Let Mercy Lead

I can only do so much to help my kids move along their path towards Christlikeness.

Sometimes you wonder what ~ if anything ~ sticks.

Today, I felt that in a way that humbled and encouraged me.

My son had (in the grand scheme of things) a minor infraction at school.  However, it’s one that has happened before and we had previously discussed what his consequences would be if it happened again. I immediately told him what he needed to do and what was going to happen.

He was unhappy.

I mean really distraught.

You know how you can tell when someone is in true despair and when they’re just mad that they got caught?  Well he was in true despair, disappointment and frustration with himself.

He had a good outpouring of emotions and then when I asked him to explain to me what he was thinking about right then, he said, “Well, I feel like the consequences are too much for what I did and Mommy,  you know how God gave Jonah a second chance? Well, I would just really like it if you gave me a second chance.”

In that moment I thought about how the previous consequences had not produced different behavior. I thought about how if I let up this time would I just be “letting him get away with it?” But then I also thought about what mercy is and how sometimes when you don’t get what you deserve your behavior changes out of love and gratefulness.

I really want my son to experience that.

I want him to know what mercy feels like.

I want him to want to extend mercy to someone in his life because he has been given it himself.

I want this to be a stepping stone to truly understanding grace; the amazing experience of getting what you don’t deserve.

The tone of our whole evening was changed and instead of doling out discipline we have been able to reflect together as a family about giving and getting mercy.

Only God knows how this will ultimately play out. Whether this lesson will stick or not. I pray that it will.

…And this time I’m mostly talking about myself.

“Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There’ll be a drop of grace
If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Those who believe
Although their foolish hearts may break
They will find peace
And I’ll meet you in that place
Where mercy leads”  ~ Rich Mullins




Do You Need a New Bag?

I picked up my handbag just like I do each morning before leaving my house.

It contained the normal items one might expect to find in a purse.  However there was more there than meets the eye.

In my wallet I carry greed.  In my cosmetic bag I carry vanity and pride.  On my notepad there are writings about fears of things I have no control over and anxiety about the opinions and acceptance of others. I have keys to places that I keep locked up never to be opened or shared with another. This is all the stuff I carry and I can’t seem to take any of it out.

My bag is extremely heavy.

From the outside it looks great.  It’s just the right shape and color for the season. In fact next season I’ll likely replace it with a newer, more stylish one.  As long as it looks good on the outside, no one will ever know.  Because even though I carry it around everywhere I go and don’t mind others seeing it, I could never let anyone see in it.

Each day I carry it and each day it burdens me a little bit more.

I am so tired.

Yet, I can’t seem to put it down.  I just can’t let it go…

…It’s sunny out today.  I’m headed to the local outdoor market.  Maybe there I’ll find something to distract me from the weight I carry.

Everyone is smiling.  Most are carrying things like I am. Purses, shopping and diaper bags. I wonder what’s in their bags.  What’s deep in their bags.  They all look nice.

Does what I see on the outside match what is on the inside? Or are they all more like mine? Are they feeling tired and sore from shouldering their burdens like I am from carrying mine?

Since most are unwilling to share and I am too afraid to ask I will likely never know what the others carry.

Then, at the end of a row, somewhat to the back yet somewhat front and center I glimpse his table.  It stands out yet, it is nondescript. He displays his merchandise in a way that catches one’s eye yet it’s not showy or arrogant. One just can’t help but notice.  I see him standing behind the table watching the people pass by.  Some pause to look, maybe touch a few bags but then move on.  Some linger a while longer even trying on a few before going on their way. You can tell he wants to spend more time with them but he won’t force himself on them.

I’m proud of my bag and all the stuff I’m able to carry in it but you see, I kind of have a thing for bags, so I approach cautiously. He greets me with a warm, sincere smile and asks me how I’m doing.  However, it seems to be just a formality as I think he already knows.

Maybe I’m not hiding my fatigue as well as I thought.

I begin to look through the bags.

Unexpectedly I hear him say, “I’m sorry those aren’t for sale. “

“What?”

“I’m not selling bags.”

“Then what are all these bags and purses doing here?”

“Those are the ones people have brought to me.” he said.

“Are you collecting for a charity?” I asked him.

His remark that “these are much too heavy for that” surprised me.

