Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Weekly Smorgasbord

Y'all! My Delicious links work again. So I'm back at it and hopefully will be sharing things on the regular again!
Posted: 20 Nov 2014 09:42 PM PST
"I'll never forget when Kim came over to my apartment one night after work and told me she was pregnant. I was devastated. Not just because the news was a shock or because I hadn't expected to be a parent at such a young age. I was devastated because everyone who had celebrated my return "to the fold" would think the turnaround was a false alarm. I had caused my family so much pain and heartbreak with my self-absorbed shenanigans, and they had been so relieved and excited that their reckless son had finally come back; it had been the answer to years and years of prayer. I had put my parents through more than any son ever should and had asked for their forgiveness on numerous occasions. To drop this bomb might crush them all over again, and I just couldn't bear it. I was scared, ashamed, and angry at myself for failing yet again...Kim and I had been so excited about getting married, and now we were going to be parents as well. In addition to the embarrassment and shame involved, we were we were grieving the happy expectation that we’d have a few years, just the two of us, before starting a family. We were in a state of shock. Yet my father did not condemn or lecture us, even though he had every right to do so. Instead, he comforted us. More than that, he gave us good news. He told us that while the circumstances clearly weren’t ideal, this was going to turn out just fine. This baby was going to be a blessing to both of us and a gift to the whole family. Every time Kim and I look at our oldest son (now eighteen), we realize afresh that my dad was absolutely right that day...My father was not preaching the Gospel to me that day–he didn’t sit me down to tell me that, on account of Christ, my sins were forgiven. Instead, he showed me grace. That is, he treated me in a way that was analogous to how God treats you and me. He was not God, of course, but like many fathers, he did play a similar role in my life: someone in authority who showed me love in the midst of deserved judgment. As it is with big-L and little-l law, if occasionally we use big-G and little-g grace interchangeably, it is not because they are they same thing, but because we often experience them the same way… I was at my least lovable in that instance–a repeat offender whose offense was going to have very real consequences–yet somehow my father treated me as though I’d never been loved more."

So powerful. Two things:
1. I desire so much to be a powerful reflection of God's love and grace and not so focused on outward behavior, especially when the primary reason is embarrassment because of how my children make ME look.
2. The most refreshing part of this story was that it happened AFTER the prodigal returned to the fold. So often in my younger years, in regard to sin such as this, I questioned why my faith wasn't stronger or if I was even truly a believer at all because of slip ups I experienced. That's next to impossible when you really start to understand "big G Grace".

Posted: 21 Nov 2014 09:12 PM PST
This is really good. Partly because I was fretting over my kids being not as dressy as I'd like tomorrow. It just seemed impractical to bring extra dress shoes for Graves to wear twice and that sort of thing. I don't really judge others (on this!), but I sometimes make it an idol in my life. I do NOT want to take the kids to First Methodist in clothes they easily church in when we're in Brooklyn. THAT is a sign I need taking down a peg. I love it when God humbles me with appliques instead of smocking, red Chucks instead of little boy dress shoes, and ruffly pants instead of a bishop.

On Parenting:
Posted: 20 Nov 2014 09:41 PM PST
Hmm. I have mixed feelings. I think there's a good bit of truth here- you can totally become so consumed with kids you forget each other. But I have a little different perspective because I read so many conservative Christian books/listened to so many radio programs, ect. And they all sent this message about making sure your husband was #1. Like, it doesn't matter if you're up six times in the night to breastfeed, you better make sure you're having sex before you lay your head on that pillow. And it doesn't matter if you hardly had time to get yourself clean for YOURSELF BECAUSE THAT MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE A REAL PERSON, you better slap on some lipstick and something other than yoga pants before he walks in. And co-sleeping will destroy even the strongest marriage. I really think there's a balance. And I think we're incredibly fortunate to have found it. I also think Peyton's extremely patient and took things in stride. And for the record, I don't think I could say I love Peyton more than Graves and Annie or vice versa. What I can say is that I know that I love him more because I've watched him parent them beautifully every day for the last five and a half years. So, at least in this house in America, I can only say that parenting has grown my love for Peyton exponentially, rather than killed our marriage.

Posted: 24 Nov 2014 08:26 PM PST
"The tiredness is real, y'all. And I feel so inadequate. Because my tiredness makes me think of others who must be more so than I. So I think--ok, I need to take a meal to that friend who is going through the tough time. Or--I need to take that sweet new baby a gift. Or--I need to load up my babies and go visit that elderly person. I am tired of being the person on the receiving end of the thoughtfulness and care, if that kind of crazy makes any sense to you. I want to be the person giving the care and being thoughtful. But most of the time right now, it doesn't happen. I do try to send encouraging texts each day to friends or family who may need them, but beyond that I basically collapse into bed each night triple exhausted and hoping against hope I will get a three hour stretch of sleep that night."

