Monday, October 12, 2015

Fall & Loving Your Kids To The Glory Of God Alone

{My grandma came to town  and her and I have a love for HomeGoods and we had a blast putting pumpkins and leaves up all over the farmhouse while she was here. Thank you Grandma for treating me to a fun night out at all my favorite places.}

The best book I ever read on marriage by a landslide was "This Momentary Marriage" by John Piper. The entire book is a clear picture of how marriage exists to exemplify Christ's love for the church, and when we can see the incredible beauty in that, it can change our entire perspective on the purpose of marriage. It's a "why" book rather than a "how to" book, and I have found that "why" books tend to provide vision more than the "how to" books do.

I have found the same to be true with parenting books. There are a ton of "Christian" parenting books that have the best of intentions with a lot of practical things that we can do with our kids. But without a clear vision of what Christ has called us to in parenting, we can begin to idolize parenting and forget to treasure Christ.

When we begin to compare our methods of mothering with other moms, we so often forget that as mamas we share one Lord and one faith, and together we're discipling our children to love Jesus. By God's grace we are to put off the old self, which instinctively prefers to lord over other mothers, and we put on the new self, which loves holiness. We don't angrily sin against each other and hold grudges for the Devil to use his wicked work of causing division. We speak words to one another that are good for building up and giving grace to our hearers. We throw away all bitterness, slander, and malice that we feel towards other moms. Instead we are kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven us. {From Ephesians 4:25-32}__ This is the sweetest gift we can give each other as Mamas.

I recently picked up this tiny book called Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full. {I already mentioned it in another recent post.} It's short and so incredibly rich. It's not a "how-to" book. It's a "why" book, and it's this incredibly life-giving reminder of how I long to prize Christ's power in my life over  my own.

Here's a little excerpt from a chapter I've been mulling over in my mind__

"It is also possible that deeds done in the name of love for a child can be exhibitions of how our hearts are like idol factories. I shudder to think of how I often I justify my self-worship under the guise of "because I love my children,"and exalt myself or my children to the position of God. I make much of my children and child-raising preferences, and I make little of God. This remains a huge temptation for me as I fall into this ego trap all the time, and that's why I am so thankful for how the gospel frees me from seeking my glory in parenting or in my kids. My children, although they probably can't articulate it yet, are relieved that when I treasure Jesus, they are freed from the burden of being the center of my world. No child should have to shoulder the weight of her mother's glory and reputation. 

Every mother can be freed from seeking her own glory as she loves her children for the sake of Jesus's name being made famous among the nations. Perhaps the most pertinent correction I have received in light of this temptation is what Jesus told Paul about boasting: "He said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Do I want the power of Christ to rest on me as I mother my children? Yes please! Then I need Jesus to free me from my craving to be worshiped for my mothering. I need to own up to my weaknesses so that I can prize Christ's power. 

God's sovereign grace releases me from the worry that I am doing a haphazard job of orchestrating my children's lives for them. The gospel reminds me that a mother's plans are not ultimate; God's are. God is the one who has created these children and he has far more intentional intentions to glorify himself through these kids than I could ever dream up. God made these kids for himself, for his name's sake.

Every mitochondrion in their little bodies exists for God's glory. The Lord knew our children's destiny before the sperm ever met the egg. He commands their destiny from before the foundations of the world. He knows the number of their days and no part of their story surprises him. He is the God to whom we want to actively, daily entrust our children. The sovereign Lord of the universe deserves our faith-filled acknowledgement of his ownership of our kids. We all belong to our creator. When we think our children exist to serve our egos, we get distracted from our primary purpose of serving our children by teaching them who God is and how they exist to enjoy him. 

Treasuring Christ as  preeminent in our lives gives our children a self-sacrificing, neighbor-serving, sin-forgiving, grace-extending illustration of how God is worthy to be seen, admired, and displayed as the greatest hope we could ever have. Jesus is the one who loves us most of all with his redeeming love.{Treasuring Christ, pgs 92-93}

I wrote the last three paragraphs out on a piece of paper that I carry around in my purse. I've pulled it out at the doctors office, at the grocery store, while sitting on a bench near the lake, and even in the car when our tribe was all in a hoopla of chaos and I had lost sight of what I long to see even in the crazy.

How I long to make much of Christ in my life. And how easy it is to forget when I'm breaking up quarrels and at a loss for words for the hundredth time in a day.

My parenting style has shifted over the years. I think it will continue to shift as the years go by, at least I hope it will as I learn more about the Lord.

Now days, I often find myself resorting to prayer.. I pray for my kids by myself in my room. But I also pray for them right on the spot when they are struggling with each other. I used to feel that if I simply prayed over their conflict that I was not being proactive enough in helping them solve their issues. Now I think sometimes my abundance of words can distract them from the One who can really do the deep heart work that needs doing in all of us. And a lot of times when I choose to pray instead of lecture, there's a softening of hearts that takes place, a softening that my words rarely bring about.

 On Wednesday night one kid snapped at another kid because she accidentally tripped and bonked into him near the open oven and he insisted that she was purposing to "get him burned." Immediately the offender apologized, but the offended held a grudge and kept spouting off harsh words.

I stepped in with the first three words of a phrase we use often in our home__ "Offer her grace"... to which the offended finished the phrase, ..."because Jesus lavishes an abundance of grace on us."

Three little words, "offer her grace," and the kid who was holding tightly onto an unnecessary grudge, took a deep breath, and apologized for his tone towards his sister.

Sometimes we just forget and we need a most gentile reminder that because of Christ we have been forgiven much.

When we treasure Christ and all that He has truly lavished on us by giving us a relationship with Himself though his death on the cross and his glorious resurrection, it gives us rich purpose in our parenting.

 I cannot take away the sin that goes on under this roof, but I can treasure Christ, trust in His Word, and show these treasures through my own journey with Jesus, that He is always our hope and there is nothing that will ever happen in our family or in our lives that He can't redeem with His unfailing, perfect love; nothing.

As the seasons are changing my heart is stirring and longing to remember constantly that "God is the one who has created these children and he has far more intentional intentions to glorify himself through these kids than I could ever dream up. God made these kids for himself, for his name's sake."

Soak it up sweet Mamas! God made our kids for His glory and our joy and the best thing we can do as we raise up these kiddos is to treasure Christ in all of our moments.

Happy fall y'all!