Our First Year as Minimalists

IMG_1929.JPGLast year about this time I gave myself the gift of minimalism for my birthday. I joined a class offered by Joshua Becker and bought his book “The More of Less.” I wrote at length about it here. When I wrote that blog, I was only 4 months in. Looking back now, I can’t believe how much I got done in a short amount of time. But the truth is, I was desperate. I had reached my limit. So I dove into the course full steam ahead. I pulled more than one all-nighter. It was a priority, an obsession, because the freedom I began to feel as I dug my life out from under all that stuff powerfully propelled me to push even harder. I gave away things I might need. I gave away things that I loved. I gave away gifts from people I love because I had no choice. We didn’t have the room. Our house was bursting at the seems.

SPOILER ALERT: At the beginning of the course, you are asked to think about your “Why.” And mine was simple. I wanted more time with my family. I wanted to stop spending so much time with their stuff and more time with them.  I have seen many people sharing their success on the Facebook page for the course. But I have also seen many people that don’t really move forward. And while there are obviously extenuating circumstances like a death or life altering event, for the most part, I would say that the main reason it doesn’t work for some people is that they don’t make it a priority. And the reason they don’t make it a priority is because they don’t understand how amazing their life will be when they finally do it. So I wanted to share some of the ways my life is exponentially better.

  1. My kids get it. We were never big consumers because we have never had a big wallet enabling us to do so. Therefore, my kids weren’t the type to ask for toys or candy at the store. But since minimalism, the reason is so much more grand. So much more noble. When it comes to getting a new toy/outfit/game they truly understand that we just don’t need it! They inspire me and each other. “We’re minimalists,” they say and move on.  This is way better than “We don’t have the money,” because it’s actually more true. Even if we did have unlimited resources, constantly buying the latest gadget isn’t good for anyone! It breeds discontentment and overflows landfills. My youngest regularly gives back the toy at Chik-fil-a, even when he doesn’t trade it for ice cream. Mind blowing. But they are tired of picking up stuff off the floor too.
  2. Our house is typically neat instead of always a mess. And even when it looks like a disaster, because there are still seven people in a 1700 square foot house, we are typically only about 15 minutes from it looking really great. The reason for this is two fold. First, we have less stuff which obviously means less to clean and put away. But the other less obvious and even more important part is this. Since we have purged and purged and purged all year, the stuff we do have, actually has a place. It used to be that if all my clothes were clean, I couldn’t fit them in the drawers. But now we live within our parameters making cleaning that much easier for the kids.  They can put toys in the closet because the closet isn’t bursting at the seems. They can put books on the shelves, because they aren’t full. The old adage, “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place” is actually a thing! Who knew??
  3. We have more time to do what we want. This year, like many years before, we hosted Easter. But this year, unlike any other year in my life, we went to the beach two days before. There was almost no stress about cleaning. Even when I looked around and thought, “This place is a disaster!” we were able to straighten up in no time. Now, for perspective, my children are older. I have three girls ages 10,12, and 14, and my oldest is fantastic at straightening up, when she wants to be. I don’t have babies anymore, and that makes a huge difference. But the stuff is just gone. And I DON’T MISS IT!
  4. I have new floors!!! They were literally a gift from God. Free. I wrote about it here. And because my house had been minimized, we were able to install them without a huge hassle. I looked at my husband, and we just marveled at what a mess it would have been had this happened months before. All this time I have been praying for new flooring, maybe God was just waiting for me to get rid of all our stuff so there was room! Think about that for a minute. You think you are saving money by holding on to all the stuff you might need someday, but all that stuff has a cost. And you never know what you are missing because of it.

