Hand-Me-Downs

I’ve been thinking a lot about hand-me downs lately.

I know. Large family. Hand-me-downs. Seems to go hand in hand, right?

But that’s not the hand-me-downs I mean. I’m thinking of what we’ve been handed from the generation before us, and the legacy we will hand to our children.

I readily admit I am a fighter. I grew up in a legalistic home with understood wrongs and rights, but no Biblical application to those rules. I lost my father before I ever got to know him and never emotionally attached to my mom. I suffered sexual abuse as a young teen and never received any counseling or help to process the emotions and baggage that came with. By the time I entered high school the walls of my heart were firmly in place, vowing I would always be strong enough to take care of myself because I felt I was the only one I could depend on.

But God in His grace had a plan. He kept me from many bad habits and addictions I could have turned to to numb the pain. He swooped in with a man I wasn’t looking for to show me what unconditional love could look like. He plunged us into full time ministry, making sure we would always be surrounded with the Godly mentors and examples we needed to grow up along the way.

But I’ve continued to fight the “fighter” within.

There are times it comes in handy. I fight for good mental health when everything in me wants to give up. I fight to work on relationships with my kids even when it’s incredibly hard. I live with chronic pain and I fight to do as much as I can every day. I fight to keep my marriage healthy.

I think everyone has a “fighter” within themselves. Sometimes we just have to be told that we’re allowed to fight for certain things.

Didn’t grow up going to church? Fight to find a body of believers and commit to them.

Didn’t have parents? Fight to learn how to parent in a Godly way.

Didn’t have close friends? Fight to learn how to develop close relationships.

Never witnessed a healthy marriage? Fight to understand your spouse and grow together.

No one in your home cared about health or fitness? Fight to learn good eating habits and exercise.

Grew up watching addiction destroy your family? Fight to break the cycle.

 

What hand-me-downs are you leaving your children and how will you fight for a better legacy for God’s glory?

Every Life a Story

 

My name is Sarra Hudson. I am a human interest addict.

Like, serious junkie.

I’m the kind of person that walks into a library or book store and is immediately depressed at the thought that I will never get through every story on the shelves.

I love a good story. Fiction or nonfiction. Written word or documentary on Netflix. I love it all!

Interviewing people face to face, and hearing how their life has unfolded and what they’ve learned along the way is a balm to my soul.

Sometimes walking through a crowd of people I wonder what each person passing me would have to say about their greatest triumphs and joys. Or what their biggest regret in life would be and what it has taught them. I’m a firm believer that every person has a story to tell.

So why is it so hard to tell our own story?

Sitting at my computer to share the lesson I took from the day or something God has revealed to my heart is paralyzing. I just can’t seem to conjure up the words to say it correctly. Or my point seems lost in rambling. I can sit and look at the blank screen, unsure of where to even start. Sometimes I type out a few sentences and then quit, immediately doubting that what I have to share is worth even putting out there.

Why do we find it so hard to open up and put on the page who we are and where we are at in our journey?

I don’t think it’s coincidental that Jesus spoke in parables. I think He knew how our heart responds to a good story and the life lessons we can glean from them. But not everyone understood what He was trying to say. Even those closest to Him didn’t always get the point, and they would later bring up His parable in private conversation.

In Mark 4, after Jesus shared the Parable of the Sower with the crowd, the disciples asked Him to explain.

 “When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that,

“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
    and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’

Those nearest to Jesus, listening to His every word, didn’t always understand what He was preaching at the time. It would be sometime later that many of His lessons to them would be recalled and applied.

So why do we feel that every life lesson we share should be life changing for every reader, when even our Lord didn’t minister to the heart of every person in every parable?

Our life is playing out in a story. And what we have to share may not apply to everyone at that moment. But if we feel we are led to share our testimony, if we feel someone at some point can benefit, we should gain freedom in writing it out and giving our words to the world.

If we wait until all our lessons are learned and our lives are put together, someone else will be sharing our story after we are gone.

I recently came across a movie quote (even though I don’t recommend the movie), from Sandra Bullock’s character in 28 Days. I shared it with my daughter as she graduated this year, and goes off to begin a new story of her own.

