Tag Archives: grace

I’m Trying to be Perfect…Again

This Texas “fall” is killing me, y’all!!

It was seriously over 90 degrees yesterday – on November 2!

Getting 3 kids in and out of the car multiple times, helping with buckles, answering questions, meeting delays and demands, school pick-ups, errands, playground, HEAT!

Ugh! I just don’t have the patience for it anymore! I get super duper grumpy when I’m hot and am staring down the sun whilst children do what children do. I need to move to Alaska to be a better mother!

Trying to be perfect

Don’t I?

No, I think I’d complain about being cold… Hmmm.. ok California then! The weather there is perfect year round (so I’ve heard!).

Nah. Too expensive. Then I’d have to work more and commute more and yuck. Those are on my “least favorite” list.

Colorado – I love Colorado!

Nope – they actually have real winter for almost 6 months. I’d love the other 6. That’s it – I’ll become a snowbird!!

Hmmm, then I’d lack community and family and stability for my kids.

Ok, ok, so maybe I’m just not a great mom and it has nothing to do with my circumstance!

Once that air blasts me in the car, I’m all of a sudden smiling and engaging my kids in the “good mom” way again. I’m praising God – but what about before? Yuck!

I know God covers my sinful moments with His grace. I know it – but I want to be perfect! I don’t want to mess up.

…I’m idolizing myself, aren’t I? I’m trying to be God again instead of letting Him be who He is and transform me at His pace and worship Him. I want to be worthy of worship instead.

And I’m barely worshiping these days as it is, but in my one reading I made it to this week, was this:

The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 14:42b-44, NIV)

I know God will fulfill the desire to cast off this nature in Heaven, and in the meantime and for eternity, I want to turn the worship of myself all to Him who is truly worthy!

In those difficult moments, I need this reminder that Jesus is the resurrection of the dead – He is the king. He’s greater and more worthy of worship than any comfort or convenience or strength that I have.

How are you trusting in God’s word today?

Rule Followers v. Faith

I’m a rule follower, friends. I just like rules and think they make things work well. That doesn’t make following rules I don’t like easier for me (maybe?); it just means that I would rather have the rule.

But it’s not that great of a thing. You see, rule followers are judgers. For me, rule following is a judgment on myself. If I have rules, I can tell how I’m measuring up. There is the temptation to judge others.

But God is not about rules and commands. He’s about His glory. And His glory best manifests itself in the grace He gives to us unholy beings.

I’ve been studying some scriptures on giving and unity because our church is entering a season of fundraising for land. And I’ve realized that if God came and gave me a vocal directive for how much to give over and above our tithe to this campaign, I would just do it. I would trust Him and obey because I know what He commands is good and perfect.

But His glory is magnified by faith! It’s not magnified by robots.

And so He provides leading in His Word. He provides parables that challenge my comfort. But He doesn’t give me a rule.

That’s where the faith comes in.

I have to listen to Him daily. I have to look at His Word. I have to ask questions of my budget. Most of all, I have to be connected to Him to take a step of faith.

Potty Training – the Mom Fail

Have you ever hit that point as a mom where you are pulling your hair out because of something your kiddo is doing, and then BAM you realize, “Uh oh. I caused this behavior.”

Yeah that. That’s no fun.

I’m an analyst, and by my very nature, I’m strategic in how I act towards my 2 year-old Samuel. When he’s behaving a certain way, I’m looking for the causes, knowing that sometimes the cause is HE’S TWO. 😉 When I teach him something or show him how to do something, I’m already thinking of the next level so that when he’s ready for it, I can build from the way I’m teaching him now.

I’m not tooting my horn about this; it’s probably quite annoying to anyone watching, and maybe to Sammy too! Haha! It’s just how I’m wired and how I approach being a mommy.

But sometime lately, all of that pre-planning broke down. I found myself angrily yelling when my son had a poopoo accident. He cried. I was just focused on containing the mess and didn’t think about what I had just done.

At that moment, Brad and I were leaving to go out of town. When I got back in town, guess what happened? My son, who had potty trained just fine, all of a sudden would not even step foot in the bathroom with me. He had potty accidents for an entire day because he was alone with me and – I imagine – scared that I would get mad at him.

