All about perspective

“As a Father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” ~Psalm 103:13-14

Working with my three year old the other day, I was struck by how often I do exactly the same things she was doing. Having declared the day pajama day, she was in the bathroom trying to redress herself in her sleeper from the night before. I asked if I could help as she was struggling. Her refusal was emphatic as she was determined to do it alone, certain she could unwind, reconfigure and get all four limbs into something that had turned inside out and then around again somehow. I cleaned the kitchen and honestly rolled my eyes at what I could hear growing in crescendo in the bathroom. Increasingly frustrated, she worked more feverishly, then sobbing and stopping, then again attacking the sleeper. All the while I offered help that she didn’t want. Finally I walked into the bathroom and sat down on the floor with her. I got her to look in my eyes and take a deep breath. My compassion for her overwhelmed me and totally replaced my aggravation that this child was throwing such a complete fit as I saw her fierce desire for independence at war with her ineptitude, confusion and childlike despair.

I knew that she was me with the Lord.

Her heaving chest and desperate expression – desiring to do it yet unable to figure it out – her writhing on the floor in full out exasperation – unable to get out or get in – That’s me with the Lord.

In that bathroom, I saw my child’s little frame, her childish mind and immature skills and was filled with compassion for her. All I desired in that moment was to help her be successful in her heart’s desire – to be in that sleeper once more. There was joy that filled me to be able to come alongside her, unwind the sleeper, turn the leg right side out, help her balance as she stepped into the leg, and make sure she didn’t zip her belly into the zipper. And then she asked me to button the top. And we laughed and loved.

But all this could only happen once she was ready to accept help. It took me getting on the floor, stroking her angry back, getting her to look me in the eye and listen to my voice. She needed to calm and let go in order to get the help she needed. She was never going to get into that sleeper! It was too wound up and wrong in every which way! I also wasn’t interested in hijacking the process and just throwing her into the sleeper.

God’s great compassion is for me in my times of fierce independence, striking out to accomplish things I even think will be for his kingdom, good things. But I will be frustrated. I won’t be able to see clearly in the confusion, I won’t be able to see around the bend to what will come, I will be unable to make things right, fix what has gotten twisted. I don’t have the right perspective, but my first reaction is often to be angry, frustrated, despairing on the floor. And Jesus Christ sits down on the floor with me and tells me to look in His eyes.

He never forgets my frame, He never gets aggravated with my tantrums, His heart is continually filled with compassion for me. And the amazing thing about our perfect God is that He never loses that perspective. He never has to be reminded of my frailties. Often I have to remind myself of my children’s weaknesses or immaturities. Many days I don’t want to sit on the floor, seek out the heart of my child, or patiently wait for their return. I want them to get their stuff together and either let me help or move on. Luke 15 tells the story of the prodigal son who left home to have independence, taking with him all his inheritance. He squanders everything and, while living in a pig farm, realizes he at least could be fed if he lived as a servant on his father’s land. And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20) Our Heavenly Father meets us right in our dirt, our pig smell, our hunger, our fatigue, our failure. And kisses us. He doesn’t wait for us to get cleaned up or get it together. He isn’t interested in the way we look, what we’ve accomplished or what we can give back. Jesus in Matthew 9:36 saw the crowds and  had compassion for them for they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.

So as a mother, Lord, don’t let me lose your perspective with my children. Let me see their frailties, sin, fears, regrets, stressors, and worries the way you do and let me run to them with arms open wide. Not because I am anything but your forgiven, dearly loved child. As your child let me never forget your Gospel, that while I was a sinner, you died for me. While I was deep in the muck of sin, you were rich in mercy and loved me and love me still. And teach me to lead my wayward little ones to You.


“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:5

 It is my prayer for my husband and my children as well as myself. We are the intercessors God intended for our children. To cry out to Him on their behalf that He will direct their hearts to see, know, walk in His love and to understand the steadfastness of Jesus Christ in a world constantly changing.

