Reckless Love

Today I don’t have many words…

Just a song, by Cory Asbury, that was shared with me earlier this week.

There’s not much I can add to it, it brings me to tears everytime. God’s love for us is truly incredible. I hope this blesses you today:

Reckless Love

Advertisements

Public School Didn’t Prepare Me for Life… My Parents Did

“How in the world do you expect your children to function out in the world once they leave the bubble you’ve created for them?”

This is honestly a statement that was said to me a few years back.

And to be honest…it stung.

One of the most common questions I hear as a homeschooler is how am I preparing my children for the “real” world. From topics of socialization to missed opportunities, there are literally hundreds of different opinions on whether homeschooling has benefit, or if it actually hinders children from real life.

Let me tell you something that may shock you:  The public school system did not prepare me for real life.

Not for my real life.

There I said it….it is out. I can breathe.

This is not to say that the public school system didn’t help me out, or that homeschooling would’ve helped me more. I’m just simply stating that the things I learned in school didn’t prepare me for being a stay at home mom of five kids.  Being involved in extra curricular activities didn’t prep me for my day to day tasks either.

Yet, I see parents everywhere trying to rush from dance, to piano lessons, to the tutors house, to hockey practice, to swimming lessons, and to everything and anything else in between. To prepare their children for everything that they might ever want to be.

But there’s some things very few parents pay any attention to at all.

Character.

Work Ethic.

Responsiblity.

Commitment.

Compassion for the less fortunate.

Because while sports may keep you fit, and school may prepare you for your career, it doesn’t account for the most important values in life: God, family, and our responsibility to others.

There’s a push out there to drive children to dream big. From as young as three we ask them such huge, life driving questions: What do you want to be when you grow up?

As if they were capable of making that decision…still it’s cute to hear their answers!

But…can I just say that it’s a shame that we focus so much on career when a far more important question would be to ask, “what kind of person would you like to be?” And if they want to get married, “what kind of person do they want to spend their entire life with?”

Happiness doesn’t come from money or careers, we all know this, yet we raise our children to believe that those are the most important life goals. My question is why?

Why do we do this?

You know what brings misery? Marrying a miserable person. Going through life without a thought for anyone else. Riches without friends to share them with. Working endless hours just to watch the numbers in your bank account go up.

And yet we push and push our children to a single goal: Dream big and follow your dreams!

But…what if they’re like me?

What if they are like the millions of women around the world like me? What if they just want to stay home and raise a family?

What good does all of your rushing around do then?

And maybe it comes down to an even bigger question: What if they are content with raising a family, being a stay at home parent? Will they have let you down?

It’s not a waste, dear friends, to just raise a family. It’s a gift. A tremendous gift to the world; to raise up people who know they are loved.

There’s SO more to being a parent than just driving from place to place, and putting food on the table.

Now, do I have to homeschool to raise my kids well?

Of course not!

But it sure allows me more time to do so!

Let me ask you, if your children are at school eight hours a day, then at extra curricular activities for 2-3 more hours each evening…When do you have the time to teach them how to work? When do they do chores?

When do they learn about the importance of volunteering, or how to care for the less fortunate, or think about the needs of others?

When do you have the time to do devotions with them, memorize scripture with them, pray with them?

When do they have time to ask you questions about life, about morals, about sex?

When do they have time to just “be still”?

Are we so afraid of silence? Are we that afraid of stopping our lives and just letting kids play creative, made-up games?

Parenting well takes time…lots of it!

So going back to the first question that was asked: “How will my children function in the world?”

I except that they will be godly, hardworking, respectful, responsible and unselfish individuals, which quite notably, is rare in the world today.

But will they “fit in” with the rest of the world? Looking at millennials today… Nah, that’s not too high on my priority list.

 

Rebuilding the Bridge

Oh my heart.

I’ve been reading so many articles lately, of people I’ve never met, who have become like friends. Broken people. Hurting people. People who have been mistreated and rejected by the world.

And my heart literally breaks for them.

I thought my story was unique. That no one else had experienced what I had experienced.

I was wrong.

My story, isn’t something I want to flaunt. I’m not ashamed of it, but I do want to protect those I love.

So here I am, once again, struggling.  Struggling to know what to share, how much to share. Struggling because I know I have found freedom from the deepest, darkest pain. And I desperately want to lead others to this freedom.

