We had a good couple of days. My Andy, though sick - and I really and truly hate that - was a bit more subdued than usual. If you know my Andy, you know usual is wild with a capital "W." And my sweet Lillian, well she's just super snotty and a little emotional about it. So, I was soaking in the sickie snuggles and being the good patient momma I'm supposed to be. But then, just when my patience is slightly thinner and I really am getting sleepy because 1.) I don't rest well when James is gone & 2.) I don't rest well when my babies are sick... My Andy decided it was time to get his energy and evidently his contrariness back today. TODAY. Not tomorrow when James will be here to share the load, but TODAY. And I tell you friends, there are times that I truly don't know how to do this parenting thing.
I said, "Yes" & he'd say, "no." I'd say, "be gentle" & then he's hitting his baby sister with a truck. I'd say, "It's time to start cleaning up" and sure enough I turn around to more toys out than before. It was just one of those days. I needed the agreeable, snuggly, sweet boy today and what I got was the high-energy, hard-headed, not-listening-to-a-word-his-momma-said boy instead. I don't know what to do on days like today. Time-out, spankings, taking toys away... that's what I feel like I do all day long to no avail... I feel as though I'm losing every battle and it drains every ounce of hope that I am raising up a boy to love the Lord and His people.
In a world where hopelessness is the norm and love is scarcely given without condition, I want our home to be different. I don't want my boy to think he has to be good to be loved and I don't want him to think there is no hope for him. So, how do you turn the feeling of failure, as a parent, into hope and erase the lies that are so carefully planted in your heart by the enemy? How do you remember that the war is already won when you're losing the battles? Or that His divine plan is to prosper my family and my children and not to harm them?
Today I not only lost battles, but I lost my composure. Yes, at around 6 o'clock this evening my son was yelling and crying from time-out on the couch and I too was crying. Not in the privacy of my room or in a corner where he could not see, but right there in front of him I cried big tears from my broken heart. Broken not because I expect him to be perfect, but because I want so badly to show him my love and he understand that it's not about getting everything he wants. Sometimes it is shown through a firm hand.... or the word "no." And when he cries from those big blue eyes it's as if they're as deep as the ocean and so is his sorrow.
While my tears were falling, I prayed for God to please help me. Not help me be patient. Not help with my words. Not help me with discipline. Just, "Help Me!" It was a cry of desperation to make this better. Somehow, someway, we could not end our day in this way.
And a still, small voice said, "Read him My word. Read him the Bible."
So I prayed again. "What do I read?" And He showed me- "[Jesus,] The Friend of Little Children."
(From Matthew 18, 19, Mark 10, Luke 18) We read it out of The Jesus Storybook Bible. Here are Sally Lloyd-Jones's beautiful words:
"Jesus' friends were arguing. Who was the most important helper in God's kingdom? They wanted to know.
"I am!" James said.
"No, you're not!" said Peter. "I am!"
"Nonsense," Matthew said. "I'm the cleverest!"
"No, you're not!"
"Yes, I am!"
"Yes!" "No!" "Am too!"
This silliness went on and on like that for some time. You see, Jesus' friends had started thinking they had to do something to make themselves special to Jesus - that if they were the cleverest or the nicest or something, Jesus would like them the best.
But they had forgotten something. Something God had been teaching his people all through the years: that no matter how clever you are, or how good you are, or how rich you are, or how nice you are, or how important you are - none of it makes any difference. Because God's love is a gift and, as anyone will tell you, the whole thing about a gift is, it's free. All you have to do is reach out your hands and take it.
So while Jesus' friends were arguing, some people who knew all about getting gifts - in fact, you might say they were gift-experts - had come to see Jesus. Who were they? They were little children.
Jesus' helpers tried to send them away. "Jesus doesn't have time for you!" they said. "He's too tired."
But they were wrong. Jesus always had time for children.
"Don't ever send them away!" Jesus said. "Bring the little ones to me."
Now, if you had been there, what do you think - would you have had to line up quietly to see Jesus? Do you think Jesus would have asked you how good you'd been before he'd give you a hug? Would you have had to be on your best behavior? And get dressed up? And not speak until spoken to?
Or ... would you have done just what these children did - run straight up to Jesus and let him pick you up in his arms and swing you and kiss you and hug you and then sit you on his lap and listen to your stories and your chats?
You see, children loved Jesus, and they knew they didn't need to do anything special for Jesus to love them. All they needed to do was to run into his arms. And so that's just what they did.
Well, after all the laughing and games, Jesus turned to his helpers and said, "No matter how big you grow, never grow up so much that you lose your child's heart: full of trust in God. Be like these children. They are the most important in my kingdom."
|Ring around the rosey... can't you see him? Loving them in their love language? Playing with them? Beautiful.|
Isn't that beautifully written? It's such a sweet echo of God's word. Now, Andy and I talked all the way through the story... the teacher in me, I suppose. We talk about some of the words... vocabulary can still be hard. And we talk about the illustrations... what do the people's faces say and such. We talked about the title - "The friend of little children." I asked Andy who little children were and he had to inform me that he was not a little children he was a BIG BOY... so we changed the title: "The friend of Big Boys." And we talked about presents and acted out taking a gift from someone... we reached out our hands and took them back to our chests. And I of course asked him if he knew that Jesus loved him... and he argumentatively stated that "Jesus not love him." (You see this is a game he plays with the people that tell him they love him most often. I'll say, "Andy, do you know I love you?" and he'll reply, "You not love me. Daddy love me." or "Papa love me." etc.) Anyway, my point is, I tried. I really tried. I have no idea if that story in scripture made any impact on his little heart at all... We talked about how you don't have to be good or have a lot of money or be strong or be anything special to have God's love.... or momma's love. I told him that it makes me sad when he's not nice or he decides to hit or scream, but I still love him... no. matter. what. (This is a whole other soap box to stand on... one of the 5,477 things I mentioned... but it hurts my heart when I see Christian families put conditions on the love for their children without saying that's what they're doing... disowning for lifestyle choices or addictions or whatever... what scars must be left.)
After we read, I prayed for God's word to penetrate the heart of my little boy. And no matter if he remembers any of it tomorrow or if tomorrow is better than today, I'll still love him and I'll fight to share God's truth instead of the enemy's lies in our home. While there are probably things in that story he will not understand for many years to come, I know I won one battle today. I listened to my God and He instilled peace in my hurting momma heart. He whispered in my ear that it was okay and He saw my efforts, though not perfect. He assured me that the war has already been won. Victory is mine because I rest in Him and he in me. I am so thankful for His all consuming grace.
Now I'll leave you with a version of Psalm 91 spoken to me by a dear friend and respected co-momma...
"My family dwells in the shelter of the Most High and we will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. My family will say of the Lord, 'He is our refuge and our fortress, our God, in whom we trust.' Surely he will save us from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover my family with his feathers, and under his wings we will find refuge; his faithfulness will be our shield and rampart. My family will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at our side, ten thousand may fall at our right hand, but it will not come near us. We will only observe with our eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
If my family makes the Most High our dwelling - even the Lord, who is our refuge - then no harm will befall us, no disaster will come near our home. For he will command his angels concerning us to guard us in all of our ways; they will lift my family up in their hands, so that we will not strike our feet against a stone. We will tread upon the lion and the cobra; we will trample the great lion and the serpent.
'Because they love me,' says the Lord, 'I will rescue them; I will protect them, for they acknowledge my name. They will call upon me, and I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will deliver them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them and show them my salvation.'"
Mommas and daddies, this is kingdom work... holy work... and victory is already ours.