Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Messy Goodness

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

God is good. He gives us good things. The good things are from God. These things, however, are not safe. They are not the easy route, and common sense may question them.

Not everything is good, but the good things are from God. And God makes good things come out of the things that are not good.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

These truths I know. But to be quite honest, I just don't understand God. If God is good, things should be good. And by that, my understanding would convince me that good means easy. But it doesn't. It should mean safe. But that's not it.

It should mean that anyone that calls themselves a follower of God is good, but they are not. But God delights in them and passionately cheers them on, tirelessly encouraging the failures.

It should mean that this is a beautiful world- and it is. Yet it is the most horrible of worlds.

There is no neat and perfect box to put my faith in. This is messy. Still, God is my refuge and Jesus is my Savior.

"But Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped: “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?” - J.R.R. Tolkien, Return of the King

May I humbly suggest this thought to anyone who can relate to the mess I'm in? Find something good and thank God for it. Not something safe. Not something that makes sense. Something good.

When your messy, quarreling children cut off your lilacs and give you a bouquet, be thankful.

At the end of a long, confusing day, watch the sunset, hear the birds, smell the lilacs, and be thankful. These things are from God. They are good. There is good. We need to see it.

"And Little Child understood that the more he told the stories about the King and the King's people, the less fear he felt and the less fear was in the dark room. Amanda was right: SIGHTERS ARE NOT AFRAID." -David and Karen Burton Mains, Tales of the Restoration

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Joy Killers: Mom Wars

I was having a wonderful day at the park a few weeks ago. It was warm and swarming with children. Mine wanted to climb the rock wall. All four of them climb up and jumped off the 5 ft. ledge- except for Max, whom we carried off after each accomplished climb.

Some parents with young children told them they were too young to try. It took all I had to not roll my eyes. Why wouldn't you let them? As I sat in judgment, a three or four year old girl ran past. She must have been 50+ pounds. She couldn't even lift her little legs high enough to climb without help from her mom I started thinking of all kinds of health problems this child will have due to her condition.

Then God whispered, "You don't know what that mom has been through. Pray and don't judge."

As someone who is infuriated with parents that complain about the inconvenience of children,  I find myself being far too judgmental. I see them missing out on all they joy kids bring and leaving a less then favorable legacy. However, I don't know the whole story. After all, parenting is hard for me and I have a participating husband and an occasional grandparent to help. I have my pet peeves, but then again, I have been judged as well.

I'm not careful enough.
I shelter my kids too much.
I'm denying them of a social life.
They are not in enough activities.

In fact, the more I judge, the more I feel judged. Matthew 7:1 anyone?

It doesn't matter which side I'm on, it just doesn't feel good.

To stay at home or to work.
Private, Public, or home education.
Natural food vs. at least they are fed.
To vaccinate or not to vaccinate.

Really, the fact was that day, that there were parents who cared enough to take their kids to the park. That is something to be thankful for.

Is it possible to train our minds to encourage before judging? To see that our situations are unique and each family must make the right decision for them? To know that we are not God?

From where I stand, I seems to me that the number one reason for discouragement and depression as a parent is the inability to meet other people's expectations. This is time and effort wasted in the areas not meant for us. It is a joy killer. In fact, it is bondage. It is an inability to flourish in our unique gifts as a family. We set made-up and unrealistic expectations that will always leave us as failures.

But God's expectations are full of freedom and joy. They fit right into our very makeup. They were written for us by our creator. Oh, to live each day delighting in Him, letting Him direct us.

Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
Psalm 37:4-6

Moms, we will enjoy or job much more and do a better job at it if we stop letting others blindly influence our family decision and refrain from having all the answers for someone else. Godly council is good, but it is void of judgment and pride.

Let's encourage each other instead.