Following Jesus

Grant has a story to tell

I wrote this story in 2011 and each year on Grant’s birthday I try to post it again to remind you (and me!) of God’s faithfulness.

223132_10150227969075600_2996515_nNine months ago, Rick and I were perfectly content with our 4 kids.  We both felt “done” and were already giving away all the maternity and baby stuff.  Honestly, the thought of getting pregnant again made me literally ill.  I had NO desire to go through that again and certainly didn’t feel like I had any extra capacity for another pregnancy.  Around that time, God was working big time on both of us.  God had begun a true revival of Rick’s heart.  It was amazing to watch.  I was trying to keep up, tagging along, reading the same books.  We both became very convicted of WHO was in control of our lives… was it us or was it the Lord?  He was asking us both for full submission and surrender.  I heard him ask, Would you move for Me?   Would you let Rick quit his job if I asked him to? and then the BIG one, Would you have another baby if I wanted you to?  Oy.  It took some time, some real killing of my flesh and some tears, but in August I finally said, Yes, Lord to each of His questions.  And certainly the last one was the hardest.

On October 16th I found out that I was pregnant.  I’d like to say that I skipped around the house in joy, but that’s not what happened.  I wasn’t thrilled.  I was overcome with fear of dealing with a tough pregnancy while parenting these 4 kids.  I felt totally incapable.  But in the midst of those feelings, there was a deep assurance that I was in God’s will.  For surely this had not been my idea.  And when we’re in God’s will, we know He is with us and for us.  So I prayed a very specific prayer that night.  I asked God for three things…1) That I would not have headaches (with Anne Claire I had a 1-month long headache)… 2) That I would not be nauseous… 3) That I would not have my typical contractions beginning half-way through the pregnancy.

Now 7 months later I can testify that God answered ALL of those prayers completely.  NO headaches, NO nausea, NO early contractions.  This has truly been my easiest pregnancy!  I could go on and on about just this part of the story because it was so truly miraculous and personal.  But the best part is still to come…

Throughout this time God was still doing amazing things in Rick.  In 10 years of 206754_10150204109830600_48872_nmarriage, I have never seen him reading the Word or praying more.  And he began fasting consistently.  In January he went on a mission trip to Ecuador and saw God do mighty miracles, including healing the blind.  His faith was growing day by day.  When he came home, he told me that he was looking for the next step and asking God to stretch him (FYI husbands: You should ask your wives’ permission before praying a prayer like that!)  Neither of us knew that God was going to quickly take Rick up on his request.

In February we went to the doctor to find out the sex of the baby.  As I signed in, I was handed a bill for many thousands of dollars.  Long story short, our insurance had changed at the beginning of the year and we were now required to pay my entire doctor bill BEFORE we could go to another appointment.  Needless to say, we did not have that money on hand and had no idea where we would get it.  We were given until April 8th to pay the bill.

215397_10150227963145600_361931_nWe discussed the idea of finding a different doctor who’d let us go on a payment plan.  We also discussed applying for some kind of gov’t assistance.  But Rick felt that this was it – the stretching of our faith that he had been asking for.  He said that we should pray and believe God would provide.  I went along with his idea, though struggling to have the faith to move such a huge mountain.  So we prayed, we read the Word.  It was such a sweet time.  We even told the kids about it and began praying with them.  At night, Luke still asks to pray for baby money.  The week before April 8th we all fasted one thing per day… candy, sweets, TV, etc.  Then every night we prayed as a family.

But April 8th came and there was no magical money in the mailbox, no unexpected gifts.  Only our tax return which we needed for something else.  That morning when I left for the doctor, Evie said, Mom, don’t forget to call and tell us what God did.  Yikes…. The pressure was on.  I walked up to the counter and, sure enough, I was again handed a bill for many thousands of dollars.  I must have looked as terrible as I felt because they agreed to split the bill in half.  I handed over several cards and cobbled together the money, mostly from our tax return.  I texted Rick the bad news.  I couldn’t stand to hear his disappointed voice.

That was a hard day.  Not because of the money, but because we had to tell the kids.  Why had God not provided?  He would have received so much glory.  It would have been such a faith-builder for the kids.  We didn’t understand.

