Death or Life?

I knew it was coming. The past few weeks have been so hectic and so busy and so full and we haven’t done the best job of juggling it all. We’ve been running and gunning and in a family of eight, that leaves little time for the important stuff…stuff like instruction, discipline, reproof and correction. Sin has been blazing all around this family the last few weeks but in the busyness (which also brings with it great fatigue), I just let it keep on blazin’. Oh sure, I could have turned on the sprinklers here and there and tried to put out a few embers. But I knew what we needed was more than the sprinklers…we needed those helicopters that dump that special powder that has the power to put out entire forest fires. We needed God Himself to slow us down, sit us down and bring His truth powerfully into our lives once again. And I knew it was coming.

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It rained all day yesterday which was actually kind of nice. At least until about 4:30 pm when everyone was starting to go stir-crazy and the house was getting louder and louder and I was feeling kinda cruddy from a head cold I’ve been battling the last few days. Kevin went out to the garage to work on Molly Kate’s Halloween costume (she wanted to be Amelia Earhart so awesome daddy that he is, he’s making a cardboard plane for her to wear!) and I sent all the kids out to the garage with him (again, awesome daddy that he is!). It didn’t take long…sure, there were a few shrieks of laughter as they bumped around the garage on plasma cars but before I knew it, there was whining, shouting, arguing and crying. You would have thought I sent them out to the garage and said “hey, I want you to go do as much verbal damage to your siblings as you possibly can!” So I opened the door, told everyone to clean up and come sit on the couches and not say a word. I think I even muttered something to the effect of “If you can’t use your words kindly, you can see what it feels like to not use any words at all!”

Mostly their time sitting on our couches facing one another in silence gave me time to think. It’s funny how many times we mamas dive into a discipline situation before we really think about the best course of action and we’re spouting off bible verses mixed with cliches mixed with our own anger like a half-crazed television preacher! We’re so scattered and flustered and usually so irritated that what’s on our tongue probably isn’t even beginning to reach their hearts. But one thing is for sure: we aren’t going to win them to Jesus by yelling and screaming and carrying on about sin and disobedience and the like. And in this particular situation, yelling and screaming and anger is what landed four little bottoms on the couches in the first place.

So I thought and I prayed “God, give me wisdom. Help me reach their wayward hearts.” I pulled up a barstool and opened my bible app and did a search for “tongue”. With their full attention and the house so quiet you could hear nothing but Mallory babbling in her crib, I proceeded to read several verses including the following:

He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend; Psalm 15:3

Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit. Psalm 34:13

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
And his tongue speaks justice. Psalm 37:30

Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips,
From a deceitful tongue. Psalm 120:2

The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver,
The heart of the wicked is worth little. Proverbs 10:20

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. James 1:26

So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell…But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. James 3:5-6, 8

The beautiful and wildly gracious part about raising kids in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is that He often uses our discipline of our children to discipline us. I sat there reading these verses and several others and became a bit awe struck by the power of our words. I was quickly convicted of how regularly I spew forth death words…with my kids, with friends, with Kevin, with church members. As the kids and I began discussing what these verses meant, I could see personal defeat written all over their faces as they thought about how powerless they are in the battle against their tongues. So together, we looked to Jesus. He had the perfect tongue…the praise of His Father was always on His lips and not once did He utter a word of hurt, a false word, a word of slander or gossip or a word of death. His words were always life and His words have brought us life. We trust His death to cover our hurtful words and we trust His Spirit to tame our tongues. We recognize we are powerless and we look to the One who holds all of the power to change hearts and change mouths.

This is just one tiny window into one small moment but I do think this is what gospel living looks like. I don’t get it right very often…I am the mama spouting of this verse and that verse, giving myself a pat on the back for recalling a pertinent Scripture all the while my kid has completely tuned me out. But yesterday, in my willingness to slow down, take time and rest in God’s ability to pour that special powder over the forest fire our tongues had created in this home, I got to take part in a unique moment of family repentance…each one of us recognizing and admitting that our words are often full of death and asking God to take them, change them and bring forth life instead.

