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?

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.

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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