Tag Archives: Jesus

Oh Taste And See

The days are full of trying on dress up shoes, yard work, pretending to be human excavators, and playing in the dirt. As with every season of parenting this far, I’m learning much about my kids, my own personal bents and failures, and about life. More than ever, I feel acutely aware of the brevity of this parenting gig. The opportunity to plants seeds, water, and pray. To teach, love and forgive. And to offer kindness- again and again.

I think back to my own childhood often. I was a rebellious child – there’s no question about it. I was mouthy and stubborn. I seemed to suffer from complete lack of self control, mostly with my words. But I was SO sick of myself, sick of my shame and confusion and continual discord with others. And in the summer between 6th and 7th grade, through a Bible study a lady at my church personally invited me to, I discovered who Jesus really was. I committed my entire life to Him, and from then on I have been very cognizant of how much the Lord pulled me out of the PIT of fear and destruction.

The change in me was immediate. Just ask my Mom. I went from knowing about Jesus to really knowing Jesus. My whole life turned upside down, even though I grew up in a Christian home. My relationship with my parents went from being tense to harmonious. 

And this is my prayer for my children. If they have to live years of rebellion in order to really know brokenness – to really know, love and submit to Jesus- then so be it. Whatever it takes, because Christ is the ONLY thing that really matters in this life. The last thing I want is to have kids who are outwardly Christians but whose hearts are far from Christ.

And yet… how wonderful it would be if they do see their true depravity and choose to follow Christ from a young age.

Either way, I’m on my knees, crying out to God for the hearts of these beloved kiddos of mine. 

Lord, please help me to train up our children well. But more than anything, I pray that they would turn to you with humble hearts. 

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8

 

 

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Day 3. I’m Glad My Mother Let Me Fail.

When I was a kid, I spent about 75% of my growing up years outdoors. We lived in the country, where peach orchards mostly surrounded our house. We had a horse, a dog and two cats. We had a couple of neighbor kids too, all of whom were boys and around the same age as me and my older sister.

My mom would let me go outside and peruse the country on my bike or on our horse, Wally. I skated and climbed trees and built forts. I shot about a million basketball hoops in my neighbors’s front yard, and then in our own yard after I got my own hoop for my 9th birthday. The neighbor boys and I would build ramps for our bikes to jump off of and we would take turns flying over them on our bikes. My bike was a used but good quality girl’s Schwinn — a pink frame with a brightly flowered banana seat and “U” shaped handlebars. We built these ramps higher and higher and had great fun until one of the boys took a tall jump on my bike (I guess there’s no shame in riding a pink bike like mine you’re only 9?), landed incredibly wrong and broke his arm. Sadly, that put a swift end to our bike jumps that summer!

My childhood was a little messy at times, but I had a Mom who gave me guidelines and set boundaries and then set me free to play and master all sorts of skills outside. She was in no way a helicopter parent, nor was she ruled by fear. At the same time she was intolerant of disrespectful behavior and was constantly on me for my “attitudes.” She and I battled a lot over this issue until the Lord saved me when I was 12. From that time on, I remember very few battles with my mom, and my Mom still marvels at how much the Holy Spirit transformed me quite immediately following my conversion.

Now that I’m a Mom, I find myself looking back at my childhood through a new set of lenses. I have great respect for my Mom, who worked full time from home with 4 kids, one of which was disabled. I don’t know how she did it, but she carried on well and still does as she cares for my disabled sister.

She let me make mistakes and she let me fail, often. I still remember sitting on my bed in my room, sobbing my eyes out. I was 11, and I had just gotten kicked out of horse back riding lessons. I had my side of the story, and some of it made sense at the time, I guess; but the bottom line was that I had given up, and that I was stubborn. When my Mom came to pick me up from riding lessons that day, my instructor told her that she couldn’t teach me anymore. I was officially expelled. My Mom didn’t try to fix the situation or make excuses for me. We got in the car and came home, and I was sent directly to my room. Later, my mom calmly came in, sat down on my bed, and told me how utterly disappointed she was in me. I’ll never forget it, because I felt utterly disappointed with myself as well! I had to grapple with that shame, and although it brought a lot of despair at the time, it contributed greatly toward propelling me straight to Jesus.

She also let me fail in piano lessons (also kicked out), school (not entire grades, but in several projects and tests), and in friendships. She let me learn from my mistakes. And for a driven, people-pleasing person like me, I still remember a bit of the ache of rejection that came from those failures. But even more so, I remember the lessons that I learned.

