Sunday, May 26, 2013


I saw a funny little quote online today about parenting. It was a mom holding a baby saying, “I promise to give you love, nurturing, and just enough dysfunction to make you funny.”  I thought to myself, “Well, I must not be the only mom who fears she’s doing it all wrong.”

I’ve noticed that when I’m not being intentional about my mothering or more accurately, intentional in praying about my mothering, one of two things can happen: 

1.        My mama brain runs ramped, with all sorts of scenarios playing out…. if I don’t “nip this in the bud” or “fix this right away”, etc.  I can just visualize the kids as dysfunctional adults with all kinds of problems because I couldn’t correct what needed to be corrected.  Or

2.       I begin to let too many outside influences affect me, my mothering, and my decision making and subsequently……my mama brain again runs ramped with all sorts of scenarios playing out, picturing the kids as dysfunctional adults. 

You mamas know what I’m talking about.  The Mom’s Guilt-O-Meter.  Allow me to introduce the gauges of the guilt-o-meter along with the typical thought processes that accompany each zone.
I’ve scarred them for life.
It’s official – I’m a terrible mom.
That mom makes it look so easy.
If I’m doing this right, shouldn’t his behavior always show it?
(May be better deemed ‘the critic zone’)
I need to discipline her, but…. she might feel bad about herself…’s the 3rd time today.  If I don’t, that might become a habit.
So many battles, which one do I pick?
All knowing, with all the answers, all the time.
Expecting her nomination for ‘Mom of the Year’ anytime now.
**Disclaimer: Though many moms may visit this level, duration times may vary greatly……typical time in MOMNISCIENT mode is < 5 minutes.**

Here’s a few examples:
Moms of newborns that are breastfeeding, it’s, “Did I eat something I shouldn’t have that has made him cry like this??  I can’t even tell when he’s had enough.  I don’t know what I’m doing….I’m terrible at this!” Or, for the mom who decided not to breastfeed that’s listening to another mom talk about the joy of breastfeeding and the health benefits for the baby, it’s, “I should have tried to breastfeed….I feel like a horrible mom!”

For the moms of toddlers trying to potty train: “She’s old enough that she should be able to do this…..right?? What am I doing wrong??” or “What if she’s not ready and I’m being way too hard on her? I feel like such a terrible mom.”
For the moms trying to teach a kid the beauty of sleep: “It seems cruel to let my one year old cry himself to sleep.  He’ll think I’ve abandoned him.  But, shouldn’t he be sleeping all night by now? I mean, my friend’s baby has slept through the night since he was 6 months. Plus, I need a good night’s sleep.  Maybe he should sleep with us. But, will my husband like that? I have no idea what I’m doing!!”

I should forewarn any new moms, the dilemmas get even more complicated as they get older. 
To spank or not to spank?

Insist that they go to church or let them go to the ballgame?
Let them hang out with the kid who gets in trouble in hopes that they’ll be a good influence on him or keep them guarded in case they are the ones who are influenced?

Encourage her to turn the other cheek when the other girls are mean or tell her how to set them straight?

Should I check the text messages or respect her privacy?
Should I give them one more warning or am I just delaying the inevitable?

And on and on and on....and that's just the inner dialogue…. our critiques of ourselves. Then there's the outside influences. The parenting magazines, the critical nature of fellow moms, the horror stories on the news, and of course, there are the ever plentiful "latest research findings"....complete with a list of do's and don't’s and possible outcomes.  As if we didn't doubt ourselves enough already, we always have the very vocal activists that have taken "parenting style" and turned it into a sort of religion upon which all other things hang. I mean, guilt within, guilt without...hence...the caution zone. That's what happens when I don't intentionally seek the Lord each day. I end up feeling like I’m winging it or just making stuff up as I go along. When I wing it - Those little doubts and criticisms can quickly become gripping fears when I contemplate my children's future.

