How To Use God’s Word In Daily Raw Moments of Parenting

I sat at the farmhouse table with 2 of 3 boys. Bibles out, breakfast being consumed, ready to start the homeschool day. Boy 3 arrives on the scene with an apology for being late to the table. He opens the pantry, pours a bowl of cereal, opens the fridge, and….finds the milk empty.

He wheels around looking for the person who dared take the last of the milk. A brother offered a smile with a raise of the red dixie cup that housed the last drops of milk. The fuming brother stepped with pounding feet toward his spot at the table. I held my breath afraid to inhale the smoke exiting his ears. And then it happened.

The brother who drank the milk made eye contact with the brooding brother, he took a deliberately slow sip while winking from behind the tilted cup. Brooding brother bursts out in his anger. The fighting words start. I attempt to calm the boys down, and I make the mistake of walking away for a brief moment, long enough for brooding brother to push provoking brother to the point of spilling a cup of water.

I send angry brother to his room to calm down. And then I take a deep breath.

I’ve been listening to a book that is daily challenging me in how I parent. It’s revealing to me the sin in my heart that parents from a wrong perspective most days. It’s encouraging me to look at every single parenting moment as a gift from God. Every frustration. Every heartache. Every outburst. Every moment we have our kids is an opportunity to be used by God to live out the gospel, to be used by God to point them to their desperate need for the cross, and to fall madly and deeply in love with the One who is worthy of our everything.

The book I’m reading, or listening to, on Audible, is Parenting – 14 Gospel Principles that can radically change your family by Paul David Tripp.

My first reaction is NOT to point to the cross. I want that to be my first reaction. But it depends on my fatigue level, how many issues I’ve had to parent through when the next one strikes, how hungry I am. You get the picture. If you catch me fresh in the morning, I’m high on His new mercies and I can point away to the cross. But grab me at the end of the day, and you might think someone has replaced me.

On this particular morning, I’d enjoyed a long quiet time alone with the Lord. While showering I listened to the end of this book I’ve been savoring. I was fresh into my day, yet my first reaction to this situation was in my head, “Seriously??? Monday was great but Tuesday is now Monday??” Then I sent a vent text to my husband for good measure. (Good man he is just lets me vent away…then I think he prays for me)

I opened up my file box I keep in the kitchen drawer. It’s full of sacred. It holds God’s Word as I’ve stumbled upon it in my quiet times or at various points when God has spoken to me. I’ve jotted key verses on these index cards for years. If they fall into a particular category, like anger, I write the topic at the top of the card.

These cards aren’t beautifully created. I would never post them on Pinterest as they would be overlooked. They aren’t color coded, organized smartly, written with beautiful calligraphy, or doodled on for extra charm. But they hold God’s Word etched in paper.

When I began to read God’s Word every single day, not only did I find myself falling more in love with God, but I found myself shocked at how practical and alive God’s Word is. Each time I sat to read the Word, I’d find myself grabbing an index card out and writing down a verse that I knew I would need eventually.

I didn’t know God’s Word well enough in my early years of parenting to recall a verse and point my kids to Jesus with His Word. So when I discovered a passage of scripture, I’d write it down, labeling if possible and tucking into a file box that I kept near at hand in the kitchen.

When boys complained, I’d grab at my index cards and quickly pull out the verse about complaining. When boys argued, I’d reach for the cards and find scripture on loving others. When anger reigned, I’d find the verses on anger. When we found ourselves choosing not to watch movies that friends might be allowed to watch, we’d pull out the cards that talked about keeping pure hearts.

While there are books out there that give a topical index to finding scripture to use in parenting, I found that discovering it on my own held the most power. I was relying on God to show me Himself through my own study time. Taking the extra minute or two to write the Word on the card was an active step in hiding His Word in my own heart that I might not sin against Him. My kids actually seeing me reading, studying, writing, and relying on His Word has impacted them and their own reliance on God’s Word.

Back to the story. I grabbed my file cards and started thumbing through them before I sat with my incredibly angry child. Then I sat on his bed and we prayed. We thanked God that He is gracious, kind, compassionate, and forgiving. We thanked Him for His Word that lights our path. We asked Him to guide us in righteousness for His name’s sake.

I read the first card to him.