Here are some things I learned:

  1. I didn’t need to be more organized. I needed less stuff. That’s me. Some people are great at organizing and such. More power to you. I am not. And further more, even if I was, I would still rather be with people than at home organizing stuff. No offense introverts 😉
  2. This is not “Decluttering.” It is purging. It is uncomfortable. Some people say to ask “does this thing give you joy?” But I actually *did* get rid of things that gave me joy because I just don’t have room! Also people are constantly decluttering because they are constantly taking in stuff they don’t need or could do without. Of course you will have to get rid of stuff occasionally. But living a minimalist life means you stop taking in. It means you stop valuing stuff over people. It means you stop buying stuff just because it’s a holiday.
  3. You need real support that most people can’t give. I found some people are kind of intimidated by this whole thing. They feel judged. We all tend to do that when someone makes a big life choice that sheds a light on a possible problem in our own life. That is why the support you get in the course is invaluable.
  4. I was lying to myself. I told myself I was fine. Chaos didn’t bother me. I am laid back and fine, I rationalized. Nope. Not true. As evidenced by the way I regularly lost my cool when I couldn’t find something I lost in the piles of stuff or how I got so frustrated cleaning up before an event. It bothered me. I just ignored it.

Sometimes when I look at pictures of an old chair, or think about books I gave away, I do feel a bit sad. But when I look at my house any sadness is gone in an instant. And when I hear my kids say “We don’t need it mommy,” I feel relief. We are all So Much happier and more free.  I have struggled my whole life with keeping things neat. My mom always quoted this proverbs from the Bible: “A wise man prizes his possessions.” And now I finally can. But only because I have less.

The course is just about to start again and right now you can even use the code FF25 to get 25% off at http://my.becomingminimalist.com The deadline to sign up is April 30th.  I will be signing up again and again! After your first time through you can keep going over and over for free! If you still don’t think you need the course or the book, read here.

If you are minimizing now or have in the past, how has your life improved? What have you learned? Share in the comments and inspire! 

Fifteen Things to Look for in a Man

Today is our 15th anniversary! And while it is commonly known that the traditional gift for 25 years is silver, and the gift for 50 years is gold,  it is a lesser known fact that the gift for 15 years is a blog post. So since I am a slave to convention,  here ya go babe! This one’s for you!

Fifteen Things to Look for in a Man

1. A man that knows and loves Jesus and the Word of God

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2. A man that will join you in your hobbies

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3. A man that loves Chik fil a….. enough to wear cow ears

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4. A man that puts your happiness above his pride

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5. A man that understands your love for Movember and is not threatened by your pre-teen crush on Magnum P.I.

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6. A man that will drive 23 hours straight to take you to the place of your birth

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7. And drive you the very next summer across the country to California to see your college roomie

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8. A man who cares for and respects the elderly

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9. A man who loves your family

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10. A man that loves and respects his mom

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11. A man that will fly you back to NY, just to meet your fav talk show host

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12. A man that dances. Your daughters will thank you

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13. A man that regularly shows affection963860_10153121206960510_998525973_o

14. A man who can wrestle. Wrestling is really important

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15. And last, but definitely not least, a man with whom those sparks fly!13567184_10157067265085510_1930858657536733103_n

Here’s the truth. Having a list is important. But a list won’t get you to fifteen years or even fifteen months. It takes more than ideals and standards to build a thriving marriage. You need love. But not just any love. You need the greatest love. Jesus told His disciples that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another. Listening to Kelly Minter recently brought new depth to that verse for me. Yes, Jesus laid down his life at the cross, she reminded us. But that wasn’t the first time He laid down His life. Every day that he stepped foot on this earth was a day that He laid down his life in heaven for us. Having a beautiful marriage requires this kind of love. Laying your life down every dang day for the person on the pillow next to you. That is the greatest love. That means laying down your right to be right. Laying down your pride. Laying down what’s fair. Laying down past pains. Laying down insecurities. Laying it all down and loving with an everlasting love that can only come from God. Without a doubt, Paul is truly more than I could have hoped for or imagined, but we have been through many ups and downs. We are broken people with hurts we are healing together.  We have had horrible fights (aka “strong fellowship”) that left me doing the ugly cry,  and we have had utopian moments when I thought my heart would burst. Yet without exception, our marriage is the strongest, happiest, and the sweetest when we are mutually seeking to serve the other through the power of our loving Creator.

