Saturday, June 30, 2012

Reality Check

It didn't take long...

My feelings of pride that I am doing the right things finally caught up with me. I was starting to pat myself on the back for feeding strangers and teaching my girls about the importance of God's command to "go ye therefore."

Then, within two hours of doing one of my most (seemingly) radical "go ye's," I got a reality check. It turns out, that, as much as I know and love God, I'm not quite ready to be Jesus to the "least of these."

As we arrived at the home for the mentally challenged, I knew it would be a difficult experience. Not only was there the cultural barrier to overcome, but now, I was going to be interacting with people who were not fully aware of how the rest of us define personal space.

Sure enough, it took no more than 10 minutes for me to physically back away from an out stretched arm of one of the residents. When he saw me back off, he became aware enough to go and wash his hands, thinking this was the cause of my hesitation. But it wasn't. And we both felt bad. He, because I had rejected his outstretched arm. I, because I know that Jesus would have taken that outstretched arm and turned it into a full embrace.

I felt such disappointment in myself. It seems this was a gut check I needed. An opportunity for me to view myself as I truly am - still human with a long way to go until I can really claim that I love others as Jesus loves them.

We all need these every once in a while...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Working for the Weekend

It's been a busy week in our house and the pace won't be slowing down for at least a couple more weeks. But, looking over our schedule, I wouldn't change anything. Everything coming up is good stuff.

The first big thing is my Christmas present from last year. Bruce is sending me to The Gospel Coalition 2012 Women's conference in Orlando. I'll admit to getting pretty emotional when I opened the envelope and Bruce filmed it. It's not particularly flattering, but it reminds me how sweet my husband really is.

Can I tell you that I am really looking forward to going? Because I am. Bruce has been lovingly teased me this past week because I've kept the conference schedule open and look at it several times a day. But every time I look at it, I'm reminded by what a blessing it is to go and hear so many gifted and blessed speakers share from their heart.

The theme is "God's Revelation of Himself in Scripture." And the list of speakers is a who's who of modern theologians. There is not a single pre-conference, plenary, focus gathering, or workshop that I am not thrilled to be attending. From looking at my registration, I must really be looking forward to learning from Paige Benton-Brown, who I will hear speak three separate times.

For those of you who are interested in what I'll be hearing, the conference will be live-streamed this weekend if any of you have a chance to get online. Here is the link with more information on the schedule and how to access it -

I'm sure I'll have plenty to say about everything I hear. There's a good chance that some of that will end up here on the blog. Because, as I saw someone write on Twitter, "This is not a conference about women. It's a conference for women about God and his gospel." And what's more important than that?

Bruce will be taking care things at home and I'm sure he'll do a great job. I left him with a fun new toy (DIY tutorial coming soon) and a box of Nerds to fuel the crazy!

What are you doing this weekend???

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Interview with Charlotte & Mary

The righteous who walks in his integrity—
blessed are his children after him! Proverbs 20:7
In honor of this special day for Dad's every where, I repeated my Father's Day Interview with Charlotte & Mary.
  1. What is something Daddy always says to you? - "I love you."
  2. What makes Daddy happy? - "Seeing me and Mary"
  3. What makes Daddy sad? - "When he misses us. That makes me sad too"
  4. How does Daddy make you laugh? - "By tickling me. I'm ticklish."
  5. What was Daddy like as a child? - "I don't know because I wasn't there when he was a child."
  6. How old is Daddy? - "I don't know, 25?"
  7. How tall is Daddy? - "Tall enough that he can get the beans down."
  8. What is Daddy's favorite thing to do? - "Watch us dance and play together."
  9. What does Daddy do when you're not around? - "He just, you know, like, he likes to sit around."
  10. What is Daddy really good at? - "Hopping like a kangaroo."
  11. What is Daddy not very good at? - "Running."
  12. What does Daddy do for his job? - "He teaches a class in a school. Science."
  13. What is Daddy's favorite food? - "The food I don't like - bacon."
  14. What makes you proud of Daddy? - "When he got crowned because he's the best daddy."
  15. If Daddy were a cartoon character, who would he be? - "He would be Doc McStuffins because they both help people."
  16. What do you and Daddy do together? - "Play games."
  17. How are you and Daddy the same? - "We both like each other."
  18. How are you and Daddy different? - "Daddy can't run as fast as me."
  19. How do you know Daddy loves you? - "Because he always gives me hugs and kisses at bedtime."
  20. Where is Daddy's favorite place to go? - "Church."
Bruce and the girls just after Mary's first hair cut, February 2012.