“Proverbs 19:20 says ‘Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.’ I hope you will listen to my instruction now. I’m going to read to you some scripture as it relates to what just took place.

Proverbs 19:11 ‘A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.’

Proverbs 17:19 ‘He who loves a quarrel loves sin; he who builds a high gate invites destruction.’

Proverbs 16:32 ‘Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s temper, than capturing a city.’

Proverbs 29:11 ‘A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.’

You know why I send you away to your room before I talk to you? This is why…

Psalm 4:4 ‘In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your heart and be silent.’

I want you to sit with your heart and let the Holy Spirit speak to you before I speak to you.

James 3:18 ‘Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness’

Proverbs 14:29 ‘A patient man has great understanding, but a quick tempered man displays folly.’

Ecc 7:9 ‘ Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.’

Ecc 7:8 ‘The end of a matter is better than its beginning and patience is better than pride.’

James 1:19-20 ‘Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.’

Psalm 37:8-9 ‘Refrain from anger and give up your rage; do not be agitated it can only bring harm. For evildoers will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.’ ‘

After I read the scriptures jotted on index cards that have been used repeatedly over the years, I looked into his eyes. They’d softened. His shoulders had relaxed.

I continued, “I understand your feelings and thoughts from that incident, but I want to point out something you might not be aware of. Were you upset because your brother used the last of the milk?”

He nodded his head.

“That was selfish of him to think of himself right? He didn’t consider anyone else when he poured the last drops. I’ve done the same thing before. Thought of myself only.”

He kept listening.

“But who were you thinking of when you realized there was no milk?”

Quietly, he answered, “Myself.”

“Right. You thought of yourself first. You wanted cereal. You had no milk. So you see,  both of you had selfishness in your hearts. The anger we experience is typically birthed from another sin hiding in our hearts. Something drives that anger out, and we need to identify the sin in our heart producing the anger. That anger then caused you to sin. That’s why I love the verse that says ‘in your anger, do not sin.’ We have a choice when we feel anger to NOT sin in the anger. It’s hard, but that is why I send you away. I’m trying to help protect you from sinning further in your anger. Then you can get into the quiet moments with God.”

I finished by praying with him showing how to ask God for forgiveness and asked him to go to his brother and ask forgiveness. I sat with the brother and shared words with him to show how selfishness hides in our hearts and we don’t even recognize it most days. I told him initially he wasn’t trying to hurt his brother, but he didn’t think of anyone other than himself when he took the last of the milk. And one step further, when seeing the brother fuming, continued to stoke the fire, provoking him to anger.

This process can be exhausting. It takes time, patience, and diligence. There was a season where we simply didn’t have time for an exercise like this. We were running from here to there. There was no time to sit and talk. However, we are in a season now where we have much greater margin in our days.

Do I handle every argument this way? No. Do I wish I did? Yes.

Many days I take the easy road. I simply slap a band aid on the injury and rush us onto the next item on the agenda. But I know deep down that this isn’t what my kids need most. Yes, I temporarily regain peace in the home, but their hearts were shaped, and they didn’t see Jesus at work.

Often in my parenting, I let my own selfishness rule my heart. I want peace. I want quiet. I want time. I want. I want. I want. Therefore, I don’t take the time needed to truly point my kids to Christ.

We have a small window of time to instruct our kids, to train them up, to shepherd them. We have limited time to influence them more than the world will. It’s our privilege to take every moment as a gift and use it to the glory of God.

Lord, I confess I parent selfishly many days. Forgive me for not taking every moment to point my kids to you. Grant me wisdom. Give me strength to parent well. Show me how to do this task You’ve called me to. Thank you for the gift of parenting.

 

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God Never Asked Me To Be His Assistant Holy Spirit

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The words in my head are itching to make their way out through the pounding of my fingers on the keyboard. I find myself constantly saying, “I have no time to write anymore.” Actually, I have no time for anything it seems. I have no time to take a run or a long walk. No time to write. No time to answer emails. No time to think. The more I feel this way, the more the anxiety builds up. I begin to notice something going on around me when I get this way. I rest less in Him, I try harder in me.

I sat down to write a post this morning, and the Lord brought to mind one I’d already written on this topic. I thought it fitting to share it with you today.

You can ready the original post here – I am not the Holy Spirit.

