Friday, April 28, 2017

You're a Good Good Father

Kids say the darndest things am I right? Sometimes you cover your mouth to keep in the laughter, sometimes you cover it to keep in your horror. You just know they will say whatever pops in their mind. Something the three year-old has been saying suddenly struck me this morning (even though she's been saying it for weeks). "You're a good Mommy."

At first hearing it definitely tugs at the heartstrings. It makes me feel like I'm not a total disaster as a parent after all. Lee hears about his accomplishments as a Daddy just as frequently. She said it again today, and God really made something click in my mind. Every time she says it, it's because we've given her something she wanted. Now, to a three year-old this makes perfect sense. I don't think any less of her because of it. This three year-old in particular (because of her history) is especially fond of being given things. Now, I don't know of any little kids who aren't, but she equates this to love because sometimes all she had to look forward to was being given candy or some small toy. For a long time she would constantly ask, "who gave me this?" or the ever embarrassing, "what did you bring me?" when someone would come over. Because spending time with someone she cared about wasn't a guarantee, she clung to any show of affection she could, which was often times physical things. I don't even remember what she was given this morning to spur her words of affirmation, but I could instantly hear God saying to me, "this is you."

You see, even though I am 10 times her age, sometimes I still act like a child in my relationship with God. Not in the good, child-like faith kind of way, but in the selfish, me, me, me kind of way. I of course, will loudly proclaim that God is good. But how often do I think that only because of the things He has given me. I have been incredibly blessed, and I should thank Him for those things. But when I think about all the thankless things parents do for their kids, I am ashamed to say I sometimes fall short in my gratitude when God does those things for me. 

I'm not always thankful when God disciplines me. Trying to explain to a small child that she is being disciplined because we love her and can't allow her to do bad things for her sake, is challenging at best. There are consequences for our actions, and while I know that God disciplines me because he loves me, I often forget to praise Him because of it. Looking back, I can be thankful, but in the moment...not so much.

I'm also not always thankful when God protects me from things that I think I may want. My kids may want to eat a pound of chocolate in one sitting (and honestly so would their sweet-toothed mama sometimes), but I know that's not good for any of us. They may think it would be the coolest thing ever to jump off of high places or run as fast as they can through the house, but I know that those "fun" things come with a high possibility of getting hurt. Sometimes, they have to learn the hard way (just like I do), but it's my responsibility to try to keep them from getting hurt. God sometimes says no because He knows what's best for me. He can see the bigger picture. In my better moments, I can think with clarity and see it's for the best. There are other times that I more or less throw a tantrum because I didn't get what I wanted. 

God is not a good father only because He gives us good things. He's a good father because He gives us the best things. Sometimes that giving comes in the form of discipline so we can be more like Christ. Sometimes it's in the form of a "no" to an asked prayer. While I pray my kids will one day mature enough to see that I tried to do what was best for them just like I grew up to see that with my parents, I also pray that I (and my kids) see that God doesn't just TRY to do what is best for me. He does it. Because He's a good, good, father.

I wanted to share this song because a little over a year ago, when I was going through my second loss, this song meant the world to me. I would stand in the back of the BCM weeping when we sang it (and I still cry every time I hear it). Fast forward to now, I can see that God is not good just because He gave me Sophia. He was good when I was in the process of losing my other babies. God is good because that's who He is. And He loves me...and you.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Review of Jesus, the One and Only by Beth Moore

So I slacked off a bit with my reading. I didn't have anything from March, and I'm barely squeezing in April's books. Apparently taking care of three kids and working part-time means it's difficult to find time to read. Who knew. Regardless, I read Jesus, the One and Only by Beth Moore for my April non-fiction book.

In Jesus, the One and Only, Beth Moore walks through the life of Jesus, mainly using the gospel of Luke. She walks through scripture, encouraging the reader to dig deep into the story of Jesus so that we almost experience it instead of fictionalizing it as we often tend to do. She also ties in a lot of her personal experiences so that the reader can see how we can apply Jesus's earthy life and teaching to our own lives. I've brought up a few of the points she made which really spoke to me.

When speaking of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness from Luke 3 she summarizes a few main ideas about temptation. One that I highlighted was "Scripture is the most powerful tool in our fight against temptation. Don't fight back with your words, fight back with God's!" We know that we're supposed to memorize scripture, but do we truly understand how powerful it is. Instead of trying to power my way through a struggle I should rely on the power of God. She also talks about the Word as mentioned in Luke 8 with the parable of the sower. She says, "Our obedience to apply the Word of God is so we can live victorious lives that glorify our Father in heaven. Hearing it is simply not enough." Am I living a victorious life, or am I just letting life happen to me?

Another section that really struck me was from when she discussed Luke 12. "All our worry in the name of love can accomplish absolutely nothing. But all our praying in the name of Jesus could entreat God to accomplish anything. When will we learn to turn our worry effort into prayer?" Worry has always been a struggle of mine. God really freed me from much of it in college. However, now that I have kids I feel the temptation to fall back into the pattern of stressing about everything. I probably hide it well most of the time, but inside, my stomach is constantly in knots. I KNOW that it doesn't do any good, and yet I do it anyway. Because it feels like I'm doing something, even though I'm not accomplishing anything at all. Sometimes I'm on top of things and prayer is my first instinct when I start to worry. Other times...not so much. I'm so thankful for a patient God who is actually able to do something about the causes of my worry!

My favorite part of the book was the last several chapters which talked about Christ's death and resurrection. Beth Moore puts so much emotion in her writing that I found myself crying on several occasions. Both with tears of sorrow and tears of joy. She spends quite a bit of time bringing out specific details and emphasizing that this was God's plan, and He did it for us. What an amazing love the Father has for us!

Even though there were several parts of the book that I very much enjoyed reading, and she brought up a lot of things of which I needed reminding, it did drag on a bit for me. That's the reason it took an entire month to finish reading it. I'm slower reading non-fiction anyway, but this was tough to get into sometimes. It was 350+ pages and sometimes I felt so bogged down in details. While I loved her ability to help me visualize the end of Christ's life, I felt like such imaginings weren't as useful in other parts of the book. She spends so much time on conjecture when we don't really know if it's true or not. I'm sure that helps some people, but it frustrated me. Overall, I did enjoy the book. It was the first non Bible Study of Moore's that I have read. I know there is a Bible study for this, and maybe I would have been able to get through that easier. It's also probably spread out for longer than a month which would have helped. It did give me some great insight, but it may not be for everyone.