The Holiness of Beauty

“If you have been afraid that your love of beautiful flowers and the flickering flame of the candle is somehow less spiritual than living in starkness and ugliness, remember that He who created you to be creative gave you the things with which to make beauty and the sensitivity to appreciate and respond to His creation” (Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking).

The holiness of beauty is something I haven’t always grasped.

I spent my younger days chasing after beauty at the expense of truth. When truth was finally something I could no longer ignore, I assumed the righteous thing to do was forsake beauty. I was often discouraged that many of my interests seemed so unspiritual… art and literature and the sea and my love for making homes out of drab, old spaces.

The irony of it all, was that I don’t think I was able to truly grasp the beauty of truth until I learned to see the holiness of beauty. It brought theology to life for me.

And it’s one of the biggest things I yearn to teach my children. Because I want them to see God whether they’re singing a hymn in church, or watching the sun set, or enjoying life with a friend, or staring at a mountain, or sketching a lady bug, or walking through a museum full of masterpieces, or reading an excellently told story, or observing their granddad skillfully build a house or a table…

Because beauty always points to the One whom it reflects.

Continue Reading

The River of Waiting

These lovely old faucets came with the massive antique ironstone sink I found for the farmhouse kitchen we’re renovating. I’m not sure how practical they’d be, but I love the look of time-worn brass and I’ve been furiously experimenting with creating patina on new brass. It’s a ridiculous endeavor and the irony is not lost on me as I sit here, spending far too much of my day on something that time spent almost a century doing naturally and organically and wonderfully.

I stumbled over something I read in Acts this week and it’s had me thinking on the concept of waiting, and what it says about the God requiring it of us.

Waiting forces us to rely, in some way, on someone or something other than ourselves. On a child to grow, on a task to be completed, on time to move forward, on weather to pass, on anxiety or depression to lift, on people to change, on God to answer…

It does things to our soul like a river does to rock, and reminds us that we are not the one who breathes and loves and wills things into existence.

Though we yearn for the timelessness we were created for, for now, time relentlessly slips through our fingers and requires us to trust the only one who can hold it. Knowing that we wouldn’t be tethered to it, if it wasn’t preparing us and teaching us something that we couldn’t have learned as gloriously without it. 

Working on not wasting my time here, by wasting my waiting…

Continue Reading

Fighting Anxiety …Like A Child

[Originally published HERE at Servants of Grace]

I sunk into bed during one of those awful, pre-dawn hours of the night after a day where my required tasks had far outnumbered the minutes allotted to me. One of those “Come again, Lord Jesus” moments when you decide you’re utterly unable to wake up and take all the breaths and steps required to get you from one end of the day to the other. The mere thought of the sun coming up — brutishly forcing me to open my eyes and behold the whirlwind of problems and duties that would be there to greet me (in a far too short amount of time) — seemed to feed on my exhaustion and tension, convincing my sleepless-self that I hated the sun and its horrible inevitability and I had no desire to ever see it again.

But it rose anyways.

And after its arrival, one of those inevitable duties toddled into my room to greet me. While the rest of my children have developed varying degrees of self-sufficiency and self-awareness, this freshly-turned-three-year-old grasped my hand, pulled herself up, pressed my tired face between her palms, and candidly informed me of her wants and her needs for the moment. She wasn’t hesitant, or even demanding — but expectant. Because she knew she was incapable of getting through the morning and meeting her needs by herself. Yet she wasn’t troubled by it because she knew I was there, and I could. And my heart ached, because as I watched my sweet child I realized that though I know my God is there and is able, I can’t seem to figure out for the life of me, how to talk my heart into resting in this truth and my feet into walking that path of child-like reliance.

The Calmed and Quieted Soul

I longed to be able to proclaim Psalm 131:

“O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

Instead of a self-propelled soul that instinctively presses on, desperately trying not to forget those “oh yeah,” mental sticky notes to remember to seek the Spirit, I yearn for a childlike-soul that doesn’t even know how to take a step apart from him. Not out of fear, but out of a confidence so strong — in his strength, and goodness, and love — that I couldn’t even imagine trying to find my way through the day without clinging to him. O LORD, wean me of myself!

The Weaning Soul

I’ve raised enough babies to understand the difference between a weaned child and a weaning child. That one syllable is the difference between peace and anxiety, contentment and worry, rest and struggle, surrender and striving. …A weaning soul is a weary soul. One that needs to be stilled and soothed as it’s weaned from its desires and thoughts and ways, because something far better is being offered.