Bents and Breakthroughs

See....I've been nearing the red zone lately myself.  I've been more than a little worried and stressed over my son's tendency to be so hard on himself. To complicate his...shall we say...."bent", his preteen self has hit the phase where he wants to put forth as little effort as possible...whether homework, sports, chores, whatever. You can see where the problem is, right?   He doesn't want to do what's necessary to achieve the results he wants. Therefore, he is very disappointed. Then comes his not so mature responses that cause me further concern and complicates the battle for me as his mom.

Of course, my mom brain has played the whole movie with multiple endings. "If I'm on him all the time, will that make him feel worse about himself? But, I know he's not doing his best and shouldn't I stress his potential and teach "hard work"?" Then there's the whole bad attitude thing that just really concerns me on many levels. We've had so many talks over the years about effort, attitude, etc. that I've found it especially hard to believe we are once again addressing those issues.

 So, my inner dialogue starts off like this:
 "When is he going to learn? I can't believe he acted like that again! He's in for it now!!"
 5 minutes later......

 "Well....he's just 12. He's made a lot of adjustments. If I lay in to him, it may compound his problem.  He won't always act that way...he'll look back on this in disbelief one day. (Won't he??)
Naturally, my fear is that he would grow up into a man who doesn't work hard, who can't control his temper and lives a life full of disappointment.....all because of my dysfunctional mothering.  Talk about overwhelming. That red zone was getting closer and closer while momniscience seemed like it was......well... Far fetched! Obviously.... it was made up.  I was just thinking how we moms wish we could be like God in our parenting...omniscient....having all the answers. "Momniscience" is what came out.

 Long story short, in this particular breakthrough, my son got upset again over his batting during baseball practice and "showed out".  Then was mad at himself because he got mad at himself. I was pretty ticked over the whole scene myself. Very tired of the scene, really.  Fortunately, I had time to pray and brace myself before practice was over. Then it dawned on me…..the answer for BOTH of us was prayer. 

I've always encouraged him to pray about these things that come up.  So, I was explaining to him that I knew he was sincere in wanting to change those tendencies this time, but little short prayers once in a while probably wouldn't be all he needed to get such long term issues under control.  I told him that God could just "fix him" but that he usually prefers to work with us and in us so we can experience Him and get to know Him better. I told him that he shouldn't expect to handle it all on his own.... It's too overwhelming. He doesn’t have that kind of power anyway.  None of us do.

 So, this is what I told Him about the issues he wanted to work on and just couldn't seem to do on his own:
"Pray at night about it, sure.  But also.... pray when you get up, pray as you study, pray before a test, pray before practice, pray when you get up to bat, pray when you strike out, pray when you hit a home run.....pray that you'd have a new desire to work hard and do your best, pray that you'd learn to really enjoy the gifts you've been athletic ability, pray that you can relax and have fun, pray that you can master your temper and be a good example for others, pray for Him to come beside you and give you what you need....and before you know are changed.”

 I felt like I had fallen short on showing him how to pray those real, sincere prayers. So, I stopped rattling on and just prayed aloud over him so he'd get what I meant about being open and specific with God. Funny what a calming effect prayer has.  Something else that was funny is the impression I had on my own heart:

 "You could be the best mom you know how to be at all still don't have the power to get it right all on your own and you certainly can't control everything about your kids and every possible outcome  of their lives. Mothering can be overwhelming…but, you are never alone. Pray at night. Pray in the morning. Pray when you think about them, pray before you pick them up before school.  A few prayers here and there about your children or your parenting skills aren't going to give you the understanding that you need to reign in the fear and confusion of your mama brain and make those tough decisions with confidence."

 Talk about practicing what you preach. I was giving him advice on what to do when he was overwhelmed, all while I was overwhelmed and feeling very out of sorts myself.  As I tried to teach my son that the Lord will be with him, that He will not deny him anything he asks for that would bring him good, and that He can and will help him when he's overwhelmed.....the Lord gently reminded me that the same was true for me as his mom.  He also reminded me that what was important was not my son's athletic ability, his grades, or even his outlook on life.....that what would help him more than anything is to experience God at work in and around him at a young age.

