Hustle & Hypocrisy: An Update

I opened up the blog today, the poor long lost and forgotten blog, and took a deep breath as I settled into my chair. There has not been nearly enough coffee, or sleep, or chocolate in these past few weeks to both tackle toddlerhood, graduate school, everyday life functioning, and writing, but I have missed you.

Sam is officially an 18 month old – WHHAATT? His new hobbies include locking doors, pulling things down from the countertops, attempting to put on shoes, talking about shoes, attempting to ride the dog like a horse, talking about the dog, eating like a dinosaur, talking like a dinosaur, and running laps down the hallway. He is basically the greatest. This week he said, “I wub you mah” (Sammy version for “I love you, mom.”) for the first time and I told him he could have a pony.

Graduate school started 20 days ago – WHHAATT? Two thoughts enter my head often: “Get your masters, it will be fun!” said no one ever.” and “How did I pass nursing school the first time, again?” In all seriousness, “Every day I’m hustlin’,” plays in my head every morning around 5:30am; it’s my new theme song.

School has taught me two things so far that, should I bust it in this program, will forever impact my life. The first has been the reminder that I have an epic husband. Really, I do. I hated him a little at first for pushing me to go back to school, but I hated a lot of things in the wee hours of the morning these past three weeks. He has been the best cheerleader, the best dad, the best baker of frozen pizza, and the best maid. He knows the dreams I have for my life and he also knows that I’m a scaredy cat who will talk herself out of pursuing those dreams; not on his watch. He knows the calling God’s placed on my life and the anthem of excuses I have for why I am inadequate, and he pushes me out of the nest with a kiss and nuggets of truth. If husbands are to be a reflection of Christ’s love for us, then I know that I am loved with a gentle, butt kicking, grace-filled frozen pizza kind of love.

The second thing I’ve gleaned is that the grunt work is hard. Taking the next step can be hard, especially in the midst of tremendous brokenness, need, and weight. I look around at my country and I am grief-stricken. I look at my overwhelmed schedule and barely-in-the-black bank account and feel helpless to do anything but intercede in prayer and advocate for with words. I am reminded that there is a great responsibility in faithfully taking the next step God puts in front of me. You don’t change the world because you set out to do so, you change the world by being faithful in following Jesus one step at a time. One test at a time, one project at a time, one meal, story, cuddle, bath, bedtime prayer at a time. Each step that I take in love is a step further from fear, and that is how we change the world. Each step that I take in truth is a step further into freedom, and that is how we change the world. Each step that I take in grace and mercy is a step further into justice, and that is how we change the world.

**You can stop here to avoid political opinion.** 

My heart is heavy with the president’s latest executive order concerning refugees. Images of Syrian refugees fleeing to safety have flooded my mind and heart, specifically the one of a toddler’s tiny body washed ashore. In my mind, I wondered what the world has come to when we stare at our own children, when we nurse them at our breast, when we rock them at night, when we dress them in the morning, and then so easily turn our backs on those in need of refuge. Those children, whose parents’ hearts for them are so closely aligned with our hearts for our own children. Those children who carry the God-given capacity to change the world just as ours do. I am convicted by my complacency, by my privilege that affords me the ability to go about my days without the discomfort of discrimination, war, famine, and injustice. I am reminded of the ugliness of fear and the incredible capacity for foolishness that we bear when we operate out of fear. I am compelled to live better.

We have dressed up fear-driven self-preservation with a bow and called it patriotism. We have thrown the full weight of the White House behind a pro-life banner merely to spit in the face of life days later. The hypocrisy of men who have proclaimed Christ as Savior yet directly contradict the words of Jesus for professional policy and national security is one for which words fall short. The silence of many representatives and senators who call themselves Christians on this issue is cowardice of the most deafening decibel.

God have mercy on us in these days if we claim Christ crucified and risen, and yet love our comfortable, privileged, ostrich-like lives more than faithfully, fearlessly welcoming, loving, and serving the least of those among us. There is no fear in love, and there is no faith in disobedience, but there is a heck of a lot of power to change the world one beautiful step at a time.

-a

 

PS: Find out how you can contact your state and federal representatives here: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

Storms of Emotion: Waves of Provision

Storms of Emotion: Waves of Provision

This morning was one of those that seemed naptime could not come quickly enough. The undulating emotions of my toddler had me feeling quite apologetic for every one of my own emotional episodes during my teenage years. The energy and passion encompassed in such a tiny body is bewildering to this exhausted mama. I realize as I sip my tea that no caffeine could give me a rival boost, and that makes me a little jealous.

