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 ūüôā 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 ūüôā
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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…

This is My Cross?

I guess it all started shortly after we found out we were pregnant with Mallory. Sweet baby girl was not planned…well, not by Kevin and me! We have this tendency to just begin thinking about having another baby only to find out we’re already pregnant, which I know is something some women could only dream about. But when you’re one of those women who has awful pregnancies, it can be fairly unnerving. Somewhere around my throwing up for the 26th day in a row (and realizing that I have now probably thrown up no less than 500 times between all my pregnancies), I began to think “I really don’t want to do this anymore.” And that subtle mind shift, away from the truth of babies being a gift from the Lord and child-rearing to be a divine calling on my life to a more self-centered, self-focused “Eeyore” way of thinking, began to take up way to much space in my brain and my heart.

But, sadly, I didn’t really see it until Thursday morning. Wednesday was not a good day…Mallory didn’t take a single full nap so she spent most of the day crying, Maggie fussed and fussed to the point I was ready to jump out the window and even Molly Kate and Mikias (my usual happy-go-lucky kids) were in particularly bad moods, squabbling with each other over absolutely pointless matters (like the fact that Mikias had two Tic-Tacs instead of one…seriously?!?!). ¬†By the time I was in the van driving to our Wednesday evening meal at church, I was fighting back tears and fighting them hard. When Kevin got home from church and we were finally able to talk, all those tears came flooding out. I couldn’t even put sentences together, talking in fragments that went something like “there just aren’t enough hours,” “I’m failing at everything,” “I don’t want to nurse anymore,” “I’m so tired of getting interrupted sleep,” “how do I take care of Maggie and Mallory at the same time?” and on and on. ¬†Our conversation resolved nothing, which is typical as I knew I would probably have to work this one out on my own. ¬†I went to bed utterly discouraged and tipping toward despair.

The next morning, after stumbling through reading my Bible, I picked up my copy of Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. We had been talking about parenting books at our bi-weekly MOMs group Tuesday night and I thought I’d flip through this old favorite and read a few highlighted sections. And this is what I happened to read:

This brings us to a third thing that Scripture tells us about our commitments as mothers. Romans 12:1 provides a vivid picture of what it means to give our whole selves to the Lord’s way of doing things: “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

To fully experience fulfillment in Christ and fulfill his will for our lives, we must come to the point where we give our whole selves to him–our freedom, our time, our bodies, all of our possessions and gifts–trusting him to show us how to use all that we are for his glory. To sacrifice means to give up or surrender something of value. We are living sacrifices, which means that moment by moment, out of our worship of him, we are to surrender our own needs and expectations for the greater value of pleasing our Lord.

Oh, knife to the gut! God’s word is living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword and Thursday morning, the truth of Romans 12:1 cut through all the falsehood that I have been daily living out of to show me truth. For months now, all I’ve been thinking about is me. My needs, my wants, my desires…very, very little of my day was spent thinking of how I could sacrificially give myself to anyone. I mean, I was throwing up and living with 24/7 nausea in order to grow a person inside me…wasn’t that sacrifice enough? But God has slowly and steadily been calling the selfish me to an even greater cross…

I’ve been nervous lately that at any minute a really hard trial is going to hit…like cancer or death or financial stress. But I failed to notice that my days are already full of trials…a toddler fussing, children bickering, the baby wailing, little boys pushing and shoving, older children tattling, toothpaste smeared on the toilet, wet pull-ups left lying on the bedroom floor, a whole house being flooded by the fussy toddler who turned on the master bath when no one was looking, a growing-up daughter who needs quality time with her “too-busy” mother, an eldest son who needs more training in the English language, a house that always needs tending to, bills to be paid and a budget to be balanced, meals upon meals and loads of laundry that never EVER end. My days are hard…they are busy, rarely quiet, exhausting and lately, quite frankly, fairly miserable.

But they haven’t been miserable because they are hard...they’ve been miserable because my thinking has been oh, so wrong. Instead of willingly sacrificing my needs and desires to please the Lord in His call on my life as a wife and mother, I’ve selfishly coveted days that are easy and peaceful, with children groomed and happy around the breakfast table ready to joyfully start the day of learning and serving, maybe even lying on their beds quietly for countless hours of reading. In my cloudy thinking, it never dawned on me that these little people (whom I do love dearly and I can’t imagine my life without) are also the very means by which God wants me to learn what it means to pick up my cross and lose myself for His sake. ¬†Motherhood (the journey I so long awaited and have found so much value in)…really, this is my cross?