But Rick had an idea.  He sat us all down and read a story from Hudson Taylor’s biography about a time God provided, but not when Taylor had expected it.  He also had us recount all the ways God had already been faithful to our family (i.e. healing Rick’s dad of cancer, providing our home and his job).  We thanked God for all of those things.  I don’t know if I have ever been more proud of Rick.

So the second half of the money was due May 10th (this past Tuesday).  So again we prayed, but it was hard to muster up the same level of expectation.  It showed me that I have so far to go in my level of faith and perseverance in prayer.

But then it happened.  Out of the blue one Thursday afternoon, Rick checked the mail and there it was.  One sentence on my doctor’s letterhead.   

This letter is to make you aware that your account is paid in full for your OB Prepay…

We both looked at each other in astonishment.  How was our account paid in full?  We had only paid half.  Being the skeptic that I am, I immediately contacted both of our moms, but they both said they had NOT paid the bill.  We were baffled.  Again, being the skeptic that I am, I feared they had just made a clerical error.  I couldn’t be completely sure until I walked into the OB and talked to them face to face.

So Tuesday morning I packed that letter in my wallet and drove to the doctor.  I checked in and sheepishly said, Do I need to go over to the payment desk?  I heard the most beautiful words, Nope.  You’re good to go.  You can have a seat.  It was true.  The bill was paid in full!  We don’t owe them any more money!  Praise the Lord!!

199203_10150204111290600_3047896_nDo you know who paid that bill?  GOD paid it.  Not in the way we expected or even the way we prayed, but He did it.  And He gets all the glory.  Praise the Lord for his incredible goodness!  In March, Fran Busch gave us this scripture from Psalm 31:19-21 Oh how GREAT is Your goodness…which you have prepared for those who trust in You…Blessed be the Lord for He has shown me His marvelous kindness!  (I love the idea that God’s goodness was already prepared for us even before we had the need).

So this baby has only been alive for 33 weeks and look at all God has already done for 265124_10150300097680600_3943236_nhim and because of him.  Maybe now you see why we chose the name “Grant Fidelis” meaning “Great Faith!”   I can’t wait to tell Grant about what God did.  I am reminded of this verse that the Lord gave me at the very beginning of my pregnancy.

Psalm 22:30-31  Our children and their children will get in on this as the word is passed along from parent to child.  Babies not yet conceived will hear the good news – that God does what He says.

 

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Why I’m a little tired of being called a super mom

I could never do what you do.

Better you than me.

I don’t have as much patience as you.

These are the top comments I hear from other moms when they hear that I have lots of kids or that I homeschool.  And I’m here to say that those 3 statements couldn’t be any further from the truth.

You can do what I do.

You would probably do it better than me.

You SURELY have as much patience as me.

BThere is a myth that large-family and/or homeschooling moms are somehow a cut above the rest.  That only a select few can succeed at such a feat and the rest of moms shouldn’t even try.  As my tween daughter would say, that’s “riDONCulous.”

Just like a runner finishes a marathon or an accountant finishes an audit or a nurse graduates from school, any mom can raise lots of kids or homeschool.  And just like running, business and college, it’s not easy or for the faint of heart. Dare I say it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done?  But it should be hard.  Molding little tyrannical toddlers into responsible adults is no small job.  But it’s doable.  And worthy of being done.

So why shouldn’t you do it?  Why shouldn’t you be the one to raise a bunch of beautiful babies who go out and change the world?  Why shouldn’t you be the one to teach those minds of mush what they need to know?  Why not you?

But I must confess that I do have one secret weapon.  And I’m guessing many moms in my situation would agree.

I have Someone who steps in and takes over when I am spent, done, gone, about to run away.  He made me a promise a long time ago that when I am weak, He would be strong on my behalf.  I’ve taken Him at His word and found him to be completely trustworthy.

You have access to this same secret weapon.  His name is the Lord of Hosts. God Almighty.  He is the source of patience.  The source of order.  The source of organization.  The source of love.

