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Posts Tagged ‘God’

gloves

Preteen + preteen + peacemaker AKA tattletale + one year old = it’s spring but if we dare open our windows someone may call the law.  And I might need them to.

After much begging, pleading, and coercing from tomboy mom, I think my girls have finally chosen a sport they want to practice.  My girls – especially the older two – seem to have adopted a new way of life.  It is hard to describe, but if it had a name it might be called, “Four Girl Fight Club.”

Apparently they have come to believe that the only solution to their ridiculously difficult life is to fight with one another over everything.  Sometimes, the decibels are so high in this compound that it takes a conversation with a hard of hearing mom, a machine washing clothes, a screaming baby, a running lawn mower, a phone alarm ringing to remind me that today’s the last day to pay that bill before I have a 32 thousand dollar late fee, and the noise of a 25 year-old refrigerator to successfully ignore the bouts of unmitigated rage.

Oops.  Did I say ignore?  I mean avoid.  Er.  Um.  No.  I mean, I would never ignore or avoid my own children.  That’s ridiculous.  Clearly I’m busy with all the above mentioned, conveniently noisy tasks.  I would really prefer to be ringside.  Who doesn’t love a good fight, right?  That’s why, even being the free range parent that I am, I always make sure I rush in to see the good parts.  Anytime I am in the middle of 17 other things and I hear someone getting pummelled with pretend accusations, I run right in!

Yesterday was one of those days.

By the time I came to see what was the matter, one fighter was already crying and drawing an emo self-portrait complete with tears and monster sister hovering over her in the sketch, and the other was smugly smarting off about her rightness in the matter.

Now.  I always like to get the facts straight from both sides before I go trying to sub out for the referee, but, with all the commotion I didn’t hear that phone alarm and it just so happened that the ref’s paycheck was the bill I forgot to pay.  So, unfortunately, I had to jump right in quick before someone lost a tooth, or, in my case, their own flippin’ mind.

“What on the earth is going on in here, girls?!”

“Addie made an app and she made rules for the game she created but she isn’t following HER OWN RULES that SHE made!”

“That’s not true!  I made it so I am allowed to make the rules!!”

When I got down to the bottom of it all, it seems that my very technically inclined daughter made up a game and made a rule for her fellow gamers that she was not following herself.  This reality ignited the call to use every justice bone in my other daughter’s body.

“You can’t do that!!!  You can’t just change the rules for yourself!  You can’t just make other people follow them and not follow them yourself!”

“I made it!!!  I am the owner!  I can do whatever I want!”

“AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” said the referee.

“Ok.  Let’s see here.  You are both right – in a way.  Addie is right that if she created it, as the administrator she is ABLE to do things in whatever fashion she chooses.  If she sets it up with an exception for herself, she can because she owns and created the game.  However, as a matter of good business and fairness, Mia is right.  No one likes leaders who expect others to follow the rules that they made but do not follow the rules themselves.  That’s why everyone gets mad at the government.  They have the authority to make the rules and laws because we have entrusted it to them – given it to them – but they are so unjust that they apply them to everyone but themselves.  They also change the rules whenever it is personally advantageous.  That is called injustice.  We do not want to be unjust to others.

So, I understand why everyone is upset but, while both of you are right, you are also both wrong. Think about your other two sisters, girls.  Maylee is upset.  Sonny is screaming.  You are scaring them.  I understand why you both feel justified, but the truth is that neither of you are.  Look how you’re treating each other.  This is not acceptable.

Next time, listen to each other.  Stop yelling over top of one another to get your ideas heard by the person you clearly disagree with.  Talk about it.  Don’t get upset when someone challenges your decisions.  Instead, answer them.  Know why you’re doing something and be able to explain it clearly when asked.  If you are the one asking, don’t be condescending.  When you have a different perspective, respect for the authority goes a long way – especially if you are older than they are.  Lastly, never forget to consider others who hear your disagreements.  Namely – your sisters.  But the windows are open for goodness sake! Everything we do affects other people.  Remember that.

And in that four girl fight club, I believe the Lord truly showed up with wisdom like unto Solomon’s for me.  My own heart was revealed as fighter number five and my own foolishness was found out.  Like the mechanic always says, they only know what you teach ’em.  God did none other than prove Himself faithful once again.