We need to follow the path of the psalmist as he seemingly describes his weaning of self, venturing from inward to outward — from heart, to eyes, to actions: “my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me…”(Psalm 131:2).

Until my heart is able to say that it trusts in Christ above all else, I will continue to be broken and betrayed.

Until my eyes can look to nothing above God to satiate my desires, I will continue to taste disappointment.

Until my actions are spurred by the Spirit and his strength alone, I will continue to trip and fall.

The road to that place can be long and trying, but rather than allow our anxiety to falsely prophesy hopelessness, let’s instead rightly proclaim the hope we have because we know who is leading us, and we know to whom we are being led.

“After a period of prolonged and painful struggle to have its longings answered, the little one gives over striving any more, and is at peace. …Like a weaned child, its tears over, its cries hushed, reposing upon the very bosom that a little ago excited its most tumultuous desires, his soul that once passionately strove to wring from God an answer to its eager questionings, now wearied, resigned, and submissive, just lays itself to rest in simple faith on that goodness of God… It is a picture of infinite repose and of touching beauty—the little one nestling close in the mother’s arms, its head reclining trustfully on her shoulder, the tears dried from its now quiet face, and the restful eyes, with just a lingering shadow of bygone sorrow in them still, peering out with a look of utter peace, contentment, and security. It is the peace of accepted pain, the victory of self-surrender” (Rev. James Vaughan, 1876).

The Sun Also Rises

Stressful days will come and go, and I doubt my nights will be forever absent of restlessly watching the clock advance as my brain mentally counts all the seconds I’m not sleeping and all the things I’m not doing. But every night when the darkness comes, I can remember that my sins and anxieties can die with it. And every morning as the sun faithfully rises, I can remember whose mercies for me are new—regardless of what the day brings — because death (and everything in between) was forever conquered.

Dear Lord,

Help me open my eyes in the morning and immediately seek you rather than the world and its worthless things. Make my weaknesses clear and your strength blindingly clearer. Help me rest in your hope rather than wallow in my fear. Thwart my feeble yet habitual attempts to rely on my own abilities. Burden my heart with what distresses you rather than what stresses me. Help me seek you more than answers, pray more than worry, and worship more than grumble. Be my peace in the chaos and my rest after sleepless nights. Help my mind wander to you when I’m weary and anxious. May I hope in the LORD, from this time forth and forevermore.

Amen.

 

Continue Reading

Dear Daughters

[Originally posted HERE at Servants of Grace]

To my dear daughters (whether knit within my womb, or the wombs of others), as well as anyone who has ever loved one:

These days have been laden with a palpable heaviness. I see things, I hear things, I read things and they press on my soul because they’re painting a picture for you and of you that is not from God, or in his image. It differs from what he created and tenderly looked on, beholding its goodness. It does not reflect him or his purposes for you, and it was not what you were intricately woven for. It’s a weight I struggle to ignore and can’t help but wonder how you will come to carry it. I mourn the deep scars it has left on daughters before you, and I yearn for you to have the strength and wisdom to navigate its seemingly inevitable forces.

I see violence against daughters. Their bodies, as currency to steal and spend for power and pleasure. Anonymity used to take what was wanted in the darkness that could never be had in the light. Strength used not to protect but to hurt, and wit used as a weapon for evil rather than good.

I see manipulation of daughters. Sex, as something entitled and owed. Fame or charisma used to coerce or defraud. Popularity as invincibility. Trust used to trespass, and means used to procure more and more and then take what can’t be bought.

I see objectification of daughters. Flirtation and advancement as means of feeding desires wanting to be fed. Respectability used to pardon indiscretion. Past victories used to dismiss present downfalls. Habits allowed to furrow, becoming blinders to seeming hypocrisy. Depersonalization, as a way to view daughters apart from their eternal souls.

Distortions and Definitions

These are not new distortions. They’ve been around in various forms since time was young, but you must learn to fight the forms they take in your time. These are not the only distortions. They are few of many — some you will face, some others will face — but all should be battled against because they distort the truth. I want to help you fight those coming at you, so you’ll be better able to fight those coming at others.