The word “tantrum” has been recently introduced into our parenting vocabulary in the past few weeks. Sam seemed to test the waters before, not quite committing to a full breakdown, but experimenting with tactical outbursts to see what might garner our attention. I suppose we did not give him the desired reaction, as he has been escalating in dramatics. Say anything close to “no” and the back arches, the knees buckle, and the tears stolen from a crocodile roll. Most days it is difficult not to laugh at him, still there are more days where it is difficult to extend compassion and grace to him. It is difficult to remember, in the midst of my own frayed nerves and worn emotions, that my toddler has no frame of reference or method of communicating what he is feeling, what he is needing, and what he is desiring. My fiercely independent son is easily frustrated when he cannot communicate all that he wants, to the point that he forgets how to communicate what he can in the midst of intense emotions.

Sam knows how to sign for help, and other specific key words that help us address his needs more efficiently, but he often tries to tackle a challenge on his own. I think this is beautiful most days, until those breakdown moments occur. Sam throws his body and cries or screams while I try to figure out what the heck is going on. I ask him if he can tell Mommy what he needs. “Do you need help?” “Are you hungry?” Ninety-nine percent of this kids problems are rooted in “hangry.” After a few minutes and a few questions using key words, something generally clicks in Sam’s mind and he can connect his thoughts with words or signs that help us address his concerns. The thing is, Ray and I love Sam and want to meet his needs. We want him to feel comfortable communicating his needs and wants with us. We do not need him to know the specific, detailed words, we just want him to come to us with “help” or “eat” or “please” so we can help, feed, and give more readily, without the distress.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving followed an intense stomach bug and a week of heightened anxiety for me. As I watched church online from my couch, I began to sob during worship. I wondered how someone could be so faithless, fearful and fragile and yet claim Christ as Lord and Savior. How someone so quick to place their weak eyes on the waves of circumstance and forget their God has the authority to calm the seas could be used to help others navigate storms of their own? As I sat there, tears welling up, I heard a gentle whisper, “You are not so different from Sam.” I looked down at my little man playing on the rug in front of me, worship music hanging in the air, and watched as the Lord placed image after image before my mind’s eye.

Alex, you do not need to know all of the specifics, all of the details, all of the what ifs of what you need or are experiencing. I know those things. I hold those things. I stand ready to help you. I love meeting your needs. I love you. I love it when you come to me and tell me what you need. I love it when you come to me and ask for my help. My heart for you is not one of frustration or flailing. I want you to feel comfortable coming to me as you are, where you are. You do not have to know it all, hold it all, or have it all…you just have to trust that I do.

In the ninth chapter of Luke, Jesus sends the twelve disciples out for ministry with nothing. As they return and debrief, they are met with a great need: a hungry crowd. Their response is practical, utilitarian, and republican as they call for the crowd to be sent home to find their own food, but Jesus challenges them. The disciples had experienced God’s generosity and provision for their own needs during their time of ministry, and now they were being called to extend the same generosity and provision to meet the needs of others. In this interaction, Jesus redirects their focus from the great need of the crowd to the resources they have to place in Jesus’ hands. Jesus uses what they have as they have it, which means He did not call them to go into debt. He then uses the disciples to distribute that which He had blessed and multiplied. As a sign of His radical provision and the complete satisfaction of an overwhelming need, the disciples are then called to gather a total of twelve basketfuls of leftovers.

The disciples experienced a greater fullness when they trusted Jesus with what they had in the face of a need they could never meet on their own. The same Jesus who satisfied the hunger of the multitudes with a kid’s meal is the same Jesus who sits enthroned in heaven today, who whispers peace in the midst of our overwhelming emotions and circumstances, who stands ready to help us and who delights in using us to help others experience His radical generosity, compassion and provision.

As we enter into this holiday season, may we trust God’s heart and His promises towards us. May we come to rest in His help as we boldly entrust our every resource into His capable and wise hands. May we be faithful to extend the same compassion and provision we have received from the Father to those around us, especially our little ones.

