bare white

bare white


(Dreaming of) Moving to the Country...Snakes and Ticks and Tall Boots

We went for a stroll the other day on a gorgeous piece of property surrounded by trees and tall grass and a large pond. This property is for sale and on it sits a large, vacant home. We dreamed while looking in the many windows.
We dreamed of what it would be like to live there. My oldest dreamed of what it would be like to write books there with an endless amount of inspiration at her fingertips, literally. My boys dreamed of fishing on the small beach and exploring every ounce of the many acres. My toad-lover girl knew right away there were many new toad-friends to be found.
I could go on and on about all of the reasons it would be good for us to live there. Reasons like peace and quiet, a bigger home, a football field of a yard, nature, room to breath, a pond no less - the list in my dreaming mind could go on and on. I may have even tried to persuade my husband with a reason like, "it would save us money with weddings because all of our kids would be married on our land." To which I received an eye roll and a, "seriously?"

During the dreaming, we were interrupted by a blonde-hair boy saying,
"Hey! Look mom, there's a snake in the pond."
I looked and sure enough, as my dream shattered a tiny bit, there was a very real, alive snake popping his head above water to say hi.
As we were packing up the kids like sardines to leave, I looked down on my leg and there was a very real, alive tick crawling on my bare leg. My dream might have shattered a bit more.

I know these creatures are just a part of life. I get it. But it was also a very abrupt reminder that the snakes and ticks of this world are real and alive and they don't always surface in our dreaming, but they are still there. In my mind, as I stood on the bank of that pond, surely no snakes live in it - it is just too beautiful. And in my dreaming, while standing in that tall grass, I envisioned our kids running and playing in the acres and acres of openness. Surely no ticks would crawl up our legs. It is just too gorgeous.

The same goes for my dreams for my kids in their lives. The dreams I have are big and bold where no snakes or ticks are welcome. Dreams of them being so strong in their faith they are unshakeable, willing to go and do anything and everything for the Lord. No trials in these dreams because trials hurt and trials leave scars and trials are scary. And yet, trials are exactly what produces this faith. Trials build spiritual muscle with roots that go so deep. A braveness is built only when a fear is faced and instead of paralyzing us we overcome it. That is bravery!

My trial-less dreams are not reality, I know. Nor are they supported by Scripture at all.
My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an opportunity to experience the greatest joy you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking. (James 1:2-3 TPT)
My beautiful dreams point me to Eternity and produce a deep longing for heaven.
My desire to protect my kids forever from snakes and ticks must be turned into a training and preparation so they know how to fight those very real, alive snakes and ticks because we are called to live in a world that is full of them. They are disguised or hidden in beautiful ponds and tall grasses, but, oh! they are there. And when we face them, even our deepest, most paralyzing fears, His power is made strong.
(addressing Paul's thorn) But He answered me, "My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness." So I will celebrate my weaknesses for when I am weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. So I am not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment - when I'm surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ - I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God's power. (2 Cor. 12:9-10 TPT)

Yes, I still think it would amazing to live there...
I would just go in a little more prepared...and wearing tall boots!


Realizing I am not a Mom and She's not a Dancer

Performance week is here in full glittery, hair-spray fume-force at our house. Most of April is full of dancing and perfecting their dancing and costume fittings and rehearsals and lots of laughter, and joy, and amazing-ness and some tears and maybe a bloody toe or two, but always with stories to tell. And then when the lights go out on the stage, it is done. Not just partially done. Completely done, for a long and needed break. A break not just for the dancers in our house but also the chauffeurs and waiters-of-the car. A break for our gas tank, a break for the broken pointe shoes and a break for each of the toes that are hanging onto their nails by a thin thread.

The other day as we were on the 20 minute hike to the studio, my oldest dancer and I were talking about how frustrated she was that she could not nail her steps and combinations no matter how many tireless months she's has been working on them. I encouraged her through her frustrated tears, tried to make a joke and ended by reminding her,

"You know you aren't a dancer right?"

This is something I have told her the last couple of years and started telling my athletes and fashion gurus and scaredy-cats and myself.

