Category: Parenting

Wanting a Pacifier God

paci“She’s lost her paci again.”

These words have been uttered who knows how many times in all the years we’ve been raising kids. The never-ending hunt for a paci plagues most parents with babies who love those darling, wonderful peace-saving pieces of rubber!

Whoever invented the paci should get a Nobel Peace Prize, or at least a firm slap on the back. We salute you, pacifier inventor.

A Paci is just that, a pacifier. These man-made wonders (probably mommy-made wonders) were designed to bring both comfort to the baby, and peace to the mommy, because mommy cannot be the pacifier, wee one. Momma need a shower! However, when time to say goodbye, these wonderful things become the most troublesome, we-are-the-worst-parents-ever, “yes, you can have it one more night”, complicated seasons of your young child’s three year old life!

What? What happened to easy bedtime filled with joy and singing and ease!? (None of that is true, but it felt true when we starting taking away said paci) The tears! The sadness! It was like the paci had a soul! It’s like we took away her best friend! What parent does that?

We did.

Twice.

No “paci fairy”. No sending it to other kids who needed it. No lying. (Parents, stop doing that.) We just told her, “It’s time to stop using the paci now, baby.” And slowly, we worked it out of her little life.

Paci’s are good for a season. When that season is over, paci’s are from the devil.

A pacifier and comfort are two different things. A paci fixes a moment. Comfort goes with you through the moment. The difference is stark, especially when it comes to faith. 

Let’s focus on us grown-ups for a minute. Anyone here ever get angry at God? What about wish you knew the details to the future plan of His universe and was slightly irritated that He wasn’t telling you? What about when you demanded a sign from Him so that you would believe? Ever hold hate or anger in your heart toward someone and wish He would just change them? Ever want to throw yourself of the floor and kick and scream like a toddler because you weren’t getting your way? (Maybe, you’ve actually done that! Shhhh, I won’t tell, but seriously, get up. You look like a fool!)

I remember one afternoon I was in the car and took the opportunity to talk to God about some stuff. I was struggling with an issue in my life and I just needed Him to take it away and make me different. I was irritated and crying that He wasn’t fixing my problem. Then, I heard in a very clear voice in my heart:

“Natalie, I will not pacify your sin.”

I was stopped in my spiritual tracks. I knew exactly what He meant. God was telling me that He would not make me feel okay about what I was doing and that He would not just make me feel better and take away something that I needed to stop doing. It was a clear teaching that He would not pacify my sin, but would be more than willing to comfort me in my repentance.

  • You see, God will not pacify your sin, but He will comfort you through your repentance.
  • He will not pacify your rebellion, but will comfort you through your return.
  • He will not pacify your stubbornness, but will comfort you through your humility.
  • He will not pacify your unbelief with signs and wonders to prove Himself to you, but will comfort you through your faith with signs and wonders of His goodness and faithfulness to you.
  • He will not pacify your anger and tantrums, but will comfort you through your calming down, listening, and remembering He is good and He is God.
  • He will not pacify your blame game, but will comfort you through your ownership or your forgiveness of others.
  • He will not pacify your hate, but will comfort you through loving your enemies.
  • He will not pacify your judgmental nature, but will comfort you through your grace.
  • He will not pacify your “rights” and living for yourself, but will comfort you through your “cross” and dying to yourself.

Our God is not a giant paci to our me-centered faith. Instead, He is a God of grace, mercy, forgiveness, intimacy, fire, strength and comfort when we are humbled to Him and His Spirit. We have to be a humble people to a mighty and awesome God. I’m not saying we can’t be honest with God. I am saying we can’t be like tiny kids, angry that we aren’t getting our way, and expect God to fix it, pacify it. We don’t do it to our kids, He won’t do it to us. He wants a humble heart, a contrite heart, one yielded to Him.

There you will find all you need for all you need.

 

In what ways do you expect God to be a paci? 
In what areas do you need to humble yourself and let Him be the Prince of Peace in your life, the God of all Comfort?

I Don’t Want My Kids to Be Their Best Self

IMG_7653Counter-cultural title isn’t it?

Sounds like I don’t want my kids to be awesome and amazing and stand out and be successful.

Truthfully?

I don’t.

In a society where the best rises to the top and the others are left scrambling trying to gain altitude with those we see as successful, I, as a parent and someone who follows Christ, have to step back and ask, “Is this what the people of God should also be about?”

Should we be telling our kids to be the best version of themselves and go and be successful and “you can do anything you put your mind to’? 

I guess, if in the context of an American Dream society, that sounds pretty good.

However, in the context of people who believe in a God greater than them and has His own plans, those statements do not fit.

Let me clarify some things. I do want my kids to be successful, society contributing individuals that are secure and strong, loving and gracious. However, I do not want my kids to believe that they are the center of their universe and that their gifts and talents are a gift to the world.

I want them to know that the best version of themselves is the less version of themselves. Here, and only here, can they be available to be the best broken vessel for Christ.

 

What I want my kids to understand is this:

They are the “light of the world.” Not their own light, but a conduit of His great and marvelous light that brings people out of darkness. Their “light” is not their own. Matthew 5; Phil 2:12-16; John 1:3-9

They have access to the Almighty God who hears them when they pray, not just for their own asks, but for an intimate relationship with Him so that they know their role in His story, know His heart, and have the fullness of the Spirit. Matthew 6; John 17:3; Ephesians 2

Their humility leads to His greatness in them. A model of humility makes a greater impact than talking about it. These things I want for my children must first be what I want for myself. John 3:30

They are filled with the Holy Spirit to know Jesus and to have all they need in Him. Not for just giving them a sense of a better self, or that He died so they feel better about themselves, but so that they are a whole being, ready for their calling for His kingdom work, brave and true to the Truth. 1 Corinthians 2

There is no dream of God’s put in them that doesn’t not first give and bring Him all the glory, and second, would make them think they had the power to do it in and of themselves for their glory and success. 2 Thess. 1:11

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Their life might not be so easy in the Church here in America as the years pass. Our concept and easy way of doing life here in America could see it’s last days in their lifetime. They will be equipped for a dark world and not ill-equipped because I inadvertently made them think this life was for their benefit and comfort or that I didn’t take what is happening around us seriously. 2 Tim. 1:8-12

Their weakness and failings are not something they should try and remedy. I’m not saying they should wallow in sin and weakness and be big, fat babies about stuff, but we tend to believe that if we have a weakness, we should get rid of it.

