When weakness is strength…

“Her greatest weakness was actually her greatest strength.”

That’s the conclusion the kids and I came to after reading The Country Bunny.

Cottontail was told she couldn’t become an Easter Bunny because she had 21 kids. But those 21 kids became the key to her delivering the year’s most important egg.

The lesson hit home for all of us.

One of our boys has fought dyslexia since he was 5. And now, he’s a stronger person because he’s learned to overcome.

We’ve got daughter who’s already looked racism dead in the face, picked up her pride, and moved on. And now, she’s a bolder person than I’ll ever be.

Maybe in the past, I felt like Cottontail. Like having 5 kids was holding me back. Like they were my greatest weakness.

But I was wrong.

Our kids have taught me patience. They’ve taught me how to rely on God. How to love. How to forgive.

What we see as weakness is actually strength in the hands of our all-knowing Father.

You want to know my greatest weakness? It’s my sin nature. And I hate it.

But without it, there’d be no grace. There’d be no cross. There’d be no mercy.

Jesus laid down His greatest strength to transform our greatest weakness. He became what we weren’t so we could become God’s child.

It’s not just that His strength is perfect. It’s that it’s sacrificial.

For you then. For you today. Grace.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (II Corinthians 5:21)

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When you love God (and Disney)…

I’m a minimalist. We budget. Save. Look over Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps at least once a year.

I’m married to a “giver.” We’re committed to the Summit, Compassion, and church planters around the world.

But I’m also a Disney fan. And that’s not cheap.

So in this perfect triangle of crazy, my life joins together.

Give to the Kingdom. Save for the future. Make memories at Disney.

I’m not sure how it all happened. How it all works. But it does.

I’m often inclined toward guilt. We shouldn’t spend that. People are suffering.

Sweet gifts from God can feel like burdens while they’re actually intended to cause rejoicing.

It’s a balance we seek. Long for. Try to teach our kids.

God loves us like a Father. And Fathers give their children good things to enjoy.

What kind of God would our kids grow up knowing if we never point out the good? If we always talk about what He’s wanting from us and not giving to us? Why would anyone serve someone like that?

Please hear me in total, not pieces. The Gospel is worth sacrificing for. It’s worth moving across the world for. It’s worth, well, everything.

But I won’t let myself believe the lie that to sacrifice means never to enjoy. That it means not to embrace the grace that God has planned for us.

So friends, we’re gonna take Disney trips over here. We’re gonna be a family and laugh and eat and be thankful for God’s goodness to us.

And we’re also gonna take missions trips. And serve and love and be thankful for how God is moving around the world.

Because our hope isn’t based on our savings account. It’s not based on our budget. It’s solely based on the love of our Father, “who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” (I Timothy 6:17)

 

How I thrive (survive/stay alive) with 5!

“I don’t know how you do it.”

I hear that sentence about once a week. From friends. Family. Even strangers.

And I know what they mean. What they’re really saying.

“I don’t know how you put up with so many kids for so many hours a day.”

Why would a sane person have 5 of them? Why would they choose to stay home with them? And how in the world do they do it?

Okay. Here’s the answer. For any of you considering 5 kids. Considering homeschooling. Considering jumping out of a plane with a mended parachute.

One-God. Honestly. I couldn’t do it without my morning time in the closet (literally) with Him. Tucked away from the world. Cramming verses into my head. Scribbling prayers that often end with “help me.”

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Two-Quiet time. “Do not come out of your rooms till 3:00.” This house shuts down from 2:00-3:00 every day. Not kidding. The introvert in me craves this hour of silence. It’s golden. Do not speak to me. Do not cry. Do not come near my bedroom door.

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Three-Video games. Judge me. It’s fine. But our kids get an hour of “screen time” every day after quiet time. They come up, get a snack, then waste their brains for an hour. So in total, I get (count it) 2 hours of “me time” every afternoon. And it’s glorious!

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Four-Schedule. Things run like clockwork around here. I’m a legalist when it comes to routine. A little OCD maybe. The big boys know what to do when. They know when  it’s their “school with Mom time,” “watch Esther/Kenan time,” and “alone time.”

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Five-Trampoline. “Everybody outside right now.” I say it almost every day. “Go. Just go. Everybody on the trampoline.” Because we all (me included) need fresh air. We need to jump. Throw balls at each other. Curl up in blankets and read books.

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That’s just 5. I could name tons more. Helpful friends. Jeremy’s support. Family close by. Simple curriculum. Crockpots. Audio books. Minimal expectations. Ritz crackers.

Is this the life my 18 year old self envisioned?

Not a chance. Not a single piece of my current reality matches up with my original plans.

And that could scare me to death. Make me doubt.

Or it could make me humble. Reliant. Leaning hard into the only One who really knows.

God doesn’t make mistakes. With our jobs, families, locations, or callings. With our kid-count. Money-count. Achievement-count.

He just keeps loving us. And strengthening us. And being extra gracious to us.

And in the irony of it all, I find myself echoing these same words back to Him.

“I don’t know how You do it.”

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:1-3)

 

 

 

 

We can all be thankful for THIS…

There’s one thing you can be thankful for tomorrow. One thing you can jot down in your journal. Or mention at family dinner.

And it’s not what you expect.

Sometimes I go to bed at night thinking about how many times I failed during the day. Counting the number of moments I raised my voice. Regretting the minutes I spent on routine instead of relationship.

Shocked faces and broken tears because of Mom’s sin can leave scars too deep to forget.

You know what I’m thankful for as 2018 starts its conclusion?

…We all mess up…

Every stinkin’ one of us.

You get frustrated with your kids. You rush them to bed. You say things you regret. I know you do because I do too.

And we’ll both do it on Thanksgiving. The family time will feel long. And our patience will prove short.

Today, on Thanksgiving Eve, let’s embrace this truth…We will mess up because we’re all really big messes. We’re image bearers of God trapped in a body of sin. And the battle will overtake us.

But for grace.

The shock of my sin fuels the shock of His grace and fills my heart with overwhelming Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow let’s be thankful. God sees our messes as a chance for overwhelming grace.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ” (Romans 5:6-8) 

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Hmm…it couldn’t possibly be me behind that locked door??

 

 

What we just learned about marriage…

Here’s a little marriage secret we’ve recently come across…

Marriage is easier when you like the one you love.

I committed my life to Jeremy on that hot day in July 2002. I committed to love him forever and ever til death do us part. And I do that. Stay in relationship with him. Through the good and bad. Hard and easy.

But it’s not easy. We’re not fools. We know the value of marriage counseling. We know the tears. We know the silent treatment.

Our walk in the park the last 16 years has been more like a climb.

But we’re at our best when the love is closely tied with the like. When we’re laughing.  When we’re doing something fun. When we’re acting like 18 year old “children” again.

When…tell me please… is there possibly time for “us” with kids and work and life???

It’s been tricky. We’ve had to prioritize date nights. We’ve had to budget for them.

We’ve had to value the “like” as much as the “love” to actually carve out time for us.

And it’s made things so, so much better.

Friends, marriage is tough. Let’s not be fooled. Only by God’s grace can we make it another day. Only by God’s grace can we expect one sinner to love another sinner year upon year.

But along the way. As His perfect love fuels ours. Let’s have a little fun together. Let’s remember what brought us together in the first place.

And let’s like each other while we love each other as we climb these mountains together.

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Psalm 118:23-“This is the Lord‘s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”

II Corinthians 5:14-“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died.”