-a

A Perfectionist, a President & a Preschooler: Perspective

A Perfectionist, a President & a Preschooler: Perspective

Yesterday was one of those days where I felt like superwoman. Really, I thought I was rocking it. I bragged about how much I had accomplished to my husband. I bragged about the success of my toddler practically licking his plate clean at dinner on Facebook. I went to bed completely exhausted but super proud of myself. And then I woke up this morning and started cooking the pancakes I had sleepily put together and realized something was not right. The day before, the day where I was owning life, I forgot to put powdered buttermilk into the dry mix I proudly prepared. Which means this morning the tasty, tried and true, never fail pancakes I make each week were really ground oats and water. Nothing like cakes of gruel to usher some humility into your life!

Days like yesterday do not happen often in my life, and I am thankful because clearly I handle them so graciously! While I can take some pride in productivity and rejoice when my fickle offspring actually likes a homemade meal over a packet of mush, those victories do not increase my worthiness. Yesterday I felt worthy of any compliment given to me because I felt I had lived up to them. Today, as toys lay strewn across my living room floor, muddy paw prints cover my kitchen, and every meal has been a small battle lost to a squeezy packet, my worth as a daughter, mother, wife, and human is still the same as it was yesterday. I am beloved, held by God Himself with greater security than I can imagine in every moment on every day.

The aforementioned truth is one I struggle to believe and establish my foundation upon. If I am not careful, I will quickly find myself functioning as an agnostic, operating under the belief that God has somehow removed His hands from my life and the responsibility of maintaining this delicate house of cards is now entirely mine. In this mindset, the unimportant things are blown out of proportion, and the important, true things are minimized, increasing my propensity to panic and perform. The antidote to this neurotic trap may be working with two year-olds. You heard me: two year-olds.

The days following this election have been wrought with fear, grief or joy depending, and uncertainty for many across the country. This tends to be true after every election cycle, but the tension seems to have risen a degree or two this time around. I highly doubt I will ever stay up as late as I did on an election night again if the following morning promises a day spent with energetic pint size humans. However, my time with these littles this week has provided vital perspective in the midst of our current state of affairs. The office of the Presidency, the state of the economy, or the loss Clemson suffered from Pittsburg this weekend, has not stopped them from living up their second year of life.

It has not stopped them from playing their hearts out with one another, sharing their beloved dolls, trucks and balls with one another, and courageously extending offers of friendship to others. It has not stopped them from recognizing and meeting the needs of others without hesitation or discrimination. It has not stopped them from expressing themselves freely, emotionally, and without shame when they are feeling and thinking anything and everything. They do not care who you voted for, what neighborhood you live in, or whether or not you look, live, and think differently than they do, they just want to engage with you and have you engage with them. They know who they are, they know that they are loved, and in so very many ways they are the greatest kind of fearless. I believe it is because they know who they are, whose they are, and rest secure in those truths that they can live with bold optimism and precocious courage.

What if this is what Jesus meant when he pointed to the little children and told the crowds that to inherit the kingdom one would have to become like a child? What if the kingdom belongs to little ones such as these because, before they see anything in anyone, they see the Imago Dei? What if the kingdom exists in the fearless love we extend to those around us regardless of who they are, where they come from, and how they worship? What if we stopped worrying so much about what others might think of us, of whether or not our actions may betray an idolatrous allegiance to party, denomination, ethnic or socioeconomic group? What if we shared generously, played joyfully, served willingly, loved fearlessly, and lived abundantly because we hold on to a hope that stands secure for eternity? What if we began to behave more childlike rather than childish in our relationships? What if we began to take Jesus and his words seriously and sought to discover what a life of childlike faith looks like? What if we could take the good day and the not so good days as they come, resting secure in our identity, eyes fixed on the Kingdom?

What if we have much more to learn from our little ones than we have to teach them?

-a

The Beauty In The Giver

The Beauty In The Giver

I have been sitting at my desk for a solid fifteen minutes at a complete loss for how to start writing. Sam is at school, Ray is at work, and I am living my first day off in a very long time. My brain feels like an indecisive squirrel trying to get across a four-lane highway. Do I do chores first? Do I write for self-care? Do I run errands? Do I have coffee or tea? Do I shave my legs? So many possibilities, and yet sitting like a vegetable at my desk was not on my dreamy to-do list today.

