When all else fails and you don’t know what else to do…

…there remains one simple thing.

When the child strays and spews lava and fights for control.

When the husband doesn’t have anything left to give.

When you’re isolated and lonely and can’t carry on.

When you don’t know what else to do, there remains one thing: Pull someone close for a hug.

Take that red hot child into your arms and head for the recliner. {It doesn’t matter that they are 15.}

Wrap your arms around that exhausted husband and hold on for awhile.

Find a friend who will use their arms to fill some empty places in your heart…and be that kind of friend.

Hugs break down barriers, melt ice, cool lava, infuse hope, give back life. Hugs communicate that you’re committed, even though you may not have any answers. Hugs are easy (once you get past your pride), free, and powerful.

Who can you hug today?

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During Holy Week, When Children are Anything but “Holy”…

I go get her up from nap.

I’m all smiles, she is not.

I ask her to go use the bathroom before coming to kitchen and she does… she goes into the bathroom and urinates in her pants.

When I find her in there, standing in front of the toilet… wet… insolent… I am immediately irritated.

She’s done it to spite me, this child resistant to grace.

“Why did you do that?” I ask her, running on my irritation, leaving the Spirit behind.

She stares at me dark, hard, hostile. Silent.

I step out, overwhelmed by a sudden sense of my own foundations. I grew up in a home where religious parents were never pleased. I believed God was like that too. And I’m suddenly aware of the false god I just might be representing to her.

Of late, my prayer has increasingly become, “Lord, show me how to parent this in a manner in keeping with Your character.”

All my life I reckon I’ve struggled with understanding God. Perhaps I always will… at least now I’m aware of the struggle. In a world of jarred chords and evil strains, I’m letting the CROSS be my middle C.

I leave her in the bathroom to finish while I go outside, pick up toys before I mow. I hear from my Father. “Do you understand Me now?” He asks. “Do you know why I’ve forgiven, not according to your acts of righteousness? Do you understand it’s because of My name’s sake?”

There it is, a beam, and I follow it. Harsh judgment is deserved…but judgment never reflects the true nature and disposition of our God.

Words of displeasure, shame, condemnation, punishment…all of these we deserve for sinning against a Holy God. And He can and should dish them out, teach us a lesson we won’t forget….

Except that those things don’t reflect who He is at His core…gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness.

These things are His glory.

And He is pleased to reveal it to us.

It is in such stark contrast to the punitive version of God I was raised with. Yet for all His right and reason, He desired not to act in a way that our insolent rebellion begged for…but in a way that makes known His glory. So He “demonstrated His own love for us” and acted in a manner in keeping with His own character.

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” I John 4:9-10

And in so doing, the true nature and character of God was revealed.

Could this be the root of our parenting questions, our consumption of resource after resource, our apathy for the lost, our search for “the something that’s missing?” This deep confusion regarding the true nature of God?

He is good. He is grace. He is love.

He invites me to bask in it, believe it, drink it, take it and live. Live!

And then He tells me something strong and clear. He tells me to reflect it.

“I’ve chosen you for this purpose,” He says, “and you are to honor Me as I am, as I reveal Myself to you.”

I cannot live the way I always have. With each flash of divine revelation into His true nature and character, I am to make lifestyle changes that are in keeping with His revealed nature. This is what it means to “hallow” His name.

I bend the knees to such a high and noble calling in life. To sanctify His name? To reflect His glory? To be His witness? Me??

I go back in to little girl sitting on toilet.

I hug her close. I look deep into her eyes, I stroke damp hair away from her face. I ignore the odor of urine.

With a heart full of the Glory, I show her God.

 

 

“Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!”

“And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the Name of the Lord before you…

Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.” Exodus 33:18-19, 34:6

 

 

**I am working on a study of sorts to take my children through over the summer. It is learning and discussing the names of God and how we can allow a deepened understanding of Him to change our actions and behaviors.

Although I became a believer at a young age, I had to “start from scratch” as an adult in my understanding of God and I began by studying His names. After several years of study, and seeing it  affect my life profoundly, I deeply desire for my children to “hallow” His name, not just know a bunch of facts about God. This study will take my children through 10 major names, includes daily activities centered around the Name’s meaning, and practical application of the Name to our daily lives.

