The Thanksgiving Tree

The Thanksgiving Tree

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Grace By 5's

"Why does that say Great Job, Mommy?" Will asked in a frustrated tone. "It's not great! It's not a great job. See my fives?"

I didn't know what Will was talking about. I had just gotten home from picking him up from school. It was one of the days where I had all the kids in tow, so I was trying my best to get everyone in the house as quickly as possible. I wanted to give Will my complete attention. Finally, with everyone settled and munching on a snack, I found Will sitting in our den, bookbag open, glancing at a math sheet he had completed during class. I was actually shocked (and to be quite honest, proud) by all of the math problems he had gotten correct. I knew from homeschooling him last year that he was very gifted in math, but had NO IDEA he knew how to compute THIS well. As I was fighting back every prideful and boastful "mommy-ism" due to my son's achievement, my firstborn could only focus on two little backwards '5' s circled in red on the page. Beside them was written the word 'practice' with a little smiley face in the margin.

"See Mommy, it's NOT a great job!"

I was a little frustrated at first. Could he not see every other single problem he got right? And not only got right, but wrote right? That's hard. I couldn't even begin to explain to him that some kids his age wouldn't even know where to begin on this page, but HE got them ALL right. He only wrote the CORRECT answer with a backward five. The teacher didn't even see this as a huge problem. Why is my son such a perfectionist? How do I break him of this? God, how do I teach him it's not about perfection?

And then it came. As if in an audible voice inside my heart, the Lord whispered.

This isn't about teaching Will about perfection. It's about teaching you.

How often I ONLY see the red circled 5's on my pages of life. I don't see all the things I DID do right. All the times I DID teach and model for my children biblical truths. I don't focus on those things. I stare at the red circles. I never see the Great Job. I never BELIEVE the Great Job. Oh what would our lives be like if we were able to embrace the grace God gives us- really embrace it. If at the end of the day, we could lie in our beds and recall all the things we did right and thank God for those moments. Those glimpses of our growth in Christ and His grace poured out on us. What would that be like?

I tell you, this week it's been humbling. It's so humbling that Christ continues to pursue me. He cares THAT MUCH for me to learn and grow. I have my own share of backward fives. I want not to become discouraged as I practice through them.

Tonight, I'm going to go to bed and think about all the good in my day. The moments of pure blessing. Like having lunch with my husband outside Edgar's simply because he wanted to take me out. Like watching Will's beaming face run towards me after school. (my son truly loves me) Like hearing Emma Faye say to me this afternoon, "Mommy, I hope I can grow up and be a mommy and have a baby just like you one day." Like stepping into an immaculate little boy's room and hearing Josh proudly say, "Mommy, I wanted to clean this up for you so you didn't have to ask us." Or peeking over the rails of a crib, and hearing a baby's squeal of delight at the first sight of his mommy. These are the good things. These are the great jobs; supernaturally accomplished by the grace of God--and He gave them to me. He's stamped them right up there on my page. I must mean something special to Him. I do. We all do. How it must break His heart when we fail to recognize His daily encouragements.

Friends, embrace His grace! Live in the Great Jobs.

......then practice the backward fives.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

As You Are

I've finally decided to jump on over to the "" world. With a new school year starting and all, it just felt right to begin a new blog location. After all, my family seems to have found ourselves in a new location spiritually despite our decision to remain in Birmingham. God has a funny way of transporting our lives while keeping us stationary. My heart stirred when someone shared this verse with me

"Like an eagle that stirs up it's nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions." Deut. 32:11.

It's been the theme of my year as Chris and I were wrestling with things Christ was asking of us. The eagle makes her nest uncomfortable so her babies will desire to leave it; so they will desire to fly and do all the "eagle things" for which they were created. How this SO resonated with my soul this year. Our nest was VERY uncomfortable, forcing us to face scary canyons and wide open spaces, but we found Christ at every one of our failures, picking us up and carrying us as we continued our journey of growth. I LOVE how what we see as difficult and uncomfortable, God uses to build our faith upon. It's beautiful. It reminds me of a recent incident in our house.