Of course, I know I’m not the Holy Spirit to my family. But you wouldn’t know it by how I act far too often. The less effective I am to change their hearts, the harder I try. The harder I try, the greater the frustration and anxiety. Because I’m powerless to change a heart. Not only that, it’s not my job. I’m taking the role from God.

Last week, I read an article on Desiring God. One sentence reached into my heart and squeezed with all its strength. Paul David Tripp wrote, “God has tasked parents with many things, but nowhere in his word has he tasked you with the responsibility to create heart change.”

It was the light bulb moment where God likely says, “You know this. You’ve walked this. You wrote this very thing. But you’ve forgotten and I want you to know this because it’s for your freedom and your good.”

I’ll stop here because I’ve said all that needs to be said in my previous post I am not the Holy Spirit.

This is resting in God. Tucking under His wing. To let Him be God. To trust in His every way. To soak in Him in order to be wrung out on the ones He’s woven you with.

For your weekend, I pray you will allow His love to rush over you. To refresh and revive your heart. To fill you with so much of Him that it pours out on the ones who fill the seconds and minutes of your days. To remember that He never asked you to be the Holy Spirit. To grasp the freedom in that.

Happy Friday!

A Letter To My Middle Schooler- I hope you aren’t cool

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Dear Boys,

When I was in middle school, all I wanted was to be cool. In my day cool looked much different than it looks today. Cool comes with a cost. Know what you are buying when you make that exchange.

Most middle schoolers want to fit in in such a way so they will not stand out. They want to be cool in their own way. Cool for one may not be cool for another.

Begin by defining cool for yourself. Don’t let the world define cool for you. The world may say cool is what God calls rebellion. The world may say cool is to love things that aren’t lovely or pure. The world may say cool is to be someone God wants to protect you from being. The world may call cool what God calls idolatrous or foolish.

The world may say it’s cool to have a girlfriend when you know that having a girlfriend will lead you into areas of temptation you aren’t prepared to fight. All your friends may have girlfriends and say you are weird if you don’t. Don’t believe that lie. The ways of the world are foolish to God. 1 Cor 3:19 “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”;

The world may say it’s cool to wear designer clothes and name brand shoes. But God’s Word says in Col 3:2 “Set your mind on things above not on earthly things.”

The world may say it’s cool to watch certain shows and movies or read certain books that are the latest craze. Your friends will stand in lines at bookstores or go to midnight showings. They may religiously watch a weekly show that in your spirit you know something isn’t right. It’s because you know God’s Word tells you in Phil 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

The world may say it’s cool to use curse words. God’s Word says in Eph 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

The world may say it’s cool to talk bad about your friends or say unkind things about people who are different from you. But God’s Word says in Proverbs 16:28 “A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends.” and in Proverbs 21:23 “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.”

The world will offer you many definitions of cool, but you don’t need to accept any definition other than the one that aligns to a Biblical standard. You have known the words of the Lord. Walk in truth. Walk with Him. The world will do all it can to show you an alternate path. It will take truth and twist it ever so slightly creating a path that will lead you off the one God has paved for you to walk. It’s what satan did in the garden. He took truth and twisted it creating a lie. If you don’t know God’s Word, you won’t be able to discern between the truth and the twisted truth.

The world does not define you. Your friends do not define you. No one has a right to label you as cool, weird, nerdy, etc. They will try to define you, but you don’t allow anyone to define you. God already defined you. He created you and He is the only One who has the right to define who you are.

You are His. Here is who He says you are.

Eph 2:10 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Galatians 4:11 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

During your middle school years, you will look for where you fit in. You will seek to find your worth and value in friends, academics, sports, all kinds of areas. Your friends don’t complete you, your grades don’t make you, your talents don’t define you. These are simply gifts from God. Enjoy them, delight in them. Thank God for them. But don’t let them become who you are.

You are a child of God. As a child of God, you are free. Totally, completely free. Free to walk in the Spirit. Free to live released of the pressure to be a certain way or to walk a certain line. You are free to be the one He created you to be.

When you choose this road, the one of being a true follower a Christ, a true disciple, you will stand out. You won’t blend in. His desire is that you are set apart. You are set apart for His good purposes. When you are set apart, you will not be liked by everyone.

This is why it’s ok for everyone to not like you.

“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

My prayer for you is that you seek to be like Jesus who didn’t get in with the cool crowd. In fact, he was radical and forever changed the world.