“Don’t be someone else’s slogan. You are poetry.”

Our journey is ours and ours alone. No one can dictate how we have felt about, responded to, or the lessons we’ve taken from each and every event on our timeline. But we were also made for community and being open enough to share our lives with others, written or verbally, is part of our faith journey.

Every person has a story. And I’m dying to hear yours!

Surrender the Mom Guilt.

baby touching woman s face

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

I have recently been on a journey of surrender.

I have the privilege of leading a women’s ministry at our church. I love the time I get to spend with other moms, encouraging them to pour God’s Word into their children and equipping them to do that well. I also try to encourage them that there are no perfect moms. Our children will make mistakes along the way and, as hard as it may be, we can’t own every one of those mistakes and toss them on our ever-growing pile of regrets.

The problem is I don’t always take my own advice. As a mom I feel I take so many of my children’s mistakes personally and I spend more time on the defensive trying to build bumper pads between my kids and the evils of the world than I do simply loving them and showing them Christ.

I didn’t grow up in the ideal home. My dad passed away when I was very young, and I’ve never had a close relationship with my mom. Even more evidence of God’s humor that He asked me to be the mother of such a large family! I feel completely inadequate to do this job and do it well.

Having a large family has its benefits (besides the mounds of Mother’s Day cards and infinite hello and goodbye hugs and kisses!). Spiritually, it has emptied me of myself in ways I never could have imagined. We have seen God’s hand of blessing in ways too numerous to ever completely write down.

But because of my background,  I’m realizing more everyday that having a large family has also multiplied my fears and anxieties. I live in constant fear of never being enough, never leading my children to Christ, and worst of all (to my emotional momma heart) my children hating me and having a severed relationship in their adulthood. When I start thinking about one of my child’s mistakes, it grows in my head so fast. In a matter of minutes the smallest of errors has inflated into a full blown crisis like dumping a box of water beads into a swimming pool!

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus walked intimately with his disciples. His students. His friends. And there are many references throughout scripture that tell us, especially nearing the end of His time on earth, that He knew one of them would fail. One of them would not choose the right path. But never once is there a reference to Jesus’ panic. He didn’t try to take Judas aside and show him the error of his ways. He never even calls him out by name when He knew specifically Judas was the one. He did the same as He had done throughout the rest of His time here. He loved him. Why? Because he knew the story was God’s, and the ending, no matter what it was, would be for God’s glory. 

We moms don’t need to run around with a pitcher of water trying to put out fires. We don’t need to wrap our children in bubble wrap or tape blinders to the side of their head. Our kids are going to mess up. They’re going to say and do things that show the sinful parts of their heart (just like we do). But we can rest on the promises of God. He loves each of our children more than we do.

And you know what? The coin has a flip side.

Recently one of my children, whom I’ve prayed for earnestly for a very long time, bared their heart in front of a group of people and gave God glory for some work he’s doing in them.

Can’t even type that without a flood of tears….I’ll need a minute…

I was so proud. My heart sang.

But I didn’t pat myself on the back for finally winning a blue ribbon.

I was praising Jesus and thanking God for His goodness.  You see, not only can we release ourselves from our children’s failures, we also don’t get to claim their victories. 

James 1 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.”

I don’t have the ability to change my children’s hearts. Only God can draw them to Himself. I’m simply to walk in obedience and do my part to plant and water seeds.

God gets to claim the W.

 

 

 

Our Personal Judge

Not long ago, a member of my family was charged with a crime.

It is one thing to review our Judicial System on paper or study it in high school or college classes. It is quite another to watch it play out in person, especially with a loved one involved.

This week was the sentencing hearing, when my family member would hear the punishment they would serve for their crime. My loved one felt they’d been treated unfairly by the system, and condemned it for being impersonal. They felt charges were brought without the whole picture being taken into account and they were being singled out as an example.

The details of the case are not important, but what the judge said to my loved one in response was profound.