How many times have I cried out to him (usually by about 8:00am,) okay Lord, I’m all out of patience!  I need to draw on yours now.  And He delivers.  Every.single.time.

So, yes, mom… you can do it.  Because He has all that you need.  He loves those babies even more than you do, if you can imagine it.  He spent 9 months crafting them in perfection in your womb, just the place He chose for them to begin.  And He has big plans for those mini monsters.  Plans for them to learn, to influence and to thrive.  Surely He will give you all you need to partner with Him in this incredible role of Mom.

Why is everything so upside down? Thoughts from an angry pregnant mama

Within a few miles of my house is a place where babies are killed, their parts harvested and sold to the highest bidder.

How did we get here?

How is this allowed?  Legal?  Openly admitted and applauded?

How have pro-life people become the bad guys?  The ones who are shamed, marginalized, mocked?

How did the world get so upside down?

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, watch this video of a Planned Parenthood executive discussing the sale of baby body parts to a biomedical firm:

I don’t have all the answers and I’m just as guilty as anyone of being a fair-weather pro-life advocate.  My attention span has been too short and my focus too easily distracted.  But today, right now, I’m fired up.  I’m angry.  I’m FURIOUS at what we have become and allowed.

How do we come back from this?  How do we stop the tsunami of depravity that seems ready to sweep us too far gone?

Here are my simple ideas….

Obey God’s first commandments from Genesis…

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.

He tells us to enter into male/female unions and to reproduce.  Then he tells us to rule over the animals and the earth.

Why does a turtle’s life matter more than a human’s?

We have come so far from these simple commands.  In fact we celebrate the opposite.  We celebrate same-sex relationships, sex outside of marriage and any attempt to prevent or end pregnancy.

We have the “rule the earth” thing upside down too.  Instead the earth rules us.  We have elevated animals and the environment to a place God never planned.  Never was this more clear than our recent trip to the beach where we saw the sea turtle nests roped off on the beach and signage spelling out the criminal penalties for disturbing the nests.  Imagine if I had broken the eggs and sold off the baby turtle parts as souvenirs?  I would be hauled off to jail.  But there would be no (criminal) consequence to doing that to the 18-week old child currently living inside of me.

When we disregard God’s earliest commandments, what can we expect?  To be blessed?  To have His favor?  Like a good parent, His rules are there for our benefit.  They are like an umbrella to protect us.  When we willfully step outside the umbrella, we should expect to get wet.

Take practical steps to defend the unborn…

I like to DO something in these situations, so here are a few suggestions

  • Find out if your elected officials received campaign donations from Planned Parenthood here and then let them know how you feel.
  • Sign this petition asking Congress to investigate Planned Parenthood.
  • Visit your local abortion clinic to pray, protest and reach out to mothers.  In Central Florida, this group organizes monthly kid-friendly protests at a local clinic.
  • Financially support the pro-life organization of your choice.
  • Babysit for a friend so she can participate in pro-life activities.

Live a pro-life lifestyle for others to see…

  • Don’t have sex until marriage.
  • Don’t enter into unGodly relationships, including same-sex ones.
  • Fill your heart with God’s view of family and children (Psalm 139 is a great place to start)

    Take every opportunity to love on a pregnant mama!

    Take every opportunity to love on a pregnant mama!

  • Submit your family planning decisions to the Lord.  Really ask Him what He wants and then be willing to be obedient.
  • Celebrate babies!  Give generously at baby showers, take meals to new moms, rejoice when a new pregnancy is announced.
  • Don’t let your life become ruled by animals or the environment.  Love those pets, but keep a healthy view of their place in God’s economy.  Be a good steward of the earth, but don’t let environmentalism become an idol or controlling factor in your life.
  • Teach your children these truths.  They won’t hear them anywhere else!

As angry and disappointed as I am, I find such hope in the fact that we know how the story ends.  God wins.  The enemy loses.  Death is conquered and the grave is overcome.  Those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will live forever in a place without tears or sadness or sorrow.  But in the interim, will be shine brightly in our ever-increasing darkness?  I hope so.

Time with God:: How I manage to stay connected in the midst of kids & chaos

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Because if I go read my Bible in my room for 30 minutes, the 2yr old will find the chocolate cake batter!