Fruit Fight

  The Lord has brought one thing to my mind over and over again lately about parenting.  I think it's because of all the wavering I was doing in my own. This is the thing: He only gave one specific direction to children, "Obey your parents."  Its not just a message for kids as that scripture tells me that regardless of how I feel about it, how overwhelmed I am, what the latest study says, what the latest parenting guru dictates.....I have the God-given responsibility to teach them to obey. To obey me. To respect my authority. To respect His authority.  To seek the Lord and His will. If my decisions are based around that, there is no room for guilt.

 Now, why is that? Its fairly simple.  If they think its ok to disobey me on a lot of little things as children.....what might they disobey me on as they grow up? What is the likelihood that they'll obey the Lord if they haven't been supported at home in the one thing he asked of them as children. Obedience. See, by design, the only thing we have that can ward off the fears of our mama brains is the peace and knowledge that they will grow into adults who will seek to obey and follow hard after God.

 So, listen mamas. Maybe momniscience is made up. But, it's doesn't seem quite so far fetched anymore. Maybe you’ve had good intentions but, just haven’t been intentional with them.  Maybe you’ve been swayed or confused by too many outside opinions.  Either way, you know you can quickly end up like me, feeling like you’re making it up as you go along.  I know we can't get it right all the time. But... If we will just include Him everyday and throughout the day....He will equip us to raise these little sugar boogers into some mighty fine men and women who will make a real, lasting difference in the lives of others because they got a foretaste of eternity early on in life in their own relationship with the Lord.

At the root of our mommy fears….we need to remember our primary goal.…to cultivate  in them a love and respect for the Lord and His Word. He doesn't just want our kids to have good manners, feed the hungry, and save the trees. Though, those are all worthy causes. He doesn’t just want me to ensure that our boys will play baseball, go to college, work hard, etc.  What good does it do them to love the planet and everything and everyone in it if they don’t love Him? Or what benefit is there for them to have great attitudes and be extremely hard workers if they never bear any fruit? If we abide in Him as we pursue that goal, we could throw away the guilt-o-meter…..even if they did eventually go their own way.  We may always have some degree of dysfunction and may never spend more than 5 minutes in the momniscient zone….but, we can fight a good fight in the battle zone! And by the Lord’s grace, our fruit may just be the next generation of warriors. 

John 15:4
Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Come What May

Sweet 16

This past weekend was a big weekend.  Well, May is always a big month for me.  Lots of holidays packed in there.  Mother’s Day, Anniversary, and Birthday are back to back in a 2 week span.  2 of those fell into one weekend this time.  So, I had lots of beautiful, grand plans.  Friday we were celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary.  Yes…SIXTEEN years!  They have been "sweet".  Well....the bulk of them anyway.   Anyway, it just seemed like such a sweet number to me and given how blessed we are in so many ways….was definitely deserving of celebration!  Only trouble was, we don’t have baby sitters out here yet.  So, I had planned to have a super nice dinner for the family Friday night, complete with candle light.  I had it all figured out.  I was going to have the house looking great, which would make my husband super happy.  I was going to give Jude her bath early, wash her hair and get her dressed & lookin’ pretty for dinner.  I planned to do the same for myself. Dinner was planned for 7:00….enough time for the boys to get home from baseball practice, shower, and come to the table looking decent, too.  I could see us all there in the candlelight, cleaned up, using the best of manners and having a wonderful meal together. 