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quote

The three “R’s” used to be readin’, ‘wrightin, and ‘rithmetic, right?  In home school, at least at my house, we have a different set of “R’s.” They are respect, reasoning, righteousness, and responsibility.  If I succeed at teaching them those things, I have zero doubt that my kids will succeed in whatever it is they choose to do in life.  Even if their paths and choices lead to failure, they will succeed in character, integrity, and wisdom if just these four things are instilled in them.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan!’ For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” ~Matthew 4:10

“What?!  Why would he say that?!” exclaims my indignant nine year-old.

“What?”

“Why would Jesus tell the devil to worship God?!  He will never do it!!”

“Just because we know someone is not going to listen does not mean God does not want us to tell them the truth.  Truth has two purposes.  One is grace for those who will listen and change by it.  The other is condemnation for those who will refuse it.

In other words, Jesus’ faithfulness in telling the truth of the scriptures to those who do not listen is actually what he will point to when he judges them.  It is not just sin that will condemn people, it will be also the saving grace God gave that was refused.

 The only sin listed in the Bible as unforgivable is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  What that means is that when God shows up to teach us and offers His truth to us by grace and we disbelieve, dismiss, and ignore it, we cannot be forgiven because we have pulled the rug out from under the means by which he saves.  If we refuse the Spirit of God when it speaks plain truth to us, we stiff arm God’s grace and we remain in stubborn, willful darkness.

We must learn to love the truth, girls.  No matter how uncomfortable, difficult, or painful it may be for us to accept, we must always embrace truth.  Never refuse or put off the truth of God when you learn it.  The Bible says, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.  Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now its the day of salvation.” ~2 Corinthians 6:1-2

There is a particular urgency to the truth.  Today is the day.  Don’t put it off.  Don’t wait one more second.  Take the truth to heart, now!  Today!  Do what is right, right away!  That is how we are to react when met with the truth.  Jesus is the Truth and he is the Way.  If we are following him, we must obey the truth, and obey it quickly.

The next day Bible class resumes.  We read Revelation chapter 16.

“Then I heard the angel of the waters say to God: ‘Holy One, you are the One who is and who was.  You are right to decide to punish these evil people.  They have spilled the blood of your holy people and your prophets.  Now you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’  And I heard the altar say: ‘Yes, Lord God All-Powerful, the way you punish evil people is right and fair.'” ~Revelation 16:5-7

This time my seven year-old protests.

“Doesn’t God say ‘Don’t do bad things back to people when they do bad to you?!’ Why is he doing bad to the bad people?  He is disobeying himself!!!”

“God tells us not to take revenge.  The reason we are not allowed to take revenge is because he is going to.  He tells us not to repay evil with evil because if we do, we will be judged, too.  God has to punish evil and he will punish evil because he is just and fair.  He punished Jesus for our sins but those who do not love and obey Jesus will get their own punishment.”

“Education was, in fact, so important to the Puritans that it was required.  By 1642, parents were required to teach their young children to read so they could know the Scriptures…The purpose of teaching was to learn the Word of God and defeat Satan, who was the deluder.  So the law to teach was called the ‘Old Deluder Satan Act.'” ~Linda Lacour Hobar, Mystery of History, Vol. III

My lessons for the week are very clear.

1. Tell the truth even when your hearers refuse to listen.

2.Trust God to judge evil.

3.Remember that it is parents who are responsible for their children’s education.

4. The ultimate goal of educating children is knowing and understanding the Scriptures.

AMEN.

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moses-on-the-mountain-01w-10x7

It was the third day.  The people had prepared themselves for the coming of God.  They had been given very strict instructions – lines not to cross lest they die.  In Exodus 19:16, we find the people of God awaiting his coming.

Come he did, along with thunder, lightning, a thick cloud, and very loud trumpet blasts.  Can you even imagine standing there?

There have been times in my life when the Lord has called me to do things that were very intimidating; uncomfortable; even scary.  As I went full of fear, in that moment before I saw him, I remember how I felt.  Although afraid, every second guess of why I should just forget it was silenced by two things: 1. knowing with absolute certainty his voice and 2. knowing I was prepared.

Knowing we have spiritually prepared ourselves before facing a spiritual event gives us confidence when we are afraid and do not understand what God is doing.

