Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Day in the Life: I'll just say I wasn't.

Our curriculum came with some fun little "games." They aren't necessary to learning, and I wasn't even entirely sure what they were ... but this is our first year and a kit sounded good.

It turns out, Shelby LOVES the games ... they're a type of immediate feedback, a visual and interactive reward. So I'm really glad we got them!

Last week I put one up that was a little city-scene with a road. It has several cars to choose from. I moved them along the spaces on the road as Shelby got answers right that day. I told her we'd pick a new car each day and she could race her previous days' cars. She LOVED that idea.

The first day, she chose a police car.

The second day, she chose a sporty red car. Because she's my daughter she calls it a Corvette. To her, every red car is a Corvette. But hey, she thinks I deserve one for my birthday so who am I to argue? She is a sweetheart.

So here we are, racing cars. When she passed her car from the day before, the police cruiser, I said "Uh oh, what if you were speeding???"

Shelby Hope said to me, quite matter-of-factly "I'll say I wasn't."

Heaven help us.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Start Your Week in the Word: Why do Christians say "saved?"

If you didn't read my post from last Monday, you may very well be asking "Saved from what?"

The argument against humanism was that you can't better yourself. Because there is a better way.

Yet one of our human instincts that seems to set us apart from the animals is that we want to do better. This past week we've been reading about the point in Jesus' ministry where He is approaching the cross. Sweet, independent Shelby told us:

"I'll save myself."

She's only four. She's grown up immersed in Christianity and Bible stories. Yet there it is. We think we can save ourselves. We try to save ourselves. We make vows and promises and try to haggle with God. And at our worse we let go and even become something less than human. Sometimes that it what it takes to realize we do need saving.

After disappointing the rich young ruler with the news that what he had done was not enough, Jesus' disciples wanted to know just who CAN be saved, if we can't save ourselves:

"'Then who can be saved?' And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
- Matthew 19:25b-26
What Jesus meant is that we can't save ourselves. We can't follow the rules enough. They weren't made to fix our relationship with God ... they were made to show us it was broken. To break our hearts for what we have lost, what is missing, enough to send us searching for it.

So who CAN be saved? You. Yes, I may not know you but I can tell you that you CAN be saved.

"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.
-Romans 10:13
To some that doesn't seem fair. Some of the people who feel that way call themselves Christians, and some may be people who generally lead good lives and do good things and are generous to others. But our goodness is like dirty laundry to God.

It is so much better than fair. Fair is me paying the consequence, the price, for my sin. Death. Not just  the death of this finite body on this dying planet ... eternal death. Believe it or not, God isn't rubbing His hands together with glee waiting for you to mess up so He can strike you with a lightening bolt, like some cartoon Zues.

"... who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is on God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for all.
- 1 Timothy 2:4-6
God loved you, and me, and the rapist, murderer, child-molestor, genocidal-maniacal dictator ... He loved all of us fumbling, confused children enough to send His own Son, His perfect one, to do what we couldn't. To live a perfect life and trade His spotless record for our own. Instead of each of us paying our own pentality with our own death, His one brutal, humiliating, degrading, bloody death on the cross paid the price once and for all for anyone who would accept it. A better way. The ONLY way.

"'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' They said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved ...'
- Acts 16:30b-31a
When Paul and Silas stopped the Roman soldier from committing suicide ... thinking they had escaped from prison under his watch ... he saw something was different. He saw the power of their God to break their chains and the power of their faith keep them in place without them.

That is what my life is supposed to be doing for you. I can't live a perfect life, only Jesus did that. But I pray every day I am doing His work, the things only He can do through me, that someone watching me gets a glimpse of Him instead.

Because we all need a hero, and my life's work is to introduce you, and my children, to Him.

"... that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved ...'Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
- Romans 10: 9 and 13

Friday, October 21, 2016

End Your Week Well: Gear Up - Gospel Feet

"... having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace" (NASB) 
- Ephesians 6:15
Now, if you know me you know I love shoes. So forgive me if my analogy to this verse is about shoes.

One or both of my children may also be obsessed with shoes ... I was not involved in whatever happened here.
Imagine our unprepared soldier from the last couple of weeks ... we tied a belt around the flapping bathrobe and put Kevlar on because terrycloth never stopped much of anything aside from a chill.