As you might’ve guessed….my dreams of grandeur were a bit off from reality.  I got things looking decent for dinner but didn’t get as much cleaning done as I had planned (though, that’s nothing new). I searched FOREVER to no avail for my big candles and candlesticks for the table.  I thought about going and buying some but I knew that would cut into cleaning time too much.  I ended up with a little votive holder that we’ve had forever that has stars all around it that the light shines through.  So, I thought, “Well, that’s kind of sweet….many memories with this little thing….that’s appropriate for an anniversary celebration.”  So, I sat it in the middle of the table and placed clean placemats and REAL napkins complete with rings at each place.  It looked pretty good!  I had gotten a really good deal on a ridiculously expensive book that my sweet thang of 16 years had mentioned wanting and I was super excited to give it to him.  My next search was for tissue paper to wrap it, which I knew I had….I just didn’t know where.  It took me another little chunk of time but I did finally find it, along with the ribbon.  I did know right where the tape was for once, though! It’s one of those little tape dispensers that you pull out one piece at a time.  Very handy…I love it.  I pulled the first piece out and that was the last piece. No refills to be found.  Seriously? Well, it was secured very tightly with some ribbon.  Not what I had in mind, but….no biggie. 

Dinner was to be served at 7:00 in my mind.  Any later than that and everyone will be starving and Jude may be sleepy, which also means everyone will be grumpy.  So, at 3:00, I realize I’ve done all the cleaning that I’m going to have time to do and go pick up the boys from school. They come home and change clothes. I feed them a snack and hurry them back to the car for baseball practice @ 4:00.  I get back home @ 4:15 to get supper going.  It’s 5:30 by the time I get everything cooking and the kitchen cleaned back up (I hate to have a messy kitchen in the background of a nice dinner….and this meal was to be perfect).  I should have been in the shower already! AAggh! Way behind schedule… you know how long it takes to dry this thick head of hair?! Then there’s Jude…..I stick her in the bath but I’m afraid there won’t be time for me to dry and fix HER thick head of hair now and I don’t want her to come to the table with it wet…so….a little up do for her it is. Which, she’s not crazy about but deals with it. She was, after all, getting to wear one of her new little dresses. FINALLY, I get in the shower.  Maybe the fastest of my life.  (Thank goodness my hubby was able to get the boys from ball practice!)  At 6:45 I’m drying my hair when Steve and the kids roll in from ball practice.  They’re a little late, too.  In my mind it was to go like this, “They will get out of practice at 6:00, be home by 6:15ish and they’ll have time to shower, change clothes, and come to the table looking nice, too.” 

Fast forward to 7:30.  I had given up on my hair and dried the front a little and pulled the rest of it back in a ponytail.  Jude didn’t come to the table with we hair but, I did! A little frazzled to say the least, I finally get everything ready and everyone to the table.  The boys were clean but, apparently didn’t hear me yell, “Put on some decent clothes when you get out of the shower!” They came to the table wearing pajama pants (that are too short for them but they insist on wearing them because they are comfy), shirts that didn’t match, and disheveled/post-shower hair.  Whatever……at least they didn’t smell.  We sat down to eat and we were getting ready to say the blessing and in true 12 yr old boy fashion, Preston announces, “Hold up…..I gotta go to the bathroom.” (Wasn’t he just in there??) Anyway, we waited for a few minutes then he yells from the bathroom, “Go ahead without me…..I may be a while!” Nice.   This is so not going as I had pictured it. 

The candle wasn’t nearly enough light to eat by candlelight but, the kids liked the star votive.  In fact, at the end of the meal, Jude was so intrigued she suddenly reached and tried to pick it up…. From the top…..over the flame.  To which, I instinctively yelled, “NO!!” …….To which, she instinctively bursts out in tears.  That effectively ended our nice, family, celebration/anniversary dinner.  After all that planning….what could I do but laugh? 