I was 19 and away at college.  I would wander out of my red brick dorm and across the street to the breezy outdoor amphitheater, complete with white columns among a pristine lawn.  There I would sit with my warm coffee, full journal and frequently-read Bible, praying and reading and writing complete sentences.  THIS is what a “quiet time” with the Lord is supposed to be… or so I thought for many, many years after.  But I found it impossible to recreate that sublime moment as my blessed life brought me a house to care for and babies to puke on its floors.  On those few days when I could actually FIND my Bible, I spent the entire time re-reading the same chapter five times because each verse had been interrupted with butt-wiping or fight-settling or snack-providing.  And at the end of my so-called quiet time, I felt more stressed than when I had begun and more prone to giving up on the whole idea.  And maybe I would have if it hadn’t been for the GUILT. See, I was a youth leader. I was a small-group leader.  I SHOULD BE HAVING PEACEFUL, ANOINTED, INSPIRED TIMES WITH GOD EVERY DAY. But I wasn’t. I was fighting to read a chapter that I wasn’t even comprehending.

Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you are there. Well, girlfriend, I am 12 years and 5 kids into this parenting adventure and I have some advice for you.

Give up on having a daily quiet time.

At least that white column, hot coffee type.  Girl, you are in a new season and you need a new strategy.  I feel like I’ve finally found it and MAN is it liberating!  Now, slow down.  I didn’t say to give up on connecting with the Lord.  That is more necessary now than ever!!  I mean, what did I even have to pray about in college?  Which elective to pick?  What to wear on my date?  Oy.  NOW is when we need to cry out, ask for wisdom and draw on His strength.  But not in the same way. New season.  New strategy.

So how do we do it?  Here’s what’s been working for me.

work willingly

A dear friend gave me this and I’ve had it by my sink ever since. Such a great reminder!

Put Bible verses up in my house

No, you don’t need the help of Pinterest or a trip to Hobby Lobby.  (unless you want to go to Hobby Lobby, then by all means use this as your excuse)

Just grab some computer paper and your Bible and write down a few verses that encourage you.  Tape those things around your house. No tape?  Band-aids work great! I put mine by my kitchen sink, washing machine and fridge.  Which means I’m guaranteed to read those verses about 100 times a day!

Listen to worship music

Whether you use Pandora, Spotify, or YouTube, make yourself a good playlist.  And if you’re not tech savvy or want to cry at the thought of anyone having enough free time to make a playlist, just go to YouTube and search “worship playlist.”  Hit play.  Done.  Do this while you wash dishes, make dinner, fold laundry, nurse the baby, whatever.

Listen to quality Christian teachers

During the day, put on a video of a good Christian teacher.  Some of my favorites are Beth Moore, Francis Chan, and Matt Chandler.  Even if you only catch bits and pieces as you walk in and out of the room (what is this “sitting down” thing that people speak of?), that’s fine.  And it’s great for your kids to hear too!

Follow Christian people & organizations on social media

Let’s face it.  What you see while you scroll through Facebook / Instagram / Twitter really does affect your perspective. Next time you’re sitting in a car line  or sitting at the 22nd pediatrician visit this month, go through your social media and delete all the trash, all the new age nonsense, all the gossips, etc.  Then start following some people or organizations that post truth. Some of my favorites are GraceLaced, Lysa TerKeurst, Franklin Graham, Reinhard Bonnke, and Dr. Henry Cloud.

Read the Bible and pray with your kids

Did I lose you?  Has your mom guilt already overcome you?  Wait, hear me out.  This is what it looks like at my house.

Me: “Kids!!!  Grab your Bibles and come sit down.”

{10 minutes of searching for Bibles, me included}

Me: “Let’s read [whatever pops in my head / a story that’s been on my mind / something my church has been teaching / today’s Proverb]”

Big kids take turns reading the verses.

By now your littles may be coloring on your walls or sitting on your head (I wish I was making that up).  So you might be done for the day.  But maybe, just maybe, the Holy Spirit’s sweet peace has descended on that room (try it, it happens!) and maybe there’s time for a few questions.  Ask the kids what they thought.  Explain the verses to them.  Make some sort of practical application.  Now take turns praying.

