Monday, February 22, 2010

Spare-Me-the-Details Sick!

Cold and flu season hit us hard this year. This was no tired and sniffly sickness. I'm talking hug-the-bowl, pray-for-mercy, laid-up ill!

It started just as we began to eat dinner when our three year old Anna's lunch decided to pay us a visit. She showed no warning signs of illness, no dip in energy, or complaint of pain. I wasn't sure what had happened, and she simply suggested she had too much food in her mouth. Unfortunately, a few minutes later Anna performed the sequel to the earlier regurgitative performance.

After the next few recurring episodes, I finally gave up changing her into clean clothes. Down to her diaper, I wrapped Anna in a blanket, played her favorite movie on the portable DVD player, and rocked her in my arms. While Daddy cleaned the floors and kept the baby out of harm's way, Anna and I cuddled on the hallway floor right outside the bathroom. She barely moved, rather she just hugged my arm and only spoke to warn me to get her to the toilet.

This was the first time she had ever been really sick. This was the most pain I had ever seen her in and it broke my heart. While we cuddled on the floor, I prayed. I wished I could take her place. I would gladly have been the one to get sick if it meant she would escape it. I wanted to take her place, give her my health for her illness, my strength for her weakness, but I couldn't.

I finally put Anna to bed around 10 p.m. I laid the futon mattress next to her bed and stayed by her all night long, giving her little sips of water each time she woke up. There was no way I was going to leave her side.

As I wrestled with sleep that night, I thought about how God completely understands what we go through. God knows the physical pain of this world because, in Christ, He bore the pain of the whole world. And, God knows the pain of a parent having to watch her child suffer. Our Heavenly Father watched His Son, Jesus, suffer - even to the point of death.

Jesus did for us what I couldn't do for my daughter. He took our place. He didn't take our place in a temporary ailment, but in death. He gave us His health for our sickness of sin. He gave us His strength and took our weakness, and He took it all the way to the cross.

Why? Why would He do this? He did it out of sheer grace for you and for me! Jesus endured pain and died to save us from the disease that threatens our souls. Now, even death can't keep us away from eternity with God. And until the day that we are restored to eternal health, He will never leave our side!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Who wants to "sleep like a baby" anyway?

I want to meet the person who coined the phrase, “sleep like a baby.” I have a few questions for him, questions like, “Are you kidding me!?!” “What in the world were you thinking!?!” “Why would anyone want to sleep like a baby!?!”

My guess is that this genius either didn’t have a child of his own, or was so sleep deprived that he didn’t know what he was saying! You see, I have had two babies and there is no way I would want to sleep like one. My youngest is the noisiest little squirmy thing you’ll ever meet, grunting and flailing as she busts out of her swaddling clothes!

The unfortunate thing about having a baby who sleeps like a baby is that you sleep like a baby, too. You wake up at every mumble, struggling to quiet her down before she wakes the whole house. If you are lucky, you can get back to bed before the brain starts spinning with all the things you will have to do—sleep-deprived—the next day.

When I don’t get enough sleep, I’m not quite as patient, not as kind. As someone once said, “Without enough sleep, we all become tall two year olds.” And that’s really not good when there is already a two year old in the house, albeit a short one. We think, just a little more sleep and I’d be okay.

The problem with sleep, however, is that even when you get a lot of it, you still might feel off. It’s like you got enough sleep but found no rest. There may be times you just want to shout out, like Job, “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil!"

In these moments, we have nowhere to turn but to the Lord. We pray, “Lord, at this time in life, I am not able to sleep as much as my body desires! You know what I need. Please, Lord, sustain and strengthen me, that I might be a good mother, wife, employee, friend, and witness in this time of sleeplessness. Though I may not be getting enough sleep, please bless me with rest in the sleep I am able to get. May I always remember that You give me life, salvation in Jesus Christ, and all I need to live every day to the glory of Your Holy Name. Amen!”

God is so good that, even in the middle of our struggles, He provides blessings. In the middle of the night when my baby wakes up—again—something happens that I treasure as much as sleep. I get a few stolen moments with my baby. I get a few extra cuddles, a few extra kisses, a few extra tears to dry, a few extra feedings to provide, a few extra glances to capture, a few extra songs to sing, a few extra prayers to say, a few extra moments for me to share with my precious child before she goes back to bed. This blessing comes amid the struggle of sleeplessness, and I thank God for it.

Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus who knows your struggles, saved you from them, and walks with you through them! Here are some verses that I hope bless you as they do me:

Psalm 62:5-8
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to Him,
for God is our refuge.

Psalm 116:7-9
Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
For You, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.


Here's my angel when she is acutally sleeping!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Forgive us our "Trus-us-es"

Every night when my husband and I put the kids to bed, we say our bedtime prayers. “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Thy love go with me through the night and wake me with the morning light.”