In the age-old narrative of a Father bringing his children to himself and a bridegroom desiring to be united with his bride, daughters have played mighty and graceful roles. Many will over-simplify and condense your character, stripping it of its uniqueness, because it makes the story easier or more comfortable to tell. Many will deny your consistencies and symmetries because it makes the story mesh better with their own tales or perhaps be about something other than what it is.

Be careful of that. Be wary of definitions of yourself that come from someone who didn’t make you.

The Anchor of Who We Are and the Beauty of Who We Can Be

Daughter, as you grow and walk through these weighty times, I want you to do two things:

  1. Rest in the unchanging ways you reflect God as his child and his daughter. The more you understand who you are and aren’t in relation to him, the harder it will be for the world to label you and convince you you’re something you’re not. You have something they can never take.
  2. Learn and understand the varied ways you reflect God as his utterly unique creation to display his glory in ways no one else can. Discover what he made you for and act on it. The more you grasp how God wants to use you, the harder it will be for the world to use you. You are something that has a value and a worth that can never be stripped.

Understanding what steadfastly remains the same and what grows and varies, will help you not lose your bearings or lose your vision.

The Solid Rock and the Living Water

Remember the more you know and seek your Creator, the more you will see him in his creation (including you!), and the more comfortable you will become in understanding yourself as his daughter.

Look at the clear and comforting rhythm of the seasons and cycles that you learned to anticipate before you could articulate. That expectancy of a cool dip to soothe the heat of summer, the recognition that the smell and crispness in the air indicates approaching snow. The birth brought forth in Spring, the death that approaches in Autumn. The life cycles of the plants you pluck and the insects you catch. The life cycles involved in the pregnancy and birth that brought you into this world. Yet every morning is new, every season is different, and every tiny little fingerprint is distinct.

And since the God of these is writing your story, you know his chapters and characters will be soothingly consistent and familiar, yet exceptionally fresh and varied.

Find security in the unchanging ways you reflect our unchanging God. The order and symmetry in how you my daughters, distinctly reflect certain aspects of God’s character that my sons do not. How both of you exhibit other aspects of God’s character together that we see consistently across his vast creation.

Find purpose in the extraordinary ways you reflect our God of unending beauty and creativity. The artistry and originality in how you reflect your Creator, uniquely from all my other children and from all of his, because of gifts and traits singularly woven together in you alone.

Our Legacy

Look at his past chapters. God’s cast of righteous female characters is both narrow in the seeming source and object of their faith, yet broad in the ways and means and personalities his image-bearers display his glory. We see daughters who were wise judges and mighty leaders, we see daughters who were meek and who clung to the feet of Jesus. We read of daughters who build homes with wisdom and perseverance, and daughters who destroy strongholds of sin and injustice. We hear of daughters whose hands compassionately feed the poor, hands that skillfully deliver endangered babies, and hands that drive tent pegs of justice. We see daughters who save lives, who risk their lives, who give their lives. We see God accomplish his purposes through his daughters whether a queen or prostitute, fertile or barren, married or single, young or old, strong or weak.

Daughters, you were formed in this place and moment for a reason. You are part of the symphony that takes the same notes that have been played for ages, and arranges them in ever-new, ever-relevant, ever-praiseworthy ways. You were chosen by the composer himself to be woven into his masterpiece, in moments and means that would not be as glorious or excellent without you.

My daughters, I pray for you, a mind that is fiercely wise. A heart that is tirelessly compassionate. A soul that is selflessly brave. Words that are true and deeply kind. Arms that are strong to build and defend and care. And eyes that continually seek your Lord as the source and object of your strength.

Continue Reading

Hands Worth Holding

Hey, baby girl. If you’re gonna find a guy later, find one like him. One who loves you every ounce as much when things are falling apart as he does when things are wonderful.

Like when you’re having a meltdown on the boardwalk because too much sun and too little sleep leaves you at less than your best. And things like walking and eating ice cream simultaneously feel like a really big deal, yet stopping to eat it feels bigger.

But guys like him just hold your hand and wipe your tears and patiently spoon feed you while you take deep breaths and walk at that perfect pace that’s not so fast that you feel out of control, but not so slow that you feel left behind.

And it gives you the chance to remember who you are and who made you.

Those are the kind of hands worth holding and shoulders worth leaning on. Trust me on that one…


Continue Reading

On Learning Our Children

We take it year-by-year, but these last few years we’ve schooled our kids at home. It’s not some big principled, reject-the-system, religious-exemption sort of thing, we just decide with each child, each Fall, in each place, where we think we should put them based on their needs and our abilities.

