To the Mother of the Boy at the Park

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Today at the park your son annoyed and frustrated me.

He begged me to play with him.

He threw sand at my children.

He hovered over our snack.

He dug in my purse.

He followed me to my car.

barefoot-3569057_1920He picked at every single fiber of my patience, while my son grappled to understand why he was behaving the way that he was.

This boy had a daycare provider who wouldn’t have noticed if he had crawled into my car, something he desperately wanted to do.

You see, this boy could sense that my children were loved, well cared for, and happy, and he was desperate for the same stability.

Despite the selfishness I had to shake off each time he approached me, I attempted to love him the best that I could–to show him a piece of the Jesus that he will search for until he finds.

I don’t know who you are. In fact the only thing I do know about you is that you’re this boy’s mother. I don’t know what kind of difficulties you’ve overcome or how many jobs you work or how hard it is for you to afford groceries, but I do know that your son needs you.

His desperation for my attention told me as much. You gave up the right to settle for a less than stellar lifestyle when you brought him into the world — his beautiful curly hair and deep brown eyes.child-817373_1920

You gave up the right to ignore him, to leave him in the care of someone who ignores him– he is yours, and he is perhaps the one perfect and marvelous thing that you have gotten right. You need to treat him like he is the greatest gift you will ever receive, because he is.

I know that perhaps your life has been hard. I know I may speak of things that I just don’t understand. The only thing about you that I do understand is that your son does not have everything he needs, and this is not okay with me. It is not okay with me that he is growing up in a place where he feels as though he lacks an unconditional love. The unconditional love he saw me offer my children while they played carefree at the park.

swing-846077_1920You see, no matter where you come from or the difficulties you face each day, everything your son needs from you is free. He needs your attention and your love. He needs to know that he is the most important thing in your life. He needs you to step forward and accept the incredible and unique task of raising a boy into a man. There is perhaps no greater calling.

I wish I knew you, and I wish I had the opportunity to help you, to show you some compassion. I do promise you that I’ll lift you up to God in prayer each time your son crosses my mind, which so far has been very frequently, and I will pray that someday you do meet someone that is able to help you rise above your circumstances and show your son how to rise above his.

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The Small Heart of a Big Sinner

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My toddler’s defiance is not about me. This is some of the best parenting advice I have ever received.

20180817_063923It is so difficult to avoid viewing my son’s misbehavior as an attack against me. When a child rebels, it is natural for a parent to feel offended, hurt, angry–and dare I say, inconvenienced. However, a child does not rebel to hurt his parents, he rebels because of his sinful nature. When I remember my son’s misbehavior is a product of his human sinfulness, instead of a personal attack on me, it is so much easier to keep my cool and discipline him appropriately.

This was something I had to remind myself of repeatedly yesterday. My three-year-old woke up with one goal in mind: do not listen to a single word mom says for the entire day.

He succeeded.20180817_064021

At 39 weeks pregnant, I did not want to spend my day punishing, disciplining, detaining, and bargaining with my son, but this is what he needed from me. He needs me to mold his heart and his character into the heart and character of a man of God– a man who recognizes and repents of his sinfulness, and rests comfortably in the forgiveness of his Savior.

Teaching him to respect our home is the beginning of how we will teach him to respect others, himself, and someday, his wife.

Making him clean up his mess is the beginning of how we will teach him to correct bigger wrongs in his life, to own up to his more destructive mistakes.

Setting him in timeout while he thinks about what he has done will prepare his heart for when he must sit before the Lord and repent.

20180810_143041Parenting is not about me. My son did not draw on the wall yesterday to make me mad. He did not throw rocks at his brother to emphasize my bad parenting skills. He did not destroy his bedroom to give me even more to do.

My son is a sinner. He did these things because he is a victim of the evils in this world, just as I am. Christ died for for my son’s defiance and refusal to stop arguing with his parents, just as He died for my quick anger, harsh tongue, and love of the world.

For a little while, God has entrusted me with his small heart, and I will not let my selfishness get in the way of this profoundly important task.

Enough is Enough

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I know the answer to all of my problems.

I know that the answer is Christ.

I know Jesus is the answer to my impatience.

I know Jesus is the answer to my anxiety.

I know Jesus is the answer to my love of gossip.

I know Jesus is the answer to my toddler’s attitude.

sunset-174276_1920I have shared these thoughts with friends of mine, and I have had a few reply, “It’s not that easy.”

Oh yes. It is.

It is that easy.

Jesus is the answer to the skyrocketing suicide rate in this country.

Jesus is the answer to the dangerous drug use among our teenagers.

Jesus is the answer to the gender dysphoria that so many suffer.

Jesus is the answer. Period.

Since God has blessed me with a faith that believes these statements without hesitation, I wonder then why I hesitate to develop my relationship with Him.