It hit me halfway through the day that I must have scared him away from the potty with my negative reaction, and I wanted to convince myself that it was just that one situation, but I couldn’t. I realized that my frustration at the pottying had been escalating, and he was having accidents almost exclusively with me.

Doesn’t that just make me sound like mom of the year?

The day all of this hit me was a very emotional day. I felt so terrible that I had reacted so rashly and let emotion enter a very sensitive space – a naked, vulnerable, learning space. I made sure not to push Samuel to potty at all, and I coaxed him into the bathroom – just to change clothes – so that he would see that I wasn’t mad at him.

I apologized to him, but he didn’t seem to understand. Thankfully, kids are just SO forgiving anyway. And over the next few days, with a completely different perspective, and a return to CANDY FOR POTTYING :), Samuel seems to trust me again.

I truly hope I remember this moment. Because what if I do the same thing to my children when they’re trying to learn their multiplication tables, or when they have a sin pattern in their life, or when they just aren’t meeting my expectations in some way? How much more damaging will that be?

I’m grateful that God gives us grace 100% of the time, and I want to be a parent that models grace and mercy for my children.

Would you share a time where you succeeded in giving grace or mercy – even when it was hard?

You Can Help Put an End to Bullying

Thanks to The Bully Project for sponsoring my writing. Visit their website to join the movement and learn more.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be different. At a time when most people are either trying to fit in or blend in, I wanted to stand out.

I needed some validation that I was valuable, unique, loved, special. And I tried to create that validation for myself by dressing weird, choosing my own style, bucking the trends, hanging out with the stoners, flinging myself at boys, and rejecting anything that said conform.

Do you think my peers gave me the validation I was looking for? Validation I could only get from a God who provides my identity?

Quite the opposite. Instead, I was ostracized, picked on, made fun of. I had mean girls saying nasty things as I walked by them in the halls and choice words were written about me on bathroom stalls.

I was bullied.

And bullying is serious. The bullying I experienced was emotional instead of physical, but it went deep to my core, telling me I was worthless, unlovable, unacceptable.

It wasn’t until I came face to face with grace – from a God who sought me out and showed me His love for me by giving me Jesus – that I was able to believe that there is nothing I can do to earn or lose favor with Him.

Those who are bullied are finally getting a voice, thanks to the documentary BULLY, in theaters now. There are students who are just trying to be invisible so they won’t be choked, punched, and then ignored by their teachers and administrators.

What can you do?

  1. Go watch this film. I haven’t seen it yet, and I’m eager to do so. Stefanie Brown from UpLIFTing Words wrote this review of the film.
  2. Help heal those who are being or have been bullied. Consider signing up or starting mentorship programs at your high school. Be there to teach kids that they have value because their Creator gave it to them. These kids need more loving, true voices in their lives.
  3. Teach your children how to love people. They will learn this by your words and your actions. If you’re always making fun of your neighbors behind their backs and never extend a welcome to that new guy in the back row, how are your kids going to see the love of Christ and share it with others?

Watch the trailer for Bully, showing in select theaters right now. Please make the effort to see this important film:

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. Find showings in your area for The Bully Project and buy tickets here.

Original photo credit

Who Are Those Other Moms?

Do you ever feel like you’re that mom?

You know. The mom who has that kid?

Of course, I think my Samuel is absolutely awesome – but I definitely know that he’s not perfect. Not only does he reveal that about himself daily, but how I react to him reminds me of my own need for a savior.

But I digress.

Samuel is usually the most aggressive kid in the room. Yup, he’s that kid. He’s the one that loves to get in your kid’s bubble, and if your kid is in his space, then my kid is knocking him over. Sometimes he does this thinking your kid wants to play rough with him, too (he’s usually wrong about this!). But sometimes he does it just because he thinks hitting other kids is fun.

I mean, come on, one of his favorite games is “tackle.” Yeah. He enjoys taking the hits as much as he enjoys giving them.

I don’t consider myself a “helicopter mom,” but I have to follow Sammy around everywhere he goes. Otherwise, I hear another child’s cry and know that Sammy wanted to play with them. When another child gets close to him, I have to remind him to Be gentle. Say hi. Keep your hands to yourself.

It’s pretty exhausting sometimes.

And then there are the other moms. The ones who give us dirty looks – and I understand! If their kid was the bully, I think I would feel the exact same way!