The day after we had painters come and paint the boys' room and Emma Faye's room, I was met at the top of our stairs by my sweet husband. He was sort of blocking my way as I was heading in the direction of Emma Faye's room to put some freshly laundered clothes away.

"Um, you don't want to go in there," he said referring to our precious, innocent little angel's room.

"why, what's wrong?" I asked.

"Um, Mommy, I'm sorry I drawed on the wall."

I immediately knew why my husband didn't want me to go in her room. Her NEW room. The room I had saved up for to decorate. The room I had stressed over what colors and themes. The room she had now adorned with massive pencil lines and swirly swirls and loopity loops all over the wall that was NOT coming off! She seemed remorseful and we talked about how that was wrong. I forgave her and moved on, trying to figure out when I was going to repaint over the "artwork". In her defense, I had left her ALONE in her room coloring so I could get some laundry done.

Flash forward to this past weekend. My parents were visiting. And yes, I still hadn't erased the graffiti.

"Emma Faye, what is this on your wall?" my mom asked in a very non-accusing manner.

"Um, I drewed on my wall," Emma Faye, head lowered, answered quietly.

"Why did you do that?" my mom inquired.

(long pause)

"um... 'cause I'm an artist," she replied.

Of course my mother was laughing telling this story later, as well as Chris and me. What a positive word for her vandalism. It did, however, grab my attention.

I began thinking about some of the traits I see in myself and in my children as negative. The day-dreaming, the tempers, the lack of organization, the rowdy behavior and extra energy. There are times I see these as handicaps in my children. Problems. I see them as personal failures within myself....but in Christ, they are a tapestry of beauty; a blank canvas on which to create.

I'm so often torn between the mother I am in Christ and the mother I'm tempted to be. I want to be the mom "put together." I want to always be on time. I want my children to always look clean and tidy. I strive, strive, strive for that perfection. This is my greatest temptation. This is the mother I'm tempted to be. The mom I am in Christ is the mother who missed the first song in worship because she wanted to look into the eyes of everyone of her children and tell them good-bye as they entered their Sunday school class. The mom I am in Christ is the mother who brought her daughter to church with a jelly stain on her dress because she didn't feel like fussing at her 3 yr old princess because she dropped some jelly off of her toast this morning or rush her upstairs to change and then our the door(because what 3 yr old can eat a piece of jelly toast and not get it on her?). The wife I am in Christ doesn't dismiss her husband's compliment of how nice he thinks she looks because SHE doesn't think she looks nice. I could go on and on.

I just needed to be reminded today that Christ wants our everything. I needed to be reminded that Jesus loves us as we are. Satan wants us to be discouraged in who we are. He wants us to constantly wrestle with our personalities and convince us our faults can NEVER be of use for the Kingdom. Christ wants to take our faults and show us how He can redeem them. Beautiful.

This probably is WAY too long for a first entry of a blog. I will close this post with a poem I wrote awhile ago. I actually wrote it about a year after Emma Faye was born- before she wrote all over her wall. :) I love my daughter unconditionally. I am a daughter of the King, unconditionally loved.

As You Are

From the moment I held you in my arms,
I loved you without a minute spared.
It was as if I’d had that love all along,
Or perhaps God suddenly put it there.
I loved you as you were,
Nothing less and nothing more.
I love you now as I loved you then ….just as you are.

From the moment you asserted your will,
I saw a temper born.
The rant and raves, the crying fits–
Yes, I watched the entire storm.
But I took you as you were,
Nothing less and nothing more.
I cradle you within my arms…..just as you are.

You’re growing every day,
and learning so many things.
Your personality brings such delight
as you laugh, and dance, and sing.
I laughed with you as you were,
Nothing less and nothing more.
What joy you bring to my heart….just as you are.

Life will bring it’s failures,
and the world will carry it’s pain.
My sweet child, you will NEVER be perfect
for Perfection bears no name;
But only as Christ, our Lord and Savior……Our healer with ready arms,
Embracing every one of his children… those near and those far.

He knew you before He gave you to me.
His love runs deeper than my heart.
Leave my arms and run to His…..exactly as you are.