Since birth I’ve prayed for you to be a man after God’s own heart. I’ve prayed for you to love God more than anything in this entire world. I’ve prayed that you would follow God so hard you would strike fear in the eyes of the enemy.

Stand strong. Be bold. Choose courage.

Anyone can be like the world. It’s takes courage and strength to become the man of God He wants you to be. Walk in your calling. Be who He created you to be not who the world says you are. You are a child of God. Only God can define you.

His Love Pursues You. Will You Let Him Catch You Today?

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Psalm 27:8

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.

“Mom, I’m setting up an incentive chart. If I fill up 100 boxes, can I earn a camp out alone with Dad?”

“I think that is an awesome idea.”

I walked by his room later that day and saw his handmade chart hanging on the wall. Throughout the day, when he felt proud of some accomplishment, he’d ask me if he could reward himself a sticker on his chart.

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I wasn’t around when Zachary told Steve about the reward he was working toward, but after the kids were in bed Steve mentioned to me their conversation. He concluded, “It’s done. Any one of my children who wants to spend time with me, they’ve got it. We will have a backyard camp out tomorrow night. He doesn’t need to earn time with me. If he wants me, he’s got me.”

“But it’s a work night. And a school night.”

“So,” he shrugged off my practicalities and chose intentionality instead.

When Zachary awoke the following morning, he found this note waiting for him from his daddy. An invitation to time alone. Just father and son. Campfire, tents, telling stories, sharing snacks, and watching the stars.

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The entire day I noticed a drastic difference in Zachary. An excitement, a lightness, a quiet confidence, a sweet joy. He knew his father longed to spend time with him as much as he longed for it. As soon as his father learned of his desire, he reached his daddy arms out to him and pulled him in. He’s always reaching towards his children, but most of the time they miss seeing it through the activity of life.  This time he noticed his daddy dropped everything to be with his son simply because his son wanted it.

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Our Father stands with arms stretched wide to us. Desiring we run into His waiting arms. We forget at times that our Father desires to spend time with us. Sharing stories with Him as we watch the stars He placed in the sky for us.

He desires our love. Our wholehearted devotion to Him. He delights in us.

Psalm 149:4 For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.

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Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Our Father’s love is a pursuing a love. It never stops chasing and longing for us. He takes delight in us. He created us for His good pleasure that we may glorify Him. When we slow our souls, we become aware of His pursuit. We find He’s not running the pace we run. He stands with extended arms towards His children waiting for us to run to Him rather than running to anything else.

What our souls need most is to sit in His lap. To let Him quiet us with His love. To sing over us.

Instead we run to other things to fill us, to entertain us. We are enticed away from our first love and find ourselves depleted and empty. Our souls cry out for what we really need, but we keep running away. Like Zachary, we set ourselves up to earn His love, forgetting that it’s a gift that needs no earning. An undeserved gift that awaits us moment by moment.

When we stop running from Him, stop running to substitutes for His love, and we look around us, we will see He has placed love notes all around us inviting us to steal away with Him under the stars, tucked away from the chaos of life. To hide away in His love.

He’s waiting to fill your love tank right now. Will you allow Him to lavish you with His love today?

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The Golden Calves Our Kids Worship

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“Mom, I just wanted to tell you I’m so glad you didn’t get us electronics when we were young. If you had I know we would’ve loved them and could’ve ended up addicted.”

I stopped at his doorway silent for a moment.

“I appreciate you saying that.”

He smiled back, “It’s true. I don’t care anything about having a smart phone or any device, but if I had one years ago, I know it would have ended up something I wanted to be on all the time.”

My mind immediately went to the first post I ever wrote about electronics. I had to turn off the comments because some became simply vicious. I was called names, ridiculed, and told my kids would simply rebel.

It didn’t bother me. When you write online, you open yourself to all kinds of attacks. Those types of comments paled in comparison to the ones who agreed with my post and felt the same way.

Commenters told me my children would hate me for withholding electronics from them. The reason my children don’t hate us for this decision is because we have told them and shown them how much we love them, we have shared the why’s, and we have shown them something much more beautiful. We’ve shown them life. Real life.