I wonder why I press snooze instead of getting up to read my Bible.

I wonder why I ask a friend to help me, long before I get on my knees.

I wonder why I trust my plan, my ideas, and my desires more than His.

I wonder why I turn on Netflix to find my peace after a long day with my children instead of spending time in the presence of a Savior who heals and restores all things.

Of course I know why I do or don’t do these things. I’m a lot like Paul when he says in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

Amen, Paul! I hear you loud and clear!tree-736875_1280

You see, I love the world more than Christ. And sure, I could just chalk it up to the idea that I’m only human, but that excuse just shouldn’t be enough for me.

Enough is enough.

I want everything the Bible has promised me.

I want peace. I want unwavering strength. I want freedom. I want every single one of my prayers answered because every single one of my desires aligns with the King of the Universe.

I want to throw away the things of this world, those things that lie to me and promise peace, and I want to grab hold of an everlasting, all-powerful, indescribable love and devotion for the One who made me.

This is the only answer for me, for you, for any of us.

More than Failure

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I wasn’t a very good mom yesterday.

I lost patience. I yelled. I bribed. I begged.

I wasn’t a very good mom.

Years ago, my vision for my life as a stay-at-home mom did not involve losing patience and yelling. When I dreamed of my years at home with my kids, I unrealistically imagined a woman who effortlessly poured life into her family each day, floating around the house with an angelic glow, as I spread Christ’s love like glitter. I never lost my patience, and I most certainly never yelled.

20180730_120402My visions of my future often display a more perfect, more put-together, more Christ-like woman than the authentic me–the me who feels like at least one wheel is always falling off, the me who is often scrambling, often frazzled, and literally never has any clue what she is going to feed her family at suppertime.

When I sat down with my Bible today, I read about Jephthah, the son of a harlot who was cast out of Israel. Years later, after living as an outcast, he was used in unimaginable ways by the Lord. God has a way of doing that–using the most imperfect people for His perfect plan.

As I read about Jephthah, I realized that like him, I am only human. I do not have an endless supply of patience, nor do I have an endless supply of flawless parenting strategies. Sometimes I just run out of ideas for how to make my toddler behave, and the irony is that my toddler never runs out of ideas for how to pick at my patience.

What bothered me about the way I behaved toward my children yesterday was that I was far from displaying to them the love of Christ. I was short with them. I ignored their requests to play. I begged them to be quiet so I could rest. Christ was no more in me yesterday than was Santa Claus.

I just simply failed. I failed my children, therefore failing my husband–but most of all– I failed God.

Wrong.

It is this guilt that Satan would like me to grab hold of and believe. It is this kind of guilt that I believe the mainstream media refers to as “mom guilt.”20180724_161607

God does not expect me to be a perfect mom, nor does my husband, nor do my kids. As I fought to maintain some level of humanness on a particularly long and tiresome day yesterday, God saw me. He saw me fight to remain calm while my toddler refused to nap. He saw me sigh in desperation as I pulled out nearly every snack from the pantry, just trying to find one that might appease my 18-month old. He saw me throw up my hands and walk away from two little boys who may as well have had their ears removed, due to their complete lack of listening skills.

God always sees me. He saw my desperation yesterday, my frustration, and my sin.

On these days, when I crawl into bed at night feeling like an utter failure, one word is on my heart: grace.

God extended an abundant amount of grace to me yesterday. He showered me with His love, despite my failures. It is this grace that allowed me to begin a new day today, with yesterday far from my mind. It is this grace that allows me to shower my children with love, despite their failures.

As a mom who strives to invite Christ into her home on a daily basis, I know that I can trust God to find a way in, even when I don’t feel like I “impressed” Him. Even on the most difficult days, I can trust that Jesus is still very much present within me. It may not have been quite as obvious to me yesterday, but Jesus has a way of getting around our guilt and our sin and shining out of us anyway.

20180629_142702It is an unbelievable weight off my shoulders when I realize the love of Christ undoes all my sin. In the many areas that I fall short as a mother, He fills the void. On the days I feel more like a tyrant than a mother, He offers me grace so that I may begin another day, and displays His love to my children anyway.

Yesterday I was tired, but Jesus was still my Savior, and His forgiveness is still mine to take. What an relief!

God does not command us to be Christ-like so we can feel guilty when we fail. Even on my best and brightest days, when I feel like my best self, when I feel like I conquered motherhood perfectly, I am still light years away from reflecting the perfection that is Jesus. And so I will view my failures yesterday as a blessing, for they humbled me and again reminded me of my inescapable need for the love and grace of my Savior.  

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Jesus and my Toddler

My suburban is always parked in my driveway. It usually has too many bug guts splattered on the windshield and too little gas in the tank. The #momlife sticker on the back window suggests to all other drivers how I spend most of my time and where my priorities lie. It also may explain why I am so distracted when I’m on the road, often driving with one hand reached in the backseat doesn’t make for a lot of awareness.

