shameless parenting…

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I woke up startled and looked over at my newborn baby sleeping in her rock n play. She wasn’t making a sound, but I said “she’s cold” to my husband. I took her temp and sure enough it was 96.1. Poor babe, she didn’t have enough fat on her itty bitty body to regulate her temperature yet. I knew because her sister was in the nicu trying to get out of the isolate which kept her warm. So for the first several months of their life the girls had their own personal space heater even though we live in San Antonio, TX where the weather rarely dips into sweater weather.

Being a new mom can be absolutely terrifying.

I’ve been babysitting since I was 11. So basically I’d been watching countless other children for 2 decades before I had my own children. But nothing can compare to the weight of responsibility of taking care of a helpless newborn. Although it was terribly sad to have Charlie in the nicu at least it gave me 11 days with just one 4 pound baby.

The first night we had Charlie home I freaked out, called the nicu who transferred me to the ER, and thankfully was able to get a hold of their doctor who calmed my fears and gave me some practical advice.

The thing that has calmed me and quieted my fears the most in these six months is believing that the Holy Spirit is leading us as parents. It’s believing that He wants us to be successful parents. And believing that He wants goodness for the girls even more than we do.

I think perhaps the most detrimental thing to parenting is comparison. It’s believing that one way is best in the thousand gray areas of parenting. In order to parent without shame we must believe that it’s okay to do things the way the Holy Spirit is leading us with our children. It will not and SHOULD not all look the same.

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

Isaiah 40:11

There are so many decisions to make as parents, so many choices. It can be overwhelming, but I really do believe that the same One who has knitted them together wants to lead us as parents. And thankfully, He is even bigger than our decisions. His love for them is bigger than we can even imagine, so go easy on yourself, take a deep breath, and listen for that still small voice.

One last thought… I’ve been a little shocked at times at the judgement we can easily pass on other parents. I think often it can come from a place of fear in ourselves and wanting to feel like what we are doing for our kids is the BEST thing. But let’s be kind to the other parents out there and be okay with decisions that they make and feel are best. Let’s trust that God is big enough to lead us in individual ways as families. Let’s try to encourage each other, there is so much life on encouragement, and I’ve yet to meet a mom or dad who don’t need some!

I pray today that His leadership for you as parents comes with grace and ease. May you be led by His peace with those He’s entrusted to your care.

You are doing a better job than you think you are!

Love,

Anna

 

 

retirement

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I’ve been drawn to this verse the last few days.

“These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

Colossians 2:17

It’s surrounded by verses about human regulations.  Paul is revolutionizing the way they think, behave, and receive.  Because Christ “having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross”. (Col 2:14)

All of this was a foreign concept to a society governed by following rules, making sacrifices, and trying to measure up.

He is giving them {and us!} permission to retire from this way of thinking.  He is defining freedom in the person of Christ, rather than behavior.

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.”  (Colossians 2:9-10)

One translation says you have been “given fullness in Christ”.  The new covenant is more about receiving what He’s already done for us than about following a set of rules.

These verses are a reality check for me.

Am I more concerned about rules, regulations, and behaviors, or am I aware that the fullness has already been given to me?

Is my attention more on my disciplines than what He already accomplished on the cross?

The real zinger is in verse 23-

“Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”

As I retire from the old mindsets based on works and performance, my focus should be-

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:1-2)

He came to set us free and that we might have life and life abundantly.  Let’s not get entangled by human regulations.  May it be said of us that, whatever we do, whether in word or deed, has been done in the name of Christ. (Colossians 3:17)

Let’s retire these old mindsets, and walk into the promised land that the cross has already purchased.

 

grace.

IMG_3799“But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

I tripped on this verse a bit this morning.  You know how you can be reading along and then it’s like you hit a snag in the carpet and you can’t seem to get to the next verse.

“While we were still sinners…”  Wow. That’s convicting and humbling in the same instant.  Somehow years of religion and familiarity can lead me so far from the basics of faith.

I don’t know about you, but how often I need the reminder that salvation is a GIFT.  I haven’t earned a sliver of it through my good behavior.  Salvation is also free to the crack addict on the corner.  Jesus doesn’t discriminate.  He freely gives, dispute our behavior.

The second part to this is that reminder that I am to freely give, just as it’s been freely given to me.  And the conviction is not in the giving of material possessions for me, not the giving is done in deeper places that you may not be able to see.

I have to ask myself some hard questions.

First, am I freely giving my husband forgiveness when he asks?  Candidly, too often it takes me way longer than it should.

Am I freely giving the man on the corner holding that sign something as simple as eye contact and a smile?

Am I freely giving people in my life the benefit of the doubt?

Religion is about meeting requirements.

How often to I function in this as I interact with others?

Grace is about giving based on who we are not on what others have done.

Jesus was able to give the gift of salvation and abundant life because of what He possesses. It wasn’t and isn’t about our performance.  As hard as it is to wrap our minds around, it wasn’t about what we deserve.  (THANK GOD!)

Recently, we watched Les Misérables and I was struck by a scene.  After being released from years in prison for stealing bread for his young niece, a kind priest allows ex-con Jean Valjean to sleep in the convent.  In the middle of the night, Jean steals all their silver and makes a run for it.  The police catch him and return him to the priest asking what he would like done to the man.  The priest gathers the silver candlesticks from the table, and says you forget the best part.  He tells the police that he GAVE him all the silver.  From this moment on, Jean is a different man.  This is grace. This is what’s been done for us.

Today I pray that we would be vastly aware of what we have to give, and extravagantly generous to those around us.  For we never know when a simple act of grace will change the course of someones life.