There are so many places in Paul’s epistles especially where he gives great prayers, succinctly stating the most important requests he had for the believers he was leading. When I read them, my heart resoundingly identifies with them, almost shouting in agreement for one or more of my kids, my husband or someone else as they walk this life. This passage in 2 Thessalonians is the final message to a church that was under great persecution. Paul at one time likened their persecution to what he had meted out against believers before his conversion.

But the Lord is faithful, He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” As our oldest begins to leave, let me give him this blessing and consistently pray for this direction over his life.

First of all the blessing – The Lord is faithful, He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you. The blessing is completely sourced in the Lord. He does the establishing and guarding. He alone guards me and my family against the evil one. There is no one greater, no one more powerful, no one more victorious. He is faithful. And the confidence I have in my child is not because his works are good or because he performs well. My confidence is in the Lord who is His Savior, His Redeemer. I have confidence in the Lord about you, child. The Gospel declares His great work in your life. Walk with Him, wholly dependent on Him and you will do all that He calls you to.

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. What an intercessory prayer for my children! Truthfully this verse is easy for me to memorize (if I’m being transparent, I work all year with my kids memorizing lots of information and whole passages of Scripture, and I am the worst at it! My kids can catch and retain something within minutes, and I’m still working on the info at the end of the week and still need a prompt!) And I need to memorize passages that I can plead before the throne on my kids’ behalf.

Direct – in the Greek, to straighten fully, to go straight down by the most direct, efficient route, avoiding all unnecessary delays. When God directs our hearts, the path is formed and is straight to 2 things – His love and Christ’s steadfastness. This doesn’t mean life is a straight and easily navigated path. There will be many times when it seems hard, where your feet may stumble, the way seems difficult to navigate. But His direction for the heart isn’t wavering. My heart is deceitful, untrustworthy apart from God’s direction. Genesis 8:21 states this from the beginning, “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” The thoughts, mind, motivations – all through the Old Testament you see the theme of the heart central to the pursuit of God. It is testable: Psalm 26:2, “test my heart and my mind,” it is how we love God, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Deut. 6:5). Our hearts can harden, become embittered, be in anguish, need renewal, lead us astray, be perverse – all apart from walking with God alone. But the Gospel declares that He leads and guides our hearts. It is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee ~2 Cor. 1:21-22  As a direct result of the Gospel and His grace, He will direct me, He will direct my child to 2 places:

He directs the heart to The love of God – so vast, so deep, so thorough (Eph. 3:18-19). It compels us and what we do for His kingdom (2 Cor. 5:14). His love is the basis for our salvation – in Ephesians 2:4, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us.” And God knows we need direction to His love, not only for salvation but for every minute of our lives. We need to continually be refocused on His great love for us, and from this position as deeply loved redeemed people, we can begin to move out in our world.  As much as I want my son to know how much God loves him, His heavenly Father is actively working to move him in a straight path, directly to His love, to experience its depth, to know its grace, to see its power.

He directs the heart to The steadfastness of Christ – in Greek: hupomone; a remaining behind, a patient enduring – Strong’s concordance says this: “as God enables a believer to remain/endure the challenges He allots in life and there is an implication of cheer or hopefulness in the enduring.” God directs me and my child into the ability to walk out all this life offers – seeking Him, hopeful for eternity, keeping relationship with him – knowing my purpose in my faith walk is to glorify Him. There will be many difficult seasons in life – times faith is tested, suffering is endured, worry is threatening but God will direct in a straight line to His steadfastness. His ability to stand is far better than my own. He sits with us in our suffering, walks with us in our doubts and fears in order to grow our faith. The fruit that comes from suffering, wrestling and submitting to His steadfastness is sweet.

More than anything I want the testimony of my life and the lives of my children to be, “I learned to walk with my faithful Lord, He taught me continually of His deep, all encompassing love and His endurance for all situations.”


