Lies of Motherhood – You need to be perfect

The lie of perfectionism in motherhood can trap you and me. In this series we have been studying how the Gospel combats and defeats the lies that threaten to bind us or enslave us. Most of us would probably argue that we do not believe this lie, that we know we cannot be perfect mothers. There is no perfect mother we may confidently declare. We may even reject the struggle against this lie and know we cannot ever measure up to the perfect standard for motherhood.

Whatever the picture of motherhood looks like for you may be different than what it looks like to me. And while the perfect standard of motherhood may be something you say is elusive or unattainable, we still chase it and allow its measurements to find us falling woefully short.

Identify the lie

We can see our failings, point out our flaws, and roll our eyes at the ways we fall short. “I’m just unorganized, I’m very structured and rigid, I struggle with being patient, I’m not the ______________ “fill in the blank. But we believe we fall short of something. Unbidden within our hearts is the knowledge that we do not meet all the standards across the board. An elusive norm exists that is the measure of a good mother, and everything else ultimately falls short of this benchmark.

This lie captures us quickly with that new baby and then burrows underground, holding court deep in our hearts. It quietly mounts a savage attack with whispers of how you and I could be better, reminds us of everytime we miss the mark, every moment we lose our temper, every time we forget something important, every way we are just learning. You and I must be able to identify the lies being spoken in our mind and in our culture, especially the ones we believe and embrace.

Combat the Lie with the truth

The truth is this: You are a forgiven mother. Just as every other part of your identity is wrapped in Jesus Christ as a believer, so is your motherhood.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight.

Ephesians 1:7

His lavish grace and the forgiveness of all our sin overflows. It does not merely fill but overflows with all wisdom and insight. His grace is lavish for us, without limit, unending. His forgiveness is complete.

In motherhood the hardest thing to reconcile, to lay down is when I sin against a child. I have a confession: my tongue can stir up division and wound so quickly. I have also learned that my children can hurt or offend me. Early on I believed that I was impervious to their attacks, but as my children have matured, so has their ability to wound as well. Perhaps I am harsh, rude, selfish, “over it,” whatever my attitude – I wound a little heart or speak terribly to a teenager.

Gripped with conviction, I seek to confess and repent both to my child and to God. But standing in the fullness of forgiveness is hard when the lie creeps in. “You should be better than this, you always mess up this way, you never change, this is failure.” In those moments of whispered lies that seek to compare me to a standard, I must cling to the banner of the One who says I am complete in Him.

Standing in the fullness of forgiveness is hard when the lie creeps in.

Understanding the power of the Gospel begins to set me free and will set you free from the lie of perfectionism in motherhood and every other role we have. The Gospel clearly defines you and me as lost, trapped in our sinful ways (which includes a sharp tongue), dead and hopeless. But God who is rich in mercy, because of his great love for you and for me, even when you and I were as wicked as we could possibly be with our children, made us alive with Christ. (Ephesians 2:10) You and I have been saved by grace when we place our faith in Jesus as the only way to be changed and made new, in every part of our lives, including motherhood.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:13-14

The truth becomes my message

We now live in a completely different kingdom! No more living as dead, darkness bound by our sins. In the kingdom of Christ we stand redeemed!

We now live as redeemed children of God, wholly loved and accepted. https://www.instagram.com/bethanykimsey/

Bought and paid for, lavishly loved, I am free to extend grace and mercy to my children in their own sin. Grace does NOT overlook sin, ignore it, or allow it to continue – NO – grace meets sin with the solution, Jesus Christ. Grace faces the flesh and extends living hope into the space of death. As mothers we are called to hold to His truth, extend the grace and mercy that has redeemed us, and point to Jesus for our children.

Lies of Motherhood – You are alone

One lie of motherhood is the whisper that you are alone. How we meet that lie is critical – we can turn to Christ or fill our lives with poor substitutes.

Loneliness opens a chasm with us, a quiet void that can grow pulling within itself our confidence, our joy, our peace, our contentment. We long to fill it and to feel connected. We seek to feel treasured, valued and deeply related to others. Motherhood can move this void to the forefront of our heart and mind in so many ways. The lie begins to whisper that you and I are alone in motherhood.

The lie is whispered in the quiet moments, “You are all alone in this.” It thunders in the chaotic toddler years, “No one else is living through what you are. Even your husband doesn’t experience this like you do.” Echoing off of every teenage interaction is the belief that you are the only one dealing with the rebellious or withdrawn child. You may be a single mother, wishing desperately for someone to share the load, believing that no one ever will. Unbidden, the lie creeps into your thoughts that no one really knows you, your day, and you have no true friends walking the same path or in the same stage. Perhaps the lie speaks to the fear that if anyone really knew you with your children, they wouldn’t like you so isolation is better.