Partially due to two years of moving, even when abilities and bandwidth were low my third kid is one who has never had report cards or textbooks or bus stops. But she’s played and experienced and learned naturally. It’s what I kinda had wanted for all of my kids. Because I truly believe that it’s hard to make a child love to learn once you’ve killed their awe and wonder, and it’s difficult to nurture that when you remove playing and exploring and discovering too soon. And boy, does this girl love to learn. In a way that I’m not entirely sure she would have discovered if she’d been sitting in a desk instead of out in the world.

But there have been moments of fear. I recently went to bed a few weeks ago in tears and panic and exasperation because this spirited, recently-turned-7-year-old is not independently reading. I mean, I was reading The Chronicles of Narnia and Nancy Drew when I was seven, and this girl could care less about barely being able to read a cereal box. She has big brothers to read her words, parents to read her stories, and she simply has never felt the need. While I thought I was maybe okay with this, the system we still have to peripherally navigate, isn’t really. A (self-imposed) 30-minute evaluation resulted in words like “delayed,” and “potential learning disabilities,” and “totally not ready for second grade,” kinda shook me and made me second guess all sorts of things.

Just know, I LOVE teachers. I so appreciate schools. They’ve provided structure at times for my children who needed it. They’ve provided support at times for my children who struggled with things I didn’t feel equipped to navigate. Systems are needed when you have to educate millions of children in a nationally standardized way. I could never do what they do, day in and day out.

Systems can be hard though. I think they catch some big and important things and I think they overlook some big and important things. I’ve had a child who struggled with the system because he learned, and processed, and read much slower than others. I’ve had a child who struggled with the system because he learned, and processed, and read much faster than others. But for the most part I’ve agreed, and understood, and felt as if they were hurdles that were beneficial to learn how to navigate as a part of life. Hard work, patience, respecting authority, self-control, waiting for others…

The Things That Fear Hides

It hit me differently with this girl, this time around though. It was unexpected in that they were words and descriptors that were so utterly different from the ones I’ve gathered while observing her vivacious, bright, quick-witted mind for the last 7 years.

This child I birthed and know so deeply in ways others don’t have the privilege to. I hear her stories, I watch her play, I experience her thoughts and ideas. She’s quite possibly the most confident (yet realistic) child I’ve ever met, and for the first time ever I caught a little glimpse of her confidence faltering. And it killed me.

I’m not one for false confidence. It’s shaky ground that will not age well, but it’s so important to me that they understand the gifts that God truly formed them with. That they see them, develop them, use them, and understand that much will be required of them in those areas in exchange.

I want her and others to see those precious gifts in ways that a thirty-minute evaluation or a standardized test will not show.

I went to bed so conflicted and worried, and woke up like God was gently shaking me and reminding me of who she really was. Who he made her to be. Who I’ve always known her to be, yet was forgetting in my worries.

Who IS My Child?

She’s like my very own Anne of Green Gables. Some of my kids are smart, some are funny, but she’s that brilliantly witty combination of both. She quotes Shakespeare (“All’s fair in love and war,” she’ll say to her big brother complaining of unfairness). Her vocabulary and ability to communicate deep things takes my breath away. Not just remembering words, but hearing them, understanding them, and using them ages later in perfect context.

She loves every place we’ve ever lived or visited. She adores the beauty of the mountains, the excitement of the city, the peacefulness of the country, the newness and sociableness of hotels, the coziness of a 350 square foot travel trailer….

She loves interacting with people, yet she can play by herself for hours upon hours. She’s never been bored. She taught herself how to ride a bike in about 17 seconds.

She’s fascinated by how things work, how things are made, how things came to be. Her theological questions and connections blow me away. She loves documentaries, she loves creating things and describing things, she loves stories.

Her imagination is intense, her excitement is intense, her anger is intense, her frustration is intense, her love is intense. I’m not sure she’s ever felt anything partially or halfway in her life. She says what she means and she means what she says.

She will talk to anyone. Not like a child meaninglessly chattering away to any person who will pretend to listen… but wherever I take her, she almost always manages to locate and plant herself next to some other soul, whether 3-years-old or 93-years-old, to effortlessly connect with them and draw them out. Eventually I’ll find her, passionately, yet matter-of-factedly discussing family relationships, hopes and dreams, personality characteristics of grandchildren, favorite places traveled, shared frustrations of life, or how they like their job, or being married, or getting old, or starting kindergarten…

Give her 5 minutes on a playground, and she’ll have a “pack of boys” (in her words) following her around, fighting her battles, and playing her games. Not because she needs to dominate or control, but because she’s insanely confident and her excitement is contagious.