Have I prayed?  Have I heard from God beforehand?  Have I fasted?  Have I waited for his instructions?  Have I obeyed in as much as I already know?  Am I continuously listening for Him?

If these answers are yes, that go time moment is far less dreadful.

Here, even the mountain was trembling.  The trumpet was becoming increasingly loud.  It was then that Moses spoke and God answered.  He answered in thunder.  The Lord came down onto the mountain and Moses alone went up to him.

Matthew Henry notes, “Now, at length, comes that memorable day, that terrible day of the Lord, that day of judgment, in which Israel heard the voice of the Lord God speaking to them out of the midst of the fire, and lived…Now it was that the earth trembled at the presence of the Lord, and the mountains skipped like rams, that Sinai itself, though rough and rocky, melted from before the Lord God of Israel.  Now it was that the mountains saw him, and trembled, and were witnesses against a hard-hearted unmoved people, whom nothing would influence.” 

All this preparation, all this warning, all this waiting, all this fearful pre-meeting, and what does God tell Moses when he finally gets to the top of the mountain?

Hey, Moses!  How are you old buddy?  Let’s do lunch?!

No!  God tells Moses to go back down and tell the people the very same things he has already thoroughly told them and warned them about.

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to look and may of them perish.’ “ ~Exodus 19:21

Moses is still huffing and puffing from climbing the mountain.  He has to be like, um, God.  You already told them that stuff.  You made me draw lines and limits around the mountain before I came up, remember?  We prepared our garments.  We did not go near our wives.  Remember, God?  We already did that.

Now.  We can infer a couple things here.  One, God was very serious about his instructions.  Two, God doesn’t mind sending us back to do the same things over and over if they are imperative.  And three, God cares a whole lot about people.  He does not want to see them needlessly die because they are disobedient.  God is willing to run his messengers up and down mountains in order to save His people from sin.

“And the Lord said to him, ‘Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you.  But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord, lest he break out against them.’ “ ~Exodus 19:24

God does not even answer when Moses makes the point that what he is instructing has already been done.  In fact, he says it a third time.  God tells Moses to go get Aaron and bring him up, and, oh, by the way, Moses, don’t let the people near here or I will kill them.

God is pretty serious.  God has a way of doing things.  He has an order.  He has specific methods and he expects obedience.  If there is anything we learn from this passage, it is that God wants things done His way and he wants us to be involved.

God could have told Moses to bring Aaron with him before Moses got to the top of the mountain.  That is not the way God wanted this thing done.  This is God’s way.  If I were Moses, I would probably be thinking, “Wow.  I just climbed up this mountain in obedience and now I have to go right back down and get Aaron and say what I already said and come right back up…why didn’t God just tell me in the first place.  I don’t understand this.”

Sounds just like something a Dad would do, doesn’t it?  God’s ways are not our ways.  But isn’t it just like him to test us; to test our obedience and our faith; to meet us only to send us away to get others who need to come to Him as well?  These are the kinds of things God does while we are standing around scratching our heads trying to understand why he chose to do them in the unusual ways he so often does.

“So Moses went down to the people and told them.” ~Exodus 19:25

Moses obeyed.  Moses did not argue with God.  He told God he had obeyed and God said, obey again.  So he did, and this, for the sake of everyone else and their extremely important adherence to God’s very particular instructions here.

God’s methods are often hard to understand.  His ways are not our ways.  He uses these kind of things to test our faith, to test our obedience, to see if we’re listening, to know if we’re faithful.

And he already knows those answers.  It is we who need to know for ourselves how faithful or faithless we really are.

Do not be discouraged if you spend a considerable amount of time preparing to do exactly what God commands and when you get there he sends you back down the mountain to do the same things you just got done doing.  He may want someone else to come meet him along with you.  He wants everyone to obey.  It is in these times that he is using you, just like he was using Moses.  Moses is about to see the glory of God.  He would not have seen it apart from his amazing obedience to God’s specific instructions.

“Note, in divine things we must not covet to know more than God would have us know; and he has allowed us as much as is good for us.  A desire of forbidden knowledge was the ruin of our first parents.  Those that would be wise above what is written, and intrude into those things which they have not seen, need this admonition, that they break not through to gaze.” ~Matthew Henry

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perfection

God has just sent his people into a brand new wilderness.  He has told them two very important instructions: to remember his extreme grace and mercy toward them, and to obey Him.  He has promised that if they would but listen to Him, that he is ready and waiting to make them a kingdom of priests; a holy nation; his very own treasured possession.  Talk about making a deal they can’t refuse!  Of course, they agreed.