She looked at me knowing where I was going and graciously listened to my fumbling words again.
It is the same thing I started telling myself a couple of years ago and maybe just now is starting to really make sense and flow through my veins and stoke a fire that has been wanting to come out but didn't have the words or the know-how.

You see...
I am not a wife or mom. I am not a daughter to my parents, sister or friend to anyone.
I am a daughter of a King.
Of a King who is not moved by this world because He is King of this world. A King who never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever and His feelings toward me never falter or grow or fade because He loves me always and ever the matter what. A King who never improves because He just is. He, completely and perfectly, is.
And He says I am His.
This is the only place my identity is found. Everything else He has called me to do, but I only am who He says I am, and that is His Beloved.
Here, as His daughter, this is where I have felt and experienced true FREEDOM in Him. Freedom from performing, freedom from seeking acceptance, freedom from fear of messing up or my kids messing up or just anything messy, freedom to stand on His Word - Truth, freedom to love...truly love, and freedom to forgive because I live in His forgiveness and mercy and grace and they are new every morning.
And I am His.

Because here's the deal - I will mess up, every day. I will throw words around I don't really mean or sometimes I do but they are ugly and fiery. I will slam a door and begrudgingly wash unending loads of laundry. I will get flustered and frustrated and fuming all just because things didn't go how I thought or wanted or expected.

My kids will mess up every day. They will do the same things I do and let their guard down when it should be up, and keep it up when it should be down. They will throw fiery darts that will pierce each other to their core. They might even hit or howl or not choose to hear the words they need to.

But we can't, we won't stay here, because we have grace here and His grace covers us completely so our identity isn't found here.
Even when I try to fit Him in my perfectly crafted boxes and lines, and take back the control from the King of the world, He says...You are mine. I've got this...just stop striving and BE still.
Be still.
BE still.
I don't always know how to do that.

Just His whisper can calm the seas of life.
He can speak a storm to raise up and be still.
He brings light to the shadows of our life and break bands and chains that shackle us to anything other than Him.
He can stop the fiery darts.
He can bring a healing balm.
HE can make worlds and people collide.
He is the King of the world, and I am His.
This is who I am.

"So, my Esther-girl, you are not a dancer, you are a daughter of the King who has called you to dance. And sometimes it is about dancing, but sometimes it is about so much more. And I know you know what I mean." 

And then in that beast-of-a-van rumbling back the 20 minute drive that we know far too well by heart, my King gently reminds me of the same, "You know you aren't a wife or mom or friend or picture-taker or word-writer, Meg? You are My Daughter and I have called you to do those things for a time, but they do not define you. I define you and you are mine. And I am steady. And my grace is enough."

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)


What They Don't Tell You When You Have a Baby and A Holy Interruption

No one told me, when he was still sticky from the white vernix covering his soft skin just moments after he came (they don't call it baby soft for nothing) and she placed him in my arms that I would weep.  Every time, times 7, I wept. It never grows old. Never.
I couldn't stop smelling his head and taking his hat off to stare at every single feature. I whispered, "I love you!" over and over again. I became brave that day. But I didn't know it then, and I still don't fully know it now, what it means to be brave as a woman.

No one told me I would be gloriously wrecked, feeling a love so deep I would lay my life down for them right then, right there. They never told me I would feel feelings of protection like a beast and when someone tries to mess with my babies (no matter their age) I would become that beast. They never told me my insides will literally be ripped out and ripped apart and I might just do it over and over again. No one told me that. But if they did, I am not sure I would have listened.

No one told me on the first day of kindergarten I would weep when I left her. It was only half day, but how could she be ready at 5 (she was my first)?  How would she survive without me to cut up her lunch?  Or truthfully, how would I survive? She came home, after day one, loving every second, asking how long until she could go back. I may have died a little that day, she was growing up. I was growing up. And it hurt. At 14, she recently told me she was so embarrassed on the first day of her school-life when Mrs. Sleep had to console me telling me it happens to most parents. I think she lied though because I was the only one that grabbed a box of tissues as I walked out the door and was crying hard enough to be heard. They never told me that I would grow a lot and die a little on that day, and over that year and for the rest of my life. But if they did, I am not sure if I would have believed them.

