she favors her own biological child over the adopted child. She does not want to and fights the urges moment by moment to show favoritism.

As she spoke more, I got the sense that it was not so much the fact that the child was adopted as it was that he was just a more difficult child. So I asked, “What is it about him that makes it harder for you to love him?”

She thought for a moment, and then said, “He is rude. He is selfish and does not care about anyone else’s feelings. He is dishonest and disrespectful. He is not even sweet, cute, or the slightest bit charming.”

Ouch! I think she just described me. And you. And every other human.

Put like that, who could love this difficult child?

Well, to answer this question I am sent to the Scriptures.

I find myself in Judges 6:11 with the calling of Gideon. Gideon is threshing wheat in a wine press. Did you catch that? He is in a wine press! People did not thresh wheat in a wine press. They threshed wheat on a wheat threshing floor.

This is what it looked like: A wheat threshing floor was usually out in the open and on top of a hill. This was important so that the wind would assist in the separation process. The floor was generally made of flat rocks. Oxen would usually be driven around in a circle over the sheaves to trample out the kernel of wheat.

On the other hand, a wine press was a large hole dug into the ground usually square-ish in shape. The sides and bottoms would be lined in stone so that juice would not soak into the ground. The base would slightly slant to one side where a small basin would be dug into the floor to collect the juices. Grapes would be trampled by human feet.

So here’s the deal, Gideon’s people are being oppressed by the Midianites. Wheat needs to be threshed. But Gideon doesn’t want to do it in the open, on top of a hill, for all the Midianites to see.

So where does he go? Into a wine press. Is it ideal? No, but it is a good place to hide and get some work done.

I cannot find anything attractive about Gideon at this point. He is in there because he is hiding!  And he is doing the work that oxen usually do. That is not glamorous. Wine presses were not all that deep. So for him to be hidden he had to be small. He is just a small, somewhat cowardly man, doing the work of oxen.

Nope, not attractive to me.

Still, God looks at him there, hiding in that wine press and says, “I want you.” He saw Gideon in all of his weaknesses and still called him.

Hasn’t He done that with all of us who He has called to Himself? There is nothing attractive about us either. We are rude and selfish. We have been dishonest and very disrespectful to God. There is nothing sweet, cute, or charming about us.

Yet, He has called us, just as He did Gideon, to be joint heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17). That means He has adopted us to be His own (Rom 8:15,23, Gal 4:5, Eph 1:5).

I cannot comprehend His love. It is too perfect. How could He love someone so unlovable? But He did with Gideon and He still does with us today. I can understand how He could love Jesus, His only son, who was absolutely perfect. But us? And He even chose to adopt us? Wow!

So to the mother I spoke of above, and other mothers like her, I wish I had a perfect solution for you but I don’t. Instead, I would ask you to remember every time your child does something dishonest, disrespectful, and ungracious that you too are him.

Remember the love that He poured out for you on the cross. Don’t forget that cost. You are doing hard things. You might not have the strength inside of you to show love to that child. That is when you pray. Pray very hard for the Lord to give you love in abundance for that child. For Him to give you the same love that He has shown to you.

an ancient wine press

Categories: encouragement | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yes, There Is A Purpose

 

The past three weeks have been especially tough for my church family.

First, a delightfully sweet man was rushed to the ER with chest pains. A few hours later he had a heart attack and immediate surgery was necessary. Next, a young family had to rush their fifteen year old daughter to the hospital because she was in need of a transfusion. In an entirely different family, a young father was diagnosed with a “weakened heart”.

I believe that nearly everyone in my church have broken hearts for all these families.

But then today, another email from the mother of the girl I spoke of above was sent out. In addition to all the other sufferings she has endured already, she has now developed blood clots. And have I mentioned that she’s been in the hospital for a week and a half already?

That’s it!

Enough is enough!

I can’t take this anymore!

I fall to my knees, “Lord, please help them,” I beg.

I am reminded to dive into the Scriptures. I open them up to Psalms. Every emotion possible is captured in that book. Anger, despair, joy, love, hurt, grief, it’s all there.

I am pointed to Psalm 107. As I read it, I can’t help but to notice the recurring theme of troubles and deliverance. It is clear that yes, we have troubles, but with it also comes the peace that our Lord gives by knowing and trusting in His deliverance.

I wish I could make everything better for these three people. I really do. I wish I could wave a magic wand and restore all of them to health. But I can’t. I’m just not capable of that. I don’t have that power or authority.

And so I fall to my knees and petition the Lord on their behalf. I beg for His mercy. I plead for His goodness. I ask for the Great Physician to use His healing touch. I request His deliverance.

Please don’t get me wrong, just because I desire something does not mean that He is going to give it to me. He is not a genie in a lamp. He is way more powerful than that and is not near sighted. He sees the picture, the whole picture. Parts of the picture that you and I cannot see.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts,” Isaiah 55:8-9.

As a child of the One True God, I take comfort in that. “Not My will, but Yours, will be done,” (Luke 22:42). I don’t always understand things going on around me. I don’t understand why such a loving man would have a heart attack, why a young girl would have such health problems, or a father would have a weakened heart. I don’t understand. And that’s okay. On this side of heaven, I probably won’t.

But I can take comfort in the certainty that these things are not happening outside of the Lord’s hand. They are not being done in vain. There is a purpose.

Does it make these things easy? No, not at all.

They are still hard. Very, very hard.

But we are Pilgrims on this journey together. There are trials and temptations that we will face. When these come around, we MUST keep our eyes focused on eternity. We cannot allow the temporal pains of this world to take your eyes off Jesus.

I know it’s hard. I know times are rough. Surround yourself with you brothers and sisters in Christ. Draw strength and encouragement from them. Allow yourself to be transparent enough to receive their love. Take comfort in knowing that they are lifting you up in prayer. Trust in His deliverance. And let that bring you peace.

 

Categories: encouragement | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.