Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thirteen Again

Aren’t those early teen years tough?  Trying to figure out where you belong, where you are going and who you are.  I don’t have really bad memories of those years, but I don’t have really good ones either.  I was so relieved to get to college and adulthood where I was finally confident of where I was going. 

I’ve never really struggled with self esteem and you would think now that I’m now on the verge of my late thirties (but I’m still totally in my mid-thirties) I’d be coming into my own.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  All of a sudden I feel thirteen again.  And it doesn’t feel any better now than it did twenty some years ago.  My hormones might be even more out of whack now than they were then.  I have been talking to other women and realize that I’m not alone.  It really is a difficult but good thing to open up about.  Just like in junior high, there is safety in numbers.  Especially in the bathroom.

When I was entering adulthood I had it all figured out.  Everything was going to be perfect now that I was in charge.

I would have the perfect house.

The perfect marriage.

The perfect children.

The  perfect career.

The perfect extended family.

Full of self-reliance I had it all planned out.  Then life hit.

And I don’t have a house.  My marriage is far from perfect.  My children, although wonderful and fabulous, are far from perfect.  I am not really that great of a mother most days.  There are issues and problems.  My career stalled out and it seems impossible to start over.  Seriously, Lord, this is not what I had planned.  Not at all.

Why would he not let me have that perfect life?  Well, maybe it’s time for his perfect plan instead.

As God has allowed each of those ideals that I staked my life and my self worth on to be stripped away, I could no longer rely on myself.  I know things are not perfect.  I know I am not perfect.  When that happens I am forced to rely on God for my self worth.  He is perfect.  If I had it all the way I wanted there would be no room for God. 

Along the road, it’s been a hit every time my attempts at perfection or sometimes even decent have failed.  Those are things that are important to me.  They are the bedrock of who I am.  It’s all very personal to me. When they are shaken, I feel like a loser.  I have failed. 

The good news is that I have failed.  Me being a failure is a very good thing.  When I feel worthless because of my less than perfect life, the only place left to look is to Christ. 

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9

He is the only place my self worth should come from.  He loves me so much that He died in my place.  He made me just the way I am.  All I need to do in life is cling to Him.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:16-17


It’s not so bad to be thirteen again.  Maybe I’ll get it right this time and let Him take the lead.  There is really no other way.  Maybe I’ll live for His passion and pleasure instead of my perfection.  Then I can finally grow into true maturity, not just adulthood.


Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  Romans 5:3-5

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Knowing It and Showing It

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about family this week.  I really love my family but sometimes it’s hard to put them first even though I want to. Other things get in the way.  I mean, I know the order; God, husband, family.  Sometimes I wonder what my husband and kids will remember when they look back on these years we’ve had together.  Will they remember that I:

was a girl scout leader?

had a clean, organized house?  (that one kind of makes me chuckle!)

did a lot of great things for church?

made a lot of fancy meals?

spent a lot of time of FaceBook?

wrote a blog?

thought everyone else was more important?

didnt’ take time to care and help them with their problems?

I worry that those are the things they’ll remember.  But what I want them to know and remember is that they are the most important thing in my life.  I want them to know that nothing I do outside of our house and family is more important to me than they are.  Not my job, friends, volunteering, exercise, shopping, computer, cell phone or church involvement.  It’s no doubt important to have those outside things.  They just aren’t as important as they are.  I know that, but do I show it?

I want them to remember that I:

finally let them have a puppy because I knew how much it meant to them.  Even though I don’t like dog pee or dog hair in my house.

baked cookies every afternoon when they came home from school.

sometimes dropped my stuff to play with them or listen to the details of their day.

declined other offers, no matter how important, to be at their games and concerts.

walked down the driveway to see them get off the bus.

packed them lunches when split pea soup was on the menu.

read one more bed time story.

let their friends come over and trash my house?

So I am going to start asking myself the question:  what will they remember? 

Monday, October 18, 2010

A is not for Achievement

Like every "good parent", I want my kids to be successful. I would like them to go to college and make good money so they can put me in a nice nursing home. I make them do homework, read, practice their instruments and practice their sports. It makes me proud when they come home with good grades. I was glad when they were the first to walk or talk or be potty trained. Isn’t that what’s important? Well, the Bible says it’s the heart that’s important. And our actions and words are an outpouring of what is in our heart.

Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:44-45

We have one child that is a natural student. This child loves to learn and read and still comes home with “Fabulous” written on his papers. Mainly because he has a great teacher that is really invested in her job. So naturally, we are proud of him.

We have another child that is a natural athlete. She loves to play sports and she is good at it. It’s fun to go to games and watch her play. Obviously, we are proud of her too.

We have another child that is different. She is a nurturer and very social. She spends hours taking care of her Barbies and her sisters and especially her new puppy.

She is a fine student and a good athlete. She is just not as driven in academic and athletic pursuits as some of the others. She has other gifts. Those gifts are good. Those gifts are from God. But they are not as easy to point at and say we’re proud. There aren’t papers or trophies announcing her nurturing heart.

It’s easy to say I would never focus on outward appearances, but it is very easy to make education, achievement and success my god. It’s tempting to focus so much on grades and being the best basketball player that we forget about the heart.

My son is growing into the middle school years. I am a little bit unsure about puberty, sports, fitting in and all the other stuff that goes along with that age. Actually, I'm terrified. Does anyone really have fond memories of those years? I don’t think so. My worries came to a dead stand still yesterday. I wasn’t worried about grades or friends or athletic ability, I was just thankful for the work of God in our hearts.

Sundays are always crazy days for us. After church this week the girls were going over to their friends’ house. There are lots and lots of girls in our church. A first grade boy invited Grant over to play. He only has sisters and when our families are together he loves to do boy stuff with Grant. Grant didn’t want to go and understandably so. So I invited him to come over just to play at our house.

Grant came up to me a little upset. He didn’t want to play with a little kid. I told him he didn’t have to play with him but he was still invited to our house. By the time we got home, he had invited another younger kid over from church. When we got out of the car the three boys and Maren were playing “sheep and wolf” and running around happily. They played star wars, video games and football. It meant so much to that boy. He was just beaming when I took him home.

There is no way I could have been more proud of Grant than I was yesterday. He was humble and loved others more than himself. He was kind and compassionate. If I could write on his life paper for that day, I would definitely write fabulous with a big “A” next to it. There is nothing more important for our kids to learn in life than to have a heart that loves Jesus and shows that love to others. I don’t care how smart, athletic or good looking you are, the heart is what count because that’s what God cares about.

1 Samuel 16:7

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

My kids could be on the A honor roll every year but if their hearts are not soft toward Christ it doesn’t matter in the long run. The long run being eternity. What is your focus as a parent? Is your main concern about fitting in and achievement and athletics? Does all the time and energy focused on that stifle efforts to work on heart issues?

It’s not an excuse to be lazy or not work hard at school work or activities. But learning to trust Christ and open your heart to His power to work in your life. He can give us the power to love others when we don’t want to, to think of others first or to be peacemakers. Those things might not get you very far in this world. They might even make your life harder. But to Jesus there is nothing more important. And if it’s important to Him, there should be nothing more important to me as a parent.