No one told me I would be interrupted at least 1000 times before lunch and quite possibly contemplate sneaking out the back door during dinner prep to avoid the catastrophe of words and emotions and actions that inevitably happens during that ungodly hour. But if they did, I didn't hear them.  (Maybe shout that one louder to the next woman in line to become a mom by birth or by adoption or by just being a woman with hungry kids around at dinner time.)

No one told me I would spend a college tuition or two or three on diapers and food and formula and dentist appointments, and McDonalds drive through. And I would loose my hair and my temper and I would buy a lock for my pantry door and have a secret stash of chocolate and my kids would interfere with my holiness every stickin' day of their lives and even as I write this, in a hidden place, I have been found and asked another 500 questions. But if they did tell me, I would have thought, no not me or my kids.

No one told my I would want to give up and yet never stop; I would have anger and yet so much love at the same time. Every day I love them to the point of my heart bursting, but not every day do I like them. What a paradox to try to understand and an emotional woman!

Here's the rub, My kids do get in the way of my holiness every day. But they ARE the tool God is using to make me holy. They are what is making me brave. They are the loves of my life and my passion. They are the reason I laugh and cry and feel and love so deeply. They are the reasons I face my fears to try, by the power of God alone, to be Valorous. They are making me a better version of me and they are worth every ripping pain, every penny spent, every precious-lost hair, every temper flared, every chocolate piece eaten and pound gained. And you know what, I really believe God intended it to be this way. They are are my beautyFULL, Holy Interruption that I desperately needed and didn't even know.


Fear. Swords. & Passionate Love...Another letter to my kids (and you!)

You are deeply and passionately loved by a Savior. No other love will ever compare to the love He has for you. You may have the most amazing marriage someday, or the most unbelievable friends, family, job and yet still it will pale in comparison to His love. He is that passionately enamored with you. His love is a sacrificial love that brought His death to make a way for you to LIVE. When you start to understand and grasp and realize where your True identity is found and whose you are, there is a freedom that comes. A freedom so free that it is hard to put into words. But I can't help but try to give you a glimpse of what seems inexplicable.

You will be FREE from letting FEAR control you.
Fear of losing control of that which you feel compelled to hang on to, orchestrate or manipulate.
Fear that forces you to hold so tightly to that which you think you can't, mustn't loose - a past, a person, a job, a situation.
Fear so deep you live in worry and anxiety daily.
Fear with roots deep in doubt. Doubt of yourself, of God, of life, of circumstances, of love.
Fear of not having approval, or not being understood, or loosing your reputation you worked so hard to carefully craft.
Fear of not being loved by a human.
Fear of not being heard.
Fear of a certain diagnosis.
Fear of dying before you spent your life living.
Fear of someone you so deeply love dying.
Fear of not being thought of.
Fear of making mistakes.
You will be free of this controlling you. And you will be free to live with your hands wide open realizing the control you thought you had or desired, you never really had anyway. They were just chains keeping you tethered to things that made you feel you had control, but chains aren't free. Chains make you a slave. The older you get, these chains gain momentum and expound in number if you let them. But I want you and me to be free from these chains and experience, here on earth, true unadulterated freedom.

What this kind of Freedom look like:
You will be free to love someone who is unloveable.
You will be free from the life lived in comparison to others, trying to "arrive". Comparison in anything and everything you can imagine. It is there and it doesn't go away when you become an adult. Oh how I wish it did!
You will be free from trying to orchestrate your life in such a way for success. Because you will realize the world's success doesn't give you what you need. Only Jesus can do that.
You will be free from competition because you will finally be free to EMBRACE exactly who God MADE YOU to be. AND...
You will be free from apologizing for who you are, in all your quirks, because you will know WHOSE you are and only YOU can be that person...quirks and all. How beautyFULL!
You will be free from finding your worth in anything other than HIM.
This is not some pep talk, this is truth. And Truth is what gives you true freedom.