So I put down the book and headed out for my daily walk/run (way more minutes walking than running). And as I do every morning, I began praying. I confessed my sin…my selfishness, my deluded thinking, my failure to give myself fully the Lord for what He might like to accomplish through me each day. And I begged for grace…grace to love more deeply, grace to give when I feel like I have nothing left, grace to endure the fussiness, the crying, the bickering, grace to invest and nurture and listen to stories about make-believe places. And you know what? God gave grace. Thursday wasn’t perfect…there was still squabbles and discipline and messes. I was weary and worn by dinner. And there was still a load of laundry that needed to be folded and put away. But…I wasn’t miserable. All day long I saw God give me patience and strength and love…there was kindness in my tone and time to just sit outside and watch the children play. I pushed Maggie on the swing, listened to a very lengthy story from Miles and Madden about a pretend game they had been playing and helped Molly Kate with her back-bends. I watched Mikias do a new flip on the trampoline and I snuggled with Mallory a bit more than usual. I poured myself out all day long, but not in a dreaded, frustrated, angry kind of way. More like in a way that gives true life…”For whoever wants to save their life¬†will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.” Matthew 16:25

Tears Upon Tears

So my sweet little last born daughter finally made her arrival. After weeks of contractions, little sleep, lots of nausea and miles of walking, my water finally broke. Contractions actually started on their own without the induction of drugs and the most beautiful and tiny little lady made her way into the world on March 9th at 12:32 am. I fought hard to take it all in…I knew without a doubt that this would be the last time to taste the wonder of seeing your child for the very first time. The last time to stand in awe of a person made so fearfully and wonderfully by my Almighty Creator, the last time to experience that surge of adrenalin and anticipation as your body works to push into existence a tiny being, bearing your image. ¬†While I hate hospitals and IVs and pain and honestly, I hate pregnancy, I absolutely love the wonder and amazement of bringing a baby into the world. That moment when they first cry is quite possibly the best moment I’ve ever experienced and it was difficult knowing this would be the last best moment.

So the last few weeks of her existence have been wild and crazy and sweet and tender and also brought with them tears upon tears. I’m not sure if I’ve ever really had the baby blues but I’m certainly experiencing a roller coaster of emotions at the moment. Add to that the fact that Maggie had an ear infection, Madden caught the stomach bug, Miles broke his arm, Maggie flooded our house (yes, literally!) and Kevin is going to have to have a minor surgery to remove a large kidney stone next week…well, it kinda makes sense that my emotions are a little out of whack!

But on a deeper level, I know there’s something shifting in my heart. For years, since childhood, I have longed for this season of life…pregnancy, babies, toddlers. My sister and I played “house”and “babies” more than any other game growing up and I knew as I changed from major to major at Ole Miss that in the end, I really just wanted to be a mom. Funny how God plants those desires so early. ¬†And now, here I stand…the season I’ve longed for the last 20 years is so quickly about to be in the rear-view. And my heart doesn’t like it. I look down at the 7 pounds of intoxicating newborn cradled in my arms and I would give the world to stop time. I see my 19-month old toddler, chubby legs and chubby feet and chubby cheeks, bopping and squealing around the house with her brother’s toy sword and I’m desperate to hold on to the image. I look at my almost eight-year old girl, my firstborn who has blossomed into this beautiful young lady, one who works hard to encourage others and bring joy to all and I know without question how fast the time goes…you don’t have to remind me. ¬†Tears upon tears race down my cheeks as I think about how quickly it is passing and how much I don’t want it to.¬†I can’t stop it, time presses on and the days become months and the months become years before you can even blink. My newborn, my last little newborn will be riding a bike before I know it.

As all of this makes my heart ache, God has been peeling back the curtain to help me see that there’s a much deeper issue at hand. I’ve been banking my hope on this season and this season alone. I’ve convinced myself that nothing in life past where I’m currently at could ever be as great as being a mom to all of these wonderful little people, watching them grow, shepherding their hearts, schooling their minds, laughing at their stories and jokes. I’ve bought into the lie that my best life is now and in a few years, I will no longer have much to look forward to…no more exciting pink lines on a pregnancy test, no more ultrasounds to find out the gender, no more first cries, no more babies. But if I take God at His Word (and I do), then my hope is not anchored in babies but in the resurrection of Jesus Christ…which means, in a nutshell, the best is yet to come.

