I Can’t Make Time Stand Still

With every new baby, I’ve tried to soak up the moments. I’ve tried to slow down time in my head and enjoy the precious human in front of me – absorb every scent, texture, movement, and memory. But my attempts at holding back the passing of time are sand sifting through my fingers. Everything goes by so fast. I can only hold it so long. One moment, my baby enters this world and is placed on my belly, the next, she is posing for a picture holding a college degree. What they say is true: “It all goes by so fast.” And there’s nothing I can do about it.

I’m nowhere near the college picture pose with my children, but even in my six short years of being a mom, I feel the fleeting nature of time. I feel it as I clean out old baby clothes in the basement for donations. I feel it as life gets fuller with more children and therefore busier. I feel it as I look at old pictures on my phone or past memories on Facebook. I’m struggling with my children growing up and myself getting older. Ultimately, I’m wrestling with my mortality. King Solomon knew that “A generation goes, and a generation comes. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises” (Eccl 1:4-5),for “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow” (Ps 144:4). These are not meant to be depressing truths, but truths meant to elevate our eyes to see our great God.

In Isaiah 38, King Hezekiah receives devastating news from the prophet Isaiah: the King will soon die and will not recover. “Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, and said, ‘Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly” (Isa 38:2-3). In turn, God tells Hezekiah that “he has heard his prayer and seen his tears.” He promises to add fifteen years to his life and give him a sign of this promise. In verse 8, God says, “Behold, I will make the shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial of Ahaz turn back ten steps.” The Hebrew meaning of this verse is uncertain, but we can see that God is in control over the shadow cast by the setting sun. We serve a God who can turn back time and add years to a death sentence.

In Joshua 10, we see a God who can make time stand still. Joshua and his army were up against the Amorites, and before entering battle, the Lord told Joshua that he would fight for him (Josh 10:8). After throwing the enemy army into a panic and hurling giant hailstones down at them, God answered the prayers of Joshua by holding the sun and moon in balance (Josh 10:12-13). “The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel” (Josh 10:13-14).

We want to be like God, don’t we? We want to turn back time, get more time, and even make time stop. But instead, we’re forced forward, pushed along by clocks and calendars. We can’t master time or gain control over the passing moments. For we ourselves are but a mere passing breath.

I’ve never felt more helpless as I do when I see my children grow and change, with every inch gained and recorded every year. But it’s good for me.

It’s good for me to cry out with the Psalmist and say,

“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!” (Ps 39:4-5)

It’s good to wrestle with my own mortality, and then accept that I’m not God. Owning this truth puts me in my rightful place as a created being, where I belong, and when I’m where God designed me to be, then I have peace and joy. Seeing myself rightly, and God rightly, helps me grow in holiness. And as I continue to wrestle with and accept this truth that he is God and I am not, peace comes into my heart more and more, and my awe of God grows, which in turn causes my holiness to grow.

Ican’t go back to my Facebook memory from five years ago. I only have so much time, and then it keeps moving on. I’m constrained and constricted. But God is not. He’s outside of time and ruling over it.

But, as C.S. Lewis says, “It is really, I suggest, a timeless truth about God that human nature, and the human experience of weakness and sleep and ignorance, are somehow included in his whole divine life.”

The God, who rules and reigns over time, entered into time and experienced the same frustrations with time as his own people. He knows we are but dust (Ps 103:14-16). He just wants us to know it too.


This originally appeared on Morning by Morning >>

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Goodbye Christopher Robin Beckons Us Back to the Hundred Acre Wood

Peace in wartime, happiness in sadness, fame in obscurity, and stillness amidst the busyness. These are all longings we experience in life on earth. And all are present in the film Goodbye Christopher Robin. The movie is about author and playwright A. A. Milne and the creation of Winnie the Pooh, centering around a boy who loved his toys and the woods. A creative telling of Milne’s life and his relationship with his son, the film shows the impact of one bear on a boy and the whole world. Goodbye Christopher Robin opens with Milne as an adult in post–World War I London. He suffers from war trauma, which is triggered by loud pops and bangs. He’s returned from battle but it stays with him; he becomes disenfranchised with play-writing in the city and flees to the country to write a book against war. Once there, he hits writer’s block and must find inspiration. He finds it in an unlikely place: the imagination of a child and the wonder of nature. These became his new weapons to fight off the existence of war. As the nanny, Olive, says in the opening of the film:

Once upon a time there was a great war that brought so much sadness to so many people, hardly anyone could remember what happiness was like. But something happened that changed all that. It helped us to believe in the good things, the fun things, and a world full of imagination. And then, just like a tap you turned on, happiness came pouring out.

