Saturday, December 4, 2010

Walking Wounded

They come out of nowhere, those fiery darts designed to penetrate my soul. Sometimes, they glance off my armor and fall to the ground, barely noticed. But, sometimes, they cut through straight into my heart, rendering me paralyzed by shock and pain.

The most startling thing about them is that they are often lobbed by fellow, well-meaning Christians. Perhaps they thought they were simply "speaking the truth in love" but instead shot an arrow unaware. What's the expression? A church hurt is the worst hurt? Reeling, I struggle to makes sense of it all. My mind races as I wonder if the lies I've been fed are really truth and I've been duped by my own complacency. I question everything in my haste to stem the pain.

The most recent arrow came in the form of a question: Are you good enough to be the wife of a deacon? I was found wanting. The question alone was proof of that, but, in case I'd missed it, more evidence was heaped on the wound. Every sin and character flaw I'd ever committed or exhibited was freshly reviewed to prove my inadequacy. I don't think the arrow would've hurt quite so much if I hadn't been married to said deacon for over seventeen years. It's who I am. In questioning my qualifications, they were questioning my worth. "Are you good enough to be who you are?" resounded in my brain.

It hurt. It was messy. I was misunderstood and I hate to be misunderstood. I tried to explain, to be heard, to no avail. I wanted to stand up to the anonymous person who first posed the question. I wanted to flee, perhaps find a nice cave with internet access to live in. It consumed my thoughts for several days, until I finally asked the question: What is a fiery dart designed to do?

The answer is simple - to move my attention from God's business to wounds, my pain, my ego, my response, etc. I have said before,

I think that we, American Christians, have too much time on our hands. If we have time to nurse our petty offenses, to think of shoulds that even God missed, to put people in their rightful places, then we are missing out on the glory and the intent of the gospel."

And here I was, nursing my petty offense, completely oblivious to the hurting world around me. For a brief period, one dart rendered me completely ineffective for the kingdom of God. This life is short. Eternity is not. I want my life to count more for eternity than it does for the here and now. I have no time to waste on my own minor wounds.

Does it still hurt? Absolutely. Do I still want to flee? To leave the church never to return? You betcha. I'd like to think I would do fine, just me and Jesus. The problem with that thinking is that Jesus really loves His bride, the church. He is passionate about her. How can I claim to love Jesus and shun His bride? How can I turn inward and ignore the pain around me?

I can't. That's not who I was created to be. All I can do is work on pleasing Jesus and trust Him to heal my hurt and guard my heart. He is faithful to do just that.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Republishing something I wrote a long time ago, but needed to hear again.

Many years ago, the Lord ministered His grace to me and I was set free from legalism. I’d been saved since I was only four years old and grew up in the church. Somewhere along the way, I bought into the lie that I had to follow a set of rules to earn the favor of God. If I did everything right, I would have smooth sailing. When He set me free, my whole world changed. Reading the Word became a delight instead of a drudgery.

Recently, the Lord in His mercy, showed me that, gradually, I had retreated back into the legalistic cell He’d rescued me from. I’d adopted a "Jesus-plus" doctrine:

  • Jesus + daily devotions
  • Jesus + a clean house
  • Jesus + well-behaved children
  • Jesus + being on time for church

These would make me righteous and earn me the blessings/favor that I don’t deserve. I don’t think I’m the only convert of this doctrine. I think that we are attracted to legalism because we like to check boxes. It’s familiar, it’s visible, and it’s easy to apply it to everyone else. If I hold my "what not to do list" up to your life, I might find that you don’t measure up and that would make me feel sooo much better. It’s comfortable. But it’s nowhere near the abundant life that Jesus offers in John 10:10.

The problem with Jesus-plus doctrine is that Jesus plus anything equals bondage; it’s a death sentence. (Gal. 3:10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse,) Paul said it best, "Oh foolish Galations! Having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?!" You can almost here him saying, "REALLY?! How’s that working out for you?" The Word is also clear that "there is no one righteous. No, not one."

It’s Jesus alone that makes me righteous. It’s Jesus alone that gives me life. It’s Jesus alone that sets me free. I don’t have to do anything to earn it. He doesn’t require me to do anything. He just wants me to be. To be, in Him, the woman He’s created me to be. Here’s the kicker: He’s the ONLY one who gets to decide who that is. My fellow box-checkers out there don’t get a vote. My foolish pride doesn’t get to weigh in. Even my dim, limited view of the future doesn’t limit Him.

