Glucose Tests, Political Ads, & Swords Into Plowshares

I grew up in a family of opinionated debaters. My mother has a ravenous interest in history and politics, my siblings and I are not quiet people, and my grandparents show up to family gatherings with newspaper clippings.

It makes me absolutely miserable.

Please see above pics of my family as photographic proof that they're very nice, rational people who enjoy a healthy debate without any flinging of the Sunday pot roast or negative epitaphs. See? Normal. Me? Not so much...

Not because I'm a holier-than-thou person. Not because I'm of opposite political leanings. Not for any intelligent, moral issue... No. I can't handle it because of my massive, misplaced empathy. I can't watch most thematic elements in movies (I have the maturity level/movie taste of a seven year old boy. Hellooooo, super hero movies!). A lack of agreement makes my heart ache as I jump back and forth from the different perspectives being presented. I can't handle watching someone else under stress. I absorb it and filter it through my own perspective. I sob all the time when someone else is crying. So, any kind of debate (even the amiable, lively conversations of my family!) just depletes me to a miserable, shaking, stressed-out mess. 

Debate team was clearly not my strong suit in high school...

Last week, I was trapped in a doctor's office for three hours as I went through the miserable process of a glucose test. (This baby had better be adorable.) As I was intermittently stuck 5 times, all while being woozy and wanting to pass out from sugar (which I haven't consumed in such massive quantities in forever), The Today Show blared in the background.

The inanity almost killed me. As our world falls apart, you want to talk about someone making pop art from Skittles? Also, who pays for those women's shoes every day? Why do they need such amazing shoes while they're sitting down? Of course, standing in those shoes would probably be more difficult... Man, I love shoes.

Then came commercial breaks. They were pretty much back to back political ads. And the smut, name-calling, lying, and depressing "I'm a creepy serial killer" voice-overs made me want to crawl out of my skin.

I tried reading magazines. They were full of unhappy women claiming that they could "have it all." I know they were unhappy, because according to us "common folks" they do have it all. But "all" is apparently not enough.

Maybe it was the glucose, or the loss of blood, or the random men in the waiting room that were "pro-abortion" and tried to convince a 7+ month pregnant woman that they were "progressive" in their views of women's health (yes, this happened several times)... perhaps it was the TV, or the ads, or magazines, but I stumbled out of that office tired, weepy, and carrying a large bag of misery (along with a raging headache).

Our world is a mess, people. 

Our "pop culture" is pointless, our "celebrities" inane, our politicians immoral, and our populace over-exposed to news and yet still undereducated.

And I became scared.

And as I opened my Bible the next morning, my head still throbbing, my heart still heavy, my empathy throbbing for all the pointlessness, the drivel, the name-calling, the immorality... God wrapped me in his truth, and I began to breathe again.

They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
— Micah 4:4 (ESV)

Start at the end... "For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken." I heard a lot of people speaking. Their speech did nothing beyond turn a very hormonal woman into a sobbing mess. But when God speaks, that is all that needs to happen. Words. That's it. His very words are all that are needed. Have we ever had a world leader that can do that? "Talk is cheap." Unless they are words proceeding from the mouth of God.

All he has to do is speak.

"No one shall make them afraid..." I'm battling a lot of fear right now. Fear for my children, fear for our country, fear is crowding upon fear. There is no where I can look in this election that does not fill me with terror. That will not always be the case. Someday, there will come a day when NO ONE can make us fear. NO ONE.

A world without fear.

And there will be peace, and home, and stability. "Every man under his vine and under his fig tree." This comes directly after verse 3, in which God promises an end to war and a beginning of unthreatened prosperity. We need peaceful homes. We need to be able to sit down and rest.

And all this... the world without war, the world without fear, without terror, a world filled with peace and prosperity and resting in safe homes... all this will come to pass because "the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken."

It's coming, friends. Peace is coming.

It's just not here yet. Unless you have anchored your soul to the one Leader who can establish peace with mere words.

I Am Allowed Hatred Without Caveats

I hate the Holocaust.

Hate it.

I hate that it happened. I hate that the world stood by and watched. I hate that people were gathered, based on their DNA, into pens, camps, and gas chambers.

Hate it.