My testimony is this:

I followed the “typical” teenage path, got caught up in the socialization of school, rather than the work. Insecure as I was, I tried to impress others by partying, being obnoxious and carefree, lying about who I was, and by doing things I knew I ought to stay away from. I got caught in a very bad place. From being suspended from school because of drinking to being careless sexually…I made heartbreaking, life-devastating choices.

Choices that lead me to the night God heard me and literally set me free.

It was dark, I knew only one person at the party. I was lonely as ever and I prayed while looking at the stars on that clear, August night. I prayed for God to save me. Then, I drank one very large drink and don’t remember much else. Two men, a lot older than myself, slept with me.

I was broken, but acted tough, like it made no difference.

It was at this time I met her. For the sake of privacy, I’ll call her Anna, though those who know my full story will know quite well who she is, because she was so instrumental in my life.

The gentleness and compassion in her voice is something I’ll never forget. Her sincere heart of care, she saw things in me that no-one else did. And she loved me. I could tell from the moment I met her, I wasn’t just some charity case, some feel-good project, she truly cared for me. She said that I was beautiful. That I was tenderhearted. She gently and carefully showed me the care of Christ.

And one day she got me to pray, and I experienced God’s love for myself. I knew he was real that day and I chose that day to leave my life of emptiness behind.

I became a child of God.

My boyfriend, who soon became my husband, formed a similar relationship with Anna’s husband, whom I’ll call Paul. During the next ten years a beautiful friendship/mentorship formed. Paul and Anna guided me and my husband through life. She prayed for me when I felt down. She listened when I cried, and gave really good advice. When my firstborn was deathly ill in the hospital, she and her husband visited me faithfully.

I cared for her too, listened to her and prayed for her as well. When she experienced loss, I brought her food. She was often lonely and I felt for her in this.

She was the one person who always understood me…until the day came when she didn’t.

What can destroy a deep friendship like that? A hurtful word? Miscommunication? Gossip? An outburst of anger? Cruel misjudgement?

In my opinion it is none of the above, although they do hurt a friendship, a deep friendship is ultimately built on endurance, commitment, loyalty, forgiveness and the ability to see the best in others when they’re at their worst. Unwillingness to change or forgive, that is ultimately what destroys all relationships in life.

When I went through a dark depression a year after having my fifth child, Anna did not recognize it as such, and to be honest, nor did I at first. I was confused, having never felt such despair and loneliness before. I desperately needed help, physically, mentally, spiritually. I mostly kept it to myself, but once in I while I would give little glimpses to her to reveal what I was going through.

She sensed that things were changing too. Things were just different between us. By the time we started talking about these changes that were happening, Anna was convinced that I was dealing with deep bitterness, that I was trying to hide it and lie about it and that I was being deceived by the devil. Strong accusations for sure. But since I didn’t know what I was going through, I couldn’t quite explain why I knew she was wrong, all I could say was “no, I wasn’t holding anything against anyone.”

Paul and Anna began to have meetings with us, at first to help us, but really what they became were interrogations. They would bring before me everything that they thought I was doing wrong and I would apologize for somethings (such as wrongful attitudes and gossip) and defend myself in others (as in, I would not repent for lying when I had not lied).

Unfortunately, Paul and Anna were also our church leaders, and we were forced to resign from our involvement in the church, as they felt like we weren’t walking in true freedom. Soon after, we were also told to repent of these issues and submit to their leadership, or leave the church. This was done without any meeting with the rest of the church leadership.

We had to leave the church, I had no choice. I longed to make things right, but to pretend I was guilty of sins that I was not? That was too far. I could not do it. Our very best friends were in that church. They were all called up and told to no longer welcome us to their bible study. They submitted to their leadership and I was crushed. I longed for someone to defend us, for someone to fight for our case.

But no one spoke up. They all stayed silent.

I lost my mentors, my church and my best friends all within a few months. Only my family and my husband stood by my side.

Meanwhile, I was still  going through depression, which had only intensified with the situation. I was so confused. Here my loving mentors were saying disturbing things: Calling me a snake in the church. Saying I was bitter and vindictive. Saying I was living by works and not by faith. Telling me that my apologies were covering up my unwillingness to repent…were they right? Could this really be the source of my struggles?Part of me wanted them to just be right, so I could make amends and be happy again. I longed to have things back to the way they used to be. I was willing to do anything for reconciliation.

But in my heart I knew that they had misunderstood me so deeply, that they were now just following the trail of lies, ultimately believing the worst about my motives and my actions.

Forgiveness for those who felt they were righteously doing God’s will…could I ever let go of what they had done? Trusting people after such betrayal…is it possible?