I have something far greater than ultrasounds and chubby toddlers to look forward to…I have the promise that I will one day obtain an inheritance that is¬†imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away (1 Peter 1:4). I have been promised that my God will bring me to His dwelling place one day and there He will wipe away my tears. I have the promise of heaven where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:3-4). I will one day live in a city that has no need for the sun or moon or light because the glory of God will be so bright (Revelation 21:23) and that’s pretty good news for this gal who hates dreary, gloomy, gray days! Yes, there is certainly much good yet to come…and the promise of all this good is bringing about a much needed change in my heart. May God’s grace help me to be a mother who treasures the moments of the here and now and all the beauty that such moments entail while rooting my hope in the promise He has made to me…that the beauty here is just a foretaste of what lies ahead.

Brand new baby and sweet loving toddler!
Brand new baby and sweet loving toddler!

 

Newborn cuddles!
Newborn cuddles!

 

Opening her eyes!
Opening her eyes!

Come to Me

The last several weeks have been long. One would think the fourth time around that I would have a grip on this whole 24/7 nausea that accompanies my pregnancies. But I don’t. It’s still really hard, I find myself trying to find the balance between not complaining but also being real. Yes, my body is giving life to another. Yes, she’s a healthy baby girl whom we will love and cherish and treasure for as long as God gives her to us. But yes, carrying her is also one of the hardest things God has asked of me. Caring for my five little people, especially my youngest little person who still needs me a LOT, trying to be even half of a loving, encouraging wife, schooling, ministering in our church, heck, even having to feed the dog or give water when the kids have forgotten…all of this AND being sick 24/7 with baby Mallory is just plain hard.

And most days lately, I’m finding myself coming unglued at the seams. I call Kevin and tell him “I don’t know how I’m going to make it” or “I just wish I had my mama right now.” But God knows my mama can’t come quite yet (she had a terrible accident over Thanksgiving and is getting herself strong again so she can be here for the actual birth) and He knows how I’m going to get through. And it isn’t going to be by pulling my bootstraps up and finding some sort of strength within. But, instead, its by letting go of all the strength I’m trying to hold onto and coming to Jesus. He is my refuge, He is my rock, He is my strength. Why can’t I remember this? God wants me to come unglued so that I will come to Him. He wants me to tread into deep waters that lap over my head, sometimes so violently that I can’t catch my breath, so that I’ll quit trying to tread on my own. He wants me to learn what it means to rest in Him.

I have roughly four weeks left (assuming and praying she comes a little early). That seems so short and so long all at the same time. And I have a daily choice before me…keep pushing through, wearying myself even further by pretending I’m okay being sick and being in pain and being exhausted OR let Jesus in me be enough. Enough for my family, enough for my church, enough for Mallory (because ultimately He’s the one who holds her together and sustains this sweet babe within)…and ultimately, He’s the only one who sustains me.

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all‚ÄĒ
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

And Can It Be?

Always one of my favorite hymns and a question that has repeatedly played in my head as I contemplate the salvific work my God has done in the lives of my two eldest children. ¬†As a mom, I feel like I’m a navigating fresh waters. ¬†As a Christian for over 22 years now, I feel like I’m seeing exactly what I would have expected to see. ¬†But let me back up just a bit…

I grew up in a very traditional Southern Baptist Church. ¬†I loved and adored (still do actually) my pastor, but as was the fault of many baptist churches in the 80s/90s, salvation was often reduced to just walking an aisle, praying the sinners prayer and getting baptized. Not that professions of faith, prayers of repentance and baptism do not have their place in one’s coming to Christ for salvation…but they certainly are not the “what” that saves you. ¬†“For it is by grace that you are saved, through faith and this not of yourselves, it is a gift of God” Ephesians 2:8. I didn’t quite understand all that at the age of seven, but I felt enough in my heart to know that while friend after friend walked down an aisle at a revival or prayed with our Sunday School teacher that I just wasn’t ready to dive into whatever they thought they needed to dive into at that moment. ¬†Then, after several more years of hearing the gospel, at the age of 12, I finally went to my parents with a feeling in my gut that I couldn’t ignore and told them that I was ready to turn my life over to Jesus and I wanted him to be King over my life (for some reason, I still remember using that exact expression!). ¬†They walked me through the gospel again, carefully explaining why we were guilty before God and why Jesus had to die and I prayed with them that night that God would forgive me and make me His. ¬†And He has been growing me in my faith by His means of grace ever since…praise be to Him who saves and Him who sanctifies!

