I wrestled with if this blog post should take root here, or over at the Adoption blog. Maybe it doesn't matter. I decided to nestle in here for a bit.
Can we talk about parenting? I must admit, I had it in my head before we adopted Kira that we already had four kids, "what's one more". WOW. Okay, well, one more is five. And five kids is a lot of little people. I'm so blessed to be called, "Mom", by five of the most amazing children on the face of the planet (and I can actually say the planet). But I can also tell you that I'm wrestling with how to live it out well.
Everyone keeps asking how we are doing now that Kira is home. She's doing amazing. But yes, we are in the midst of some hard stuff as we adjust to life with five.
Pop quiz to make sure you are paying attention. How many kids do I have? :)
Kids and spouses have the ultimate ability to bring out the best in us. And by the best, I mean the worst. There is nothing like children to bring our sin struggles to the surface. God has an amazing way of using such small beings to refine us in some of the biggest ways. With each child we have added to our family, it's been this same story - just the next chapter.
I've been convicted by how much I lack what love is. I know I joked about it in our family photo post, but it's true...I'm falling short in patience and kindness. I am rude - insisting on my own way. I'm irritable and resentful. But the one that has side swiped me is my boastful and arrogant spirit. This spirit is one which is incapable of loving for pure reasons that flow from a servants heart. Rather, the boastful and arrogant spirit does what needs to be done for the glory of self.
Again, I know I joked (while still being serious) about my desire to look like the perfect family. (Not so much desire but more so idol.) All kidding aside....it's true. God has used one more child in the mix to reveal this ugly idol to me. It's a funny and sad little twisted reality that I live in.
I want to go in public and have well behaved, kind, loving children. Because it makes me look like a good mom. At home I want my kids to keep their rooms clean, share their toys, eat their dinner respectfully, and love each other well. Because it makes me feel like a good mom. Sure ... there is a corner of my heart that genuinely wants these things because I know it is a better life for them. But I'm feeling very convicted that my driving force behind such desires is not their hearts, but me. These desires have grown painfully obvious as we now parent a new six year old who doesn't know the rules, acts out in ways our other kids know to be unacceptable, and lacks the social skills that our kids have grown up in. All of a sudden I realize I have to step up my serving, and die to my NEED for the LOOK of perfection as I lovingly train this child in JESUS. To train all of them in Jesus.
Train this child in Jesus. Wow. What does that even mean? Well, thankfully, someone wrote a book about it. A good one. Y'all know how I feel about parenting books. So if I'm going to read one, it better be well worth my time...and it better be dripping with gold nuggets. I believe the book I just dove into is exactly that.
The book is called, "Give them Grace: Dazzling your kids with the love of Jesus", by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson
Here's a glimpse:
"Most of us are painfully aware that we're not perfect parents. We're also deeply grieved that we don't have perfect kids. But the remedy to our mutual imperfections isn't more law, even if it seems to produce tidy or polite children. Christian children (and their parents) don't need to learn to be "nice". They need death and resurrection and a Savior who has gone before them as a faithful high priest, who was a child himself, and who lived and died perfectly in their place. They need a Savior who extends the offer of complete forgiveness, total righteousness, and indissoluble adoption to all who will believe. This is the message we all need. We need the gospel of grace and the grace of the gospel. Children can't use the law any more than we can, because they will respond to it the same way we do. They'll ignore it or bend it or obey it outwardly for selfish purposes, but this one thing is certain: they won't obey it from the heart, because they can't. That's why Jesus had to die"
Love. I'm only 4% into this book (yes, 4%. I'm reading it on the Kindle, and I'm not sure how to find out what page I'm on) and she just nailed it on the head all that I'm feeling right now - both about my children, and my own selfish heart.
All that confession that I just vomited on the world wide web...and now I want to end by asking if anyone wants to join me in reading this book? This blog wasn't written with the desire to be self-loathing, or fishing for compliments from anyone who wants to tell me I'm kidding myself - my children are perfect. It's just true....we're in a hard little season of parenting. In our society where perfection (or the look of it) is praised - I fairly confident that I'm not alone. (And hey, if I am alone, my new BFF is Elyse Fitzpatrick since she apparently is with me on this one.) So that said, I would love if some of you want to read along. Maybe we'll make a one time online book-club out of the fun.
I'm so thankful for this timely treasure in book form tonight. My spirit needs this. And Lord knows, my kids need my spirit to soak this in.
***I do want to be clear that this blog post was not intended to bash on my children. My littles are truly good kids. I know they are. But they are still kids. And it's ME that is having a hard time with that.***