Granted, there are some moms who get it. If I had to make a generalization, I would say they’re the stay-at-home moms and the moms with more than one child.

I know some of it is a phase and some of it is being a boy and some of it is being two-years old. But I’m going to be honest and say that I have to fight the temptation to roll my eyes along with the moms who stare.

Sometimes, I am that other mom. To my own son.

Instead, I pray that God gives me the courage to embrace him as he is. To lovingly lead him to obedience, but to also accept him for him.

Confidentiality is Queen

People assume that because I’m a pastor’s wife, I know everything my pastor hubby, Brad, knows.

Not true.

When we started this journey of being a pastor and pastor’s wife, I told him, “Do not tell me other people’s junk.” …and I gave him the look. You know, the one that means- I’m serious.

Confidentiality is a huge deal to me. Probably because I have been burned by loose tongues. Not in a detrimental, scandalous way that sent me running from church (which does happen to people). No, for me, it’s more subtle. I find out that someone told their husband something that I shared with them. Because, you know, they’re married and they had that whole “till death do we share secrets” part of the vows.

I may have shared that because I wanted you to bear my burden with me, not because I wanted Church Member #3 or your niece to bear it, too.

Don’t hear me wrong here. I’m not saying you should have personal secrets from your husband, like a secret ‘what-if’ wad of cash, unconfessed sin, or harbored hurt feelings. I’m talking about someone else’s secrets.

But not just secrets. In fact, I think anytime you open your mouth to talk about someone else, you should seriously consider whether that is something they would want you to be sharing.

“Oh, but she would want you to know! She’d tell you herself!” is not a valid excuse to share someone’s details. “She told me to share this with you” is.

And that’s what we do. If someone has explicitly told Brad to share something with me, whether it’s a prayer request, a testimony, or something they are struggling with, he does. Otherwise, he does not share that information with me. If the person wanted me to know, they would tell me.

However, so many people believe that I am in the 100% know about anything church related (including members), that someone will start saying something like, “You know how we’re doing that thing on the 8th?” Or, “You know how so-and-so was evicted?” Um… no. And no.

Ladies, let’s face it – the latter example above will happen. Someone intentionally or unintentionally will start to open their mouth and spill it. And the sinful, spiteful part of my gut is ready to devour the scandals. If I hear that a conversation is going that direction, I put a halt to it preemptively.

Will you commit to doing this with me – in love?

If you hear it coming, why not say, “OK, before you finish, do you mind if I ask you not to share something personal about someone else? I just don’t want to know something that I really shouldn’t.” (Or how about, “I’m a juicy gossiper and won’t be able to stand it if you squeal!” Ha.)

Understand, that when I’ve done this (in a trying-to-be-gentle-about-it-way), I have had people backpedal. “Oh no! I was just going to say that…” Or “But she’s so sweet” (Because being sweet makes you forgivable apparently.)

Just have grace for them and for yourself. Stop being self-righteous and instead accept the Spirit’s reminder that you are daily confining your own tongue. And only in His power.

A perverse person spreads dissension, and a gossip  separates the closest friends. (Proverbs 16:28, NETBible)

Likewise also their wives must be dignified, not slanderous, temperate, faithful in every respect. (1 Timothy 3:11, NETBible, qualifications of a deacon)

Infidelity of the Heart

I want to expand on what I concluded with last time – infidelity of the heart. It’s a very real temptation and sin, and I don’t think many people are talking about it. So I’m going to suck it up right now and confess.

I’m guilty. I have been tempted by infidelity of the heart from the time I dated my husband until now. I’m disgusted to say I have fallen into its evil snare more than once. I’m sure I will be tempted by it for the rest of my life.

The only thing I think I can liken it to is a male’s lust. Yes, infidelity of the heart is my pornography. It carries the same thrill, the same shame, the same disasters, the same let-down that makes you crave more.

I hate it. And I’m fighting it. Just like lust is a daily battle for a man, guarding my heart is a daily battle for me.

If you are single, you can’t write this off. While you’re single, Jesus is your only bridegroom. Your devotion. When I was single, I absolutely gave me heart willy nilly to men rather than to God. It’s a sin, ladies.

I want to share the warning signs with you, just in case I’m not alone here. And at the end (skip down if you like ;)), I want you to see the biggest weapon I use to slay this sin.

