My photo
We are a family of fifteen: eight already with Jesus and seven in desperate need of Him. This is the story God is writing in our lives. Proverbs 16:9

Sunday, January 31, 2010

For The Love of Family and Discipline

Thankfully, Micah was able (thanks to Chick-fil-a!!!) to fly in for a long weekend. We still work, wait, and pray for wisdom and guidance. Our time together was sweet and not a moment taken for granted.We even got to attend the crowning of Miss Wilkes Central together. The winner was... my sister Chelsea!!! I was thankful that a girl with such a beautiful heart through the grace of God in her life won. Congratulations!

There are moments in parenting the boys -and in our present situation, I have more of them:)-that I learn something overwhelming and wonderful about God and the way He is a loving Father to me. Because of His grace, He gives me object lessons as I struggle through being a parent that seeks the best for my children. The boys and I have been sick this week. We have also had snow and have locked ourselves inside for the duration of the storm. Last night, I had big plans for us in spite of our circumstances. We have been working on a puzzle and I had selected some fun reading for us. There are always fun things to do on the Wii and Lego houses and Star Wars ships to build as well. But it was clear very early in the evening that I was going to have to discipline the boys. I knew the best way to train their hearts was to send them to bed without doing all the fun stuff. I gave them chance after chance to redeem themselves, but clearly, they were just going to keep taking advantage of the situation, not heed my warnings, and do what they wanted to do instead of what I had asked. My hesitation was selfish; I wanted us to enjoy the time together. I eventually sent them to bed and the minute the words came out of my mouth, they began bargaining with me promising they would do what I had asked. In our house, we follow the rule that obedience takes place the first time an instruction is given, when you have obeyed all the way, and done so with a happy heart. This was an opportunity for me to be consistent in this rule. They cried… actually wailed… and I cried. I had much better things planned for them this evening but because of their choices, all of us were missing out. If they had only trusted me and obeyed they would have been playing and not crying! As I sat on the sofa, listening to them vocalize their sadness, I immediately wondered about all the times I have been disciplined because of my choices and responded in the same way. Proverbs 12:1 admonishes: Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. It is difficult to declare “I love to be disciplined and I do not want to be stupid!”

Obedience is tricky. God first loved me, so I love, obey, and trust that God desires the best for me. I am understanding more and more the dynamics of true obedience in this way as compared to obedience out of guilt, a false sense of righteousness, because I think that in obeying I can get my own way, or trying to pay God back for what He has done for me. When I either don’t obey or my obedience is not out of a heart that loves God and God disciplines me out of love, I many times just feel badly that I didn’t get what I wanted or that something didn’t go as I planned. Even if the consequence is a clear result of my choices, I look for ways to blame God. I have felt that God was sovereignly unresponsive to my cries and glad I was getting what I deserved. As I wept with my boys, I realized very deeply how very wrong I have been. I never thought that He might be enduring with me, hearing my cries, and desiring that the discipline I was receiving would change my heart in the future. He at the same time supplies all I need to continue to have fellowship with Him through Christ and comfort in the midst of anguish through His steadfast love. There is deep love in discipline; far deeper than allowing behavior that will lead ultimately to destruction. I believe I have known these things as truths, but in this particular moment, God allowed me to feel them as I felt for my boys. The writer of Hebrews says it far better than I:

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. "For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:5-11

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Wood Between the Worlds

"It was the quietest wood you could possibly imagine. There were no birds, no insects, no animals, and no wind. You could almost feel the trees growing. The pool he had just got out of was not the only pool. There were dozens of others- a pool every few yards as far as his eyes could reach. You could almost feel the trees drinking the water up with their roots. This wood was very much alive. When he tried to describe it afterward Digory always said, 'It was a rich place: as rich as plumcake.' The strangest thing was that, almost before he had looked about him, Digory had half forgotten how he had come there."

~C.S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew
Both in location and in situation, there seem to be several parallels between the place Digory and Polly traveled to which they called "The Wood Between the Worlds" and where the boys and I are right now. Both of us Lewis fans, my mother-in-law and I sat in the kitchen of the home we are staying in and admired the forest out the back doors. I look out the back windows every morning of our "in-between place" and wonder which "pool" our family is going to jump in to and be on our way to our new world.

Can I be honest with you? In the complexities of human experience and eternal truths, there are many times seemingly conflicting ideas. I have never benefited from denying (or trying to) the feelings associated with recognizing the truths. So I ask that as I attempt to speak as truthfully as I can, I ask you to trust that to me the truths are the most important and where I land in light of my feelings. The feelings however are real and a part of the journey as well.

I miss my husband so much! ~ It is refreshing after 12 years in marriage to the same man to ache for his companionship in day to day life. While our present situation is not ideal, it is a gift to be re-acquainted with old feelings of wanting to be with him. ~ I will be so glad when we can have that again and we can be as close to home as we will be this side of eternity. ~ I am so thankful Micah has this opportunity with Chick-fil-a and pray it leads to a permanent position. He has a wonderful opportunity in CA and I am so proud of him and thankful for the way God has bless him in his work. ~ I am thankful for the opportunity for us to really get on the same page when it comes to goals and direction for our family. Not being in the same place has forced us to communicate more about where we are and where we are going. ~ I do not like being by myself at night and the one to have to check the doors, kill all the spiders, etc., etc., etc. ~ I am learning to trust the Lord more with my safety and having to model more earnestly the verses I quote to the boys at night when we all lay down to rest. All the things I know to be true of who God is, His Omnipresence, Omnipotence, His Wisdom, His Goodness- are so comforting and are all that brings me peace.

I am so thankful we have this home to live in right between my parents and his. It is beautiful and comfortable and gives us a place to store our stuff as well. It is a joy to see them so often. The boys have so many people to love on them. It is truly a blessing to have time here, after so many years living in another state, to just travel a few minutes to visit extended family. ~ It is a blessing to be taught daily that we are to hold loosely to the things of this world; even the concept of earthly home. ~ I am having to be a much better time manager here than any other place we have lived due to all the opportunities we have to visit family and friends. I have to be more diligent in putting the convictions of our family into practice more here as well.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite photos from the last three weeks.

The last time we were in "Daddy's Mall" together.

This was the caravan that brought us from PA to NC. We were blessed to have my Dad, Uncle, and Brother to help haul us down the east side of the country.

Travel Day

The NC crew the day before Micah flew out

The 5 Childs Cousins

All the testosterone in my house snuggled together just before bedtime.

I love this one. I snapped it as Micah waved goodbye to the boys and me just before he went through security at the airport. If you were at Charlotte Douglas Airport that day and heard sobs coming from baggage claim, that was probably me:)

I got both boys a haircut soon after we got to NC. Andrew had a much different face during the whole thing. I couldn't resist adding this one of Elijah.

We just celebrated Andrew's 6th birthday this past Tuesday. What a precious gift he is. He asked for Monkey Bread for his birthday breakfast and wanted to wear a tie "like Daddy does" for the special occasion.

Riding a carousel with Mary and Nana

The best parallel between the wood between the worlds and here is that we are certain there is "a very strong sun overhead". We all feel God's protection and provision for us and it feels as warm as it has always been.