Motherhood & Family

Greater Is He

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(from Instagram)

I felt the fall last night, the pain of childbearing. In the beating my body has taken in birthing and caring for a newborn. In the toil of raising sinful children. In my own hard-heartedness.

***

I’m sick of dealing with sin.

I think that to myself after refereeing another bedtime squabble. Nothing new, but it’s the mundanity of the self-centeredness that gets to me, that pervasive inward curvature of sin. I think about what it would be like to raise children in a pre-Genesis 3 world. I’m tired and mad and tired.

I retreat from their room when the Spirit speaks: Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world (1 Jn 4:4). A cheery voice calls from across the hall, “Mom, can we pray together?” It is a divine invitation.

I‘m still angry, but what am I going to do? Say, “No!“? So I reenter. First, anything you’re thankful for? Then, more accusatory than I‘m proud of, anything you need to say sorry for?

Their confessions catch me unguarded and convict me. They share specific moments from the day I hadn’t noticed. They give humble insights on their weaknesses. They apologize and forgive. My heart softens. We talk about friendship and family and seeing each other’s sin. I’m asked for verses that will help with a particular struggle with the flesh. We talk about Christ’s forgiveness and the Spirit’s help.

Then we pray.

I pray the gospel over us, over me. It is sheer grace I am able to do so. God himself turned the tide; he spoke, he invited, he softened.

All in spite of me, my sin, and the fall.

***

“Sometimes when I’m in a bad mood, it’s hard to do the right thing,” she says.

Me too, baby. But, praise be to God— greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world.

Taking Heart

My Baby Girl Smiled

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(Reposted from Instagram)

Men are afraid to have good thoughts of God. They think it is a boldness to eye God as good, gracious, tender, kind, loving. I speak of saints. They can judge Him hard, austere, severe, almost implacable, and fierce (the very worst affections of the very worst of men, and most hated by God). Is not this soul-deceit from Satan? Was it not His design from the beginning to inject such thoughts of God? Assure yourself, then, there is nothing more acceptable to the Father than for us to keep up our hearts unto Him as the eternal fountain of all that rich grace which flows out to sinners in the blood of Jesus.
– John Owen

My baby girl smiled.

Oh, the way her bright eyes turned crescent and her little mouth opened to almost laughing! I laughed with her, and was so moved by her that I teared up. I know it’s a newborn reflex, but that’s fine. She’s mine, and she smiled, and I love her so.

That was yesterday, and I am thinking today: If I, with my finite love, can take such delight in my daughter, how much more does our infinite Father delight in us, his children?

Some see God as a cosmic, soft, permissive, Santa. Their wrong thoughts of him don’t allow them to see his holiness, justice, and wrath. But I am constantly tempted to see God as harsh, disapproving, and impossible to please. My wrong thoughts of God cloud my vision of his steadfast love and Fatherly delight. How far from the truth this is and how it must grieve him.

Perhaps you are like me, jealous to uphold God’s holiness but timid about his love. To God’s children who are like me–

…What if we dared to believe that God delights in his creation?

…That he regards us with joy and love— fruits of the Spirit?

…That as he makes us more like Christ, he rejoices in the image of himself he sees in us?

…That as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him? (Psalm 103:13)

…That he sent his Son to save, because that’s how much he loves?

How we would know him more truly and love him more deeply!

Beloved, believe. May you smile to think of his love for you today. And would you know his delight for you when you do.

Motherhood & Family

Garden, Not Museum

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(Reposted from Instagram)

“Mama! I make dinosaur!”

I’ve been learning that caring for a home is less like curating a museum and more like tending a garden.

Gardeners can’t set and forget. They don’t expect their plots to stay weed-free after an afternoon of work. Their space is not sterile or pristine. But in the tangle of stems, leaves, and roots comes a harvest.

In the home, there’s also always more to do. Laundry and organizing and spilled milk and homework and hungry children and fussy babies. This can be so frustrating when we’re doing the same thing day in and day out. And especially so when little people seem to follow us around undoing what we’ve done.

