Re-posting for the first time today, so we can focus on packing and cleaning and… trying to stay focused.Read More
There are tears at dinner and someone wants to be excused.
What happened to family time and lively discussions? To “how was your day” and “great soup, mom”?
The soup is cold and the stare, it goes right through.
All my warm-fuzzies disappear and I am frustrated. Selfishness abounds in our jars of clay, and I really am no different. I really could use a good dose of sound judgement.
So my husband and I, we are partners in this thing called parenting and we tag-team. He talks, I pray. I talk, he prays.
We choose carefully but probe the hearts, push over barriers, dig up roots. Maybe we point out too much, things that the Holy Spirit can reveal better than our words do. We pray He uses our words and pray He shapes them before they enter our children’s hearts.
We are trying to do this right, to train without provocation.
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. ~ Eph. 6:4
But there are bitternesses that build when parental eyes aren’t watching, and habits. Always those habits.
The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children. — Charlotte Mason
The mother who takes pains.
So many habits seem to form painlessly, and it’s the effort of training in good habits that wearies. There are so many rules we could make and thou-shalts that we could throw down, but the heart is not trained by vaporous words, is it?
We pray for Life to breath into this mealtime.
No one is excused from the table of hard fellowship, because fellowship and family are not about warm-fuzzies and can’t- everyone-just-be-nice.
This is the hard work of family.
I say it several times this week, to friends hurting and children wanting solitude. Living with people is hard work and God grows us all up in that love-labor, where we do the confronting and the repenting and the working it all out because He worked it all out. And sometimes it only works out in us, not them.
I try to live those words I say.
It’s the hard work that means the job is worthwhile, right? This is all worth the pain and the yuck that we stir-up? Because I prefer an easy life with smiling people. I prefer to be the one excused from the table sometimes.
After dinner, there is repentance. A long talk with the one who prefers silence, repentance from one who heard Life breathed through vaporous-words-redeemed. Tonight we can sleep with the grace-covering.
The adults and children alike have learned something, all of us working out this walking together. All of us made in His image. All of us needing grace. We learn (again) that words have power and wounds left to fester will eventually burst open, and we learn that running away from the table of hard fellowship doesn’t solve problems.
Two things I intend to train as habits, in myself and my children:
Dinner sometimes becomes about more than eating, with more dirt than food on the table. Let’s pass the antacids, roll up our sleeves, and work it out.Read More
Nobody said this would be easy, this marriage thing. Paul says it’s a picture of Christ and the church, of uncontainable love poured out and lavished on the somewhat unwilling. Of submission and trust and respect for that loving authority.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. … Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, – Eph 5:22, 25 NKJV
Loving me as Christ loved the church must be tough. I think submission is hard sometimes, but to love the unlovely, the crabby, grumpy, unthankful, and mumbling? The pony-tailed and sweaty?
And to love me not only in the way that makes me feel loved, with flowers or chocolate or date-nights or spontaneous house-cleaning. Or built-in book shelves.
To love me the way I need it, too. The way I sometimes don’t want it.
Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church.
Loving me by telling me no sometimes, telling me to wait, to be patient, to stop asking.
Or telling me, for my own good, to do those hard things. You love me like that, and I’m the better for it.
You love me enough to tell me what I don’t want but desperately need to hear. You’ve never said it quite like this, but you could:
“Put your big girl panties on and deal with it.”
Yep. You married a silly, selfish girl. Did you know that? Did you know that loving me like Christ loved the church would be such a sacrifice?
You sure do it well. You are gentle with me and patient.
I just want to thank you. Thank you for being like Christ and loving the unlovely. For sacrificing and cherishing and nurturing.
Like iron sharpens iron, we bristle and grate sometimes on our way to sanctification. But what joy in this marriage! How blessed I am to share life with you.
And that part at the end of Ephesians 5, about wives respecting their husbands?
A man leaves early every morning and sweats and toils, tapes up bleeding fingers and makes beauty out of wood and nails. He gets up 6 days of the week with an alarm, eats thousands of sandwiches without complaining, counsels, teaches, builds, fixes, reads stories, preaches to the unreached, runs miles and miles with his slow wife, and sometimes makes pancakes for his family or does the dishes.
Respect almost seems like an understatement. Couldn’t there be a bigger word? You deserve more than I give, but I hope, pray, yearn for you to know that I do. I do respect you.
