The Christian life is like sitting in church with kids

image

Ever been frustrated by the tension of all that’s (wonderfully) true about the Christian life and actually trying to live it out among others?

A few months ago I had this humorous experience which seemed not unlike the experience of being a child of God still in this world.

Our church was blessed to have a special speaker and he was taking us on a whirlwind tour of the book of Hebrews. (You can hear the sermon here) It was so wonderful! Jesus was exalted. The Word came alive, and my heart and mind were literally thrilled with the truth.

My wonderful four oldest children were sitting with me (Paul was filling in elsewhere during that hour so unlike normal I was alone with the kids), and I guess their experience and interaction with the Word that morning wasn’t quite the same as mine. Exclude the oldest from that statement; she was not causing any problems. I’m too far removed from the scene to remember the particulars, but I had to deal with all sorts of nonsense during that sermon. Wiggles, questions, flipping pages, elbows… it went on and on even more than usual. Not all of it was bad! Of course I want the one just learning to read to ask for help to know where he is when reading Scripture, and of course I want to give a quick definition of an unfamiliar word to the four-year-old.

But I also want to just sit and listen!

See the pattern:

LISTEN: Wow! that is amazing! I cannot believe Christ would lower himself to suffer like we did. I want to love Him more! I want to go home and read the whole book of Hebrews! I am so thankful we have the Bible! God is so good! 

DISTRACTION: ***addresses wiggling***

LISTEN: Wow! This is so wonderful! I’m so thankful my kids can be in church with me. 

DISTRACTION: ***finds verse for child***

LISTEN: I hope I didn’t miss anything. Wow, that is so good. 

DISTRACTION: ***warns child about wiggling***

TRYING TO LISTEN: I wish these kids would just let me listen to the Word! 

GRACE: Wait! This is what it’s all about!

Being filled with the knowledge of Jesus and then lovingly coming alongside others to help them to know Him, too. 

Often, simultaneously.

Why doesn’t God save us and take us out of this world? His image redeemed in us brings us back to a life of worshipping Him and displaying His glory to others.

But often displaying that glory doesn’t seem so glorious. Like reminding a child to listen to the preacher, or encouraging a sibling to be kind, or confronting someone in their sin, or forgiving someone for thoughtlessness, or doing that menial task for the hundredth time, but with joy.

It’s not enough for the pastor to sit in his study and feast on the truths of Scripture – he has to communicate it to the flock and then actively help them grow and mature in what has been said, as messy and hard as that may be.

It’s not enough to sit in your quiet time and be filled with a desire for righteousness – you have to take that into the workplace and shine the light through darkness and confusion.

It’s not enough for a mom to be thrilled with the truths of Scripture in the pew on Sunday morning. She has to translate that to the nitty-gritty lives of her children. Sometimes during the sermon.

The Christian life is both a deep well of knowledge and fellowship with Christ and also a cross-channel swim against the currents of sin, time, and limitations from ourselves and others. We both rest in our position in Christ and work tirelessly to become more like Him and to make Him known in the world around us.

Don’t be discouraged when it all happens at once. God is absolutely able to make all grace abound to you in every situation.

Even when you’re alone in church with little kids.

P.S. You really should listen to that sermon.

 

Pulling them in close

Well hello. I’m coming to you on a lovely afternoon while the kids are playing outside and the babies are napping. Should I be putting away clean dishes in the dishwasher? Possibly. But here this post is in my head and I don’t want it to float away.

I read an about page that made me think this week. She described her writing as for her kids to be able to “read her” when they are older. I think this is a wonderful way to think about blogging. So for them, for you, and even for me a few weeks down the road – here it is.

It seems that we have a cycle of having at least one child who is struggling at all times. Our kids are all still small – so we’re talking disobedience, disrespect, constantly being too wound up, unkindness to siblings. Certainly all our kids – being sinners – will fail in all of these areas every week. But there’s usually one whose transgressions are a little farther past the line. = ) And, in the course of a few months, each one will have their turn being “the one.” It just seems to happen.

image

About three kids ago, it ocurred to me that “the one” of the hour seemed to be the first one up in the day. Great. You see them come through the door and brace yourself, imagining the struggles that the day will hold.

By His grace, the Lord helped me to think a little differently. Why not use those few minutes to invest a little love and direction. Instead of sighing or sending them back to their room, greet them warmly and stop to snuggle them in your lap for a few minutes. Sometimes I’ll sing them a song, or read them a verse, or say a short – but desperately needed for both of us – prayer. Mostly I just tell them I love them and encourage them to obey Daddy and Mommy and be kind to their sisters that day.