Thinking of the weight on my own shoulder and how much I’d like to lighten it, I wondered…

“Well, do you need anymore?” I asked him.

“I don’t need them, but I would be happy to arrange a trade if you like.”

A trade? I thought this sounded compelling.

“Okay, I’m interested.  What kind of a trade?”

“It’s simple” he said, “you give me your bag and I’ll give you one of mine.”

I thought, maybe I could do that. He looked like the kind of guy who recognized quality craftsmanship so perhaps he had something I might like.

“Let’s see what you’ve got!”

He reached under the table to a beautiful trunk I had not even noticed until now.  It opened with the creaking sound you’d expect from such a piece. It didn’t take him long to come back up with the most exquisite handbag I’d ever seen.  It was compact enough to carry everywhere, yet spacious enough to hold all my “stuff”.  It was soft and shimmery and seemed to catch the light just perfectly. No matter which way I turned it I could see his face reflecting off of it.

“I’ll take it!” I said.

“Wonderful” His voice was warm and lovely.

I began to take my things out of my bag so I could give it to him and put them in my new one, but he quickly interrupted me.

“No no no! The deal is I take your bag and you take mine.”

“Oh, I know” I said, “I just need to get my stuff out and you can have it.”

“You don’t understand, ” he said, “I want the ‘stuff‘ too.”

“What? You can’t mean…”

“Yes” he said softly but firmly, “I want to take all those heavy burdens you carry around and give you my own much lighter one.”

“But I can’t keep…any of it?”

“No, I’m afraid not, it’s the only way if you want one of my bags.”

“What will I do without my stuff?”

“Oh I’ve given you new things to carry, you’ll be fine as long as you hold to them as tightly as you held onto your own.  Go ahead and take a look inside.”

As the bag was still sitting on the table, I opened it up and could not believe what I found.

There was a wallet full of generosity. A cosmetic bag full of qualities that combined to bring out a noble character.  A notepad filled with notes and reminders from Him about how much He loves me.  There was only one key and I knew that it was there for me to give back to him.  An invitation of sorts symbolizing our forever connection.  That he would have access to all those locked doors of before.

As I looked up into his eyes, I placed the key into his waiting palm.  It laid directly on top of the faded but still visible scar I knew I would find there.  His fingers closed in around it and with the other hand he lifted the new bag off the table and handed it to me.

“Here you are child, now you may carry my burden, for it is easy and light.”


Strength Training

Bigger.   Faster.   Stronger.

Those are three words that come up a lot when you live with boys.

Sometimes Dad has to reign them in by reminding them that he is in fact the biggest, fastest and the strongest.  They need to know that they’re not quite big enough to take Dad – yet.  It will happen one day but until then they need to learn meekness.

Great power under control.

Strength of mind, body and character.

Strong minds will lead to wisdom and discernment.

Strong bodies will lead towards a long, healthy life.

Strong character will lead down the road less traveled; the narrow path if you will.

I want them to know that they’re strong. Yet also understand that it’s okay if they are the only ones in the room who know it.

To have confidence in the strength of their Creator instead of in themselves.

A.W. Tozer once wrote, “The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than angels.

In himself, nothing; in God, everything.

That is his motto.”





I Have Found…

Mace Windu in my bathroom,

Bakugons in my purse,

Coins, rocks, erasers, small toys, and many other things in my dryer,

Legos in every room of my house,

French Fries on the floorboard of my car,

Crumbs under my table,

Water guns on my porch,

The lid left up on my toilet,

Wii remotes left on my couch,

Stray socks in my bathroom,

Cups left by my fridge,

And a frog in my sink.

I’ve found so many things…

But I seem to have lost my heart.


A Summer Lived In…

I’m so excited that summer is officially in full swing!

I’m not even going to complain about the crazy heat and humidity!  (By mid June I’m usually in full swing of annoying my husband with talks of moving to Colorado.)

We’ve already taken full advantage of our new schedule ~ or lack thereof!

It’s so exciting that the boys are old enough now that we can really go and do some fun stuff together like swimming at Barton Springs and Blue Hole.  Playing all day with no concern for naptime, being able to spontaneously hang out with friends, read books and drink coffee (just me of course!) all day if we want.