Planned Parenthood Offers Fake Prenatal Care

Cecile Richards knows how important prenatal care is to the patients of Planned Parenthood. People literally “depend” on Planned Parenthood for prenatal care. Obviously.

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So a woman tried to make an appointment for some prenatal care, should be easy right? I have taken screen shots of their answers. Check out these telling answers.

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Right. I know. I know. Asking for prenatal care at an abortion clinic sounds ridiculous. But Cecile promised! (You have to watch the video-link below- to hear the tone of this worker! Like the caller is an idiot for asking!)

Maybe another clinic….

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Ok, well, just try one more. Surely someone offers prenatal care!

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Then where can one go? I mean,they keep telling us if we don’t fund Planned Parenthood, where would people go for prenatal care????

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Got it. Right around the corner there is a legit clinic for prenatal care. But not at Planned “PARENTHOOD” right? I mean the name has the word Parent in it!

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This girl gets it! Well, at least they offer mammograms! Oh, wait…Nevermind!

Watch the video from Live Action News here. Really. It’s mind blowing!

And share!! People need to know this. I mean, at the very least Cecile Richards should know. And yes, there are a TINY percentage of clinics that offer “prenatal care” but as John Zmirak put it so eloquently, do you really want to go to a vet that owns a butcher shop? No thank you! So let’s give that government funding to clinics that actually help women instead of butchering them.

Using the Trivium to Learn about Racial Unity

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Over the last several years God has been stirring in my heart questions about race that I have never thought about before. But before I write about those exact questions, I need to share about three basic levels of learning I have studied with our Classical Conversations homeschooling group which have impacted my life in such a profound way.

There are three basic levels of learning that involve the arts of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric.
The grammar stage is when you learn the basic information, the vocabulary, and the facts. I know when you hear the word grammar you think of English Grammar, but the actual word grammar refers to the basic elements of learning anything. For instance, reading scripture and memorizing verses are grammar skills. It is simply the acquiring of information.

The dialectic stage is digging deeper, asking questions, researching, and debating.
When you hear the word dialectic, it sounds like dialogue. This is the stage where you start wrestling through those Bible verses in a small group by discussing topics, and debating doctrine.  A crucial skill in this level is asking questions. You should be debating these issues using logic and reason. You are working through tough topics. In our homeschool program we begin this level in the middle school ages when they naturally start asking more questions and no longer simply accept information from you. They want to know why. They want to know how come. They want to argue with you. So we give them tools to debate issues. The problem is that very few of us were given those tools. As a society, we are largely unable to have a conversation with somebody that we disagree with. There are certain topics that are off limits. Don’t talk about politics or religion, because it will get heated. But the problem is, when you don’t talk about difficult topics you will never really learn about them. If you only look at one side of an issue, you will remain at that lower level of learning, and often times, the information you learn will not even take root in your heart. I believe this to be the problem with a lot of teens that go off to college. They have never experienced the dialectic level of learning the Bible. They are simply told “This is the way it is. The end.” If students are not given the tools to debate truth, if they are not given the space to question, they will never reach that second level of learning. And when you stay in that grammar level, you are very easily swayed.

The rhetoric stage is the application of language in order to instruct and to persuade the listener and the reader. It is the knowledge (grammar) now understood (dialectic) being transmitted outwards, as wisdom (rhetoric).

Now when I say rhetoric, you very likely think of political rhetoric. But rhetoric is the art of persuasion. Think about Bible study community groups. The grammar stage is reading a passage or listening to a teaching. The dialectic stage is researching and discussing different ideas or interpretations. And rhetoric is when you go out and make disciples. You take what you have wrestled through and express it to somebody else. We see that in the Bible Jesus taught his disciples in the grammar and the dialectic level. He would have discussions with them and ask them questions, giving them space to think about things deeply. He would debate Pharisees in front of them and even debate the disciples themselves. Then His final words were, “Go make disciples,” which is the final rhetorical stage of persuasion.