But from this soil God brings a harvest. Of loved children. Of fun and laughter. Of mom learning patience. Of all of us learning forgiveness. Of helpful big sisters graciously cleaning up blue dinosaurs.

Of grace.

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. (Proverbs 14:4)

Church & Ministry, Motherhood & Family

Fridge Photos, Missions, and Your Children

(Reposted from Instagram)

Today my daughter spoke about our friends in Zambia. Before her presentation, I sent a message to let our friends know they were about to be introduced to a group of children in Staten Island. And I thought about how grateful I am for them. Not just for the amazing work they do, but what it means for our kids to know them.

As a mom, I want my children to have a global perspective on life and faith. I want them to know there are better dreams than the Asian standard of security and the American idol of self-fulfillment. I want them to know that following Christ is not about self-preservation, but being freed to die to self that others may live. But it’s one thing to talk about all this, and a whole other thing to have them see what it looks like in the flesh. Which is why I thank God for our many dear friends overseas who are living in faithful obedience to his call.

I grew up with missionary families passing through our home, their pictures on our fridge. Even now if my mom catches you looking at the photos in her kitchen, she’ll seize the opportunity to tell you what these men and women are doing around the world. My parents never publicized their giving, nor did they treat it as a matter of legalistic duty. Supporting global missions— in prayer, with finances, through hospitality— was just a normal, joyful part of Christian life.

I wonder if my parents knew that my vision of Christianity was being formed in crucial ways. That I was learning that if even I didn’t go overseas, I ought to leverage my life for the sake of those who have yet to know Christ’s name. That I was being given a chance to see missionaries not as legends, but real people making real sacrifices enduring real suffering because the gospel is precious and people are worth it. I wonder if they realized the biggest beneficiaries of their generosity were being raised under their roof.

My sweet girl said today, “You can raise money for the missionaries… you can pray for the missionaries…” Yes, it will be grace to them. But it will also be grace to you and your children.

P.S. Choshen Farm, we love you and are so, so grateful for your friendship, example, and ministry.

P.P.S. Friends, check them out.

Motherhood & Family

God Who Pursues

(Reposted from Instagram)

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So much about parenting is hard. The sleepless nights, the pouring out, the not knowing what I’m doing. But the hardest thing is how little control I have over what matters most.

Jeff and my greatest hope for our children is that they’d know and walk with Christ. My greatest fear is that they won’t.

Will my children know God?

Sometimes this fear drives me to my knees. These are my best times, too few and far between, when I let desperation and helplessness usher me to God’s throne of grace.

Do my kids love Jesus?

Sometimes this fear becomes panic. Like a madwoman, I act as if I alone stand between my children and a future I fear is barreling toward them. My words come out forcefully, but not with God’s power.

Will he save them?

And sometimes, my fear leads me to wrong thoughts of God himself. I can’t know for sure whether my children will trust him. And his sovereignty starts looking more like fate than fatherhood, his election more like impersonal algorithm than love.

This week, I opened up the Scriptures and so did one my girls. In the same room, we read. I prayed. She highlighted. And when she shared later what she’d gleaned, I held back tears. God had spoken to her. She had insight that wasn’t from me. True thoughts of God from God himself. I caught a glimpse of God‘s pursuit of her heart and mind. And the fact that he is pursuing her apart from me.

Parents, God wants our children to know him more than we do. He is more committed to leading them in the truth than we are. He has chosen their times and places so that, seeking him, they would find him (Acts 17:26-27). He will not allow us to singlehandedly set the courses of their future because he loves them more than we ever could.

So let’s teach them his word. Let’s pray for them with tears. Let’s repent and live as examples of those being changed by the gospel. And let’s remember that we do all this because God first pursued us.

Because he chooses to pursue them them through us, we tread with holy fear.

Because he pursues them, we walk on solid ground.