I have house shoes ... but more often than not I forget them somewhere around the house (or they are painstakingly, tediously scooted to another place on feet less than half their size) and when I hop out of bed in the morning they are nowhere to be found.

Now imagine that you are meant to fight a battle AND run and spread news of this battle. On bare feet.

Ouch. I may be a farm girl, but I don't even like to walk out to the compost bin without some boots on. Much less wrest out the fight of my life or run to someone with good news.

Because, what is the gospel? It is good news! Good news of peace! We are not only preparing to fight a battle but preparing to spread the news of the peace that will follow when the fight is over!

Try to imagine, pre-iPhone, pre-75mph speed limit, that you have just heard the news that a deadly war is over. That your rescuer is coming. And you know there are people who don't know! You will want to run and tell everyone you can find! I don't know about you but I can't run down the road on bare feet.
"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!
- Romans 10:15
"How lovely on the mountainsAre the feet of him who brings good news,Who announces peaceAnd bring good news of happiness
- Isaiah 52:7
So how can we shod ourselves with the preparation of the gospel of peace?

Preparation ... we make ready. Readiness, to me, implies a certain confidence. So I'm picturing heels, because nothing makes me feel quite as confident as clacking loudly down a hall with my footsteps punctuated by the staccato of stilettos.

Readiness to defend. To defend the truth of the gospel. To defend in prayer against an unrelenting enemy. Ready as my trusty boots ... I can swish through tall grass without the fear of snakes. I can slog through mud without chilling my toes. I can dig in and not loose ground if I need to shoulder a heavy load or push something out of our way.

"... always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence ...
- 1 Peter 3:15
But when it comes time to run, tennis shoes is the only answer. A pair of well worn, but not worn out, shoes that won't blister my feet in the stiffness of not having been tried and tested, but which won't fall apart before I reach my destination.

"They will run and not grow tired,They will walk and not become weary.
- Isaiah 40:31
And yet, the gospel of peace is a comfort. When we are battle worn and weary, the gospel itself that is our inspiration to stand and fight and the very lifeblood pouring through our veins as we boldly speak its truth ... it is also our comfort, like a well worn pair of slippers, when the battle seems uphill and our audience is not responding.

"... continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard ...
- Colossians 1:23

You won't make it far on bare feet.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Day in the Life - Some people call it a fork.

Attempting to civilize children is an uphill battle.

I have a spoon but I'm going to eat my rice with my hands. One piece at a time.
I know we have to give them silverware to use or they'll never learn to use it. I know chimpanzees use tools ... but frankly with the invention of plates I don't think humans would ever get around to that. Lets face it ... the chimps are using sticks to dig termites out of a log.

And sometimes I just give them finger foods because it is easier.
Quite frankly, I'm not trying to get my girls to eat their macaroni and cheese with a fork so they can dig it out of a log. I can really only think of two reasons:

1. So they can behave in a civilized manner consistent with the society they've been born into. So they won't go on a date to an Italian restaurant and start chowing down Lady and the Tramp style.

2. Because some food is greasy and messy and if they eat it with their hands the evidence is everywhere. Everywhere. Even if I send them to wash their hands immediately after gorging themselves on slippery chicken, there will be fingerprints on the table, the chairs, possibly the walls in the hall, the door frame, the door knob, the light switch, the stool, and the faucet. IF they go straight to the bathroom.

Do I have to eat this? Do I have to use a spoon?
What do my children do? Rather than running away with the dish the spoon sweeps a napkin about herself and marries the fork. Or tucks a baby fork into bed under a nice warm quilt(ed paper towel).

Recently I reminded Shelby in my worn-out, running out of patience nagging mommy voice to use a utensil to eat her macaroni and cheese.

She looked right at me and said, as if speaking to a child younger than herself:

"Some people call it a fork."

"Duh Mom"

Monday, October 17, 2016

Start Your Week in the Word: Why do Christians say "sin?"

My first inclination this week was to write about "saved." But the first question I've heard people ask about "saved" is "saved from what?"

So instead, let's go back to the beginning.