And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. ~Isaiah 42:16

So much is changing – territory is changing, scenery is looking different, the terrain is  making me stumble again. The familiar path of parenting has changed and the walk is new, unclear.

I distinctly remember the first weekend we had our newborn son home. The feelings of wonder combined with fear overwhelmed me. I had no idea what journey I was embarking on, yet I was so thrilled to be going. I didn’t know what certain cries meant, had no idea what he liked or disliked, couldn’t imagine his personality or the joy that getting to know him would bring. And God has been faithful to lead. His knowledge and depth of insight into each of our babies has been fundamental guidance as I’ve walked this path of motherhood. Many, many times I have cried out for His guidance, and many times I have realized I have stepped off His path and tried to forge ahead on a new one. His gentle teaching and His wise voice have led me back and centered me on this walk with my children.

But I’ve never seen this land before. I don’t know if I should admire or dislike the scenery. As with most new things though, there is a hesitancy to like the unfamiliar because I want to compare it to what is known and what is known is comfortable. I don’t know how to parent these older teens – I don’t know the pitfalls up around the corner to prepare for or the scary land filled with danger that we will have to walk through.

I’ve been through the preschool and elementary/puberty years now so many times that it’s almost become recognizable. I almost feel like a tour guide! “Up here you will see the mountain of Seeking Independence followed by the River of Contentment. The child will climb this mountain and then float here for a wonderful while before dropping into the Rapids of Doubt & Insecurity. They will need you to push them up the mountain sometimes and then you will need to help them get their boat ready before the rapids hit. Make sure to make the boat as waterproof as possible to ensure safe travels and prevent sinking”

I know a lot of that path. oh, I may miss a turn or curve, I don’t profess to have it perfected. I may forget an area or a new predator may have moved in that will surprise me somewhat but for the most part it is familiar territory with grooves to walk in. And I have learned to look to Him and trust Him to guide me on this journey. Yet at one point it too was unclear, dark, scary because of its newness. But He was faithful all the while, the ultimate tour guide. And here we are again.

Yet You declare You lead me and guide me for I am blind. You turn the darkness into light and make the rough surfaces smooth – You do not forsake me on this parenting path. You are the perfect Father, with perfect insight into what my child needs to hear, do, go. You know what equipment will be needed, where to stop and rest, where to seek shelter, where it tends to be stormy. You are not worried about a storm that never seems to end or a land that looks impassable.

Let me turn to You, seek Your wisdom, and wait patiently for your guidance. Thank you for being faithful. Let me sing praises to you as I walk with you, holding your hand, safe in the knowledge that you lead perfectly.

Just swing

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” ~Luke 8:24-25

“Stop panicking and trust, Momma. God knows. Your job is to trust Him. He’s got this.” Those words from my daughter. They draw me up sharp and take my breath away.

We have one child who has a serious aversion to movement, just cannot take the swinging motion of being thrown up by her daddy. You can forget any bikes, swings, or roller coasters. She will completely panic if she feels movement-wise out of control, and you cannot convince her that you have her and will hold her safe. She’s in full out panic mode protecting herself in that moment, wildly flailing about, screaming, crying. Inconsolable if she feels as if someone bigger just took advantage of her and threw her around.

And this is me so often with God. In the last 3-4 years of life, we have had alot of crazy – illnesses, deaths, changes, births, new cities, new schools, injuries. And I feel like I have somehow gotten on a roller coaster that I never wanted to ride, and I can’t get off. I may swing high and enjoy a moment of exhilaration but the plummeting back down can fill me with such panic or fear, wondering if I will crash.

We see it in the story of the disciples out on the lake with Jesus. The storm comes that pounds and rocks the boat with such ferocity that the disciples panic. Several of these men are well seasoned fishermen who have seen storms like this before, yet they see the waters flowing into the boat, recognize the power of the storm, and are scared. The Bible recounts this story in 3 different places (Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41 and Luke 8:22-25) and in each recounting Jesus is asleep. The disciples begin to realize the boat could sink or capsize, and they wake him frantically asking him to save them. In Mark 4:38, they say, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” and in the other two passages they cry out that they are perishing and ask for salvation. They are panicking!

