Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Thankful for Grace

I'm nice most of the time. 
I'm happy most of the time. 
I'm striving to follow Christ most of the time.

But when my guard is down, I can be evil.

In the moments after my anger is provoked, I can turn into something far less flattering than what I want to be.  Like a doctor-jekyl-and-mister-hyde type monster that impulsively says or does the first thing it's capable of doing.  Like I've lost all control for those few seconds...or minutes...until I remember who I am in Christ and surrender my emotions to Him.

I've said some pretty awful things to those I love in those blinded seconds.  I've been mean, ridiculous, unforgiving, hurtful, hateful, spiteful, revengeful, and worse.


My husband is used to my periodic short angry outbursts, the stupid things I say when I'm frustrated, the ones that I don't really mean at all once my emotions switch from anger to sadness to remorse to shame, when I hang my head and cry.  Honestly, I don't think he takes me very seriously anymore, which maybe I've used as an excuse not to change.  After all, he knows I don't really mean it.  And it's over so fast that I'm the same happy, funny person in no time...sometimes before he even realizes what's going on.

In a strange parallel, I awoke this morning to a tattling 6-year-old whose sister had just told her that all her stuffed animals were dumb and that she wouldn't play with her for a year.  Pretty obviously ridiculous, right?  Wonderful Christian mom that I am, I had a discussion with my nine-year-old daughter about how her words and actions reveal what is truly in her heart.  If the things she chooses to say and do are mean, untrue, and serve no purpose except to hurt or control, then what does that say about her heart?  Is the desire of her heart to truly serve and follow Jesus?  If so, shouldn't the things she says to other people reflect that?

One of my better talks, if I do say so myself.

Feeling smug, I got breakfast ready and then went to check my email, finding a note that my husband had forwarded me concerning a scheduling conflict we're trying to resolve between a dress rehearsal for our church's childrens' choir (which he directs) and our daughters' ballet recital.  There was something in the email (it turned out to be an error) which I could have simply asked about, but instead I instantly jumped to the conclusion that he didn't care as much as I do that he attended the recital.  Within seconds, I had hammered out an impulsive, uncaring, and disrespectful comment.  I even had the thought while typing, "Well, this isn't very Christlike, Lisa.", to which I shot back "Oh, well!" and violently hit send.

It was then that I realized that I sent my reply to the church secretary instead of to my husband.

{insert crickets chirping} 
Did I really just do that? 
Yes, in fact, I did.
Oh. My. Goodness. 

As I found out this morning, emails, unlike words, can't be taken back.

Wait a minute.  Words can't be taken back either, can they?  I just think they can.  I think that when I've calmed down, apologized, and gone back to being the "Good Christian Girl", that my impulsive comments have left no mark on my marriage or my children. 

This simply isn't true.

And after the initial embarrassment of realizing I'd just sent a nasty reply to an innocent church secretary, I also had to humble myself and claim a few other blatant sins.

1. I did NOT control my tongue (or in this case my fingers).  Rather, I lashed out in anger.

2. This is definitely NOT the first time it's happened.  I'm a repeat offender.

3. I did NOT respect my husband by calmly questioning him and giving him the opportunity to clarify.

4. I am a great big hypocrite.


I accept this humiliation as discipline from a loving God who finds me worthy of teaching and molding.  I am humbled, and I'm profoundly thankful for the grace of my Father, my husband, and a certain secretary.  I'm committed to working on it, taking the advice I gave to my daughter this morning and applying it more consistently to my own life...changing my heart from the inside out. 

I don't want to be a hypocrite; I don't want to teach my children one thing and practice another, nor do I want to misrepresent Christ with my actions.

But since I'm a work in progress and am bound to stumble on occasion, I ask one thing of you:

If you ever get a nasty email from me, please graciously disregard it...and then forward it to my husband.  There's a good chance it was meant for him.

Matthew 12:34 (ESV)
You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

James 3:5-6 (NIV)
Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Resilient Little People

Oh, how I love the resilient little people God has placed in my life.  The little ones that show me that the issues that come with raising Attachment Disordered children are not mine...they are the result of sin and evil in a fallen world. 

I love all five of my kids.  I'm thankful for each of them.  I have incredible hopes and dreams for each and every one of them, as they grow and learn and struggle to become the people God wants them to be.  As they learn how to serve Him and not the world.  I love them all.

But God knew I needed these babies...the three of them: six, four and one.  On days like today, where everything I say is met with hostility and disrespect, when every request spurs on an anger that can't be reasoned with, when my resolve to not lose my temper is pushed and stretched until the only thing I can do is sing hymns, eyes closed, while burning arms restrain a nine-year-old-girl-turned-animal, rivers of sweat from both mother and child mingled with the mass confusion of rage. 

With screams of "Let me go!  You're hurting me!  I can't breathe!  You're being mean!  Stop hurting me!" and on and on and on.  And I pray.  And I sing.  And I hold.  All the while pretending that my adrenaline isn't about to rip my heart from my chest.  When all I really feel like doing is screaming, spanking, and forcing that child to obey. 

