Month: March 2015

Grace or Guilt?

Galatians 2

Burnt umber oil paint is a curiosity to three-year-old boys – particularly when the little boy is in his room without adult supervision. It becomes even more of a wonder when the tube is opened and little fingers are busy squishing the oily stuff into a light brown carpet.

Eventually the little boy’s mom realizes that the house is too quiet and she runs up the stairs to check on her young son – well, she runs as fast as an almost full-term pregnant mom can run.

And what do you suppose her reaction is when she sees her boy’s lovely dark brown masterpiece on the light brown carpet in the house she and her husband are renting?

No need to guess. She was me and I know just exactly what she did. She went ballistic, almost postal. She yelled at that little boy and then she tried to clean up the mess. Next she yelled some more and tried to clean some more. Finally, she gave up in despair, yelled a little more and sat at the top of the stairs and cried her eyes out.

Sound like a crazy person?

No, but definitely a person who had lost sight of what being a mom was all about.

I knew God had given us our sweet little babies and I knew that He had chosen us to be their parents, but I really did think the rest was up to me.

I had to perfectly discipline them so that they would grow up to be good kids. I had to be a perfect example of a Christian so that they would grow up to be godly kids. Somehow I had to make sure that they loved and served God. If they didn’t, it was because of something I had done wrong.

Was it any wonder that when they showed their human, sinful natures I lost it?

I felt guilty because I wasn’t the perfect mom and I tried to make my kids share my burden of guilt.

Grace? I’m not sure that I knew what it was. I knew that I was saved by grace, but I had never made the connection that we live by that same grace. I didn’t know that I needed the gospel every day. I didn’t know that every time I tried to do better, I was slamming the door in the face of God and His offer of love and grace.

The apostle Paul told the Galatians that he was shocked that they were turning away from the gospel of grace that he had preached to them. They were wandering back into the Law and trying to earn their own righteousness by their works.

They were trying harder to be good Christians and their reward was despair and guilt and anger because they couldn’t do it.

They had forgotten what I had forgotten. I was already loved and approved by God because of the sacrifice of His Son. I did not need to seek approval from the members of our church or from my family or even from myself.

I needed to follow Paul’s example:

“For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”  Galatians 2:19-21

So what do you need to do to be a good mom?

Throw away the “good mom rule list” and rest in the grace of the God who died for you and loves you with an everlasting love. And offer that same kind of grace to the other sinners who live in your house.


photography by Joseph Barrientos from Unsplash

Titus 2 Tuesday #linkup

Springtime, Antiques, and Texas Countryside

Warrenton Collage 2Springtime + Antiques + Texas Countryside = ???

Texas Antique Weekend!

When we first moved to Texas in 2001, I heard about Round Top, Texas where a nationally publicized antique show was held. A couple of years later, my hubby and I got to go to it.

Overwhelming hardly describes how we felt. The antique dealers spread through Round Top, Warrenton, Carmine, Shelby, and Fayetteville – miles and miles of fields of antique dealers. One year we spent three days at the antique weekend and still didn’t see all of it.

Now, when we get to go we stick to Warrenton. After parking at Granny McCormick’s Yard we go by the Coffee Bug (a Volkswagen turned coffee shop) for a mocha and then we hit it.

We wander through Zapp Hall and Tree Park Field and Tin Star Field and Renck Hall. On through The Chicken Ranch and Clutter and Dillard’s Field. Until we absolutely must sit down. Jim has a big old ear of corn and I have the best root beer float ever.

And in our wanderings we see everything you could or could not imagine – lovely old oak furniture, ceramic advertising signs, quirky metal sculptures (lots of flying pigs), piles of mannequins, metal buckets of every size, giant shutters, handmade jewelry, rolls of oilcloth, wooden and wire crates, saddles, buttons, beat up street signs, chenille bedspreads…and crazy stuff I could never identify…and crazier stuff made with the crazy stuff.

And all kinds of people – young, old, Texans and people from all over the country, people with dogs, friendly people who share a table and some shade with you, and antique dealers eager to share the story of the treasure you are considering.