My husband and I have kind of a running joke in these situations now.  So, he looks at me and referring to our 16 years of marriage says, “Isn’t this what you always dreamed of??”  Actually… was better. I really never dreamed of being so happy because I didn’t know what happy was when I said “I do” a week before my 20th birthday.  I say “happy” is overrated and I’m certainly not saying that I’m “happy” 100% of the time.  There are a lot of things in the course of a day that do not make me happy.  Just ask my poor children. Happy was my goal when we first said our vows, but….. I think I’ve found that there’s something better than happiness.  Contentment.  It doesn’t mean that we’re the perfect family.  We’re not.  My husband can really get under my skin and I can his, too.  The kids behave in ways some days that I can’t comprehend….and furthermore…..don’t always handle well.  I gave up dreams of a “mother of the year” award long ago. But, I have 3 beautiful, silly kids and a husband who would do anything for his family and who I can laugh with. So much better than what I would’ve dreamed up on my own. It doesn’t mean that I have everything I could want.  Sure….I’d like to buy a new car whenever I get the fever.  Correction….minivan.  I’d like to be able to take the kids on vacations or fly home whenever we get the urge.  I’d like to be able to support and invest in our boys’ interests without thinking about what to cut from the budget.  But, we’re far from having those types of luxuries and I still don’t know that I’ve ever been more content…..satisfied with what we have…..and ok with what we don’t have.

All These Years

Sunday was Mother’s Day.  I don’t know what it is about Sundays but, they can bring out the best and worst in us.  In me.  It’s always a challenge to get everyone fed, ready, and to church on time.  This would explain why we’re usually late.  There’s usually some disagreement in the car between the kids, between me and the kids, or between me and the hubby.  This Sunday, everything went rather smoothly and we made it on time.  It was a Mother’s Day miracle.  Afterward is when the silly disagreements arose, this time between me and the hubby. We were arguing over when the kids started back to school.  (Clearly, I would be the expert in that area but my man does love to argue!) As we were turning into our neighborhood, Preston spoke up and asked, “How HAVE you two stayed married for all these years??”   All I could think to say was, “By the Grace of God.”  And  that it was.

I thought about that for the rest of the day.  We ate lunch and I made the boys forego the Xbox and go to the beach with the fam (It was Mother’s Day…..I told them it was a day set aside for moms to make their children miserable.)  They ended up having a lot of fun.  I had fun just watching them run and play with each other without arguing.  The day started off warm and beautiful but the fog had started to roll in before we got to the beach and it was getting cold and damp.  But, as I was sitting there soaking in the blessings of my kids playing and my husband in his funny hat wading in the water, a warm ray of sun burned through the thick fog over us and it felt so good.  I just had to look up and give thanks to God for the many ways He had worked to make that day beautiful. 

I couldn’t tell Preston that we were still married for 16 years for any other reason than the grace of God. Not just that we are still married……but that we love one another so much more now than we did that week before my 20th birthday.   God had His hand on us long before we started making Him a part of our daily lives.  What’s so baffling to me is that it is so unmerited on my part.   I don’t mean this in a boasting sense at all….but, at many points throughout my life I have felt the favor of God…..His unmerited favor.  Not that He favors me over anyone else…..but, that He truly takes pleasure in blessing me. 

If you read my previous posts, you know I’m doing Beth Moore’s study of David right now.  In the account of David’s reaction to God announcing to him His covenant….the Davidic Covenant….David was beyond humbled and thankful.  I just have to share those verses because they mean so much to me at this point in my life  and with my family.  To set up the verses, David has just taken his throne after many, many years of trials, persecutions, and battles.  He had leaned on the Lord all that time and He always came through for David.  David looks around his palace and life of luxury and realizes the grandeur of his dwelling in comparison to the Ark of the Covenant….. God’s presence… in a tent! Humbled as he was at this point, he naturally thought, “That’s not at all right!”  So, he wanted to build God a magnificent house. Only, God wasn’t at all concerned.  Instead, He told David, “I am going to build YOU a house.”  Not only that, He told David that He was establishing a covenant with him….that his house would be established forever.  God promised marvelous things to come from his family line.  He also promised that just as He had been with David all those years from the time he was called from tending sheep as a young teenager, He would also be right there to love, guide, and establish this promised line forever.  This was David’s response:

2 Samuel 7:18
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house that you have brought me thus far?”

[He goes on and on with thanks and concludes his prayer in vs 28-29]

And now, O Lord God, you are God and your words are true and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you.  For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.   