Here are Mary's answers to the same questions...
  1. What is something Daddy always says to you? - "Eat."
  2. What makes Daddy happy? - "To eat.
  3. What makes Daddy sad? - "Not to eat."
  4. How does Daddy make you laugh? - "By making funny noises."
  5. What was Daddy like as a child? - "He ate a lot and got spankings."
  6. How old is Daddy? - "2."
  7. How tall is Daddy? - "That big, up high."
  8. What is Daddy's favorite thing to do? - "Go outside."
  9. What does Daddy do when you're not around? - "Gives no spankings.
  10. What is Daddy really good at? - "Um, playing with me."
  11. What is Daddy not very good at? - "Eating cookies and chocolate milk."
  12. What does Daddy do for his job? - "Go to school."
  13. What is Daddy's favorite food? - "Cookie."
  14. What makes you proud of Daddy? - "Eats."
  15. If Daddy were a cartoon character, who would he be? - "Pirate and say 'rrrrrr'."
  16. What do you and Daddy do together? - "Go on bike rides."
  17. How are you and Daddy the same? - "Um, go to bed."
  18. How are you and Daddy different? - "Me small. He's tall."
  19. How do you know Daddy loves you? - "My bankie" (he puts it on her)
  20. Where is Daddy's favorite place to go? - "Church."

Happy Father's Day to our favorite dad!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

When Enough is Enough

Being a parent comes with a lot of challenges... from labor to potty training to the first and last days of school.

And some where in between, we are expected to teach our children about how, well, children are made. I know a lot of parents stress over having "the talk." It seems like a daunting task to teach them about the birds and the bees.

I don't really dread discussing it though. Maybe it's because I want to be the one to do it, instead of leaving it to school nurses or peer groups. I want to make sure I'm tuned into my children enough to sense and answer these questions to their satisfaction before they go looking elsewhere for their answers. Plus, I never want to give her more information than she is actually looking for.

Being pregnant, my oldest daughter, Charlotte, has started asking some of these birds and bees questions. The first one was how are babies born. That was an easy one for me to answer, and I even found an animated version of birth to show her the mechanics. She liked that and has asked to watch it several times.

Then today, while we were driving through town, she finally asked one of the next logical questions - how does God make babies?

Despite my eagerness to answer these questions, I still had a moment of wondering what the heck I was going to say. So, in an attempt to not give her more information than she was looking for, I asked, "what do you think?"

After considering it for just a moment, she replied, "Hmmm... I think He puts a chemical in the mommy's tummy to make the baby."

Relieved, I grinned and said, "Yeah, it's something like that." And then I waited to hear her next question...

"Mommy, how do those shoes get up on the wires?"

Yep, my response was just enough for this quirky almost 5 year old!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

God's Mysterious Ways

Ten days ago I thought I was stepping out on a limb when I shared my thoughts about mothering and God's sovereignty. After some Christians gave me odd looks when I explained it to them, I really posted it not knowing if I was right. I mean, I thought I was right, but when someone I respected was among the head tilters, I did have my doubts.

Shortly after writing and posting my thoughts, my doubts were quickly assuaged by your comments, both here, on Facebook, and in private communication. I truly have some of the most encouraging friends a woman could ask for.

Then today, upon waking from a lovely, summer nap, my friend Angela asked if I had seen the most recent Desiring God blog post. I hadn't so I clicked right over...

And wouldn't you know it? John Knight had written about the very same topic, affirming what I had written less than 2 weeks ago. Sure, he did it better, but it was so incredibly affirming to read the words of such a great Christian leader echoing my own thoughts as this pregnancy progresses.
"And it should fuel our hope that when God creates a child who will live, and maybe die because of his disabilities, God will help us love that child and welcome that child and let that child express his gifts, for God’s glory and for our good."
Now, I can only hope and pray that, if I'm called to parent a child with illness or disabilities, or walk with a friend who is, that I can have a complete hope in God to be there in the midst of it, that the world may see it is God, not health, that I treasure most.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Motherhood and God's Sovereignty

Sometimes, I don't realize how odd I am until I share the inner workings of my brain with other people. They kind of cock their head to the side and look at me, confused or bewildered at what I've just said. Or maybe they are trying to think of a polite way to point out that I am crazy.

As this pregnancy has progressed (I'm now almost 18 weeks along), I've left a few people with tilted heads as I explain my thoughts about motherhood and God's sovereignty. You see, for lots of reasons, I've thought a lot about how I would react if something went wrong. And while I can't be sure until I am in that situation, I know that God is sovereign.