So I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.

Joshua 1:5

The ultimate lie is: You are all alone. No one truly sees you or walks with you in this journey of life. And the emptiness within your soul opens. Immediately thoughts leap to ways to fill the void and soothe the aching. Find girlfriends to support, give the kids to your husband for the day that he would finally understand, or buy that wine, those shoes, that purse, whatever in the moment will dampen those feelings and fill you. Do it because you deserve it, you are rocking this motherhood life alone juggling work, baby, house, food, laundry – no one does it like you and you deserve to feel better.

But we must cling to the truth and expunge the lie. You are not alone.

Keep your life free from love of money and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

Hebrews 13:5-6

I will never leave you

In Hebrews 13, the author is referencing back to Joshua 1:5 when Moses told Joshua that God would never leave or forsake him as he entered the Promised Land. Joshua was assuming leadership of the Israelites, and the path to victory would be arduous, full of battles, unknowns, fears, and would require trust and allegiance to God alone to ensure victory. And Hebrews brings this truth into the life of the believers.

To leave in Greek means “to slacken a grip; to desert.” His grip on me, the steadying of my foot, the assuredness of His presence doesn’t slacken, never loosens, and maintains His secure grasp. You and I are held as we walk out motherhood and all other life journeys just like Christ secured Peter as they walked on the water. The waves cannot envelope the believer whose hand is gripped by the Almighty.

Never will I forsake you

To forsake means “to leave behind.” The darkest parts of my heart, the fears and ideas that lurk in me that declare that no one should see – He sees and does NOT turn away. In every other relationship here on this earth, we hide and cover some parts of our darkened hearts, knowing inherently that exposing those places may lead to rejection. The truth is no matter how well anyone loves you, he or she will never fully know you or meet your needs. But God does. Sit a moment in worship there. My feeble attempts at relationship are met with the perfect flood of relationship. He never leaves me in a position of lack, whether it is lack of peace, joy, contentment, strength, power, love. He never leaves.

The desertion we experience, however desperate or empty we feel, is not because God has withdrawn Himself from you and me. As saved, redeemed children washed in His Son’s blood and made new, we are sealed with His presence, His Holy Spirit. But in my own experience I am so capable of walking away from the truth He offers and rushing to any tangible comfort to slake the thirst for companionship. When any other person or activity usurps my walk with Him, I will absolutely feel lonely and my ears will once again begin to hear the steady drumbeat of isolation.

The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear

When I replace the lie that I am all alone with the Truth that He is on my side as my Helper, I call on Him. He answers me and sets me free. We are created with a desperate need to walk with someone, to link arms and do this really hard job in relationship. God freely offers Himself, His grace filled presence to you and me!

The open declaration that He is my Helper comes straight out of Psalm 118. I encourage you to read this beautiful passage of worship and praise to the One who loves you and me steadfastly and responds to us. Worship becomes the song of a heart tied tightly to God. Grace becomes our melody. No longer should I dance to the song of this world that encourages me to placate my fears with anything other than Christ alone. In Christ I have everything for I have Him.

He is my Helper. Today in the laundry, cooking, cleaning, He is beside me in companionship. In the fighting and whining, He stands in solidarity with me, offering strength and wisdom. In the fear and discouragement, He offers His true hope and joy where I can trust. In the clamor of a thousand voices, He offers His peace to still my heart and mind and control my tongue. He never leaves. You and I can worship and walk fully in His presence. I am not alone. You are not alone when Jesus is your Redeemer.

God knew

During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

Exodus 2:23-25

Have you ever been in another room in the house but all of a sudden you hear the cries and screams of one of your children echo through the halls? In an instant you know. You know something has gone horribly wrong, the quiet of your children in the moments before the scream was really the “danger quiet” – that quiet of children doing things they know are wrong, so they do them very quietly to see if they can avoid getting caught. Until someone gets hurt. Then almost as if all these missing puzzle pieces come shuffling into place, I can know every part of the activity I was previously missing as I am racing towards the injured. My mother’s heart attends to the cries of my children. I can know by a look on their face or a slight whimper that something is not right, and I can tell by their cry whether they are hurt a little or a lot. I have studied and learned my children because they are mine. 

‭‭Exodus relays the story of the Israelites in captivity in Egypt. Slavery, loss, suffering, and death had become their way of life. The people of Israel groaned and cried out for help; their cry for rescue came up to God. God heard their cries. And then look in this passage: God remembered His covenant, He saw, and God knew.

