He looked up at me with his big brown eyes, “Mom, will you color with me?” Who can say no to a sick kid with brown eyes? Not this mom. So we spread out the crayons and self-containing paint brushes and smelly makers. (Score! Remember when smelly markers were the coolest thing ever? And only the coolest teachers had them? Well, now WE have them, so if that makes me cool, then so be it.)
After drawing a few hearts and flowers I started this project. Dots. Small dots. Lots of dots. Dots that take forever.
By the 11th red dot, I was over it. As I was entering into my time machine, transporting myself back to the days of rainbow bright and unicorns, these dots reminded me of how much I HATE hate hate process. Before I even started this little piece of art, I envisioned the finished project. But actually doing the work is a whole other cup of tea.
I hate process. There. I confess. But I made myself finish. And the whole time, I felt the pain of Jesus trying to turn that switch on my heart. And it’s not a flip switch. It’s a turn-one (and yes, that’s the official and proper name for it). By the time I picked up the yellow (lemon) marker I was pushing myself to the finish line. Trying to enjoy every dot, every size, every moment of creativity. In order for me to learn to love the journey, I have to take myself on the journey, over and over, I have to walk that road.
So today I forced myself down another road, to teach me to enjoy the process. And I hated almost every minute of it.
I loved the finish product but by the time I sanded the first plank, I had to remind myself of the beauty of the journey. That there are moments of frustration, and moments you have to force yourself through. Even when you don’t feel like it, you have to take one more step. And each “one more step” brings you closer to the end.
I’ve decided that I will regularly push myself to learn how to enjoy the journey. Even if it’s forcing myself to make colored dots on a piece of paper, I will force myself out of my comfortable, and sometimes unproductive bubble. If I want God to teach me something new, I have to do things differently than I’ve done before. Are you willing to do the same ?
You Are Loved,
“For three sins…even four, I will not turn back my wrath.”
My husband can be quite the funny guy. Sometimes, when the kids come home from school he will tell one of them that he got a call from the teacher and wants to know what happened. Whichever child he chooses to pick on gets a deer-in-the-headlight- look, obviously combing every memory of the day gone by to see if there is anything they possibly could have done to warrant a phone call. After a few moments the poor victim of the practical joke finally realize they’ve done nothing and everyone starts laughing. Except this one time, when my middle child was in second grade, he confessed to pushing a girl at recess. Even now, six years later, we all laugh about how what was intended for a joke turned out to be a time of confession.
We always have those moments with our kids when we really have to call them out on their behavior. To me, it’s the most dreaded time of parenting. In the first chapters of Amos we see God calling out the Nations of Israel sin by sin. Their sins boiled down to absence of worship of God and absence of justice. But the sins were many: violence, sending friends into exile, broken promises, lack of mercy, extensive anger, greed, disrespect, disobedience, stealing, mistreatment of the poor and sexual immorality. My guess if you really looked at this list, your family struggles with much of the same. Siblings hitting each other, friends being mistreated, anger issues among the youngest, disrespect toward parents and flat out disobedience of what you’ve asked to be done.
Most parents make excuses for their kids: they’re tired, they’ve had a rough day, they didn’t really mean it. We don’t want to see our kids suffer and most of the time it takes a commitment from us to follow through with discipline. Anyone who has ever grounded a child knows that it’s more punishment for ourselves than it is for the child. Who wants to deal with that?
But God dealt very seriously with his people when it came to their behavior. Time and again we see God deliver his message through Amos:
“I will not turn away its punishment”
God called them out on their sin, and explained specifically how he was going to handle it: I will send fire, I will cut off, I shall devour palaces, the strong shall not strengthen his power. God says, “I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
The word punishment has become taboo in the last decade. We should never punish a child, only discipline. Punishment has become a dirty word meaning violence and harshness. Discipline or punishment, whatever you want to call it, God was making himself very clear. He would not tolerate the Israelites behavior any longer. And it would require drastic actions to put his children back in their place.
Same is true for us. There are times we must be drastic in the way we discipline our children so that they really get the message and understand who is the authority. So many families, maybe even yours, are living out of balance because your children have too much power. What they want, what they say is what goes. This is what the Israelites thought, too.