I can’t say that it makes the difficulties go away completely, but it does help my mindset and a lot of times theirs as well.

Very often in the afternoons little ones who are past napping get rather cranky and naughty. I’ve found it’s much better to pull them close than to continue trying to occupy them with toys or siblings.

“Do you want to hang out with me for awhile?”

The answer is usually yes. Sometimes we’ll read a book quickly to snuggle, but then they just sort of follow me around while I do dishes, laundry or dinner preparation.

Of course, it might look totally different in another house or situation, I know that. The main thought is that if a particular child is posing more problems than normal, seek ways to pull them close to you for affection and attention. Involve them in your everyday tasks in a way that is just for the purpose of being together. Or, forego the dishes and laundry and play their favorite game or something.

It’s so helpful in the midst of stressful, merry-go-round discipline situations to also have sweet moments sprinkled in.

Don’t forget to hug them extra tight before bed. ; )

Every moment counts.

As silly as…

image

Teaching kids serious lessons about God, the Bible, and theology does not always happen in serious ways. We’ve talked about this before, right?

A few weeks ago we had a fun but profitable conversation at breakfast regarding our purpose in life. I can’t really remember how it started, but we began talking about how silly it was for people to think that they could take their life (which God had made) and use it for what they wanted (instead of His glory.)

One person started and then another and here is a sampling of what we came up with – minus the giggles:

Using your life to please yourself is as silly as…

…using a plate for a washcloth

…or a rosebush for a chair

…a cup of water for a hat

…or a table for a blanket

…a shark for a ship just would not be a good idea

…nor orange juice for window cleaner (but I’m tempted to think someone on Pinterest has tried)

One child who shall remain nameless suggested a piece of wood for a bench.

Actually….

****

It was a ton of fun, and yet I pray just one more tiny step towards solid thinking from good theology.

image

It never ends

image

“Man may work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done.”

For what it’s worth, I will still take the woman’s work; however, this post is not actually about the unending demands on wives or moms.

It is about the faithfulness of God. A precious truth that has become my constant friend. Of all the reasons to know and love the Old Testament, to let it speak for itself – this is one of the best. Over and over we see the faithfulness of God brilliantly displayed against the darkness of human faithlessness.

It used to be that in the mornings (if I was even spiritually together enough to meditate), I would try to think of things that would help me do or think what I thought  I should while making breakfast or getting the kids ready. And then a bowl of oatmeal would hit the floor, or a toddler would have an accident while I was nursing, or I would realize that we had no clean clothes to wear for the fourth day in a row, and before you know it I was thinking  things like I will never get caught up. I am so bad at this. I should have gotten up earlier to read my Bible. I should have joy no matter what. 

One morning by God’s great grace (manifested no doubt in some really good teaching and preaching of His Word at my church) it occurred to me that I should just think about the faithfulness of God. Forget thinking about all the things I couldn’t seem to do, forget about the possibility that I may never do them well, forget even for the moment about my desire to be faithful – just think about the faithfulness of God. To Abraham. To Joseph. At the Red Sea. At the walls of Jericho. Even throughout captivity. Over and over we see the steadfast love of God in His covenant-keeping faithfulness.

Honestly, that first time there wasn’t even an immediate application; it was just a rest. Just enough joy for the ordinary tasks ahead. I do remember some lame thought like Wow, that really helped.

Now I seem to need it more in the evening during those last hours before the kids go to bed. I’m so tired and yet I want to value every moment with them and then the baby is fussy while two are downstairs painting (by my consent – why?), and two are getting out of the shower, and the toddler I just bathed is sure she needs to use the restroom and threatening to take off her pajamas and accompanying diaper while I’m just trying to get this baby to stop crying and… (that was tonight). Unfortunately there is no eject button, neither is there a magic machine that will smoothly put the children to bed when you really don’t think you can take any more. So what do you think? Think about the faithfulness of God. It has never ended, and it never will. And with the faith that you have, ask Him to help you be faithful.

And He does.

From your first thought in the morning to the time you’re trying to relax before bed, He is faithful. All through the night and through every stage of life.

His faithfulness never ends.

The flower fades

image

These flowers have been such a blessing to me!

I’ve enjoyed their beauty and been cheered by, well… their cheerfulness.

image

It doesn’t hurt that they sit right by my rocker so I get to look at them quite frequently while caring for Owen.

imageimageimage

Today I can’t stop thinking about how the grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of God stands forever. How blessed we are to have God’s Word in our language, our laps, our devices, and our hearts.

Oh for grace to fill my life and mind and home more with this eternal beauty and treasure!

image