He intimately knows your hurt, your need, your desire and your hope. Easily I forget in the living out of hard spaces. I begin to doubt that He knows His plan, His way for His glory. Just like with his plan for the Israelites rescue, He is at work in you and me.

God heard their groaning

God hears our cries. He heard the Hebrews’ groanings of fear, worry, confusion, and heartache. They had come to Egypt as welcomed guests many years ago, but over the years their growth and prosperity threatened the king of Egypt. In response Pharaoh had slaughtered a generation of their boys and ruthlessly demanded the people of Israel work as slaves.

He hears the murmurs of our hearts, the yearnings of our souls, and He listens. Over and over we see God listening to the cries of his people. Psalm 18:6 says, “In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.” How beautiful to know that God hears our voices and our cries!

God remembered his covenant

As the people are crying out, desperate for Him, His help and His intervention, God remembers His covenant promise. He does not remember their good acts, their obedience, their anything. He remembers His promise to Abraham.

His faithful word held all the merit that was needed. The promise then was to a people set apart who were offered relationship and protection from God.

God established a new covenant through His son Jesus Christ. Jesus settled the issue of payment for our sin once and for all with His death on the cross and defeated death for eternity through His resurrection. Hebrews 8:6 declares, “But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.” The new covenant offered through Jesus Christ sets you and me apart, offers us true relationship with Him, and changes who we are.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2:9-10

This is the Gospel story. Thankfully our God recalls not our worthiness nor our contributions, but He looks at His Son. He looks at His hand outstretched, His own blood shed, His own holiness and offers us rescue.

God saw the people

God saw them. El Roi, the God who sees, never takes His eyes off of you and me. He looks at us, always knowing and always seeing. Over and over the Bible declares God’s watchfulness and care over His people. Genesis 16:13 declares, “You are a God of seeing.” Seeing my trouble, He cares. As a mother I fail to see alot of what my children do until it is too late, until the injury has happened, but God is not like me. He has never been unaware of what His children are doing. He never has to have explanations or summaries to catch Him up.

and God knew

God fully knows all of our suffering. Psalm 56:8 recounts, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” So our Father who gathers our tears in a bottle will surely care for each cause of those tears. He hears our prayers and sees our tears (2 Kings 20:5 & Psalm 18:6), and He draws near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed (Psalm 34:16). Lovingly He inclines his ear to us, hearing our cries for mercy (Psalm 116:1-2.) We are His treasure, highly valued and cared for (Matthew 10:30-31.) Furthermore He has given us the Holy Spirit who helps in our weaknesses when we don’t know what to pray or how to cry out. The Spirit intercedes for you and me with groanings before the Father according to His will (Romans 8:26-27). You are highly valued by the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God who created all things and set all things in motion. And He knows all of His plan for you: from redemption to final glory, He is fully engaged, fully in control, fully working for His glory and your ultimate good.

The beauty of the Gospel is that His knowledge walks hand in hand with His covenant redemption offered through Jesus Christ. He knew His plan for our spiritual rescue from the beginning of time, and He knows His plan for your rescue right here in the midst of the pain, confusion, worry, or doubt you may be experiencing today. You are His.

Parenting children with hope & peace

What do you do when parenting your children seems next to impossible? Settling my heart in truth becomes vital. The Gospel holds my peace and hope.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Squabbling, fussing, arguing, complaining, and the dreaded whining are all common symptoms in my family on this parenting journey! And truthfully, I can do it all also! I often see an outbreak with a transition, busyness in our schedule, at the beginning of a vacation, or in stressful seasons of life. My children will fuss, demand their way, complain and as they grow into their teen years, they may seek to avoid or isolate.  Negative engagements are a guarantee, and if I don’t see them for their purpose, I miss something beautiful.

Unfortunately, I often get this perspective very wrong. In my selfishness, I want peace, quiet, ease, and happiness for all. I don’t want squabbles, whining, etc. so I will tend to shut it down quickly with verbal discipline.

Searching out the heart purpose behind a fussy child is the more significant work ~ one of His designs of family life. When I begin to embrace the heart pursuit God desires for each of my children, when I begin to filter their actions through the sieve of Gospel truth, then grace can grow within me for them in the moments of discipline. My heart undergoes a transformation before I ever engage in shepherding theirs. Prior to ever stepping into the bathroom where my child sits, I need to spend a few moments with Him. I need to seek what lies may be at the root of the behavior, determine what flesh is on display, and see both my child and the behavior the way God does.

