Saturday, September 29, 2012

Oh, to be 3

Oh, to be 3!

So stylish!

So full of energy,

And spunk,

And sass!

At least we can say, he gets it all from his aunt.

Journey of Faith

When you ask Jesus into your heart at the ripe age of 3 and grow up in the church and in a good family with parents who love and serve God, sometimes you get lazy about developing your own relationship with God. Sometimes, you (or me) count on others to give you the Message and occasionally peek into the Word to read a paragraph or chapter and think, "Oh, how nice. I've heard that before." After awhile, honestly, you (or me) feel like you already know it all. There isn't a story or major concept you haven't heard. And then, something happens and you have to start searching yourself, either to prove or disprove or justify something that's happening in your life. And that's when the Word comes alive and becomes real to you.

I have been on a journey of faith in the last 10 months and I might be ready to share some about it. It has stretched me, scared me, and caused me to grow more than I ever could have imagined. When I read the Bible now, I devour it! I want to know exactly what God is saying to me through His Word. I'm not through and I don't have it all figured out, but I'm farther than I was.

Last fall, something happened to me that caused me to doubt. In a major way. I don't know if anyone understands the full extent to which this particular event caused me to doubt God and to doubt things that I had seen happening in the church all of my life, but it was very traumatizing to me. And if those things weren't real, was God even real? Was everyone lying or disillusioned? Your mind can quickly go down this path when just one, tiny seed of doubt is planted.

For awhile, I just stewed in those feelings. I was doubtful, I was discontent, and I was angry. I didn't want to not believe in God, but I wasn't sure what to believe either.

Then, this thought kept creeping into my head: "Maybe everything you've ever been taught is wrong. Maybe you've been serving Him wrong this whole time." I had listened to some messages and read some things that made me panic, thinking I had not pleased God for 27 years.

At the same time, I was hearing things from another source that were raising red flags in my spirit, because they were messages and ideas I'd never heard or seen in the Word. Satan was attacking me from all sides, causing me to doubt, making me confused. So, I started digging in the Word, going back and forth everywhere, trying to find what I did and did not believe, because frankly, at that point, I had no idea.

Suddenly, for the first time in my life I think, the Word became really alive to me. Things I had skimmed over and thought, 'Oh, how nice,' had profound meaning. I wanted to know more, understand more. I read and read and read and read and prayed. And read and prayed more.

And I learned something: most of what I have always known to be truth is truth. Jesus is still my Savior. He is still the Son of God. He died on the cross and rose again. He has given me salvation from my sins. He is coming again. God made me and loved me enough to send His only Son to die on the cross for me--Me, who was not a part of His original covenant, but who has been grafted in because of His love and mercy and the sacrifice of Jesus. I'm ready to shout right now! Such awesome, amazing things I've learned and read.

He has reminded me of some things and changed my perspective on some things: even though, Jesus obtained mercy for us through His blood and all we have to do is believe in Him to be saved, we should be so changed by His gift that we want to do everything in our power to make Him happy. He is a holy God and we should be a holy people. If we love Him, we should want to do everything in our power to please Him.

Another thing I've been learning from Him lately is that much of the time, we make our worship of Him all about us. We are so self centered that we sometimes turn our worship inward: how good can God make us feel, what new, exciting manifestation of the Holy Spirit can He give us, what blessings can He give us? We just want to sit forever and let Him do things for us, when we should worship Him FIRST and seek His face FIRST. Actively, not passively.

I have learned and am still learning so much more that I will share about later, but for the first time in my life, I'm so excited about reading the Word. Not reading the newest devotional or watching a preacher on TV and finding out secondhand, but just reading His Word and asking Him for wisdom and understanding. He'll give it if we ask.

Something I've been doing that has really helped me and been encouraging for me is that I took a notebook and divided it into a bunch of different topics: Loving God, obeying God, praising God, salvation, Holy Spirit, etc and as I'm reading the Bible, I write down Scriptures that fit under those categories. That way, I can go back and read them when I need them.

I started this blog after Kade was born when God was doing so many new things in my life. I've been through several seasons in life since then. Sometimes, our wells get low and sometimes, they even go dry, but He can always fill them back up again! Praise God, who is able to do much more than we could ever ask or think!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Who I want to be like....

Hello, old friends! I don't take the time to blog like I used to, but I need to do better. I just had something on my heart and wanted to share it.

First, this parenting two gig is hard! It is demanding and challenging and stretching. Thank you, God, that I have so much help from You and from my husband and all the wonderful people in our lives.

Second, I am not a perfect mother, nor do I claim to be, but I am striving to be who He wants me to be--and that's the important part, I think, that we not just twiddle our thumbs and abuse His grace, but that we really try and learn and grow every day.

So, last night, Kade bit someone at a friend's house. I should have known better than to even take him because he had not had a nap and that never bodes well for an evening in public. So, he immediately ran, knowing he was in Big Trouble. I caught him and carried him straight to the car, telling him that we were leaving. He was upset and screaming that he wanted to stay and play. Someone commented that I had more self control than they would have in that situation.

Here's the thing: I was angry. Unbelievably angry. I was angry at Kade for biting, angry that I had to leave somewhere I really wanted to be, angry at myself for putting a tired 3 year old in the situation. I could have screamed, spanked, berated, cried. What I did was to take him out of the situation (which was bad enough for him because he had to quit playing and leave), talk to him on the way home about biting, and move on. I was still seething inside when we got home, but I quickly prayed for love and grace, gave him a bath, and put him to bed.

I was still thinking about the situation this morning, and about parenting and discipline and how hard it all is. I want to raise godly, moral children. Though I could never be the perfect Parent that God is, I want to love and discipline my children the way He loves and disciplines me.

Let's take a look at Psalms 103:8-13:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserveor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

Compassionate. Gracious. Slow to anger. Abounding in love. These are easy traits to have when our children are on their best behavior, but how many times do they fly out the window on the bad days? The days when the 2 year old colors on the wall and the 10 year is being stubborn and the 5 year old stomps all over the newly planted flowers. How many times do we fly off the handle? I've done it.

So much Christian parenting material I've seen is ALL about the rod of correction (in the physical sense). Frankly, some of it disgusts me. God corrects me when I sin, but he has never beat me with my sin or berated me over and over. He doesn't tempt me to sin. He doesn't keep a record of my sins; he doesn't even remember them. He is compassionate. In return, I want to please Him. I don't want to cross the line.

Sometimes, when we disobey God, there is pain involved--not pain He inflicts, but pain that comes as a result of our choices. Sometimes, when I tell Kade not to stand on the laundry basket or run in his Crocs, he falls and bumps himself. Sometimes, when he bites someone, we have to leave somewhere he would rather not leave. God doesn't point his finger, laugh, or say ,'I told you so' when we experience pain because of our choices. If we look up, He has His hand held out, ready to help us get up.

I pray I would be the same with my children. Correcting them with and because of love and not anger. While they're still very young and in my care, keeping them out of situations where they would be tempted to sin. Not overreacting, not reminding them of their sins again and again. Moving on and loving afterwards.

Sometimes it's hard. Much of the time, my flesh wants to reign. But I want to parent like Him.