The next step in this “process of becoming” as we will call it, it for the prophet to instruct the people on how to prepare themselves for the coming of God Himself.

 And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.”

When Moses told the words of the people to the Lord, 10 the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments 11 and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. 13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot;[a] whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” 14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments. 15 And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.” ~Exodus 19:9-15

God said that these people were to be consecrated.  The way in which God instructs this to be accomplished is that they:

1. Wash their garments.  Matthew Henry notes, “When we are to attend upon God in solemn ordinances it concerns us to sanctify ourselves, and to get ready beforehand.  Wandering thoughts must be gathered in, impure affections abandoned, disquieting passions suppressed, nay, and all cares about secular business, for the present, dismissed and laid by, that our hearts may be engaged to approach unto God…It becomes us to appear in clean clothes when we wait upon great men; so clean hearts are required in our attendance on the great God, who sees them as plainly as men see our clothes.  This is absolutely necessary to our acceptably worshiping God.”

2. Have established limits set.  They must be told with an extreme amount of clarity that these are the lines we do not cross lest we receive the severest of consequences.  No compromises will be made past these lines.  No blind eyes will be turned when any person – even any animal!!!- crosses.  No grace whatsoever will be given if there is injustice done to these unbreakable rules.  The message God was conveying here through the work of his prophet’s line drawing?  YOU DO NOT PRESUME UPON GOD’S MERCY – EVER. You want stoned?  Shot?  If you cross these lines that’s exactly what is going to happen.  Try me.

3.  Do not go near a woman.  This was a matter of purity of mind and heart.  Henry says, “In token of their devoting themselves entirely to religious exercises, upon this occasion, they must abstain even from lawful enjoyments during these three days, and not come at their wives.”

This was how they were to prepare for the coming of God.  These were the things necessary to truly “be ready” to meet him.  Here, before the law was given, God came down on the third day.  In the future, before grace was given, God was raised on the third day.  In the former, God came down to tell us what he expects of us – absolute perfection.  In the latter, God is raised up to tell us what we can expect from Him – unmitigated grace.

You simply cannot get the magnitude of that without falling down to worship Him.  WOW!!!  There are no words to aptly describe what a beautiful God we serve!

Hey world!!!  Look at HIM!!!  How awesome!  How amazing!  How merciful!  How good and great and strong and wise!  That’s MY Dad!!!

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unhappy-valentine-s-day-t-shirts

We’re having a party!  You’re invited!  Come!  It’s all about love.  Bring your empty box!  Decorate it pretty so we can share love notes with you!

Valentine’s Day never seemed so exciting.  We shopped and we crafted.  We wrote out love notes and we waited in happy expectation.  But somehow, somewhere between Mommy’s phone ringing, baby’s fall breaking, and passing out our love notes to one another, something went terribly wrong.

My 3 older kids were alone in the party room.  I was standing just outside talking about my own desperate need for prayer.  Something happened that I did not witness personally.

Enter: Irate mom.  Irate mom interrupted my tears brimming, baby rocking, broken heart on my sleeve conversation by yelling at me about how terrible my children are and how her precious snowflake was crying because of my monsters.

So I did what any reasonable person would do.  I apologized.  I asked what had happened.  I made them apologize.  I explained to both mom and daughter that it seems my girls may have just wanted to be her friend and didn’t know how to introduce themselves appropriately. My girls sat crying for a long time while their accuser showed no evidence of any personal pain.

When we came home we talked about the love gone wrong party.  I do not presume to know exactly what actually happened.  What I do know very well is my own children.  I know exactly who they are and who they are not.  They sin just like me.  They hurt just like me.  They love just like me.  And they tell me the truth when it really matters.

So what happens when a bully calls you a bully and cries fake tears to get you in trouble?  What happens when that bully has an authority (bully mom) who does the same?  When bully mom singles you out and yells in your pint size face in full view of all your friends?  When bully mom goes on a tirade among all the other authorities yelling about how despicable you and best friend (sister) really are?  What happens then?