Real life, real beauty, real conversations. We’ve offered them the real over the fake. What’s not to love about that? The letter I wrote our boys expressed to them that the root of our limiting electronics is the fact that we don’t want to miss out on life with them. They will be 18 in the blink of an eye. I don’t want to miss a minute. When they understand it’s because we love them and don’t want to miss out on experiencing life with them, they see into our hearts.

When it comes to phones, ipads, devices, video games, or anything of the sort, I so often have parents tell me they didn’t want to enter into this world BUT they wanted their kids to fit in.

I get it. But at the same time, I say, “No!” No, we shouldn’t desire our kids fit in if it is in an area we feel contention over. If it opens them to a world you aren’t ready to parent them through, keep that door closed. If it opens a door to a world that is dangerous to their hearts and minds, keep it closed. If it opens the door to a world that is out to devour them, keep it closed.

The dangers are real, and we are guardians over their hearts and minds until they learn how to guard themselves.

When we give our kids over to electronics out of peer pressure, that is what we are modeling to them. How can we expect them to fight their own peer pressure when we show them that is how we make many of our decisions?

Start as we intend to go. It’s much easier stay on course than it is it start down a path, crash into obstacles, get lost in the forest, and try to find the path you wish you had started on to begin with.

This article is heartbreaking – Digital heroin.

That is what we are up against. An addiction equal to a heroin addiction. This should terrify us into an awakening. This should give us the resolve we need to do what is right for our kids at the risk of them not being “cool” in the eyes of some.

Were our kids called to be cool? Or were they called to be set apart?

I don’t want cool kids. I want set apart kids.

It doesn’t take much for an addiction to set in. We are worshipers at heart. The problem begins when we place our natural inclinations toward worship on anything other than God. Enter idolatry.

The current craze is Pokemon Go. Much controversy surrounds this game. Years ago my children became interested in Pokemon cards. A few weeks later strange behaviors began to take place in one of my sons. I began praying through his room asking God to reveal if there was something in our home which opened a door to the enemy. Later this child came to me and said he felt he needed to get rid of his Pokemon cards and his Wii game Skylanders. All went to the trash, we prayed through the room and house. Strange behaviors left with the items we threw out. So I’m sensitive to Pokemon or anything with occult ties and origins.

With Pokemon go, we have a view into how easily our children become worshipers. How quickly they give their heart to something and fix their eyes on the object of their worship. If we are raising our kids to love and honor God, it should concern us when something, anything, grabs their heart in such an obvious, addicting way. (Side note: This is a great article if you have concerns about your child playing Pokemon Go)

We have an opportunity to train our children to worship the only One worth worshiping. A child or teen, or adult for that matter, has no problem with worshiping. It’s a matter of where they fix their eyes and heart. It will be given to something.

What if we teach them from Revelation? Teach them what awaits us. Show them the God who is worthy of our entire hearts?

When we spend more time teaching and showing our kids who God really is, they will thirst and hunger for the One who quenches every desire. They will hunger for the only One who can truly fill them. If we spend time talking about eternity, talking about Heaven, talking about things that matter, we can plant seeds in their hearts that grow into fruit bearing, life giving pursuits.

Unbridle my love, Lord

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To listen to an audio recording of this post, click here.

“Mom, you have to pause right now. You have to come outside and see God’s beautiful world. There is a yellow and black butterfly flying back and forth between the trees. And everything is just. so. beautiful.”

I swiveled my cracked leather chair away from the computer screen and looked into his eyes wide with excitement. His little hands clenched tight to the mason jar holding one tiny rock.

“I found this rock when I was digging. I saved it in this glass jar so you could always think of me. I want you to remember me.”

“Andrew, I will never forget you.” I smiled, closed my computer, and followed him outside. For the first time in days, the humidity wasn’t 95%. The sky was overcast. It was lovely.

“I see the butterfly, Andrew!”

“See, I told you, Mom, it’s just beautiful out here.”

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He led me to the spot where he had been digging. He found bird netting that had grown into the ground and a rock. “Mom, I’m trying to make a hot tub. I decided I would help dig so if we ever get a pool, we will have a hot tub, and you won’t have to hire so many workers.”

I smiled back at him, nodding my affirmation of his plan. He stood up, brushed the dust off his shorts, and held his garden shovel high. “It’s not impossible for a little man with a little shovel to do that kind of job.”