And often before I can even engage in prayer over my child, I need to spend a few moments looking at the lies, flesh, or sin that welled up in me as all this erupted in my home. That’s just the truth. Most sin sparks sin in others. We have a saying in our home that sin is contagious and can make everyone sick within minutes! So whether the sin is divisiveness, selfishness, fear, worry, anger, pride, you name it, other people will soon be exhibiting symptoms in reaction to the initial sinner. We can all resent the mess out of this contagion, or we can use these moments to declare God’s power, His victory, and His salvation over our desperate need that is on display.

Let’s be warriors for truth! Let’s get down into the midst of the sin and call it out for what it is, not from pride or disgust, No! but from a place of grace and mercy that we have received and we now offer to the sinner in our midst. Let’s be more like Christ was with the adulterous woman or the woman who touched his coat – let’s explore the heart deep within and tend to the wounds, the lies, the fears and apply the salve of great grace, deep love, and complete truth that only Jesus offers through His death and resurrection. Let’s speak the Gospel to our children in ways that make it the most desirable, the most welcoming, the most trustworthy space for them to occupy.

We can create environments where Jesus can shine in all His glory because we are pointing to Him. As we set our own hearts on His truth, we confess our own need for Him as we fail.  We assure our children of God’s steadfast love when we resolutely love them despite their failings, despite their sin, despite their flesh. But just like God does not leave us in a space of unrighteousness but rather calls us out to walk with Him in truth and holiness, we also need to be faithful to truth and holiness. Calling sin a sin is not condemnation, not when my heart is humble to the truth that I too struggle with sin.

Parenting with purpose takes time.

And sometimes it feels like all I do is move from one sin moment to another when every child needs special touches and reminders of God’s grace in the face of great sin. But I cling to the truth that these days are the most valuable for the Kingdom. These moments proclaim to the next generation the goodness of our God. Only when sin bursts forth do we see our great need for a Savior. Only when pride declares a godlike desire for worship can we point to the only One worthy of our praise and honor.

These are the days when the worship music plays at full volume and we dance in the unstoppable grace of a God who showers us with love, patience, truth, and mercy.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ~Philippians 1:9-11

practical thoughts about discipline

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds. ~ Jeremiah 17:9-10

 

There have been SO many times in the Kimsey household where I have had children in every bathroom in our house and some more on their beds, thinking about what they did that contributed to the great conflagration that just occurred!   It only takes a little spark to begin to fuel an explosion between multiple factions and next thing I know, everyone is mad, taking sides, screeching and screaming!

Before I interact with any of them, I seek to set my own heart firmly in the truth of the Gospel. I want to begin with seeking out my own heart because more than likely I have been angered, short-tempered, or in some way put out by the disobedience, fighting, or whatever precipitated this time. The same truths for them apply to me. So I want to take a few minutes with Jesus and set my heart on Him, on the truth of my sin, on His love, on His great mercy and His pursuing grace.

I have found that removing children to quiet places works well. In our home, we use the bathrooms most often simply because there is not much in the bathroom to distract my child from the primary goal of this quiet time. I want to create quiet space for my child to begin to hear from the Holy Spirit about why he or she is struggling in relationship with the others in the family. This removal is not a timeout or a timed interval at all; rather, it is a space where emotions can calm down, their minds can stop racing, and their hearts can be tended to.

Can I encourage you to remember all the truths of the Gospel when parenting and disciplining your children? Romans 1:16 resonates in discipline moments, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, When I keep this before me, I have greater empathy and patience for my children; when I just want good behavior, I am short tempered and become a part of the problem. Your children are believing the same basic lies that have motivated all sin from the beginning of time – whether the lies are that they should be in control which promotes disobedience and rebellion, whether the lies are they are most important which leads to selfishness and cruelty, or some other lie that declares what they are worshiping. Their heart will deceive them, leading them away from the truth of God and towards the pursuit of loving themselves first. They will naturally seek their own good, their own control, their own protection. They will defend their own “wisdom” despite its futility. When we understand the heart of man, we can understand and not be surprised or offended by their behavior. Our goal is not to stop the heart of flesh. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our goal is to point to the Savior and illuminate their fierce need for Him.

So my bathroom conversations with my lost children as well as my saved children run on parallel tracks, both pointing to Christ. To my saved child, the goal of the conversation is to help them honestly look at their part, to guide them through what was motivating them and what lie they chased, and re-establish with them the truths of who they are because of Jesus Christ and what God is at work doing within them. To my lost child, it is my opportunity to point out their need for the salvation Jesus offers and offer hope to them.