For most of my life when it came to the subject of racial unity, I was in the grammar level. I have learned lots of statistics. I have heard one sided arguments and one sided opinions. But I never really questioned, I never debated or discussed these issues with anyone other then people that agreed with me. However, a couple years ago that changed when I saw a documentary on Netflix about the prison system in which the documentarians asked a question I am embarrassed to say I never really thought enough about. If you know anything about the prison system, you probably know that the population in prison is not at all like the population outside of prison. Outside of prison the population is 13% African-Americans. Inside of prison it is about 40%. Those numbers may not be exact, but suffice it to say, the ratios are very out of proportion.

I’m confessing today that when I heard those statistics in the past, my reaction was cold and unfeeling. When someone proposed the question,

“Why are the numbers so disproportionate?” my answer was always the same.
“If you do the crime you do the time. It’s that simple don’t do crimes, and you won’t go to jail.”
But this documentary asked the question again.
Why?
Why is this one group of our population committing more crimes, if that is even the case. Truthfully, I had thought about that before too, and my answer was one of which you might have thought.
“They commit these crimes because of the breakdown of the families, poor education, low incomes, etc.”
But then the question was posed again.
Why?
Why is this one area of our population under educated with broken families? And it made me stop and think. What is inherently different?
The documentarians offered reasons that were hard to digest. One answer was this:

Maybe going from slavery to equality was harder than we, as a nation, anticipated.

Then, as God would have it, a friend of mine, who happens to be black, started a dialogue about race with my me and my husband. This was my first experience in the dialectic level of learning about race. Dimitri allowed us to ask stupid questions without taking offense. He offered grace whether I said, “Black” or “African-American.” He gave us access to his life experiences and let us hear how it affected him. He told us of the time he walked hand and hand down the street with his wife,who happens to be white, only to hear profane racial slurs yelled at both of them. This was not hundreds of years ago. This was not decades ago. This was today. Then he asked if we had ever heard the stereotype that black people can’t swim. I had. In fact, I have recently learned that black children are 3 times more likely to drown. He asked me if I knew why. I admitted I had never thought about it. So he educated me. He told me that his dad was a kid in the 50’s.  His dad wasn’t allowed in the public pools. So he never learned to swim. When recreational swimming became the thing to do and everyone else was learning how to swim we had a portion of the population who weren’t allowed to participate. This is not 300 years ago. This is not somebody that is long gone. This is somebody that is walking around today that has vivid memories. Not only do they have the emotional pain of such systematic rejection, but they also have the physical consequences of not being able to teach your child a summertime rite of passage. I never thought about that. We certainly didn’t agree on everything, but the conversation was considerate and the tone friendly.

This journey of questions started a couple years ago. But over the last year these issues have been regularly thrust into the headlines. And we as the body of Christ have a choice to make. We have the option of admitting we have a lot to learn on either side of this issue. Or we can keep ignoring the pain and dissension in hopes that it will go away.

If we really want to learn, we have to leave this grammar stage consisting of facts, statistics, and long held opinions and move to the dialectic stage of questions and conversation with open dialogue and listening. And really listen. With empathy. Not assuming that you know someone else’s experience. And once you have spent a lot of time discussing and analyzing and debating, then fine, try to persuade someone to see your point. But the worst thing you can do is to skip the dialectic stage. This is the modus operandi of the day. Take a fact and tweet it or post it on Facebook without that middle stage of debating and discussing with logic and reason all while researching and addressing any logical fallacies. Listening and asking good questions was illustrated so beautifully by Jesus all throughout the gospels. He spent so much of His ministry in that all important dialectic stage.
There is a quote from Bonhoeffer that beautifully illustrates the importance of listening.

Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for others is learning to listen to them.