{10 minutes later… after THAT child has prayed for every known creature and situation in the entire universe}

You’re done.  You did it!  No one died!  And guess what?  You learned something too.  There is NO better way to learn something than to teach it.  Trust me.  I’ve just figured out compound interest, thanks to homeschooling!

Talk to your kids about God during the day

Isn’t the sky gorgeous?  God painted that!  He paints a new one every day!

Why do you think God made a caterpillar to turn into a butterfly?

Did you know that God made this tangly hair?  Let’s brush it and see if we can count it.  Did you know He knows the exact number?

I’m sorry your tummy hurts.  Let’s ask God to heal it.

That was very naughty.  God says that children should obey their parents… and he promises long life if you do!

I promise you that these types of comments will do so much to direct their AND YOUR hearts toward the Lord.

Pray all day long

Who said prayer had to be a 30-minute event that happens in a closet?  Here’s what my prayer life looks like these days.

Lord, thank you that my children like to greet the rising sun, so that I can see your sunrise… and forgive me for maybe not meaning that.

Lord, help me make breakfast for 5 kids with 2 bananas and 3 bagels.

Lord, forgive me for yelling at the kids and lecturing them about how starving kids in Africa would die for a breakfast made from 2 bananas and 3 bagels.”

Lord, our attempt at a family devotional was a disaster.  Help me to do that better next time.  Give me a better strategy.

Lord thank you that I get to stay home with these kids, an answer to prayer from a long time ago.

Lord thank you that we have the money to pay for these clothes and this washing machine that I get to spend so much time with.

Lord, it’s 3pm and I don’t think I’m going to make it through this day without hurting someone.  Please be my strength.  You say that You are strong in my weakness.

Lord, I just heard about someone who is sick / hurting / lonely / poor.  Please be with them and thank you for giving me a new perspective on my wonderful life.  Help me to stay grateful.

Lord, we made it through another day.  Those sweet babies are the world to me.  What a privilege it is to raise them, even though I am currently wearing more than one of their bodily fluids.

So there you have it.  My uber-spiritual prayer life.  Now, is there time for true intercession, true undivided time with God? Of course!  It’s tough to manage, but it is necessary.  But I think in this season, God is okay with our one-liners.  You see, He already knows the cries of your heart.  It is our choice to cry TO HIM that is so pleasing to Him.

So be at peace sweet mama.  Make some intentional efforts to weave your connections with God into your day.  And then relax.  He is with you.  Look to Him for all you need and cut yourself some slack.

Look up

I’m a helpless news junkie.  The kind that knows exactly what time BBC America comes on.  And what time it’s replayed in case I miss it.  NPR and talk radio round out the top 3 pre-sets in my car.  My Twitter feed looks like it belongs to a White House pool reporter.  While this obsession interest provides for some great mommy brain stimulation, it can also be incredibly depressing. Because the news is awful.  Horrible.  Vile.  Perverse.  And that’s just my local 11pm newscast.  As you move from there to the national and international stage, the news becomes overwhelmingly dark, almost too much to wrap your mind around.  Sex trafficking?  Hostages burned alive?  Children tagged and sold in open markets simply for being Christians?  Tens of millions of babies aborted on our street corners?  Child pornography flowing like water across our airwaves?  It’s simply more than I can bear sometimes.

What do we do with this evil?  Some of you may choose to look the other way.  Some of you may choose to join it.  Some of you may look down in shame that you do nothing.  But I have found that the only place to look is up.  The only answer to the horror that surrounds us is God the Father.  The God of the Bible.  The God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.  You see, the presence of this awful depravity is proof of God’s existence.  How can there be dark without light?  How can there be evil without good as its counterpart?  How can there be lies without truth?  God stands alone as the perfect specimen, the ideal form, the classic exemplar.  When men and women reject Him, turn from Him, walk in their own way, they do so at their own peril.  Because walking away from the Light must be equivalent to walking toward the darkness.