{Example: The name Elohim, Creator God, meets our deep need for significance, purpose, value, and intrinsic worth.}

I *hope* to share it here on the blog as we go. Please pray if you think of us? I sense the Spirit of God moving in this… You can join in by subscribing to this blog here.


Abba

She came looking for me.

I heard her sleeper-ed feet sliding across the wood floor, soft aches for a momma’s touch. I paused.

I waited.

Nothing.

Somewhere along the way she turned back. Somewhere along the way she broke my heart.

I went to go check, thinking perhaps I had just imagined the soft feet, the aching heart, the silent push then retreat.

I caught her tail end climbing back into bed and I knew.

She had come looking for me.

I asked her soft if she was okay. “Yeah,” she said in her quiet way.

“Did you get out of bed?” I asked. “Yeah,” she said again.

“Were you looking for me?”

“Yeah.”

I took that Little Bit in my arms and I hugged her tight, and my heart broke in half and I told her that she was okay, she was always welcome to get me, that’s why I’m here.

That’s when I felt the moisture on my cheek. She was bleeding.

I carried her to the bathroom and we looked at her nose bleed and I ran the hot water and we cleaned it up and all the while I was hoping that gentle touches were communicating things that words never could.

This little girl of mine who doesn’t trust. Doesn’t receive. Doesn’t hear and see and lay hold.

Together we got the humidifier and a drink of water and held hands as we walked back to bed and I tucked her in and I told her that if she needed me, come get me. That’s what mommas are for.

Then I cried.

“Is this how You feel, Lord?” I asked. When You have adopted us and we need You so badly but we are so wounded and so afraid; and we start to come get You but then we turn back, unsure…

And You hear our slipper-ed feet, wait in anticipation for our sleepy heads to peek in the doorway…. and Your heart just absolutely breaks in half when it doesn’t.

So You let something hurt us so that we can feel the gentle touches and heart-hear the nurturing love that words never could communicate.

Is this how it works?

And You let it happen again and again and again. Each time we make it further down the hallway before turning back?

Until finally, we go all the way. We peek our heads around the doorway and we say, “Abba?”

And we both know ~ finally~ we are getting somewhere.


Knowing God’s Intentions Toward You

We have good days, we really do, and ever so slowly the good days are outnumbering the bad ones.

It’s when the bad days come along that I have to dig deep and draw upon truth. These days I ask her the simplest of things and she shuts down, pulls away, wonders what I really want from her.

I give the slightest instruction and she stares me down, draws a line in the sand, gears up to fight for control.

It pains me that after nearly three years, she still does not trust my intentions towards her.

It smacks me between the eyes, that insight. Because my LORD wants my full and complete surrender but how can I give it if I do not fully trust His intentions towards me?

Yes, I know about doubt. We adopted not because we wanted another child, not because we had some silly notion of “saving”  a “poor child,” but for the simple reason of obedience. We asked God how He wanted us to fulfill James 1:27. “Adopt,” He told us.

We did. So things should be okay, right? We are being obedient to God and are joyfully following the Lord…things surely won’t blow up in our face. Right?

Wrong.

It’s sort of like the Israelites leaving Egypt. They are tired and weak and the unknown hangs over their heads, presses them from all sides…and suddenly they are attacked. From behind, where the weakest ones lag. Dirty low down enemies. Surely they would at least fight fair. (See Exodus 17)

Wrong.

Where is God in all of this? Hello? God? We didn’t do this because we set out on our own and paved our own path. We are here because of You, God. We are following You by pillar and cloud. What gives? We aren’t supposed to get bindsided by a foe we didn’t even know existed right when we need rest the most.

Then when child #4 came along, the third one to arrive in a span of 23 months, I started asking even more of those questions. “Don’t you know I’m overwhelmed already, Lord? What are You thinking?”

Like in Exodus 17, God’s purpose for me was/is to train me how to do warfare. If we’re going to take our promised land, we’ve got to know how to fight.

But before we can fight, we’ve got to trust, because how can one willingly submit herself fully to God if there is even a trace of fear regarding His intent?

He wakes me one morning with the words, “Understand what the will of the Lord is,” and I know what His Spirit is getting at, how I historically define God’s will in terms of what He wants from me, what He wants me to do.

{And I’ve done this part well.}

There is something more. His will starts with His intentions.

This I have missed.

