Daughters are a Blessing

Psalm 127:3 says: “Know this: children are a gift from the Eternal; the fruit of the womb is His reward.”

This past weekend I got to spend the morning with my oldest daughter at a Fervent conference featuring Priscilla Shirer and Anthony Evans. The conference was amazing, but this post is about being a mom to an incredible daughter, which is just as amazing.

The thing I wanted to mention first was how wonderful it was to spend the time with this beautiful Christian girl – my daughter, my sister in Christ. I am overwhelmed with gratitude that God gave her as a gift to me, to our family. He chose me to be the mom to this sweet, pleasant, positive, outgoing, incredible girl, and I am so thankful for her.

 

My favorite thing is seeing the Spirit work in her life. Yes, I definitely see my influence, and the influence of this whole family on her, but I also see what God is doing in and through her. She is a daughter of the King, and my daughter. And for that I am very thankful!

What’s in a name?

Just musing on the uniqueness and the power of names…

Jesus is the Logos – the Word or the Voice. His very name holds power.

And when we name our children, whether we’re just picking a name because of the way it sounds, or we’re using a family name, or we’re picking a name that means something to us, there is a creative force that goes into it. And in my case, I see my children grow into their names. I couldn’t see any of my kids as anything other than what their names are. I know that naming someone based on what it means has gone out of favor, but we always sought to name our children after a virtue we wanted them to possess. For our boys, we wanted their names to reflect our beliefs in God (and hopefully theirs in the future), so in Hebrew our boys have names that mean in effect “The Lord is God.” For the girls, we have a name for Joy, Grace, and one for “pretty” (because, you know, that’s important). Actually, for that child her name means Pretty Rose, which we thought would mean she would be gentle and beautiful. Instead, she is like a wild rose, all thorns and spunk. Alas, words have power; be sure to be specific!

There’s also a lot of power in the name Mom or Dad. Never did I feel as powerful in my own body as when I became a mom, with everything the full weight of that word imparts.

Anyway, here’s a funny video on baby names. Enjoy, and watch your words!

In which I place my insecurities for all to see

Spent Friday and Saturday wallowing in the fact I’m a big loser. Because Facebook. And Instagram. And possibly Twitter. 

Everyone does everything better than I do. Everyone is more fit and more fun and more fabulous. Their children are smarter, cuter, and more talented. Their husbands are more loving, more generous, and more connected to them and their family. They have abilities that overshadow even my biggest achievements. And so many friends…

And they do all this with perfect hair and the perfect smile. 

And the perfect filter. 

And it’s really all very insignificant anyway and why does it have this power to make me feel less than? 

My friend would say it’s pride. And insecurity. Rooted in pride. And by all that’s good and right stop following those people.

And she’s right.

And the sad thing is I don’t even follow them. I seek them out when I’m due for a good dose of self pity.

Oh that it were like snapping the fingers and declaring that the Holy Spirit is more powerful so begone feelings of insecurity. But it’s more like wallow rise sink cry trust gain sink fall climb.

It’s messy. And complicated. And it’s in the life of it that the relationship becomes real. Because a quick fix would be a genie, not a God.

So I have to decide. Do I want a genie, or do I want a messy, imperfect relationship with a powerful, unpredictable, untamable, fierce, good, holy sovereign King?
Which seems like a pretty easy choice when I put it that way.

But I’ll choose the relationship anyway. 

What about banning (or burning) books?

I went through a sanctification process, maybe 10-12 years ago now, where I realized that some of the music, TV, and books I was allowing into my life were not growing me in the direction that the Holy Spirit wanted me to grow. And that they created in me a desire to do things I knew were sinful (for me). So I threw out a bunch of stuff.

 

Now what I didn’t do was invite people over and tell them how I had thrown out a bunch of stuff that was evil and they should, too. Because it was personal, and all of the stuff I threw out wasn’t sinful in and of itself; it was my own mind/heart/soul that was doing the sinning (or the not growing in some cases).

 

Now there might be some stuff that “should” be destroyed: child pornography comes to mind. I don’t see how that could benefit anyone. But even destroying that blurs the line and makes it easy to call for the banning or destruction of other art that is NOT pornography.

 

Trying to force others not to read something by burning it, in my study of history, has never seemed to really change the hearts of the people involved and often resulted in the destruction of things that really were beautiful and good and true. So I guess the short answer is no, I don’t think books or music should necessarily be destroyed because of their content. But we all have the responsibility of listening to the Holy Spirit’s prompting in our lives regarding what we personally choose to imbibe.

Should children be allowed to read anything?

I have to admit I struggle with the idea of setting no limits on what we read in order that truth might manifest itself in the very abundance and depth of our reading (an idea proposed first by John Milton in “Areaopagitica” and later by Karen Swallow Prior in “Booked”). I hear that, but then my parenting radar kicks in. What about “garbage in, garbage out.” What about Paul’s warning in Philippians that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things”? I’m not taking black markers to my kids’ books (yet), but I’m also not saying, “Pick anything from the library and have at it.” Not only because I don’t want them exposed to pornography or abuse or foul language, but because I also don’t want them exposed to poor writing.

I don’t enjoy submersing myself in evil, either. Especially evil disguised as entertainment. I doubly do not want that for my children, especially as they are still under the umbrella of my protection (which I believe means physically, emotionally, and spiritually). I think there is a reasonable line between freedom of speech (and freedom to read) and defense against heresy (and reveling in evil). But where that line lies I think is a work of the Holy Spirit individually in each soul, and individually in each set of parents.

The man who blacks out his child’s book is ridiculed as an example of censorship; but the parents who allow their young children to submerse themselves in soft porn and drug usage are heralded as heroes. I think the line lies somewhere in between those two examples.

Truth in Books

Emily Dickinson

Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —

I see truth dazzling clearly now as a parent when my children ask questions or make comments about something I’m reading to them, or something they’re reading to themselves. For instance, my 15-year-old daughter just read Nine Days a Queen and we had a great conversation about choices, both personal choices and those times when others make choices for you. She also just finished a book called This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years; the truth about her life and her abilities and her gifts is dazzling her.

My 8yo son fires up with indignation about how Henry VIII treated Catherine of Aragon as we read a book together. My 4yo asks “Who created God?” as we read Genesis together. Books incite our emotions and make us ask questions and challenge us and comfort us and entertain us. I don’t have to tell my kids they should dislike a certain character or ask questions about a certain event or cry at a certain part of the story. If the storyteller is any good at all, then the truth dazzles on its own without having to be pointed out specifically, no matter how much worldly experience my kids have or haven’t had.

And those books (or movies for that matter) that try to bypass the gradual dazzlement and instead exchange it for heavy-handed instruction, well those books usually don’t incite questions or intrude our thoughts. We read them, sigh, feel inferior or superior, and move on. The masterfully woven story leaves a mark on us. That is the mark that dazzles.