Friends, we were not created to live in darkness.  We were fashioned perfectly to walk with Him in the garden [of Eden] in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8) but instead, God found us hiding in shame.  Why?  Because we chose against Him.  We chose the forbidden fruit.  Darkness instead of light.  Self-gratification instead of obedience.  And so, we left Him no choice.  As a holy, righteous and pure God, He could not abide with rebellion.  Like a bright light suddenly casts off all the darkness, so Adam and Eve had to be cast from His presence.  How it must have grieved the Creator to be separated from His creation.  In fact his grief was so great that then and there He set a plan into motion to rescue those lost and wayward children from their own depravity.  He signified this by the first ever shedding of blood.

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.  (Gen. 3:21)

Adam and Eve could have never known the significance of this act.  But God knew.  He knew that several thousands years later, after seeing His people suffer from the consequences of sin and rebellion, He would put an end to it once and for all. An end to the rituals of blood sacrifice.  An end to the rigorous requirements of Jewish law.  And ultimately an end to the evil that had entered the world with the bite of an apple.

Look up He chose for Himself one last sacrifice.  But this couldn’t be an animal.  No, even the most pure and spotless lamb wouldn’t do.  The only sacrifice that His righteous nature could abide was that of a perfect human.  And so God looked around, found none who was righteous, and chose from His own family.  His Son, Jesus.  We know the story of Christmas, of the carpenter and of the miracles.  But that was all just the preamble to His ultimate purpose.  On that fateful Good Friday, Jesus accepted His role as our scapegoat.  He opened His arms and embraced every vile, disgusting, depraved act or thought we have ever or will ever commit.  This blanket of filth enveloped Him and it killed Him.  Our precious Lord lay dead on a tree.  But, my friends, the story is incomplete.  Though his body lay in a borrowed tomb for three days, His spirit descended to the depths of evil itself, depositing our awful deeds in the fiery pit where they belonged.  Then Sunday morning came.  His limp body inflated with life and He walked out of that tomb, free from stench of sin and rebellion.

This act both reviled and pleased the Father immensely.  Imagine watching your only child tortured and killed, yet knowing this martyrdom would be the salvation of all that you love.

So is that it?  No, because my nightly news is still full of the horrors of sin.  You see, God has done His part.  His Son fixed the problem with His death on the cross.  We are no longer banished from the garden.  We are no longer sentenced to death for our rebellion.  God has offered us a robe of righteousness, meaning that any of us can accept the blood sacrifice of Jesus that washes away all of our sin.  Any of us can stand in the presence of a Holy God and be loved, accepted and welcomed.  We can turn from the darkness and walk in the light.  But the choice is ours.  He does not force it upon us.

Where are you walking today?  Is your heart heavy with guilt, shame, lust and anger?  Do you feel as if all around is dark, Look upthe way is unclear and the night is closing in?  My friend, this doesn’t have to be your life.  Look up.  Ask the Lord to wash your heart clean of all that is unholy.  Receive his forgiveness and the sacrifice of His Son.  And take His hand as He brings you into the light.

The evil that we see does not get the final say.  There is One who stands watching, waiting, pleading for a dying world to simply look up.

The Beautiful Grossness of Motherhood

I am an introvert.  I have five children.  This is proof of God’s sense of humor.  After spending 5 hours homeschooling each day, my ears and mouth need a break.  So many words.  From me.  From them.  So then I say these words: Go outside. And close the door.  

We are blessed with a big yard and five homeschooling besties next door, so this works.  But there is one problem.  Dirty The Beautiful Grossness of Motherhoodfeet.  (Should flip flops even count as shoes? But I digress.) So several times a day I find myself in the bathroom, scrubbing the backyard off my littles’ feet.  I’m not a big fan of this activity.  It’s gross.  Super gross.  For all the diapers I’ve changed and boogers I’ve picked, the foot-washing ranks at the top of my eeewww list.