I’ve been taught to do the right thing, to please God, to obey His will…but I’ve never really understood the intentions of my Lord, the One who is supposed to be Master.

But isn’t that what faith is all about? Believing?

A word study on “will” leaves me in awe. Understanding His will means believing His heart.The same heart that birthed spoken eulogies and Word made flesh and still lives among us. The same heart who can’t help but be loving to all He has made and whose deeds are all done in faithfulness.

How have I missed this?

I’m saddened by all the grace I’ve missed.

But there are new graces for today and failing to embrace them by mourning those forfeited only compounds the loss.

In my study, I stumble upon the verse that grounds me when changing dirty diapers…when sick children keep me up all night…when I feel overwhelmed by the emotional demands from children whose hurt runs deep…when I wonder where God will send us next, and when…where the provisions will come from… the verse that I take up like a life raft and heave myself upon and calm myself with and rest and bring myself first to my knees and them, shaky, to my feet.

“Stand fully assured in all God’s will for you.”

Fully Assured. I can face each moment fully assured of God’s good will in all, and for me.

When the dirty rotten enemies come at me from behind when I’m just trying to follow God, I can stand fully assured. I don’t have to add God’s intentions to my list of problems.

“This is God’s best for me,” I tell myself. THIS moment. Right here, right now. With all the unknowns and the problems that don’t have answers yet and the inadequacy of me,

This is God’s best for me.

I can stand fully assured in all God’s will for me. There is not a moment that I have to flounder. There is not a season or a single half- second that I have to doubt His intentions towards me.

Fully Assured.

In All.

God’s Will.

For Me.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans for your welfare, not for disaster; plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

This month, we are learning the Habits of Love: How to be Rooted and Grounded in Love; How to Walk in God’s Eulogy; How to Really Know God Loves You. Join us next Monday for a wrap up and special printable for your fridge. {You can also find a printable bookmark of the 3 Love Habits I’m taking with me this year at the bottom of this post.}


Trample

I stand at the door on snow day, watching Husband and children exchange fire.

They are all laughing, eating “ice cream,” as daughter sees it.

“Hey Mom!” Oldest son sees me standing at the door. “The snow is almost gone right here because we’ve trampled it so much.”

It flashes, it ignites, it comes to life, the word “trample.”

Gone because of trampling.

I think of my job with “Little Bit,” as I affectionately call her, the job of helping her pave new paths in her brain, help her override the established path of panic and distrust…of FEAR. Help her trample new paths of love and trust.

Trample.

Could trample be to “tread” over and over? My breath quickens as Spirit gives wisdom and I think of this year and the focus scripture.

Could some of our promised territory be taken only by treading it again and again, by establishing new paths, by learning to reject the old path of pain and rejection and doubt and trample again the new?

To make the old gone because of trampling.

I turn from the door and look up the word “tread” in the original language. I find “darak,” and one of the definitions is “to trample.” God has given us promises,  “every spiritual blessing,” in fact. And it is our job to “trample,” to tread on those promises until the old patterns and habits are a thing of the past and we fully possess the promise and we have “laid hold.”

“Every place on which the sole of your foot treads {tramples}, I have given it to you, just as I promised…” Joshua 1:3

I wonder how much ground I don’t possess simply because I fail to tread? Do I cower in fear, like the Israelites did? Do I not want to put forth the effort and cave to exhaustion instead? Or do I find my strength in the Lord?

If this year is going to be that of Conquest, then I must practice trampling.

The Garbage Truck comes and refuses to pick up our busted trash can, for the 2nd week. It seems we are stuck with a useless can. Something about seeing it tumped over, innards gaping open and mouth broken makes me feel fear. Panic. Vulnerability.

Totally irrational, I know.

But old patterns were triggered. Memories of doing everything possible to get rid of something unwanted and needing someone else to step in, lend a hand, pick up when I could go no further.

But they didn’t.

Panic is the response of one drowning, the rash attempt to save one’s life. The feeling of being overwhelmed, of waters covering the head. I know it well. It is quietly triggered in the strangest of ways.

Yet trample reminds me that even water can be tread.

Suddenly I have a desire to go outside and walk in the snow. I grab my jacket, slip boots on, leave girl on potty and littlest in high chair and others to fend for themselves.

I trample snow. I feel the ground give way beneath the soles, hear the crunch of tread.