She sees people and gets people and figures out how to love them practically. When I have a migraine she holds my hand and brings me ice packs. She lectured my husband before leaving on a recent trip with the grandparents, that he better take good care of me and make my coffee just like she does, until her return.

She is a gift and she has a gift.

Learning My Child

I say all this, not because it’s important to me that people understand home-schooling, or question public-schooling, or tell me comforting things like I’ve done the best I could with her (I haven’t). And honestly, her summer reading tutor is absolutely wonderful and knowledgeable and much-appreciated, and knowing my daughter, she’ll probably be reading The Iliad and War and Peace by next week. But my point is, that even if she isn’t, that’s really okay too.

Ever since she was born, my verse for her has always been Luke 1:45. “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord had said to her will be accomplished.” Because it will. Not because she will accomplish it herself, or I will, or anyone else will, but because HE will.

If their God-given strengths aren’t diminished by their God-given weaknesses, then they certainly aren’t going to be by their world-given “weaknesses.” Even if we’re going about this all wrong it’s not going to change who they are and who they were created to be. No parent, or school, or system, or curriculum could ever take away what was given to them by the hand of God. We need to look at our children and learn them. See their struggles and help them, watch for their gifts and value them, not because they are our child, but because they are a person made in the image of God.

Continue Reading

Strong Shoulders

One of the first things I noticed about Kevin were his arms. They were strong and muscular and completely different than mine. Yet over the years as we live and walk and fall together, I realized I’ve grown to be far more thankful for his shoulders. While arms can fight and embrace, shoulders tend to do more supporting and lifting and quietly carrying. And all I can say, is his shoulders are strong and steady.

Anyone who knows Kevin, knows that he says what he thinks. I’ve always loved this about him.

Most anyone can say strong words strongly, or soft words softly, but far fewer can say true words with gentleness and meek words with mightiness. And he’s grown into this so well.

He sees what people are good at and he tells them, he writes notes with genuine words to encourage people, he’s honest with himself and others when he’s weak or wrong, he loves developing someone’s strengths, he tells me how he loves me and why, he desires his words to be true and good.

He’s the most incredibly wonderful mesh of strong and gentle, real and relaxed, serious and humorous.

At any given moment he could be walking me through an art museum pointing out his favorite paintings, or forcing me to watch some dumb YouTube video. Listening to Bach Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, or Blink 182. Reading poetry, or quoting Calvin and Hobbes and Dumb and Dumber. Discussing Dostoevsky, Spurgeon, and business strategies, or the latest Premiere League drama and standings. Texting me photos of architecture he admires and quotes he finds inspiring, or ridiculous memes and practical jokes he’s playing at work. Watching a documentary on the history of National Parks, or laughing at re-runs of The Office. Demolishing kitchen cabinets, or playing dollhouse with his little girls.

Happy Birthday to my best friend, my closest friend, my cutest friend, my deepest friend, my funniest friend, my steadiest friend, and my favorite friend!

Forever thankful for your kind heart and your strong shoulders…
Continue Reading

Don’t Waste the Words of the World: Raising Children of Truth

[Condensed version originally published HERE at www.desiringgod.org]

I love words.

Our eyes feast on them, our ears soak them in, our fingers form them, our mouths sing them and confess them. They shape our minds and transform our hearts. Through them, life was born (Genesis 1:3) and through them, life is saved (John 1:1).

Words change us. From the time my children could speak them and hear them, I’ve attempted to teach them that words matter. That they should be chosen well and with care. That they should be true. Like many families, our rules, sayings, and governing principles revolve around words:

“Speak with gentleness.”
“Just because it’s true, doesn’t mean it should be said.”
“Don’t take joy in being the bearer of bad news.”
“Are you being a peace-maker or peace-breaker?”
“Don’t speak poorly of others.”

“Are your words building up or tearing down?”

Words Shape Beliefs

Actions are immensely important and are said to speak louder, but if you think about it, words in some form generally precede action. Words are heard or read, processed and pondered — and beliefs are formed. And in the end, actions reflect those beliefs. That makes words unbelievably precious in parenting.