Bathroom discipline often looks practically like this – I sit down, bringing myself down to their eye level and I ask them to stand in front of me with their hands on my knees. Really this just stills their little body and helps them focus their eyes on mine. I want them to hear me speak, which means emotions need to calm if they are upset, focus needs to come, and bodies need to quiet. I try to speak very softly, asking questions that purpose to lead them into a thoughtful examination of themselves, even at the little ages of 2 & 3. Questions like, “Why are you in here?” or “Tell me what happened that made you have to come in here?” let me know what they understand about what has happened. Conversations are the goal initially. I want to hear their heart, both to see what work the Spirit is already doing as well as to see what they may be believing that is not true. Listening intently and seeking to make sure that I have even gotten the complete picture of what offenses took place are very important tasks. Many times I have removed the loudest or the one with the most fingers pointing at them only to find that there are other guilty parties that need to be disciplined as well! 

One important truth that steadies my heart in the midst of the discouragement of everyday life with a bunch of sinners is that God pursues us continually. He does not cease. He is a God who values relationship, who declares His redeeming love through His Son, and who is at work transforming us from one degree to another. He does not get discouraged with my stubborn heart or sinful tendencies. He keeps on pursuing. And He is doing the same thing with each of your children and invites you to join Him in pursuit. What an honor!

I seek to chase the lies they are believing and introduce the truth God offers instead. God’s word holds the truth we need. To the one who is saved and walking in new life, this is encouraging; to the one who is lost, this is a holy invitation. Prayer covers the time with hugs and a final blessing is given as they walk back out the door.

The blessing launches them back. They more than likely need to go to the one(s) they have offended and apologize and own their wrongs. They have confessed their wrongs before God but now must confess again to their siblings or others. Just like Paul closed every letter with a blessing to the churches to launch them into the truths he had laid before them, I too want to bless my children. So I spend a few moments reminding them of my love for them and my belief that God is at work in them changing them to be more like Him (if they are saved) or calling them to know Him as their Savior (if they are lost). These are words of life that point to where God is working and moving in their hearts. I know God is working on you becoming a mighty peacemaker for Him (if they have been struggling with arguing) or I see the way God is changing your heart for others and making you a servant of others (if they are struggling with selfishness). Always point them to God’s work in their lives. This time of discipline is NOT your opinion or what makes your life easier today. This is God’s holy work, you are merely an ambassador for Him. Point to Him. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Easter Morning

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” ~Mark 16:1-3

In the quiet of the weekend, the wondering and weeping must have been so great. The counting down of hours until she could run to His tomb and finish preparing His body correctly for final burial weighed heavily on her heart. She owed Him so much, for He had freed her from the bondage of demons hell-bent on destroying her mind. As she neared the tomb with her friend Mary, her arms were full of what she needed to finish loving her Teacher, and her spirit lagged with the weight of grief and loss.

Glancing up towards her goal, Mary Magdalene’s heart thudded and her breath stopped. Terror mixed with anger coursed through her body at that moment. The stone was moved! The grave had already been opened! Seemingly dead guards littered the entrance. Running now with desperation towards the tomb, the women entered, frantic to find His body and ensure that it hadn’t been desecrated.

As she ran into the tomb, her eyes darted around taking in the sight of empty linen cloths, the folded face cloth, the empty tomb. Nothing made sense, and grief mixed with bile as she turned quickly to go tell the Simon Peter and John.

She returned to the tomb later, drawn to the last place Jesus had been. Desperate for answers, perhaps looking around for clues, her heart was clinging to hope that the body would reappear so that she could finish honoring Him. She peered in once more. Two men in white now occupied the tomb, sitting one at the head and one at the foot of where He had lain. Imagine her terror and outrage!

But what came next is the beauty of God’s grace and pursuit of us!

“He is not here, for He has risen, as He said.” The pronouncement catches her breath. Processing this truth, quietly weeping and turning to go home, she spies the gardener. He asks her why she is so full of grief. Perhaps wondering whether he knew the secret to where His body had been stowed, she poured out her heart, promising to care for the body if someone would just let her have it.  She was frantic, almost hysterical, sobbing the cries that catch in your throat and make it hard to breathe.

“Mary.”  What must that word have sounded like to her ears?  She knew immediately at that moment who this man was. Not only did she know Him, but she also began to worship Him. The understanding of all that had happened flashed through her mind, like pieces of a puzzle falling into place. She was given the great privilege of being the first witness of our risen Lord and the first messenger of the Good News.

“I have seen the Lord.”

She had followed him throughout His ministry, listening and gleaning truth from Him. No doubt she yearned to understand all He taught, and she accompanied Him all the way to the cross. We see her at the foot of His cross, grieving as she stayed with Him, refusing to run or hide, clearly aligning herself with this King of the Jews. By all her actions, we see a woman who knew Jesus was more than just a man, more than just a righteous teacher, yet not until the garden does the complete picture of Jesus become clear.

