My children are perfect. Seriously. They always behave themselves. They clean their rooms and listen the first time. They never talk back and don’t scream at deafening decibels when we’re in public. They are respectful to everyone and never, ever throw tantrums.
My children are perfect because I don’t have any, and I’ve contrived in my mind what my children (should we be blessed) will act like.
The truth is, it’s very unlikely that our children will act like this all the time.
My friend Jessica Bowman recently published an eBook: Parenting Wild Things – Embracing the Rumpus. In it she gives Biblical principles, common sense, practical advice in not only rearing our children but ways to keep our insanity level low.
She reminds us that our children are not the criminals we tend to make them, but inquisitive, new to this planet beings who are learning how to live and act in this new environment. And treating our children the way that we, as adults, would like to be treated.
This is one my favorite lines:
“If we strive to train up our children in respect and love, they will learn to model that behavior back to us and towards others. There is no better teacher than example. So, go: treat your children the way you want them to treat you, and reap the rewards of a God honoring relationship in the process.”
We don’t have children, yet, but I guarantee Jessica’s book will be a companion should God bless us.
Several years ago I fell head over heels for a guy. When said guy informed me he didn’t share my same sentiments I did what any “good” Christian 20 year old young woman does when her heart’s been broken into a million pieces. I threw a tantrum. I became angry. I blamed God. I told God I wanted nothing to do with Him.
It took a about a month for me to get my act together and repent. I remember it was a Good Friday service and my heart felt so heavy and so bitter. I knew I was wrong. Through tears and probably mangled words I confessed to our college group leader’s wife. It took a while for me to get back to the place I was before I’d cursed at God.
I share this because I was reminded of it yesterday when I nearly stomped my feet and shouted, “NO! NO! NO! This isn’t how it’s supposed to be!!” Yes, even at 36 I can throw some pretty righteous tantrums.
But I want to stop for a moment and explain something. As my heart raced and I ground my feet into the floor to prevent stomping from occurring, I had to stop and breathe. The very thing I was freaking out about God saying no to, is something that I actually, firmly believe He may be saying yes to. This is not a contrived feeling in my heart based on my selfish desires, but something that has been gone over (and continues to) with much prayer.
And when I slowed my breathing, and took my fears out of the voices and anger racing through my head, I heard this: “Yes may be the answer, but what are you going to do if I say no? I need you to be okay with it if I say no.”
This doesn’t magically make my heart okay. It helps, but it doesn’t mean that I am all better. That is a process in trusting and having faith no matter what the answer ends up being.
I believe that there are times God leads us through tests simply to see how we’ll react and to do as He did yesterday and remind me that no still is on the table and if He says no I need to be okay with it.
I don’t want a repeat of 15 years ago. I never want to be in that state of heart again. I need to consistently remind myself that just as there is a possibility of yes, there is just as much possibility of no. I need to remind myself to trust that whatever ends up being the end result His best for me has always and will always be His motivator.
Yesterday was an incredibly challenging and taxing day, today will be more of the same.
So, today, I want to hear from you.
We all have experienced grace in one form or another. We live it. We breathe it. We wear it like skin.
Aside from grace of salvation, share your most memorable or favorite or cherished story of grace. It can be your own story or that of someone near and dear to you.
Paul writes in Romans that we are to rejoice with those who rejoice – and I can’t think of a greater thing to rejoice over than grace received and given.
Reading through the Bible I’m learning a lot. This would seem fairly obvious but I’m also realizing that I have to be intentional about having an open heart and not simply reading it to be able to say I read the entire Bible. It’s easy just to read it as I would any other book and not allow it to penetrate my soul.
I recently finished reading the Books of the Law: Genesis – Deuteronomy. With the exception of the first 11 chapters of 1 Chronicles Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy were the most challenging. God repeating to Moses and the people His laws. His sacrificial requirements.
I was thinking about the sacrifices last night. Here’s the notes I jotted down:
◙ The Israelites were required to offer sacrifices every day. One in the morning and one in the evening. In addition, there were sin offerings, peace offerings, offerings if you were a woman after every cycle, offerings after you gave birth, and the list goes on. Sacrifices were just that a sacrifice. God required the best. He wouldn’t settle for second best.
◙ The aroma of the sacrifices would have permeated the Israelite camp. If you’ve ever driven by or walked by a steak house or walked out of your house while someone is grilling burgers you know that the air around is heavy laden with with the scent of cooking meat. With at least two sacrifices daily, the aroma would have clung to their cloths, their tents, everything. They would have constantly been reminded of the offerings they made to God.
◙ The sacrifices were not consumed. The offerings were the sustenance for the priests and Levites.
◙ To not offer sacrifices was not only robbing God, but also the men were leading them spiritually.
Here is what this means for me (and you):
God wants our best. We are unable to live perfect, sinless lives but we are required to live holy lives. Living our lives for Him and not our own selfish desires.
As I daily offer my sacrifice to God the aroma of that will permeate every aspect of my life. I’ll make wiser choices. I’ll choose truth over lies, and holiness over sin.
I think the fact that the sacrifices were not consumed is what hit me the most. God did not simply rain down fire to consume the flour or ram or wine. They were offered God accepted and blessed the people. God will not consume me when I give my daily sacrifice. He will accept and bless and enable me to offer myself to Him the next day and the day after that.
When I choose not to live my life for God I’m robbing Him and I’m robbing myself. I’m robbing Him of glory and worthy praise, and I’m robbing myself of His blessings.
Yesterday jealousy crept into my heart like a ghost. Haunting areas of my life and rattling bones of skeletons I thought were safely tucked away.
In situations I thought were under control and my patience firmly rooted, I witnessed them plucked from loose soil and whipped around by chain dragging ghosts. And observed flesh pulled back on my own self revealing festers that never quite healed fully, as envy oozed over what others have and God’s providential timing hasn’t placed into my life .
In all of this I’m learning that my story isn’t your story and your story isn’t mine. And that with jealousy I’m saying I want your story; I don’t want my own unique one.
Jealousy longs to take your chapters and fit them into my book, but I’ll quickly see that no amount of trimming and gluing and refitting, your pages don’t and won’t align with the pages that God is writing out in my life.
Jealousy and envy tend to thrive in seasons of wait. While we’re waiting for doors to open and questions to be answered we easily see everyone else’s doors open and questions answered. We believe that their doors and questions had immediate responses (which often is not the case) while ours seem to take forever.
Patience is difficult but always worth the wait. I want my story to be mine. Uniquely written for me. I don’t want jealousy to ghost write for me.
It’s been [nearly] a year since my last birthday.
A year of God slowly sanctifying this soul and the words that God gave me that speak of my hearts ache for sinlessness.
And I learned how just close knit this
community family we have is.
I’ve experienced that the road isn’t always smooth and sometimes it comes crashing into you and occasionally wraps itself tightly into knots, yet in the rough terrain the scenery and the journey are beautiful.
I began taking steps to live life to the fullest before cresting the “hill”; and in that met fabulous virtual friends who became phenomenal real life friends.
And I’ve fallen more madly in love with him.
My prayer every year is that I would simply become more like Him.
Thirty-six – let’s do this!!
“We turn not older with years, but newer every day.” – Emily Dickinson
Prudence is a 30-something writer who lives in Arizona with her husband Shawn and their chihuahuas Lengua and Zeus. She writes her life, her experiences and her crawl back to hope. Eventually, she hopes to visit India – a place that’s captured her heart without ever stepping foot on the soil.