But it’s not just gross.  It’s almost pointless.  Because those shiny little feet don’t stay shiny for long.  They will soon be covered with backyard again.  And we will be back at the sink, digging dirt from between tiny toes.  And sometimes while I scrub, I look at myself in the mirror and look at my un-make-uped face, my hair that needs colored and maybe even brushed, and I feel small.  I feel like “just a stay at home mom.”  How no one will ever know or thank me for all the little things I do for my family.  I think about a woman somewhere with her freshly colored hair, in her pencil skirt and stilettos, sitting in some important meeting with important people, thinking her own thoughts and peeing whenever she wants to.  I imagine the appreciation she receives, the attention her work brings.  And I feel small.  

Then I read a story.  Maybe you can guess which one.  A story from John 13 about a very important person, in fact the most important person who ever lived, who spent time washing dirty feet.

Jesus…rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet…

It isn’t everyday a stay-at-home mom can say she’s done exactly what Jesus did.  I’ve never fed five thousand or raised the dead, but, I have washed feet!  And so did He!  What a beautiful moment of being able to personally relate to my Savior!  This seemingly menial task takes on tremendous importance in this new light of revelation.

But surely Jesus didn’t just wash their feet because He was tired of the stink or wanted to protect the floors.  No.

So when He had washed their feet… He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

The sight of God Almighty on bent knee over a basin of dirty water sends a very clear message.  That He values service.  That humility is paramount.  That menial tasks have worth in the Kingdom.  In that moment, He saw me at the sink, and He said, “Carrie, I value what you do for your kids.  It’s important.  It’s the work of the ministry.  Keep at it.”

carrieschuessler.wordpress.com :: The Beautiful Grossness of MotherhoodSo, what “small” tasks occupy your days?  Do you care for an aging relative?  Remember to call a lonely friend?  Do you work a little extra so you can support a missionary?  Do you write encouraging notes to your pastor?  Mow your neighbor’s yard?  Spend hours in prayer that no one ever sees?  Do you work with excellence for a boss who doesn’t seem to notice?  Do you serve a spouse who never says thank you?  My friend, you are washing feet.  He sees, He knows and He is pleased.

Friends, let’s avoid the mushpot of mediocrity

I have a confession to make.  I am a total news junkie.  I was surely the only girl in my dorm to get the Wall Street Journal delivered to my mailbox.  During my college job, I spent my lunch break glued to MSNBC so I could track the stock market’s movement that day.  My poor college roommate.  How many hours of news did she endure in our tiny apartment?  No wonder she cranked up George Strait in her bedroom!  I think it all stems from the fact that I was becoming an adult at such a news-rich time.  The stock market was hitting its peak, the Bush/Gore recount happened during my honeymoon (and yes we watched some of the coverage from our hotel room in Italy…. sexy I know!)  And September 11th happened the next year.

These days I struggle to keep up with the news because I am sorely lacking two things… cable television and the time to pay attention to anything besides feeding/teaching/cleaning up after my 5 cherubs.  But i do my best via Twitter, Drudge, Rush, Mark Steyn, etc.

But even if you’re not a news junkie like me, you surely know that all is not well in the world.  From the horror of ISIS to Russian aggression to the rise of antisemitism, the world seems at the brink.  Honestly, I wake up each day and wonder, “is today the day” that something life-changing, even world-changing happens?  But truthfully, I believe that the demise of our culture and way of life will not be sudden. In fact, that might be easier to bear than the alternative.  What I see coming for America (and happening already) is a slow, gradual slide into a mediocre existence.  A place where tyrants are tolerated, brave men are few and morals are non-existent.  Where the Church is silent or even approving of so many things that are against the teachings of Jesus.

So that’s all super depressing right?  Is there anything we can do?  How can we prevent the demise of America and the American church?  Here are a few of my thoughts:

I may not have riches or fame, but I have a husband whose Bible looks like this. And that is worth far more.

I may not have riches or fame, but I have a husband whose Bible looks like this. And that is worth far more.