This judge graciously looked at them and said, “This is the part where I review your individual case. Sentencing is not automatic. There isn’t a chart that gives what you are charged with and what you will serve based on your charges. Any machine can spit out an automatic sentence. I’m a real person who can review this and decide what is best for you and your future going forward. This is what I love about my job, and is the benefit of the very system you condemn.”

My mind was instantly drawn to the image of God as Judge in His word.

“In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.” Ecc 3:17 (NLT)

God is the final judge we will all face at the end of our time on Earth. And, as the judge that I witnessed in person, He has no choice but to hand down a guilty sentence upon those who have sinned. That’s you. That’s me. Everyone.

“For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Rom 3:23 (NIV)

God does not rejoice in declaring one of His creation condemned. He doesn’t abuse His power and give unjust punishment. It is the consequence of sin. It is a heart condition we are born into and can not escape.

BUT…

Glory! There’s a second half to that verse!

“…and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Rom 3:23 (NIV)

There it is. Our personal, caring, compassionate judge. Willing to review each individual case and find a loophole to dismiss the charges!

And a loophole there is! Christ!

“For it by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works so that no one can boast.” Eph 2:8-9 (NIV)

God is His infinite wisdom had a plan! A way to dismiss the charges completely!

Nothing I can do will render me innocent. No good deed. No cash gift. No meal served. No perfect marriage or responsible children. No perfect church attendance. No list of things I did or did not do.

Nothing.

It’s a gift. All we have to do is believe that Christ went to that cross to cancel our debt. He paid our ransom!

And when our time on Earth expires and we stand before the Judge, if we have accepted this gift of salvation, we are not seen as guilty. God sees only the blood of Christ covering each and every sin, and ushers us into eternity with Him.

Condemnation is heavy. The tension was thick in the courtroom that day. It’s heart wrenching to see a loved one condemned and sentenced. How much heavier would it be to stand and be judged in the presence of God?

I was thankful for the reminder of the saving work of Christ so that I will never have to know!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring!

Being a mom is rough. Seriously.

And people really need to stop using the word “only” in front of how many kids they have when we’re having a conversation.

I had no idea what I was doing when I had one kid.

And I still don’t…

But, today one kid said, “Thanks for being a good mom.”

And I said “You’re welcome.”

And so today was good.

Also, weather above 50 degrees is the bomb after spring has taken 37 years to come…

 

 

 

White As Snow

I’m from Northwest Ohio, which basically means I am capable of experiencing all 4 seasons within any 7 day period.

It’s January, and I actually like snow. Not being out in it necessarily. (My husband has always been the sledder and snow romper with my kids.) But I do appreciate the effect snow has on the pace of the world. Like, snow ten inches and make life stop racing for 48 hours! Woo-hoo!

And thanks to being the hot seat of Mother Nature’s schitzophrenic episodes,  we aren’t typically on lock down long before a warm up happens and life resumes. (Which is about the time we all get stir crazy and are done with board games for awhile, so it works out.)

We had one of these exact series of events just this past week. Snow storms and life cancelled, only to have a warm up into the 50’s later in the week. At some point during that warm day, I went to my sun room and stood in front of the windows that over look my backyard. My immediate thought was, “Ugh”.

You know those last few days of fall into winter when your kids are trying to get as much play time as possible? Well, my kids do. And they will pull out baseball gloves and footballs and kickballs, all in an attempt to get in a few more days before the snow falls. Unfortunately, some of the gear never gets put away. There always seems to be the stray baseball or football glove. Football or football tee. Jacket. Notebook. Flip-flop. Please tell me someone else has a yard like this?

 

There just always seems to be those things that you see right as winter is coming, but you never get around to picking up, and then, well, spring will come around again…

Which is what I really love about snow! A few inches on that ground and no one can see a thing! It’s like that great big proverbial rug to sweep it all under! Backyard: clean! Ta-da!

Until that morning. When I looked out across that yard, I suddenly saw the now wet, soggy, dirty remains of stuff littering my lawn. Not nearly as pretty as that snow.