Yet they have just spent days with Jesus watching him heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead. They have listened to his teaching and marveled at the truths he taught. They have seen evidence of his power, authority, and might. But in the storm that night, I think these men absolutely thought they were going to die and then looked over and saw the peace Jesus had in his sleep and it may have just bugged them completely. They desperately wanted safety and knew the power they had seen displayed earlier was their only hope. Often when I am in full freak out mode, not trusting or believing, I want everyone else with me to feel my panic and join me in despair. But the wisdom my child offered parallels what Jesus asked his disciples. “Where is your faith?” Now my daughter can’t change anything but what she is able to do is speak words of life, reminders to redirect thought patterns to the One who is able to handle all storms, obstacles, and catastrophes. I love that Jesus in His great mercy and grace calms the storm with a word. Then He challenges the disciples’ degree of faith.

Trust – to be confident, sure or bold; refuge. Psalm 9:9-10 declares, “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” and Psalm 13:5, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me.” David wasn’t confused – his heart in Ps 13 was aching, throbbing with the longing of being somewhere other than where he was. He wanted the sorrow and pain to end and joyful communion with God to be his daily walk. But then he actually stops and sees God.

I think that is the key posture I forget. In the midst of my freakout, can I calm enough to consider the One who can calm this storm, stop the madness, or do I just keep spinning? Inherent to any mother is the understanding that when your child is completely unglued, if you can just get them to look at you and listen to your quiet, calm voice, they can focus, stabilize. What do we often say to a child in tremendous angst? Sshh, listen to me, quiet, calm down, focus.  Isn’t that what our Father in heaven says to us over and over? “Abide in me,” “Take my yoke and learn from me, for I am gently and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls,” “Set your minds on things above and not on earthly things” Scripture tells us over and over that our God cares for us like a bird cares for her young, compassionately loves us, remembers our frailties, delights in our seeking Him. And even in the boat, Jesus doesn’t give a lecture to the disciples first while they are so frightened. He calms the storm first.

The truth for David and for me is that His steadfast love offers salvation, intimacy and relationship, and hope for eternity. He has declared Himself Lord over every circumstance of my life. The question becomes do I allow Him the rightful place as Lord? Or do I seek to self-protect, denying His perfect protection? Am I like my flailing, panicked child, so fearful of the movements and changes that life brings that I lose sight of the Great Almighty, the One in whose shelter I am invited to abide? Or do I swing, trusting that He is able to control the movement? Do I remember that He has dealt bountifully with me?


“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” ~2 Cor. 10:3-6

How do I take a thought captive? How do I help my child defeat the strongholds of performance/appearance that are so pervasive today? We live in a world where the enemy is selling the idea, the stronghold or prison, that our worth is tied to our skills, beauty, body, talents, intellect, grades, fill in the blank.

This is a battle for me daily. Why would I ever think my child is immune? It is sold on every social media app, magazine, movie, or tv show. It is sold in schools by testing and scores, and it’s sold on every ball field or stage that the performance of the moment is life determining. The word Paul uses for stronghold equates with a fortress and prison. This stronghold of performance is a prison for the enemy.

But we need to recognize that the battle is NOT of this world – this isn’t a battle that will go away magically at 23 or 43 – finally grow up and don’t care about your looks, achievements-its not a little problem that’s no big deal. This isn’t a battle where we can just decide to not let it bother us.