Because of our conversation with Dimitri, I decided to go on a mission of sorts, diving into the dialectic stage by having as many conversations with as many different people as I could. It was awkward and uncomfortable at times, and I had to bite my tongue more than once. Naturally, I was fearful of the response I would get. With some of friends I was pleasantly surprised, and with others I was sadly disappointed. I had many conversations with people of every background and nationality and hope to have more still. I suggest for you to do the same! In the next couple of days I will be posting some of what I discovered in my conversations. It is my hope that we, the church, can lead the way in showing the world how to come together in love and unity, no matter what your race or background, not sweeping feelings under the rug, but by having tough and empathetic conversations with people different then ourselves. We must remember the prayer of Christ in John 17 realizing that our unity actually proclaims His Deity.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

*I welcome discussion in the comment section as long as it is nice. Hateful comments will be happily removed. It’s my prerogative. 😉

Why the 7-11 Clerk Does Not Buy Powerball Tickets.

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As I drove the two ballerinas to class, the older dancer wondered aloud if a slurpee would ease the pain in her aching mouth from her newly adjusted braces, and I caved. After a long day of homeschool classes, she still had 3 hours of dance ahead of her. She negotiated a large, while her little sister jumped on the gravy train acquiring a small slurpee for her yet brace-less mouth. Standing at the cash wrap, I couldn’t help but notice the ad for  powerball. How many billion dollars? What if? What’s a couple bucks? Can you even imagine?

“Ever buy a ticket?” I asked the man behind the register. He paused for a moment while I wondered if he would honestly answer my inquiry. After a few moments, he smiled and shook his head.

“No, I don’t buy them.” he finally told me truthfully.

“It’s kind of like throwing your money in the garbage, isn’t it?” I suggested.

“You know what?” he continued. “I am leaving for India next week, and when I go there, I can use the two dollars I would have wasted here and go do something with my children.”

I knew he was right. Instantly I was reminded of our short stint in Greenville, SC, 9 years ago. The apartment complex we lived in was not very diverse, and we were the minority. Middle eastern Indian families were the norm. My now teen ballerina was only 4 years old then and quickly made friends with little Nithya Priya at the park. Her mother and I became friends also, and they invited us over for a lunch of coconut rice one day. We sat on the floor with boxes scattered throughout acting as furniture  as if they had recently moved in, but I knew they hadn’t. Instead of spending money on furniture, they were saving money. More specifically, they were saving thousands for a trip to India, and every dollar they saved by not buying more furniture brought them closer to that goal. They were expected to bring gifts and support for those they left behind.

We talked about God and life. I shared my faith, she explained hers. I don’t have any way to know what she took from our time together, but her family’s focus on what really mattered stayed with me all these years later.

Tonight on “In the Market with Janet Parshall” Janet spoke with Todd Nettleton from “Voice of the Martyrs.” He shared his latest conversation with a newly converted Christian named Mohammad. Forced from his house because of his new faith, Mohammad met with Todd in a tent that he now called home.

“How can I pray for you?” Todd asked Mohammad, but Todd could not have anticipated his response.

“I don’t need anything.” he answered.

“We have all we need.” He continued shockingly as they sat in his tent where their very safety was in jeopardy.

That’ll preach.

Of course I know that God loves to give his children gifts, and clearly I am not saying we shouldn’t pray for needs and and even wants. But coming off the last few months of massive consumerism and straight into this powerball extravaganza my soul needed these stories. Typically when someone asks me how they can pray for me I have a list.  All too often I need bigger, more, and easier. But not today. Today I was reminded in three different ways from all over the world, that I have all that I need.

 

 

When the Bitter Things Become Sweet

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A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. – Juliet

Trying to convince her family that Romeo’s lineage didn’t matter, young Juliet proclaimed this familiar quote. But is it really true?