Well.  You stand by your apology.  Perhaps you did cause some small injury unintentionally.  Perhaps you did.  And then you sit back and you realize that sincere apologies do not matter to bullies.  You realize that forgiveness will never be extended no matter what you say or do because the animosity is not coming from a place of honest offense.  It is coming from a place of hatred and jealousy; malice and deceit; pride and envy.

 Then you cry.  You sit at the party you so looked forward to and you cry about how you’ve been treated.  You take quite some time to listen to the one who loves you most when she says it is going to be OK because her love never depended on your behavior.  You finally get the courage to wipe your tears and go back to playing with the other kids but when the day is done you go home and you appeal to the one who loves you again.  You realize that there is no place for the likes of you at the next love party because you have learned that there is no love at those kind of parties after all.  You wait, hoping love comes back and loves you, apologizes to you, sits next to you, embraces you, and rights the wrongs it did, or, at the very least, shows you how you have wronged it.

You realize that the truth is, love does.  Love will.  Love reconciles.  Love forgives.  Love lives on after our preferences, our pettiness, and all our imperfections.  Love does and will do all of those things and so, so much more if it is, indeed, love after all.  If not, well, then I need to be more wise and discerning the next time I’m invited to a party labeled “love” to that fact that it may have nothing whatsoever to do with what I know love actually is all about.  I have no interest in fake love parties.  Those aren’t for me and they certainly aren’t for my children.

Love is not something we can celebrate if we are looking for a self-centered pity party over our every whim and want.  Love is messy, painful, sacrificial, and other-serving.  You cannot accuse, fail to forgive, hold in contempt, and wait with binoculars and your detective hat for the next offense just hold onto the upper hand; the control; the selfish benefits of being the boss without the selfless service of being the leader.

Everyone likes to be invited.  Everyone wants to celebrate love because love is the greatest of all things we have been given on the entire earth.  But we cannot invite others to love parties that do not both display and convey true love accurately and appropriately.  If we do, we should not wonder why they won’t ever come back once they figure out how this thing works.  You can’t bait and switch and expect the bait to keep fooling the fish.  Our Lord only gave us two commands.  Two.

1. Love ME (God)

2.Love each other

If we cannot do that, we have nothing to celebrate, nothing to share, and nothing worth inviting anyone to come and be a part of.

And you know, God has his ways.  He always shows up just when we need Him most.  It just so happened that we were invited to anther love party.  It was last minute and unexpected.  It was hosted by one who had nothing prepared save her heart.  She wanted to love.  She sought to serve.  She gave the little she had to me and my daughters freely without even knowing how hurt we’d been by the last party labeled “love.”  What grace He gives in our time of need.  What a good, good God we serve.

With that, I leave you the words of a wild thing and a king:

” Judith: Psst. Psst. (signals for Max to come over)  What were you doing with Carol just now?

Max: Just talking.

Judith: Oh, a secret, huh?  Let me ask you something.  How does it work around here?  Are we all the same or are some of us better than others or – ?  You like to play favorites, huh, king?

Max: No, I like all you guys equally.

Judith: Don’t give me that.  I can see how it is.  The king has favorites.  That’s really cute.  Do you have a favorite color?  Hey, can I be your favorite color? (laughs)

Max: (imitates her laugh)

Judith: (does it back)

Max: (does it again, with more effort)

Judith: Ahahahaha

Max: Har har har!

Judith: Ahahahahahaha

Max: HAR HAR HAR

Judith: You know what? You can’t do that back to me.  If we’re upset, your job is not to get upset back at us.  Our job is to be upset.  If I get mad and want eat you, then you have to say, “Oh, okay, you can eat me.  I love you.  Whatever makes you happy, Judith.”  That’s what you’re supposed to do!”

~Where the Wild Things Are, 2009, Jonze and Dave Eggers

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bible-time

“It’s MY turn!  It’s MY seat!  Get up!!  I want to sit there!  It’s MY turn!  My stomach hurts!  I have a headache!  I need to sit there!!!”

Even the baby mocks the crying and yelling of my passionately entitled seven year-old.  You know, the one who sits next to me each and every day while I read the Bible.  Every day she has that, as she sees it, privilege.  Every day she sits in, as she perceives it, the place of honor.  But any time one of my other daughters decides it is their turn to sit by me, she loses her mind.