I totally get what David is feeling.  “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house that you have brought me thus far?”

Saturday, I will turn 29 for the 7th time.  That doesn’t seem right, either.  I have to admit that as wonderfully different as life is than what I had once pictured it to be at 36,  I’m curious to see what the Lord has planned for this next year.  The next 16 for that matter!  The Lord knows my heart, plans, and dreams.  But, as long as He allows me to see His hand in it all as much as He has all these years, "thus far"….. I know that He can make me far more than happy.....He will keep me content....come what may.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Heart Check

Two 12 year old boys can certainly make for some interesting days, even without factoring in the 3 year old.  When our twins were about 8 years old, my husband said, “I think 8 may be the most annoying year.”  Each year since, though, he’s had to rethink that.  Though, I will say, they are starting to mature a little.  They really are good boys and we’re seeing many facets to their personalities develop that are unique, even though they’re twins.  They can be funny, witty, silly, overly serious, compassionate, fun loving, irritable, hard-working, hard on themselves, lazy, etc., and…… all on the same day.  Some days we have so much fun with them, other days, well….let’s just say it’s challenge.  Quite often, we just have to remind each other that……they are still just 12 year old boys. 

sweet again

So, I have all of my experience raising boys in the back of my mind as I’m working through a 10 week  Bible study on David.  Even though the Lord is teaching me a WHOLE lot in study....I can't help but think of my guys as I read about David, too.  Now, this is a Beth Moore study for women called, “David: Seeking a Heart Like His”.  If you’ve done any of Beth Moore’s studies or been to any of her women’s conferences, you know you can expect to come away with a blessing.  This one is no exception…it is an absolutely fascinating study.  But, it’s not her studies per say that I find so fascinating……it’s always the scriptures that we’re studying.  And, if you get nothing else out of a Beth Moore study… can at the very least say you have seriously studied some scripture! If you are familiar with her teaching style, you know what I mean.  Even though it may take a little time each day to look up all the scriptures, they never fail to bless me in some way.  As I am writing this, I am in the 6th week of studying David.  We’ve seen many strengths and weaknesses….kind of watched him grow up.  I guess that's why I keep thinking of the boys so much.  I have to tell you, without a doubt…..the life of David and the heart of God entwined in such detail was certainly something the Lord intended for us all to benefit from.  Even though David has always been such a well-known name from scripture, I realize now just how little I actually knew about him and how little I had read of those segments of scripture.  I’m frequently reminded of what my brother in law, Jeff, once said about teaching Sunday School, “The more you get in there and start reading to prepare your lessons, the more you realize you need to be reading.”

David is an interesting fella to say the least.  He was anointed by God, through Samuel, as future king at a very young age. Some scholars say early teens, some say as early as 12.  TWELVE! I know times were different back then and kids grew up a little harder and faster.  But, I mean….come on.  The thought that my boys could have such a monumental calling placed on them at this young, silly age just blows my mind.  Now, he didn’t take the throne for YEARS.  No, no, no.  He was actually sent back to tend the sheep after Samuel anointed him.  Then along came a giant and it becomes a little more clear what God saw in the heart of David even while he was still just a kid. 

A Strong Heart

The account of David and Goliath alone would be enough for his name to go down in history.  Think about it….here’s a kid….and he was a kid, who goes barreling up to grown men in battle, including his older brothers who naturally dismiss him.  They asked him what on earth he was doing there and he asked them what on earth they were doing not taking that giant out and….did they not remember they were the LORD’s army?  He goes on to ask King Saul’s permission to fight the giant himself.  Saul reluctantly, but finally gives in and even gives him his armor to wear.  Only, it is of course a bit bulky and David doesn’t think he can operate well in it so, he doesn’t wear any! Here I am as a mother of baseball players, wishing they were made to wear helmets and chest protectors for every position on the infield.   Well, you know the rest of the story: David goes in with his sling shot and stones, reminds the Phillistines (and the Israelites) just WHO he’s representing, and then takes out the giant on the first try.  Now, it may blow my mind to think about either of my 12 year olds having such a calling placed on them, but man do I want them to have such a bold, tenacious heart for God?! What am I saying? I want one myself!! 

