The Christian Parent Manifesto

We walked into church and my daughter grabbed my arm and whispered, “Why is it so crowded?” I looked around and she was right, every seat was filled.

“This is what happens when Christians think the world is ending,” I whispered back.

“Mom!” she said as we found our seat.

I wasn’t sure she even understand my sarcasm. It was the week of the Supreme Court decision when I wrote about love instead of fear. On the way home from church, I told my kids about the packed-out churched the Sunday after the 9/11 attack and explained that people often look to the church when they are unsure of where our world is headed or if they are afraid.

We talk a lot about cultural norms and shifts in our home because I want to teach my kids God’s standard of right and wrong, especially when issues become hot topics in our society. Because I know for a fact that their peers will be talking about what they are reading online and I’ve always wanted my kids to compare what they hear with what they’ve been taught in God’s Word, so they will know His standard in contrast to the world’s.

“Should we be afraid?” one of my kids piped up from the backseat.

We are living in uncertain times and what used to be unthinkable is now daily headlines. When I read about nearly 100 children being executed in the Middle East by ISIS lunatics because they refused to fast, I couldn’t help but want to protect my children from the evil in this world.

I understand that teaching absolute truth that sometimes contradicts cultural norms could be making life a little more challenging for them. And if the evil that is targeting Christians in the Middle East ever found its way here . . .honestly, the thought terrifies me.

But perfect love casts out fear, so we are just going to love people and hold onto Jesus.

I woke up in the middle of the night burdened for our world and these challenging times when truth becomes a battleground; hate is louder than love and children have become targets of an evil enemy. I am not a doomsday crier, but it doesn’t take a genius to recognize that our world has become more violent, darker and more uncertain in the past few years.  I wrote this manifesto as a reminder of what I want to teach my children about following Jesus in uncertain times:

The Christian Parent Manifesto

This world is not our final home.

Because of this, we won’t always fit in, and actually, we should strive not to conform to the world.

The Bible is our standard for holiness and guides our everyday living.

Truth may shift in our culture, but we look to God’s Word as our standard.

There will be people who choose to live differently than we do. This doesn’t affect, change or alter how we treat them.

We love people no matter what.

There are scary things in this world, but we can hold fast to the peace of God.

His peace comforts us when we don’t understand things around us.

God is in control and He sees all and knows all.

One day, He will return for us.

This is our blessed hope.

Until that day, we will stand for what we believe is right.

We will serve others who cannot serve themselves.

We will speak up for those who have been muffled by oppression and poverty.

We will give more than we take.

We will love others because He first loved us.

We will follow Jesus wherever He leads.

I don’t always know how to navigate this changing culture as a Christian parent.

But this is a good guide:

“Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got! Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.” Deut. 6:5-7

This Is Going to Make You Stronger

I first noticed the couple as we ate lunch at a local restaurant after church on Sunday.

They caught my eye as I looked out the booth window because they were probably one of the cutest elderly couples I’d ever seen.

Before I looked away, they leaned in for a very passionate kiss.

Yeah, I accidentally saw two 75 year olds french kiss. Oops.

I returned my attention to my meal with a goofy grin on my face and a few minutes later, they were seated at the next booth over on the same side, both facing me.

I became very focused on my fried rice. But when I did look up, it was to see them whisper into each other’s ears, feed one other bites of food and kiss occasionally.

this is going to make you stronger

Looking at my little family squeezed into the booth, I tried to ignore my youngest picking microscopic “orange balls” off her piece of sushi and threatened everyone else with the evil eye not to mention the words “fish eggs.” I thought about the whining and arguing that happened on the way to church between our kids and how my husband and I ended up turning on each other because of it.

There’s nothing like a good dose of parenting to shine a light on weaknesses in your marriage.

I took a bite of rice and let my mind wander to another Sunday, when Terrell and I sat on a couch instead of a booth, fighting for our marriage. I hadn’t eaten a good meal in days. Brokenness has a way of making you lose a lot of things, including your appetite for food and life. We sat across from a marriage counselor and we were desperate. My husband wanted freedom and I wanted forgiveness and we both needed faith to keep trying at our marriage.

“This is going to make you stronger,” The counselor said tenderly. His words sounded ridiculous in our weakened state. At the time, I didn’t know he wasn’t really referring to what landed us on his couch.

He was referring to struggle.

It looks different for every couple, but every marriage struggles in some way–for power, control, gratitude, forgiveness. You name it.

I glanced at my husband working chopsticks across from my and my urge to fight faded. I thought of our imperfections, the long road we’ve struggled down and how I wouldn’t trade any of it. Because it’s made us stronger. For the past 10 months, we’ve been in transition. He leads Mercy House and there’s been a lot of redefining, renegotiating, renewing. There’s been a lot of struggle to figure out who we are and how we do this. But we keep struggling towards each other.

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We are working on 21 years of marriage and there’s been every kind of struggle along the way. But instead of tearing us apart or pushing us away from each other, when we face them head on, dig in our heels and refuse to quit, we’ve discovered the difficult times have drawn us closer.

Embrace the struggle and let it make you stronger.” -Anonymous

I don’t know what season of marriage you’re in today. You might be doing your best to complete one year or you might have decades under your belt. But I do know when life changes (parenting, careers, home life), we change too.

And that’s why we have to struggle through it together.

Because it makes us stronger.

I don’t know if that little elderly couple was honeymooning or celebrating 50 years of marriage. I don’t know if they were making up or just making out.

I don’t know who they are or what story their lives would tell, but I want to be them one day.

This Just Makes Me Happy

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While my teens were at youth camp this weekend, we turned our beige walls gray. And I decided to rehang all my favorite pieces of art and inspiration together to create a gallery wall. Every time I walk in the living room, I smile. It tells the … [Continue reading]