But He knew her. He knew her heart, how she would be processing all that had happened, and He pursues her. He walks straight up to Mary Magdalene and tends to her heart. And He pursues you and me as well. He knows our needs, the cries of our hearts, and seeks to show us the truth of walking with Him. He has conquered every heartache, every dark sin, every place of bondage and ache, and He calls your name in love.

Grace & Peace Multiply

May grace and peace be multiplied to you. ~ 1 Peter 1:2

Every day, it seems, is stuffed with activities, planning schedules, organizing of lives, never mind cooking, cleaning, laundry, mothering, and relating to my children and husband. I would love a day when I can wake up and not have countless tasks and events looming, requiring a Tetris like skill to make all of them fit together and actually get accomplished. Today, for instance, includes making 2 costumes, editing 4 research papers for different children’s end of the year projects or college essays, a dishwasher that has broken, 3 haircuts scheduled unfortunately for the same time across town, registrations for camp, homeschool tasks, a car tuneup for a trip, organizing movers, and staging our home for sale.

While my head swirled with a list of things to complete, my heart began to sing this morning as I studied 1 Peter. Grace and peace are multiplied to me. God does not merely add up grace, stacking a little more on top as we go through our day. He doesn’t add more peace as we start to waver in distraction or panic. Multiplication happens. The impressive truth about multiplication is that it isn’t merely repeated addition as we often teach 2nd graders. Addition only allows like terms to be added together to slowly grow. Multiplication allows the compounding of unlike terms with growth happening at an exponential rate.

Grace and peace together multiplied, is offered to me as His child. Four things are true of those who are saved in this verse: God foreknows them, the Spirit sanctifies them, they obey Jesus, and Jesus’ blood covers them.

God knows us, He pursues us, He calls us by name. Over and over in scripture, we see God seeking out His people. Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. (Is. 43:2) I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; (John 10:14-15) I will protect him, because he knows my name. (Psalm 91:14) I am chosen by Him, for a relationship with Him. Letting that truth sink into my day, how I perceive all parts of my day sets me free from the feelings and lies that I am all alone or abandoned.

The Spirit is sanctifying me. Oh! What a wonderful truth to embrace this morning! That God doesn’t turn away in anger or disgust for how I sinfully interact with my children or husband, for how I mismanage my time, or how I bow and worship at the idols in my heart brings great peace. He is at work in me. Sanctify means to set apart; to declare as holy and in this passage is the process of becoming holy. He is convicting and refining, transforming my thinking as He works to change me evermore every day into His image, making me more like Him. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18) He intercedes for us before the throne. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)

My relationship with God declares I am covered with Jesus’ blood for my salvation. His redeeming work of offering up his body as a sacrifice for my sins allows me entrance into the covenant of grace and forgiveness with God. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22b), and he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Heb. 9:26b). The obedience of Jesus creates the way for me to have a relationship with Him, and my obedience becomes the response of gratitude for cleansing by His blood. Since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,..let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,… and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. (Hebrews 10:19-24)

So grace and peace supernaturally, divinely multiply together, covering me today with a peace beyond understanding because I know the grace that extends over all of me. Peace floods me with the assurance that, despite my shortfalls today, my eternity is secure. Access to God is assured because of the grace given, and I can abide with Him today in all I do because He is committed to walking this day out with me. I can cry out to Him for time management – He cares! I can ask Him for kindness for wild or rebellious children – He provides! I can seek Him for wisdom – He listens! Grace and peace multiply and I can breathe. I can rest. I can linger in relationships rather than flit anxiously from task to task. I can exude these same blessings to my children in their hardest spaces, not because I am so amazing but because He is, and He has filled me.

strength & joy

And so from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. ~Colossians 1:9-12

I walk on a more unique path than some – my feet are in every area of mothering except fully adult children. I have infants, preschoolers, elementary and middle schoolers, teenagers and college kids. I joke that the babies get me up super early and my night owl teenagers want to talk only after 11:30 at night. But it really is true!

I long for the insight for the moments with each child, to be filled with His wisdom, His truth to flow from my lips to a child’s heart. To show them the faithfulness of Christ who always has a listening ear and steadfast love. But many times I fail or compromise. I justify my hard, selfish heart because I’m tired, or bad day, etc. I rationalize that I’ll do better tomorrow or grab them later today to address that heart issue they have. Sometimes I just want an escape.