So when I think back to my childhood, I’m thankful for my Mom, who undoubtedly had way more on her plate than I ever realized as a child. I’m thankful that I wasn’t ever coddled and that I rarely ever got away with stuff, because my mother happened to be incredibly perceptive (I just thought she really DID have eyes on the back of her head!). I’m thankful that she let me run around and play without hovering. And I’m thankful that, as much as it hurt, she let me fail. Because I would quickly discover that there was nothing on this planet but Jesus that could heal those wounds.

 

 

 

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Sleep, Overrated? I think Not.

Sleep deprivation is a very real thing at our house these days. Looking back, I never thought Josh would be the one keeping me up as he approached his second birthday. He used to be our stellar sleeper. While his little sister snoozes through the night, he’s awake and screeching from his crib, often for hours at a time.

A few nights of this is annoying. But we happen to be going on about a month of nightly crying sessions. Anytime from 12 am to 5 am this little dude can be heard hollering from his crib. I wish I knew what was waking/keeping him up– Teething? A long day time nap? Hunger? Thirst? Too cold or warm? Sadly there never seems to be anything consistent playing into his nocturnal tendencies. So I guess it’s just a phase we must endure.

Parenting is all about endurance, no? I looked at Josh, right after he’d thrown his sixth huge tantrum this morning, and thought “I know they say these years won’t last forever. But right now, it feels like they’re lasting forever.” So we packed up and went on another country drive. While the kids listened to Psalty (1980’s, anyone?) and slept in the car, I put an earbud in and soaked up truth I needed to hear in a sermon about Jesus. Because He really does make everything better. Not easier, but better.

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I’m watching my older sister with her boys — now 13, 11, and 9, and it gives me encouragement to keep going. They are such great kids. I remember my sister having many trying days when her kiddos were little. Times when she would even give herself a “time out” so that she could get back to a place of thankfulness when frustration was creeping in. She put in a lot of hard work (she still does) and long days. But her boys are a treasure– they are gifts from God. And they are a joy to be around.

My sister with her middle child.

My sister with her middle child.

So I’ll press on. I’ll enjoy the fun and tender moments, the smiles and the giggles. I’ll pray for endurance for all the other moments. I’ll go for a country drive if need be. And I’ll thank God that gas is only $1.91 a gallon.

What helps you get through the most trying parts of your day/night?

 

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God With Us

“Immanuel, God with us.”

These past few weeks have been hard, stretching me thinner than ever before. At the end of the day, when I have failed to cook my family dinner because there have been too many meltdowns and a near-death choking event from the toddler, as well as persistent crying and spit up from the baby, I find myself collapsing into our living room chair. I can hear the toddler still whining from his crib, well over an hour after he’s been put down to sleep for the night.

It dawns on me: I feel sad. Lonely. Needy. It’s been a hard day and I know I’ll feel better about it after some sleep. And I usually do. How a little sleep and a little coffee tend to brighten my outlook on life.

But there is something much greater, which pours life into my needy soul, encouraging and speaking truth– again and again.

Jesus. Who Jesus is and the Gospel itself, have changed everything. We read Matthew 1 yesterday in church and we read these words from Matt 1:23: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” I failed to retain much of what was being said after we got to verse 23. The enormity of these words knocked me over like a freight train. GOD IS WITH US. There has never been a time when I did not desperately need Him. But I do not live without hope. Jesus has rocked my world since I was a child, and He continues to do so each day.

I may feel sad, lonely, or needy. Being a mom is wonderful, but it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I may be tempted to think I’m a failure at this motherhood business. But these are just fickle emotions, prone to change day to day. They can never compare to what Jesus has done – taking my sins for me on the cross and making me perfect in His eyes. I have a great need for a Savior and I have a great need to be forgiven. That incredible day, two thousand years ago, when Mary gave birth to Jesus, everything changed. The prophecies of long ago were fulfilled, and the Messiah — fully God, fully man, came to live upon mankind. The world has never been the same.

If you’re a new mom like me, with days spent trying to reason with less-than-two year olds, or wiping spit up off of your tired face from your newborn– take hope in knowing that you are being faithful not only to your kids, but also to your Savior. And know that even though this journey feels endless (and often fruitless), He is with you all the way.

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An Aching Heart for a Disabled Sister

In what seemed like a rare event, both kids were sleeping at the same time, and we were at my parent’s house.

As my mom was available to babysit, I grabbed the opportunity to pick up my sister from her day program and to take her out to get her hair cut.