This is a foundational principle the enemy wants to misalign in me and my kids because if he can cause this piece of the foundation to slope, he can capitalize on this for the rest of life to delegitimize or destabilize what God has called you to. As a mom and wife, I can get taken out and sidelined with thoughts of performance, so why would I want my kids to struggle in the same way? This is not a war of the flesh like dieting, exercise, study habits, etc. Paul declares this a real spiritual battle, and we have to be equipped and help equip our children in the battle of the mind. This battle looks different for different people at different times, but the battle has spiritual ramifications that ripple through eternity. Francis Chan compares our life here to a red inch on a rope hundreds of feet long, yet our red inch impacts our eternity. So mommas, let’s not get taken out in the first 10 seconds of the game.

For our weapons are not of the flesh but have divine power” What weapons do we possess? We possess the Word of God – the sword. It is our primary weapon – the rest of the armor Paul references in Eph. 6 is defensive but the Truth slays all evil. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit. If you are saved, you are sealed – given the Counselor who will lead you into all Truth. (John 16:13, Eph 1:13) So when we are battling the thoughts of performance, we need to stop using human logic and reasoning.

We need to stop.

Stop reading the latest and greatest ideas to shape great, productive adults who succeed and are happy.

Stop reading how we can be better mothers, better women, better etc.

Read the Word.

Love the Word.

Read the Word to your children – remind them of who they are in Christ. Their value must be tied into what Christ did for them at the cross, and their daily walk is an outgrowth of that understanding. It’s time to stop placating our children with how good they are or how wonderful they are doing unless we are clearly defining their value and talents in light of the Gospel. Constantly bring them before the cross, and show them that apart from Jesus they are worthless, hopeless and ugly. But Jesus died for them, loved them from the start when they were so unloveable and nothing will EVER change that. No matter the outcome of a game or a test, no matter how clear your skin is or how skinny you feel today, Jesus loves you and has great plans for your life for His glory!

Help your child seek out Scripture and work through it with them. Then give them TIME with the Holy Spirit to respond to Him. He speaks so much better than we do. And over time their sword will sharpen. So often I just want to throw a verse, tell them to change, and walk away as if that solves anything.

Leading your little ones takes time. There’s no way around that fact, and it’s probably what chafes me the most. I have to lay aside my lists to seek the heart of my child and then turn with them to seek His heart.

Discipleship is walking another, hand in hand, to the throne and letting go and giving them private time with their Master. We have to trust the power of God and the perfect counsel of the Holy Spirit to vanquish strongholds.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” These are strong verbs Paul uses – the verb he uses to take every thought captive gives the picture of marching into a battle field and with a spear piercing the lie through and carrying it triumphantly out. To destroy indicates utter annihilation and destruction. These are not the words of pacifism or complacency. I need to stop being ok with certain confessions coming out of my own mouth or the mouths of my children. Again we need to know our great worth and value based on the Gospel. It is not based on me – Jesus alone has given me great worth as a daughter dearly loved. He alone will work in and through me to do His great will for His glory. My role is to walk with Him, seek Him, know His truth. If you don’t live outside the fortress of performance, I plead with you to begin to seek all the Word says about who you are in Christ – understand what it means to abide in Christ, what it means to set your heart on things above.

And then I need to teach my child what I am learning. Speak out loud my failings – when I have been dragged back into the prison of performance – share how I am resetting my mind and memorize the Word together.

The word picture I like to give my kids about this battle is that of an airport. Your mind is the air traffic controller and the thoughts that fly through your mind are the planes in the airspace. You, walking with the Holy Spirit and learning God’s Word, need to look at every thought that comes into your mind just like the controller examines every plane. Each plane must ask permission to land, and the controller either grants or denies. The same holds true for our mind – the thoughts that fly into our mind are not what we are responsible for. We are responsible for what we allow to land – what we allow to stay and take over our airfield.

So let’s be fierce. Do not give ground to the lies of this world, and challenge the ground our children may be giving. Remember we battle alongside of our children as their swords sharpen.

In my midst

“Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” ~Zephaniah 3:16-17

O Lord you are here with me sitting at this table, walking in the kitchen, doing laundry, loving babies, mopping floor and teaching school – You are in the midst of my home, my life. And you’re not here feeling slightly uncomfortable, put out or disgusted – You are here with joy. Rejoicing over me with gladness, quieting me lovingly and loudly exulting over me ~ Why?

