A weight of glory

This morning before I headed out the door for work, when you were about to jump in your truck and drive to school, I looked up at your face anxious about what you don’t want to face, curious about what you won’t say until it’s too late and then you’ll want to find a way to make space for a debate-

and I grabbed your green eyes with my teary ones and laid a mantle on you like a weighted blanket. The kind they use for overstimulated senses. And I said,

“Son, you can run. You can deflect and avoid reflecting on the truth, but you were born to know the One who made you curious. You can’t get away. He’ll never stop pursuing you. He wants you.” And you rested.

Your shoulders settled. Your eyes relaxed. Your fingers stopped. And I stopped too. Stopped worrying about you for a minute standing under that weight of glory.

A Man You Shall Be

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Son tomorrow you turn thirteen

Lemuel’s mother’s words sting

I know ways that destroy kings

And the man that I’m raising

 

Hot tears in my eyes

Lump in my throat

I plead with the Lord

Another story be wrote

 

I know there’s no keeping you from sin

While still in my womb sin was within

 

But I am your mother

God gave you to me

To raise not a boy

But a man you shall be

 

I am His daughter

Saved by his grace

Granted faith in our Savior

Charged to show you His way

 

So when you’re tempted

And enticed by these three

Flesh’s cravings, Eye’s lusts, Pride’s possessions

I pray you’ll remember your mother’s decree

 

“You are a sinner, you need a Savior, and Jesus is he!”

 

Remember Whose you are!

You’re not your mother’s

Nor your father’s

And you’re not your own

 

You bear the Imago Dei

You were created for him

Not for yourself, your dad or me

 

It is God’s plan

That I raise you to be a man

Fully aware of the dangers ahead

I look to the God of Abraham

 

Though his body was good as dead

He believed God

Who always does what He says

He who was able to produce life out of old Sarah

Is able to produce fruit out of his daughter’s labor

 

He is faithful to generations of those who love Him

He who made you my son

Is able to keep

You, who He has entrusted to me

 

Seek him while you are young son

And don’t waste your life

Remember your mom’s faith

And put your hope in Christ!

Tired mom, don’t give up

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Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

Tonight after a day of high school classes for my sons, and a day of work as a nurse in acute rehab I wanted to veg out, and so did they.  I had homework (only one calss left for my BSN!), they had finished theirs.  By the time I finished my required essay, I was ready to enjoy my glass of wine and do nothing but relax.  My boys wanted to watch the rest of Black Panther and I was tempted to let them.

But in the shower these words came to mind:

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

In a brief exchange of prayer, I argued with the Holy Spirit, Psalm 127 coming to mind, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord , the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalms 127:1,3).  But even as the passage went through my head, I hear the words of Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)

“I know you’re tired Sheila. But it’s the very fact that all your labor is in vain unless I build, unless I grant life (even your children’s), that you should labor.  I am building the house.  Your labor is not in vain.”

In a rare exchange of intimate prayer (most of my prayers are more like drowning Peter’s, “Help Lord!”)  I responded, the words of the Psalmist bubbling up in my heart:

Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! Psalms 90:16-17

“Establish the work of my hands Lord!  Establish the work of my hands to impress the gospel upon my children’s hearts!  Establish the work of my hands to be a witness of the good news of Christ to my husband!  Establish the work of my hands!”

I got out of the shower and pulled the Tim Keller book I was planning to return to the library without ever reading out of my bag, “Making Sense of God- An Invitation to the Skeptical.”

“Hey guys,” I called to the two young men of my womb laying on the couch watching Black Panther, “I want to read to you for awhile.”

“Oh mom, come on, really?!  Read what?  I want to watch this…”  they challenged.

My tired body didn’t want to resist. I wanted to give up and go to bed. But the promises of God assured me, any effort I put into impressing the hope of Christ on my kids would not be in vain.

So tonight, we read the intro of Making Sense of God, and had a short discussion.

Tired mom, don’t give up on pressing into raising your children in the nurture and teaching of the gospel of Christ. Work! Your labor is not in vain. God is buildng his house.  May he establish the work of our hands.

 

Capturing a moment I want to remember

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47 junior high and high school students, including my two sons, left the parking lot of Valley Life Church Surprise this morning to make their way to ZONA 2018.

Over the years there have been many times I’ve felt hopeless for my sons. I’ve felt the pressure of raising them in a home where there has been near-divorce more than once because of the differences in my husband’s and my faith. It is a difference in faith.

Once on a long walk when I was sure the marriage was over my husband asked me what marriage meant to me. I shared my thoughts, he shared his. We had concerns, chief of them I voiced, “We have two different loves.”  He agreed. Even still come September we will be married for 25 years.  That’s evidence of much grace from above.

Watching my boys enter that van, with those other students, and youth leaders knowing they’re heading to a place where the emphasis will be how God has set us apart to be a people for himself, I thought, “Don’t forget this Sheila!  Don’t fail to capture this moment and thank God for hearing your prayers and working in your sons’ lives.”

The afternoon without the noise of two teenage boys was peaceful, but I wouldn’t trade it for their noise.  There’s definitely a need for a parent to have a break from their kids, but having a clean house that doesn’t get messed up five minutes after it’s cleaned, and a fridge that stays stocked with food, and quiet isn’t worth trading for the messy, loud, hard, intimate relationship of mother and son. I’ll enjoy the break, but I’ll be super glad to greet their, “Oh brother mom!” faces when they get home.

I pray they’ll know they have been set apart.

