Posted on November 2, 2019
“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.” Ephesians 6:24 NAS
Life as a tween mom is akin to an Uber driver. Our vehicle is equipped with all of the snacks, chargers and melt-downs of home. But “the middle” is off limits.
“The Middle,” where all of the important things crucial to driving and my full control of the volume lies. In the tween-age tradition of pushing boundaries, occasionally a cute little elbow will drift into the forbidden zone and bump the shifter into neutral.
My daughters and I daily lose it on each other, take jokes too far, have an absence of patience, and a slew of other things that can probably be explained by fluctuating seasons of life on all sides. But drifting into “the middle” of the vehicle ignites a completely irrational level of panic and anger in me.
I’m grieved when I lose my temper or harshly criticize my children. Though I cannot love them perfectly, I can see glimpses of how it’s supposed to be.
Shame is strong. It’s intent is to accuse. Squash it, and all of it’s distorted thoughts attempting to convince us we’re undeserving, unfixable, and dysfunctional. Because Jesus says …so what if you are?
True love is incorruptible.
“Incorruptible love.” A powerful statement no human being is capable of living up to apart from Christ. We are all, by nature, corrupted.
My flip out over “the middle” being breached ignites a firestorm, but it always ends in laughter. The reactions are too ridiculous not to re-enact.
Grace is the key to unlocking incorruptible love. It will flow throughout our lives and look foreign to many. Grace doesn’t play favorites. Jesus came to save us all from the power of sin. Incorruptible love, this side of heaven, is extending grace to ourselves and others.
As a mother, there are many days that end to the tune of my apologies. For losing my temper, criticizing, or spending too much time gazing into my phone instead of connecting with my kids. The routine of apologizing creates an atmosphere of grace.
There’s nothing Jesus holds over our heads and says …oh, not that one. You’ll pay for that one. I can’t forgive you for that one. We can and should grow and get better. But Grace should be our number one priority.
“Always forgiven,” I assure my girls, “and never loved less.”
That’s how we’re loved. By Love, incorruptible.
Posted on July 31, 2019
The MidWest had more than it’s fair share of rain this summer. We count the days of summer …and it’s unfairly interfered.
Life is like that, at times. Unfair and uncomfortable. We count on certain things to go a certain way. For my tween daughters, every emotion, discomfort, and awkward situation rains down upon them as though they’ve been caught unexpectedly in a torrential downpour. They don’t need us to throw a rain poncho over their every problem. Tweens need to know it’s a normal to get caught in the rain sometimes.
If we don’t want to get drenched by life’s storms we have to remember our umbrella and choose to use it. Better yet, when we can …avoid standing in a torrential downpour. We so often try to force our circumstances, blaming our umbrella for failing to keep us dry when we take it out into sideways rain and expect it to do the impossible.
Faith …an umbrella between reality and the rain. The wind may blow it inside out, it may leak, we may forget to open it …but through every storm, Jesus remains. God’s Word is our heart’s guard. Prayer is our lifeline. Starting the day and traversing through life without it compels us to seek all kinds of crazy solutions for our inconveniences. Life is inconvenient, but out of our discomfort beautiful wildflowers often bloom …right where they’re planted.
We shouldn’t expect perfection from an umbrella. It’s a thing. It’s fallible. The weather is the weather …even the people paid to predict it don’t always know what it’s going to do. Our expectations distort when we entrust humanity to protect us from raindrops. Only God is capable of instilling that kind of bubbled protection over our lives …and He doesn’t.
We will get rained on here. Things will not go our way and people will let us down. We will let others, and ourselves, down. At some point, we’ll all stand drenched in a downpour. But not without hope …just wet! The sun comes out, and everyday God’s mercies are new. Great is HIS faithfulness. Jesus is our umbrella this side of heaven. In the sideways rain, hail, and torrential downpours, He shields us.
To our kids, we model the resiliency of our faith in Christ by how we react to the rain. A young collegiate cross country runner, rainy mud runs were my favorite. Donning my favorite hat to keep the rain out of my eyes, I laughed through every knee-high puddle and splash of mud. I set my mind, not just to make the best of it, but to see the fun in it.
The world wants us on edge every time life rains down on us. But if we choose to see the good, our kids might, too. Some tragedies are beyond a sunny explanation …but even in those moments, we have a good God whom we trust will right every injustice. We can’t explain the cause of every storm or season of suffering, but we can choose to put our favorite hat on and embrace what we can about the rain.
As Christians, we can run through the rain gripping Joy …because the battle has already been won.
Expect the rain …but know the sun still shines.
Category: Parenting Tagged: distorted expectations, Parenting, static, summertime in the north, too much rain, umbrella
Posted on May 22, 2019
“Say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns.’ The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.” Psalm 96:10
God is unmoved. He reigns. He is omnipotent and sovereign. I know the truth of this verse in my head, but my world has been in complete earthquake mode. All of the wheels typically fall off in May, but this Spring’s combination of heartache and stress have left deep purple circles under my eyes.