You are amazing, for so many more things than I can list here. You are amazing when you smile at the end of a hard day and when you play that game of checkers or Linkology. You are amazing when you laugh at my silly-woman-who-needs-to-get-out-more humor, when you read my words and think I’m something special.
My encourager, my gentle leader, my strong-man and my teacher. My crush and my best friend.
Thank you.Read More
…finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. ~ Ephesians 5:10
Pretty much anything goes these days. People can find a way or a personality to justify anything they might dream up to do or say or wear. “Restricting” they say. Following God is restricting to my personality, my freedom.
Restricting, like the walls of my home. Like the rail on the bunkbed and the rules of the road laid down by the law. Confining and smothering like the skin I wear and the helmet Ethan wears and the seatbelt we all wear.
Terribly protective, our God is.
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward. – Psa 19:7-11 NKJV
And I know what rebellion is, even if it’s quiet rebellion. I have bristled and balked under the yoke sometimes. Temper tantrums happen in 35 year-olds who sit in church every Sunday, not just the two year-olds in the nursery.
I am sympathetic, then, to the scowl of the rebel.
He always wins me back with love. It’s His kindness that leads any of us to repentance. The thing I ‘find out’ again and again is that God is too tough to be swayed by my tantrum, and too gentle to turn me away.
So we who know we are loved, we spend our time finding out.
Finding God out? Yes. Testing the boundaries? Sometimes.
And finding ourselves out in the pages of scripture. Seeing our own hearts revealed by the living Word that never changes, but always applies. Always gently divides the soul and spirit, joints and marrow.
Losing our minds and putting on His.
How valuable is a life spent pursuing goodness, righteousness and truth?(Eph. 5:9) Let’s find out.
Sometimes I think I already have. If being forgetful means I’ve lost my mind, then I am so there. Sometimes I forget if I’ve forgot something…you know, that feeling that you have when you think you’ve forgotten something important but aren’t sure if it really was important, or if you really did forget it in the first place. Whatever ‘it’ is?
Am I the only one?
Am I the only one who can’t remember when child #3 learned to walk, or how much each child weighed at birth, or who it was that said that cute thing about such-and-such?
Am I the only one who has to ask her kids questions like who was it that used to say “hot lemons” because they thought that’s what we said when something was ‘off limits’? Who got stung by the bald face hornets? Who had their tooth pulled, and have any of you had chicken pox?
Alas, I’ve let it go. My mind, that is. I have just given in to the gaps in memory, and I always carry paper with me. If it’s not written down, it probably doesn’t happen. I have pictures, and now I blog, so it’s there till everything crashes, right?
Of course, there are things I can’t forget, hard as I try. Why is that? Why do I remember all the ungodly things I’ve seen, heard, read or said, but can’t remember important things like the name of the sweet lady I met at church last Sunday?
My kids used a phrase the other day that was completely harmless, yet reminded me of a phrase that was not so harmless, from a movie I’d watched probably 20 years ago. I asked them not to use the phrase and told them why…told them how what we choose to put in our minds can stay with us and affect us for years.
Maybe all they got from that talk was that mom used to watch bad movies. And now she’s a little hyper-sensitive.
But God is a Redeemer, even of minds.
He actually wants me to lose my mind. And He offers a brand new one in its place.
…be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. ~ Eph 4:23-24
Because my old man was growing corrupt, rotting, wasting away. My thoughts were futile. Like “the rest of the Gentiles” (vs. 17), I used to live by those futile thoughts and vain imaginings, justifying my actions with an “it will all balance out in the end” attitude.
Why do I still have futile thoughts sometimes? Putting off and putting on, continually being sanctified, and living out this righteousness and holiness He’s given. It’s a process till the end, and His grace is sufficient.
Chapter 4 of Ephesians has some good mind-cleansing remedies. If you are doing x, stop and do y instead. Put off this, put on this. Not just dos and don’ts, but life-giving, life-saving clothing to wear everyday.
I won’t quote the whole chapter here, in hopes you’ll open it up for yourself.
I am renewing my mind with scripture. Writing, speaking, thinking, reading, and typing it here. I am on and off with this, but I need it. This week it’s Ephesians 4:23-24.
I believe He’ll even redeem my memory (or lack thereof) and generate new brain cells, because that’s what it is to be re-newed. Like new again.
Would you like to hold me accountable? And do you have suggestions, ways that you renew your mind and crowd out the old and rotting with the new He gives? I’d love help along the way.Read More