God is clear with us, his children, that He is the authority and that he sets that standard. There is no grey area. And although God deals with us gently, he also deals with us with tremendous justice. We should desire to parent our children by His example to us.
Share with me:
Is God your authority and standard?
Where did you learn your parenting skills from?
Do your kids have too much say-so in your home?
What does the word discipline or punishment mean to you?
She’s finally driving. My daughter turned 15 nine months ago and I finally talked her into getting her permit. She has no intentions of using it, well not often anyway. I pretty much make her drive, or make it sound exciting enough that she wants to. Then she starts down the road, stresses at every light and turn and hates it…every minute of it. She is likely to have a heart attack by 17 if she continues at this pace.
I was emphasizing the importance of a turn signal and when to use it. “Yes, even if you are in a turn lane, you need to have your blinker on.” Followed by the question, “How exactly DID you get your permit?”
Answered with, “The questions were about towing vehicles. I’m not thinking I’m going to tow a vehicle with my car anytime soon. Anytime. Ever. And if I’m in a turn lane, then everyone should know I’m turning.”
Driving boils down to awareness. I need to be aware of what is happening around me, and I need to make people aware of what I’m doing and what my intentions are. Awareness is such an overused term these days. We have “awareness” (and ribbons) for every issue, every disease, every plight, every personal issue, every tick, every fingernail broken. We want everyone to be aware of everything.
All the while, Jesus wants us to be aware of him. Our relationship with him boils down to awareness. We need to be aware of what Jesus is doing around us, and we need to make people aware of what Jesus is doing with us and through us. Our ribbon is how we live our life. It’s pretty much that simple.
I love how when I’m teaching my daughter to drive (and I say that knowing you realize it’s more me screaming and gasping)…that Jesus is teaching me more about Him and His purpose for all humanity. It’s how He rolls.
Are you aware of Him today?
Sometimes I surprise myself. I stumble through things I’ve written and have to re-read and authenticate that the thought that just struck my heart was actually penned by me. It’s not that I’m amazing, or elusive or incredibly insightful. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
I hate fixing my hair, because well, I hate my hair, so most often I have it stuck up in some sort of bun-like configuration on the back of my head. I normally throw on a little mascara and just enough foundation to ensure my red splotches and whatever “blemish” is covered as to not to scare the neighbors. And chapstick…always chapstick.
Most days I spend in my pajamas. If I trek out into society I throw on something more presentable, but the minute I get home, I’m back in my pajamas. There are days I change in and out of my comfy clothes three or four times. Ridiculous.
I’m not a particularly organized person, more like organized chaos–a trait of mine that
the Sgt. my husband isn’t particularly fond of. I wash dishes because there isn’t enough money in the budget to eat out every night and not cook, and can’t recall the last time I actually deep cleaned my bathroom. Gross, I know.
So when I find something I’ve written that seems a thought by someone who does not fit the description of the sloth above, I almost have to pinch myself. I realize in those moments I have potential that I have yet to live up to. Sometimes I wonder if I ever will.
This Thursday is my 36th birthday. Turning 30 was a tragic event for me, so now that I’m on the downhill to 40 I wonder if I will live much more gracefully and intentionally. I don’t know if I ever seriously thought of where I would be at 36. But I didn’t think I would be here. Somehow, I thought it would all be easier. But it seems with every passing day, things become more challenging.
I think I thought life would be more carefree as an adult. I think I thought life would be less stressful and more like the movies–where you are always at dinner, always with your friends in the living room, or at a coffee shop or going to catch a show.
Every birthday brings perspective for me, sometimes challenging me, sometimes making me really see the girl in the mirror isn’t really a girl any longer. I wonder if at 36,46, 56 we will live up to our expectations of self? I wonder with every passing of age we ever really grow up? I wonder if we ever stop feeling so young and incapable on the inside even if the outside reflects wisdom and a life well lived?
Whatever your age, life is never what we expect it to be, and I think we are never who we thought we would be. I know that God is never surprised but I know I sure the hell am.