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He Supplies

I’m stuck on this verse right now and asking God to stick it in my heart (more like super-glue it to my heart!):

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The longer I go on in this life and the longer I go on in my many roles, the more I realize how needy I truly am. I feel like I daily run in a deficit, below the bottom line, into the red. By 1:30 pm each day (which equals rest time/nap time here at Cuthbertson Casa), I’m well past empty and feeling it into my bones! So when Paul says that God has promised to supply ALL my needs, that’s a promise worth taking note of and memorizing and clinging to in my many desperate moments each day.

There seems to me to be a dangerous tendency among my generation to “out-do” one another. Pinterest, Facebook and even my beloved Instagram all have one deadly poison for us young wives and mamas…to show ourselves as the best possible version of ourselves and lie to the world that we’ve not only got it all together, we are also baking homemade gluten-free granola bars while we do yoga and our children listen to classical music before the whole family sits down to study the original Greek manuscripts of Paul’s letters! Yes, I jest…but I know you feel the tug as much as I do and I talk to women about this very issue regularly. True, there are many of us willing to put the worst of our lives out there for social media to see.  But I wonder, even then, are we bringing the worst of ourselves before the One whose mission it is to make us His best?

I mentioned my break from Facebook in my last post (which, let’s be honest, is probably going to turn into a lifelong leave of absence…I’m quite sure when I stand before Jesus, I’m not going to regret never re-activating my FB account!). And recently, I read this post on Ann Voskamp’s blog and I was even further convicted that so much of my life revolves around my phone and this connection to “the outside world” that I’m often failing to enter the “real” world that God calls me to each and every morning when my feet hit the floor and I head to the coffee pot. Not a world of former Ole Miss friends and their beautiful children, not a world of beautifully decorated Pinterest homes, not a world of Amazon goodies at my fingertips. But instead, a real world…a world of fussy babies with snotty noses and a world of shouting siblings frustrated with one another and a world of endless dirty laundry and bathrooms that have tee-tee around every toilet base (you mamas of boys know what I’m talking about) and a world where I am never, ever, ever going to feel like there is enough of me to go around. That’s my real world…people all around me, wanting a piece of me and I can never even begin to be enough for them.

Ahem…enter Philippians 4:19…the great God of the universe, the very One who created me and holds all of me together, has promised to supply all of my needs according to His riches. He has and is all and more than I can even comprehend or imagine to supply to me in order that I may pour myself out. In order that I may be like Paul two chapters earlier and be poured out like a drink offering and still rejoice…yes…rejoice. God doesn’t want my feet to hit the floor and enter into my “real” world and then just spin all day in weariness and emptiness. Instead, He wants to fill me with every bit of the riches He has to offer me In Christ Jesus in order that I can meet “my world” each day with peace, joy and love. In order that I can meet my people with Himself.

I’m a constant work in progress…and when I hit those moments of the day (usually around 1:30 pm and 7:00 pm) that I feel myself running on empty and about ready to throw my hands up in the air and just give up, I’m trying to recall this truth, this beautiful promise and then lean hard into it. I’m trying to not be afraid to admit to my Father that I’m not pulling off this pastor’s wife homeschooling mother of six gig nearly as well as people think I am…but instead, to show Him my worst, admit my worst and then believe that it has all been forgiven at the cross. And that in the end, He already knows. He knows and He sees and He still wants to supply.

I Change Things

How was gifted such three lovely ladies?
How was I gifted such three lovely ladies?
Last night Kevin and I had a “date in” which really just means we made actual time to sit and talk and work through all the random issues of life right now. There’s no question that raising six children and being a senior pastor/pastor’s wife has ripped us to shreds. Not a day goes by that we both don’t feel “overwhelmed”- though I’m trying to take that word out of my vocabulary 🙂 And I think he and I both have been running on empty for a while but alas, trying to find time to sit and discuss has proven easier said than done!

But my mind and heart have been swirling and for weeks, I have heard the gentle whisper beckoning me to a more simplistic life, one that holds peace amidst a world of chaos, one that provides shelter and refuge for the six babes sleeping under our roof and one that ultimately pleases my Master. Two weeks ago, I pulled a plug and deactivated my Facebook account. I might as well have deleted it because I’m fairly certain that I’m never going back. For months, maybe even years, I’ve entertained the idea. I hate the feeling of having to keep up with a thousand people when just keeping up with the seven that live in this home, plus my precious neighbors, plus my dear church family plus my mom, dad and sister is more than I can even do apart from gallons of God’s grace. So I finally gathered the courage and I hit that button and I’ve never felt more liberated, save when Jesus saved me. But where am I going with all of this?