I leave footprints and look at the territory I have claimed. I see how much unbroken white remains.

This is the year of conquest and I must trample.

Later, we sit down to dinner and Husband glances over at me, then does a double take. He gets up from his chair, comes near, and cups my face in his hands. “Your face is glowing,” he says.

I smile.

“I’ve been trampling,” I tell him.


The Answer is Yes!

I’m clothed in drab, human skin and feel every inch of humanity as I get on my knees before Him.

“Lord. You have laid hold of me…let me now lay hold of You. Both hands, Lord, both hands.”

“Jesus, show me how to do this!”

“As the Father loved You, so You have loved me, Jesus. Help me abide in Your love.”

“Jesus, I call on You! Imperfectly and in only partial belief, but it is all I know to do. Save me from this pride and control and self reliance. I am a woman of unclean hands, lips, and heart, and I need Your fire of cleansing to purify me. Will You do this?”

“Will You let me know You? Really GET You, God? Oh, how I want to understand You, know Your ways!”

Throughout the days I keep finding my knees, keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. Until I realize…it is becoming a way of life for me.

Then. Today. Little one tells me her cup is out of water. “Okay, what do you do?” I prompt her.

“May I have some more water please?”

“The answer is YES!” I tell her.

We have done this particular little exercise hundreds of times, me trying to teach her to ask and she will receive… Her asking time and time again, and me saying “YES!” And I wonder, when will she really get it? When will her relationship with me reflect a deep, abiding trust? When will she KNOW that she is part of me, of us, and when will she not hesitate to put me out for her sake?

But this time the words come back at me, a response from Him spoken from my own lips: “The answer is YES!”

“All those requests you are making…all those desires for righteousness and truth and love and grace you are pouring out before Me…all those tears that have no words… the answer is YES!”

“And when will you finally get it, that you are part of Me, of US, and when will you not hesitate to put Us out on your behalf? You know you have the entire throne room of Grace at your disposal… you know I say ask and you will receive…”

Right there at the lunch table I jump up and leap for joy! “The answer is YES!” I say again and again and they laugh at their crazy momma.

And I know something new today: Some prayers are best made on bended knees. Others, on leaping legs.


“For no matter how many promises God has made, they

are YES in Christ.” II Corinthians 1:20


Surely One of the Saddest Things Ever… and the Remedy

I look at her withdrawn, held back, unwilling to come join the rest of us.

I beckon. She stiffens.

Scars from past abandonment, neglect, and abuse hold her like chains to her chosen spot. She will not come.

I see myself in her. I see how I braced myself against warmth because I had believed the lie that I didn’t need it. I see how I held back from love- deep and lavish- because I decided I could do without it. And slowly, a bit at a time, the cold I surrounded myself with seeped deeper into my soul and distorted my vision of the love available to me.

I see it clearly now…that surely one of the saddest things ever is to be deeply and lavishly loved but not have the eyes to perceive it.

What a tragedy, to get to the other side of life and see how one could have lived- as a dearly beloved child of God, sure of His love and unfailing goodness.

How does one miss this? How do God’s people miss this incredible life?

I look at her and I see myself. I see how I did it, how I missed it for so long: I failed to “lay hold.”

“…So that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:12

Just as she is in our household, never to leave, always identified with us, so I am in Christ. He is my brother, my family, and I am in the household of God. He has reached down and laid hold of me (Phil 3:12) and has taken me from the domain of darkness and abuse and rejection and pain and transferred me into the kingdom of the family- His beloved Son (Col 1).

And I can either sulk and hold back and piddle in the corner with my little pet toy, or I can reach out with both hands and press forward and lay hold of that which has laid hold of me.

The remedy for rejection is acknowledging the acceptance offered in Christ.

The remedy for neglect is embracing the love and warmth extended me in Jesus.

The remedy for abuse is running to the table of fellowship with Him, where I am always welcomed, loved, and nourished back to health.

Hiding out in the corner never did anyone any good…except the enemy who wishes to single us out from the rest to devour us.

Surely I must help my precious one learn to embrace the new, push forward to the warmth, and lay hold.

We’ll do this together, she and I. We will learn together how to come out of our corners, how to put down our pet emotions, how to stretch out our hands and open our arms wide and embrace the grace that has been lavished on us.

Together, we will lay hold.