Winnie the Pooh happened. And it became a global sensation. Milne’s son, whom he and his wife called Billy Moon, became known for his birth name, Christopher Robin. The real boy was popularized as an illustrated book character. His toys became Pooh and friends, and his beloved woods were renamed the Hundred Acre Wood. Suddenly, everyone wanted to know about the boy and his imaginary world. He was expected to pose for magazines, attend social events for book promotion, and have tea with important people. Everyone was happy again… but not the real Christopher Robin.

Read the rest at Christ and Pop Culture >>

The Hidden Ministry of Motherhood

In between “Mama, I want a snack” and baby squeals, with fists pounding on the high chair, I check my numbers online. How many views today on the blog? Did anyone comment on my Facebook post? Any new bloggers out there click the like button? Does anyone read this stuff besides my parents?

These thoughts seem innocent, but I know at times they come from a heart desiring notice and recognition for myself. I’m often baffled by this strong desire to be known and be seen. Maybe it’s because the role I play as a mom is a hidden one. My main ministry is confined to four walls. I don’t get a paycheck, time off, a promotion, or a raise like my husband. I don’t always get immediate results from my efforts, unless you want to count a shiny toilet and children clothed and fed as an accomplishment (trust me, it is).

This is not to say moms can’t work outside the home in various measures and get a paycheck somewhere, but the main role God calls us to as wives and mothers is our home and family. God made women to bear and nurture life and men to provide for and protect the lives of women and children. The heart disposition in these matters manifests itself in where our priorities lie.

The calling God places on women often seems like a hidden role compared to the men around us. And yet we are still equal before God in dignity and value…

Read more at desiringGod.org >>

Book Review: The Bible Story Handbook

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You ever get the feeling you’re doing something wrong? Maybe you studied long and hard for that big test, but no amount of memorized notecards can erase the sick feeling swirling in your stomach. When it comes to studying for a test it’s not just knowing the correct information that matters, but how you study the information is important too. A correct method of study is a crucial part of test preparedness.

This factor is exactly what John and Kim Walton address in The Bible Story Handbook: A Resource for Teaching 175 Stories from the Bible. (I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway through their Beyond the Page program.) Sunday School teachers and parents are equipped with the information and sometimes the theology, but rarely are they equipped with the correct methodology. The purpose of the Walton’s handbook is to supply a method of study for parents and Sunday School teachers as they prepare lessons; it is meant as a supplement to a bible curriculum.

The Walton’s say:

“If the teacher desires to equip children to submit to the Bible’s authority, the teacher must model a proper method for identifying what the Bible, in its authority, teaches.”

Before delving into the 175 bible stories outlined by a lesson focus, application, biblical context, interpretational issues, background information, and mistakes to avoid section, the Waltons provide a foundation first. Answering questions like, “Why do we teach bible stories?” “Is there a right and wrong way to use bible stories?” and “What is the big picture of the bible?”

These first few chapters in the book challenged me personally in how I approach God’s Word on a daily basis. Am I submitted to the authority inherent in scripture? Or do I use scripture to enhance my own agenda? The old and new testament bible stories are not just filled with characters that are models for good and bad behavior, but each story is ultimately about God. All of scripture is God revealing himself to us through varying means. According to the Walton’s,

“Sunday school lessons must not focus on the human actors at the expense of God’s self-revelation.”

More important than “action points” in a story are the “belief points.” In the Walton’s own words:

“As we learn stories, our belief should be affected. If our belief is affected, our behavior should change.”

Not only were the first few chapters personally challenging to my own approach to scripture, but I now plan on using this resource as part of my bible homeschool curriculum. I’ll begin preschool at home this fall with my son, and I’m excited to use the Bible Story Handbook as my reference in shaping how I share bible stories with him.

I love how the Walton’s are seeking to equip parents and teachers first before the lesson reaches children. After reading it I feel equipped to teach my son the bible with a God-centered approach and not just as a moral framework for his life. I can’t wait to tell him the ultimate story that God shares with us in the bible. It’s all about my son knowing God and coming into relationship with God through Jesus.