But Paul prays for the church and for me in Colossians 1 that we would be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. The result will be a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, bearing fruit and increasing in the knowledge of God. Doesn’t that fill your heart with longing? I just want this more and more, and I pray this so much over my children. And then verse 11: May you be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. That is SO hard in motherhood!

Let’s be real – I might be strong, on a good day until lunch, but the wheels are going to come off the wagon because someone is picking on someone else, or someone is demanding or whining a lot today, or someone is just obstinate. But I assure you, the wheels will come off this wagon – I will lose it! It may be a “slow leak” day where I can keep most of it turned way down, or it may be a short fuse kind of day which is always a little scary for the little people! But apart from Christ, and seeking the strength of His power and his might, I will not be able to walk worthy of Him with my kids or in my marriage. I may be able to fool you out in public, but I will never fool my kids or my husband.

But Paul says that the strength comes from God’s glorious might – I don’t have to be strong, I have to be submitted. The verb be strengthened is a present participle verb implying an ongoing action. My strengthening is not one and done. He strengthens me moment by moment, day by day. His infusing of power flows from His might full of His glory. My choice is simply will I rely on Him? Will I turn to the fount of living water which flows and floods, or will I seek my own broken cistern as a source of power today?

And in the moments full of grief, pain, confusion, wonder, and uncertainty in parenting, will I seek Him? I love a quote from Maclaren, “Our sorrows make rents through which His strength flows.” Many moments in parenting are painful and uncertain, whether because a child suffers from an illness, makes decisions I know are unwise, or has circumstances that hurt their heart. My heart at times has wanted to rip apart in fear and grief, and in my flesh waves of confusion and discouragement flood my mind. But when I lift my eyes to the One who is my help, who loves my child more than I ever will, He provides the deepest source of strength and the calmest life-giving water to restore and fill me. His strength is made perfect in my weakness, and He commits fully to me.

Then His endurance for the long toddler/teenager day can go the distance. His patience comes flowing out of me in seasons of chaos and confusion. I rest with Him, in Him, on Him.

And His joy floods my soul.

Joy (xara, chara in the Greek) means grace recognized. Joy is not euphoria, bliss, or ecstasy the way our current culture uses the term. His joy in me centers on what He has done for me, rescuing me from the bondage of sin and death, walking me through each day in sanctifying commitment to me, and leading me ultimately to the great inheritance of life eternal with Him.  Recognizing grace, seeing His love, His work, and His plan despite my circumstances, settles my soul despite the hard, painful, demanding moments. Joy based in His Gospel becomes my bedrock.

So today, may we be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.

 

 

Am I deluded?

“that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.” ~ Col. 2:2-4

Walking with Jesus is hard. The onslaughts from the world, the enemy, and my own mind press in on me, blinding me from the One who holds all truth.

But I want to be the woman, the wife, the mother like Paul says – my heart encouraged in the tough stuff of life, because I have the assurance of the Gospel – that Christ died for me, to save me, redeem me, change me and make me like Him. He is committed to that process in me. He offers Himself fully to me – all His power, all His love, all His fruit working in me and through me. Scripture is replete with who we are as His redeemed, and we need to KNOW these truths because full assurance of understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery (Jesus Christ) is the only way to combat sin and flesh.

I confess, sometimes I am easily deluded with plausible arguments. If they weren’t plausible, they wouldn’t work. I would be able to spot them. The enemy is crafty. He knows the lies I can identify as lies and therefore reject and the ones I will embrace as truth. Other translations refer to plausible arguments as smooth rhetoric, enticing words, fancy talk, or persuasive speech. The concern Paul had for the believers at Colosse centered on listening to people teach about culturally “good” and popular things, not gospel truths.

While I may not relate to the specifics of Paul’s day, the same lies are still at the root today. There is still the draw for religion and asceticism for comparison’s sake – the need to measure holiness on behavior and not the heart. In a book my kids and I have been reading for ancient history, the author Genevieve Foster presents the word RELIGIO in Latin which means to bind fast. She defines religion in ancient times as “Man’s desire and effort to bind himself fast and secure to the Great Spirit of the Universe.”  As I read this, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I don’t have to bind myself. My efforts are not required. For while I was a sinner, Christ died for me. I have been brought near by the blood of Christ and now am in Christ Jesus, sealed with the Spirit until His return. He is my Peace – no strivings, no performance needed.

The power of self, of believing that I can solve my own problems apart from God, continues to dominate cultural conversations. Self improvement books abound with concepts of self love and self care, but God calls me to Himself, not to my own self awareness. In a posture of rest and abiding in His truth, I receive His strength and power in order to walk out all that He has laid before me for each day. In Christ I can rest. His rest will tend my soul and calm my anxious thoughts. His peace goes beyond my understanding, beyond my circumstances, and becomes the bedrock of my heart.