When faced with shaping our children, we’re really up against shaping their belief systems, their axioms, their philosophies — their hearts. We’re helping them separate truth from fiction and build the foundation of their faith. Their choices and decisions (like ours) display what they actually believe about the world, about themselves, and about God.

This shaping isn’t a onetime thing, but an ongoing, organic, multi-faceted process:

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds. . . . Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 11:18–19)

It’s the teaching and talking as we go about our days and evenings — errands, activities, and everyday lives. Sometimes conversations can go where a sermon cannot.

Shrewd Doves

We raise our babies to send them out like sheep among wolves. It can’t be avoided. Teach them to be “shrewd as snakes” and “innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Just one or the other, would result in cynicism or naiveté, but the prudence, insight, and defensive posture of a serpent paired with the meekness, gentleness, and purity of a dove is a powerful thing.

Missionaries are sent out after being taught the culture, language, and struggles of the people they’re being sent to — not to adapt, but to impact. Sending off our children should require no less forethought. Don’t throw them into the deep end expecting them to fight the current, without teaching them to swim.

Teaching our kids to be light to the world’s darkness and salt to the world’s decay doesn’t mean dragging them towards every speck of sin and horror. It’s embarking hand-in-hand on our pilgrimage, fearlessly progressing through the inevitable shadows and rot, showing them how to illuminate and preserve. Because light scatters the darkness and the gates of hell can’t prevail against Christ and his church.

There’s not a single square inch in this broken world where truth cannot be found or darkness cannot be dispelled.

Start ’Em Young

Children are never too young for truth. Don’t underestimate the faith of a child and the power of the Spirit, when they’re still willing to hold our hand and hear our voice. Resist the dumbed-down, shallow, entertaining words that so easily placate their little minds and ears. C.S. Lewis said, “A book worth reading only in childhood is not worth reading even then” — and I tend to believe the same goes for movies, and music, and TV shows, and yes, even our methods for teaching them the Bible.

We can’t expect deep souls that yearn for the truth and beauty of God when we feed them from infancy a steady diet of superficial, sugary-sweet frivolousness. Surround them with what’s good, and true, and excellent so they can readily find and identify it out in the world. We can spot lies when we’ve been soaked in truth.

Letting Go

As our children grow, it’s hard knowing when to start loosening that grip. But God has not given us a spirit of fear, and our faith is in something that can’t be shaken. Each child is different and discretion is essential, but let’s not act as if our God could be toppled by talk of million-year-old dinosaur bones, or atheism, or Santa Claus, or secular song lyrics, or stories with magic wands…. A strong foundation is thoughtful, but not fearful of such things.

As my kids begin developing their own tastes and interests, it’s an active exercise of taking deep breaths, praying for wisdom, and pointing out truth and fiction behind the words coming at us. At first, my efforts are met with eye rolls, but before long, they can’t help but begin to see the same things in words:

“Daughter, do you think someone who talks about loving your body like that singer does would be good at caring for your soul and loving your mind?”

“Wow, that author has an amazing imagination and talent for weaving plots together. Even someone who doesn’t know God can’t help but use his gifts and reflect the yearnings he’s put in us.”

“What is this commercial selling us, and how are they trying to do it?”

“Look at how the world loves beauty, and strength, and happiness, and power…what a great glimpse of how we’re created to be utterly satisfied by God. Their desires are far too weak.”

“Listen to that longing in those lyrics. I don’t think they know God, but man, are they searching for him.”

“Anyone who hears about that kind of violence knows this isn’t how the world is supposed to be. Come again, Lord Jesus, and make new what we’ve broken.”

“I know that kid used inappropriate words and treated you wrongly, but it’s usually the hurt who try to hurt. Let’s pray for him and think of ways to encourage him so he feels cared for and valued.”

“Listen to the wonder that scientist has for the world and its details and systems! It’s amazing how even those who don’t believe in God can teach us so much about our Creator, clearly behind the intricacies and loveliness.”

Greater is He Who Is in Us

We hurriedly cover their eyes and ears, when oftentimes, leading them to truth behind the reality, will soak in far deeper. Our worry that the world will change our children should be overshadowed by our hope that Christ will transform them. How often do I get in the way of the Spirit, as my child works out their faith? As I loosen my grip, it’s a humbling, breathtaking process watching my children see God in places I often overlook:

“I love mythology, but it’s crazy that people actually saw these guys as gods. I’m glad our God is different.”