On days like today, I am so thankful for my babies.

When the beautiful-child-turned-animal is momentarily tamed and left alone to ponder, leaving her Mama's energy...emotional, physical, spiritual...sapped to the point of exhaustion,  I return to the living room, where my three babies are left playing.  Left listening to the sounds of their sister's screams, and their Mama's hymns.

"You know Mama isn't really hurting your sister, right?"

"We know, Mama.  She's just sick."

"Come here so I can hold you like I hold her.  There.  Does that hurt?"

"No!" (giggling) "It feels kinda cozy!" 

Kisses and laughter and hugs.  Seemingly untouched by the trauma they've been witness to in the lives of their siblings, and accepting of the struggles they've seen their brother and sister fight through. 

Full of life...
            ...full of love...
                       ...full of joy...
                                ...and securely Attached.

These happy, resilient little people...I love them so.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

He Really Loves Me

I pray a lot for patience.  I pray for help to get through the day, especially on those I-wish-I-could-go-back-in-time-and-start-the-day-over kind of days.  I ask God for direction, for peace in tough circumstances, for supernatural strength when I have none left of my own.

But that's not all.  I pray for other people, too:  my kids, my husband, our sponsored children, my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Sick people, hurting people, lost people, the persecuted and defenseless.

For as far back as I can remember, though, I have never asked God for any material possession.

Until one night last fall.

Looking at the night sky through the window of our shower (yes, we have a window in the shower), I broke down in tears and asked God if He would consider giving me the desire of my heart: an old farmhouse.  A place with character and charm where we could raise our five kids, and a plot of land where they could roam.  Maybe a crooked barn and a chicken coop and a vegetable garden, with trees to climb and places to explore, and room for my long-coveted goat. 

No farmhouse, in my mind, would be complete without an old tire swing, either...hanging from the branches of a massive, gnarled tree.

I can't say that I asked in detail for each of these things, that I laid out the floor plan of my dream house or was overly specific in my request (especially considering I felt a little weird to be asking for something I didn't "need" in the first place).  But God heard the genuine cry of my heart, saw into my dreams, gave a certain man I love the desire to make his wife's dreams come true, and has chosen to answer in this way:
Wow!  Obviously, I'm more than ecstatic to see my dreams becoming a reality, my wonderful husband is thrilled to be able to buy his wife the house she's always wanted (talk about brownie points), and the kids are nearly shaking in anticipation of occupying all that space!  When I can look past all the overwhelming feelings of organizing, purging, donating, packing, cleaning, repairing, selling and moving, I can hardly wait to see how God is going to grow and change our family in our new home. 

And I'm also learning something new about God.  Sure, He loves it when we ask Him for things we need, like patience and direction and healing and peace.  But just like the feeling of joy I get when my son opens up the "perfect" Lego set on Christmas morning, I think God is delighting in watching me "open" this house.
He really loves me, my Father does.  In spite of all my imperfections, sin, selfishness and pride, He hears my prayers and delights in giving me the desires of my heart. 
God really and truly loves me...and so does my husband. 
And that's better than any old farmhouse.               

Although I'd really like to keep it...tire swing and all. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Walk

I stumble.  I fall.  I lie on the bare ground, face in the dirt, unable to rise on my own.

He picks me up.  He sets me on the path, and urges me on.

I stumble.  I fall.  Arms out, I try to brace myself, prepare myself for the fall, yet face meets dirt once more.

He picks me up.  Dusts me off.  Sets me on the path, and urges me on.

I stumble.  I fall.  Hard impact, wind gone and breath lost, I lie stunned upon the ground.  Again.

He picks me up.  He breathes peace and new life into lungs that ache for His breath.  He dusts me off, sets me on the path, and urges me on.

I stumble.  I fall.  Bruised and bleeding, I lie helpless on the ground, paralyzed with the pain of my failure.

He picks me up.  He applies salve to my wounds.  He breathes peace and new life into lungs that ache for His breath.  He dusts me off, sets me on the path, and urges me on. 

I stumble.  I fall.  I cry out with the hot tears of anguish, unable to save myself; unable even to understand how desperately I need saving.

He picks me up.  He cradles me as the torrents of my humanity burst forth, unhindered; He dries my tears.  He applies salve to my wounds.  He breathes peace and new life into lungs that ache for His breath.  He dusts me off, sets me on the path, and urges me on.

Such is my walk with the Lord.

Will He never tire of me?  Will He not abandon me in my wretchedness?  Will His mercies never cease?  I disappoint Him so.  And yet He is faithful...and loving...and forgiving... and heaps blessing after blessing upon me.

There is nothing I can say, Father, except that I love You.  More than home and comfort, more than sun and moon and earth and sea, more even than my very heart:  husband, parent, child.  More than life.  I am Yours forever, such as I am.  Committed to You, in Your service in this life until I am presented blameless before You in the next.  Until then, may the sincerity of my heart bring glory to You when my actions cannot.

Lamentations 3:22-23

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.