Sorting through all my feelings and coming to a place where I could see things through God’s eyes wasn’t at all simple. I read A LOT about forgiveness. The Bible is full of stories of forgiveness, from Joseph to David to Jesus Christ himself. Another gem of a book I found on forgiveness, that aided to my healing, was called “The bait of Satan” by John Bevere. 

Here’s the conclusion that I’ve come to: It is impossible to forgive someone when you let your mind think the worst of them. BUT when you begin to humbly let God show you how he feels about those who have hurt you and choose to think the best of them, ALL things are possible.

I can not make people see my heart through God’s eyes. I can not force them to love me, forgive me, believe me or even like me, but I CAN chose to do so for them.

It no longer became a struggle of who is right and wrong…Rather could I be humble enough to stop trying to figure it out and forgive them either way? If Paul and Anna were right about me, then what right do I have to hate them? They were trying to help me, risking their own reputation in the process. That is love! If they were wrong about me, then I felt deep compassion and sorrow for them. How sad to feel like you are doing the work of God, only to find out in the end that you were working against him! But in all, whether they’re right or wrong, I can only say that I believe they were trying their best to do what they felt was right, with the knowledge and tools that they had.

After many tears, much heartache, many angry outbursts, and times when I wrongfully spoke against them…I can truly say that I’m sorry for the ways I have hurt Paul and Anna, even the ones that I may be blinded to.

And I forgive them.

So much so, that when their names come up, my heart is full of joy because of the ten good years we had with them. For the ten years of wisdom we gained from knowing them. I am glad I knew them. I remember the good. I remember their passion and love for God.

Forgiveness is like building a bridge to those who have hurt us and extending a hand, welcoming them back to friendship with us when they are ready.

However, one thing that we often forget is that building a bridge of forgiveness doesn’t guarantee that people will cross it, it merely gives them a chance to. And we are not accountable for the actions of others.

Much to my disappointment Paul and Anna have chosen, so far, not to cross that bridge. Then again, the moral of the story is that they don’t need to. Ever. I can still find overflowing joy and peace in the fact that my heart is right with God.

And I can find joy in the blessings he has given us during the past two painful years: A new church that I love with my whole heart, new friends (more than I have ever had in my adult life before) and new mentors who have gone through similar trials and come through victorious.

Simply put, building a bridge is difficult. It takes time. Sometimes you have to stop everything and start all over. But through forgiving, God has brought me to hope again…not in people. Not in things. But in Christ alone, all my hope is found.

For me, that’s a first.

Today I felt Like a Failure

Welcome to Parenting 101: I tried my best and I failed.

One of the first lessons when raising little human beings, is that doing your best isn’t ever enough. You can spend 100 percent of your day unselfishly loving, serving, cleaning, cooking and teaching and there’s always, ALWAYS someone (or perhaps many) who are going to think it’s not good enough.

I remember reading an open letter to moms a couple of months ago titled “You Are Enough.” It spoke to discouraged mothers about how their love and efforts were enough. Honestly, posts such as this fill my heart with hope. They’re touching. They’re encouraging. When I read them, my eyes fill with tears. I try to convince myself that they’re true and I’m inspired to keep going.

But the truth is, I really don’t believe them.

Because never, have I ever been enough for my family or my kids. 

Not even on my good days.

Not even on the days where I manage to keep my cool from morning till night.

I’m not creative enough.

My food isn’t healthy enough…(and if it is, it doesn’t taste good enough.)

I’m not joyful enough.

I’m not fair enough.

My motives aren’t pure enough.

I don’t have enough time.

I can’t clean enough….(And man, do I EVER clean. All. Day. Long.)

I’m not pretty enough.

I’m not loving enough.

My apologies aren’t sincere enough.

I’m not encouraging enough.

My faith isn’t real enough.

I am NOT enough.

Reading through this list, I realize that none of these feelings or thoughts are unique to just me. These are the real thoughts and feelings that us mom’s struggle with daily. “You Are Enough” would’ve never gone viral if women didn’t have a deep desire to hear those very words.

It’s a wonder to me that any mom even makes it through motherhood.  Is there a place more lonely? Is there a position in life that take as much blame?  Are the consequences of failure higher in any other occupation?

To mess up, literally harms your own offspring. The cost of failure affects the very ones you love the most: your own precious children.

I’m sorry, are these thoughts too heavy for today? It’s just the kind of day I’m having.

I woke up this morning, bright and early. Our family had just had spring break, so I felt refreshed and ready to teach. I planned fun activities, lots of breaks, snacks and rewards. It was tons of work for me, but meant to be a relaxing day for the kids as there was very little real work involved.