When I was pregnant with our third girl, I wondered about this concept as Paul and I contemplated names. I couldn’t help but ponder over the relationship between names and legacies in the Bible. Jacob means deceiver, and that was his destiny until God broke his heart and changed his name to Israel. Abram became Abraham, Simon was called Peter, and on and on. The reason for my consideration was that our two young daughters, ages 2 and 4, were both very …ahem…dramatic, you could say, which left me dreaming of a peaceful 3rd child. I wondered if I could give our new baby a name to encourage that attribute.  After searching countless name websites, I still couldn’t find one that resonated. Then, somehow, I started thinking of the name Mary. Hmm. Sounds peaceful. The hubby agreed.  However, being students of the Bible we knew that Mara- the root word- meant bitter. Maybe you know the story. In the book of Ruth, Naomi’s husband and two sons had died causing her to raise her voice crying,  “Call me Mara- for I am bitter!”

No, I thought. This can’t be true.

I mean, what about Mary at Bethany, the woman that sat at the feet of Jesus?

Obviously peaceful.

And then there was Mary the sister of Martha, the one who just soaked in Jesus’ presence.

Sounds peaceful.

And last but obviously not least, there was Mary, the mother of Jesus. We have all seen the pictures. She looks positively serene!

So we named our forthcoming baby Mary and hoped for the best.  As her due date passed by with no baby in sight, we continued to wait in anticipation, until finally, she was born seven days “late” yet right on time, as if just to confirm her name. Yes, our Mary was BORN ON CHRISTMAS!

However, 10 years later, with a daughter named Mary that I wouldn’t necessarily describe as “serene” I had another thought. Maybe God didn’t pick a quiet, reserved, “peaceful” woman to raise his Son. Maybe God in all His sovereignty knew that this chosen woman would need a little spunk to walk the path carved out for her. Maybe she would need more spice than usual to endure a weight too great for a typically timid lady. She would be maligned, misunderstood, and mistreated as she watched the Christ-child grow into a man, wondering if the words she heard as a young woman would ever come true. Where was His throne, and why was there a cross?

One day I spoke with a woman named Mary I had known for decades. This Mary was notorious for her smile and joyful disposition.  As I shared with her the story of my own Mary’s name, she could relate. She shared with me that knowing her name was related to bitterness used to really bother her until she learned another fact that brought everything into focus. The same root word is also used for the herb myrrh. Myrrh is bitter, this is true, however it is only bitter until it is broken . After it is broken it brings forth a sweet fragrance. This special herb also has a unique response to heat. Instead of liquefying and melting, it blooms and expands. Another translation for the word “bitter” is strength. Yes, Mary, the mother of our Savior, would require much strength. She would experience deep brokenness,  and come forth sweet. The heat would be turned up beyond belief, yet instead of melting and disintegrating she would be called to bloom and expand.

While Mary’s position was unique, this same strength is available to us all.

Maybe you have heard Jesus referred to as the balm of Gilead. This balm was an aromatic, medicinal substance made from the same plant from which myrrh is derived. The Bible uses the term “balm of Gilead” metaphorically as an example of something with healing or soothing powers.

Jeremiah 8 records God’s warning to Judah of what Babylon would do to them. Upon hearing the news, Jeremiah laments, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” (verse 22). His question is a poetic search for hope—a plea for healing.

Jesus is our healing.  If your life feels broken, He will make it sweet. When the heat is turned up, He will keep you from melting away. Yes, the joy of the Lord is our strength.

How lost was my condition
Till Jesus made me whole;
There is but one Physician
Can cure a sin-sick soul

There is a balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole;
There’s power enough in heaven
To cure a sin-sick soul.

Next door to death he found me
And snatch’d me from the grave,
To tell to all around me
His wondrous power to save.

The worst of all diseases,
Is light compared with sin-
On every part it seizes,
But rages most within.

At length this great Physician-
How matchless is His grace-
Accepted my petition,
And undertook my case.

First gave me sight to view him,
For sin my eyes had sealed-
Then bid me look unto him;
I looked and I was healed!!!!

A dying, risen Jesus,
Seen by the eye of faith,
At once from danger frees us,
And saves the soul from death.

Come then to this Physician,
His help he’ll freely give;
He makes no hard condition,
’Tis only look and live.