As I pulled into the parking lot of her day program at 2 pm sharp, through the barely cracked window of my car I heard a distinctive voice, and one I was all too familiar with: “Emmmmy!” My sister screeched my name. I scanned the parking lot and just outside the building, but couldn’t see my sister anywhere. I chuckled to myself as I realized that she had spotted and called out to me from inside the building. I smiled. She sounded like she was in a good mood, and that was of utmost importance before going for a hair cut.

After getting scolded by the worker for running out of the building, she hurriedly propelled herself into the passenger seat of my car. As she set down her lunch box and buckled her seat belt, she called out to the worker “I love you! Good weekend! Bye!” And we were off. Comments were exchanged about our day. She reported that she had watched “Bugs Bunny” at her day program, and I giggled at the thought. I reported that Josh and Rachel were with Mom, taking naps. She reported that her leg hurt. And then she asked when we would be leaving my parent’s house.

“Tomorrow” I said, sort of tentatively, as how long we were staying at my parents’ was always a hot topic with her. “We’re going to spend the night tonight! Won’t that be fun?”

Her mood tanked immediately. I had been carefully navigating our conversation to maintain her good mood as long as possible. I should have dodged her last question. She became agitated. She crossed her arms and stomped her foot. “NO Emmy! Don’t like it!” I was internally rolling my eyes. I knew she hated sharing our parent’s house with us –that is, her siblings and their families. I knew she hated all the extra noise that a toddler and a baby brought into her quiet environment. But she would have to get over it. After all, she wasn’t an only child. We couldn’t stay away forever.

Janny,” I said in the kindest voice I could muster, “It’ll be fun! It’ll be just like Christmas when we always stay overnight!”

I made a mental wager that my optimism might positively influence her, but I lost. Her agitation spiked and she lost all control. “NOOO EMMY! HATE IT! She screamed at the top of her lungs and hit the dashboard and door with her arms. She continued to scream and throw herself around as much as one could while being restrained by a seat belt. Thank goodness for seat belts.

I was beginning to doubt we could pull off a hair cut after all. It’s always a touch and go experience, although the last five or six haircuts had gone off without a hitch. But today the task seemed more precarious than usual. Her outburst was pretty extreme. “Fine Janny,” I began to warn her. “If you can’t pull it together, then we’re just going to have to go home.”

She immediately burst into tears while simultaneously continuing to scream at me. I handed her a tissue. “Janny. Calm down. It’s okay. But you can’t talk to me like that. You need to choose to be kind, even when you feel like being nasty. Because you can. You always have a choice.”

“I CAN’T EMMY! I CAN’T!… I CAN’T!” Her anger exploded once again. She was reaching the point in which she could quickly escalate into becoming dangerous. She had at times tried to grab my steering wheel, transmission, or clutch. Or, escape the moving car we were riding in (thanks to the child lock button that had never been an issue).

I felt defeated “Have it your way then, Janny. We’re going home right now.” I intentionally drove past the local Supercuts as she continued to cry. But then she dried up her tears and said “Okay Emmy. Okay, okay okay. Better now. Please, hair cut?”

“Can you tell me you’re sorry?” I asked.

“I’m sorry.”

“Alright, I’ll turn around, but no more yelling, screaming or crying. You need to be nice.”

I made a u-turn at the next light, silently wondering if giving her another chance was going to be a big mistake.  We pulled up at the Supercuts building and parked. I began coaching her as we got out of the car. “Okay Janny. When we go inside, don’t run past the person at the cashier and back to where people are getting their hair cut. Sit down right away until they call your name.”

“Okay Emmy.”

We walked inside and I was relieved to see that there was only one other person getting a hair cut, an older man. And there were no people sitting in the waiting area. The less people there were, the better she would do. She sat down as I had instructed her and I felt encouraged. It was always a huge temptation for her to want to run past the cashier and give some unknowing hairdresser a huge bear hug from behind while they happened to wielding sharp scissors.

A young, friendly looking hairdresser called Janny’s name, and we started to walk back toward the hairdresser’s chair. Suddenly something shifted in Janny’s demeanor, and not for the better. I immediately began coaching her. “Here Janny, come with me! This is where you’ll sit!” I pointed to the chair. I breathed a sigh of relief when she cautiously sat down.

I never knew if it was the chair, or walking to the chair, or meeting a new hairdresser, or what. But getting Janny into that chair was always a little difficult. Sometimes she had no qualms about it.