This post and the one after it both really resonated with me. So often it's so hard to let others serve us. One of my favorite songs is called Servant Song and one of the most powerful stanzas says "Brother let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you. Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant, too". 
Posted: 24 Nov 2014 08:24 PM PST
"We are reading David Platt's Radical and were talking about how we could show the gospel to those in our Church. I thought of basic ideas: help in the nursery, teach Sunday school, bring meals, etc. And this woman, who is recovering from a pretty major knee surgery right now, said, "We can show others the gospel by accepting help from them."Wow. And that's where I am right now. Having to accept grace from others, having to have grace on myself when everything isn't perfect or when I feel weak."

On Adoption:
Posted: 20 Nov 2014 09:38 PM PST
"Twelve-year old Stephen tells me that I'm his best friend. I'm his social worker, and he should have a real best friend, but I don't say this to him. We're at a taping for Wednesday's Child, the news spot featuring children who are up for adoption. Stephen is engaging on camera. Maybe somebody will pick him this time. Maybe he is offering just enough evidence, at twelve, that he's a boy worth loving. And he is lovable, truly. But it is not enough. A family never comes."

 Heartbreaking, truly.
Posted: 24 Nov 2014 08:22 PM PST
"And it is this that leads us to understand that our love and companionship are enough. For we have not been called to carry his burden but rather see him through it. It can not have been better illustrated than that portrayed in the Lord of the Rings triology. As Frodo Baggins was called to carry the one ring unto completion of his task, Samwise Gamgee was equally called to accompany Frodo as his companion. Sam came to understand he could not save Frodo from the agony and burden that he was carrying. Simply, he was there to provide his friendship, love, affection, encouragement, counsel, equilibrium and strength along the journey. It was this role that he came to embrace for Frodo and we witness the sufficiency of love and companionship."

Beautiful post. 

On Breastfeeding:
Posted: 21 Nov 2014 09:09 PM PST
From 1977. Love this so much!
On Gender:
Posted: 20 Nov 2014 09:35 PM PST
"Her words have shaken my foundation. I look at men differently. I look at my husband, son, father, and brother differently. I think the mistake Atlantic Monthly made was an honest one. I think it is easy to assume that women are alone in their suffering. But it is not so simple. Life and identity are infinitely more complicated than we want them to be. Men were not made to hold the world up by themselves. Our fathers were not made to be hardened statues of strength. Our husbands are not able to walk this world in denial of their vulnerability; allowing us to fall apart while they must always keep themselves together. Like all of us, the men in our lives need saving. They need a Savior." 

Excellent article by my friend Sarah. I think so often about what it means/will mean to have a little boy that seems very sensitive. It kind of scares me because I don't know that the world will look on his vulnerability positively, like they (in some cases) would his sister's. But it also occurs to me often that maybe more of the adult men I know would be more similarly tender and sensitive had they been afforded that opportunity not just when they were three, but when they were eight, twelve, and thirty two. It's a big burden to bear. And if we don't allow them to fall off their white horse then how can they possibly need a Savior to heal their wounds and brokenness?

On Writing:
Posted: 20 Nov 2014 09:32 PM PST
"Sometimes you think about just picking up and leaving this filthy city, but then one morning you wake up and watch the sky turn from narcissus-white to the delicate, throbbing, vein-purple hues of the nodding heads of crocuses and irises, the ones you remember picking from your mother's garden when you were still young and unafraid, and there above the Gowanus you see a map of your future, your past, and your heart (but not in an overwrought or sentimental way.)"

Laughing so hard.

On Abortion:
Posted: 20 Nov 2014 09:31 PM PST
I volunteered a good bit at the CPC in Jackson. (Clearly what I'm about to say is anecdotal.) I really didn't see a lot of what went on here. There were a few things I saw that I questioned (mainly that they really don't support anything other than abstinence only as far as unmarried clients go), but I didn't see this sort of clear deception. For the most part, when potential clients called it was "We don't provide abortions, but we'd love for you to come in and talk about other options with your pregnancy. And we can give you a pregnancy test and potentially a free sonogram to confirm you are actually pregnant". And no, you're not winning the war for the unborn with scare tactics and deception. At least, that's not the way I want to win it.


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