“I don’t care …fine!”
The door slammed. Round two, day four. The tween years are rapidly rushing in the gray hair. Life isn’t stopping or slowing down so I can devise a plan of attack. It’s exhausting my emotions and frying my nerves. It’s messing with the amount of sleep I depend on, and interrupting hours when the house used to be quiet enough to unwind. Some nights both kids fall asleep on either side of me- one afraid of something and the other sad about something and we are all too tired to have heartfelt talks about it before we fall asleep.
“Butthole …butthead …” The “butt” themed names continued to trail off as one of my darling children walked away to read her book as physically far away from me as she could get …to roll her eyes and make faces. How dare I tell her she couldn’t have my phone. It’s so great when that happens in front of other people in a public place …it’s my favorite. There’s no willpower, role model or Bible verse that can stop hard seasons and stages. I remember slamming my door off the frame when I was their age, but somehow I thought I had done just enough good parenting to skirt the door slamming issue. The respectful children I have raised are no where to found some days.
On top of parenting two tween girls, life has piled on injury, conflict, difficult decisions, and air thick with drama in unexpected places. Life is going to be life, and if I don’t find a healthy way to handle the curve balls, I will start slamming doors myself. Or end up with stomach ulcers. When all of the hard, sad, trying, annoying, hurtful and overwhelming stuff reaches a certain capacity, I come unglued in prayer. The floodgates of composure open and the tears stream down my face, relying on the power of Jesus’ name (sometimes at very high volume) to pick me up off of the floor. In those moments, He is faithful to remind me I already have Peace.
Remembering is an important part of our faith. Psalm 105:5 says, “Remember the wonders He has done, his miracles …” (NIV) Our memories, answered prayers, and miracles are powerful. “Remember. As a motivation for and focus of worship and the basis for trust- remember how the Lord has remembered.” (NIVSB, emphasis mine.) Compassionate and merciful, He sees us, hears us, and is with us. In the suffering hidden behind our highlight reels, He is palpably present. Psalm 105:39 says, “He spread out a cloud as a covering…” (NIV) to protect His people (NIVSB). His peace shields our hearts. He is constant.
Constant means unchanging, uniform, regular or invariable. It’s continuing without pause or letup. Who, or what, is unceasing? Can we rely on anything to be regularly recurrent, continual, or persistent? Only God is faithful, unswerving in love and devotion. As we ride the waves of this world, He remains steady.
The dark circles under my eyes can be a badge of honor or a burden of despair. In every situation, I have a choice. And I don’t always make it well. I complain, but Christ is constant. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (NIV) The steadiness of Christ is in me. But I sometimes approach life like a roller coaster, strapping in and screaming when I’m scared and laughing when I’m happy. That’s no way to live.
Through all of the chaos, Jesus remains constant. Unmoved. He sees me. He hears me. But I need to pause and remember the peace He died to give me. It’s not an easy world to live in. We will undoubtedly feel like aliens on our own planet many days. We’re placed purposefully by an all-knowing God who promises we’re never alone. Believe Him. Matthew 28:20b says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Happy Purple Circles,
Category: Life App Tagged: consistensy, constant, eye circles, Faith, hope, memories, memory, Parenting, remember, tweens
Posted on May 15, 2019
May Parenting: The Learning Curve
“For the LORD is a great god, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed dry land.” Psalm 95:3-5 ESV
There is no one like our God. We are created in His image, but we are not Him. The things we create get messed up. The people we raise, rebel. We come unglued. Mistakes are the learning curve of life, yet many kids are ashamed of them. Perfectionism is creeping into the cracks of our society, where kids are known for their test scores and grade cards rather than their unique talents and abilities. Afraid to disappoint anyone with their failures, they keep them hidden and covered up. They are on social media younger and younger, where the highlight reel reigns. It’s a difficult reality for them to navigate, and a crucial environment for parents to be aware of.
We all struggle with the fear of disappointing other people, ourselves, or God. Mistakes are a part of being human, and God is not surprised. Regardless of our imperfections, He chooses to love us right where are. John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” ESV
I often scramble to fix the way my daughters feel instead of trusting God for who He says He is. The Father draws them, not me. Psalm 98:2 says, “The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.” (NIV) As parents, we are called to lead our children to His feet, but I often need to be reminded my daughters were His before they were mine. 2 Corinthians 2:14 says, “thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” ESV
Christ went to the cross to reach a bar we never could. We often learn the most from our mistakes, and have the opportunity to help others who are struggling with what we have gone through. It comforts children to learn parents make mistakes, too. Christ meets us in our mess everyday. He wipes the slate clean, but the memories of our past mistakes are to serve the people He places in our lives purposefully. Including our children. Hebrews 3:13 says,“encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today.’” NIV
When no band-aid seems to fit our children’s wounds and calm their fears, Jesus heals. There is power in His name. Pray to Him, together. He is always with us, and God promises to be close to broken hearted. God freely gives His love, but it’s up to us to receive it, and teach our children to as well. When our kids are hysterical and hormonal all at once, let’s come alongside them and love them empathetically, as if we’ve been there. Perfection has no place in anyone’s expectations this side of heaven.