HOWEVER, it must be said, you will spend you entire life here on earth trying to understand and embrace this love and freedom you have been gifted. In my mid-ish 30's I'm merely scratching the surface. I have lived in this beautiful freedom from time to time only to get scared in my flesh and quick grab hold of that which I thought I let go. It is a battle. We are in a battle. A battle, that as long as we are here on earth never ends, but a battle in which my Savior has given me and you a weapon for and I won't, must not ever stop fighting.  Learn how to use this weapon so you will know how to fight those fears when they surface and resurface and resurface again. Your weapon is...
A weapon of mass destruction - destruction of sin and lies.
A weapon for war a war against your flesh.
A weapon for love.
A weapon for peace.
A weapon to fight the devil in all his evil.
A weapon to unite people.
A weapon to divide the holy from the unholy in your life.
A weapon that heals hurt so deep
                                         so wide
                                         so full you can barely breathe
You have been given a weapon to fight
                                  a weapon to submit
                                  a weapon to change
                                  a weapon to lead
                                  a weapon to follow
                                  a weapon that is life to the believers and death to sin.

Know this weapon, live with weapon, breathe-in this weapon, never ever forget this weapon. And know that this weapon, God's word, is strong enough to withstand evil. It is! Don't ever doubt that! Don't worry about it not being able to hold up to the evil because it will withstand and thrive in this world.

I have struggled and will continue to struggle with all of those fears...they only increased when I became a mom. I have desperately held on, white-knuckled, to control I thought I had and desperately wanted. All those fears I mentioned above - those are mine. And those those don't even name them all.
But...a big BUT...
I am learning to trust my Savior's love for me, for you, for anyone, is WAY beyond my full understanding. Each glimpse He gives me, or I ask leaves me breathless! And the more I learn to face fears in His strength, the more fearless I become. I was rendered almost motionless at times after I delivered Shadd in deep anxiety. For months and months it was a daily battle to do what I knew we needed to do to just live our life. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't fully. It was just fighting the battle that needed to be fought. And I wouldn't change any of it now. It was a Sovereign appointment, a Divine appointment, to struggle during that wilderness. But the battle was worth it because now...NOW...I have spiritual muscle I never knew existed. Now I know just a bit more that my Savior's love for me doesn't end...ever! It is deep; it is wide and it is beautiful. Don't hate your wilderness times, learn to love them! Learn to love them well and let the tears flow and the fire refine because on the other side, you will have learned how the Sword, His Word, works to fight any battle you may face in the future. Jesus gives to us in the wilderness! Count it JOY, my loves!

"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have it's full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1


From My Heart of Brokeness to Theirs...Part TWO...Even If & Hope

My fear is,  part two is really part two of many
My fear is, Truth is being clouded by comfort
My fear is, safety has become the enemy

In a matter of mere hours a church was shot up by a mad man, and two marriages of two friends are falling not together but apart. One hurting, and the other hurting beyond repair that human eyes can see. And there is pain...a deep, mountian-weight of pain. (But oh, don't we know God does not have human eyes and we are never too far gone from His repair?)
My stomach is in absolute knots that keep tangling tighter, tighter and deeper. It is one thing to write about hurt and pain in a world that is still vastly foreign to me as I sit in my minuscule corner of a small, midwest town; it is another thing to hear and process the hurt in the lives of friends. Real live hurt. And yet, that same hurt fills our entire doesn't leave any untouched because it shows no preference. But we have Hope.
So many stories are being written into the very fabric of our lives; all hoping for their happy ending. I see it on my kids faces as they stare with the same horror at the screen that reveals to us the depravity in Sutherland Springs Texas. How can life change so drastically in the blink of an eye? What happened to worshipping in a safe pew? And yet, none of us will not receive our happy ending. Not here. Not now. Not in Texas. Not a real, lasting, happy ending. Not on this side of Eternity. And sometimes it hurts like hell, but we have Hope.