Today was different. Before the hairdresser could even get a word in to discuss hair cuts, Janny suddenly became belligerent in a way I hadn’t seen before. “NOOO!” She screamed. “DON’T TOUCH ME!” She yelled. At that moment you wouldn’t have guessed that she had been begging my mom to have me take her for a hair cut for the past 3 weeks. She stomped her feet repeatedly and scowled at me from behind crossed arms. I internally gasped when she proceeded to hold up her fists, as if she were going to deliver a punch, to both the little young hairdresser and to me. “That’s new,” I thought, wondering where on earth she had learned that behavior from. That warranted some serious intervention: “Janny, if you don’t cut it out right now, I threatened in the calmest voice I could find, “then we’re going to leave immediately.”

She responded by slapping the hairdresser’s hand, which was touching her chair.

That was the last straw. I remained calm, but let her know she had lost her chance for a hair cut. “Out of the chair, Janny. Right now. We’re leaving. Get into the car.” Of course she struggled and resisted and refused to go willingly.

I hated these scenes. I avoided them like the plague. But there was no avoiding it now. She screamed at the top of her lungs as the other customer and hairdresser looked at us in horror. “NOOOOOO! DON’T WANT TO EMMY!!!” She stood up and I moved behind her to ensure that she would not attempt to resist me further. I didn’t want to play a cat and mouse game with her as she ran around the shop, all the while yelling at me, bumping into other people, and potentially throwing various salon items. I desperately just wanted to leave. As she screamed her way out of the building, I turned my head and quickly told the hairdresser that I was sorry and that maybe we’d try again on another day. Thankfully she looked sympathetic and graciously said “It’s okay!”

We exited the building, but then it got worse. Janny wouldn’t budge and screamed with everything inside her: “EMMY I HATE YOU!!!” I’m pretty sure you could have heard her in the next town over. I wasn’t putting up with her shenanigans anymore. But I would remain calm and keep my voice down. “Get into the car. Right NOW. You may NOT talk to me like that.”

Another person was getting out of their car next to mine and I prayed that Janny would just choose to get into my car. Otherwise it would be more screaming from her. And I hated having bystanders around, who would no doubt be wondering if they needed to call 911, or CPS, or just feel disturbed for the rest of the day. Thankfully, Janny got into the car and slammed the door with gusto.

As we left the parking lot, her rage broke and she began to sob. “Emmy mean! Emmy rude!” She protested, but more weakly this time through her tears. I assured her that I had been anything but rude. She continued to sob. The tension I had been feeling also lessened. I looked over and saw her grown-out bangs, which were too long now and drooping into her eyes. I began to think about all the days before this one that she had pestered my mom, asking “Emmy take me hair cut?” And all the times she had lost the very thing she had looked forward to because of her often rotten behavior.

And my heart began to ache for her.

Because I knew that she either could not or would not control her rage and anger.

And yet, I still couldn’t reward it.

And so the paradox that she had lived in for years continued. Of lashing out at those she loves most. Of sabotaging the most exciting event of her week. Of hurting herself when she was mad at another. Of choosing to respond in a behavior that just got her in more trouble. I felt helpless and sad about a situation that so many had sought to change over the years but who’s efforts had produced little or no progress.

Chris Tomlin’s song “Jesus Loves Me” came on the radio and I heard the words:

“I stepped out of the dark, and into the light, when He called my name.
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms.”

And in that moment, I was immediately transfixed by God’s love for Janny. Some day, when the Lord calls her home, she will run into His presence and into His arms, and there she will remain for as long as she wants. She will be perfectly loved. There will be no more anger or screaming or rage. She will be complete, and “disabled” will no longer signify her. She will have perfect peace.

I wept as I thought about this. My efforts to conceal my tears failed, but Janny, ever so compassionate, started to cry again and wanted to hold my hand. It was as if the fiasco at Supercuts had never happened. After a little while we both dried up our tears and I turned up the radio.

Despite the trauma of the past hour, somehow we both enjoyed the rest of the drive home.

There has been little in my sister’s behavior that has changed over the years. And there may be little that changes in the future. She may even worsen over time. But this is not the end, the finale. As hard as things are, there are always mercies — like God giving me a little glimpse into eternity when I was tempted to despair about this finite season with my sister. We will continue to pray and ask God for healing of this beloved sister of mine. But if He chooses not to, we will not lose hope.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Taken in 2012, just after a successful hair cutting outting.

Taken in 2013, just after a successful hair cutting outing.

 

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