When my daughter was about 18 months old, we began to mix it up with a little Lord’s Prayer every now and then. After a few weeks, we thought it might be a good idea to say this prayer at least once a day, either at nap or bedtime. We let her pick which prayer she wanted to say before bed. And, like any wise toddler who doesn’t want to go to bed, she would often want to pray both prayers at night. When it comes to prayer, we always allow her to indulge, even it if pushes bedtime off a few minutes.

One night, I began to say the Lord’s Prayer but she stopped me, putting her hand over my mouth. I thought to myself, “Oh, great, she’s had enough. My two year old doesn’t want to pray. I’ve turned her off!” A few seconds later she said, “I don’t want you to pray, mama, I wanna do it!” She took her binky out of her mouth (an act almost never seen at bedtime in our home), folded her hands, and began to pray. She whispered the entire Lord’s Prayer—THE ENTIRE PRAYER! Sure, the words “trespasses” and “temptation” originally took on a whole new phonetic disposition, but the prayer that Jesus taught us bubbled up from the heart of a two-year-old girl. I was amazed.

I know full well I am not always the world’s best mother. And, I’m not supposing my daughter is any holier than any other child (see the first blog entry and add about six months of “terrible twos” stories as proof). My husband and I have simply tried to pass on to the girls what we know to be true and good: that the God who made them, who in Jesus Christ saved them, and who forgives their sins, loves them and will be with them always.

Children surprise us! From a very early age, they can understand God’s truth. They may not be able to explain the Trinity, rightly divide Law and Gospel, and distinguish the body in the Lord’s Supper. But, they can grasp the security we have in God’s love, the relief that forgiveness brings, and the concept of prayer—talking with God.

Parents can’t make their children faithful; I can’t even get my daughter to eat. We are simply to teach them. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” God, who pours His Spirit over His children in baptism, pours out of them, too. And, before we know it, before we even think it is possible for them to express the faith, our little children teach us a thing or two about how God works!

I thought I'd share a little clip of Anna saying the Lord's Prayer. You can hear Lily, 5 months old, "praying" along with her in the background.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Worldview, Meet Jesus

My husband, our two-year-old daughter, and I went shopping to pick up odds and ends for the house. A young couple walked out of the store just as we were entering. The young man was sporting a very creative hairstyle—a Mohawk of bright green spikes standing almost a foot off his scalp. My daughter was fixated on the young man until he was out of view. Then, she turned to me with a very puzzled look on her face and asked, “Mama, is that a dinosaur?”

She had never seen anything like this before so she could not make sense of what she was seeing. In all she had experienced or learned from family, friends, books, television, etc., the only creature she had ever seen with green spikes was—a dinosaur. In my daughter’s worldview, the identification of the young man with a dinosaur made perfect sense.

We all have our own view of the world based on what we see in the world. Our worldviews mature as we get older. As they do, we’re not only able to distinguish between Mohawks and dinosaurs, but we develop a clearer understanding of who we are, what we believe, and the things we value. But it is amazing to see what happens when we, with our well-defined worldviews, encounter Jesus Christ.

In John 3, we meet a man named Nicodemus, a Pharisee who knew God’s Law. He says, “Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

Nicodemus used the same things to describe Jesus as he would have used for Moses. What was Moses? He was a great teacher, the giver of laws from God on Mt. Sinai. What did Moses do? Signs! We often hear the word plagues used for what God did through Moses in Egypt. But, the word in the Old Testament is signs—signs and wonders. So, for Nicodemus to call Jesus a teacher sent from God, doing signs was, in his worldview, a very big deal. He knew there was something special about Jesus and wanted to put it into words.

All of the things that Nicodemus said about Jesus are surely true. Even today, people acknowledge many wonderful things about Jesus, calling Him a great moral teacher, a preacher of social justice, maybe even a way to heaven. Seeing green spikes they immediately say, “Dinosaur.” But these responses, although well meaning, leave us a bit underwhelmed.

In Nicodemus’ worldview, he was giving Jesus a huge compliment. But if that is all Jesus is, where does that leave Nicodemus? And where does that leave us but still in our sin and hopeless.
But, praise the Lord, Jesus is more than a great teacher, preacher, and prophet! He is the Christ, the Redeemer of the world, Savior of all, forgiver of sins, and conqueror of evil! Even when we are tempted to make Him less than He really is, He is everything we need Him to be!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Stain Lifter

If there is one place I’d prefer never to find myself again it’s down to my skivvies in the handicapped stall of a nice restaurant. Let me back up.

I was out to lunch with my family at an amazing family-style Italian restaurant. My in-laws were treating us to lunch in honor of my husband’s 31st birthday. We actually made it there on time, a feat that always surprises me when we have the little ones in tow. We sat down for a nice meal, all dressed up for the happy occasion. Our two-month-old slept in her infant carrier while the two-year-old “ate” her lunch and maintained a volume that was appropriate for the setting (another pleasant surprise).

