Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hope and Grace

Hope seems to be fixated on right and wrong lately. And, people, there are no gray areas as far as she can tell.

Here is an example. She fell apart once last week because her little neighbor friend was over and, while they were playing, her friend told a lie. I caught her right in the middle of it, too. Hope looked at me as if to say, " something." And I did. I tried to gently correct this little girl and give her a way out, which, after a lot of prodding, she finally took and told the truth. Good for her. So, I let it go at that. Hope was so irritated with me and kept insisting that she had "lied! She LIED, mom!" I finally sent the little girl home so I could deal with my own. And I tried to explain to Hope that what she did was wrong, but that we had to have grace with people. That her friend had had a really tough life and it was a big deal that she had decided to tell the truth. We needed to try and be happy about that. She was not happy.

Earlier in the week she had a "great idea" on the way home from small group. "How about I make a chart." (I'm liking it so far. I LOVE charts!) "And every time Bella does something wrong, we make a mark on the chart. That way we have a record of it." Ugh. Not liking it so much anymore. I was glad she said the word "record", though (It's so funny that she said that, anyway. How would she even know what that meant?) because it quickly called to mind the verse in 1 Corinthians 13 that talks about how "love keeps no record of wrongs." Whew! That almost never happens for me. I almost never know a great verse off the top of my head for correcting my children. So, we chatted some about that and she seemed to understand.

I was frustrated, though. Why was Hope so obsessed with justice? Didn't we model grace and mercy in our home and with others? Where had we gone wrong? And then, as I read in Psalm one morning, I was struck by these words, "The Lord loves justice..." (11:7), "righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne..." (97:2), "I will sing of your love and justice..." (101:1). And God used it to speak to my heart. He reminded me to be thankful that Hope has a strong sense of right and wrong...cause she's gonna need it. And, he reminded me that understanding right and wrong is an essential part of understanding grace. So, that morning as I prayed for Hope, I thanked God for the work He was doing in her, a work that was preparing her for the many choices ahead. And I thanked him for what he would teach her about grace, through her understanding of right and wrong. That he was preparing her heart, even now, for a greater understanding of her need for him.

And then I thanked God that my sweet and sassy six year old, the first child that he lovingly enfolded into our story, would always be a reminder that while he loves justice, he is quite the show off when it comes to giving us a gazillion times more than we deserve.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Daddy/Daughter Dance

On Saturday, Canon City held it's 3rd annual Daddy/Daughter Dance. What a fabulous tradition this has become. Loren had a track meet that morning and so I treated Hope and Bella to a spa day at home (when Ava was napping, of course). They each got their hands and feet soaked and lotioned, and the nails painted, all while drinking smoothies, of course. Then, we rolled their hair and pulled both their curly locks up into "princess buns", which, as you might imagine, is a very different process for Hope than it is for Bella. :) They both looked so cute and couldn't wait to put their dresses on. So, we did. Four hours early.

When Loren got home from the track meet he gave them both corsages, bought to match their dresses (aww!) and off they went to dinner and the dance. Lucky me! I got to watch some of it because I was helping to put it on. We had somewhere between 600-700 people there and it was so fun to see the girls come in on their dads arms looking, for all the world, as if they felt like royalty.

For a split second on Saturday morning I thought, "are we making too big a deal out of this? Are we setting it up so that our girls will have such high expectations that no average man will ever compare to their dads?" And then, in the same breath, I thought, "Heck ya! That's the point!" I want my daughters to have high expectations about how they should be treated and about what kind of man they want to be with. I want them to, some day, be walking down the aisle, or even just walking into dinner with the man they have chosen to spend the rest of their lives with and looking, for all the world, as if they feel like royalty.

And, I know if their daddy has anything to do with it, they will.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Whew! It's been awhile. Let me tell you why.

Loren and I, both of us, work with teenagers. He works with Young Life and does some amazing work walking alongside of teenagers who have, virtually, no interest in Christ, or Christians, and, least of all, any form of church. He gets to introduce them to Jesus, the real one, the one that is so much more than all the images and misinterpretations they have in their heads. He gets an up close view of the dark places in their lives and gets to speak Light, and really whet their appetites with a taste of full life. It's an amazing thing to watch and, when they really get it, it's a bonafide miracle.