God rested. When we throw our faith in Him, we are able to rest. He reigns. He’s in control. Hebrews 4:10-11a says,“for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest…” ESV.
Category: Parenting Tagged: counseling kids, healing, Parenting, perfectionism
Posted on April 10, 2019
I have a child who hears everything I say no matter how many floors of the house and blaring TV’s or devices separate us. She pops up into conversations at random and repeats things I thought were out of her earshot. I really wish I could screen her questions before she asks them, and cringe in fear of what she might say whenever her little hand pops straight up into the air to ask a question. She holds me accountable! Whatever I say is coming back at me, full speed …in front of everyone …at the most awkward time possible. There are no breaks in parenting! No breaks.
The digital age has it’s challenges for parents and kids alike. The questions are endless, the monitoring never-ending, and the app requests are constant. One generation is growing up immersed in information and accessibility like never before. The older generations attempting to parent their children through all of this haven’t lived through it from the ground up like they have. It’s challenging to stand in credibility when we’re learning so much on the fly, ourselves.
In some ways, the generational gaps are very similar to those we experienced with our parents. But in many ways, the world seems to be a brand new ball game. A scary one. Terrifying, even. It’s not in our heads. We’re not being paranoid. It’s not a product of watching too much of the news. The world is catapulting towards it’s inevitable end at a very fast rate. We live in the end times, the time between Jesus going to heaven to be with the Father, and the time He will return again to set ALL OF IT straight. Until then, here we are. More broken than ever. More catastrophe than ever. More hurt, pain, suffering, and tragedy than ever. And since we’re more connected and technologically advanced than ever, we know more than ever about ALL OF IT.
“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.” Romans 3:19 NIV
Every mouth silenced. The VOICE paraphrase says, “muzzle every mouth, to silence idle talk, and to bring the whole world under the standard of God’s justice.”
Holding ourselves accountable to God’s truth sends a powerful message to our children. Our actions make a bigger impact than what comes out of our mouths. Openly sharing our faith with our children makes a difference, but allowing them to watch us live it puts it in bold italics. Children want to be accepted for who they are, right now. They need to be loved for who they are, while they grow. In the midst of awkward transitions happening to the backdrop of an ever-changing world, our children need love to live.
We need Love to live. All of us.
There are things we are not going to be able to explain to ourselves, or to our children. There are simply no answers for all of the horrific things that happen in this world. No ability to understand them even if God gave them to us. How do we throw our trust in God, regardless? Everything we need to know can be unlocked by opening up the Bible and praying for understanding. Seeking God, and holding onto His promise that we will find Him.
Christianity is not a mythical faith that requires us to throw all of our gumption into the unknown. Jesus Christ can be proven. If you are searching for answers, keep searching, keep asking, and you will find them. God is not hiding. In fact, He wants to be found. For ourselves, as parents, that’s an important fact to embrace. Our kids are watching us. They are watching to see how are faith holds us together. How we make sense out of the things that don’t seem to make sense.
Our lives speak for themselves.
In this world, we are promised to have trouble. We are told, as Christians, it will be even harder. Why would anyone sign up for that? For the promise of eternity with Christ in heaven. Fact finding firms the foundation of our faith, but walking with Christ brings us to our knees. The personal, daily care our Heavenly Father leads us with. Going before us, behind us, and remaining with us. Despite the world, despite ourselves, we see life through a different filter than those who choose to walk without Him. A filter of grace, hope, peace, and love …that surpasses all understanding.
We cannot authentically love the people in our lives well unless we are putting Love first in our lives. It effects everything. Our kids notice, our friends see, our family knows. Strength comes from our Savior, Jesus Christ. The world is a mess, yep. It’s going to keep getting messier, yep. But hope is still hope. Love is still Love. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father who sees all and knows all. In ways we only get glimpses of, all of mess will be cleaned up, in due time. In His perfect time. In the meantime, we learn on the fly. We grow with our kids. We embrace every good thing and trust that God is somehow making good out of all the bad.
When the world butts up against us, all abrasive and entitled, we can choose to forgive forward, love despite, and compassionately extend kindness. Our kids are watching. They are listening. They hear everything. Who are we echoing?
Category: Parenting Tagged: lead by example, Parenting, technology, teens and tech, tweens and tech