Because You are mighty to save

You look on me and see Jesus

You dwell with me as with your Son

You have changed me so that your glory is revealed and you rejoice

There isn’t annoyance, no standard to meet for Christ met that on the cross. I am yours and You rejoice

I am justified by Your grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus   ~Rom. 3:24

But I interpret so much of life through the veil of performance forgetting that You tore the veil! So I can fill with fear, dread, fatigue, defeat, disappointment and then assign to You anger, frustration, impatience, wrath, disgust, or apathy towards me because of my performance.

My hands will grow weak, hang limp – I will falter, stumble or stagnate. This can be in the big stuff or little things – I’ve noticed the days I don’t want to “do” are often the days of discouragement and defeat.

But I have forgotten the Gospel!

Why is it so easy to forget?

Galatians 5:4, 25 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery… If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

The Gospel is my only filter, the only lens through which to view my day. Only then can I understand His response to me is really His response to Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and I am new. The sin debt is paid. His wrath is removed.

He is in my midst

He rejoices over me with gladness – He is glad when I cry out to Him and seek His wisdom. He welcomes my needs and fears.

He quiets me with His love – He stills and calms me like a mother with an infant can soothe the tears. He quiets me – His love is so placating, so consuming, and so steadfast – It doesn’t ebb and flow.

He exults over me with loud singing. This verb exult has implications of dancing even! His joy stems from His grace – To know the Gospel, to know the richness and vastness of God’s grace for the believer – He never wavers from joy.

The threshing floor

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” ~Matthew 3:12

The threshing floor. It’s where I am, and I often do not want to be there. And yet it is where He is most glorious, most gracious and where I see Him at work in me, shaping and refining me.

I will never forget the teaching on the threshing floor by Ken Jenkins. I sat in the auditorium, and it was almost as if I could hear a thud, the sudden awareness that this picture was significant for my walk with the Lord. You see a threshing floor is what the ancient farmers used to separate wheat from chaff. The floor is a smooth, flat surface where the harvest would be spread over the floor. Cattle/oxen would be led over it, to crush and break the sheaves, and then sticks would be used to break sheaves and begin to separate the grain from the stalks. Then winnowing occurs where the grain is separated from the chaff ( the husks that cover each piece of grain) by tossing it all into the air so that chaff is blown away. All for the goal of separating the waste from the wheat and then the wheat is scooped up and filtered through a sieve to remove any last bits of chaff or undesired products.

Motherhood and marriage have been two threshing floors in my life. Both places demand more relationally of me than I am capable of giving by myself. Never have I seen more on display my selfishness, ugliness, rudeness, impatience, hate, and pride to name a few. And I desire to be so different than that!

God has used many moments to lay me down on the threshing floor and begin the painful process of removing the stalks that plant me in places I should never be and prying loose all the protective, hardened coverings around my heart. He desires to separate me from the sin that entangles me, peeling away the faulty thought processes that are self focused, self protective, self loving. He wants me as a mother to be rooted deep in His Word, not rooted in the thoughts/beliefs offered in the world, in order to be his ambassador, speaking on His behalf to these children He has given me that they may know the Gospel and so be changed.

The separation from my flesh is painful, the husks are so tight. But the thresher is patient, committed and lovingly tenacious.


Winnowing feels out of control, often like I will be blown completely away. You see the chaff is light and easily blows away in the wind, but the grain is heavy, weighty and will fall back down to the threshing floor. But there are so many times where I feel like all of me will blow away, so overwhelmed in the vast amounts of shell that covers my heart – the impatience with children, desire for alone time, fatigue with the mundane of motherhood, an urge to escape if just for a moment either into a book, a tv show, or my phone, the pride that prevents humility, the fear of what I cannot control.

