Monday, July 22, 2013

I'm A Successful Loser Mom!

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

As I was cooking lunch I hear screaming and yelling coming from the family room. While my oldest child screams and yells at his siblings I can hear all the words as if they are coming right out of my mouth. I think to myself that I've completely failed. He has turned into me, all the mean and ugly things in me.

My head starts churning, how can I fix this? I've read so many things that say a child becomes who they are by age 5. They develop all their character traits by that age and learn how to move through the world by that age. Honestly, it feels hopeless. My kids are 13, 8, almost 5 and 2. So 3 of the 4 are already beyond the point of no return. I've created angry little people who have poor self esteem and only know how to communicate by yelling when conflicts come up.

This is a bunch of junk. If I allow myself to believe this I am totally limiting the power of God. They are not done. They are not a lost cause. Come on, see it for what it is, a pack of lies.

God gave me these children knowing exactly what my weaknesses were. He knew I would mess it up. There is no parent in the world who doesn't mess it up. When I allow myself to get consumed by regret and shame with all the mistakes I've made parenting them, that is when I really lose.

The devil wants nothing more than to bog me down with parental despair! Being caught up in all the things I do wrong only perpetuates the problem. I get frustrated and hopeless and I act out at them with those emotions, just teaching them more bad habits. It's an ugly cycle I will have to break again and again.
But what does God say about that?

2 Corinthians 12:9

New International Version (NIV)
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
His power is made perfect in my weakness?? But how? I'm supposed to be teaching them all those good things, like the fruit of the spirit, you know, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and so on.
I needed to rethink this all. How do I train them...wait a minute. God's power is made perfect in my weakness.
They are learning all those things about God from watching his power in me.
As I am growing closer to God he is being reflected out of me. He has changed the things I am reflecting to all of those things of his, the patience and kindness, the joy and peace.
Stop worrying about those past mistakes and keep focusing on God. Wake up with him, go to sleep with him and seek him all day. The more time I spend with God the more I become like him, the more opportunities my kids have to see his power made perfect through my weakness.
Yes, they are still going to see me get angry and make mistakes, but they will also see me changing, God changing me. In my mistakes I can teach them humility, being willing to admit my mistakes and seek God's help correcting them. I will actively teach them that God is the only one who can fix us.
Parenting isn't about power. It is about putting down our pride and admitting we don't know how to do it. Parenting is about allowing our kids to see God's grace and healing power through our own failure.
I'm teaching them who can pick them up when they fall flat on their faces, that is teaching them in the way they should go.
Child development isn't done at 5, it is only beginning.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Be Offended If You Must!

I am angry, actually am frequently angry when I see myself or other Christians shackling themselves in political correctness. I get myself in trouble speaking my mind, but that isn't to be confused with the trouble I get when I speak God's.

When did  Christians stop speaking the truth because some people didn't want to hear it?

There have been many times in my life that I have felt hurt by someone speaking truth to me that I didn't want to hear. My perception was off because I was sinning and living with a stubborn heart that didn't want to hear it. I felt insulted. I felt judged, but that didn't mean it wasn't the truth. If everyone around me had just shut up, not said anything or not called me out on my actions it would have been very easy to just keep on down the path I was on.
I have found one thing to be true in my life. When there is an area that I am sinning in, where God is trying to change my heart, I get angry and defensive when that topic comes up. Thankfully I have matured to the point that I can pull back and examine it when those feeling arise. (Most of the time)
Christians need to stop worrying about hurting people's feelings and focus on what God's will is.
It is easy to confuse being politically correct with being kind, but they aren't the same thing. God calls us to be kind and to love one another. That doesn't mean we stop speaking our faith because it may offend, actually the opposite. If you really love people you will share your faith. You will speak up for things that are right and not be afraid to speak against things that are wrong.

An example comes to mind: You're walking in a crowded area and see a woman with her skirt tucked into her undies. There are three things that happen typically, some point and snicker, most notice but don't feel comfortable saying anything, and a few would quietly come and help her. That isn't a perfect example, but sort of works.

The point and laugh crowd: These are those people like the church that pickets at funerals screaming and insulting, Westboro Baptist, I believe. That isn't God's love.

The notice and walk away people: Honestly, this is a lot of Christians. We stand by and do nothing because we don't want to embarrass ourselves or deal with the other person. We know what we should do but don't have the courage to do it.

The people who help: Really, in this example we know that's what we should do. Even though she will be humiliated we know it will save her further pain to tell her so she can fix it, she can assess the situation and correct it.

I know that isn't a perfect analogy.

We shouldn't be afraid of the reaction of people when we speak the truth. The only one that matters is God. The apostles really faced some condemnation for speaking the truth of the gospel. They were persecuted, jailed and killed.
Right now in the USA we still have the right to speak. If we don't start using it, we will lose it. There are many countries that have real persecution for Christians, similar to what happened to the early Christians.
We need to be careful that we are speaking God's word. We need to be prepared, armed properly with the truth so we can face the attacks that will come. We need to pray and listen to God for when it's time to talk and when we are over doing it with our own will. Most importantly we need to be acting with our hearts in the right place. Speak with compassion, not judgment. See people the way God sees them. The only way to do that is to seek God first.
There is nothing about me that is better than or less sinful than anyone else. I am a dirty, rotten and smelly sinner. The only good and righteous parts of me are the parts God has fixed, all the sinful things I have done that he has redeemed. He has and is fixing me and my responsibility is to share that he can do that for anyone.

I'm not going to be quiet about that.



Thursday, July 4, 2013

I See You!

Lately I have been feeling convicted about my preconceived ideas of people. I am judgmental. It's ironic, for so many years I've been handicapped by feeling judged and now I see that I'm the guilty one.
There have been several times in the last month where I missed out on opportunities because of my first impression of someone.
For many years I worked in retail management. During that time I relied on first impressions. I based many decisions on the first 2 minutes of conversation with someone. Sometimes I made decisions based strictly on appearance. Well, first impressions are nothing.
I am so thankful God doesn't judge me based on his first impression. On the outside I am a mess. Even on the inside I am a mess. I can be rude, mean, snotty and selfish. Somehow he sees past that and sees my heart. He sees the brokenness inside, he has compassion for me. He's taken all that ugliness and is slowly working, transforming me. He never feels like I am a lost cause or beyond repair. God will never call me a total loss. Like car insurance companies, we toss each other aside. We decide that someone may be too much work to be worth the effort. God looks at us and says we are irreplaceable. The amount of work means nothing to him. The cost is nothing, he literally gave everything to buy us back. He is working to lovingly rebuild us, to restore us.
I wish I had his eyes. I wish I could just automatically see others with his eyes. I quickly form opinions about others based on what my eyes see and my ears hear. In myself, I am not equipped to see beyond that, but God is expanding my view. God is replacing my clouded vision and restoring it to be able to see the way he does.
I am starting a project with my kids. We are calling it "I See You!" We are making small packages with water, protein bars, sunscreen and a few other small things. In each bag we are going to have a note, not sure what we're writing yet, but I want whoever receives it to know they are visible. I see them and so does God. These packs are going to be stored in our car, that way when we see someone on the street corner holding a sign we can meet their need. First, we're offering a drink and food, but most important, we see them. I know how hopeless it feels when you think no one cares, no one sees you.
As a Christian, God wants me to be his hands and feet. I want to physically model his love, I want to teach my kids to model this. If I can teach them to love those who we so often see as the dirtiest or scariest people, then loving those kids they meet at school will be easy. I want to see the hearts and souls of people, not their broken exteriors. 
I will update this with some pictures as we progress with our plans!