The Warning Signs

If you are in danger of succumbing to infidelity of the heart, a relationship with a man (or a woman, if that is your struggle) might have some of these characteristics:

  • You try to catch his eye often; you look for and want more eye contact than really necessary
  • You become really helpful (your design is to HELP your husband, so when you give your heart away to someone else, you try to HELP them)
  • You make flirty jokes or laugh extra at his (remember how you laughed like this with your husband while you were dating?)
  • You hang out where he is or is going to be instead of staying in your usual spaces
  • You purposefully allow physical contact; you stand/sit closer than you would with someone else
  • You communicate more than necessary, rationalizing it. “I need to email him because he would want to know I heard that song we were talking about.”
  • You check communications constantly – Facebook, Twitter, Email, Voicemail
  • You put more effort in your appearance
  • You avoid talking about your husband or children; OR you talk excessively about them to mask what’s really going on
  • You go early and stay late when you know you will be in the same place
  • You do anything with him that you would not do if your husband were there.

How to Slay the Beast

If you want to fight this temptation successfully, you need accountability. Yes, pray. Yes, read your Bible. But just as a man needs accountability to successfully fight lust and the sin of pornography, a woman needs accountability to fight infidelity of the heart.

It was only after hearing Mark Driscoll in the Song of Solomon series talk about the “foxes” in our marriage that I realized how disastrous these sins were. My husband offered the grace of God, and God has been so gracious to rebuild our marriage. But I needed someone else to know, someone else to pray for me, someone else to show me my ugly heart.

So I fessed up in a very embarrassing meeting with my accountability partner. It was the best thing I ever did.

Being able to tell her when I was struggling with this issue – or when I was struggling with not accepting grace for my sins of infidelity – kept my heart safe and sound in my home, where it belongs.

You need this in your life for so many reasons. Find someone you really trust; someone to whom confidentiality is a BIG DEAL. See if they want this kind of relationship too. If they don’t, move on until you find the right person.

You must.

I miss you, Laura.

Undeserved

I just don’t get it. Why me? God, what were you thinking when You looked down on me from Your great place and said –

“You there. Yes you. The one who is scared of me. The one who doesn’t trust anyone. The one who wants control.

“I love you.

“I gave you that sharp, quick, pinpoint focus…for ME. But I knew you would use it for you. And I still love you. My SON is enough to cover your idolatry.

“But that doesn’t change things. I still want you. And I will pursue you. I will shape your heart towards mine. Sometimes it will be great – you will feel more alive than you ever dreamed possible. Other times, it will hurt so bad you ache in places you didn’t know I created.

“Through it all, I am with you.”

Ho Ho Ho!

Merry Christmas!

I hope you are having a joyous day celebrating what God did 2,000ish years ago by bringing His Son to earth for you. For you, sister. For you, brother. For me. Sinners all. His perfect Son is the perfect Redeemer yesterday, today, and forever.

Do you need to accept His grace today for the first time? Let me celebrate with you.

So he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. For it is indeed fitting for us to have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separate from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need to do every day what those priests do, to offer sacrifices first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people, since he did this in offering himself once for all. For the law appoints as high priests men subject to weakness, but the word of solemn affirmation that came after the law appoints a son made perfect forever. (NETBible, Hebrews 7:25-28)

Little Wick

I’m a little burned out right now.

That’s my nice pastor’s-wife way of saying I’m really burned out. My wick is down in the crevices of candle wax, and it doesn’t feel like it can be unburied. I know it will be. I’ll claw through the wax, dig around for some breathing room, and finally find some oxygen for the fire.

But not today.

For the past 6 weeks, I haven’t slept more than a 5 hour stretch, and it’s been more like 3-4 hours at a time. Add Thanksgiving with family and holiday parties with friends (whom I truly love and care about) – and at best, I have ignored my husband. At worst, I’ve been a jerk.

And it’s the worst.

So I apologized today. I hugged him (when was the last time we embraced?), and said, “I’m sorry I’ve been a jerk.”

Him: “When have you been a jerk?”

Me: “The past 6 weeks.”

Him: “You have? And I didn’t even notice? I could have used that [for leverage].”

Me: {Thoughts} Why does he offer grace?

Love.

It’s the grace the Father has given him. It’s poured out on me.

Thank you, God.