It is hard to wrestle with the thoughts of just wanting to shrink back and not be brave and choose safety first. I fight the desire of wanting to make walls a little taller to protect our little world we (think) exists. I hear it in my kids voices again as they talk with us and among themselves. Fears of the "what ifs" that could happen. And there was a time we would have altered our decisions after seeing this insanely real news from Texas. I would have built our fortress a little thicker, stronger, making sure no holes were there to let any of the evil in. But I am changing. We are changing. Instead our fortress is being broken down brick by pretend brick and perspectives are changing. My perspective is changing. Instead of my hole-y protection I want God's holy protection because, "there are no 'if's in God's world.  And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety..." (The Hiding Place, page 67) And the center of His will isn't always the safe place to be, the "makes sense" route. Infact, often it doesn't make sense at all to my American mind. But what Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3) faced in the fiery furnace...that did NOT make human sense. Infact, I am certain, it would be the very definition of insanity. Their response to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But EVEN IF He doesn't, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up."
Do I live with this same faith, same Hope, same bravery, same everything they did? Or have I let fears of Texan shooters fill my mind with doubt and weak walls of protection? Will I say Even if...I will sing your praise? Or do I say only if I am safe, my kids are safe, we have food on the table and lives filled with comfort including a safe pew to worship in (fill in your blank)...then I will praise you?

Because the American mind often lives the American Dream of not needing really anything that we can't get on our own,  I realize this dream has seeped into my thinking, into the raising of our kids and yes, even into my studying of the Word. The "not needing" has weakened me instead of doing what it is supposed to do in America - make me stronger. And that just doesn't make sense unless you are looking through spiritual lenses.

In this building of dreams I forgot, and maybe at times intentionally let it slip my mind,  that we are in a battle. A battle for eternal. "There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God and counterclaimed by satan." (C.S. Lewis) If we are in a battle, then why am I spending time teaching my kids to be safe from ____? No, not safe anymore! Brave. Brave enough to follow the One who leads us. Brave enough to put on the spiritual armor for this battle. Brave enough for the front lines. Brave enough to see the hurt and (I have said it before) run to not shrink back. Brave enough to be in the WORD, know the word, pick up that sword and fight for Truth! Brave enough to see our greatest need is our need of a Savior and His deep, deep LOVE for us is what sets us free to live with our hands off of our  life and the way we think it should go - the way I think my kids life should go - the way I think my marriage should go. And that bravery doesn't make sense.

 And maybe, that safety I was imparting to my kids and the safety I desired for myself just made us numb to the ugly truth that lives around us and weak in our faith and Hope. Maybe this safety kept us from seeing needs...real, human needs. Maybe this safety effected our every decision. Maybe this safety has done the exact opposite of what I thought it would...instead of prepare us for battle it has prepared us to live a completely self centered life. Our view is too narrow. Instead of seeing Hope we see only hopeless pain. But I want to see Hope. I want my kids to see Hope, know Hope, live in Hope. And we do that when our eyes see life through the lens of eternity. In light of eternity so much becomes I live suddenly becomes so much less about me and so much more about people. Shout it from the mountain top...we are NEVER without Hope and Hope has a name...Jesus! HE is the reason we live and move and breath and His name is beautiful. He is the reason I don't want to live safe but only on my knees. He is the reason I want to live in brave surrender following Him. And I pray that this is the Hope my kids know and pass along to all they meet.

So here we are again, facing another tragedy. Will I say, like those crazy, insane heroes,  "even if"...I will praise you? I'm fighting for the even if. Will we be the ones always with Hope and will we pass this Hope to all we come in contact with? I am fighting for Hope.


Beauty for Ashes and Bloody Toes

I have watched her for years in the studio meticulously taping her toes day after day trying to find the right way or at least just a way that helps. Some ways have worked for a few minutes, some not at all, some for an hour, but never completely. There is nothing more I have wanted to do than to tell her to stop. "You gave it a long go. It's okay, just be done and save your feet for the rest of your life." Because, to me, that seems wisest and safest. But I can't. I can't say it because I see what it does to her when she gets what she has worked so hard for.  I can't say it because when she dances, there is a fire that ignites in her eyes. I can't say it because I know, for this moment right now, she was made for this.

"I believe God made me for a purpose, but I also believe God made me fast and when I run I feel His pleasure." (Eric Liddell)
Every painful dance, every equally grace filled dance - it does something to her.
I see it.
I hear it.
I watch it.
And I am left in awe.
From the pain arises a beauty that words can never fully describe.