For this picture to be true of my life, first and foremost I need to understand the Gospel. It is imperative. The Gospel simply is this: There is a God who is over all things and He created man in his image. But man has “sinned and fell short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) and “all both Jews and Greeks, are under sin. None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God.” (Rom. 3:9-10) In our sin position we are enslaved to sin and destined for death, eternal separation from God. Jesus, God’s son, came while we were still sinners and died for us (Rom. 5:8) and His death substituted for our death, that we may be “set free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:1, 6:6-7). And our response stops this from being just a great story for we are now called sons of God, part of His family (Rom. 8:14-16) and He engages in the process to make us more like Him in order to glorify His name. This is where the threshing and winnowing begin, the sanctifying that stretches and hurts at times but fashions a useful harvest.

So I want to see all of my life through the lens of threshing – all of the good and bad moments with my kids are opportunities for God to undo a little more of the hard, binding shell or blow away more residue to expose His work in me. He never stops seeking the harvest in me that He may be glorified. He never withholds His grace and His care from me as He works to refine me. All of my sin is met with all of His abounding grace.


“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!” ~Psalm 111:10

We are raising, engaging, and actively discipling 4 teenagers currently in our home. This is such a sweet season full of laughter and craziness. I so thoroughly enjoy being with my teens, listening to their hearts, hearing their adventures, and learning more about them. But it is also filled with raw emotions – so many nights with the Lord pleading on their behalf that they will grow in their love for the Lord, that they will seek Him with all their heart, and that they will choose Him over all the distractions and temptations of this world.

Many friends ask me how we engage our kids in the process of discipline as they mature into their teens. I must say first that we don’t have a method that has been proven, we don’t have a magical 1,2,3 process that works for each kid in a month. But we have the Master, the source of all wisdom who is the perfect Parent. He must be all we need in this. And we certainly don’t have perfect kids – there have been many moments when I have reeled from choices they have made.

But as our children have grown into the early teen years, discipline has had to change. No longer is it appropriate to just say “No” as it was in the early years or even give a brief reason why for your answer. These are the years of questioning, of debate, of wrestling. Someone once shared with me that as infants and young children our little ones allow us to hold their hearts, and we have the amazing opportunity to caress and care for them. But as our children mature they naturally begin to pull their heart back and decide who will hold their heart.

And I still want to be the one they choose.

Somewhere between 8-12 years, my kids have all begun that painful pulling away from the sweet surrender of childhood where mommy is the best ever to a questioning and critical eye of mom. And finally in the teen years, they can see most of my faults, shortcomings, and complete uncoolness. So for them to expose their hearts now is great vulnerability and yet so necessary in order to be a voice that can speak over the voice of the world and speak Truth into their lives at a time when the decisions they make are big.

So how do I do that? How do I win the right to still hold their heart? I don’t know, I think many times I have had them take their hurt heart away from me because I have mishandled it. I have wounded them with harsh words or criticism. But I can testify to the healing that comes with repentance, with apology and humility, when I come to them, owning my sin and seeking their forgiveness.

When we consider the goal with our children, what we want for them long term, I know my heart’s desire is that Christ would dwell in their hearts through faith. So we have begun to convert the conversation from a dictation of behavior to a conversation about wisdom with our teenagers. Challenging them to line up what they desire to do or have with the wisdom of God and His word independent of me has been key to their growth. My youth pastor used to say a phrase “There’s good and there’s bad but that’s not our cue but rather what is the wise thing to do.” And that phrase lives in our home. The conversation around decisions, whether big or small, has to become centered on the question, “what is the wise thing for you to do according to God’s word?” Often our kids want us to make the decision for them or they don’t want any limitations placed on them, and many times I have wanted to just make the choice for them because it was obvious to me what was wise to do! But that never teaches them to engage with God and pursue wisdom for themselves.

To challenge our teens to pursue the wisdom of God — that is our goal. To line up their lives with what God says in His word takes away any arguments they may make regarding our invalid opinions and instead puts them in front of God himself and His Word. Then they need to make decisions about who they will follow in that moment.

