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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

But God.

Parenting three (almost 4) little ones is hard work. There are endless spills and tantrums, sheer exhaustion, and your time and energy are pulled and stretched and twisted in every direction.

But that's not exactly what I'm talking about.

Parenting their hearts is what I find so challenging. Between making hundreds of chicken nuggets and reading thousands of stories and wiping bottoms, there is the need to gently guide their souls. To teach and train and discipline with patience, kindness, and consistency.

In this season with kids ages 1, 3, and 6, I've said it before that I feel the stirring to do less, and do it better. Instead of schlepping the kids all over town for soccer practice and play groups and even school, we've chosen less: to be home, together, for the majority of our time. Even though it's exhausting in its own way with so few mommy breaks, I doubt I'll ever regret this ongoing decision toward simplicity.

I'm learning that daily choices form habits, and habits form legacies. Fifty years from now, when Liam and Lanie and Brooks think of their mom, will they see me in their memories hunched over my phone? Will they see the back of my head in our minivan as I cart them to one more activity? Or will they see my eyes, engaged with them and eager to hear what they have to say? Will they remember seeing me read my Bible? Will they see me reaching out to others in need, consistently opening our home because we've made the space in our schedules?

A few months ago, the kids and I zipped into the church parking lot after a hairy morning (as most Sunday mornings as a pastor's wife are) and Liam tried to get my attention.

"Mommy," he said. "I think Jesus is kind of like a vent. If God is on the outside of the vent, we are inside and we are trapped and we are so cold in there because of our sin. But on the cross, Jesus breaks through the vent and helps us to get to God!"

"Buddy, did you hear that somewhere?" I asked, knowing I'd never thought of a Gospel metaphor involving a car vent.

"No. I was just looking at the vent and thinking of Jesus."

Right there in the car, it hit me once again that Shawn and I have planted tiny seeds of faith. Others have watered them. But God (my favorite two words in the Bible!) has made them grow. It is He who is growing our children's hearts with deep roots in Him. It isn't even the habits or rhythms or atmosphere I try to create in my home that will grow them in godliness. And you know what that means for me as a mom? The pressure is off! The very best thing I can do as I walk this journey of motherhood is also the best thing I can do as I walk this journey as a human: to be firmly rooted in God's Word, faithful in prayer, abiding in Him, and listening to His voice. The rest? That's up to Him. It is He who prepares the way and the good works before the world began. It is He who promises to complete the good work He began in each of us. Because of this, I can truly rest. I can experience true freedom. I can take a deep sigh of relief that it's just not possible to screw up this mommy gig too badly with Him as our safety net, our guiding light, the very hope for our souls.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Colorfull.

On our way to the park the other day, Liam was talking about his friends he'd spent time with earlier in the day.

"I realized that [the boy] had brown skin and the rest of his family had white skin," he said, "and then I remembered he was adopted. From Africa!"

"Isn't his skin beautiful? It looks like chocolate," I replied.

He agreed.

I tried to explain to him that just like Liam is red-green colorblind, some people think we should all be colorblind - but only to skin color. But as believers, we believe God created those magnificent shades of brown and peach and gold and we should celebrate their beauty and diversity.

Liam sat for a while, then said, "I'm glad our brown friend didn't live during Civil Rights. Things were so unfair for brown people then." We talked for a moment about how, sadly, things are still unfair for our dark-skinned friends in many ways.

He thought a while longer then said very bluntly, "I'm just glad I have white skin..."

I paused, nervous to hear the rest of the sentence, until he finished, "so I can be like Abraham Lincoln and help my brown friends."

Just that morning, I'd listened to Dorena Williamson's interview on Jamie Ivey's podcast, and it couldn't have been more timely. She talked about the importance of having conversations about race with our kids and about celebrating diversity instead of pushing it under the rug as something inappropriate to talk about. I know the kids and I will have countless conversations about race and diversity in the future, and I am grateful to Dorena and others for helping guide this conversation and many others. May we be bridge builders for the Gospel.

(Dorena wrote a beautiful children's book called ColorFull that is one of my kids' faves. Click on the photo of the book to take you to Amazon to purchase!)