For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.  1 Corinthians 7:14 

‘Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:13-16

 

April fools, Easter, the Prodigal and my son

 

pexels-photo-897296.jpegI wonder what the son who betrayed his father’s love and provision, left home squandered it all and came back seeking restoration was like the years before he decided to leave.  I wonder if he resisted his father’s love and discipline.  I wonder if he threatened that as soon as he was of age, he was out of there!

Obviously I don’t know.  And I’m sure scholars who know these things could give me a better historical idea of what a father and son in the ancient Middle East might have typically been like in their culture. But I thought about the prodigal the other day when my oldest son, who will be 15 on Easter Sunday (which also happens to be April Fool’s day) scowled at my every instruction and resignedly breathed out a, “Yes, mom” instead of an argument.

He is the spice of my life and is also the reason I have so many frowning wrinkles in my forehead.  My April Fool’s day baby has been testing the boundaries and seeking a thrill since before he turned one.

As an infant, he wouldn’t be held and cuddled.  I bought a rocking chair while I was still pregnant with him, but the only time he was still in my arms in that chair was when he was nursing.  Once I tried to hold and rock him and he squirmed and wiggled and strained to raise his head. I laughed and starting tickling him and within minutes he was asleep.  This boy didn’t want to be rocked to sleep he wanted to be tickled to sleep. Before he turned one he managed to figure out how to escape his crib.  And when we decided to put his crib mattress on the floor for his safety he wouldn’t stay in his room at night.

This boy ripped out his first tooth gnawing on a bar stool before he could walk.  He fell down a flight of stairs when he was 2 because he was curious about the door we had told him, “No” to.  Everywhere we went I worried that he would run in front of a car, or jump in a pool of water or fall off a cliff because he had no fear and boundaries seemed to say, “Come here and test me!”

As I’ve watched my son’s personality come to light I laugh at God’s timing in making April Fool’s day the day he would be born.   No mom wants to call their son a fool, but I’m pretty sure that the 15 year old, impulsive, curious, pubescent, strong-willed boy is pictured in the dictionary as the definition of fool.  And to be fair, right behind it is the 15 year old, shallow, silly, emotional, pubescent, self-focused girl (that was me at 15).  This child loves to make people laugh.  He seeks thrills, often without thinking first.  He’s curious, especially when there are boundaries. He opens his mouth and at least 5 minutes of senseless arguing about E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G comes out before being corrected for the offensive nonsense that just spilled out or he stops himself and walks away.

I worry about him.  I know worrying does nothing to help him or me, but I can’t stop the downpour of stomach acid and tears that come with my daily interactions with this young man I would endure years of obstinance and resistance for.

The other day he looked me in the eye and said, “All I know is as soon as I’m 18, I’m out of here!”   He was angry.  He’s tired of running into his parents boundaries.  And he’s not ready to willingly bend his knee to God or his parents.  He’ll acquiesce.  He’ll do what we ask after lots of resistance, for now.  But the will to run hard into a wall is strong with this one.

That’s hard on a mom. And a dad.  But I think it’s hard on a mom even more.  I think the dad can let the resistance increase his resolve a little easier than with the mom.  With the mom, well, “…a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.”

I do have hope though. I have hope for the fool because I have been, and still show myself to be, the fool.  God broke through my foolishness and gave me wisdom and a heart to love him.  He’s done that with many an infamous fool.  Nebuchanezzar. Jonah. Paul. Peter…

It’s fitting that April fool’s day is Easter Sunday.  Before Christ rose in our hearts and we saw a glimpse of his worth and pledged our hearts to him, we were foolish, stiff-necked, rebellious, children of wrath.  We thought we knew better than the One who made us and we were going to do life our own way, thank you very much! Psalm 107 poetically tells what some of us did with our lives when we gave our Maker the finger and set off to do life better than He. We found ourselves ruined and He brought us to our senses like the prodigal son.  Then we turned to him, receiving lavish unearned favor and love.

Before my son was born I sought God, asking Him for a scripture that I could cling to and pray over his life.  The verse that resonated with me was Psalm 119: 73.

Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. Psalms 119:73

This little sentence has been my hope over the years for this strong-willed son of mine.  He didn’t make himself.  God did.  And although right now he has no understanding and is like a brutish and ignorant beast (just as I was) before God, the same God who made him is able to give him understanding.  He is able to take our foolish ignorance and make us wise.  He’s able to make us actually love God’s boundaries and embrace his ways as beautiful.

Before the prodigal left home and chased his self-loving pleasures, he probably spent years chomping at the bit to do so, much to his father and mother’s grief.  But the love of the father brought him to his senses.

I don’t want my son to go through ruin.  But I do want him to see the love of God in Christ for himself.  I want him to want to submit to this God who gave him life.  And so, I must trust the one who made him- who knows how to save him.

On Easter Sunday, lots of fools will gather in buildings around the world to worship the one who took them from being brutish and ignorant beasts of rebellion, to fools for Christ’s sake.  We, who once gave God the finger with our lives, now fall prostrate in awe of the one who calls us sons and daughters.  We came to him filthy and defiled like the prodigals we are and he embraced us and set a new garment of acceptance and worth on us and has called us his own children.  A bunch of fools in love with this Jesus we’ve never seen. A bunch of fool’s taking up our crosses daily and following him.  A bunch of fool’s turning from the temporary pleasures of sin and enduring suffering for the glory that is set before us in being united with the Father who has graciously forgiven, restored and loved us.

This is the foolishness this mom is called to.  Somehow, in God’s wisdom, to take what is foolish to a strong-willed son and endure, trusting in the one who takes the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.

‘We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. ‘ 1 Corinthians 4:10,12-13

‘For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; ‘ 1 Corinthians 1:18,20-21,25,27