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Forget not His benefits...

I try to not be a worry-wart, but having kids can send even the most self-assured into a panic attack just considering what could go wrong in the future.  And sometimes, in my honest moments, when I imagine my boys as teenagers, as young men, I think, "Would smoking or drugs or a pre-marriage pregnancy be the worst thing that could happen to them?"

I don't say this flippantly.  I say this with tears threatening because I obviously want the best for my boys and any future babies we bring home.  I don't want them to make a decision when they are so young and the future is so big and unknown and to have something define their life in an instant like that.  I try to not think about all the bad or hard that could come along.  That probably will come along. It makes me want to keep them little forever.  My mother's heart cringes at the idea of anything but positive and beautiful.

And when you get beyond the basics - the ABC's and the eating with a fork - then there are the Christianized sins.  The ones we have made worse than all others.  Such as a fifteen year-old showing up pregnant to youth group, but never mind the gossip and the husband-bashing going on during the women's Bible study or the ogling during a Dad's night out or the dishonest dealings beneath the steeple.  We like to latch onto the big sins.  Oh yes, let's harp on those who are homosexual and let's sneer at the parents of the unwed teenager and let's sit high and mighty and wonder how they went so wrong parenting their children.

There are a couple things I've been turning around in my head lately:

1) My child's behavior or choices do not reflect or define my love or guidance as a parent. It only proves they are "baby sinners" and are in need of the saving grace of Jesus Christ from day one.  When you watch a baby defy a mother's cautioning, "No, no, don't touch." you see it all too clearly.  It's there.  That predisposed bend.  Cute, yes, but also wicked from the start.  Sorry.

2) Just as my child does not define me as a mother or deeper, as a Christian, neither do I define my child by what I do or don't do.

I'll let you in on something: There is this wild thing called g-r-a-c-e.

And grace is not a free-for-all.  So, says Dr. Tim Kimmel in his book, Grace Based Parenting:
"Grace does not exclude obedience, 
respect, boundaries, or discipline, 
but it does determine the climate 
in which these important 
parts of parenting are carried out."

Yes, I want my kids to eat their vegetables.  Yes, I want them to grow up healthy and strong.  Yes, I want them to listen to me and obey me and not date for a long, long time.  I want them to get good grades and learn life-skills and serve and worship and love Jesus.  I don't want them to drink and drive. I don't want them to be daddies before they are husbands.

But what they choose isn't up to me.  Even though Joel comes to me throughout the day and says, "Mommy, wind me up!" and I comply as I turn an invisible crank along his tiny spine and off he marches, a little toy soldier... the real truth is that he is playing make-believe. There is no wind-up mechanism on my son.  I do my best and fail miserably in my efforts to point him in the right direction.  He's not even three yet and sometimes I can feel so overwhelmed by the burden of teaching someone everything.  And then I think, "Give yourself some grace.  You're doing the best you can."

And I think... what is the "best I can"?  Is it focusing solely on enough constructive play time coupled with enough free-play time?  Is it balancing fresh-air and indoor time?  Is it things that I do, activities I spur, or is it something different?  Is it, even, more than just loving him?

If my focus is offering a standard of grace to my children - not a standard of Christianized perfection (i.e. "Christian kids never _____") - then how would that change how I parent?  How I view the future?  How I pray for them?

When I think about the kind of mother I want to be - hope to be - hope I am - it is one who loves them, because God loved me first (not because I simply gave birth to them).  And beyond love, I hope to encourage and support them - to believe the best in them always, always - because I believe God has a plan and that He works all things together for their good (Romans 8:28).  And I want to offer them grace - wild, beautiful, underserving, and gosh darn it, amazing - because it is what I have been given - as shameful as my poor little soul is.

I want my boys to grow up to be honest.  To be transparent with people.  To learn how to confront, not just keep a false peace.  I want them to know how to forgive.  And even though in my mother's heart there is a long list of, "Please don't let this ever happen to them..." the fact remains that they were and always have belonged to God.  Long before they were ever placed in my arms.

I want to be a brave-hearted mother.  I don't want to whimper when it seems evil is prevailing.  I want to show that no matter what, my faith in Christ stands.  That's what I want my boys to possess.  A personal relationship, a drawing strength, from the Only One that can really teach them anything.  I am called - as I have always been called - to show Christ's love to those around me.  My mission field just happens to include rooms in a house we call home.  What I practice to my children is what I should (and hope to) practice to everyone.  To show that my life is an extension of God's long arm of love for me - for them.  That there is grace here.  That there is no shame in being real.  That there is forgiveness for when we screw up.  That things aren't ever ruined when God remains the editor of every story.

I have to live out of the big pot of grace I've been dunked in.

And I have to wake up with it and fix it for lunch and scoop it out for dinner, for bedtime.  They have been humbling times when I have gone to my children and apologized, to show that Mommy is faulty and messed up and knows the good she should do but doesn't always do it - and please, could you offer your Momma some grace?  Accept the, "I'm sorry." with a hug and a kiss, an "I forgive you!" and an offer to play some more.  Get right back in the game.

I'm sure my kids will disappoint me.  I'm certain I have disappointed God a time or two.  I'm sure my kids will sin.  I'm sure I've sinned like, maybe once. (ha).  I'm sure they will break my heart.  I know I've broken my Lord's.  I know they'll say things they don't really mean, slam doors they should keep open, drive angry, stomp mad, slack off, ignore requests, choose ease over responsibility... I fully expect my boys to be human beings.  I full expect them to be sinners in need of a Savior.  I fully expect them to need the grace that only God can give.  And that I can only show because I was shown it first.

That's how they will know we are Christ's, anyway.  By our love.

And love is grace, because it's undeserved.  It's always been so undeserved.

"T'was grace that taught my heart to fear.
And grace, my fears, relieved.
How precious did that grace appear,
the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
we have already come.
T'was grace that brought us 
safe thus far
and grace will 
lead us home..."
~   J o h n   N e w t o  n ,   A m a z i n g   G r a c e 


  1. i love your writing. i know i tell you that all the time but truly i am so grateful for the way you fight to treasure Christ and love your family. brings such refreshment to me every time i visit your blog.

  2. Thank you so much, Damaris! Wish we lived closer - you are such a sweet person!!! <3 Thanks for reading and I'm humbled that this little space here blesses you. xoxo


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