Not with faith and belief like that. For the one who believes that with God all things are possible, then all things simply become possible.

After a few minutes exploring outside, we made our way back inside. We grabbed the book he and I are reading aloud, Misty of Chincoteague. We snuggled close on my bed. The dogs took their spots, one as a pillow behind my head, the other sprawled at our feet. The dialect when the grandfather speaks is tough for me to read and even more difficult for Andrew to follow. Every few sentences, I would stop and explain in plain English what the grandfather was saying to his grandchildren. The grandfather in the story referenced “gentling” a horse. I explained this would be taming a wild horse.

His eyes widened again. “I could do that. I could totally do that.”

“Andrew, honestly, I believe you could. I can absolutely see you having the ability to tame a wild horse.”

A few minutes later, he shared his newly discovered dream with Jacob. “Hey, Jacob, I’m going to calm a wild horse. I’ll just get the strongest rope in the world and bring him to me. Then I’ll get a brush and brush him softly because that will calm him like it calms our dogs.”

Jacob listened as he faked slam dunks on Andrew’s closet basketball goal. “Cool, Andrew, that’s neat.”

Andrew leaned back in his bed with his arms behind his head. He was in deep thoughts of taming wild horses. I softly closed his door for our daily “quiet” time.

An hour later quiet time ended and the boys transitioned to their daily movie or Wii time for 30 minutes. Andrew had lost his screen time because of an earlier in the day episode of disrespect, disobedience, and some serious outbursts of anger.

I sat on my bed writing during that time. He climbed on my bed with me. “Mom, I am just so sad. They are watching a show, and I wish I didn’t have to lose mine. I’m ashamed of myself.”

I put my computer down again. “Andrew, can I tell you a story?”

“Is it a true story?”

“Well, it’s a story from my heart.”
He shrugged his shoulders, crawled closer to me on the bed, and ran his fingers over threads hanging from the comforter.

“Imagine you see a wild horse. Of course, you would want it since you want a horse so badly. And you would love it immediately. In your heart you would promise to love it, protect it, and take good care of it. You would do for it what was best. But that wild horse doesn’t trust you, so it doesn’t know that you will only do what is good for it.”

He looked up from the threads and met my eyes. “Andrew, sometimes you are like that wild horse. You think you know best and forget that I love you and know what is best for you, so you forget to trust me.”

“That makes sense, actually.”

“It really does. We are all like that wild horse at times with God too. God has promised to never leave us and never foresake us. He will always take care of us and always love us. But sometimes we buck and run and He is whispering to us. He is saying, ‘Just trust me. I know what is best for you. Just obey me and love me.’ ”

He nodded as he began to play with the loose threads again. I pulled him tight to my side, kissing his cheek. “Do you know how much I love you?”

He rolled his eyes, “Yes, mom.”

“Do you know how much God loves you?”

His automatic answer, “Yes.” Then he switched his answer, “No.”

“He loves you so much He sent His One and only Son to die for you. That is how much. He loves you way more than I love you!”

His smile broke across his face as he pulled out of my embrace, skipping out of my room. We all like to be reminded that we are loved with a ridiculously wild, indulgent love.

His plans are good, His will is perfect. He asks us to trust and follow. And in response I ask Him to make me love Him wildly. With a love that is unbridled.

Lord, let me trust you with my whole heart. When I’m scared, let me run to you, not away. When I think I know what is best, remind me that you know my heart better than I know myself. Unbridle my heart to love you wildly.

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When I Watched the Gospel Wear Skin

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I sat in the corner of the waiting room where Andrew attends Interactive Metronome therapy twice a week. Jacob stood at the door leading from the waiting room to the hallway. “Oh my gosh, Mom, come here! Andrew is out in the hallway.” The laugh in Jacob’s eyes told me I didn’t want to miss this.

I placed my book on the seat and joined Jacob at the door. Peering around the doorframe, I gasped. Jacob doubled over gripping his stomach through his fits of laughter. From the end of the hall, Andrew shouts back, “What? Stop it, Jacob!” Jacob couldn’t stop laughing.

“Jacob, please go back in the waiting room,” I whispered. Just then Andrew’s therapist emerged from the bathroom holding the shirt Andrew had been wearing. It was soaked.