I mean really loses her mind.

Somehow, because she has been given the privilege too often and been allowed by her sisters to not be challenged or rivaled for that place very much, she mistakenly believes that she owns the space.  She mistakenly believes that she is truly being offended when her sisters take the seat she covets.

That’s the point at which she makes certain that everyone on our block knows just whose place they are trying to take; just whose seat they’re trying to steal; just whose turn it really is – today, tomorrow, and for all eternity.

This is not a frequent occurrence, but, the only reason it is not frequent is because her sisters do not often want the space next to me.  Which, of course, is another existential question of the universe.  I mean, how could they not want to sit next to the coolest mom on earth?  Nevertheless, anytime they do recognize the awesomeness of this girl, this tantrum inevitably happens and I have to give a whole sermon on putting others first, self-control, and obedience before I even begin Bible class.

“I can’t even read God’s Word until you obey, child.  Please, can we get started?  Do you really want punished?  I know you feel better when you are next to me, but God is not happy when we only think about what we want and need.”

“But what am I doing wrong?!  I want to sit by you!!!”

“You are lying by making up excuses about being sick to get what you want.  You are being very selfish.  You are using your feelings and your tears to control and manipulate.  These are not good things, babe.  You have to stop doing this.  Then we can all read the Bible and see what God wants us to do, too.”

She obeys.  We begin to read.  The girls pick Revelation for our next book.  We read what the disciple that Jesus loved wrote to the churches.  One common theme becomes evident.  He, in the wording of the International Children’s Bible, says in opening to all of them individually, “I know what you do.”

I know what you do.  I know what you are doing.  The first thing the Lord Jesus himself tells his church from the very beginning to be remembered until the present age and beyond is, “I know what you do.”  I see you.  I know the good, the bad, and everything in between.  And I am warning you.  Doing good things does not keep judgement from coming upon you if you refuse to stop doing wrong.  God knows.  Mommy knows.  Be warned.

Little wonder why God chose to use the parenting relationship to relate to us.  We are so much like little kids.  We can only see ourselves, our needs, our wants, and our desires.  We care far too little for our brothers and sisters.  The truth is, being a kid is hard.  Adults say it’s easy but I remember being little.  I remember feeling scared.  I remember feeling small.  I remember feeling powerless, helpless, and frightened many times.  Being a kid is fun, but it is hard.  And this God’s child thing is harder than I ever thought it could be.

Do you ever just get tired?  Tired of trying.  Tired of failing.  Tired of believing the best.  Tired of experiencing the worst.  Tired of ignoring the plain truth.  Tired of being ignored.  Tired of trusting and waiting and praying and being rejected anyway.

Little kids get tired a lot.  They need naps and blankies and bottles lest the fury of the unrested fly out in same manner as the seat-robbed.

I recently became a cheerleader.  Well, a cheerleader leader, as my husband calls me.  This is the effect the blankie and bottle babies have as they get bigger and bolder.  I am more tom-boy than hair-bow.  I am more football than pom-pom.  I am more fighter fists than flippy spirit fingers.  I am more grit-teeth game-face than cheer-up smiley-pants.  We will do things for our kids we wouldn’t normally entertain simply for their benefit.

The first thing I had to learn about being a “cheerleader leader” is that you have to cheer even when you are broken.  You have to encourage your team even when you don’t feel like it.  You have to learn a new dance when you would rather sit in the corner, cover your face, make up excuses, and cry instead.  You’ve got a half an hour to pull yourself together because the game is about to start.  The kids are counting on you to lead.

My own words repeat in my subconscious.  Surely it is the Holy Spirit.

“I can’t even read God’s Word until you obey, child.  Please, can we get started?  Do you really want punished?  I know you feel better when you are next to me, but God is not happy when we only think about what we want and need.”

I hold out my pom-pom prepared hand and I tell the Lord, “I trust you.”  I go and sit with the team and I give the instructions on how to smile, cheer, encourage, and lift the spirits of everyone around us.

He sees.  He sees the good you do.  He sees the fear, the pain, the injustice, and the helplessness you feel.  He knows exactly what you do.  Trust your Father.  Encourage your brothers and sisters.  Cheer for team Jesus.  We could all use some spirit power right now.  Holy Spirit power, that is.

Go!  Fight!  Win!  Amen.