Before noon, my best efforts had failed and two children were crying in their rooms. I tried to gently correct my son in his behaviour and it completely backfired. My boy told me that he felt like a jerk who always ruined everyone’s fun and that he was a horrible son.

My heart was devastated.

Here, I was pouring in time, care, love, and creativity. My absolute best efforts. Yet the day ended in tears and my son was struggling with condemnation.

Where did I go wrong? Why am I such a failure?

Motherhood sure is hard.

I honestly feel like I could end this post right here. But it’s not the end. Because the one thing that sets me apart from those who don’t believe in God, is HOPE.

Hope that things will get better.

Hope that God sees my heart.

Hope that he will take my best effort’s, and bear fruit from them.

Hope that when all is said and done, it will be enough.

But the devil knows where to hit us and when. And today I was really struck down. Today I felt like quitting. Like throwing my hands in the air and giving up.

But, HOPE.

Hope keeps me going.

I have long given up hope that I am enough, but I still believe with all my heart that Christ is. He will make up for my failures, for my bad days, for my lack of abilities.

In Christ alone, my hope is found.

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Don’t Weep for Me

I think one of the things that has hit me the deepest this Easter season, is the absolute humility of Jesus Christ.  The strength of his character is unimaginable. The compassion for others, to the core of his being, wasn’t something that could’ve been faked. It was his very nature to think of others above himself.

Before I lose some of you here who are thinking, “Yeah, yeah, I heard this story a hundred times already…I’ve seen the film. I get it.”

Just stop.

Picture Jesus. Close your eyes if you have to and picture him.

Not the Scandinavian man with long flowing hair from the Bible story picture books.

Not the man with the clean white robe and blue sash.

Not the white skinned, serious faced character from the paintings, surrounded by people.

But a man…A Jewish man.

Betrayed by his friends.

Beaten beyond recognition.

Innocent, but falsely accused.

Sentenced to a horrendous death.

Carrying a cross upon his torn up back, until all strength was gone.

And a crowd of women, crying and grief-stricken, trailing behind him.

And rightly so! Jesus was the victim here! Certainly, he deserved their sympathy. Certainly, he deserved their tears.

But Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t you weep for me but weep for yourselves and your children…” Luke 23:28

When I read this yesterday, my eyes filled with tears. For Jesus was the most unjustly treated man that has ever lived on the face of the earth.  Yet he never once, NEVER ONCE, victimized himself. Even when he was falsely accused, even in his suffering, even in his betrayal and abandonment by close friends – he did not weep for himself.

He was continually more concerned with the spiritual state of others, then of his own darkest moments.

And as he was nailed to the cross? I have partially stepped on a nail (as in it went through my shoe and partly into my foot and it hurt for days!) I can not even imagine the pain of what he went through at the hands of human beings. Surely now he would curse them!

 “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

While hanging there, suffering beyond comprehension, he spots his mother.

“Mother help me! They’ve misjudged me! I only helped them and they’ve done this to me! Mom, I’m in so much pain!” That’s what my voice would’ve yelled.

 “Dear woman, here is your son…and John, here is your mother.” John 19:26-27

Not ONE selfish thought.

Not ONE bit of self pity.

Even on the cross he was honouring and caring for his mother. Even in his suffering he was forgiving his tormentors.

The amazing strength and integrity of Jesus is unfathomable. How I love this man! How absolutely perfect and noble. How incomparable to even our greatest hero’s today!

And when it was all said and done he cries out:

“Father into your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46 

And he breathes his last.

Jesus simply trusted God‘s will. He trusted him even in his suffering, until his last painful breath. He trusted that God would keep his spirit, even while being under God’s judgement and condemnation himself.

It’s easy to read the story and not feel it.

Please, take time to read about this incredible man, Jesus, the image of God himself in human form. Read the story slowly. Think about it deeply. Really picture the details. Perhaps other things will stick out to you from the story, perhaps other details will bring tears to your eyes.

But whatever you do, DON’T harden yourself to the message of the cross, where Jesus didn’t weep for himself, he wept for YOU.

Speak Out…or Pray?

It’s no secret – a huge struggle within the church is gossip and slander. And those who don’t gossip or slander, I find, are many times no better. Likely, they instead try to confront and fix the person, which causes hurt, broken trust, and disunity as well.

So often I want to give voice to the problems I see in others, either by gossiping about them or by confronting the issue. And I’m not taking about having a humble, caring conversation…rather a confrontation which sends the message: “I am right and you are wrong. You need to change or apologize.”