"And He said 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?'" 
- Genesis 3:10 
"...sin is crouching at your door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." 
- Gensis 4:7
I've heard sin described as anything that separates us from God. Until the first sin, and the Bible doesn't say how long that was, but clearly it was not even past the first generation of humans. Until Adam and Eve disobeyed the one (ONE!) commandment God had given them ... He walked with them in the garden. They were naked and not ashamed. They were truly innocent.

After this first act of disobedience ... they were driven from the garden. They could no longer eat from the tree of the fruit of life. Which means they would die.

Some Christians would give you a list of "do" and "do nots." I'm not going to do that. Until you are willing to recognize that we are all born separated from God:

"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." 
- Romans 3:23

there really isn't much point in my telling you how to obey the Lord. If you ask me to tell you if something is sin or not, I'm not going to lie. Even if it means I get called hateful. Look what that did for Phil Robertson and Dan Cathy.

Sin isn't something I get to define. It isn't something the government gets to define. I used to try to invent ways to make whatever I wanted to do "not sin." I would reason with myself "God made me, and I am this way, so how could it be a sin if God made me and I want to do this?"

Sin is disobedience to God. We are born with sinful hearts.
"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,And in sin my mother conceived me." 
- Psalm 51:5
And He says that we can't obey Him perfectly.

Why would He make rules we can't possibly follow? When I was studying to become a teacher we talked about helping kids be successful. Making a huge list of rules that were hard to follow wasn't a way to do that. It wasn't even conducive to a well behaved, productive classroom.

So why would God do that?

"through the Law comes the knowledge of sin." 
- Romans 3:20

What kind of strange religion is this, Amanda? You can't better yourself? I don't want any part of that. Well, then next week I'll tell you why we say "saved."

"just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned - for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law." 
- Romans 5:12-13
You can't better yourself. Because there's something better.

Friday, October 14, 2016

End Your Week Well: Gear Up - Breastplate of Righteousness

Today marks the second in a six-part series I am doing on Friday about the armor of God. Last week I covered the belt of truth ... how surrounding ourselves with the truth holds everything else together.

What is a breastplate? We actually had a part of our band uniforms when I was in high school called the breastplate. I don't know that it would do much, defensively. It was about a 2x4 inch square piece of metal that slid onto a belt/suspender thing over your chest. Lets face it - part of the reason I tried out for the flag corps was that I hated that uniform.

Nobody has the breastplate on here ... photo courtesy of my friend Carla Eastepp Ellison
But we weren't gearing up to be attacked even if we were a military style marching band. So I invite you to think of a breastplate more like Kevlar. You know, the bulletproof vests most police, and some EMS, wear.

They are made to thwart attack. They are made to stop not only an arrow, a deadly bullet. I have meticulously extracted an expanded Talon hollow point projectile from the strands Kevlar in the vest of a sheriff's deputy. These vests, these breastplates, save lives. They are amazing. I imagine the officer had quite the bruise ... but he lived. That bullet was meant to kill him and it was stopped in its tracks.

How does righteousness protect us? And how do we wear it?

"I put on righteousness, and it clothed me" 
- Job 29:14a

"I will rejoice greatly in the Lord,My soul will exult in my God;For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness
- Isaiah 61:10a

"in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing
- 2 Timothy 4:8 
Throughout the Bible righteousness is described as something we put on, or which is put on us. We ourselves are not righteous. Let me say that again. You cannot achieve righteousness. You can't buy it ... it isn't some talisman you wear on a necklace or carry in your pocket to protect you.

Through His death on the cross Jesus made it possible for us to be covered in righteousness.

"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 
- 2 Corinthians 4:21
But righteousness is God's alone. We accept the covering, the protection, of His righteousness when we choose to obey. Much like an officer ... we have to choose obedience every morning and accept His righteousness before we can wear it. It isn't a hard shell God encases us in when we accept salvation like some kind of spiritual turtle. We have to choose righteousness every day.

"Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness" 
- 2 Timothy 2:22a
And what does that protect us from? The consequences of sin - of disobedience. If we are open to those screaming bullets the enemy has launched at us ... our ministries fail, our families fall apart, our prayers are but echoes in our rooms, and everything we do that is unrighteous comes with a price.