I cannot shake the feeling that this pseudo-vegetable state is becoming more of a norm and less of an exception for me the more I add to my plate. When I was single, pre-husband and definitely pre-kid, my brain operated with greater clarity and efficiency that fueled my propensity for perfectionism quite well. Add one part husband, one part toddler, a few cups of exhaustion and a dash of the ever-sanctifying Holy Spirit, and my engine of a brain is firing nowhere near the level of perfection I would like. I realize that I have never been, nor ever will be perfect. The trap of perfectionism is not the belief that you are perfect but that you can, with great effort and performance, get as close to perfect as possible someday. I also realize that sounds irrational, insane, and a myriad of other hyperbolic adjectives that could be summed as “stupid,” but when you wrestle with perfectionism it is not always so obvious.

Yesterday, Ray and I sat in our parked car in our driveway after church. You do things like this when your kid falls asleep on the way home and moving him risks waking a potential cranky, hangry monster. We were talking about me going back to graduate school, something that Ray has championed and cheered for since we got married because he takes my dreams more seriously than I do sometimes. I wanted to crumple (and still do) under the looming workload, debt, life change, and increasing risk of failure, whereas he was trying to elevate my vision on the presence of the Lord, God’s faithfulness towards us, and the end result of getting to break down barriers to quality mental health care. Finally (since he was making so much sense), I admitted, “I know they cannot and never will be, but I would like to think that I can have things close to perfect! Adding one more thing definitely nixes that!” Insert an eye roll from my sweet husband, an embarrassed laugh from me, and my husband’s encouraging reminder that life would still go on.

As encouraging and truth-speaking as Ray has been in this area of my life, it is always that much sweeter when the truth comes from Jesus Himself. In Mark 14:3-9, Jesus is anointed with incredibly valuable perfume by a woman (most likely of poor repute) as he eats dinner in Bethany. The woman’s action immediately draws the sharp criticisms of those around her, but Jesus stands in her defense:

Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the Gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her. {Mark 14:6-9 ESV}

Notice that Jesus said she had done a beautiful thing TO Him and not FOR Him. Her offering was not to earn Jesus’ affection or favor, nor was it to give Him something that He lacked or needed; she gave in a heartfelt response to who Jesus was. The beauty was offering what she could; no more and no less.

Some days in some seasons, I may have more to give than on other days in other seasons. The quantity is not what matters to Jesus. Jesus was not impressed by the gift; He was in love with the giver. Whether my offering looks like the widow with her two mites, or the woman with obscenely expensive perfume, the heart behind the offering is what makes it beautiful. Both women gave what they could in a gesture of complete trust and unhindered worship which blessed Jesus’ heart.

Jesus has no need or lack, nor is He impressed by anything we have to give Him for giving’s sake.  He simply loves us with a radically freeing love and all-sufficient, gracious compassion in every season, on every day.

-a

Between a Rock and an Ocean

Between a Rock and an Ocean

I love the ocean; not so much being in the water because I cannot see my feet and that creeps me out, but I love watching the ocean. The ocean has a rhythm about it that I find incredibly peaceful. For all of its power and vastness it is not without limits or containment, and maybe that is why I love it so. For all of its steadiness and potential uncertainty, there is a greater force that holds it together, that keeps it in control, that’s power and vastness is unimaginably greater than the ocean’s reflection of it.

Our family has been in an ocean season; not the nice watching the ocean season, but the exhausting season of trying to stay afloat in the water season. Wave after wave of illnesses, challenging circumstances, and trying relationships have left me feeling worn out, soaking wet and water logged. My eyes have felt the sting of salty tears as I rock my little one to an elusive sleep. His little body rocked by a ragged, painful cough as drainage chokes his airways and causes him to vomit. His cries hoarse and broken, as though shards of glass line his throat. I have clinched my fists in anger as exhaustion weighs heavy in my bones, the air in my home hangs thick and stale, and my own immune system wages a losing battle. I have raged at God; a God who is supposed to love my kid more than I do, who could heal him, us, and yet has not. A God who has moved me from the home, community, and city that I so loved to a new and lonely place. Cognitively, I am fully aware that there are those around us whose loss, illness, and stormy circumstances greatly exceed our own and I should be thankful rather than filled with complaint. Emotionally, I am just desperate for a break in the waves. If I could just catch my breath. If I could just sleep…If I could just…