Just as my attitude started to really sour about how my children always seem to leave things out and why can’t my place just look nice for once, I heard a little voice say “It’s better covered, isn’t it?”  The verse from Isaiah 1 popped into my head,

“Though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red as crimson,

they shall be like wool.”

I know it’s a bit cliche to always think of that verse when snow falls, but this day it hit me differently.

I like the snow to cover junk and the mess of my yard. I like the “white” of forgiveness to cover my sins.

But I’m not sure that I’m very good at leaving them covered.

God says “I will not remember your sins” in Isaiah 43 and and in Psalms 103 He says, “ For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

But in my finite strength, this is extremely hard to do. I vividly remember my own past mistakes. Some of them can make me cringe when they replay on the film of my mind. Oh my, the regret and shame can be heavy.

As a parent, I want to set a better example. As I sat staring at the disarray of my backyard, I realized again my job of being an ambassador for Christ. Every aspect of my life is supposed to reflect to my children a quality of Christ. If I keep rehashing a struggle or repeat offense to one of them in the wrong way, I’m only going to cement in their mind that we can’t get away from our sins and that they can’t measure up. Eventually, they’ll picture God with his frying pan, ready to pounce when they screw up!

I’m a disciplinarian parent. (Not just because I have ten kids and I’m afraid to get eaten alive!) It’s my personality.  I don’t tend to err on the side of grace. The snow that day reminded me that when I accepted the gift of Jesus’ blood offering for my sins, it was complete and infinite. God covers all the dirt and decay of my sin past, present, and future!

That’s the example I want to be for my kids. No one wants to be around someone who pulls their dirty laundry out of the hamper over and over. No one wants a momma yelling, “Why are we still dealing with this?!”  God has patience with my trouble spots. I want to try harder to do the same for my kids this year.

Romans 4:8 
Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin.

Striving to give God the glory in 2018.

A book you shouldn’t miss…

 

There aren’t many things in life that can grow your character like parenting. To have mini versions of yourself walking around your home, daily exposing the things you dislike most about yourself is quite a unique experience. A whole gaggle of them, well, you get the picture…

And yet, God has called us to the task!

Throughout my years of parenting, I have read endless books on the subject. I did not at all feel equipped or prepared to be a mother. With every page I  turned, I hoped to find that one tidbit of advice that could finally make me feel like I’ve got it all under control. Some formula, some reward system that would be a guarantee to the perfectly raised child who would be forever grateful to their mother for their perfect upbringing. (Insert all your eyerolls and sighs…)

The last couple of years I had given up this task, feeling every book just made me feel  more confused and helpless. (Maybe that was just entering the world of raising teens!) There just wasn’t a self-help book that could provide a magic pill of happiness!

It was about this time last year that I received an email advertising a new parenting book being released. It was called Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, by Paul David Tripp. I would normally have skipped over it thinking I didn’t have time for it, but we were getting close to starting another year of meetings with our Moms and Munchkins group at church and I thought it looked like a great resource to purchase and give away a few copies to the moms. It was a cheap introductory price so I went ahead and bought one for myself as well, just in case.

551933_1_ftc

When I read the intro I was already in tears. I have read more parenting books on the market than I would probably ever like to admit, but this one is like nothing I’ve ever read before! It has drastically changed the way I view parenting and really even living the Christian life! There’s one major premise that I needed thrown in my face, I am a sinner raising sinners.

My three greatest takeaways…

  1. I am still a work in progress and I am more like my children than different. I have a lot of character to develop myself!
  2. Feeling inadequate is not only normal, but it’s the point. Parenting should cause me to run to Jesus!
  3. Every conversation and interaction with my children is a chance to point them to the cross. God, in His infinite wisdom and grace, cares about every moment we spend molding their hearts and gives us those opportunities daily.

Even if you aren’t in the traditional role of Parenting, I recommend reading this book! If you are a foster parent, a teacher, Sunday School worker, or a daycare provider you can benefit from this! Honestly, if you interact with other humans in any way, there’s no harm in reading it!

Here are a few purchase options for you:

CBD

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

If you purchase and read it, come back and give me your opinion!

May you be blessed,

Sarra