A Broken Heart

One of the other accounts of David that people remember most would be.... David and Bathsheba, of course (2 Samuel 11-12) .  We haven’t gotten to this in the study yet but, I can tell you from memory…..Not one of his finer moments.  If you need a refresher…David had become king and was doing an amazing job until one day….he saw the beautiful Bathsheba bathing on the roof and apparently couldn’t resist.  He summoned her over and long story short….she ended up pregnant.  When Bathsheba let David know about the pregnancy, he secretly arranged to have her husband Uriah killed in battle so he could have her and the baby.  David….the man with a heart after God’s…..arranged the murder of a good man for selfish gain.  Well, naturally, God was not happy, happy, happy.  Quite the contrary….He was deeply offended and He let David know it.  David immediately and genuinely repented of the sin he committed against God.  But, still… he had taken Uriah’s life…..and his wife.  As punishment, after Bathsheba gave birth, God afflicted the baby with a sickness.  During the sickness David fasted for days and prayed that God would relent and spare his baby.   But, he didn’t.  When the baby died, David perplexed those around him that had been watching him in his distress for days.  Instead of being more distraught and fasting over the death, David immediately ended his fast. The scripture says he anointed himself, got cleaned up, changed his clothes…..and went in to the house of the Lord and worshipped Him.   See, David stumbled and fell.  And it was a hard fall.  However, because David saw how offensive his actions were toward God, immediately humbled himself in repentance, and THEN had the heart to worship God even though He didn’t relent and remove his consequences…..God was able to bring something beautiful out of the whole ugly mess……Solomon.  
2 Samuel 12:24-25
“Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore him a son, and he called his name Solomon.  And the Lord loved him. 

This would be one of my first prayers for my boys even at 12 years of age: humility.  They are undoubtedly going to have some mess ups in their lives.  I sincerely hope it is nothing as severe as David’s series of bad choices. But, whatever mess they get themselves into, I pray that, like David, they will be humble before God.  I hope that they know in their heart of hearts that He is just and good…..and that He can bring something beautiful out of any mess they make if they will turn their hearts back to Him. 

Open Heart

The other story that probably comes to the mind of many when thinking of David is the story of him dancing naked down the streets of Jerusalem as he brought in the ark of the Lord.  Like having two 12 year olds around, things were apparently never dull with David around, either! If you aren’t familiar with the story, you may be thinking, “Well, this doesn’t sound like one of his finer moments, either.”  But, actually, he had nothing to be ashamed of in this scene which took place prior to the whole adultery/murder sequence of events.   Now, he wasn’t completely naked, but I imagine he was doing some flashing as he was dancing.  He had on a linen ephod and from what I can gather, the ephod was a strip of cloth that sort of came across the chest/waist and barely down to the thigh.  And that was ALL he had on.  See, the ark of the Lord that was being brought into his city contained the very presence of God and David was overcome with praise.  He did not care who saw it, either.  Yes, they got an eye full of David.  But, they also got an eyeful of his heart for God.  That’s my next prayer for the boys: not necessarily to go dancing naked down the street but, to be unashamed of their God. 
Being unashamed is not for the faint of heart.  God didn’t appreciate fair weather fans in David’s day.  He still doesn’t.  If David’s servants or the citizens thought anything odd about his form of worship that day, they didn’t dare say anything.  But, his wife looked down from the window and disapproved….and she let him know it when he got home.  Just picture it.  He was overflowing with so much joy because the presence of God was going to dwell in his city that it caused him to dance openly before the Lord, to bless all the people of Israel with a good meal (a MULTITUDE of people…..that’s what we call sharin’ the love!), and then to head home so he could bless his own household.  Instead of being greeted with celebration though, Michal greeted him with a shaming reprimand, “My how the king of Israel honored himself today….”  And went on to scold him for flashing people during his dancing.  Can you imagine how stung David must have felt?  The city worshipped with him as he praised his God…..but, his wife scolded him.   (Now, I could say a whole lot here about the ramifications of a wife who scolds her husband…..but, that would have to be a blog of its own.  Let me just say they aren’t wired to take a lot of that from their wives….and David didn’t.  Though, if any reading this want to read more….it’s 2 Samuel 6:16-23.)   The lesson we can ALL learn from this, though, is that it may be hardest to be open and unashamed about your faith with those closest to you because we are so sensitive to their opinions of us.  But as David replied in vs. 21, “It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD – and I will celebrate before the LORD. “  He was not going to be deterred for one second. 