"But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear." 
- Isaiah 59:2

"There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation;There is no health in my bones because of my sin." 
- Psalm 38:3
 God didn't give us His laws and ask us to obey them to show He is hot stuff. Do you not understand He isn't like us? He doesn't have ego. He created us and the world we live in. He made the laws, and asked us to show Him love by obeying them, because He who made everything knows how life works best. The laws are there to protect you. YES we live in a fallen world and bad things still happen ... the enemy is yet roaming about. However, when you put on righteousness like Kevlar to avoid the consequences of catching fire ... you aren't left standing, yet again, on a battleground in a bathrobe.

The bullets will still hurt ... but they can no longer claim your eternal life.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Day in the Life - K = T

When the girls say something the wrong way, I don't correct them anymore. Because so far, they correct themselves and then I miss their little Shelby-isms and Tori-isms.

I miss "coo mees" ... which was how Shelby used to say "Excuse me."

I'll miss "boo doo" (blue) ... it's already becoming "blue-doo" and sometimes just "blue."

Victoria (Bictoria) has taken the cake though, which one little letter switch.

A "drape!"

She pronounces the K sound for the T sound. And it kills me every time.

Come = Tome

Milk = Milt

Momma's girl! Loves her "tips" and salsa.

Cake = Cate

Daddy goes to "wort."

First "tamping" trip
She begs us to "tick me" or to "stop ticking me." She accuses Shelby of "ticking her" and I'm not quite sure what to do if I didn't see it. It could mean kick, it could mean tickle.

She doesn't like to be grabbed around the "net" [who does?!].

In the morning she is excited to "wate" up.

I "pit" this for YOU!
I know there are some I missed. It seems like new ones pop up every day.

Then one day, she'll wake up (instead of "wate" up) and it'll be as if it never happened. And I'll miss Tori's Ts.

Eager to start "amastits" when she turns 3

Monday, October 10, 2016

Start Your Week in the Word: Why Do Christians Say "Lost?"

Late last week, I saw an article blasting Andy Stanley for undermining the Bible for saying [caveat, I have not watched the sermon in question but am providing the link since it is the original source of his quote]:

" ... perhaps you were taught, as I was taught, 'Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.' That is where our trouble began."
- Andy Stanley

Before I even read his defense, I got it. I get it. In my recent writing training, we are told to think of who we are writing to. I feel called to write to anyone, but I always write with the lost in mind. Yet even in saying that I reveal the truths ingrained in me from my childhood.

Praise God they were. Without the foundation of songs like Jesus Loves Me, scripture memory, and faith at a young age, I'm not sure I would have arrived at 38 with the faith that I have today. I'm not entirely sure I would have arrived at all.

Yet I can't help but spout terminology and a belief in the Bible that, to a unbeliever ... or better yet, someone who IS a believer but in something other than God, Jesus, and the Bible ... negates anything I have to say.

Because the Bible says so is great reasoning when speaking to a Christian.

It completely invalidates what you are about to say when you are speaking to a nonbeliever. A lost person. A nonChristian.

So for the next few Mondays I want to address, at least from my own perspective, why do we say some of the things we say. Starting with lost.

Amanda, I'm not lost. It is 2016. I have Google maps, Google Earth, access to global positioning satellites in the palm of my hand. I know right where I am. I know where I am going.

I know where I am on my career ladder, and I know what steps I need to take to get where I want to be.

I know how much I need to save and how I need to invest it in order to have the retirement I'm dreaming of. I'm good. Self-sufficient. I'm not lost. I don't need rescued, saved, or any of the other remedies you and others like you are pandering.

Fair enough. You have to start somewhere.

Fellow believers, don't tune out on me ... but in the effort to not start with "because the Bible tells me so" I will be referencing Biblical reasoning for why we say lost at the end.

Right now, I want to focus on the fact that we say nonChristians are lost because ... well, you are. You may not be lost on this planet. You may not be lost at work. I'm sure you are very good at what you do. You may be an awesome parent with well behaved, sweet, awesome kids who love you.

But in the spiritual realm, you are so lost you don't even know you are lost. There are no positioning satellites. There is no muse that will whisper along unseen and unheard delicately guiding your steps to success.

