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Ruined sinners to reclaim...

It had been a long day.  Joel hadn't eaten well, had barely napped and we had traveled all day.  He was headed towards a breakdown.  Let's be honest, so was I.  And then the scales tipped and it was enough to send him over the edge and he went ballistic as only a two year old human being can do.  Well, a two year old and me on a really, really bad day.

I removed him from the situation and took him off to a back room to settle and cuddle up and calm.  And then the words from another as I explained how tired he was and past the point of no return: "Well... he needs to learn self-control."

Stunned, my snarky worded response died on my tongue.  "Yeah, don't we all?" would have been my response if I could have slipped them through my clenched teeth.  I kept silent and said that yes, of course he does, but he is only two.  Not to make excuses and all, but the kid hasn't been on earth very long.  And even though his speech daily explodes and improves, his reasoning abilities still possess the limitations of his tender age.

Coming away from that moment, I couldn't help but think how much we resemble two-year-olds.

How often do you throw things or slam doors when you're upset?  Say words you wouldn't say in front of church-folk when you stub your toe or your computer crashes?  Roll your eyes or push away food when it's not appealing?

I don't know where we came up with the notion that children are supposed to be force-molded into these little miniatures of perfection.  They are supposed to eat everything we give them, they aren't supposed to whine or kick or have issues sharing.  They are supposed to fall asleep like clock-work and never wake up early or have restless nights.  They aren't supposed to say things like, "MINE!" and "NO!" and hands are for hugging, not for hitting.

I mean.  Come on, now.

My sweet little man is a messy baby sinner.  He just is.  He's wonderful and amazing and I am over the moon to be his mother.  But he's messed up.  He's selfish.  He likes what he likes and that's that.  I could say he gets that from me, but he just comes by it naturally by being born human.  He's precious and careful and so considerate for being so young... but he's still a little sinner.  We thank God for sending Jesus to save us amidst our bedtime prayers.  Mommy needs saved.  And Joel needs saved.

Ironically, the command via Paul to put away the dark and nasty and turn toward the light and the loving was not pounded into the hearts of a group of pre-schoolers.  It was a message to the adults.  To the redeemed.  To the big, grown-up, super mature ones.  And the 2x4 smacks against our stubborn brains and our selfish hearts, but listen: "If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit..." (Galatians 5:25)  You say you love God?  Awesome.  Then do these things and stop doing those things... and oh, while you're at it: teach them to your children.  Diligently.  (Deuteronomy 6:7)

And for a refresher, the fruit of the Spirit is:
~ Love (unrestricted, unconditional) / Romans 13:8
~ Joy (abundant, life-giving) / Proverbs 17:22
~ Peace (that goes beyond understanding) / Philippians 4:7
~ Patience (long-suffering) / James 1:2-8
~ Kindness (to everyone) / Leviticus 19:34
~ Goodness (so our light shines before men) / Matthew 5:16
~ Faithfulness (we never give up on the race) / Hebrews 12:1
~ Gentleness (just as God is with us) / 2 Timothy 2:25
~ Self-Control (without it, you are a city without walls) / Proverbs 25:28

This is what we need.  What we have to have.  In our relationships, in our dealings, in our parenting, in our work-place, in our families, in our business, our ministry, our church.  You have to get that you are completely unworthy, but note: not without worth.  There is a misguided teaching that you have to beat yourself down, feel completely down in the dumps about yourself and your gifts and your passions to truly be Godly.  Umm... not so much.  He has given us all gifts and all blessings and an overwhelming bucket of crazy love.  We have to walk knowing our true worth, our true saving, is in Him alone.

That's what we teach to our kids.  I read recently that you should focus on raising a Godly adult, not simply a "good" child.  (Thanks, Lysa TerKeurst).  And we teach and lead by example.  Just as Christ did with us.  Love as He loves.  It's so easy for my kids to pick up on what I do.  One day I couldn't find the buckle cover for the carseat and I was digging around, anxious to get on the road and said in rushed frustration, "Where is that stupid thing?!"  

Guess what that little fabric buckle-cover is now referred to EVERY TIME we get in the van?  Yup.  "That stupid thing!"  It's humbling.  It's kind of funny.  It's a wake-up call that he is paying attention to every little piece of love, sin, encouragement and fault that falls out of my face.

Scary.  Tremendous.  Massive responsibility.  Complete necessary dependence on Someone bigger than me.

And more than anything I do in my parenting... that's what needs to be the highlight.  Not manners.  Not eating whatever I make with a grateful heart.  Not remembering to thank Grandma and Grandpa for surprises on dates other than Christmas and birthdays.  Not potty training, not pacifier-breaking, not big boy beds and being a good winner and a good loser. (Not that these aren't all important lessons!) The most important, though, is a visible dependance on Jesus Christ.  Day in, day out.  When I drop that glass.  When I forget the one thing I really went to the grocery store for in the first place.  When they see me submit even when it's not what I want or find me begging forgiveness because Mommy isn't above sinning either... that's where they learn God's grace.

That new fruit of their little hearts?  The watering, the tugging out weeds?  The soft soil and seeding self-control (and all the rest) by being a fallen living example?  That's what we do.  Every Mommy.  Every Daddy.  It can feel enormous and daunting, but it doesn't have to be.  His burden is light, remember?  We don't do this alone.  He has loved us with an everlasting kind of love.

Lack of self-control and bad manners included.

"For this very reason, make every effort
to supplement your faith with virtue, 
and virtue with knowledge,
and knowledge with self-control,
and self-control with steadfastness,
and steadfastness with godliness,
and godliness with brotherly affection,
and brotherly affection with love.
For if these qualities are yours
and are increasing,
they keep you from being ineffective
or unfruitful in the knowledge
of our Lord Jesus Christ."
~  2  P e t e r   1 : 5 - 8 ,   E S V 


  1. i got caught up on your blog tonight instead of homework. and it did my heart good.

    thank you. i always come away so encouraged and refreshed. you're a breath of fresh air.

  2. Me instead of homework?! I'm flattered! <3

    Thank you so much for coming here and reading and for your kind words. I always get so excited when I see a comment from you! As always, wish we could go take a walk or grab coffee together!

    Thank you for always being so encouraging and uplifting to ME! <3


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