It would be very easy to just move through the summer in this fashion and then head back to school in August and all in all that would be a good thing.

However, I don’t want to settle for “good.”  I want what is “best.”

I recently read on the Living Proof Ministry blog that “A summer lived in Bible study is a summer lived in victory.”

There it is! That’s how we have the “best” summer! Time spent playing, relaxing, cultivating relationships with family and friends and then hemming it all in with the word of God will truly help us live in victory.

I hope that if you are enjoying a more relaxed schedule and some extra time with family that you too, will live in victory this summer. Find a summer study with a group or a blog community.  Grab even one person to go through a book with you.

Be intentional.  The time will pass anyway.

The question is how will you live your summer?

Rock Ceremony

If there was ever a perfect subject for my blog this is it!

I chose the “theme” of my blog over two years ago.  The passage in I Samuel where Samuel set up the Ebenezer stone, the rock of remembrance, is such a beautiful example of God encouraging us to put tangible, visible reminders around us of His faithfulness. There is also an account in Joshua where the Israelites, after crossing the Jordan on dry ground, assemble a pile of stones as a memorial and reminder of God’s provision.  It was set up so that when the children asked why it is there they would pass down the story of God’s miraculous work in their lives.

When we began considering a change of school for our kids last spring, I remember the school registrar (now a dear friend!) telling us about a Rock Ceremony they had just had.  She explained that at the end of every school year all families are invited to participate in this beautiful tradition.

Parents choose a character trait that they have seen grow or develop in their child over the past school year.  Then, the fathers present a rock (any rock from the yard, school grounds, or wherever) with that character trait and maybe the corresponding verse written, engraved, or painted on it.  Anything goes!

All the families are divided up alphabetically and meet up in the classrooms in smaller groups for the presentations.  Once this first part is complete everyone meets in the Assembly room where the children introduce themselves to everyone and share what character trait they’ve been honored with that evening.

Our first Rock Ceremony will always hold a special place in my heart, but I also look forward to the pile of rocks my boys will have after they have graduated.

A simple, but beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness and work in their hearts and lives.

For Jacob, Glenn presented him with “Commitment” on a fossil rock that he found at school.  He has shown great commitment this year to his school work, Scouts, his friends and his other responsibilities.  We’re so proud of his growth and maturity over this past year!

Here is Jake showing his rock in the assembly room…

Over the past year Reid has shown great tenderness towards his friends and family.  If you are crying around Reid you won’t be crying alone! He genuinely cares about others and has learned to empathize with their situations.

Here is Reid presenting his rock…

It was such a fun and memorable night filled with joy and celebration, but most of all remembrance.

remembering…

One year ago this month a childhood friend of mine lost her little boy to AT/RT – a rare brain tumor.

He was only 21 months old.

I watched their journey from afar mostly through the back lit words on a screen.  Never the less, it still touched me deeply.  The evening that was proven to be his last here on earth, the short story below just spilled out from my sleeplessness

…for katie and jonathan

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She looked in the mirror at her own image staring back at her.

The eyes spoke volumes in what they were lacking. Emptied of tears, nights of sleep gone and unrecovered, a whole life unseen. Her eyes moved down the form and saw a mouth quivering.  No words flowing, only lips that used to softly sing and soothe now drawn in grief. Her gaze rested on a chest rising and falling to an unnoticed rhythm but deep inside a heart in the constant act of breaking.

On either side she saw arms.

Emptied of the soft treasure once held close now gripping a womb that will forever ache with memory. The legs carrying her were shaky and trembling yet they stood in honor of the one who fought so long and hard in order to gain so few steps.

She saw.

She saw her pain in the reflection of the mirror before her. And then her eyes were opened and she saw what HE sees. He sees a woman walking the same path He once did. The loss overwhelming, the separation unbearable, the grief undeniable.

Hope unspeakable.

Now she looks at the face staring back at her and sees eyes raising, mouth praising, heart singing, arms lifting as she gives her treasure back to the giver. Knowing that the separation will be only for a time and then, one day, she will see HIM.

And she will see him.

Little eyes shining, mouth smiling, hands clapping and small legs running to greet her.

Hearts united once again…

this time forever.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you would like to learn more please visit the Children’s Brain Tumor Research Foundation.

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