The reason for this is not because of courage or boldness, nor zeal for truth, nor love of the person.

 It is simply unbelief in prayer.

For if I truly believed in prayer I would only need speak up when God told me to speak, because God knows that most of the time OUR words can’t change people. More often, they hurt people. And even more often – we’re wrong.

God alone sees the human heart, and likewise, it is Him alone who holds the power to change it.

 

The Road to the Cross

Heart full of pain, pack heavy as lead,

Not really alive, neither fully dead.

Wandering on to meaningless trails,

Endless darkness, walking the rails.

What am I here for?

Stumbling pain unto pain,

Life is a joke! Nothing to gain.

Flashes of visions: A man on a cross.

Why was he there? Never quite knew,

With all of my struggles, didn’t care to.

Why must everything bad happen to me?

How to avoid it, when one couldn’t see.

Darkness so thick you could choke on the black,

The load just increases upon my sore back.

Strength slowly dying, along with my soul,

Dreams become curses, crushing my goals.

Oh God, what’s the point? Are you even there?

Or am I just cursing into thin air?

If really existing, you’d make yourself known!

Why live anymore if I’m walking alone?

Night cold and hard, yet easier to breathe,

Darkness still felt, but thinner it seems.

I was told to follow my heart all along,

So why did this happen? Where did I go wrong?

Walking along the path that was shown,

Never thought I’d be stuck here, cast out and alone.

“Help!” The cry feels stuck in the air,

“Help me! Please! Much more I can’t bear!”

No sooner the words escape from my lips,

When the heavy pack drops from my grip.

In terror I struggle, I can’t let it go,

Turn back to grab hold, but notice a glow.

A dim light, so faint, didn’t see it before,

Grabbing my pack, I turn to see more.

Dawn peaks her head up from under the night,

I draw ever closer, so mysterious the light.

A loud sound hits the Earth, I hear it so near!

A gruesome sound that turns my stomach in fear,

A man groaning in pain, I rush to the sound,

Crying out loudly, for this man must be found!

The day steadily grows clearer and so does the cry,

Hurry to make it or this man will but die!

Then…there he is, hanging – Oh Lord! It can’t be!

A man cut up and bruised on a dark, blood-stained tree!

“Who did this?!?” I scream!

“How dare they?!?” I shout!

The evil that put this man here, it’s no lie,

The person who did this deserves to die!

Then the eyes of the man turn and look straight at me,

I can barely describe what it looks like to see,

Such innocent eyes, filled with love and pain,

Powerful eyes, but gentle the same.

How could there be such humility there,

Joined with authority in the same stare?

I look all around, searching who is to blame,

Justice would treat them exactly the same.

The man starts to speak, the Earth shakes with his words,

And I know that this Man is the Lord of all Lords!

“My Child, Understand, I was put here for you.”

Falling down on my knees, “Oh God, what did I do?”

Surely, I had nothing to do with this Man,

I had nothing to do with the iron piercing His hands.

Then my pack that I’m holding splits right into two,

And as the nails spill out, I see that it’s true.

The pack that I held, held the proof I was wrong,

The nails that I carried told the truth all along.

It was my very nails that held up the Son,

I could now only scream, “Oh, God! Look what I’ve done!!!”

But it was no use, for the Man’s life was gone.

Weeping and wailing, I fall to the ground,

My sobs carry for miles, a hopeless, lost sound.

Lowly before the cross I now lie,

Not to get up, for down here I will die.

Time standing still, the world holds its breath,

Then who comes forth – but the Man! Defeating his death!

Jaw open, limbs shaking…how can this be?

And my heart trembles greatly as He strides towards me.

Out in the open, nowhere to hide,

Exposed in my filth, dead to my pride.

I brace myself greatly and wait for the blow,

But to my surprise, the Man stoops down low.

He lifts my tear covered face in His hand;

The same voice that formed the sea and the land,

Speaks over me these three precious words, “I love you.”

Then says, “All that I wanted was that you would see,

What I really did for you on that old cursed tree.

And now you have done all that you need,

For in repentance and rest you will find that you’re freed!

It is finished, throw that old pack away!”

The Man stood there shining, brighter than day.

In death I died with Him, in His life I live still,

Now my heart cry becomes, not mine – but His will!

No longer a slave to the sins of my past,

I am saved by His blood, safe at home, free at last!

(A poem I wrote last Easter, previously titled “The Cross”)