Please continue reading with us…
Please continue reading with us…
Please join us as we follow the story of this pivotal and important week before Easter…
May I share with you something I re-read in one of my favorite books recently? In Tender Mercy for a Mother’s Soul, the author relays a story in which she, the mother of four, is frustrated and overwhelmed by her lack of time and the general chaos that defines her life. She is upset and desiring someone else to blame, so like the rest of us normal sinners, she blames her spouse. Sound familiar? As she stews, a good friend (her husband’s mentor), calls. He senses her frustration and talks her through the illustration below. He asks her to go to the kitchen, pick up a glass, and stand by the sink (in the excerpt, his words are italicized and hers are in plain text). Let’s sit in on the conversation…
“I want you to fill a glass half full with water. You are the glass and Jesus is the water. Now talk to me theologically about the glass.
The water is in the glass.
Good, now keep going.
Jesus is in the glass. Jesus is in me.
Jesus! Only Jesus.
Now keep holding the glass and continue to talk to me. Does the water fill completely where it is?
Tell me more.
The water runs to the edge, filling all the space in the bottom of the glass.
Are there any holes?
No holes, completely filled.
Did your husband have anything to do with filling the glass?
No (tears streaming down her face) only water fills the glass. Only Jesus can fill me
Yes. Only Jesus can fill you. Now hold the glass under the faucet and let water run into it. Keep talking theology.
The water is filling the glass. Jesus is filling me. Now the glass is full…the water is running over.
What is happening to the water?
Who is spilling?
Jesus is spilling over.
Because the glass is full.
Where is he spilling?
Talk to me about you.
Only Jesus can fill me completely, and when I am full of Jesus, I am overflowing…spilling onto everyone around me…sloshing Jesus everywhere I go.”
I stood at my sink and let the power of this picture etch itself into my soul. I was holding a glass under the faucet, watching the water run all over my hands and arms, experiencing one of the most powerful lessons of my Christian life.
Angela, your expectations toward your husband have been misplaced.
He is a great man of God, but he can never do what only Jesus can do in your soul.
Only Jesus can fill you.
Only Jesus can love you completely.
Only Jesus can meet your every need.
Paul is your life partner.
He is your friend and your love.
He needs your grace.
He needs Jesus to spill from your life onto him.
You must run to Jesus to be filled.
And when you are full, everyone around you gets Jesus- your husband, your children, your friends.
You spill Jesus onto them from your full cup.” *
Only Jesus friends.
Only Jesus can fill our souls.
Not our spouses, not our children, not our friends; Not social media- Facebook, our email, this blog or any other.
Only Jesus can fill the Jesus-sized hole in our hearts and souls that we long to have fulfilled. Then, and only then, can we spill His perfect grace, mercy, love, forgiveness onto others around us. I know it’s easy to put the needs of others before your own, getting caught up in the craziness of life, and not having time to get things done; I get that completely. But there is no substitute for reading and spending time in God’s word, praying and conversing with the Creator of the universe, laying your worries, anxieties, and cares at the foot of the cross. There is nothing like worshiping the Father who created every part of your physical and spiritual self. I know you are busy, and sometimes overwhelmed, but make time for Him. In view of His mercies, make time for Him. So that you can spill Jesus onto your spouse, children, and those around you.
Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God,
I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God,
this is your spiritual worship.
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
Romans 12:1-2 HCSB
* Taken from Tender Mercy for a Mother’s Soul, by Angela Thomas Guffey.
As your kids get older and more independent, it can be difficult to “loosen the reins” and let them do things away from your ever watchful eye. This, though, is a very important stage in both parenting and childhood; it is the stage that tells the child, “I trust you enough to…” and reinforces to you, the parent, that you won’t always be there to monitor their every move.