Warrenton CollageAt the end of the day, we were exhausted and eager to get back to the hotel and put up our feet, but it was great fun. We went, not looking for anything in particular, (which is the best way to go) and we enjoyed being together without a schedule and without an agenda.

And, yes, I am bringing a little piece of Warrenton home with me – something I’ve looked at before, but couldn’t afford. This time the price was right for this piece of memorabilia.


Now, to get it home and see if we can get it working or if it will be a great decoration in my writing space. Either way it was a another wonderful springtime antique weekend in the Texas countryside.

Fridays Unfolded Link Party |

Break Time!

Break Time

Wednesday again!

Wednesdays, you see, are very long days for the children’s ministry staff at my church. We work a normal day and then stick around for Wednesday night Bible study – for me and my buddy, Christine, that means 3rd and 4th graders who still have plenty of energy even after school and choir and who knows what else.

This week was no different. By about 5:30 I was really wishing I was on my way home (just being honest!), but Bible study starts at 6:30 and ends at 8:00. We still had hours to go.

The weather was great this week so we decided to have our game time outside in the ga-ga pits, and then, on the spur of the moment, we decided to teach the lesson outside too.

We didn’t know it, but we were headed for break time.

Kids running and jumping and squealing in pure happiness. Leaders watching but enjoying a few minutes to talk together. Cool breezes wafting over all of us.

And then the lesson – believe it or not, it was from Luke 2 – the shepherds meeting Jesus, Simeon and Anna meeting Jesus, the elders in the temple meeting the boy Jesus…

And then later that evening, after class, a boy named Christopher meeting and believing in Jesus.

What a night!

Break time – thank you, God!


photography by Paul Proshin from Unsplash


A Parent’s SOS


Last week I got this text:

I officially hate meal times. I’m about ready to give up and let her starve. I know she won’t starve, just get hungry enough to eat.

The text was from my daughter who has a three-year-old girl and a three-month-old baby boy. My granddaughter has come to that lovely stage where she pushes her food around the plate and picks out what she wants and makes a mess of the rest and takes forever doing it.

So, how did I answer the SOS?

Just set a time limit, then get her down from the table and don’t feed her again until breakfast. And don’t take it personally. They all go through it.

After my daughter expressed how stressful the whole situation was, I wrote back to her:

That’s why it’s better to just say you have 30 minutes, then you’re done. It ends the tension and the build-up to anger.

It would be nice to say that I had followed my own advice when I was a young mom, but I didn’t. Some of it never even occurred to me back then. There are three things I wish somebody had told me when I was sending out my own SOS signals.

1. Set boundaries.

Kids need to know where the lines are and so do moms and dads. In the case of my sweet little granddaughter – she needs to know that she only has a set amount of time for dinner – a reasonable amount of time, of course. Mom and dad need to know it too. They need to know that the struggle for dinnertime has an endpoint. It won’t last forever.

2. Be consistent.

Once boundaries are set and have been thoroughly explained to the little ones, moms and dads need to stick to them as consistently as possible. Now, it hasn’t been so long that I cannot remember how very difficult this is but we must work at it. An inconsistent boundary becomes the first one our children will test and ignore.

3. Don’t take it personally.

The other two suggestions are seriously crippled without this one. How often as a young mom I allowed myself to be stressed out and anxious about the behavior of my children. I had tried my best to train them to be godly kids and yet they still broke the rules and, yes, they sinned. Unfortunately for me, no one had ever told me that God did not hold me responsible for the sins of my children.

Yep, you heard that, God did not hold me responsible for the sins of my children. Of course, He expected me to bring them up in the Word, teaching them about their wonderful God, and consistently training them and disciplining them, but none of that guaranteed that they would not sin, nor did it mean that it was my fault.

Over and over I tried to play Holy Spirit with my kids, to persuade them to turn from their sins, to be to repentant, to seek forgiveness. NOT MY JOB!  Wish I had know that then instead of all the “parenting” proverbs that were taken out of context.

Now, don’t get me wrong. These three suggestions – set boundaries, be consistent, and don’t take it personally – won’t spell the end of all SOS signals from parents, but they will help to deflect a lot of the stress and tension and anxiety and may even prevent a few of those blow-ups that we all regret.

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