 

“Citius. Altius. Fortius.”

“Just Do It”

“If you believe, you can achieve”

“Be all that you can be”

The Word of God teaches to get rid of sin, but boast in weakness. That takes some training to know the difference between the two. One (sin) is covered by the blood of Jesus, the other (weaknesses) are empowered by the Spirit of Jesus to be and do what we cannot be and do ourselves. This is a far cry from being our “best self” when our “best self” is ridiculously weak and sinful. The more I teach my kids to rely in faith on the Holy Spirit to do and be all they need, the less they will work for themselves.
1 Thess 5:23; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; Romans 8:26-27

When they spend themselves on behalf of others and not on themselves, they will find wholeness and healing. When the majority of their time and thoughts are about alleviating the suffering of others and not pacifying a need for more stuff or recognition, then they will know the heart of God. Isaiah 58

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These are just a few of the things I see that is very counter-culture (even in the Church, albeit I think it’s not been on purpose) that I want my kids to know and understand and live out. I can be caught up in a world that says I deserve things and should have things and that if I have faith I will be wealthy (okay, some of this stuff is on purpose in the church), and that I should get what I want and be who I want and be the best at all of that.

This is not what Christ taught or even emulated.

This is not what his disciples taught or emulated.

This is not what the early church lived or perpetuated.

We have a gift of a great country (America) that has been given the gift of wealth and influence, not for ourselves to make castles for ourselves and drive the best and wear the best, but we are the extension of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12.

I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

As the people of God, our blessings as a nation, but more importantly as a church, a wealthy and powerful church, we have been blessed to bless. We have been blessed to humbly give to the world the gospel of a great and gracious God. To teach our kids anything less, is to be counter-productive in the Kingdom and irresponsible with the Truth. 

To teach our kids these things, we, the parents, must live them first. These things I want for my kids aren’t always played out in my own life. May His mercy and grace train me as I train them. May we all ask God to show us His ways over our own, His culture beyond our own, His plans and goals, His heart, and then, ask Him to help us leverage the blessing so that He is glorified and the nations are stunned with His majesty.

We get a lot of stuff wrong, we get a lot of stuff right, and the more humble we are to the Word of God and the indwelling Spirit, the more powerful and effective we will be in this world.

 

He must become greater. We must become less. 

 

 

 

 

Why it Really Does Take a Village

424x283.png.cffbe8e5721a4a70bb713a219be243ac.largeMy phone lights up. Someone has posted to GroupMe again. They are talking about who knows what, but I need to know who is talking about what! The app is simple. You take a group of people you want to talk to, but would rather not text or email, and everyone signs up, and voila, you have an easy and convenient way to connect with your friends. (I say connect, but we all know its a little tiny deserted island with my friends where we can huddle around our phones and say pretty much anything while using emoticons to really add umph!)

They are my community. This group of ten women on this little app on my little phone has offered more advice and prayer and laughter than any other group I have been a part of. Granted, we were a Bible study group that morphed into ten BFF’s over the last five years and GroupMe is just a way for us to stay connected, like every day, like, every minute, ahem. Moving on.

Friendship with other parents is one of the best things you could do for your parenting adventure. If you don’t have a crazy group of people who post things about recipes and their latest hair catastrophe, then find a group of like-minded people that you can do life with and talk about parenting. Talk about the challenges and the joys. Talk about what works in your family and what works in someone else’s. Explore how one family might discipline or reward their kids. Uncover ways to encourage your kids that you never thought about before. Look for gifts in other parents that can translate into your home.

What I have discovered in this group of women is that their story can help me write mine. Their struggles with their four year old or their teenager might give me the wisdom and ideas I need for mine. Their ideas about how to make a family enjoy a night together has given me many ideas of how to do the same. Their tears have been my tears. Their joys, my joys.

Parenting is hard, and it’s almost impossible to do alone. I know for most parents, the fear of failing our kids is at the top of “What I Hope I Don’t Do” list. We can’t ever believe we will never fail our kids. But, what we can believe, is that the more resources we have, the more people who have gone before us talking to us about these years, and the more Godly wisdom we can swallow, we might find that list of failures is not as terrible as we thought it might be.

For example, I almost flipped when a young man asked my oldest to the Homecoming dance. (For your information, we homeschool, so this is way out of our box.) Thankfully, he asked my husband before he asked her (bonus points for that young man). The first thing I did was talk to my group of friends about it before I made a fool of myself with my sixteen year old. Within minutes, they had talked me off the ledge and had their own stories about who asked who out and what they did or didn’t do. Crisis averted. I happily and joyfully listened to her tell me about how he asked.

That’s a simple story and we have most certainly dealt with more difficult topics as a group. The point is, I have a group. I have a safe group of moms who love Jesus and their families and we work together to make sure we can do the best we can do without the guilt of what we didn’t do. It’s a beautiful mess of honesty, tears, laughter, wisdom, Scripture, pain, guilt, encouragement, and a little drama. I would not be the woman, or mom, I am today without them.

What about you?

Do you have a safe group of parents you can talk to about raising your kids?