As baby started to stir, I realized I had passed the half-way point in my meal and it was still warm. What a treat! But, the sheer joy of eating warm food must have clouded my good judgment. I picked up my sweet little baby to give her one of my enormous mommy hugs. In the middle of our embrace, I noticed her diaper felt full, so I grabbed the diaper bag and we excused ourselves from the table.

As I walked into the bathroom, the baby started to fuss—loudly! I felt badly for the other woman in the bathroom with her daughter, having to endure my child’s shrill shrieks echoing off every surface in that bathroom.

I rushed into the handicapped stall and single-handedly flung open the wall-mounted changing table, whipped out the diaper changing necessities, and laid my now-screaming baby on the cushy changing pad. And that’s when I saw it. Amid all the squeezing mommy cuddles and fussy baby bustle, poo had shot up the front of the diaper, out the side of her onesie, and smeared all over the both of us. (Yes, I know this is gross, but sometimes being a mom is gross and so, I’ll share it anyway.)

Before the bathroom door closed behind the exiting woman, I said loudly and with much hesitation, “MA’AM!?!”

She came back into the bathroom, “Um, Yes?” she replied.

I nervously explained, “There is a table of people right outside the door; that’s my family. Could you please ask my mom to come in here? Her name is Tish.”

Trying to ignore the fact that I was mortified, I ripped off the poo-stained dress and asked my mother-in-law to rinse it in the sink as I turned my attention to the baby. My mission was to get my baby clean and comforted.

After much maneuvering, I got her cleaned up, diapered, and clothed with the backup onesie. My mother-in-law got most of the poo out of my dress, which I was forced to put back on in order to get home. It was, needless to say, an uncomfortable journey.

I kept replaying the embarrassment of being covered with my daughter’s poo in my head. I was covered in her stains. I was covered in her stains! It wasn’t until her 4 a.m. feeding, when the whole house was quiet and I had time to just “be,” that I realized God knows exactly how I felt. In Jesus Christ, He willingly bore the embarrassment of being covered in the stains of His children. He knew the burden of an uncomfortable journey and yet He kept His focus on His mission of cleansing us of our sin. What a comfort it is to know just how much God loves His children!

Halos and Horns

My daughter just turned two. She looks just like her daddy, which is a good thing! She acts just like her mama, for better or worse… and sometimes both. She has his eyes and my laugh, his nose and my volume control problem, his smile and my energy… and then some! From her early days, she has charmed me with her smiles, cuddles, and kisses. Every milestone in her young life seems to highlight yet another of her sweet characteristics. At ten months old, she would take my face in her hands and press her face up against my cheek and give mama her special giggle-kisses. At 15 months old, she started saying, “God bless you mama,” whenever I sneezed. (Okay, so it sounded like “Gaw bess eu mama” but I know what she meant.) Recently she learned that mommy's name is “Faith” and now that's what she's named her baby doll. I've actually asked myself how it is humanly possible to love someone this much. She is mommy's little angel.

If you noticed, however, I began this article with “My daughter just turned two.” I'm sure that you guessed that what followed couldn't be all shimmery wings and shining halos. You see, my daughter inherited more than my shining halo. She inherited my horns, too. My little angel turned two and discovered that she had a will of her own, apart from mommy's will for her. She discovered that if she made a big enough racket, mom might cave and give up on trying to get her to eat her dinner. She learned that mommy's attention was easily acquired when large crocodile tears were present. And, to be honest, I don't always handle these struggles well, getting frustrated and impatient when I should be calm and nurturing.

Before I had a child, I knew that I needed Jesus, and not just a one time need, but a continual and deep need of Jesus in my life for healing, guidance, and forgiveness. Before I had a child, I knew that my sin affected other people. But, everyone in my life was a “grown up.” They knew my short comings and they knew their own. After my daughter was born, all of the sudden there was someone in my life who was too little to understand my errors, too small to pick themselves up and dust themselves off if I knocked them down, too fragile for me to drop the ball.

I try to be the best mom I can possibly be. But sometime it seems like the best I can be isn't enough. Never before has it been so blatantly clear to me that I – a seasoned Christian, born into a pastor's family, wife of a budding pastor – need Jesus. As much as I try to be the perfect mom, I fail and fall on my knees, praying that the Lord would have mercy on me, a sinner.

But, through every bad day, no matter how far our halos may tilt to the side, God's mercy and grace see us through. Every Sunday, I go to church knowing that God has wonderful news in store for me and my daughter. Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and thank God for that! His Spirit, given to us in baptism, sustains us day to day, keeping the halo from falling off entirely. His body and blood keep us ever mindful of what He has done for us and give forgiveness and mercy to His children.

My daughter and I may go through life struggling between our halos and horns, but Jesus Christ is victorious and won the battle on our behalf. He gave us His halo of righteousness, which never slips to the side. Knowing that His love never fails gives me hope for when my toddler hits her teen years… Lord have mercy!