Monday, February 16, 2015

Love Like This

"God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us …" 1 John 4:17 (MSG)

We're not Valentine's Day celebraters. In 9 years of marriage I don't think we've ever done the whole V-day date night extravaganza or whatever most couples do. But, now that we have children and they're old enough to understand that it's a holiday that celebrates love, we're finding the opportunity is ripe for teaching them how it should be celebrated and recognized. In a culture that releases movies touting a glossy Hollywood fantasy-based love on Valentine's Day, I'm seeing that now more than ever its imperative to teach our children what true love is.

My marriage is far from perfect. Far... do you hear me? However; we've learned from several mistakes that I believe the Lord is using to shape our marriage to be better than its ever been and strong enough to withstand the daily battles we face against the flesh.

If you know my man, you know he is super tall. I chuckle when I recall our early years of dating and how this kind of bothered me. It was an attraction, but whenever my small frame stood next to him I couldn't help but be reminded of my smallness. His towering over me made me feel safe and secure, yet frail at the same time. Over time, I've realized that's a good place to be. Small. Always aware of my need for humility. And while he still towers tall, I realize he loves me best when he bends low.

Because true love is sacrificial. It's not height, but humility.

It bends low to change diapers and wipe noses.

It bends low to fold laundry and pick up toys.

It bends low to paint dresser drawers on Valentines Day when asked.

It strives to be righteous instead of right.

It bends to listen instead of always needing to be heard.

This kind of love definitely isn't seen on the big screen and isn't blowing up social media, but it's the only love I ever want to know... and want my children to know.

And love like this is ours every day when Christ lives in us and we live in Him.

Prayerfully, it's the love my children will see demonstrated in our home and in the way we serve others. So that one day they'll know, it's not about a glamorized holiday, but an every day, always serving, always bending low kind of love.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Embracing the Unknown...

So much of parenting is trial and error. There have been more times than I'd like to count where I got it terribly wrong, and moments when I realized we got it right. But who's keeping count?

And anyway, God's goodness intersects our every parenting moment, both good and bad. But over the last five years, if He has taught me anything about parenting it's that if my confidence as a parent is in the Lord, then He will bless my children and bless our efforts. It has been in the times of feeling secure in myself or a parenting book that I read, or a blog, or even advice from another wiser more experienced parent, that I have stumbled and realized my confidence cannot be in my fleshly wisdom but simply in the grace of God.

Celebrating Emmalyn's 5th birthday last week had me thinking a lot on our parenting journey thus far. I'll be honest, Emmalyn hasn't been that difficult to parent. She truly is a joy and while I know our share of trying stages and chapters are ahead, she has given us more joy and laughter than anything thus far. But in thinking about what lies ahead and the unknown, I realized that I'm always doubting and always fearing the next thing, the next chapter, or the next step.

I had to get honest with God about my place of uncertainty and if my emotions were overwhelming me due to Emmalyn's little milestone, or if I was overcome with fear over a new chapter that is yet unknown to us?

God reminded me of the story of Gideon in Judges 6. Gideon overcame his doubts and fears by focusing on what God thought about him. First though, he had to process his doubts with God honestly. He told the angel of the Lord that he questioned God's presence and doubted His promises because of recent conflicts and defeats.

My personal evaluation had me realizing that conflict, criticism, and comparison often leads be into fear and doubt. Conflict will tell me that I'm disqualified to do what I do, criticism paralyzes me from believing I can do certain things, and comparison will convince me that someone else can do it better than I can.

But God says... I am calling you out of the darkness. Turn toward the light and truth of what I say about you.

You are a chosen (woman) and a royal (priest), a holy (daughter), God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

So, you can embrace the unknown not because of what qualifies you as a parent, but because of WHO qualifies you as a parent. He's given us this amazing privilege of shepherding our sweet gifts, so I'll do so with confidence in who he says I am.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. Jeremiah 17:7

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Why I'm Aiming for Less this Year...

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

Every year my husband and I try to steal some time away to ring in the new year. During that escape we set goals for the coming year. They vary- from financial, health and wellness, faith-based goals, relationship and career goals, etc...

I didn't set goals this year.

It's not that I didn't want to or because I'm an under-achiever.

I just didn't want to corner myself into specific goals. If there's one thing 2014 taught me its that sometimes my specific goals can get in the way of the Holy Spirit's leading in my life. I've learned that I long to be completely led by God and not driven by goals I've set on my own.

I totally believe goals are helpful tools for accountability along the way... reminders of something bigger God wants us to achieve for His purposes. But they're just that- reminders. Not directions.

In realizing only He directs my every step, I'm committing in 2015 to focus on the small daily goals- the ones I know I can tackle and grow from there. I love what author Holly Gerth says:

A small goal that actually happens and can grow is better than the grandest one that remains a fantasy.

Less lofty? Maybe. I'm not throwing away my big dreams, I'm just stepping one foot at a time fully into the small. Because He can grow whatever we begin into more than we can imagine!