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Hard Things, Survival and the Big Kids

Guys, I’m not going to lie. We’re in a hard season right now. There are just so many people (and animals) in our house. And so many things that need to be done every day. Lunches, and homework, and diapers, and baths, and naps, and laundry… And so much noise. Always the noise.

I have a sneaking suspicion that everything feels really big right now because we are sleep deprived. Probably, when all the kids are in school (or at least potty trained), I’ll be the one saying to sleepless new moms, “Enjoy it now, because it goes so fast.” Or, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Because I’ll have already forgotten how hard it really is.

But when the Lord asks us to do hard things, He gives grace.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetOf all the grace we’ve been given, I cherish the grace given to our big kids the most.

Those people, who fight over the Xbox and argue about taking baths, can somehow serenely roll with the real stuff.

When we adopted Enoch and Phoebe, Isaiah and Leah’s comfortable little world was invaded by a couple of loud, needy babies.

As an adult, I could see so much room for the big kids to complain. The babies have completely changed our way of life and their needs come before anything else. They cry and they make us late (OK, that’s mostly me, but babies have made it worse). They get all the attention. We don’t even go out as often, because it’s just too much.

But Isaiah and Leah just love those babies with everything in them.

Leah’s baby calming tactic is to sing them songs she makes up on the spot. The lyrics typically involve some combo of the following:

Don’t worry baby.
You will always be in our family.
We love you so much.
You are our baby.
You’ll never be alone.

IMG_4133Lately Enoch has been in full-blown toddler specialness. The other day, I was feeling pretty done with all the chasing and the whine-diffusing and the crisis averting. But I got a perspective shift when Isaiah, who was playing with Enoch, looked up at me and said with a laugh, “It’s so fun having babies!”

I’ve also been amazed by the big kids’ grace to unconditionally accept these new little people as equal members in the sibling group. They have NEVER questioned if Enoch and Phoebe are their “real” brother and sister. That hasn’t even been on the table.

Isaiah and I were discussing the concept of ancestors the other day. I was holding Phoebe, and Isaiah expounded, “Phoebe has a lot of ancestors. She has her ancestors and she has ancestors from our family.”

Of course she does. But the fact that it seems normal to him is so beautiful to me.

I’m not saying they never complain about having to hold a baby so I can cook dinner. But in the grand scheme, it’s so delightful to watch the big kids’ open hearts, fueled by a grace that’s beyond than themselves.

Grace doesn’t necessarily make the hard things less hard. But it weaves an undeniable beauty into the story.

And when we come out the other side of the hard times, the beauty is what remains.

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Company Policy

An arm-chair-quarterback was sharing her opinions about a prominent Christian leader the other day. I’d never heard of the leader (or the quarterback) before, so she could have been totally right. But she made a statement that bothered me.

“I think [Christian] leaders should be held at a higher standard, even more than the lay members.”

I guess. Yeah. But not really.

Because when we say that leaders are called to a “higher” standard, it implies that the rest of us are called to a lesser standard. And that just doesn’t work for me.

I mean, think of it like this:

I worked at Wal-Mart for 3 hellish months (OK, it was 3 mildly aggravating months). And there was not one standard for the managers because they were “leadership” and another for the regular employees.

The company never said, “If you’re management, you must come to work on time, but if you’re a cashier, you can come in 20 minutes late.” No. Or, “Management is not allowed to steal from the cash registers, but if you’re only part time, we look the other way.” No.

They had company policies. It didn’t matter your role or how many smiley stickers you handed out, you still had to wear a shirt to work. You had to show up for your shift. You couldn’t beat your coworkers up. You couldn’t sell alcohol to minors. Stuff like that.

And the Kingdom of heaven is no different. We all work for the same company and we all have to follow company policy. Yeah, some of us have roles that require more responsibility, or more time, or more skills than others of us.

But. None of us are allowed to sin. Leaders or non-leaders. We’re called to be perfect, like God. Dead to the flesh. Free from sin. And if we do sin, we all receive the same grace. And are all made the same righteousness of Christ.

So, back to this whole, “Leaders are called to a higher standard” bit. Why do we say that? I mean, most of us have probably spouted something akin to it at some point. I know I have. So, why?

Because it makes us feel better. Just like any form of judgementalism, it lets us think we’re really doing OK. If so-and-so is a leader and she just checked into rehab, then my little gossip problem isn’t too much to be worried about.

And guys, Jesus is so beautiful. The grace and forgiveness He’s extended to us is nothing we could even remotely deserve. Let’s just quit trying to play this little “God grades on a curve” game and live our lives in response to the love He’s lavished on us.

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Grace, Grace

The guy leading the intercession set at IHOP just commented that the Lord spoke to him through his Bible reading that morning. Then he admitted that he was 2 days behind in his daily Bible reading plan, but that God knew that and used it to speak to him.

I thought that was just another cool illustration of how God isn’t after our works… He’s after our hearts! The Lord didn’t say, “Well, I had a word for you, but you’re not on
schedule with your reading, so I’m not going to reveal it too you!” Jesus didn’t care that the guy was behind in his Bible reading plan. He just wanted to speak to him where he was at.

The Lord is so amazing and graceful! Much more so than we give Him credit for. We’re harder taskmasters for ourselves and our spirituality than He ever is. It makes me think of a line commonly found in Gospel music, “He’s been better to me than I’ve been to myself!”

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Not to seem harsh, but…

Something that really bugs me is when people call themselves Christians, but don’t see the need for their Christianity to affect the way they live their lives. Basically they want to live for their flesh and the devil every day of the week (except maybe Sunday) and still have the end reward of heaven… as if that was all we are living for, anyway.

I’m all for grace… it’s pretty much the most amazing thing in my life! But I hate how we use grace to justify partaking of stuff that is essentially destroying our hearts. It seems we weigh our actions based on whether they’ll cause us to lose our salvation or not (and if we’re in the “eternal security” camp, we’re really sitting pretty), rather than making our decisions based on what’s going to draw us into deeper relationship with Jesus.

All that to preface my appreciation for Romans 8:1 & 3-4

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For what the law could not do… God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us who live according to the Spirit.

The first part is really familiar… “no condemnation to those who are in Christ.” But we leave off the qualifying aspect of walking according to the Spirit. Verses 3-4 make it even clearer that Jesus fulfilled the law, paid the price, for those who live according to the Spirit! I just don’t see room in this passage for living however we want and then sneaking into heaven under a cloak of “grace.”

Now, understand, in no way do I think these verses are advocating an “earn your way into heaven” mentality. To me, it’s so much more about who has control of our lives. Are we allowing our flesh to pull us around by the nose, or is Holy Spirit the One who motivates our life choices? Because, from what I read in this passage, if it isn’t Holy Spirit, then we’re not in Christ. And if we’re not in Christ, that’s not good.

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