20180624_132711I am not a great car owner. Whenever my husband mentions that we should take it to the shop, my first reaction is to question whether that’s necessary and then procrastinate on making the appointment. I depend upon my car everyday, multiple times a day, but I don’t like to fill it with gas, spend money on it, or care for it in any way. In fact, I really only recognize my immense need for my car when it breaks down, usually due to my own procrastination to take care of it in the first place.

God commands us to have childlike faith, and since I have been a Christian all my life, this can be hard to achieve. My dependence on God often looks more like the way I depend upon my car, only appreciating His constant presence in my life when something breaks down.

After my car spends time in the shop, I usually go through a period of gratefulness that it is still in my driveway and hyper-sensitivity to all of its needs. But a few months down the road, I go back to taking it for granted and neglecting the blinking light by my speedometer. My walk with God often looks a lot like this. Whenever He sees me through a major change in my life, I praise Him and pray to Him constantly, fervently living to serve Him. When a few months have passed, I go back to weak prayers, obligatory Bible reading, and overlooking His many blessings.

Since entering motherhood, my inconsistent and noncommittal walk with God has changed. Someday, when my hair is gray and my son is grown, I am going to thank him for the many ways he taught me about authentic faith in Christ.20180611_191035

At three-years-old, his honest love for Jesus convicts me nearly every day, and motivates me to grow still closer to Him. His fascination with the most simplistic aspects of God’s creation convicts me that no matter how many times I see a bird in flight, it should still cause me to recognize God’s true character–a God of abundant love, sovereign over every detail.

His innocent questions about where Jesus lives convict me that perhaps my knowledge of the Lord has grown weary, and I no longer see Him as a constant companion. His profound connection and concern for a hurting acquaintance convicts me that I too should have compassion for all God’s people, following Jesus’ own example. 

His childlike faith has allowed me to see God through the eyes of a child–the way I used to see Him when I slept on princess sheets under a white-lace canopy.

My son weakly walked up to me last week and said, “Mommy, my tummy hurts.”

Since I’ve learned not to put a lot of stock into my toddler’s complaints, I aloofly said, “What do you want to do about that, bud?”

Completely unaware that I was about to experience one of those lasting moments, a moment I will look back on when he is well grown, he surprised me when he whispered, “I want to ask Jesus to come help me.”

And with that, he began to pray.

“Do you feel better now, bud?” I asked after he’d said amen.

With a grin, he looked at me and shouted, “I feel great!” and ran off to play with his brother.

20180701_131620It occurred to me in this intimate moment with my son that as an adult, my knowledge that the very presence of Jesus will not only diminish my pain but completely cancel it out has grown weak. I often find myself praying fervently to Him, yet feeling no change whatsoever after I say amen. This absence of answered prayer is not from a lack of God’s presence, but from a lack of childlike faith.

When I bow my head to pray, I must believe with as much passion as my toddler, that Jesus is ready, willing, and waiting to give me all that I desire.

This is authentic faith.

A World of Hurt

When those around you experience pain and heartache, it can challenge your faith in Christ just as much as if you were experiencing this pain firsthand.

Recently, I have been surrounded by pain–excruciating, life-altering pain.

Those closest to me have been forced to face events in their lives that could usurp even the strongest individual.

In recent months my loved ones have faced sick children, infant loss, disastrous legal accusations, death, and serious medical issues. It has become so frequent that I receive a text asking for prayer for an extremely painful situation that I have come to almost expect it. I wait for the next shoe to drop, for the next person to be added to my prayer list–a prayer list that I can barely keep up with as it is.

love-699480_1280My life, on the other hand, has been going quite smoothly. My family is healthy, our jobs are secure, my marriage is thriving, and my children are happy, despite their near constant attempts to achieve an injury that would warrant a hospital visit.

Since so many that are so dear to me have been hurting so badly, I have gone through a series of emotions. Besides simply mourning alongside them, I have been tempted to feel guilty, because there is little that I can do for them. In addition to resisting guilt, I have found myself feeling afraid–very afraid. In the moments where I have allowed myself to drift from the Lord, I have begun to doubt that my own happiness is really secure. As I watch lives around me fall apart, I wonder when it will be my turn to lose one of my own blessings.

In the light of day, I realize this thought is pretty absurd, and also downright depressing, but when I crawl into bed at night having just finished a conversation with one of my many hurting friends, I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before I too am broken and hurting.

I realize quickly when I have thoughts like this that it is time to get down on my knees and invite God back into my incredibly hectic life and my even more distracted mind. These thoughts are from Satan, whose greatest desire seems to be for me to live in a constant state of fear.