When my feelings are elevated to wisdom and outrank what the Bible says, then truth can be different for you and for me. It can flex depending on my circumstances, the attitudes of the time, or what seems most important. Christ therefore can be a part of my belief system but not be preeminent. The depreciation of Christ from central in my relationship with God to one of many options and thus irrelevant has been one of the enemy’s chief tactics since the beginning.

Open my eyes, that I may see. Give me discernment to see where I embrace self actualization, performance, or compromise truth with humanistic thought.  Show me the idols that capture my attention and bind my heart. Help me to see the lies that surround me, and equip me to stand in the truth instead. And as I walk with You, let me rest in the security of  redemption.

More than anything, I want to grow as a woman rescued from the darkness of sin to know His wisdom and understanding; and from that growth, life will spring, walking with the Spirit rich in fruit, constantly weighing everything against the Gospel and scripture.

 He is the way, and the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father any other way. In Christ is every spiritual blessing, redemption and forgiveness lavished with grace, and an inheritance sealed. Grow me deeper in understanding and knowing You, Jesus.

Before the throne

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help of time of need. ~ Hebrews 4:14-16

 

The throne room is a glorious place. Scripture over and over declares the glory that surrounds our God. The magnificence of who He is dashes all self promotion, destroys all self confidence, resulting in prostrate pronouncements of unworthiness before Him in his glory and holiness. It is the place of judgment as David discovers in Psalm 73.

Yet the author of Hebrews urges us to approach the throne with confidence so that we will receive mercy and find grace in our time of need.

The phrase with confidence or boldly in other translations means with loud exclamations, frank confidence – speaking everything, not withholding for fear of reprisal or judgment, a cheerful courage. My children are stunning examples of the boldness God encourages me to have as I approach Him. My 3 year old will come hurtling through the house, yelling my name over and over, pulling at my sleeve to come and see, knowing I will listen. He confidently, naturally assumes that whatever is important to him in the moment is therefore important to me. My older children as well have confidence that their thoughts or needs will be met with a welcoming ear. While it mildly aggravates me to be in one discussion with a child only to have him or her suddenly request something completely off topic, they do not hesitate. Out comes their need, their thought.

Their confidence stems from their identity. They belong. They have welcome, intimate relationship with me because they are mine.

I am often timid or minimalistic in my prayers, perhaps because I worry about the answer, worry that I won’t be pleasing enough for Him, worry that I should handle this one differently or desire differently. Sometimes I feel like the laundry list of requests is too much, that I should pick the top three and no more. Sometimes I wonder if He really wants to hear yet again about my heartache or discontent. I am apologetic, not worshipful, timid and concerned of His reaction to me rather than expectant and eager. When I enter the throne room with my gaze on myself, I am worshiping, but not my Savior. My prayers are not the powerful ones of a righteous woman, they are not deeply rooted in the name of Jesus, no, they are the whisperings of a self focused, self righteous performer who hopes it is enough. Clearly I have a deeply rooted misunderstanding of the Gospel that displays itself in my prayer life.

Standing in front of His throne is holy ground, but also a welcoming place because of Jesus Christ. We have the great high priest, Jesus, the Son of God, who has gone before us.  Performance isn’t needed or desired. Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for your sin and mine paid our sin debt and placated the wrath of God that separated us from relationship with God. I hold fast to my confession – nothing I have done has ever merited my welcomed position before His throne, but all that Jesus has accomplished atones for my sinful state and covers me with His righteousness. My position is now for every moment of my life securely before the throne. He determines my identity.

His throne room is a becoming place, a place where my heart and my desires are changed and made more like Him. He is well acquainted with my heart and yours. Scripture tells us that He searches our hearts and knows our minds (Jeremiah 17:10). He knows our weaknesses and temptations, yet He loves us. Committed to refining me, He works patiently and purposely, often exposing the doubts or fears as He realigns my heart in areas or grows my faith in spaces I deemed impossible. With confidence I can present my shortcomings as a mother, wrestle with my feelings of inadequacy or discontent, seek help with requests big and small, hide my wounded heart inside His tower of strength, and display any other need or worry I may have. He is interested in them all. But a curious thing happens when I hold fast to my confession, when I center my identity on Jesus who made me righteous and welcome before the throne of grace ~ I worship Him. The wreckage of my life can come spilling out and lay exposed there on the floor, but He becomes all I see. I lay down pretense and pride and begin to abide.

The grace and the mercy I desperately need for whatever I face are offered by the King of Kings. He invites us to come and pour out our hearts to Him.