Your eyes can't see the spiritual realm, but I'm going to guess that, at the end of the day alone in your room, you might admit to yourself that you have encountered it one way or another. Wondering where we came from, why are we here, what happens when I die, why am I different from animals (because really, is the opposable thumb and the ability to make language THAT awesome? I love picking up spoons and talking there is so much more that separates me from any of the pets, farm animals, or wildlife I've ever observed).

You have a soul. And your soul is wandering, blind, in a realm of warfare. Angels aren't chubby cherubs floating in pink ethereal clouds ... they are armed forces, so terrible and frightening that almost every human encounter recorded begins with the words "Fear not!"

So we Christians say "lost" because without Jesus, the Holy Spirit, you have no guide. No defenses. And without the Bible you have no map. No sword. Imagine staggering onto a modern day battlefield in your bathrobe ... sand flying, you could be almost anywhere. Explosions muting sound to a muffled echo ... you wouldn't even know north from south, much less which sandy country plagued by conflict you may have wandered into. Without a gun. Without body armor. No GPS.

Back to the Bible ... the book you, as you read this, may or may not have any strong feelings about. But since I am writing about why Christians call nonChristians "lost" I'll tell you what it says.
"For the Son of Man [Jesus] has come to seek and to save that which was lost." 
- Luke 19:10 (also Matthew 18:11)
Jesus came to rescue the lost ... and without Him we are all lost. He SEEKS us. Imagine if you will our unprepared bathrobe soldier. Imagine a hand reaching out of the endless swirl of gritty tan. A face not of condemnation ("How did you get yourself out here? What's wrong with you?") but of invitation. Jesus often dined with sinners. Imagine He invites our soldier to refresh himself. Sit down. Listen to what I have to offer, are you thirsty?

When the lost are found, Jesus doesn't laugh and gloat. There is rejoicing. Celebration. Welcome home to the home you didn't even realize you were missing, found one!
"What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish." 
- Matthew 18:12-14 (also Luke 15:4-7)

"Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!' In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
- Luke 15:8-10 
Lost isn't an insult to your orienteering abilities. It is empathy. Any Christian was previously spiritually lost. Would you take a chance a look at the map and risk realizing your bathrobe is flapping open with a dangerous desert war waging around you?

(If you are anyone who has ever wondered "Why do Christians say ...?" Please shoot me an email! Maybe God will provide you an answer through me. I would be honored.)

Friday, October 7, 2016

End Your Week Well - Gear Up: Belt of Truth

I've never done a series on Friday, but I think the armor of God will be encouraging after several weeks of writing about the enemy. We have an enemy ... we know he loses ... and we even have weapons against him: defensive and offensive.

In an effort to be original, I've avoided looking up what other authors have to say about the armor of God (though I intend to afterwards). I realize there are much better analogies and theology out there. But if you'll allow me I'd like to just let God speak through one life's context and His Word.

The armor of God is found in Ephesians:

"Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 
Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 
With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints ...
- Ephesians 6:11-18

Some call it the belt of truth ... lets face it, girding your loins sounds like a crazy lifting move.

The thing about belts is ... they surround you. They go all the way around. And while I realize there are belts that are just for looks ... the main purpose of my belt is to protect me from shame.

In the past year I've lost close to 40 pounds ... my wardrobe hasn't exactly kept up with me. Some of my jeans are 2-4 sizes too big. If I didn't wear a belt ... I'd soon be quite embarrassed. My hands are often full when I'm in public ... if I'm not carrying something they are full of little hands. It is more important to me to protect those little girls in a parking lot than to pull my pants up. Without my belt ... there's a good chance I'd soon loose them as we shuffled along.

You can't do battle if you're tripping on your pants. And shame can be paralyzing.

"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
- John 3:17
Jesus didn't come to shame us. Shame has another source - remember the accuser? The old liar wants you to feel shame, and he induces it with lies. Of course the defense against lies is the truth!

"... you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
- John 8:32b

So gird your loins with truth ... lift it every day. Pick it up and put it on. Hide it in your heart (Psalm 119:11). Meditate on it day and night (Joshua 1:8). Cover the lies of shame with truth and bind it about your waist tightly. The only way I know to do this is to be in the Word every day. God's Word is the truth by which all other standards must be measured.