In Louisville, while Kevin attended seminary, we were part of one of the most amazing churches and God used it greatly to prepare me for one of my greatest and most treasured roles, motherhood. ¬†I remember many conversations with women older than I about raising our children in the gospel, what it looked like to discipline with the gospel in mind, what it meant to point our kids to Jesus in each random moment of the day. ¬†Many times during a day, I see myself doing or saying something that I learned from one of these women…I am so indebted. ¬†We also talked about what it would look like for our children to become Christians…how would we know, how could we be certain, what should we look for? ¬†All of these conversations have stayed with me and as I’ve labored and poured out my soul day after day for the sake of the gospel taking root in my children’s souls, I’ve been carefully watching, carefully contemplating, carefully praying.

Interestingly enough, I’ve thought that Molly Kate has been a Christian for a while now. Somewhere between five and seven, she grew increasingly more aware of her sin and genuinely grieved it, she began to pay greater attention to God’s Word and desired to truly understand it and she often confessed that she knew the only way she could be forgiven was trusting in Jesus. But when she asked me if I thought she was a Christian, I would warily say “I hope so, but I’m just not sure yet” and that was the truth! How the world was I to know? Only God can judge the heart, only the Spirit tests the deep waters that reside there. “Oh Lord, how am I to answer her?” I would often cry out. Then it dawned on me one night…the longer I held her off, searching for some flashing neon sign to say “YES, SHE IS SAVED!” the more I communicated to her that it must take something else besides faith in Jesus to be a Christian. If I continued to say “I’m not sure” because I couldn’t see all that I wanted to see before affirming her in her faith, then she would continue to doubt that all it really takes is believing that Jesus died in her place to reconcile her to God. ¬†So, we sat down and I turned the table, asking her if she thought she was a Christian. She confidently answered “yes” and I asked why and she easily and clearly put into her own words her belief in the gospel. Parts of her discourse were more theologically accurate than some pastors…I’m amazed at the wisdom and understanding God has granted her at such a young age! And after much more conversation and a time of sweet prayer, I could do nothing but rejoice in the work God had done to save her!

Mikias, on the other hand, has a completely different testimony. ¬†From the time we brought Mikias home, he has always been such a literal child. We can never use metaphors or exaggeration with him…he takes every word as absolute truth! If you say you’re so hungry you could eat a horse, he thinks you’re headed to the store to find a mare and chow down! For this reason, I knew it would take a special work of God to work the principle of faith into his little heart. Mikias is also a pleaser, a legalist to the core and it is often hard for him to see his sin clearly and understand just how deep it runs because the truth is, he really doesn’t mess up all that often. I told Kevin once that I felt like Mikias would be one of those people that had to screw up big time before he could clearly see the treasure we have in Christ. ¬†I didn’t want that but I feared it might be the case and so it was. Without exposing Mikias’ big ordeal, let’s just say he had a run in with sin that left him feeling completely helpless…for once he saw the entangling web the enemy uses to draw us away from God and he saw his own inability to overcome it. He broke and in his brokenness, all by himself without Kevin or I knowing any of this, he ran to God for forgiveness. He too knew that Jesus was the only way he could be forgiven and after a couple of long discussions, I realized that God had opened his eyes to see Jesus as His Savior. With Mikias, it was almost as if you could see the burden of trying to live a life pleasing enough to God lifted and he was finally resting in Jesus.

I’m recording all of this primarily because I want to be able to recount the details to them when they are older. But I’m also writing it all down because I think there’s a growing tendency in reformed Baptist circles to shy away from children coming to know Jesus as Savior while children and a push to “give it time” or “to see if there’s spiritual fruit for a number of years” before affirming salvation in their lives. And while I’m thankful that parents and pastors are much more inclined to test hearts and be careful to acknowledge true faith, I also see the danger of letting the pendulum swing too far the other way. I could be wrong…I recognize that I am fallen and there’s a small chance Mikias and Molly Kate do not have saving faith. But, the greater part of my soul feels secure in their confession and would rather begin discipling them as young believers, helping them to walk in the ways of Christ and understand His word than to be so fearful that I’m wrong that I hold them in some sort of spiritual confusion. So, once again, I find myself in the need of grace….the beauty of parenting that I’ll never outgrow…Lord, give me grace to teach them, to lead them, to disciple them, to make them want more of You!

A sweet day of rejoicing as Kevin baptized these precious two!
A sweet day of rejoicing as Kevin baptized these precious two!

