when love is hard (and to fellow “mean moms”)

Sometimes my kids tell me I’m the meanest mom on the planet. Like, the entire planet. With over 7 billion people populating it. I’m the meanest? I’m thinking that’s probably not true. Depending on the time of the month, maybe I reach the top 100,000, but the meanest? I don’t think so, kid.

Here’s what my kids don’t get. They don’t get my love. They don’t get that I can see twenty years down the road and that I really don’t want them to end up as total delinquents. Therefore I tell them “no” or I take their stuff away in efforts to help change the trajectory of their…life. And they straight up hate me for it.

But I’m ok with that. Because I’m learning something really huge through this motherhood gig. I’m learning that my love can’t be measured by their response. Did you get that? My love — the level and intensity of my love — cannot be rightly evaluated by their response to my “loving” actions. Including my loving actions that don’t feel loving.

 

love is Jesus

 

All this hit me the other day because I had a moment where it bothered me to be called the meanest mom on the planet. And I wanted to shout back, “I PROMISE I’M NOT THE MEANEST MOM! BUT, THERE’S A THING CALLED SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY, PEOPLE. SO WATCH OUT!” Or maybe I did shout that at them. It’s a blur.

Anyway, it hit me that God loves perfectly. He loves absolutely, scandalously, perfectly. And yet people betray Him, reject Him, deny Him, and curse Him. Continually. He loves me even when He allows things that don’t feel loving. He loves me with vision of my entire life and works in my days for my ultimate good. If I begin with His love, defining His allowances through His love, then peace and hope can’t help but reign in my soul. I sighed deeply at that revelation.

My love can’t be measured by their response.

Sometimes the most loving thing to do for a person is to draw a boundary line. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is to say, “Enough.” Sometimes the most loving thing includes a firm “no.”

We can’t always gauge our love by the response of others. Yes, it’s good and wise to honestly evaluate ourselves in light of what people say to and about us. Because if the whole world is telling us we’re being a jerk then maybe we are. Just sayin’. But people don’t set the plumb line. Jesus does.

 

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19

 

Sometimes love is easy and fluffy and candy-like. But other times love is firm and unpopular and isolating. The only way to know how to love in the moments of this messy life, is to press deep into the love of the Father praying that He presses His love deep into us. Then, when the world pushes in, His love in all its complexity can’t help but flow out.

Here’s to being the meanest mom on the planet. #meanmomsunite

 
Fill me, Lord…

What have you learned about God’s love that surprised you? How does the love of God encourage you?

 

how to create a culture of passion for Jesus in our homes

“Passion isn’t taught. It’s caught.” That was the exclamation point on our pastor’s sermon last Sunday. And I can’t stop thinking about it.

I mean, I’d say that my deepest desire is to be passionate for my God. I can get pretty fired up in a worship service standing next to other believers, hands raised high, telling God to take us wherever He wants us to go. Add a smoke machine and flashing lights and watch the heck out. But put me in my everyday life with my everyday struggles and the everyday frustrations and y’all, I have to wrestle my heart. Constantly.

 

culture of passion for Jesus

 

It’s like my passion for a clean home or obedient kids or quiet or…coffee…can trample my passion for Jesus in 2.8 seconds flat if I’m not on guard. External remedies for the thirst within can tempt my focus. And they’re convincing.

I know there’s “regular” life to live and we can’t always be on that “mountaintop” with Jesus. But I’m certain that my pastor is right about passion. People in our sphere of influence will more quickly do what we do, rather than do what we say. So if we’re going to create a “culture of passion” in our homes for the Lord, then it has to begin in us. Passion for Him isn’t manipulated or faked. It can’t be demanded or bought. It’s the natural overflow of His Spirit not only sealing us, but filling us full.

So what stops His Spirit from filling us full? Well. To put it blunt. Sin. Sin hinders His fullness in our lives. Which is why, if we want to live a passionate-for-Jesus life out of the overflow of Him in us, we have to be willing to bow low — to repent when self rises up — moment by moment.

It’s asking for eyes to see and ears to hear and tenderness to know when unlove or fear or resentment or anger or bitterness or gossip (or a million other expressions of self) rears its ugly head. The flesh trying to stomp out the Spirit’s reign in us. The second we finally see the messy sin that’s being pressed out of our hearts through our circumstance, by His absolute grace, we stop. We repent. We let the blood of Jesus cleanse us from that flesh rebellion. Then we move forward in His mercy, welcoming the fullness of His Spirit.