I get to walk alongside some precious girls in our youth group at church. They are some of my most favorite people in all the world and I am so humbled by the way they have allowed me into their little worlds. We get to work through God's Word together and we get to discover, together, how it needs to change us. And, sometimes...sometimes (because honesty about the dark desires of our hearts are far harder to share for us good church girls) we have shockingly honest conversations.

The result of that for me in the last few weeks has been this: I have never been more scared to raise my children than I am right now. And it had me off and running.

And, for a while, fear ruled. My mind began making lists of all the things I could do to keep my kids safe, to keep them hanging out with the right people, to keep them happy, to keep them confident, to make sure they loved God for real (not just said they did), to keep them talking to us, to make sure their lives went the way they are supposed to. Which, of course, means that they grow up and only make mistakes that are fairly benign and will cause them no real harm or shame, and that they settle comfortably into adulthood with no major baggage from childhood.

And, honestly, I want those things because I love them so much. I know that God can use anything and everything for his glory. I know that he can draw them to him out of any circumstance. But, I also know that my deep desire is for that ideal scenario. You know, the one where they are raised in such a healthy way by parents who love God so much that it is only natural for them to love Him as well and to live out of that love. And, I don't really think that's a wrong desire. (It would be wrong for me to be demanding of God in that desire, "You better do this or else"...but, in general, not a wrong desire. Maybe hope is a better word...It's what I hope for.)

But, as it happened these last few weeks, my hope turned into fear. I was fearful about being able to do all that I needed to do in order for this little scenario to work out. I was fearful about what part other people, teenagers, etc. would play in their lives and how I would even begin to know what to do about that. And, I was fearful that, even with all my good intentions their little wicked hearts (how dare them!) would conspire against us (were even now conspiring) and would derail all our good work. It seemed overwhelming and somewhere along the way I began to sink into the sea of fear, grabbing at little buoys of hope whenever I could.

And then, this weekend, at a retreat, I was challenged about fear. The speaker said something that stuck out to me. She said that, too often, we make a place for fear in our lives. We give it a comfy little home in our hearts because, after all, isn't it good to have a certain kind of healthy fear about some things? Aren't we motivated to good things by fear? And besides, we have become comfortable with certain levels of fear and have even decided that they are loving in some regards. Uh...yeah....that's me.

And, as I began to look up scriptures (surely there is some mention of those healthy fears) I began to see that fear, besides, of course, the fear of the Lord, has no real place in our lives. In fact, over and over in the bible I saw negative references to fear. Fears about what God had commanded. Fear about his promises not coming true. Fear that puts walls between God and his people. And it just started to seem like fear was another way of saying, a lack of trust in God. And, I guess it is.

I'm not saying that we can't acknowledge fear when it comes up. When I hear about what is happening inside our high schools, what is happening among kids who know the Lord and who come from great homes, I get scared. I get scared for those kids and for my own kids and what it might be like for them in ten years. But, I know I can't let it take over. I can't let it make me doubt that God is trustworthy, or that he has ordained all the days of my children's lives before one of them even came to be. I can't let it make me work harder, and pray less. And I can't let it make hope something I vaguely see on the horizon every once in a while when I am able to breathe for a second. All of those things pull me in a direction opposite of where I am supposed to be headed...more trust, more understanding, more fellowship with God, more faith. And that can't be right.

So instead, I am doing a different kind of work. I am memorizing and meditating on Proverbs 31:10-31, one of my favorite passages, often called the "The Wife of Noble Character." And I'm doing it, not because memorizing and meditating have made my super valuable (insert sarcasm here) list of things I need to do to make life work right. I'm doing it because I need to read it and say it over and over. To let it find it's way into the cracks of my faith. To let it remind me of the woman I want to become, that I am becoming. That woman, "is clothed with strength...speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction...looks well to the ways of her household...LAUGHS at the days to come...and fears the Lord." Yeah...that's what I really want.


Oh yeah! And I have been making these! So fun! Very simple and very fast. Aren't they so cute? I mean, sure, Ava's cuteness really takes them up a notch, but still....