“Andrew had a little accident on his shirt when he went to the bathroom. I tried to rinse it off and accidentally got his shirt wetter than I meant to and now it’s too wet for him to wear.”

I laughed. He laughed. Then I realized, we really did have a bit of an issue. Therapy time ticked away. Valuable time. It’s been years since I’ve kept extra clothes on hand. He could go shirtless, which would be fine with him, maybe not with the other children. I saw no solution.

I wore a cardigan over my shirt. I took it off to offer it to Andrew. His always over-expressive eyes widened, “Mom! I cannot wear girl clothes! I’ll look ridiculous!”

He pushed his arms in anyway. We rolled the sleeves up, buttoned the bottom buttons, hoping he would roll with it.

“No. No way. Take this off me now. I can not wear this!”

“Do you think one of his brothers would loan him their shirt?”

“Ha! I highly doubt it, but I’ll ask.”

I thought to myself, “There is no way they will give up their shirt, sit shirtless in a waiting room so Andrew can continue therapy.” Having no other options, I entered the waiting room to ask so I could say I’d given it my best.

“Ok, boys, Andrew had a little accident on his shirt, his therapist tried to help him out and ended up soaking the shirt. In order for him to finish therapy, he needs a shirt to wear. I tried to give him my cardigan but he won’t wear it. Is there any way one of you would be willing to loan him the shirt off your back so he can finish therapy?”

Before I completed my sentence, Jacob shot up from his seat. “I’ll do it, Mom. He can wear my shirt.”

Before he could change his mind, I whisked him out of the waiting room back to Andrew standing shirtless in the hallway.

They locked eyes and both burst out laughing. Through his laughter, Andrew said, “Stop it, Jacob.” Jacob couldn’t help himself.

“Jacob, quickly take off your shirt and give it to him so he can get back to work.” Jacob pulled his shirt off, Andrew slipped it on his head. And I watched it dawn on Jacob what he had just done.

Jacob stood exposed.

Andrew looked down at his new shirt. “This fits perfect. Thanks!” And off he and his therapist went. Meanwhile, I handed Jacob my favorite white cardigan.

He looked at it as if it were poison. “Mom, I can’t believe I just gave him my shirt. I don’t know what I was thinking! I am so embarrassed right now.”

I let it all out. Every ounce of laughter I’d been holding in. Watching Jacob put his arms into that cardigan, button up the buttons which went to about his belly button, and looking at his bare chest. Well, it was about the funniest thing I’d seen in awhile.

After I gathered myself, I stood back looking at him. “Jacob, that is the most beautiful picture of sacrifice I’ve seen. You didn’t think, you didn’t weigh the options, you didn’t count the cost to you. You gave to your brother what he didn’t have, you suffered humiliation and embarrassment for his sake. And you did it out of love.”

A blush covered his face, as he gently nodded, eyes cast to the floor. “It was weird, Mom, because I didn’t even think about it until after I’d given him my shirt. It just happened. I really can’t believe I said yes.”

“It’s the absolute perfect picture of sacrifice. When we sacrifice something from our hearts, we often don’t think about it. It comes naturally.”

A soldier who gives his life for a brother isn’t weighing his options and what he will give up. There is no time. A mother who runs into the road to save her child crossing the street isn’t thinking. She is simply acting. Often what we call a sacrifice is simply an act of love to the nth degree.

“Jacob, you had what Andrew didn’t and out of your love for him, you sacrificed. You are embarrassed, you are humiliated. Jesus did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He hung on a cross in complete humiliation. Willingly. It was the ultimate sacrifice.”

I watched the thought wash over him. It transformed his face, and I pray it transforms his heart. I know it will. Because the gospels transforms us. Not just the first time we get it, but every moment we live it.
When we truly get the gospel is when the gospel gets us. And we will never, ever be the same. It’s impossible.

Jacob showed me gospel living. The gospel is meant to be tasted, felt, experienced. The gospel is radical. Extreme. Unnatural. It’s wild abandonment of self and pride. It’s humbling.

The gospel isn’t meant to be boiled down to a Sunday School lesson leading to a sinner’s prayer. It’s so much more. It’s beautifully complex wearing the clothes of simplicity. It’s a simple message meant to be breathed in and out.

With each breath of the gospel, we come alive, and out of the life He gave for us, we can give. We can stand humiliated yet unashamed.

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