Friday, January 21, 2011

Peeling Away

My heart is like an onion.

Over time, life has made my heart crusted and brown. Touch me, and my skin will crackle. You can't see in to the light; the delicate softness that is inside.

It's safer that way... you can toss me into a bin with a dozen other onions, and I'll stay "preserved" for months, maybe longer.

Somehow, though, life as a crusty onion is lacking. Just because I am less likely to get hurt because of the dried outer skin, I am missing out. My heart, my emotions, my very soul is hidden from the embrace of warm light.

I hear the call, the offer of hope and life. If I am but willing to surrender my heart, to the hands of the One who loves me and has watched me grow from the beginning... He will take away the hardness. He wants to reveal my soft heart.

It hurts when He peels the skin away. And I fear that my hurt is more than one layer deep. I've built up a wall and become hard - I don't know if I want to let Him in. But I know that although He tears away, He will also heal.

Hosea 6 (New King James Version)

1 Come, and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. 2 After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight. 3 Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, Like the latter and former rain to the earth.

It's so beautiful how God can restore. He can deal with any hurt, forgive any sin, restore what has been stolen away.

The more I seek Him, the more I sense the flashlight of the Holy Spirit shining on areas of my life. Even when all seems well on the outside, He requires much more. He requires total surrender, so that His power can work through every part of me. I am His, that is for certain, but the deeper I dive into His grace, the more He wants to re-write and restore the places in my life that are not whole and complete.

I recently went to the theater and watched the latest installment from the "Chronicles of Narnia" series. I was disappointed that they seemed to leave out a crucial element of the book in regards to Eustace coming before Aslan in repentance.

First, Aslan told Eustace that he must undress. Try as he might, every time he peeled one layer of dragon skin off, another layer would be underneath. He was inadequate and unable to deal with this problem on his own.

Aslan could bring healing, but it still hurt.

I'll end my blog with this excerpt from the book:

From "Voyage of the Dawntreader"
Eustace is explaining to Edmund how Aslan changed him back into a boy.

“Then the lion said — but I don’t know if it spoke — You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was jut the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Two words I find hard to say...

Last night my husband and I attended our first evening class of "Grace-based Parenting" by Tim Kimmel. It is conveniently being run at the same church where our kids attend AWANA, during their club meeting. So, Dan and I figured we should go for it! Not only is it a chance to be on the receiving end (doesn't happen very often when you are senior pastors) but it is also a chance for us to interact with people who don't really know us, other than as parents wanting to do a better job with our kids.

I was excited about attending the course. I know that my parenting style is fairly "Biblical", at least I feel it is, however, I know I can get caught up in all the rules and stuff I have to do, and lose some of the flavor and meaning behind it all.

We talked a lot about how we were raised as kid - because undoubtedly, people will often mirror many of the things their parents did, or they will polarize and try to be totally different! I recognised, as a I have in the past, that my parents ran a mostly authoritarian style home. We had utmost respect for my parents (especially my "Pa" as we called him) and we were not entitled to question their authority. Thankfully, they didn't abuse this power, and I believe they did the best they could with the tools they had at the time. They brought us up with a firm belief in God, and made sure church was a priority in life. However, I look back, and I think I often lost the "meaning behind it all" in some of the discipline they used. Because we were afraid of questioning - it seemed more about "doing the right thing" no matter what, and therefore I often missed the heart of the matter.

In that sense, I have tried to shift in the way I raise children. My biggest concern is to raise them to love the Lord, but to also maintain an emotional connection to my kids and stay on the "same page" in regards to their lives and how they feel.

So the class last night was really an introduction to "Grace Based Parenting". What exactly is that? They described it as "parenting the way God would parent". Ha ha... easier said than done!

What I was challenged with, however, was the idea that I need to have more humility with my kids. I truly am here to serve them - not just keep them alive and shoo them out the door once they're 18! One area that I recognised as a weakness in my life is my ability to repent when I've done wrong. I find the words "I'm sorry" very difficult to choke through. Why? I think it is because I try so hard, and hold myself to such a high standard. I don't want to screw up! I'm afraid of making mistakes, and if I start saying sorry to my children every time I rush into things or yell at them, I will be saying sorry 20 times a day!

The problem with not being willing to apologise, however, is that I am not asking for grace, and I am therefore not giving an example of repentance and graciousness. Why should I expect my children to know how to apologise if I don't apologise when I blow my top? I can preach at them all I want about kindness and controlling their tongues, but it really starts with me. I need to take ownership of my faults, in recognition that I need God's grace in my life in order to be a better parent. I need to experience God's forgiveness in the first place, in order to model and ask for grace in the lives of my children (and even my marriage).

So that is my challenge for these next couple of weeks. I am going to start saying "sorry". I will choke down my pride (sinful as it is) and acknowledge when I've been wrong. I believe that in that, God will also be able to extend his forgiveness and grace towards me, giving me an ability to change! What a miracle that will be!

"I'm sorry"
Those two words just might bring about a revolution in our home.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Resolutions, again!

It's a new year! This one is going to be so different... Ha ha! Well, that is the typical viewpoint, especially in January. However, I know that I am changing and I am asking God to change me more and more this year. I remember last year thinking, desperately, that I couldn't stay the same and my heart's cry was for God to deal with some of the junk in my life. I can't say that I'm totally different, but I feel ready to become ESTABLISHED.

Have you ever noticed how time is speeding up? Yesterday I was a teenager, sneaking out of the house to get into trouble. Tomorrow, I will be the mother of a house full of teenagers. That's what it feels like anyway! So there has to be a solution. How do we embrace today, change the way we live, stop being lethargic and begin to prioritize the things that really matter?

First things first. I've been so proud of my new habit of regular exercise - I have goals and I've made it a priority. In the same way, I plan to make some goals in my spiritual walk. I've been pretty consistent with spending time in the Word everyday, but I need to consider my habits and whether they are worthy of being emulated in my own kids. That reminds me of a quote:

He that thinketh he leadeth and no one followeth simply taketh a walk

Where exactly am I going? As my kids grow older, I see my characteristics showing up in their lives. Sometimes they are the good characteristics, like showing kindness and care for others - sometimes they are my bad characteristics, grossly exaggerated.

I know that I have been rambling, but I do have a couple things that I should put out into bloggy-land so I'm committed. First, I'm going to be taking a Bible college course and finishing my diploma. That, I believe, will give me a more firm direction with my spiritual walk and Biblical studies. Next, I am going to make this a year of reorganizing my time to cut out the things that don't matter. I have so little time to invest into the relationships around me, and I want to prioritize my spouse, my kids and most importantly my God above all the clutter that this world offers.

Happy New Year! Here we go...