It’s time to stop doing ………………………. and start being!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Last week, on an exceptionally crazy Tuesday morning in which we overslept and had the speech therapist coming at 9am, I cracked my Bible open to Psalm 37. (I've been trying to read the Word more than just my weekly personal study time at Panera, but haven't been very successful, so I put a Bible in the bathroom. Great trick! )

Anyway, I read the first seven verses which are pretty familiar when all of a sudden...BAM! The second part of verse 8 practically leaped off the page at me. Do not fret - it only causes harm. Ps. 37:8b

I had been fretting all morning, snapping at my kids, stressing out because the house wasn't clean enough for company, etc. I took that rebuke with me as I re-entered the fray. Each time I was about to open my mouth, that verse popped into my brain, causing my mouth to instantly shut. Don't fret - it only causes harm. Don't fret - it only causes harm.

I have kept it with me all week. Turns out, I spend about 75% of my day fretting, mostly in the form of unintentionally rhetorical questions:
  • Who turned on the heat?!
  • Who left the milk on the counter?!
  • Who left the gate open?!
  • How many times do I have to tell you to brush your teeth?!
  • Do you want a time out?!
  • Why don't you have any clothes on?!
These questions serve no purpose other than for me to feel better for having blurted them. No one will own up to the above and even if they did, it wouldn't solve the problem. It's simply fretting and it does no good. In fact, it causes harm.

My children feel guilty. I become unsafe to them as I storm around and fret. It increases my anger and frustration when no one confesses to the truth. It keeps me focused on problems, my frustrations, my workload, etc.

Do not fret - it only causes harm. This verse is freeing up my time and my energy and allowing me to focus on that which is good. Praise God for His goodness in showing me His heart and in changing mine!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In passing

Sometimes, it's the words spoken in passing that have the largest impact. The other night, we went to hear a guest speaker at our church. He had inspiring and challenging words for us, his audience. My spirit resonated with his teaching. But, that's not what challenged me the most.

Early in the service, he had an alter call for those that needed/wanted victory in some area of their lives. I went forward, feeling like I am 1 step forward & 2 steps back on this parenting journey. As he was praying for the group, he said something that is almost a cliche in prayers. He said, "As they stand in agreement with you..."

Immediately, those words shot through me and penetrated my soul and instantly, I realized, "I am not in agreement with God about parenting."

The lies I have believed in this area are many. First, and foremost, "These kids are interrupting my life." Or, "These kids are a burden, not a blessing." Scripture is clear. God views children as a gift and a blessing. (Ps. 127:3) I have often stated that I believe they are a blessing, but that they don't often bless me, but, somewhere along the way, I began to see them as a pain in the rear. I forgot that they are not accessories to my world, but they are my world in this season.

I have believed, "This is too hard for me." Not being a real organized or Type A person, home management is difficult for me without children. Add in a boatload of kids and it seems very close to impossible. When He changed my heart about children (we were planning to stop at two), I admit that I envisioned the serene families that grace the covers of the homeschooling magazines. I really thought that He would change my personality to one that would excel as a mom of many. I expected it would be challenging; I did not expect it to suck every ounce of flesh out of me, only to go deeper and find some more. With the rest of Christianity, I say I want to die to self, but I don't actually mean it.

Going along with the last one, I believed, "I've been duped." This is not what I signed on for. I agreed to have many, well-behaved, exceptional children. I did not agree to have children with ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, anxiety disorder, and Down syndrome. For that matter, I didn't even agree to have children with a sin nature. They are often mouthy, disobedient, and slothful. Basically, they take after their mother. Parenting is hard. I keep thinking it should be easier and am always frustrated that it's not.

I need to renew my mind and immerse myself in the Word until I am convinced, with every fiber of my being, that my children are a blessing, that I can do all things through Christ, and that He who called me is faithful. Basically, I need to get in agreement with God.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Funny thing about obedience

In February, we felt pretty convicted that God wanted us to get rid of Direct TV. Actually, I think we thought we were supposed to before that. February is just when we finally discussed it with each other. We decided to go for it. Only, instead of canceling, I asked them to bump us down to their most basic package, thinking it would be basically network tv only. It wasn't. It was all their kid's channels and a few channels we didn't watch. After two weeks of watching tv just as much as we did before, only stuff we didn't actually like, Shawn called and got our old package a reduced rate. Sigh.

We justified it by acknowledging that we don't watch much television in the summer and soon our viewing would be a distant memory as we spent our time outside. Only, it was one of the hottest summers on record and we actually watched more than ever because it was too miserable to be outside.