1.  Read the Bible.  I’m all for reading Christian books, blogs and listening to sermons.  But nothing can replace the Living Word of God.  My kids are memorizing John 1 and the first verse just hit me like a brick.  “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God.”  It’s so easy to look to everything/everyone else, but the Author of our faith.  Sadly, Bible reading has become almost obsolete in this country.  I struggle with this discipline myself.  But we must continue to struggle until it is a non-negotiable part of our day, our lives.  You see, the Church will not be torn down from without, but from within (I believe).  We see even now that a false gospel is taught every Sunday by so called “pastors” like Joel Osteen.  The only way a believer can discern what is true is to hold up the church’s teachings against the standard of the Scripture.  But if we never read the Scripture, we can’t make the comparison.  And our flesh will quickly grab onto teachings that tickle our ears, instead of convicting our hearts.

carrieschuessler.wordpress.com :: Friends, Let's Avoid the Mushpot of Mediocrity2. Teach our children to walk in the Way.  Who is the main voice in your children’s lives?  Their teachers?  Their coaches?  Their grandparents?  Their babysitters?  Their friends?  Characters on television?  Musicians?  You should be the overriding voice in your children’s lives.  And you have to fight for this.  Because the world longs to take that place.  What does this mean practically speaking?  For us, it means homeschooling and severely limiting outside voices that are contrary to the Gospel.  Yes, we are sheltering them.  Because that is what good parents do.  They protect their young from danger.  But we don’t stop with protecting.  We are teaching them the Truth so that one day they can face all the contrary voices and still stand strong by the grace of God.  I do not claim that our way should be everyone’s way.  But every parent needs a plan to maintain that primary voice in their children’s lives.

3. Be holy as He is holy.  Okay, I’m going to meddle (if I haven’t already.)  I find it hard for someone to claim to be a believer in our Holy God and yet continually fill their minds with all that stands against his Gospel.  How can we pretend to oppose the culture while opening wide our doors to all of its messages?  How many Christians watch trash on TV?  Game of Thrones, Criminal Minds, Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance (oh, how I wish I could watch that!), Modern Family.  Have I hit a nerve yet?  How about music?  Do we listen to songs that glorify sexual promiscuity or use foul language?  What about books?  Should we move onto movies next?  I’ll just write four words.  Fifty Shades of Grey.  You may disagree vehemently with me on this.  But I challenge you to put this verse above your television and judge all that you watch by it.  Trust me, you’ll have way more time on your hands:

…”always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things.” (Phil. 4:8)

No one is going to force any of us to do these things.  We can all choose to ride the wave down the descent of culture and melt into the mushpot of mediocrity that awaits (and possibly an eternity of separation from God… yes I just said that) or we can choose to align ourselves with God Almighty.  To throw off all that stands against Him and to teach our children to do the same.  What would America look like with a Church who stood tall upon the great Cornerstone of Jesus?  What would happen if His name was proclaimed with abandonment to a world dying without Him?  How would your city, your company, your country be different if there was a remnant there who was unmoved by the cultural decline?

It begins with you.  Will you stand?

Why would anyone let a 4 year old make cookies?

carrieschuessler.wordpress.com :: why would anyone let a 4 year old make cookiesA few days ago I let my 4 year old daughter help me make chocolate chip cookies.  Oh, the mess!  There were piles of flour, puddles of vanilla and splatters of egg yolks all over the kitchen.  Although I didn’t love cleaning it up, I wasn’t upset.  The mess was more than worth it for the tiny memory we had made.

And that’s when the Lord opened my heart and poured in a beautiful revelation.

 

Carrie, He said, I have invited you to work with Me.  And you sometimes make a mess of things.  But that doesn’t surprise me or upset me.  In fact, I knew you would do that before I asked.  I don’t involve you in My work because you are perfect, highly skilled or even necessary.  I involve you because I want to spend time with you.  Because I want to teach you something.  Because I find joy in watching you learn and grow. 

carrieschuessler.wordpress.com :: Why would anyone let a 4 year old make cookiesWow.

So what work are you doing with the Lord?

Raising children?

Leading your wife?

Serving elderly parents?

Leading a ministry?

Being a light in a dark place?

Homeschooling?

Healing a broken relationship?

You might… you will do it imperfectly.  But do it anyway.  The Lord God Himself has taken you by the hand, invited you into His work and given you the tools you need.  He stands at the ready to help, to teach and, yes even to fix what goes wrong.

Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who gives breath to the people on it And spirit to those who walk in it, “I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you...”  (Isaiah 42:5,6)