Give Them Grace

This book was on my list for a while. I naturally gravitate toward fiction. And when I do get revved up for a non-fiction, it is usually one that still involves story: biographies, memoirs, etc. Reading instructive non-fiction takes intentionality and grit. But this book was a breath of fresh air for a mama needing some help and not any more dos and don’ts. I wish I had read it about 4 years ago….

There’s nothing new and earth-shattering here. But in a time when our basic beliefs about parenting have been indoctrinated by the present cultural climate of fear, and even within the church, the resounding war drum is that of control, the truth that we as parents have no power to save freed me of the impossible task of changing the hearts of my children. And as I kept reading, I began to wonder When did I start believing I ever could? 

Because I used to know that. And I used to trust it every day. I carried that truth around with me like a diamond ring. And then my little baby, whose heart was always sinful in a quiet way, became noisy in her sin. And I became noisy in return, giving birth to the struggle for power, both of us fighting for control of one another. It was little things at first: you will keep your shoes on, you will eat this dinner. But one thing led to another and before long, I was fighting for control of bigger things: you will say you’re sorry, you will love your sister, you will be kind to mama. And you will do it because you should. Because it’s good and right. Now do it.

At some point I forgot that she couldn’t. Should and could…..what a dark chasm that exists between those two! Should and could…those are my problems too. And I know as well as everyone else, more rules don’t make me want to do what I should. But grace does….

We read the promises of life for obedience and think that means that we can do it. The promises of life for obedience are not meant to build our self-confidence. They’re meant to make us long for obedience and then, when we fail again, they’re meant to crush us and drive us to Christ….The law won’t make [your children] good. It will make them despair of ever being good enough, and in that way it will make them open to the love, sacrifice, and welcome of their Savior, Jesus Christ.
pg. 35-36

Maybe you’re stuck in the tug-of-war with your own kids. Maybe somewhere along the line, you’ve forgotten some things too. Or maybe, after start over following start over following start over, you need some grace yourself.

Read it. Let that impossible task go, both the impossible task you ask of your kids- perfect obedience- and the impossible task you demand of yourself: perfect parenting.

The law says, “do this,” and it is never done. Grace says, “believe in this,” and everything is already done.
Martin Luther


The Space Trilogy

I love C.S. Lewis. I am reading through the Chronicles of Narnia with my oldest daughter right now (we are on Prince Caspian) and I can’t get over how affecting his writing is to me: intellectually, spiritually, emotionally….I am moved. So as we are reading through Narnia together, I thought I could enjoy a little Lewis fiction all by myself and grabbed this trilogy. It was different than I expected in a number of ways, both for good and ill.

In all three of these books, Lewis made me experience what the character, usually Ransom, experiences. This was both a pleasure and a pain. It usually meant that things would drag on much longer than I wanted them to, getting a shadow of what the character himself was feeling. So that as Ransom grew weary, I did too. As he lost hope, so did I; as he struggled with bewilderment, I felt the same. Oh but then! When rescue and victory and rest finally came, I was rewarded with him! It takes time to write that way and to read that way. And for all the fatigue of the journey, I was grateful for it.

The first two books take place on different planets (Mars and Venus, respectively.) I grew attached to Ransom and the various creatures that he built relationships with on those planets. Their worlds were beautiful to me, as they were beautiful. I cherished their ways of life and was challenged (in my soul) by the struggle they faced. As I entered the third book, I was hungry for all things to be made right. And here my aversion kicked in. Maybe I anticipated an ending like The Last Battle, where final justice is perfectly metered and all is forever finished. Maybe it was the abrupt change in characters (Ransom took a minor role) or location (Earth). Maybe it was that I was hooked into the big picture that had been created and struggled to see how all of what was happening had anything to do with it. All three of the books took me by surprise a number of times, suddenly heading in a direction I had not foreseen. This was delightful until the third book. It was not all loss- there were ideas in the third book that I enjoyed working through. But the pleasure of the journey was not there. It ended in disappointment for having such a beautiful beginning.

I am grateful for C.S. Lewis and especially for the way in which he never wasted his writing. He used his imagination, his style, his time and place, to unite in words that spoke to belief and truth and beauty. It moves me, every time.


Music that Moves

I have three little girls. Two of them are extremely high-energy. (Read that how you want. It’s probably true.) And two of them love music. We try to use every part of life to teach them about the Lord, and music is an easy one. The Austin Stone will always hold a dear place in my heart. It was there for us when we desperately needed it. My mom gifted me their new kids’ album and we all love it. All of us. Their website has each of the songs available to listen to for free, or you can get it on iTunes or Amazon. For weeks now we have been belting out these songs with fists in the air, or hands clapping, bouncing in the seats of the car. It has been joy, joy, joy! Then I found that each song has an accompanying dance video! This morning we stretched, got it up on the big screen, and danced through the entire album! We talked about how this is one way we can worship God in truth with our voices, our bodies, and our minds. Every part of us participating in the glorifying of God. The kids had a blast. And so did I. Give it a try!


Besides the free content on The Austin Stone’s website, there are other great resources available like chord charts, the theology behind each song, and a family worship guide to go along with the album.

[I’ve written before about how we’ve used Dana Dirksen’s music to teach theological truth to the kids. Questions with Answers: Volumes 1-3 have been family transforming. The Village Church’s kids albums have also been huge in shaping their understanding of the Lord, both at home, and of course, along with the lessons at church. I would highly recommend them both to you!]