“If we want to lead others to knowledge of God, we will tell them God’s stories beginning in their early childhood. “

3 Things I Can Learn From a 2 Year Old

I can be a child sometimes. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. Good when I have the childlike faith Jesus talks about in the gospels, but bad when I’m throwing an adult temper tantrum. Our children are a tool God uses to show us who we are and who he is. We are meant to instruct our children, but often times our children are teaching us. What on earth could I learn from a little person whose life experience equals two years? Here are just a few:

1.) I Am Finite

My son’s world is very small right now. His favorite people are mama, daddy, baby, and his grandparents. His knowledge of the world consists of home, church, the library, and the park. So far, the only pain life has inflicted on him has been scraped knees and a busted lip.

He tries to enter the adult world by eavesdropping on me and my husband’s conversations and then attempting to engage us about it. “What happened, mama?” is a recurring question throughout my day. He just wants to be involved; be in the know. Yet, he is limited in knowledge, experience, and understanding. This limitation is one reason hearing ‘no’ can be frustrating for a child.

As an adult I am finite and limited compared to God. I can’t grasp the “no’s” and the “why’s?” of life. I am still learning and growing in my understanding of God’s creation and God’s Word. My limitations should cause me to cry out, “Abba, Father! Help!” My loving father is infinite in wisdom and understanding and his power is limitless.

2.) I Try to be in Control

My son might be frustrated by the answer ‘no’, but he certainly loves the opportunity to say ‘no’ himself. When it’s time to go upstairs and get dressed, “no.” When it’s time for bed, “no.” When it’s time to eat dinner, “no.” A finite and limited little person trying to excise his will and take over the whole operation is an interesting concept.

My husband and I have better understanding at our disposal and we know what’s best for our son. We know he needs food, rest, and clothes. Our son thinks it’s a good idea to wrest control out of our fingertips, just like we try to do to God. Yet, God has an elevated view of our lives in light of all earthly and eternal history. Isn’t he qualified for the job?

We try to hold him hostage as we make our heist. We think there is freedom outside the boundary lines, but don’t realize freedom is found inside. It’s better to surrender to a traffic ticket than risk jail time, and it’s better to obey a traffic light than risk a deadly car crash. The Lord’s discipline and instruction is meant for our safety and protection; he knows without them we would be in bondage, or worse, dead. The good news is that God is always the one in control, we just deceive ourselves by thinking we control our little world.

3.) I Filter Life Through My Needs and Desires

My son is very big compared to his little world. So, his needs and desires come in high demand. He doesn’t stop and think how his actions and attitudes affect our home, he just surfs the waves of his current mood. His mind hasn’t learned to venture out into the world of others, because he is so preoccupied with his own.

This is a tough one for me, because my main occupation right now consists of round the clock service. I have to constantly place myself outside of my little world to sympathize with and meet the needs and desires of others. It’s hard to serve others in joy when I am consumed with myself. The time I get to fulfill my desires is always easier to enjoy.

I am like a child in many ways and God knows this. He knows I am finite and limited, I feebly try to control my own life, and I have a hard time thinking less about myself. Yet, knowing I am like a child is exactly what leads me to the possession of eternal life. Jesus has told us if we want to have eternal life we must have faith like a small child (Matthew 18:3.)

A child can have faith in a parent who loves them, guides them, and nurtures them. The source and object of our faith is secure and trustworthy. Once I humble myself as a small child I can rest in my savior’s lap, because he too once humbled himself in childish form.

‘Me Time’ Interrupted

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1:30 PM. Both of my boys take a 2 hour nap. Glory glory hallelujah’s echo through my mind as I prepare my pour-over coffee in solitude with a book ready in hand. This is my ‘me time’ as other cyber moms call it. A few hours without poopy diapers, constant questions and demands, playing blocks, and singing the ABC’s for the 100th time. I absolutely love all of those things (sometimes), but loving them doesn’t stop me from basking in my peaceful reverie. Until something changes.

Once I hear the baby cry for the second time or the toddler come out of his room, woken up prematurely, then I really love my ‘me time.’  Gratefulness turns to greediness. “Can’t I ever get a break around here?” is a question I’ve asked myself many times in my head. Sometimes it’s like my own personal mini raincloud appears over me and I grumble and complain to myself. The constant interruptions can get tiring. I only have a small window of time to look at my iPad, read a few pages in my book, or even write this blog post in one sitting. I’m like Gollum and this time is my precious.