If I were to state this sentiment at a cocktail party (what a buzz kill, right?), or to express these thoughts during a history class (probably a more suitable venue), everyone would nod along with me. Everyone would agree. Everyone would join in with their hatred of this atrocity and suggestions of how we could have acted faster.

But let's say everyone didn't join in my indignation.

I shout, "I hate the Holocaust!" And everyone just stared, and then someone patted my arm and said, "Courtney, you can't really hate the Holocaust. I mean, you're only allowed to protest about it if you're also for a Jewish relocation program."

I stare at them blankly.

And the person on my other side said, "I mean, I understand you're upset about the super-intelligent Jews that were killed, but you can't really be anti-Holocaust unless you're also pro-Jewish education."

I blink. Shocked.

It was genocide. It was horrible. It was deplorable. I am allowed to hate it. Without caveats. Men were killing men based on a man-made determination of worth. I. Hate. That.

So, this is what I'm saying...

I HATE ABORTION.

It is genocide.

It is murder.

It is the mutilation of little babies.

Don't tell me I also have to support adoption. Don't tell me that I also have to be pro-woman. Don't tell me that I must caveat my hatred for this despicable, horrible, satanic practice.

Listen to what I am saying: I am a woman. I respect women. We bring something to the world that no man can. I love children. I've adopted one, birthed one, and am in the process of adopting our foster son. Because I love children. And I want to help and heal and serve those who are hurting, overwhelmed, and underprivileged. I love the women who work at those clinics. I love the women who are driven to desperation. If you've been through an abortion, my heart yearns over you. I want to hold you and let you cry. I want you to find help and healing. (If this is you, please. Please, there are women who want to help you heal... https://www.healinghearts.org/). I love the women who made this painful choice. 

BUT I HATE THE CHOICE.

I love the doctors, the nurses, the heads of these difference agencies. My heart aches for them, because I know that they are hardened or struggling. They are trying to provide truth in a vacuum. I cry for their souls. I shudder at their future.

I HATE ABORTION.

I do not need to provide a list of things I am "pro." I am pro-life because abortion is genocide. No one asks me to caveat my views of the Holocaust. No one insists I must be pro-Israel. I'm allowed to just HATE IT. In the wake of Planned Parenthood videos, I see many people stating that I must be "pro" a whole list of other things in order to justify my "anti-abortion" standing. Listen to me. There is no verse in the Bible where I have to support my intense dislike of murder. To demand that I must list thirty-seven ways I love children, women, and families, in order to be against the brutal mutilation of a silently screaming infant: THAT IS IDIOTIC. And completely unbiblical. 

I refuse to caveat my hatred of abortion.

These are babies.

Abortion is slaughter.

This is our Holocaust.

You're allowed to hate it. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Three Things That Must Happen AFTER You Discipline Your Child

Last week, I threw out a blog post on “Three things you should do BEFORE you discipline your children.”

I wrote it on my phone, crouched in a hotel bathroom, at 4:40 in the morning. I had determined several days earlier that my writing needed to go a different direction, that I needed to fill a void in Christian blogging.

And I didn’t want to do that.

So I stalled.

Procrastinated.

Put it off.

And ultimately woke up at 4:40 in the morning with a guilty conscience, no laptop, and a quiet hotel room full of 5 other people. Hence the bathroom scribbles you read last week.

Here’s where I’m standing: God’s word has answers. Not just vague, general, esoteric, “isn’t-my-deep-theology-astounding” truth. It has real, nitty-gritty, daily, foot-to-the-floor wisdom. And this wisdom should drastically impact and direct our lives.

So far I haven’t said anything that 98% of you don’t agree with. You’re nodding your heads, and someone is getting excited about the phrase “nitty-gritty” because it sound intentional and real.

But here’s what I’ve found… while there are countless people willing to distill the truth of the Scripture, people who are far wiser and much more godly than I, there doesn’t seem to be a huge on-line resource for practical biblical parenting. They’re out there. But they’re a minority.

I know whining is bad… but how do I stop my 18 month-old from whining?

I agree. Kids should be taught responsibility… um, how exactly am I supposed to do that?

My camera-shy three-year-old. 

My camera-shy three-year-old. 

I definitely want to raise teenagers that are passionate about Christ… but my kids already scare me and hate going to church, and they’re only 9 and 11.