For many, Satan achieves this in us. When we hear our friends have lost their child, we immediately whisk to our own children’s’ bedrooms to check their breathing. When we hear our friends have been diagnosed with cancer, we immediately call the doctor to schedule a much neglected check-up. When Satan cannot achieve fear, he works hard to achieve guilt. When we hear our friends have a sick child, we feel guilt for the three healthy children we have, as if our guilt can somehow diminish their pain.alone-3433137_1280

This is not the way God calls us to live. He certainly does not want His blessings to be shadowed by others’ or our own pain. He calls us to live in complete and total communion with Him. He calls us to revel in the good seasons of life and cling to Him in the painful seasons. God will see us through each season, and whether we are being showered with blessings or showered with troubles, He is to be our shelter.

Trusting God in the midst of so much pain is easier said than done. We want to question His presence and sovereignty in the vicious destruction of a Christian family or the sudden death of one of our children. However, when we are in line with His will, we realize that He is so much more powerful than our questions and our doubts. He is weaving these extraordinarily painful circumstances into something simply extraordinary.

In our pain, he creates a firm community of believers who demonstrate to the world what it looks like to fight firmly in the faith. Even while being tempted to turn our backs on Him for allowing such pain, a true believer knows, without doubt, that God reigns over it all and is deserving of our praise.

This pain that we will all inevitably experience in one way or another is a worldly pain, while God gives us a supernatural means to survive even the worst seasons of life.

A World of Decay

“…blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.” ~Psalm 144:15

This morning I woke to the news that another innocent group of teenagers and teachers had been mercilessly killed, while another young murderer was born. I first thanked the Lord that my children were safe, and then began to pray for the families of those whose children were not.

Minutes into learning about this tragedy, I was bombarded with messages of gun control, while these proposed supporters of peace pointed the finger at my government for what occurred in Florida yesterday.cartridges-2166491_1280

Unapologetically, I have owned a gun since I was 12 years old. Now, I own multiple rifles and one handgun. I have been regularly using my firearms since I was old enough to hunt at the age of 14. At 21, I obtained a concealed and carry permit in order to protect those I love. I have, on more than one occasion, been very grateful to have a handgun with me. I was taught to respect firearms, but never to fear them.

hunting-3145387_1920My three-year old son has owned a gun since the day of his birth, a gift from his grandpa. It will always be one of his most cherished possessions, especially when his grandpa is no longer here. One of my most cherished possessions of course being a gun I received from my granddaddy.

No amount of gun control laws would ever have been able to guarantee that yesterday’s mass murder would not get his hands on a gun. He’s a criminal. Criminals obtain what they want, no matter what law is in place.

There is no one to blame: not his parents, not his brother, not his teachers, not his congress, not his president.

We can really only be sure of one thing. This boy did not know God, and lived his life with a profound and agonizing need to know His love.

This boy did not know the love of Christ.

That is the greatest tragedy today, the saddest reality of this horrific situation.

This country is in a frenzied and disordered urgency to erase all the things of God from our history and our future. The indoctrination of our children in public schools and media is literally killing them. This generation of children has experienced more mass violence and more suicide than any generation before it. We now live in a world where a Christian mother cannot even comfortably watch commercials with her toddler for fear of him absorbing the persistent untruths flooding the media. This indoctrination involves a complete and terrifying disregard for the law of Christ, the only law that is going to keep our children from dying.

human-2136095_1920Christians know that the world is not getting better; this world cannot get better. More lies about what love is will not make this world better. More men being harangued for sexual harassment will not make this world better. More acceptance of race or sexual orientation will not make this world better. More religious equality will not make this world better. We are watching this world crumble, and our teenagers are the ones begging us to show them the remedy. Our world is in a moral and physical decay, and it will continue to crumble until our Savior returns.

There’s your remedy. The Savior.

I pray each day the Lord will show me how to teach my children what a real and all-consuming love of Christ looks like, despite society’s warped vision of it. Christ’s love does not accept sin, nor does it ignore it. Christ’s love does not pass more laws, eliminating the freedom of His followers. Christ’s love does not force us to shut our mouths, for fear of offending another.

Christ’s love is unrelenting in its pursuit to save every single soul that walks on this earth.

feet-349687_1920We must save the souls of our children: those capable of unimaginable acts of violence, as well as those who simply must observe such evil. The only way we can save souls is to let Christ’s love flood this nation. Open the doors of our schools to His restoring truths. Open the doors of our broken homes to His healing power. Open the doors of our hardened hearts to His inarguable reality.

I may live in a world that elevates what is wrong and buries what is right, but I still wake with joy each day. I wake with joy because I have been saved by the love of Jesus, and I am eternally grateful to Him for pursuing me. He pursues us all. If this country continues selfishly down a path away from the Savior, we will lose so much more than the security of knowing our kids are safe in school. We will lose everything.
Our world is decaying, and Christ is the only remedy. If you love our children, you will love and obey the God who created them.