Making a Mess with our Sin

We need a little time to ourselves (especially moms.) Those little breaks we get can be the fuel we need to keep going. So, in and of itself ‘me time’ is good, but the problem lies in our evil little hearts. We tend to soil good things, like spilling red pasta sauce on a white shirt. ‘Me time’ can become an idol. It can become a demanding god we must serve and bow down to everyday, thereby taking the place of the one true God. When ‘me time’ expresses itself in greediness, selfishness, and pride then we’ve put time to ourselves on a pedestal.

Doing our Job with Joy

I’m guilty of this. I selfishly don’t want to be interrupted by a crying baby. I pridefully demand my right to have time to myself, and I become greedy over how and when I want to spend my time. Basically, I become an old curmudgeon. I forget being a mom is my number one job, but I really forget that it should also be a joy.

That’s my problem; without Christ’s help I lack joy in the mundanity of motherhood. In the book, Mom Enough: The Fearless Mother’s Heart and Hope (Affiliate Link), two ladies capture this sentiment well:

Christine Hoover says,

“The everyday question asks not just about my duties, but also about my attitude. Will I joyfully pour out my life as a fragrant offering before the Lord for the benefit of my children?”

Gloria Furman says,

“By God’s grace, I can resist the temptation to treat my children as interruptions to my will for my life. Instead, God enables me to treat my children as precious gifts he is using to shape me into his image according to his will for my life.” 

Motherhood should not be a pattern of grin and bear it situations, but motherhood should be marked by joy and delight in God’s little gifts to us. Little gifts who love to interrupt us.

Quiver of Blessing

“Whew, just looking at all of your children makes me tired.”

“Are you finished having children?”

“Were any of them an accident?”

My sister has 6 children ages 2-13. She is no stranger to wide-eyed staring and awkward (sometimes rude) questions and remarks. Her 4 year old might be throwing a fit in Target and she’s guaranteed glances, but even if all 6 offspring are calm the staring is inevitable. Most people can’t understand why she would have more than 2 children. It’s societal sterilization.

Recently, the staring and awkward remarks have spilled into discrimination. My sister and her family are not welcome at their local hair salon, because customers complained about her children. They made no major disturbances, except the disturbance of being children. Another family with only one child is still welcome at the salon.

Anti-Family Culture

Discrimination has been a hot topic for awhile now. Whether it’s racial, gender, age, or even sexual orientation, people are being discriminated against. But one group is missing from this list of discriminated folk: mothers. Maybe in some cases discrimination is too strong a word, sometimes it’s just a lack of public support and encouragement. Most times it’s a public disdain for children.

Children are not welcome at restaurants, they aren’t welcome on airplanes, and any type of adult gathering, unless they don’t talk and don’t move. If they talk and move too much, we as parents will get the stare down. Of course we want to be considerate of others and teach our children about social behavior in public settings. Even in the midst of doing these things, children are not perfect, they are still learning; just like us. Societal grace for parents and children is in want of supply.

Jesus Loves Children

This unwelcoming attitude is opposite of Jesus. Luke 18:15-17 says,

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.'”

For the disciples, children were not welcome to see Jesus. The disciples treated the children as a hindrance, hence Jesus says, ‘do not hinder them.’ Jesus does not ogle children, he welcomes them with open arms. He even uses them as an example. Jesus dishes up some humility to counteract his disciples arrogance.

Jesus was basically saying, ” If you want to be my disciple, then learn a thing or two from these children. Learn humility and faith; the complete trust a child has in his parent.”  To enter the kingdom of God this is what we must do today; humble ourselves as children and put our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Children are a Blessing

Much of our society’s disdain for children stems from the wrong perspective. If we aren’t careful as mothers we can fall prey to this mindset as well. If we aren’t fighting to view our children as a blessing, then we will eventually grow to disdain them. Our culture tells us children rob us of ‘me time’ or time alone as a couple. Children ruin our bodies, we can’t go anywhere or do anything, we’re limited, restricted, inconvenienced, trapped!

Yet, the Bible says we are blessed.

“Behold, children are a heritage from The Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” – Psalm 127:3-5

Yes, children ruin our bodies, we don’t have as much time to ourselves or time with our spouse, and yes, we might not be able to do everything we did before we had them, but we need to fill our quivers with much blessing. This season of parenthood is only one part of our entire lives, and then our children grow up. Children are not an inconvenience if we view them as a blessing. They make our lives so much fuller.