There is a balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole;
There’s power enough in heaven
To cure a sin-sick soul.- John Newton 1899

Dear Younger Me,

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Dear Younger Me,

From our earliest moment together, you knew exactly what I was thinking. I told my friend, an experienced mother of three, I had a feeling you were going to be born early. “That’s what all new mom’s say,” she informed me. But sure enough, you agreed, and you arrived two weeks earlier than your due date.

You were my first. My experiment. I did everything wrong. As a baby, you hated going to sleep! (and still do) Just like me. A popular book told me I was supposed to teach you discipline when you were only two weeks old, so I made you cry in your room alone. But you knew better. Your persistence taught me to toss the book of formulas and trust my mommy instincts to spoil you with love and cuddles. All the good parenting websites warned me that if I kept nursing you to sleep, you would never learn to sleep on your own. But I am happy to say that we sure proved them wrong, didn’t we?

Your independence and confidence was never in short supply. From the time you snuck out of the sushi restaurant at 2 years old to the way you currently handle every new situation with ease and determination, you never fear.

Something about your confidence, however, made me nervous. There seemed to be too many conversations telling me of your latest accomplishments. Feeling like it was my job to keep you level headed, I tried to combat your confidence with my realism. Instead of affirming your aspirations, I tried to stifle your swagger. Until one day, as I shared my concerns with daddy, we came to the same conclusion. Maybe your declarations of grandeur weren’t done in spite of my critiques, but because of them. Maybe your expressions of excellence weren’t meant to commend you, but to convince me. Maybe if I gave you the approval you needed, you could stop trying so hard to elicit endorsement.

For reasons I don’t fully understand, I was afraid to praise you too freely. What if you got too confident? What if you tried something and failed? Isn’t it my job to tell you the hard truth that everyone else is afraid to tell you?

Thankfully and providentially God put a book in my path last year to show me another way.

In Sam Crabtree’s book “Practicing Affirmation,” he cleared up my confusion.*

“….if we fail to affirm our children, they may tune out the truth we are so interested in telling.”

Yes. I need to tell you the truth. But our conversations were so “truth” heavy there was no time for affirmation. This realization felt like a weight I couldn’t bear. I desperately fought the shame and regret only a parent could know. How many years had I wasted assuming you needed more judgement than encouragement? How much damage had been done? Was it too late?
As I recalled and meditated on the principles from this convicting yet encouraging book, another feeling began to emerge, stronger than the shame.

Freedom.

You see, if it isn’t my job to keep you grounded with “constructive” criticism, then I could freely shower you with all the praise and affirmation I felt inside.

I was finally liberated to regularly tell you what I always tell everyone else about you. You are beautiful and kind. Thoughtful and smart. God fearing and Bible following. Imperfect but consecrated to God. Yes, I can daily lavish you with all the praise due to you as an image bearer of God.

And Sam Crabtree explains “why” so beautifully.

“The elementary desire to be commended is not wrong….We should all want to be praised by God Himself. Are you not longing to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant”? ….Then we ought to fulfill the Golden rule and award the penultimate praise to others also for the glory of God. In the process, we give our loved ones a foretaste of glory divine.”

As your mom, I get to be the first and most consistent person in your life to tell you, “Well, done my good and faithful child. Enter into the rest of knowing you are a daughter of Christ, clothed in His righteousness”

So instead of telling you all the things I see that need correcting, I am going to borrow a song from Mercy Me to tell you something even more important.

Dear younger me
Where do I start
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running thru my head
I wonder how much different things would be
dear younger me

Dear younger me
I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
Even though I love this crazy life
Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride

Dear younger me,
If I knew then what I know now
Condemnation would’ve had no power
My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth
If I knew then what I know now
Would’ve not been hard to figure out
What I would’ve changed if I had heard

Dear younger me
It’s not your fault
You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross
You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

Every mountain every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
Every moment brings you closer
To who you were meant to be

 

*  https://www.amazon.com/Practicing-Affirmation-God-Centered-Praise-Those/dp/1433522438