Wisdom takes practice, it takes seeking, it isn’t natural to us. Proverbs 2 is a great passage that shows the blessings for the wise ~ the ones who choose to pursue wisdom and incline their heart to Him.

So as they move into life, my role as protector changes to intercessor and encourager asking, “What is the wise thing to do?”

3 ways

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.~1 Thess. 5:14

My children attend an intense grammar course as part of their homeschooling curriculum in which we (the parent learns along with the child in class) parse sentences and learn not only the diagramming but also the purposes, tenses, forms, etc for each word. This Quid et Quo that we do with each sentence teaches the child to break a sentence down into what is being said and why.  This verse from Paul is a great verse to study  because I believe this verse speaks directly to me as a mom. Paul is teaching the believers in Thessalonica and giving his last instructions to them regarding how they are to engage with others in the church.

So I wrote something for this verse that has been tripping around in my brain for a few days, a way to analyze it and see the truths, and I’m not sure it makes sense to anyone but me. It’s how I think a lot of time as I approach the Word of God – look at it at face value first – what grammar is used, what tenses, forms do the verbs take, where are the pauses and what conjunctions or modifiers are present? Look at it in context of the passage. And then dwell in the truths offered there, listening and inspecting my own life to see where I am in comparison to the truth.

Paul’s purpose clearly is the imperative or command in a declarative sentence. Three types of people, so in my world three types of children, receive the action of the verbs – “Admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak” but the final command “Be patient with them all” is a command with a linking verb thus linking me with patience as a description of me.

The first command is admonish the idle: looking in other translations, the words disruptive, lazy, unruly, irresponsible, undisciplined or wrongdoers appear in place of idle. And the verb may change in different translations to warn, rebuke, instruct. A lot of my day consists of this action but isn’t it good to know this was an instruction for the church as a whole as well! We all struggle with idleness, and in childhood it must be trained and shaped. This is the primary disciplinary area of our children. So I need to be careful that what is actually going on with my child falls into this category before I choose rebuke or instruction. But I also need to understand that warnings and rebuke are required here.

The second command encourage the fainthearted: the disheartened, timid, feebleminded, discouraged, or feeble souls are to be comforted or cheered up. Strong’s concordance defines the Greek word here as as undeveloped soul, lacking in quality. We have been entrusted with the amazing job of coming alongside these undeveloped souls and encouraging them. Our children can be easily discouraged, scared, worried, full of fear, or lacking in character so that they will change/conform to please others. A lot of my children’s behaviors stem from some form of immaturity in their soul. And my job is to ENCOURAGE — to give support, confidence or hope; to help or stimulate to develop; to give support of advice so that they will do or continue to do.

Thirdly help the weak: the weak or the infirm are the only two words used as the direct object in any translation; the verb help changes to support, sustain, help, bear the burdens, take tender care. When I looked this word weak up in the Greek, the word Paul uses is asthenon meaning without strength, weak. This Greek word only occurs here and in Romans 5:6 “For while we were still weak/without strength, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.” Our children just like us are powerless to save themselves. They are weak spiritually. But He is strong. And my role is to help or support them as they hear the Gospel, to bear their burdens before the throne (be a warrior for your children in prayer), and to take tender care of their hearts that they will be fertile ground to understand their need for a Savior.

So God has been challenging me to pause before I react, to be purposeful in my actions, and to seek Him to understand which adjective describes my child in the moment. When I see my children more with spiritual eyes, His patience will also flow. I need to train myself to turn first to Him, both to have the wisdom to know what to do and the patience needed.

In the moments of my day with my kids, can I pause and categorize them? And doesn’t that then point me with purpose to the verb and therefore the action I need to take? The love response of patience that undergirds the action will display Christ’s love to that child. And often this pause can put me in check, helping me respond with the Holy Spirit’s help rather than my own reaction.