As married couples we grow in love for each other in ways that only parenthood can nurture. We even grow in our relationship with Christ. Children can teach us many things about ourselves; they can help us grow in character. These are just a few of the many blessings children bring.

Blessings can be Hard

Children don’t seem like a blessing sometimes, because it is hard to deny ourselves and put someone else first. Our sin gets in the way of viewing children as a blessing. Lately, I’ve been having these inner pity parties for myself, and thinking about all the things I could do if I had more alone time;  thinking how nice it would be to have a cup of coffee without a 16 month old climbing on me and demanding my attention. I quickly realized I was being discontent and making ‘me time’ more important than it was.

Nothing is wrong with having ‘me time’, but it is always easier to chose and want that than it is to deny ourselves. It’s easier to listen to the culture that tells us we are worth it, and deserve to pamper ourselves. All moms need a break for sure, but if we live for those breaks we will be discontent and forget how many blessings we have at home.

So now, I drink my coffee while reading and playing with my son. I’m very blessed to have him, and embrace these coffee moments as such. My sister once sent me a picture of all 6 of her children sitting around their large kitchen table. She said, “Look at all my blessings.” If only all the public gawkers knew what they were missing.

Shooting Arrows

The other day my husband was looking far into our son’s future. Not like a psychic mind you, but dreading the day when he would leave home. Our son is 8 months old, so this is a long way off. But as they say, time flies, and this day will be here sooner than we think. Then I started. “Oh man, I hope he doesn’t want to go away to college. I might worry about him too much.”

Then I actually started to think biblically. Sending him off is our job as parents. God gave us our son to give him back to the Lord. Think of Hannah and Samuel in the Old Testament. Hannah could not conceive and prayed, weeping, in the house of the Lord at Shiloh. When the Lord answered her prayer, and after she had weened her son Samuel, she brought him back to the temple at Shiloh and offered her son to Eli the high priest. Here is what she said to Eli,

“Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”

Samuel was a gift who was offered back to the Lord. We can learn so much from Hannah. She was a humble woman; even though she waited so long for a son she was not greedy and controlling once she received her gift. Her hands were not tightly clenched over her son in fear and anxiety, but her hands were wide open to offer Samuel to the Lord. Hannah understood her place as a mother before God.

Mother’s are Stewards

As mothers we are merely tools God uses for a season in our children’s lives. Our children ultimately belong to God and we are stewards of this gift. We are entrusted with nurturing, sheltering (for a time), and training our children. For what end? To send them into the world. They are intended to leave home and it is our purpose to prepare them for that end. We give them the tools, teach them how to wield them, and then trust God with the rest.

Psalm 127: 3-5 speaks to this:

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”

It is a reward to have a quiver full of children, but arrows are not intended to lie idle in the quiver; they must be shot out of the bow. Our children are weapons of warfare, and we must prepare them for the battle.

A Mother’s Love

Rachel Jankovic has some great insight into this portion of scripture. It’s a bit lengthy, but good enough to share the whole thing:

“God does not share our sentimental view of motherhood. While he delights in children, he does not speak of them in some cutesy photo shoot kind of a way. He compares them, not to tiny fairies, or dewey flowers, but to arrows. To weapons in the hand of a mighty man.

God does not tell us to desire the blessing of children because their cheerful voices will make our houses feel cozy. He tells us to desire children who will contend with the enemy in the gate.

It is natural and good that we delight in the little things with our children. God didn’t command mothers to rejoice over elbow dimples and the smell of a new baby’s head. He didn’t tell us to smile over them while they sleep, or to love the way they look in footie pajamas. He didn’t tell us these things, because He didn’t have to. That is the natural love of a mother for her children.

But the love that we need, the reminders we need, is to love them, not for our own sake, but for what God is doing through them. We need a supernatural love. We need to believe in the victory, to mother in faithful confidence.”

Not off to Neverland

Like I said, my son is only 8 months, and I have a hard road ahead of slowly learning the lesson of Hannah. Of course there is a time and a place for sheltering him while he is young, but as he grows I must grow in preparing him for the world, practically and spiritually. As much as I would love to send him off to Neverland and he could be frozen in time as Peter Pan, this is not God’s will for him. He must grow into a man and then fight Captain Hook.

I pray my son responds to Christ’s call of salvation and grows in his love and knowledge of His Word; I pray he will be a light in a dark world. Amen.