The Shame Of Should In Parenting...

Recently, I was at a conference and a speaker made a joke about his young children being disrespectful and he and his wife questioning what they were doing wrong.  The whole audience laughed but there was more to it than just a response to a funny joke.  There was a tangible sense of relief as people realized that this influential, God-fearing speaker had children that misbehaved as well.  

In parenting, it seems that one of the biggest shames we carry is our children's misbehavior.  In my experience, people rarely talk about it but we all measure and compare..."Is this normal?"  We want to know, "Am I doing something wrong?  Am I alone in this?"  

After the speaker concluded, my group of friends and I all talked about the relief that we felt from someone validating that their kids misbehave and are funky sometimes.   I don't think that bashing or degrading our kids is the cure for parenting shame but we do need to know that other peoples' kids aren't always perfect.  If we can't be real about our struggles in parenting, then we will isolate ourselves for fear of being exposed.  Our kids won't get to experience the beauty of community and we won't get to be encouraged, supported and helped!  

Our children are a blessing, heavens to Betsy, yes.  Psalm 127.  BUT, we can't deflect shame by only showing the happy and successful side of raising kids and family.  We combat shame by bringing the weird, funky stuff into the light.  Maybe not on the internet but with trusted friends who can stand with you and help you along and call out identity in your children when you can't see it.  It goes against the world's ways to bring the things that you're most embarrassed by into the light but that's how we are healed from shame in the Kingdom of God.  It's upside down thinking for us but that's where the freedom is.    

Meanwhile, in the trenches of parenting, I cannot measure myself based on my perceived successes or failures in parenting.  I cannot measure YOU based on what I perceive as your successes or failures.  In parenting, as in life, there is so much unseen and I must must must return to my Father's words to remember my identity and to remember your identity.  We are His own.  (2 Corinthians 1:22)  We are accepted by Him (Romans 15:7)  We have been given fullness in Christ who is the head over every power and authority (Col 2:9-10).  We are loved (1 John 3).


The Shame of Should...Part I

Disclaimer:  I am no Advanced Theology Scholar...but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.  But seriously, just sounding out these thoughts.  

When God is teaching me something, I feel like I keep hearing it over and over from different places.  Every sermon, every paragraph, every scripture will point towards a central theme that the Lord is etching into my heart.  Lately, I keep hearing about and thinking about our shame.  It seems like so many of us, as believers, are walking around carrying loads of accusations about what we should be doing and what we should be.  We see ourselves as desperately bogged down, heavy-laden with guilt about our short-comings and failures.  We project those feelings of shame onto the Lord and we feel that we need to do more to be fully accepted by Christ.

On the contrary, scripture says:

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, - Isaiah 61:10a

He has already fully accepted us by the blood of Jesus.  We have been clothed in his Righteousness.  We don't work to earn our robes of righteousness.  He has done all the work on the cross.  (Incidentally, this may be the Gospel 101 but it is what I need preached to my heart everyday.)

A stark contrast to the shame of should is the beckoning of love.  Because we are so extravagantly loved, we are free to love others without expectations or guilt.  Instead of carrying the weight of every "should" and accusation that the enemy thrusts upon us, we are free to just say "Yes" to the next step towards which he calls us and trust God with the rest.  We are free to be a part of his beautiful work of redemption in the world because we're not paralyzed and overwhelmed by our shame.

 Saying "yes" to the next person, task, moment and not being overwhelmed by every "should" in the world requires communing with Him.  And to meet with Him is a joyful requirement, not a "should"!  Abiding in Him, drawing near to Him is the remedy for the shame of all my shoulds.

My deepest need is the revelation of His love for me.  The joy and freedom that it brings breaks off my heaviness and shame.  I can bring every "should" before Him, cast it at his feet and simply take on worship and friendship with Him...saying "yes" to the next step because His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  -1 Peter 2:9


The Great Unknown

Adam's residency graduation program was held on Saturday.  It is only fitting to update this blog as we transition into our next season since I wrote my first blog entry while driving up to Pennsylvania for Adam to begin medical school back in 2007.   At the graduation ceremony, I sat there and realized how quickly these years have marched by us.  Say what you will about graduation or any traditional rite-of-passage ceremony, but they do cause you to sit and reflect on what you've done, where you've failed, what you stand for, what you believe in, and what you will leave behind.