Here is how that is playing out in my mind during my third pregnancy (and where the tilted head might come in)...

Because our family already has 2 daughters, many people have assumed that we are hoping for a boy. This question is mildly irritating when I think about what it implies about Mary (not having been a boy, she isn't good enough, so we are trying again to get that boy that eluded us during the last pregnancy), but I generally overlook it and let the inquisitor know that we truly don't have a preference, that God will give us a son or a daughter as He sees fit.

And until recently, I would have added, "I'll be happy so long as the baby is healthy."

Then, one day early in this pregnancy, as I started to say this out loud, I was stopped in my tracks. All of a sudden, I didn't feel right declaring that I'd "be happy so long as the baby is healthy."

What was I really saying about my God when I declared the gender didn't make a difference in my satisfaction with God, but that the baby's health did?

Go ahead. Tilt your heads. Most people do that at this point in the story. The first time I asked myself this question, I tilted my head too.

If I believe that God is sovereign over the gender of my child, how can I also not believe that He is sovereign over the health of my child? If he is sovereign over one thing, then He is sovereign over all things. I can't pick and choose what I will accept from God. He's an all or nothing kind of God.

Does this mean that I am hoping for a child who has disabilities or health problems? Heck no. Too many times, I have seen friends walk the halls of hospitals, cry over medication choices that aren't working, and give up any leisure time so they can care for their ill child. I'm far too selfish and lazy to make a choice to give myself over to that life on purpose. (As an aside, I do know some families that are specifically called to invite "special needs" children into their family, and they obey because God has given them a special measure of grace and patience for these children and their doctors. Yes, I'm talking about you Dorothy.)

Generally speaking, have you ever heard of the mother of a child with any type of disability who wishes their child hadn't been born at all? Yes, their road is hard, but every one I've ever met will declare, that, through the doctor's appointments, therapies, and surgeries, their child is still a blessing to them, that their child is worthy of all the love and affection a parent would lavish on any healthy child.

To their credit, I have some very good friends who "got it" as soon as I explained where I was coming from. And then, I felt as if I was on the right track when I met the mother of a baby who doesn't have tomorrow promised to him (none of us really do, but his medical condition makes it more obvious to his family). I hesitated to share my thoughts with her because I was afraid of diminishing the pain that she has experienced as she walked through this valley.

But, after I was done explaining the above, she affirmed that not only did she think I was right, but that people didn't realize it was painful to her to hear them say, "so long as the baby is healthy." In her eyes, it diminishes the value of her son to the world.

Ultimately, I want to be content in all circumstances and I want my words to accurately reflect what I believe about God's sovereignty and His role in my happiness.

For that reason, I declare that God is sovereign over both 
the gender and the health of my children. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Even if you disagree with me or think my logic is flawed. But especially if you have walked the path of an unhealthy child.

PS - My declaration about God's sovereignty doesn't make it true, it is simply a declaration of truth. 

Friday, June 01, 2012

Am I Raising a Proverbs 31 Woman?

I have no idea what I am going to do with my 4 year old. I really think that she might be smarter than me. And more compassionate too. Tonight she totally brought me to tears with this conversation that my husband shared on his Facebook page.
Charlotte was bothering Jennifer, asking for so many things so quickly. So, Jennifer said, "Just a minute Charlotte. I'm not Superwoman." Charlotte responded, "Yes you are, Mommy. You extend your hand to the poor." Charlotte actually quoted Proverbs 31 about her mother. We have such an awesome daughter.
"She extends her hand to the poor, 
And she stretches out her hands to the needy." (Pro 31:20, NASB)

Lord have mercy on me... I hope I can always live up to her image of me. And that, when I inevitably fail, she extends her compassion towards me. All I meant was that I couldn't do 5 different things at once, which is clearly how I would define a Superwoman. But that didn't matter to her. She defines Superwoman in her own awesome, 4 year old way - biblically. Talk about being schooled!

As her mother I obviously try to instill my values in her, that she might grow up to love Jesus with all of her life. But until tonight, it never really occurred to me raise her according to the description found in Proverbs 31. Reflecting upon my mothering, other than teaching her Bible stories and memorizing scripture with her, I don't think I have intentionally set out to instill these principles in the hearts of my daughters.

Now I feel motivated to work through Proverbs 31 to pull out the main attributes of this "wife of noble character" so I can become more intentional in the training of my children.

If you happen to know of any resources that already do this, feel free to pass them along. Otherwise, I know what I'll be working on this summer.