See, David had come a long, long, long way with God.    He had fought a giant.  He had served King Saul and fought many battles for him, then spent many years on the run from him! He had suffered great loss.  He came to a point where there was no one…… not one person on his side.  No friends.  No family supporting him……only the Lord.  But, He was allowed to learn one priceless fact through it all….the Lord was all he needed.  So, to go from tending sheep, to fighting battles, to losing friends and family, to being on the run for his very life… bringing the ark of the LORD into the city and among the people God had placed him over….. well, it was too much for him.  How could he not worship??  If Michal had really gotten it, she wouldn’t have shamed him.  And sometimes those closest to us won’t “get it” either.  Then there’s always the rest of the world ever ready with their judgments and ridicules of anyone who stands for absolute truth.  It’s sad but true, that in our country with freedom of religion…..Christians are hated and ridiculed in an unprecedented way anytime they stand in unashamed devotion to Christ and His truths.  I don’t want my boys to have to go through all that David did.  Still, I know they’ll have their low points.  I just pray, especially in the face of the disturbing trends being seen in our country today, that God uses those to help them see beyond a shadow of a doubt, as David did, that He’s their rock, their fortress.....and if they are aligning their hearts with His......they need never to be ashamed. 

Heart Check

I’m reminded that, even though I’m studying a man, the character of God doesn’t change whether He’s dealing with man, woman, boy, or girl.  Whether dealing with me, my husband, my boys, or my daughter, He looks at the heart…..He knows our hearts…..and He knows exactly what we lack to make them more like His. 

Today is National Day of Prayer. Great day to do a heart check and see if ours looks like His.   If you’ve watched any news lately, you know there is a war going on in this country that’s not being covered much in the media.  The war to remove “all things God” from the fabric of our nation is in the hearts of men and women like never before in this country.  It’s not just the movement of atheists.  It’s the deception in the hearts of many who claim the name of the Lord that leads them to call things that the Lord deemed as good in His Word….. wrong, and things that He deemed as wrong….. good.   This deception has done as much harm to our children, individuals, families, churches, and our nation as a whole than any atheist movement ever could.  That’s the way the father of lies works.  Let me just clarify, whatever the battle, whoever the foe…..He will win.   David knew this truth so well.  How else could he be so bold as to face a giant at such a young age?  As he grew, he came to know well the tender mercy and forgiveness of God, as well as His strong hand to guide and protect. David knew how it felt to have the favor of God.   But, David also knew how it felt to experience His discipline.  Again, I don’t really want to dance naked in the street….or as we say in the South…..”nekkid”.  But, I wish for myself, my husband, my silly boys, my feisty daughter, and every believer in this country to have hearts for God that are bold, humble, and unashamed.  With all I’ve seen and heard just over the last 6 months, I’m to the point where my prayer today is, “Give us a heart for you again, God.  Do what you need to…..starting with me.”

Psalms 63:1-7
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy