Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Good theology

My husband and I spent a minute discussing pre-tribulation vs. post-tribulation theology. A full minute. That minute was too long for me.
"I really don't care about that right now," I said.
"Theological discussions are for those people that aren't struggling with anything else! Theology is a luxury given to the mind that isn't being challenged with something else." I exclaimed.

He sort of reprimanded me that my statement is not entirely true. Okay, I'll give him that. It's not entirely true. But I think it's not entirely false.

Can't you have good theology and not be saved? Can't you have an opinion on Calvinism and Free Will and not be a Christian? Didn't the Pharisees have a lot of good theology? It actually seems to me that the ones that Jesus verbally disciplined the most in the
New Testament were those that cared the most about theology. The ones that others looked to for their sound theology. In their pursuit of theology, they had missed the One that the theology was actually about.

Biblical theology should result from our pursuit of God. Our pursuit should never be simply for good theology.

I mean, really. If you are in the middle of a crisis, do you really care about Calvinism vs. Free Will? You are most likely clinging to the Lord. Hiding in the shadow of His wings. Praying for His peace to surround you. The result of your struggle might lead you to discover God's Sovereignty...His role in disasters...His control over man's affairs...your journey might lead you to a theological position, but that's not the pursuit.

When you are encouraging someone, do you use theology? If you do...let me tell you...that's NOT REALLY VERY ENCOURAGING! Love people...that's how you encourage someone.

I want to know Him. Period. The pursuit of theology should never replace our first love. There might be areas in my theology where I'm not completely sound. God will show me where I'm wrong if it's important. If it's not, I don't want to waste any time discussing it. There's plenty of other things in the Bible I have left to learn. How about the part where we're supposed to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Matthew 22:37-38. It will take me the rest of my life to learn that one. I don't think it matters as much where I stand on the whole pre-tribulation issue.

That's my story...and I'm sticking to it.

The Secret of Parenting

I wonder if we sometimes over-exalt our role as parents. Okay, maybe that's too much of a generalization. I often exalt my role as a parent. Sometimes I even exalt my role over the work that I know the Lord can do in their lives. It's the Lord that changes my children, yet I find myself analyzing everything I do as a parent. When my children succeed there is a part of me that wonders if I did something right. When they fail, there's a part of me that wonders what I did wrong. I think a friend let me in on the secret to great parenting a couple days ago.

We were talking about homeschooling vs. public schools vs. private schools. Is there really one right way for every family? Is homeschooling the only way for children to grow up loving the Lord? Is a private Christian school the best alternative to not homeschooling? Do our kids belong in a public school to be a light in a dark, desperate world? There's lots of thoughts on the subject. I have my own thoughts.

The conversation turned to parenting---the role of the family in a child's life. Families are such a cool God invention---when they work right. A group of people gathered together encouraging one another, guiding each other, pointing one another to the Lord, disciplining one another in the Lord, rubbing off rough edges in each other. A safe place. A family should be where you can go when you fall...and when you succeed. A place where you can go when you are hurting...and when you are laughing. Family is such a great idea.

So this friend and I were discussing our role as parents. My friend was talking about one of the greatest families she knew. This particular family had five children that had all attended public school. Public schools? Impossible. These children grew up loving the Lord, wanting to serve Him, and making wise choices in life. "What's the secret?" my friend had asked the mom. The simplicity of the answer gave me chills.

"I beg God everyday for my children."

Beg God. That might be the secret.

Our great training can point our children to the Lord, but it can't change their hearts.
Our rules and our expectations can help them live outwardly Godly lives, but their obedience to those rules doesn't equal salvation.
Our Godly example can encourage our children, but there's no guarantee that their hearts are always affected.
Our family can be a safe place for them to grow, but it doesn't always see into the secret places of their hearts to transform them into a new creation.

Only God changes hearts. Only God can save our children. The family is crucial. God uses the family. But He does the work. My children were created for His purpose. Not for me. My children were not put on this earth only for my pleasure. That brings me great relief. The reminder that it's not up to me. That He will bring about His Work in their life.

So, I'm begging God. Begging God for my children. Homeschooled. Private schooled. Public schooled. I'm begging God.

And I'm going to take a deep breath...and beg some more.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I wonder if I'm the only person who often chokes on her own hypocrisy.
I tell my children that God's Word and the souls of men are the only things that are eternal.
However, they see me spending more time on temporal things than in reading God's Word and reaching out to the lost.
I tell my friends that every situation is sifted through God's hands, yet I fret about my children's safety.

I don't think I'm an intentional hypocrite. I don't mean to deceive. Let me re-phrase that. I don't ALWAYS mean to deceive. I want to believe what I say. I sometimes believe what I say. Yet I find fruit in my own life that often contradicts the things I speak. I believe God's Word to be truth. Sometimes I live as faithless as someone who doesn't believe God's Word is truth. Am I a hypocrite or just a sinner working out her faith?

I often wonder how sinners are supposed to train up their children. Seriously, Lord? Why would you put these precious little souls in the hands of sinners like us? We can only mess them up. Can't you, Lord, train them?

God commands us to train up our children. To remind them of the things He has done. To write His word on the doorposts of our homes. To parent them with scripture.
I still wonder how someone who doesn't always place God's Word supreme in her own life is to train up her child to value God's Word above all else. Do as I say, not as I do. It doesn't work that way.

I'm seeing now that one of the best ways to train up my children is to train up myself. For ME to seek the Lord with all my heart, my soul, and my mind and everything else will fall into place.
I can't give my children what I myself do not possess. (A good friend told me that and it has made me think.)
I can't force them to love God's Word. But it would surely help them to see me loving God's Word and desiring to spend time with Him.

I'm constantly reminded that I can't do it all as a parent. I can't work on their faith, their hearts, their manners, their talents, their emotions, their health, their friendships, their future marriages, their education, etc., etc. I can't do it all. I can't even do most of that. But God can. He's way more trustworthy with their lives than I am. As I said before---Lord, why can't you just train them up? Why involve us parents at all?

The bottom line is that scripture tells us to train up our kids. I'm completely incapable of doing any great training without training myself. Quite often I start the day focused on what I need to be training in them and I never quite get around to feeding myself with God's Word. Those are the days that I feel like the biggest hypocrite.

I suppose it's a gift for us to see our hypocrisy. It would be worse to NOT know that it even exists in us. I often pray that God will search my heart and reveal to me what sins/weaknesses/lies are in my life that are keeping me from fully believing Him.
At the end of the day, I am accountable for training up my children.
I think at the end of the day, though, the Lord really just wants all of me.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Child-Like Faith

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3

One of my daughters humbled me this weekend with her child-like faith.
It was sort of a weird conversation...and a bit creepy...but it humbled me nonetheless.

We were riding together on a boat and she was talking about John the Baptist.
She wasn't too interested in the fact that he paved the way for the Messiah. She was interested in how he died.

"Did he really get his head cut off?"

Yes, he really got his head cut off.

"Did they really put his head on a plate?"

Yes, they really put his head on a plate.

"Was his head really a gift to someone?"

Yes, his head was a gift to Herodias from Herod.

"Hmmm....gross. So then did Jesus heal him?"

What? I mean she's got to be joking, right.
The guy's head is on a plate.
How ridiculous to think that Jesus would heal him.
That's got to be one of the craziest questions I've ever heard.
To think...to think that a man's head could be re-attached.
I sort of chuckled on the inside and thought, "Did God heal him? Now that's funny."
What would possess her to think such a thing?

I raised my eyebrows at her. She raised her eyebrows back at me.
"Well, did he? Did Jesus bring John the Baptist back to life?"

Oh man. She's serious. This is not good.
I thought for a while about how to answer her.
The obvious answer is ummm...No. That's ridiculous. Of course, he didn't attach John's head back to his body and heal him.
That would be silly.

But then I realized that my daughter's God was big enough to do that if He wanted.
My God was not big enough.
Her God is not limited by a head on a plate. Why couldn't God do that she wanted to know?
If He's really God then He can do anything, right, Mom?

I answered slowly, "Yes, God could have brought him back to life. He didn't, but He certainly could have."
She was happy with that answer.
She has no trouble believing that.
A child-like faith.
Why do I have such a hard time believing that?
I'm thankful for the little children in my house that show me what it looks like to believe that God really is big enough to do anything.
Even something as bizarre as bringing back to life a decapitated man.
I mean, that is sort of creepy, isn't it?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cup of Cold Water

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he wil certainly not lose his reward." Matthew 10:42

I read that on a day that I really didn't feel like laying down my life for anyone. (Those aren't good days for moms by the way.)

Surely I can do that. Lord, I can give a cup of cold water. Maybe not much more than that today, but certainly a cup.

I think I felt instantly better. It's pretty easy to give a cup of cold water. Right?

I find God has a funny sense of humor.

Later that day, my son was running around looking for soccer cleats. Late again.

"If you put them up after soccer, we wouldn't be doing this grand search for cleats every afternoon," I thought. I was proud of myself for holding my tongue. One point for mom.

One of my daughters was following me around asking questions, "Why can't I wear my bathing suit to soccer? It's sooooo hot." "Why did he get the last juice box?" "Where's my other flip-flop?" On and on.

I might have been totally over-stimulated. Maybe a bit hot. Certainly tired.

"Hey Mom, I found my cleats. Can you fill me a water bottle full of cold water?"

If I had been thinking, I would have noticed the irony. I wasn't thinking.

"You can get yourself your own cold bottle of water! I've told you for the last hour to get ready and you've waited until the last minute. I will not get your water!" I didn't think that. I spoke that.

And then it hit me. A cup of cold water.
I was given the chance. A literal example to serve someone straight from the Bible. And I couldn't even do that.

In my own power, I'm completely incapable of serving. I'm selfish. I'm pride-filled. I'm weak.

I think I apologized. I know I filled his water bottle. And then I filled all my other kids' water bottles. Better late with a cup of cold water than...well, late without one.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Worst Case Scenario

I found my dad the perfect Father's Day present.
It would be a mere book to most people.
But for my dad, it's the perfect gift to a dad from his daughter.
A daughter who is a lot like him in many ways---same eyes, same dry sense of humor, same gift of seeing the worst possible scenario in every situation. Not everyone can do that.
Walking across a bridge---stay near the edge so we can grab on when it breaks.
Riding on a monorail---how are we going to respond if the door opens in the middle of the track.
Roller Coasters---hunker your head down as protection against falling items.
Floating in the water---we both see the view of our legs from the underwater video camera that is filming the fish/shark spying our yummy feet.
Flying on an airplane---we aren't afraid of crashing. We're afraid of surviving the crash and floating alone in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Bungee Jumping---wouldn't dream of it.
Parachuting---only for dummies.
Some people in our family make fun of us for our pessimism. We just smile and hold on to our notion that things do happen.

The book I found him is called Amazing Stories of Survival: Tales of Hope, Heroism, & Astounding Luck.
A parachute didn't open and the woman fell 14,000 feet onto a mound of fire ants that stung her 200 times.
A man jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge...and survived.
A woman attacked by a tiger.
A girl grabbed and drug under by an alligator.
A father stranded with his children in a snowstorm.
A farmer caught in a silo of soybeans.
A young girl attacked by a shark.
A group of sailors floating in the ocean after a shipwreck.
A dad and his sons trapped in a cave.

Stop telling us this stuff can't happen. It does. My dad and I might be the only ones prepared for these things.

This book opened my eyes to several things that I hadn't properly worried about. I'd never thought about getting stuck in a silo of beans. That one might keep me up tonight. Only my dad will appreciate this book. We could have written it together.

Here's what I wrote on the front inside cover:

Dear Dad,

Never let anyone tell us that the things we think of when everyone else is "having fun" can't happen. This book is filled with proof. The stories are about the things that only you and I ponder. Is it truly luck, Dad, to live through a parachute-less fall and land in a mound of fire ants?

Keep the faith and be encouraged that where other's see the "unlikely"--we see the "possibility." BTW, a friend told me that optimists live up to 8 years longer than pessimists. I figure that you and I can't have much longer on this earth if that's true. Thank goodness we know where we are going.

I love you, Dad. I hope neither one of us ends up in a book like this. It's only fair that these things would happen to the optimists.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Two things I love: naked babies and bubble baths.
Why not combine the two and take a bubble bath with my naked baby?
I love those chubby legs. The joy of little hands splashing in the water. The startled blinking of his eyes as water is dumped over his head. I love it.
I decided to be efficient and take a bubble bath with my little munchkin. Why not? I love both. I'll bathe...he'll bathe...and we both go to bed clean and happy.

The bubbles poured out of the tub. I got a little carried away with the Dora the Explorer bubble bath and underestimated it's ability to sud. He loved it. Bubbles almost covered his head. I made a Santa Claus beard on his face. I mohawked his hair. He stayed in the bath with me until his little toes were pruney. As the bubbles started to subside, we lifted the drain and got out blissfully happy. I'm pretty sure he's going to want to take a bath with me every time.

Rocking him to sleep took only a couple seconds after such a relaxing bath. I lay my sweet, sleepy little one in his crib and thanked God for the precious moments I had shared only with him. What a perfect night.

Brushing my teeth, something caught my eye among the receding bubbles. What was that in the bottom of the tub? It couldn't be. He betrayed me. As we were enjoying my bubbles, he would dare do such a thing behind my back.

A foot long brown poop. Still solid, yet growing soggier by the minute. Had he pooped the moment his buns touched the bubbles or had he waited until the end? It was impossible to tell. I thought back to our time together and couldn't remember any second that he let on what he was really up to beneath those bubbles. He could have warned me.

Some people might have taken a quick shower to rinse off. Not me. I hopped into bed and curled up next to my husband.
"Yummm....your hair smells good," he says.
"I used a different shampoo." And we both fell sound asleep.
Don't tell.
I did shower the next morning, though.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I'm reading Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson with a group of friends this summer. (Great book. Everyone with boys should read it.) Why is it that all of these books that should be so encouraging simply make me feel like a complete failure? I'm pretty sure that I'm not equip to raise children. In light of the great advice in this book, I'm consumed with the overwhelming truth that I'M IN OVER MY HEAD. Maybe this is why my bookshelves are lined with books on raising children and marriage. Books that have been started but not finished. Books that hit a little too close to home so they were closed before they induced any great application. There's something about me that makes me wallow in self-doubt when I read good advice. Why can't I just take it and apply it? I have plenty of time with my children to make some adjustments. It's not too late. And I don't do everything completely wrong. I do feed them. I do talk to them. Maybe I'm too lazy to change my parenting. Maybe I'm a creature of habit. Maybe I already doubt everything I do as a parent so I don't like reading confirmation that I really am not doing the best I could be doing. Maybe I need to stop analyzing and finish reading the book. It's a good thing I'm reading this book with friends this summer...it would be back on my shelf if I wasn't.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Banana Peppers

I shared a whole jar of banana peppers tonight with one of my favorite guys.

We didn't say much.
We just stared into each other's eyes and ate.
The whole jar.
They were the mild ones.

He wanted more, but I was all out.
He licked the juice off his plate.
"Mama, more! More, Mama! Pleeeeease."
That's the first time he's said "please."

Whoever said that 18 months was too young for banana peppers obviously never tried them out on their own child.
I think I might be the best mom in the world.

No Pajamas

I'm trying to simplify.
I can't seem to find enough time to do anything that I want to do, so I'm going to weed some things out of my life.

First thing to go...pajamas.
What a waste of time...waste of laundry...waste of energy.

Here's my plan: The kids shower before bedtime.
They put on their clothes for the next day.
Ta Da...they go to bed ready for tomorrow.

This saves lots of steps.
It saves the changing into pajamas step.
It saves the pajama laundry.
It makes getting dressed in the morning EASY...hop out of bed and you're ready.
It saves the pile of pajamas that never quite make it back to the closet.

This is the start of my simplifying.
Some say that we could quit soccer.
Some might say that we could stop gymnastics.
I say...Give up the pajamas.

I will miss the Spiderman pajamas...and the footie pajamas...and the princess nightgowns...
Not enough to change my mind, though.

What's next?
Do we really need three meals a day?