"The sum of Your word is truth,And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.
- Psalm 119:160

"Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
- John 17:17

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Day in the Life - Losing Your Temperatures

"A fool always loses his temper,But a wise man holds it back.
- Proverbs 29:11
Sometimes we call it being grumpy. Sometimes I admit that I've lost my temper. Voice raised, tone ugly, cadence impatient. I hate it as soon as it comes out of me.

If a fool looses his temper, then I am the queen of fools. This is not who I want to be. This is not how I want to parent, teach, speak ... do anything.

"Momma I'm sorry you lost your temperatures."

She was really mad, then she wasn't but it was during the "Phelps face" thing and I asked her to do it again
Sweet Shelby. She pulls me out of that white hot angry place in a heartbeat. I do lose my temperature. The heat goes up, out of control, but there's the danger of hearts turning cold.

"He who is slow to anger has great understanding,But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.
- Proverbs 14:29
It is better than it used to be, but I am no finished product of God's refining fires. Day by day, moment by moment, each "deafness of defiance" where Shelby pretends not to hear me when I know full well she could hear the cellophane crinkle of a wrapper or bag from across the house ... I have to stop everything and call on God to still my tongue. Bless my heart and shut my mouth.

"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,And he who rules his spirit, than the who captures a city.
- Proverbs 16:32
So it isn't by might that I can cool my heels. It isn't by fortitude or strength that I can crank down the thermostat. Only by the refreshing of my spirit, by giving God control and admitting I don't have control can I reign in the redheadedness.

What do you mean, stop taking Shelby's goldfish?
I could hem and haw and say that when I lose my temper is when they finally start listening. But I don't want to parent them under an iron will of fear. I could call it "righteous indignation" but I'm coming to understand that is an attribute solely belonging to the Lord.

"... for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
- James 1:20
I try to be quick to apologize to my girls, but I need to "keep my temperatures." Shelby has a disarming personality like her daddy ... but Victoria takes after her momma. Passions run high and will only get higher. So when defiance stares me in the face and dares me to lose my mind, I need to give it to God. Before I alienate these children from myself, and possibly Him, in the flames.

She really didn't want her dirty diaper changed. Really. Mom you're unreasonable.
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 4:7 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Start Your Week in the Word - Strength ... submitted

This past week Tim forwarded me a devotional. He didn't mean it as an admonition, but the Lord used it as one. The devotional was one from Chuck Swindoll, and in it he said something which was a revelation for me:

"...going through sustained hard times weakens most men. For some reason, hardship seems to strengthen women.. 
- Chuck Swindoll, A Plea for Understanding
But, that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? Doesn't that apply to men?

"Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church ... as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
-Ephesians 5:22-24


If you don't know me, I happen to be what some would consider a strong woman. I was a strong-willed child. I have survived childhood, college, surgeries, emergencies of many kinds, I've escaped abuse, graduate school, I walked the Back Bay Fens alone at night ... I'm certainly not a weak or sheepish woman. The idea of submission raises the hair on the back of my neck ... something inside me says "Submit? If anything is going to submit here it isn't going to be me ... been there done that."

"She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
- Proverbs 31:17
When times get hard, I get harder. I never imagined that perhaps my strength was a weakness in our marriage. Lord, why did you make me strong if I'm meant to be submitted to my husband who, unbeknownst to me, weakens under pressure?

The answer came to me quickly. I don't have to be a feminist. I don't have to charge off to work and leave my husband at home with the kids. God didn't make me strong to put down bad guys, slay the pig, and drag home the bacon for Tim to cook (though let's face it, he does bacon better than me).
"She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
- Proverbs 31:12
Perhaps wives become strong so that, in submission, in that dreaded subservient position that requirement humility and trust, we have the muscle to lift our husbands up. To help them overcome the lie that they aren't going to get through this, that they've failed, to help them slaughter the lies the enemy is whispering to them night and day.

Without my submission to my husband, I am in danger of towering over him. Of overruling and overpowering him in his weakened state. Of tearing down our marriage instead of building it up. Of scattering our family like a snake in a henhouse instead of gathering them to me like a mother hen. Creating chaos and fear instead of warmth and nourishment ... a place to come back from refreshed rather than a final stop on the spiral to defeat.
"The wise woman builds her house, 
But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.
- Proverbs 14:1
God made me a strong woman so that I can build and uplift from a position of submission.