During this time, there were two distinct areas in my life that I was praying/begging/pleading to have break through in. I begged God. I quoted every relevant Scripture I could find. I humbled myself. I asked for wisdom. I had others pray. I cried...a lot. I played worship music. I rebuked the enemy. All of it was to no avail. There was no change and I was beginning to believe that there never would be. This was my life, and I was miserable.

Three weeks ago, Shawn decided that we would finally cancel our tv subscription and that we wouldn't even bother hooking up the box to get network, either. Thinking of the midnight nursing sessions with the new baby I have to look forward to, I was less than encouraging of this plan. I cried a little and even had a small panic attack when I thought about not having the opportunity to collapse in front of the tv every evening. I told him he would have to make the call. He did and was assured that everything would shut down at midnight. We stayed up until then watching all the shows in our DVR that we could fit in as a last hurrah.

I admit to being mopey about it for about the first week. But something strange has happened in the following weeks: the two areas of my life that needed break through, have gotten it. In His mercy, He has chosen to give me what I begged him for! I have seen new life after months of dormancy.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:2 &3 (NIV)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

More than I can chew

What happens when you find you've bitten off more than you can chew? When life is overwhelming and you cannot even see to take the next step, nor do you have any clue what that step should be?

After waiting for quite awhile for it to pass, I am starting to accept that overwhelmed is my new address. This is where I live. With one child with acceptable special needs and another with behavioral special needs, plus all the other "normal" kids with their less than stellar attitudes and regular needs, I am undone. Add in pregnancy hormones and symptoms and I am barely functional.

No one understands. When I try to explain the heartache, frustration, and helplessness I feel parenting the child with behavioral problems, I feel judged or the situation is minimized. Some would have me "lay down the law" without ever seeing firsthand the raw fear that crosses his face when he is in a rage. Some tell me they've "been there, done that" and their kid outgrew it, solidifying for me my suspicion that they have no clue what I'm talking about. The emotional exhaustion I feel after dealing with him, or the fear I have that I can't keep all of us safe in the middle of it, remain unnoticed by those in my circle.

Disorganization is my norm. Chaos is starting to rule. I am beginning to believe that successfully doing this (my life) is impossible. I am at a loss.

At this juncture, the only thing I know to do is humble myself before the Lord. He has promised grace to the humble and I so desperately need grace.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Courage and Trust

I just found out that courage and trust are to be the topics of the next church women's retreat. I have grappled with those two things more over the last year and a half than in the previous 38 years combined, and yet, I am no closer to understanding them now than I was before.

It takes a special kind of courage to hear the specialist tell you there might be something wrong with your baby and then face 5 more months without knowing if he's right because you refuse to jeopardize the baby's life for your need to know. It takes a special kind of courage to hear, mere minutes after his birth, that, indeed, he does have an untreatable condition and your life will never be the same, and then to plant a smile on your face and accept the challenge so that no one will be negative about your beautiful baby.

That same kind of courage is needed to hand your amazing son, your heart, over to the doctor for heart surgery without certainty that he'll return alive. It's needed to smile when people say amazingly stupid and thoughtless things time and time again. It's necessary when your friends are rejoicing that parenting is just a season, and you know that for you, it is likely a lifelong venture without an earthly end.

It takes courage to finally accept that you cannot change your child, and instead choose to change the world in which he lives.

It takes a special kind of courage to decline the screenings in your next pregnancy and stand on principle that God is forming this life, too, especially when you now know all the things that could've gone wrong, but didn't, last time.

It is a courage that I don't possess.

It is a complete mystery to me. I don't own it. I don't hold it in my hand. I can't conjure it up at just the right moments. It has just been there. At the time, it didn't feel like courage at all...more like fear, dread, or discomfort mixed with a compulsion to do what's right.

I don't know where it comes from, but I suspect that trust might be the answer. Without a deep-seeded heart knowledge that God has your back, He loves you, and His ways are perfect, you are simply left with fear.

Fear without trust has no functional component. There is a compulsion with fear alone, but it is usually escape, to stand still, to retreat. Without trust, it never compels you to do the right thing, just the easiest thing.

Courage isn't like that. It doesn't dismiss the fear or pretend it's non-existent; it uses the fear to propel you forward to take action, to accept what's to come, to face the unknown.

I wish I did have courage. I wish I could own it, could pull it out at will. Then the dark days - the days when reality sucks the life out of any vision that I had - wouldn't send me to wallow in self-pity. Those are the days that I need to spend less time trying to conjure up something I don't possess and spend more time focusing on the One in whom I put my trust.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Journey

I like road trips. There is something about hitting the open road that appeals to me. I'm not necessarily a fan of taking them with six children, to be sure, but when I'm alone or with my husband, there is nothing better. I love the newness of stopping to get snacks from the gas station, listening to my favorite music (for more than one song), enjoying a People magazine (if I'm not driving), and just watching the world go by.

