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.

Taking Heart

God Who Waits

IMG_7676Note: These shorter posts are reshared from content on my Instagram. I’ve found it easier these days to write shorter reflections there, but still plan to hit up this blog once in a while for longer pieces too!

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Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace
Freely bestowed on all who believe,
You who are longing to see his face
Will you this moment his grace receive?
– Grace Greater Than Our Sin

***

As a kid, I got stomachaches in the middle of the night. I’d want to wake my mom but was afraid I’d get in trouble. I never got scolded, but even so I’d wait until it was unbearable.

I’ve come to see I do the same with God.

***

There’s no such thing as cheap grace. There‘s presumption, the wrong notion that love looks at sin and says, “whatever, no big deal.” But that’s not grace. Grace is costly. All who’ve come to love our crucified Christ know this.

Sometimes though, the enemy takes my understanding of costly grace and twists it. He says to me:

…You’re going to pray about that again?
…Shouldn’t you be doing better by now?
…Can’t you handle this one on your own?

So I try to. Because I don’t want to presume on God’s kindness. I don’t want to test his patience. I don’t want to keep being so needy. I don’t want to get scolded.

But I am needy, and God knows I needed these words this week:

“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.” (Isaiah 30:18)

It turns out that I test God’s patience my own way— by not going to him. I have tested him, and he has proven to be so, so patient.

Just when we think we’ve out-asked, out-needed, overestimated him—when we finally come to him— he exalts himself in showing mercy.

So beloved, pray about that need again today. Come to him broken, come sinful, come wanting.

He waits to be gracious to you.

Motherhood & Family, Truth & Orthodoxy

Because You Tell Me

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Overheard today—

Jeff: You’re a very pretty girl!
Daughter: I know.
Jeff: How do you know?
Daughter: Because you tell me!

Not too long ago I had another conversation telling one of our girls why she was so special to me.

Her: Why are we talking about this?
Me: Do you want to talk about something else? Like why your brother is special?
Her: Yes!

I told a friend recently that growing up I was never insecure about my looks— even with big glasses, braces, and no sense of style. I attribute it to 1) not having TV, teen magazines, or Instagram. And 2) having a dad who told me I was beautiful. Dad told me this enough that I took it to be true. Then I didn’t even need to think about how I looked, pretty or not.

Every day we are presented with visions of beauty, aptitude, talent. As we scroll and scroll, we are lured into judging. To comparing. Then we filter and crop our lives to size. We forget we are image bearers, that God lovingly designed us with our builds and heights and hair. With our talents, gifts, and passions.

In Christ, our Father removes us from the slippery slopes of comparison and places us on level ground. You don’t need to earn his approval. You don’t need to compare. You don’t need to hold yourself to the world’s standards. And from this place of security, you can walk on.

Not to self-esteem boosting, mirror pep talks, and self-love memes. But to serving others. To neighbor-love. To God-glorifying stewardship.

Today, let your Father tell you what he thinks of you. Believe him. Let him free you from insecurity until you can forget yourself. And then move on to greater things.

Like listing all the reasons your little brother is so special.