Then we do it all over again the next time our sin rises up.

Then the next.

By His power, we have to actively war against the sin in our souls. Or else, I promise, the sin will eat us — our joy, our peace, and our hope — alive. And passion for Jesus will become something we only look at from afar.

To me, passion for Jesus in the midst of everyday, looks like a war against my own heart. It looks like outward repentance that affects my emotions and my choices. It looks like choosing to praise and dance even when I feel despair. It looks like taking my thoughts captive to what’s true by verbally remembering what He says in His Word. It looks like a race — running hard and with endurance, eyes set on the finish line.

We’re going to fail. And thankfully the salvation, and even the passion, of others doesn’t actually rest in our hands — God alone raises the dead soul. But everyday, in Him, we get some choices. By His grace, we can choose to commune with our Father. In His strength, we can choose to fight the fight of faith. Because of Jesus, we can create a culture of passion in our homes as we press into Him, one moment then the next.

 
Fill me, Lord…

How would you describe “passion for Jesus” in the everyday of life?
 

what’s stealing from you?

I ask God on a daily basis to reveal stuff that’s hanging around in my heart. Stuff that’s ultimately stealing life from me. Because I’ve learned something about myself over the years: my heart is whack. It meditates on stuff and creates scenarios and lingers on fears that steal the life Christ died to give me. And it needs constant Divine supervision and intervention.

I don’t always listen to what God tells me after I’ve asked that question. Sometimes He reveals stuff that I just really don’t want to address at the moment, thank you very much. And in those instances I do something really mature like close my spiritual ears with my spiritual fingers and internally shout, “la-la-la-la-la-la.” And it always turns out stupid.

But other times, by His grace, I don’t resist. I listen and agree with Him. I confess my hardened, proud heart. I usually cry, because I’m a cry baby. And when I actually humble myself, sweet healing and greater soul freedom always follows.

Like the other day.

 

what is stealing life from you

 

I’ve talked about my struggles with homeschooling. blah blah blah But one thing about this homeschooling gig is it comes with LOTS of time with my kids. Lots of time. And I love them. Deeply. Dearly. Ferociously. And I know that the time flies. And I know it’s a gift. And I’m not wishing it away.

But I’ve noticed that as these pockets of time remain long and longer, my heart can get a little calloused towards my (wild, sweet, energetic) kids. I can fall into “drill sergeant” mode and miss the soul behind their mistakes…and their successes.

So the other day I asked God to reveal what was going on in my heart. Because a lack of joy or the feeling of hopelessness always and forever reveals something more than circumstance. It reveals something taking up residence in my heart other than my God and His perspective. And He tenderly showed me some…junk.

He showed me some expectations that weren’t from Him. He revealed some inconsistencies that weren’t from Him. He reminded me of His sovereign hand over and around and in my parenting. But the biggest thing He whispered had to do with my thought life towards my kids — some irritable thoughts that were lying deep beneath the surface, coloring my facial expressions and tone and attitude.

And He showed me by giving me a fresh vision of His love towards me. Not by smashing me with a hammer.

I was reading and talking to Him and thanking Him for His promises in Isaiah 43. But when I got to verse 4, I couldn’t go any further because He says, “You are precious in my eyes, honored, and I love you.” The tenderness put a big lump in my throat for a minute. He has tender love for me. And for you. And for my kids.

Motherhood is hard. And kids rarely listen to our instructions the first bazillion times we say them. But I desperately want to remain tender in my love. Not calloused. So I did the only thing I know to do — the thing that initiates His healing. I confessed the hardened places and asked Him to restore. And when my kids woke up that morning I bombarded them with life words, “You are precious in my eyes, honored, and I love you!”

 

“You are precious in my eyes, honored, and I love you.”
Isaiah 43:4

 

Healing from heart “issues” takes time. It takes a wrestling of our thoughts. It takes the Spirit of God empowering us from moment to moment. But God is in the business of transforming us from glory to glory so that we will experience the life Jesus died to give us. Yes, we’ll still fail. Alot. We’ll keep entertaining fears and meditating on lies. But the beautiful grace of God keeps beckoning us back into His presence. And in His presence is freedom.

 
Fill me, Lord…

From what has He freed your heart in recent days?
Or what are you wrestling against these days?

 

Oh and psst…I get to tell you about a pretty exciting giveaway Monday in celebration of the Advent study I just released. Stay tuned!