I realized last night that I’ve never been one content to sit in circumstances that are within my realm to change. Yes, certainly there are trials and tribulations that God orders for each of us that are entirely outside our control and His main concern is our surrender to His sovereign will and plan for our sanctification and His glory. But, as He has given us free wills to think and act and do, there are also plenty of times when what we are doing or how we are living isn’t quite what we know it should be and so we have the beautiful freedom to do something about it! Halellujah! So, as I explained to my handsome man last night…when my life isn’t quite what I think it should be or something needs to be different, I change things. When my sophomore year at Ole Miss got the best of me and I took on one too many responsibilities and I couldn’t come up for air anymore and I realized that I was choosing sin more than I was choosing obedience, I changed things…I transfered to Mississippi College for a semester, found rest for my weary soul and then saw the Lord provide a way back to Ole Miss but according to His will, not my own. When my children weren’t responding to a certain philosophy of education and I noticed that we seemed to be on a sinking ship in terms of schooling, I changed things…I reached out to a dear sister in Christ whose model of homeschool I’ve always admired and begged for her wisdom.  And the Lord led us to the wonderful truths of Charlotte Mason and my kids are flourishing and our family is happy. I’ve never been afraid to break the mold, go against the grain or upset expectations if if means in the end, I’m following God’s call on my life. But, as of late, I’ve found myself in this odd monotony of life that has left me most unhappy, unfulfilled and really just ready for Jesus to come back and put an end to it all!

So, back to Friday night…I sat down with Kevin and finally had “time” to convey all of these thoughts to him and this is exactly what I said. “Kevin, when I don’t like the way my life is going or I don’t feel like I’m doing what God has called me to, I change things.” But as a married person, we can only change to the degree that our spouse is on board and ready to support that change. Thankfully, it seems God is showing Kevin many of the same things (He’s pretty amazing like that!) and we ended up talking for hours and even pulling out the old pen and paper to jot down some immediate goals. Nothing super religious or super enlightening…just a few things that we both know we need to not only survive but to actual thrive and be useful to the kingdom. Things like exercise and Scripture memory and game nights with our family. Things like prayer as a couple and music that lifts the soul playing throughout the day. Sometimes we just need to take the paper and write it down and let God work as He wills.

Monday morning came and went…actually it went downhill fairly quickly as Molly Kate woke with a fever, Miles had wet the bed, Maggie and Mallory were both fussy and tired from Sunday and Madden’s toe (that got horribly slammed in a door over the weekend) was throbbing. Kevin woke with his back thrown out and it would have been fairly easy to throw my hands up and crawl back into bed and let the kids just watch Netflix all day. But the little bit of the heavens that opened up over the weekend in this home was enough to calm my heart, still my soul and allow me to just laugh. I mean, “seriously Lord?” The only happy people in that mid-morning moment were Mikias and our dog Annie, who thankfully just keeps loving me in my craziness. But if I can’t laugh about it and trust God’s grace in these made-for-television moments that are my actual life, then I’m just going to end up a miserable mess of a woman and I just don’t want that. So, I’m changing things…I’m removing the distractions, the non-essentials that just eat up space in my heart and I’m turning back to the things that ground me. God’s Word, prayer, nutrition, nurturing a family, time alone with my husband and lots of time outdoors playing with the people that make me, well, me.

 

She loved the outdoors and never complained, not once!
She loved the outdoors and never complained, not once!
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A “real” picture of us.
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He makes my life so fun 🙂
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I love this bunch…so big we can’t fit in a selfie!
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Still can’t fit…poor Mallory is barely peeking out!
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Just wanting to soak up every moment with this girl who only wants to be where I am. Oh for my heart to love God like she loves me!
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My heart is full and overflowing!
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And him…I love him and I love doing life with him. And he’s so handsome…sigh…