 

Give Them Grace – A Book Review

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I began this book one move, one pregnancy and five summer birthdays ago. ¬†Needless to say, it should have been a quick read but with all we’ve had going on these past six months or so, I wasn’t able to finish it in a timely manner! I’ll begin my review by noting that I have read a lot of parenting books…biblical parenting books, adoptive parenting books, psychological and developmental parenting books and transracial parenting books. ¬†I feel like I have a fairly good grasp on the variety of wisdom that’s out there for today’s Christian parent who wants to think carefully about the way he or she rears their children. ¬†But in all my reading, I had never run across a book that so clearly puts God’s grace as witnessed in the gospel of Jesus at the forefront. ¬†So, from even the first chapter, I was convicted, encouraged, refreshed and intrigued. ¬†I certainly recommend this book as a must-read for parents desiring to daily minister the gospel to their children. ¬†And yet, I would still stand by my conviction that Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart be the first book a new parent (or a parent new to thinking about how to teach their children about Jesus) reads. I know that reading Give Them Grace opened my eyes to see how often I spout out rules to my children without ever really showing them what it means to trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross for my sins. But I don’t feel like I would know how to put these thoughts into the context of the parenting already established in our home (which by God’s grace, He is using to work truth into the hearts of our children) had I not read Shepherding A Child’s Heart so many years ago, which really laid the foundation for where we wanted to go as parents. ¬†In my opinion, the two books compliment each other beautifully and I wish I had been able to read them back-to-back to have been given the full picture of what it means to shepherd my children in the gospel truths while giving them grace as we go.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes or excerpts from the book. Perhaps they’ll help you see why I enjoyed it so much and why I think you would too!

 

Again, that doesn’t mean that we don’t teach our children God’s law. We are commanded to do so but not to make them good.¬†We are commanded to give them the law so that they will be crushed by it and see their need for a Savior. The law won’t make them good. It will make them despair of ever being good enough, and in that way it will make them open to the love, sacrifice and welcome of their Savior, Jesus Christ. p.36

The one encouragement we can always give our children (and one another) is that God is more powerful than our sin, and he’s strong enough to make us want to do the right thing. We can assure them that his help can reach everyone, even them. Our encouragement should always stimulate praise for God’s grace rather than for our goodness. p.43

We are always to do our best, striving to be obedient and to love, nurture and discipline them. But we are to do so with faith in the Lord’s ability to transform hearts, not in our ability to be consistent or faithful. p.53

Most parents know enough to confess their anger to their children. But do we regularly confess our self-righteousness and pride? Saying something like, “I can’t believe you would do something like that!” or a slight coldness followed by a disapproving look, should be followed by, “Please forgive me for forgetting that you and I are just the same. We both sin. When I say things like that, I am being self-righteous and forgetting that Jesus had to die for my sins too. I’m sure that my words were demeaning, but that’s not all they were. They were also against the truth of the gospel. Please forgive me and pray for me that the Lord will help me remember all the ways that I sin too and that he’ll make me humble and thankful for grace. pp. 72-73

In the same way, we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us see our children like he does, with great hope and love. We can ask him to help us be “grace detectives,” to be more aware of the Lord is working in their life than in how they are failing. p. 136

Miles’ 6th Birthday

I’m back-tracking a bit here, but I wanted to make sure I recorded each child’s birthday this year. ¬†What a special day to pause and reflect on how each child is a unique part of our family and how thankful we are that God gifted us the joy of parenting him/her. ¬†Miles and I have surely had our ups and downs and everyone knows by now that parenting him has quite possibly been the most challenging role God has ever called me to…but because of the challenges, the sweet parts are made all the more sweeter. I truly see God growing my love and affection for this little boy with every passing year and while his progress has been slower than a lot of adopted kids we know, I’m so thankful the Lord has allowed him to overcome so much and all the while, his heart seems to grow more and more tender to the gospel. ¬†This has been the year of ninjas for our Miles so I was not surprised when he asked for a ninja cake! In lieu of big parties (which quite simply, we just can’t afford with so many kiddos!), we told the kids they could invite one special friend to celebrate with us and Miles chose his newest buddy from church, Isaac. ¬†They had a blast playing and we are happy he has found a friend! ¬†Here’s a few pics of his special day in May:

Chowing down on Miles' lunch of choice, hot dogs and cheetos!
Chowing down on Miles’ lunch of choice, hot dogs and cheetos!
Miles and his buddy!
Miles and his buddy!
All the kiddos!
All the kiddos!
Super excited about his scientist kit from Poppa and Nana!
Super excited about his scientist kit from Poppa and Nana!
Opening his "big" gift!
Opening his “big” gift!
His new skateboard!
His new skateboard!
Lighting the candles!
Lighting the candles!
Make a wish!
Make a wish!
Ninja Miles!
Ninja Miles!