We feel like different people than those punk kids driving 23 hours with a u-haul and a dog.  We were naively moving into a charming english cottage with 80-year-old, single pane windows and no garage in a city with 150+ inches of lake effect snow per year.  But, mostly, I look back and see the kindness of God through the seasons of being overwhelmed, through moments of comparison, through times of sorrow and pain, through pity parties, through seasons of zeal and seasons of apathy, through the mundane moments and through the tears of celebration and exhaustion.  He was there and He was good and He never withheld love from us.

I have dreamt of and put so much hope into this next season: having Adam home more often, paying off student loans, going on a family vacation, at some point.  But I already feel the need and conviction to hold my expectations loosely.  I've already seen that this year will not look the way I had always planned but it can look better.  The same daily fixing my eyes on Jesus is needed lest I despair, lest I have a pity party, lest I forget my purpose on this planet, lest I become a slave to my comfort.

I look towards this next year knowing that God is stirring our hearts and asking obedience from us in ways that were not our plans.  Yet I know that His ways are always better than ours, his thoughts far above our own.  The things I look to for satisfaction always run dry and leave me weary.  His burden is easy.  His yoke is light.  Here's to the next adventure.


Hometown Prophets

I am following along with a bible study online and today's reading came from John 4.  It was the story of Jesus healing a royal official's child.  Before this occurs, though, the text reads:  "After the two days he (Jesus) left for Galilee. (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his hometown)."  The story goes on to tell of Jesus healing the child but the part about Jesus knowing that a prophet has no honor in his hometown really stood out to me.

I think it really exposes our hearts.  If someone is from your hometown, you know them.  You have seen their humanity. We are all sinners and though Jesus lived a sinless life, even he was a babe in diapers at one point. Not glamorous.  But we want glittery prophets...not human ones.  We want rockstar prophets, teachers and leaders that we can worship. Instead, God uses broken, imperfect vessels to speak his words and he wants us to draw near to HIM not idolize the teacher or prophet.

I felt convicted reading this verse that I often dwell more upon the vessel than the Creator.  I am thankful that God uses people to speak his word and I have gained wisdom through others' revelations but it's all for nothing if I, myself, do not draw towards Jesus.  We're just like the Israelites...it seems easier to just follow a king or a prophet than to actually work out our own faith and draw near to God.

I am thankful for prophets but they all have a hometown.  Let us draw near to Jesus, He is our rescuer and our righteousness.  Let's take the words of today's teachers and run towards the creator and sustainer of all men.


Looking Back to Smile.

I am very excited about 2014 and I anticipate that it's going to be a great year for our family.  Adam will finish residency  in June!  I am so proud of him.  He has worked extremely hard for years and years in order to accomplish this dream.  Also, I am extremely happy that he has signed a contract and we are staying in Fort Worth! Praise God from whom all blessings flow because we have three grandparents that live in this area and that is a priceless gift.  

Looking ahead to 2014 is exciting but 2013 was a great year too.  One last picture reflection with a picture from each month to recap our past year.  We are richly blessed and pray that 2014 is full of more fun and adventures together, more love in our home and relationships, and more purpose and life!  













You are One, Son.

Yesterday, Collin turned one.

Fastest year of my life.

Collin is a happy, social, meddlesome & active boy. He likes to climb onto chairs and tables and fireplaces.

He will eat anything and always has some memento shoved into his cheek like a squirrel.
(P.S. This is how my sweet 3rd  child gets to eat his birthday cake in our family.  On a towel.  On the floor.)

Collin is the biggest that any Jennings boy has been at age 1 and that's probably best since he has two rowdy brothers.  Collin adores his brothers.

Collin likes to "sing", lift up his hands and dance.  He is so much fun.

We had a super low-key birthday dinner with my mom & my in-laws.  I made chili & we enjoyed cake.  Before my mom and my in-laws came over, the boys played in the driveway and scaled Adam's truck.  Overall, it was a pretty fun day!

Collin is a delight.  I am so thankful that I get to be his mama.

A Year Ago, Yesterday.


Elliot Is 3.

Spunky little sweet heart.  Elliot has brought so much joy to our home and he can make people feel so special and loved.  Our nickname for Elliot is Ferdinand because he is a stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of kid.  He really likes trains, play dough, coloring and"teaching" me things.

He has also learned to punch his big brother, so our home often feels like a cage match.

Happy birthday, Ferdinand.  You're teaching us how to enjoy life more.  We love you so much.