My husband, Brent, and I sometimes disagreed on this whole independence idea, with Brent being more prone to risk and adventure, and me, to safety and predictability. In the end, though, I think we became a good team on this because we were willing to see the other’s view on the issue. As far letting the kids be more independent, we allowed them to do things, appropriate for their ages, when we felt the risk was worth taking. For example, when our kids were in early middle school, they really, really wanted to ride into town alone on their bikes (we live outside the city limits about a mile or so—with ½ mile of that on the open highway), so we talked about the risks of speeding cars, intersections, strange people and getting lost. Then we went out and drove the route we thought best in the car, again emphasizing safety. When the day of their trek finally arrived, I sent them off with their bikes (making sure tires were properly inflated), helmets (that fit well—no sliding to the side), a cell phone (with full battery power) and some cash (in a zippered pocket!). They rode all the way downtown, had a picnic in a park, bought ice cream cones at a local shop, and then carefully rode home—all the while feeling very independent because we trusted them enough to do this. Because of the success of this adventure, where we (the parents) took the necessary precautions and preparations, and where they (the kids) proved their ability to be careful and wise, we allowed them to do this several more times that summer and the following ones. We also allowed them to ride the city bus system (Cy-Ride) by themselves after they looked at a map, planned out their route and figured out how much it would cost.
Experiences like this build wisdom into your kids because they have to learn to think for themselves in a real-life environment. And even though some of these things, like letting them go explore in the forest behind our house unsupervised (I sent the dog as a chaperone and alarm), made me uncomfortable as a parent, I knew I needed to loosen my “safety reins” and let them learn to “self-govern”. They now remember these sans parent times as thrilling.
So, I guess to summarize, I would say, “Don’t keep your child from doing reasonable things because of your fear.” Let them grow up, pull away from you and live life to the fullest. It will be hard for you, but healthy for them.
Yes, mom and dad, your babies will grow up. It is up to you to provide them with opportunities to flourish within structured safety so that when the real adventures lure them, they will have the confidence to welcome them and the wisdom to navigate their often unpredictable terrain.
*Tori Haverkamp is wife to Brent, mom to Luke, Tess, Shay, and Cole. She is also a writer and fellow blogger! Check out her words of wisdom and wit at www.clotheslineconvos.blogspot.com. We at 18shortyears are very glad to call her our friend!
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Ever feel like your days and weeks are like the old shampoo bottle instructions?
Wash the clothes. Dry the clothes. Fold/hang the clothes. Put the clothes away.
Load the dishwasher. Empty the dishwasher.
Get out toys. Clean up toys.
Prepare and cook the meals. Eat the meals. Clean up from the meals.
Change diapers. Wipe up spit up. Put on new pajamas. Bath time.
But wait. What’s the little voice I hear in the midst of all the drudgery?
“Mommy, will you play with me?”
Before I tell you my answer to that question, let me give you a glimpse into a few other moments I’ve had in the past two weeks.
I heard a devotional at a mom’s group a few weeks back. The speaker was encouraging moms to “enjoy the everyday, fleeting moments with your children”. Her main idea dealt more with “Does it all count?”, but I got stuck on another observation she made. “With kids present in our lives there is sure to be laughter and joy. They just naturally bring that with them.” And I thought to myself . . . “There sure should be. But in my house there seems to be a lot more tears than smiles these days.”
Then just a few days later in a parenting class at church I was introduced to the idea of high control parenting – “Do this. Don’t do that. Sit here, not there. Lay here, not there. Eat this. Say this.” And I thought to myself, “Wow. That type of parenting sure squashes joy.”
And finally, in church this weekend I heard Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
My answer to “Mommy will you play with me?” has sounded like this for several months . . .
“Yes Jack. As soon as mommy (changes the laundry over, does the dishes, cleans up the living room, changes another diaper) I will play with you.” And admittedly, I get involved in my drudgery and forget to go back to Jack.
I also have been guilty of stealing oodles of laughter and joy from my kids by worrying too much about how the living room looks or making sure the clothes are all put away instead of taking the opportunity to enjoy a moment of playing with them or taking 15 minutes to go on a walk or simply just to listen and laugh with them at a funny idea or story they came up with.
I want my house to be full of laughter and joy.
I don’t want to be a high control parent.
And I have realized that it must all begin in my own heart.
I must seek the hope found only in Christ – the Giver of joy and peace.
Genuine laughter and joy will not come from a clean house or an empty sink or quiet, compliant kids.
I must trust Christ to renew my soul as a mom and to give me proper perspective.
I am not advocating irresponsibility in housekeeping. I’m just realizing how quickly I can get caught up in the wash/rinse/repeat cycle and forget to say “yes” to the beautiful gift of childhood. I’m advocating finding joy and laughter in the gift of every day moments with your children.
Now walk away from that sink full of dirty dishes (for now!) and go play for a while!