In the fourth chapter of Mark, Jesus opens by sharing the parable of the sower and then explaining it further on in the chapter to His disciples. He explains that the seed sown on rocky soil is like the one who receives the Word with great joy, but “they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while, then, when tribulation, or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. (v17)” Jesus goes on to share other parables before closing out His day of ministry. His disciples take Jesus into a boat, “just as he was” and head to the other side of the lake. While Jesus is asleep, a storm arises that threatens to sink their boat. The disciples awake Him and ask Him if He even cares that they are about to die. Jesus gets up, calms the stormy seas with a word from His mouth, and then turns to His disciples in a loving rebuke: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

The disciples just had a rocky soil moment that gives me a lot of hope for my own faith. They were not sure of who Jesus was entirely, nor did they know who they were in Him and to Him entirely, and in the face of stormy waves they had no root of faith to ground them. They took Jesus into the boat with them “just as He was” but when He did not operate or act as they felt He should, they questioned His character, power and loving care for Him. They only allowed Him to be who He was to the extent that He lived up to their expectations.

If I am to let Jesus into my life “just as He is” then I have to let Him be God as He sees fit. I have to plunge my roots deep down into the fertile truth of His word. I have to trust His character and care for me even when He does not operate in the ways I want Him to or feel He should. I have to trust that He knows how to be God far better than I ever could, because He sees the end from the beginning and holds all things together. I have to trust that His priorities, His goals for my life, for the lives of my loved ones, are far better than my own; when they do not align, I have to be quick to submit mine under His. I have to trust that, while He does not cause the storms in my life, neither does He waste them from accomplishing Kingdom goals in my heart.

May we bring all of the raw honesty and emotion before His throne of grace this week, and then let Him be God.

-a

Monster Mom & the Toddler Tantrum

Monster Mom & the Toddler Tantrum

It turns out that one crazy week really became a near month of crazy in our house. Fire ants, a wasp sting, a couple teeth popping through, some blow out diapers, epic tantrums and some episodic vomiting culminated into an all-out hunger strike this past week that nearly landed us in the hospital for hydration. To top it all off, my son said his first curse word.  [You can judge, but it was a multi-word phrase used in proper context with expression so I am going to file it away as impressive and watch my own vocabulary from here on out.]

I will admit that the toddler has not been the only one throwing a tantrum or two lately. I am sure that I have snapped a few times recently. Not many people know this, but I am the reason they coined the term “hangry.” When hangry meets tired meets “that time of the month” the atmosphere changes around our home. Dark clouds gather as an eerie silence strengthens the level of tension. You know, like those moments in a suspenseful movie where you know something is about to jump out at you so you mute the TV as though that is going to help you not pee yourself a little? Anyone? Anyways, this is the scene my husband would describe if he thought I would not kill him for it, but he is much too smart for that.

I hit a new low though this morning. The impromptu nursing session from 1-1:30am was greeted with a little grace because my naïve momma heart believed I would at least get to sleep in until around 8am. I must have let my guard down as I walked into his nursery. As though he sensed my excitement over an extra three hours of sleep (yes, you read that right), he made sure we did not waste a perfectly decent Saturday morning sleeping. 4:40am came with one bright eyed, bushy tailed, and hangry offspring.

That is right. Four freaking forty in the morning.

Somewhere around 7am, after his second breakfast and right before I put his little butt down for a “nap”, I lost it right along with him. He was making that whining/crying/screaming noise, mildly resembling a wounded goat, while pulling back and forth at the baby gate (poor guy did not realize the presence of that gate was largely contributing to his survival in that moment); his ears deaf to words like “No”, “Stop”, and “Hush”.  The smart aleck that resides in my brain decided to pop in with a poorly timed “He is so your son” right before I blew.

Samuel Grey! There are other people in this home! You are NOT the only person in this home with NEEDS, son! CUT IT OUT NOW!

A nanosecond of stunned silence was quickly filled with a louder goat-met-a-beagle-and-had-a-baby noise. I turned to him, a minefield of blueberries and half eaten bites of pancake that had been thrown like confetti at second breakfast and a baby gate between us, and beheld my little monster. Curly blond hair askew, blue eyes puffy and filled with crocodile tears, belly poking out from behind his stained monkey pajama top, and tiny fingers curled tightly around the rails of the baby gate. I think this is the part where all of my frustration was supposed to dissipate, but it did not…that happened after a nap and another snack. This is the part where his sheer adorableness kept the dreaded “monster mom” at bay…saved by monkey pajamas and chubby cheeks.

