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The unseen is seen

I see you mama.  I see you change your baby’s diaper so they can do their business with a fresh start. I see you cleaning your kid’s clothes so they are good to get dirty again. And I see you washing those dishes so they can be used up and put right back on the counter.

I see you, because I am you. But what’s more is that God sees you. He sees your heart and He sees the love that overflows into those clean diapers, dishes and clothes.   Parenting is an offering, one that requires just as much sacrifice as the tithe we give in church. It is the giving of ourselves, our time, our comfort, so that God is glorified.  God tells us over and over again in the Bible that He sees the unseen, because he knows what is in our hearts and He sees what others don’t.

The struggle comes when we want others to see all the work we are doing. We see how others present their parenting and think that because our parenting isn’t on display, it doesn’t hold as much value.. There is nothing wrong with wanting appreciation for the work we do, but when we start putting our value other’s responses, we are going to be letdown.

In Matthew 6:4 Jesus says, “so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” When Jesus is speaking, He is both warning and encouraging the crowds. He warns against flashy worship, telling us that God does not care for the outward gestures that look good to the world.   He looks at the heart and rewards those who faithfully worship out of the spotlight.

Parenting is tricky because people can only see snapshots of our lives.  However, our job as parents is not to prove ourselves to the world, but to serve our families in a way that glorifies God. It is so important to remember that the small chores done every day, out of sight, are an act of giving and service.

Take heart mama, your hard work does not go unseen. God loves your obedient heart and He sees your giving each day. When you are washing dishes, folding clothes and changing diapers, remember that we are only capable of such love because we are loved. Never lose sight of who you are serving, because when it is God you serve, it will never go unseen.

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Getting to Know Him

At the end of 2016, I was twenty weeks pregnant with our third baby and we had just completed our fourth move in four years, from an overseas assignment. I could no longer pretend to pull strength from myself. I needed to make a change, but I didn’t know where to begin. I wanted to do great things for God. But to be honest, I could barely keep my head above water with the life He had already given me.  I wanted to know God without doing the work of reading my Bible. I wanted it to be easier.  I wanted to know the Bible without actually reading it. But, I hit a point where it was harder to pretend to know God, then to actually give it a try.

I began to pray for a desire to start reading, a prayer that I prayed for almost two years before actually making the commitment to read. At thirty years old, I had never read the whole Bible for myself and I decided that it was time. I started on January 1, 2017, and I began by reading one chapter a day, every day. It has now been a year, and I am amazed at what a difference it makes by starting each day, reading my Bible.

          Reading the Bible is changing my heart. I find that by learning what is true, I am far less likely to believe the lies. Those seemingly small lies we all hear every day; that our lives are about us, and that somehow, we have to be better than who we are, to be worthy of God’s love. These are fundamental lies, they shake our confidence, taking us back to the garden when the serpent said, “Did God actually say,” in Genesis chapter three. The serpent goes on to question God, telling Eve that what God said was not true, “You will not surely die.” (Genesis 3:4) The enemy still does this, he causes us to question God by twisting the truth, and it is only by knowing God through His word, that we can be grounded in the truth, making the lies easier to see.

Reading through the Old Testament, a picture of how bad humanity can really be, helps us with perspective. We can fight the lies: that we are the first to fail, or the first to feel doubt, or the first to screw up. It is just that, a lie.  My friend we are not the first, nor will we be the last.

It’s funny, I never really understood the need to read my Bible, until I started reading it. Choosing to wake up and make God a priority, despite what I feel that morning, is habit forming for my mind and my heart. The changes that reading each day has caused, from the outside seem so small. I am a little more patient with my kids, a little more grace giving with my husband, a little more trusting of God when life is not going the way I thought.

When I give God my willing heart every morning, I am saying that each day is His. I find that because I give Him the day first, I am less anxious about what will happen, because I know that I never had control in the first place. And when I start to forget who God is, and try to take back control, the day gets harder again. I find myself stressed and anxious. But grounding myself in what is true, has a way of grounding me in life that I have a hard time explaining. Its like seeing the Grand Canyon. I could tell you how beautiful it is, even show you pictures, but until you stand at the edge of that canyon for yourself, you can never really know how awe inspiring it is.

God wants us to get to know Him. He gave us the Bible so that we could use it to get to know Him.  There is a God, a relational God. He wants us to come to Him each morning, giving Him our best and get to know Him. I truly thought that by prayer alone I would fully know God, but without the truth to ground myself in, I was swayed by my feelings and desires, because I had nothing to check them against.  I am so grateful that God allowed me to come to the end of myself, and see the need I had for Him. I would have kept living the way I had always lived, and I would have missed the joy. The steadfast joy, that comes from getting to know God, a little more each time I choose to read my Bible.

 

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When your child ministers to your heart

Today I was “that mom”. Three kids, all screaming and unhappy. Isaiah is normally in school, but today had the day off.  So, we took the morning to go to the playground before heading to Aaron’s (my middle) gymnastics class. It quickly became one of those mornings.  While we managed to finish the class, and I made it out without yelling, my heart was fighting not to be angry. I thought to myself, “why do I even bother”. But then something amazing happened and God redeemed the morning. My oldest son, Isaiah, saw my brokenness and chose to encourage me through his apology.

Before becoming a parent, I thought that I would give all my knowledge to my children, and they would grow to love God through it. I am learning, I was wrong.  Our children learn to love God, because they see how we love God.  It’s the little things every day. How we speak to our children. How we show grace to them and to ourselves. How we handle disappointment and frustration. And do they see us asking God for help? As we fumble through parenting God covers it all in grace, and sometimes if we are lucky God shows Himself working through our children.

Today God chose to humble me through my four-year-old son. After being “that mom” with the out of control kids, my heart was sad and fighting anger. I wanted to yell and ask them why would they do this to me. To me? Was this really about me? Was I angry because they embarrassed me? At this point, I had two choices: to yell and get mad, or take a minute and ask God for help. I admit that my first response is not always to stop and think through the situation. Most of the time I just yell and have to apologize after the fact.  Today, God was gracious and gave me the heart to ask for help.

We drove home in silence and after preparing lunch, I put the two littles down for their nap. Now it was just me and my oldest left eating lunch in silence.  He chose to break the silence by saying “Mommy, I’m really sorry that I wasn’t listening. I should have asked Jesus for help.” Boom. My son’s wise words hit me hard in the heart, softening me to let it go. I do not tell you this to be prideful, I say this because it is encouraging that our children are listening. I again had two choices: I could brush him off or I could submit to accepting his genuine apology. Upon accepting his apology, it opened up a conversation about how we are responsible for our words and actions, even when we are hurt. That even mommy needs to take a step back and pray for help.

We as mamas cannot plan these lessons, we do not intentionally put ourselves in embarrassing situations so that we can teach our kids how to respond. However, if we ask God to give us the heart to see the little lessons, I believe God can and will use them for his glory. When we fill ourselves with God’s word, we are less likely to give into the lie that parenting is about us. Our job as parents it to raise our children to be Godly men and women, who long to know Him personally.

Parents are not perfect, far from it, but when we humble ourselves to God, He can and will use it to teach our children how to live out the gospel. I have come to believe that this is the way God intended it to be. Yes, we should teach our children to read the Bible, it is crucial that they know how to learn on their own.  But our children learn how to practically invite God into every day, by watching us stumble through it.  From one imperfect parent to another, use your imperfections to teach your children about how much we need God every day, and they will begin to see their need for Him as well.