I watched her again the other night, trying out a new taping method and I was so tempted to tell her to throw in the towel. As I watched her intently, still after years of not understanding fully how she does what she does, because I was never a dancer, it hit me with an absolute wonderment. I don't know how or why it didn't hit me before this night.
No beautiful thing comes without a trail of ashes behind it.
No ounce of loveliness is made without a hard, sometimes ugly story.
No prepossessing thing exists without muscle being torn, then built up and pain being had, then healed.

As I looked at her, I commented,
"I know this is hard, I know you are in pain, but from it is coming a beautiful dance! And you know what? When you dance it is obvious you feel His pleasure. So dance for him Addi - don't leave anything in the dressing room or studio floor. When you leave that stage, no matter how it turns out, may you know without a shadow or doubt, you gave it everything you had...for HIS glory!"

After she left for another night of class, I smirked to myself and thought...isn't this similar when you become a mom? By birth, by adoption, by just pouring your heart completely out into the life of another. There is an indescribable pain you will feel, a deep hurt you will know, a fear that will leave you breathless at times, and scarred...oh the scars! Wether you gave birth to that child or they were placed in your arms by know what I mean. And yet, we move forward one brave step at a time. Though those heavy steps don't always feel brave. In fact, dare I say it, most of my steps seem to be filled with questioning and fears and sometimes, in all REALness...I feel like I can't go on.

"Then I think that maybe courage is not all about the absence of fear but about obedience EVEN when we are afraid. Maybe courage is trusting when we don't know what is next, leaning into the hard and knowing that it will be hard, but more, God will be near." (Kate Majors, Daring to Hope)

Maybe scars aren't bad. Maybe they are just a part of my story, her dance. Maybe those pains are what make us exactly who we are created to be. Maybe in the pain is when we see our deep need. Maybe if we share our stories, and our dance with each other in a REAL-life way, maybe then true bravery comes because we realize that beauty really does come from burned up by fire ashes. Maybe this is when comparisons will fade, judgements shatter, and words will finally bring life because this is when we see stories unfold and grace beheld and love become so much stronger.

Is it possible to live a beautiful life, a life that is really beauty FULL without ashes?
I say no.
Maybe what we think is beautiful might actually be fake. Because here it is, I only see beauty in REAL life lived which is full of taped toes, blistered and bloody heals, sharp pains, and disappearing toenails. I see beauty in stories of real, scarred life. I see beauty in brokenhearts - mended, prisoners - set free, scars - healed. So unique. Never two the same. Never. And this, THIS is real beauty.

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon me..He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting, so they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD that He may be glorified." (Isaiah 61:1-3)


How did I Became an Idol Builder?

I have fallen for them like a bad relationship.
I have caved to their attractive front.
I have lived them and kept up the facade, caring for it meticulously.
I have built them up, brick by heavy brick.

And now (finally), I am tired of them and their chains and the weight they add to my life and only want REAL.
A real grace-filled life not a perfect one. Real, gracious love by a real grace-FULL Savior. Real forgiveness that is not dependent on me or my works or lack there of.

The trends and ideas (and there are too many to count) that communicate being a good, right, holy parent by choosing the good, right, holy things that will produce good, right holy kids... it is not true. It is a false idea! But I bought that idea...hook, line and sinker. And what it did was produce little idols that stand in the dusty corners of my mind. Never, did I think 'parenting' would build idols or that the 'having children' would become an idol. It wasn't intentional, but it happened.

The thought process I have manicured :
I thought I could be "Jesus" to my kids by putting them in the right places at the right times filled with the right friends. IDOL
I thought I could be "Jesus" to my kids by keeping them safe, free from certain kinds of storms, free from ugly pain, free from unneeded hurt. IDOL
I thought I could be "Jesus" to my kids by showing them their faults - even gently and graciously at times, helping them choose better next time and showing them how to be disciplined enough to make the rights decisions most of the time. IDOL
I thought I could be "Jesus" by giving them the best education, involving them in the best things and teaching them to obey. IDOL
I thought I could be "Jesus" to the world by having obedient kids, helpful kids, kind kids who spoke kind words, loving words and opened doors for anyone. IDOL
I thought I could be "Jesus" to the world showing them what a put-together family looks like, talks like, eats like, dresses like, plays like. IDOL
I thought I could be "Jesus" to anyone by building a beautiful facade, free of weeds and yuck only to find we are steeped in those weeds and yuck. IDOL