And when I felt the nudge towards this gap, my boldness froze. My children are 2 and 3. And while I’ve worked with kids in a variety of setting and roles for the past 15 years, have my master’s in speech pathology, and was raised by rock-star-godly parents, I had absolutely no desire to set myself up as a parenting guru.  I mean, we don’t even know if our kids will “turn out.”

But I had forgotten. Parenting is not about results (although, as my mother says, “It’s also not a game of roulette… you can’t control your kids’ hearts but you can give them truth.”). Parenting is about faithful adherence to God’s commands. I may not have parented through the teen years. My kids may not be successful missionaries around the globe. I may not be as wise as I’ll be when I’m sixty (oh, please God, let me be wiser!). But ultimately, if I was the source of your parenting knowledge, we would have bigger problems. Right? Of course, right.

So, without further intro (oh, my word, that was probably the longest introduction of all time, don’t tell my high school English tutor), let’s talk about three things that need to happen AFTER you discipline your kid.

Here’s the deal, what I’m going to outline, and what I covered last week, they require time. Discipline and teaching are life consuming. Not all the time, but there are certain stages that it’s going to feel like this is the only thing you do all day. To you I say, Do not “grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9) If that’s not a parenting life raft verse, what is? Just don’t buy into the lie that on those days “I got nothing done.” No, sister, on those days, you did forever, eternal, heart-changing things. They’re just harder to see and measure.

 

1.     Re-teach.

Re-visit why your child received consequences. Talk about what the Bible says about those choices. All kids learn differently, but most kids don’t learn thoroughly with discipline (regardless of the form you choose) looming over their heads. It is important that they walk into the situation knowing why they’re being disciplined, but some of the most fruitful teaching and redirection will come after the misery of discipline is over. We are to teach our children diligently. (Deut. 6:7) One of the best times when this can take place is right after discipline.

The wonderful thing about this? While talking about this is best done immediately after the consequence (especially with younger ages), if you’re completely stumped you can tell your child, “Mommy knows that the Bible says something about ________, but I can’t remember. Let’s see if we can find out what God thinks together.” Look at that! You just taught your kid two things: the truth about their sin, but also that God’s Word has answers that are important to search out!

I would also encourage you to jot down on your calendar several creative ways you can address this weakness in your child later in the week. Don’t know how? Um, email me. I’ll send you some stuff/resources/maybe even make something new to give away.

 

2.     Cuddle

Actually, this point could be more clearly stated with the phrase “restore the relationship.” But cuddling is just an easy way to do that… If you’re not a touchy-feely family, well, find your way of expressing affection. Invite the kid to do something fun with you (e.g. make cookies, tackle a project, pull out art supplies, etc.). Look up jokes together. Build a pillow fort. Take a few minutes to sit on the floor and play.

Especially if you’re going through a rough season with a child, these times are crucial. God’s Word tells us that true wisdom is brings peace. It is gentle. It is full of mercy. (James 3:17) You want to parent your child with wisdom, so make sure that any discipline and time after that clearly comes from a place of gentleness and mercy.  We talked about avoiding sinful anger last week, this is just another way to make sure that your child knows you’re not upset because they made your life difficult. You’re upset because sin saddens God.

But seriously. Just learn to cuddle. It’s my favorite.

 

3.     Let it go.

This is the most challenging bit.

You need to walk your child through forgiveness. They need to ask you to forgive them. And they need to ask God to forgive them. And then they need to hear something like this, “Forgiveness does not mean that we forget what you’ve done. Because God can never forget! But it means that we won’t hold it against you. We won’t be mean about your sin. Mommy promises to love you as much as ever.”

After a couple of repetitions, kids will get this. They will love it.

But then your tough work begins.

If you’ve forgiven your child it is critical that your threshold of “tolerance” doesn’t decrease. Your kid has sinned so many times, that just the sound of them eating potato chips sets you on edge. Christ modeled this, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”

God’s grace, in abundant richness, is ready to help you forgive as Christ forgives. You just may need to lock yourself in the bathroom and pray that the Holy Spirit would give you grace and love. (Um, it’s making it sound like I spend a lot of time in the bathroom as a parent… and I do…)

 

I leave you with this…

Parent boldly.

Parent wisely.

Parent peacefully.

Parent biblically.

You can do this.