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addie

Her pom-poms are perfectly placed.  Her bow is beautiful in her brand new beauty salon hair.  Her uniform turns her into a magazine-ready midget model and she smiles sweetly every time the camera captures her.

About mid-game, she moves from formation to the bench.  “What’s wrong?” Coach-mom asks.  “You’re doing so good!  You are so cute out there!”

“I’m cute…but…I’m not…satisfied.”

The words come with conviction.  I know it’s the truth.

My nine year-old is the most expressive and unique child.  We call her quirk.  She loves putting on her sunglasses and pretending she’s a rock star named James Q. Jackson – Michael’s brother of course.  She has whole conversations with her clothing, her stuffed animals, her altar egos, and her feet.  She actually has a foot phone wherein she puts her foot to her ear and talks, generally about her other foot and his bad behavior.  There is no one quite like Addie.

I’m cute but I’m not satisfied.  Now that’s profound.  She has somehow managed to put into words the way beautiful women feel most of their lives.  She has successfully described the end result of an appearance-driven culture as felt in the hearts of its objects.

There’s a lot I could say about that statement and how young girls and young women are viewed.  I think we all know what I’m talking about.  But I want to examine another issue – an issue related to what I believe my bow-bearing brought to life Barbie was really feeling.

Addie was tired.  She stays up reading when everyone else goes to bed.  She is my hardcore sleeper-inner.  She is a gamer who knows more about how to fix my computer and phone issues than the employees at the apple store.  She gets so excited about fishing that she begins to babble in her own language when she catches one.  She doesn’t like to get up on Saturday morning to go practice cheer-leading.  This particular day, we had practice followed by the game.  She’d simply had enough.

  Enough what?

Enough fake smiling when she wasn’t happy.  Enough cheer-leading when she needed resting.  Enough skirt when all she wanted was sweats.  Enough jumping and shouting when she needed quiet and peace.  Enough pretty pretend when she wanted not so pretty real.  Enough real game time when she needed more practice.  Enough encouraging a team she did not know when she needed a family she did.  Enough place she felt uncomfortable when all she wanted was to sit in her favorite spot and be Addie…or James…or Hazel…or whichever personality made her happy at that moment.  All she knew was that bow-bearing Barbie wasn’t working.  Not today.  Maybe not ever.

The truth is that Addie is young.  She doesn’t know who she is yet.  She doesn’t even know who she wants to be.  All she knows is how she feels when she does that which she is not particularly predisposed for.  And that is ok!  Nothing makes me madder than when I see parents obligating children to do that which they are not geared for.

From beautiful women to tired teeny-boppers, no one wants to feel like the sun total of their existence is what is on the outside. Not one of us can live our lives as though how we are feeling on the inside does not matter.  Oh, we can ignore it for a long, lost, and losing time, but eventually we will sit down.  It will likely happen mid-game.  We will sit down, lay down, fall down, or just be down because we were not made to prioritize pretend personalities.

Addie has pretend personalities because some of her real ones feel pretend to her.  She is uncomfortable, like a fish out of water, and she doesn’t know how to make herself “satisfied” when she is asked to be what she is not.

I try to give a variety of opportunities for my daughters to become well-rounded individuals.  I try to introduce them to as many things as I can so that they can find their niche and truly be satisfied in their own skin.  I want nothing more than for them to be exactly who they are.

I want to be exactly who I am.  We all do.  Who wants to be who they’re not?  By all appearances, we can pull off the pretend and be as cute as the day is long but if we settle for superficial, we will never, ever be deeply and wholly satisfied.  Little wonder why so many people are unhappy in life when the majority do not seek to do that which affords them the time and the space to be and do what they were made for.

God created us to be unique, inwardly satisfied individuals.  Don’t ever let outward achievement and admirable appearances take the place of inner peace.  Take the job you enjoy for less money.  Have children before you have the extra room for them.  Get married before you can pay for a wedding.  Don’t get married even if you already ordered the invitations.  Volunteer.  Work less hours to invest in other things.  Work more hours to get to where you want to go.  Get up early so you can pray.  Ask God who He created you to be.  Go back to school.  Quit school.  Join a team.  Quit the team.  Do not settle for being anyone other than you.  Be exactly who you are and be unashamed of it.

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” ~John Piper

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