What I failed to see in my web I carefully crafted was I cannot "be" Jesus to anyone, let alone my own kids. I can only NEED Jesus and be real enough to allow that desperate need to not be hidden from them, pretending it doesn't exist or I have somehow figured "it" out.
When I need Him the most is in storms, in hurt, in pain, in desperation (even in the mundane). Instead of fearing the storms and avoiding the hurt and turning this direction and that to keep them or me away from the pain and desperation, when those things come (and they will) what if I walked right into it and let them see me drop to my knees. On cue. Without another thought. Drop. Pray to the One I need in my weakness. Ugh! This is so hard. It laughs in the face of strength.
And yet, what if in my weakness, that is when I am really strong? It may be a catchy and even overused phrase, but what if it is really, actually, wholly true? What if on my knees IS where I am really meant to be? What if in the middle of the pain and broken and desperation and hurt - that is where I see Jesus, kneeling, comforting, holding, praying, healing, loving. Such real life. What if all of those perfect scenarios and perfectly learned lessons and perfectly scripted answers I gave my kids really just gave them nothing more that complacency and a need to perform for men? Because, you know what? That is exactlywhat it did for me. I lost my First Love. And yet I had the right things to say at the right time and as I did say those right things, it just built in my complacent idols. (Revelation 2:1-5)
What if showing them their agonizing need for Jesus starts by letting them see my agonizing need for Jesus EVERY. SINGLE. MOMENT. OF. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And that it is impossible to be self sufficient when we realize our need is so great? There is pain and hurt in this broken world that we live in and they will never get away from it. But should they? Should I? 

It is interesting...the word Christian - "little Christ". So many Believers use those words, me included. Really though, I don't know the half of what they really mean. "Little Christ"...He didn't run from broken and weak. He ran into the nucleus of it and lived there and taught there and broke bread there and then, after His short life, died there. For me, for you and that is perfect Love. And that perfect love is what casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)

It has been there since almost the beginning...pain, sin. Cain and Abel, Moses, Abraham, Samsom, Jonah, Job, Daniel, David, the 12 disciples, Rahab, Esther - I could go on and on. I read about Rahab this morning and as soon as I started reading I felt the ugly, pride-filled rub of those idols, thinking I would have done it differently and for certain would not have used a harlot in my grand plans of attack. Do you see, though, the same pattern that slammed into my sight? All of those real life stories are full of weakness, hurt, pain, deceit, depression, doubt, anxiety, murder, sexual sins, anger, broken families, fear. And yet, their NEED for God, their dependance on God, and their Faith in God is what made their weakness - strong, their hurt - healed, their doubt - belief, their fear - brave -brave enough to follow...Most importantly - their Sin - completely Forgiven!

I think I have thought too much of myself thinking it all depended on me. Who do I think I am in light of my Savior's Grace...I mean really? I have been wondering what freedom in parenting really looked like. I have been so curious about grace-FILLED parenting. Now I am beginning to see, it has less to do with me being right and everything to do with me being fully on my knees, or even flat on my face before God. It has nothing to do with me being right rather me becoming Holy like my Savior. It has nothing to do with me being right and producing certain behaviors but rather me being obedient and brave enough to let my kids see I don't have it all together, or all the answers BUT I do have God and He is in all of the answers! It has nothing to do with ME being right and everything to do with HIS glory and sweet forgiveness. Undo me, Jesus!

I recently read a book by Leslie Leyland Fields. Her penned words have opened my eyes and done a work in my life that God began two years ago. She writes,
"We have made far too much of ourselves and far too little of God. We have adopted our culture's belief that we are the primary shapers of our children. And that we have control over who they are and who they become." (Leslie Leyland Fields)
Hook, Line and Sinker...yes! I fell for it the ideas instead of falling into my Savior.
And so I write this not just for anyone, I write this for me; to give freedom to ME, my kids...We aren't that good kids, we NEED Jesus. We cannot BE Jesus to anyone - we can just show that we have Hope. A Hope that is found on nothing less than Jesus blood and HIS righteousness. (Edward Mote - 1797-1874)