“[Changing radio station, unprompted] Ugh, I love the tune of that song, but the words are foolish and gross.”

“I’m glad God can fight evil like those characters do, but he doesn’t need a wand or spells when he does it.”

“Do you think that scientist realizes the ‘Big Bang’ he’s describing just sounds like God?”

“Ha, they said you can do anything if you just believe in yourself. That’s ridiculous.”

Using the World’s Words for the Glory of God

We can’t control our children’s hearts, but we can point them to truth. Ask the Spirit for it. Speak it. Pray it. Teach it. Talk about it. Live it.

Teach them to be shrewd with the alluring, twisted, contradictory voices and seek the truth buried underneath — to find the common ground and rejoice in it. Teach them to listen to the broken, grieving, outraged cries and respond back with truth, depth, beauty, and love. Teach them to filter out what’s true and pure and excellent and praise-worthy amongst the billions of words being funneled into our minds and dwell on those (Philippians 4:8). Teach them to juxtapose what’s said against what’s known to be true, exposing it for what it really is (Luke 8:17). Teach them to take words uttered in darkness and strip them of their power, putting them to work for the Kingdom of God (Genesis 50:20).

The longer I parent, the more I realize I can’t hide or hold back the world’s words from my kids. It’s easy to frantically try to plug every little hole in the dam, hoping my children remain perfectly dry and unsoiled from the deluge of opinions and ideas coming at them — selectively sprinkling them with the holy water of my choosing. It can be a noble endeavor.

But the real beauty is raising children who can rise above those flood waters, swim against the current, navigate the changing tides, and help save those who are drowning. Children who don’t waste the words of this world, but use them to display the truth and glory of their Savior.

Continue Reading

Thirteen.

Thirteen years. Sounds like a lot and a little all at the same time.

When we spent our very first anniversary moving, renovating, and hugely pregnant, we should have guessed that the majority of the ones to follow would be commemorated while doing one or more of those same three things.
I guess when you love making homes and you love each other, you end up with a plethora of broken houses and babies.

We sometimes joke with couples who are young and freshly in love that they probably shouldn’t do what we did. We say all sorts of foreign-sounding things to them like “wait” and “travel,” and “date nights,” and “family planning,” and “maintenance-free apartments.”

Some evenings we talk and dream about what our life would be like if we had just done a tiny bit more “normal.”

But the more we’ve talked and lived, the more we’ve realized the limitations of “one-size-fits-all” types of advice. We’ve made some naive and crazy decisions, and have a bad habit of biting off way more than we can comfortably chew, but I just can’t imagine we’d have the same marriage if we’d lived such a different life.

There’s something about saying “I do” and immediately jumping blind-folded into the deep end, young and barely knowing how to swim that can do crazy things to two people.

You either sink or you ungracefully cling to each other with everything you’ve got. And sometimes the whole becoming one flesh thing happens seamlessly almost by accident. Not because we were good at it, or read the right books, or knew what we were doing, but because it’s the only way we could keep from drowning, and God is good and full of grace.
And while I don’t necessarily recommend that approach, I don’t regret it either.

Because I wonder if we’d have figured out how to love each other so deeply, and fiercely, and necessarily, if we had cautiously eased in. I’m a pretty independent, self-reliant, never-ask-for-help type when I’m not drowning.
But God is big enough and loving enough to use these tsunamis we probably keep bringing on ourselves, to show me we’re so much stronger in our clinging and togetherness than we’d probably ever have pulled off on our own or if we’d cautiously eased our way in.

And here I am four babies, seven renovations, ten houses, twelve bathroom remodels, and thirteen anniversaries into this whole marriage thing and to be completely honest, I am still drowning. We’ve been living out of suitcases for over a year and are more unsettled than we’ve ever been. But while life and marriage can be hard, being in love with this guy can be just so easy. He has a kind heart and really strong shoulders. He loves me so patiently and practically and thoroughly.

The great thing about learning how to be in love when you’re gasping for air, is it’s just that much sweeter and appreciated to be able to do it when you finally catch your breath (even if just for a moment).

And man, I can’t wait to do just a little more normal and slower and settled together.

“If it’s half as good as the half we’ve known, here’s Hail! to the rest of the road.” ~Sheldon Vanauken

Continue Reading
1 2 3 5