There comes a point in every trip when the newness wears off, my back starts to hurt, the coffee has run through me, the sugar buzz is over, and if I have to hear that darn cd one more time... It is time to take a pit stop, eat some protein, drink some water, stretch, and run in place. It is time to take a break, to regroup, to refresh.

And so it is in my spiritual walk. The Lord calls me to a task...have a boatload of children, or homeschool, or raise a special child...and I run with gusto to complete it. I am excited for the journey. I am blessed just to be chosen.

After awhile, my strength begins to wane. I am tired, uncomfortable, and just a little cranky. The newness has worn off and I begin to wonder why I left home in the first place. This is not the journey I thought I started off to take.

I need a pit stop. It's time to take a break, to regroup, to refresh.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galations 6:9

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I feel it again...that stifling, caged, not-good-enough feeling I get when legalism is being heaped on me. I'm so grateful that I can recognize it now and don't need to live there anymore.

I wonder why we do this. Why do we insist on listing rules and taking away grace and replacing it with burden. Freedom is so beautiful, I think it must be painful for some to see. They are blinded by what they do not understand and respond harshly to the person who's reflecting it. Because they've not tasted it, they fear that no one should.


That's how legalism is packaged...all bundled up in neat little shoulds. You should do this, you should do that, and you, most certainly, should NOT do that. If you live a different life, free from the package that was presented to you, then, sadly, you have missed the mark. But don't worry, I am certain that some more "mature" member of the Body of Christ will be watching and will be more than willing to put you in your place.

I think that we, American Christians, have too much time on our hands. If we have time to nurse our petty offenses, to think of shoulds that even God missed, to put people in their rightful places, then we are missing out on the glory and the intent of the gospel.

There are some who feel that I am a sinner. They would be surprised to discover that I agree. As the t-shirt reads, "I am the wretch the song was talking about." I am a reprobate sinner completely without hope apart from Jesus Christ. The cell of bondage is my rightful home. Without Jesus, that is where I'd dwell. I did dwell there for many years, long after I met Him, even. I ventured out of my cell but not very far and for not very long before returning to my place of twisted comfort.

But, now I'm free. That freedom cost something...something precious, and, until I was willing to truly embrace the cross, a prisoner I remained. I will be attempting to repay that debt, without success, until the day I die.

And I will not be dragged back into the cell of bondage, even by well-meaning Christians who refuse to leave.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Oh Jesus, come quickly

I just read a blog post about The Family Guy and Sarah Palin's response to the show's treatment of a character with Down syndrome. Palin seemed more upset over the fact that the character stated her "Mom is the former governor of Alaska" than anything else. I don't know what I think of all of that, BUT, one of the commentors on the blog post wrote, "Oh Jesus, come quickly."

Something in my spirit just went "grrrrrrrrrr." Really?! We're calling for Jesus to come quickly because we're offended by something on television? Never mind that babies are being killed in utero, children with special needs are being abused and neglected to death, children are being trafficked into the sexual slave trade, and thousands of children are being orphaned and left to fend for themselves by AIDS in Africa. But, don't worry about all of that. We want a free pass out of here in America, because someone might say something that will hurt our feelings.

Most people say that when they see evidence of evil or injustice in this world, and I can't help but think, "If this is the only evidence of evil or injustice we Christians in this country notice, then we need to get out more." There is something seriously wrong with a soul that wants to throw in the towel because of something they watched on FOX television.

I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I'm not sure what this is...this thing that's welling up inside of me. I cannot put words to the level of emotion I'm experiencing on a daily basis. My heart is stirred and I have no explanation. I don't know what He is doing, but I know that my life will never be the same.

My heart is broken for all the hurt and injustices and need in the world. The plight of the children with Ds on Reece's Rainbow are at the crux of my broken heart. Those children need to be rescued before their time is up. Proverbs 24:11 says "Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death. Don't stand back and let them die." I take that seriously and yet, throwing money at the problem doesn't seem like the answer. Maybe I say that because I have so little to throw.

Adoption is so strongly on my heart and I believe there will one day be fruition of that desire. Today is not that day.

Those who have survived the sex slave trade and are desperately trying to make a new life weigh heavy on my heart, too. As do those surviving the AIDS crisis in Africa and those traumatized by the quake in Haiti. So, so many needs. All halfway around the world.

Why am I not seeing the needs in my own backyard? Why is my heart the heaviest over things I can do nothing or little about?

These are the questions that keep me awake at night.