Motherhood is ruining me in the most frustrating, sanctifying and beautiful of ways. I want to meet my toddler in moments like this morning and dig my heels in because I am tired, I am hungry, and I no longer have the luxury of peeing in private anymore. Rather than modeling healthy self-care, communicating boundaries, and acting in selfless love, I join him right on that low road of emotive explosion and prideful persistence.

I confess this in an altogether TMI post because it is far too easy for me to compare my own behind the scenes bloopers to the highlight reels of other mothers.  In moments like this morning, when I have shown off all of my ugly bits, it is easy to be swept away in a current of shame and believe lies about who I am as a human, woman, wife and mother. Perhaps I am not alone. I do not write this to say we should glory in our tantrums, but I do believe moments like this morning can serve us as we try to raise our kiddos after God’s heart.

Sam needs to know that it is okay to have behind the scenes moments. He needs to see the genuine nature of what it means to follow Christ, ugly bits included. He needs to see why we need the Gospel and how the Gospel is changing us and the ways we interact in our relationships. He needs to hear from a mommy well-acquainted with an authentic apology so that he will be equipped when the time comes for him to extend one. He needs to learn how to live in community, serve the needs of others in all humility and joy, all while maintaining healthy boundaries that promote altruistic love and compassion.

Our children do not need a perfect mother. Our spouses, friends, families and communities do not need us to be perfect; they need to see the presence of Jesus in the midst of our imperfection.

-a

Toddler Life: Jekyll & Hyde

Toddler Life: Jekyll & Hyde

It has been quite the eventful week in our household, so thank you for bearing with me as we pause from our time in Exodus for some real life processing. Admittedly, I am not sure if I am ready to hang with eleven toddlers today, but I have about 3 hours to prepare myself.

My own toddler has kept me on my toes this past week and the weekend was no exception. Terrible teething and recovering from fire ant bites and a wasp sting had my sweet, laid back boy acting more like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

On one hand, his melodrama has been quite hysterical. You feel like a terrible person for laughing at him, but when he throws himself against the furniture or eases himself down to the floor before collapsing in crocodile tears, pausing to ensure he is being observed, you realize he is not just riding the struggle bus, he is driving it. It is a week where you attempt to keep the routine, enforce the healthy diet, the proper use of a plate, and God forbid normal hand washing, but eventually surrender to the demand of veggie straws for dinner. A week where you have walked through enough moments of intense fear that you hardly want to put the rascal down or let him out of your sight, while simultaneously wanting to beg for a break from the tantrums.

I read a meme once that addressed the double standard we can adopt towards our own children. We are allowed to have bad days, cope in maladaptive but justifiable ways for a moment, or throw a validated tantrum in the midst of pain or injustice, but they are not. It was much shorter and catchier than that, but that was my take home point. I mulled it over a bit but pulled it from the recesses of my brain this week to really chew on it. After all, if it is on a meme it must be true right?

The truth of the matter is that my fourteen-month old son has handled this week much better than I have even with his dichotomous behavior. He has continued to carry joy, extend grace, and walk in empathy even in the midst of great physical pain and discomfort. Even when he has chosen to lash out it has been in great frustration over an inability to communicate his needs adequately. When seen as an isolated incident of poor behavior, it is incredibly easy to respond quite firmly. When viewed in the context of his week though, compassion and grace permeate discipline with greater ease, tempering frustrated firmness with love.

I can imagine the lessons I am learning as a mother are only a tiny taste of how God parents us as perfect Father. I believe that God sees us in the entire context of our lives, and therefore disciplines us with great grace and compassion rather than with the harshness we deserve. Our circumstances will never justify our actions or dismiss our need for appropriate discipline, but they can provide a context for understanding the root of our behaviors. Perhaps good parenting, the kind that reflects the heart of Father God for His people onto our own children, goes beyond behavior modification and delves into the rooted issues of the heart. Perhaps that is why the first four of the ten commandments concentrate on internal attitudes of the heart: who we worship, trust, and honor. Perhaps that is why Jesus, when He teaches the law with great authority in the New Testament, turns the religious order upside down by addressing the heart rather than modifying the behavior.

If this is true and it is easier for me to extend grace and patience to my little nugget of drama when he is having a moment because I know what he is walking through, than I must accept the grace of God for myself in moments of my own struggle. The double standard of perfectionism must continue to be chipped away.  If I am to parent, or even to walk, in authentic compassion then I must become well acquainted with it personally as well.

Tremendously more easily said than done, yet true nonetheless…especially on a Monday.

-a