Category Archives: Life

Pantry Moths, Paul Tripp & Parenting

Have you heard of pantry moths? Have you ever had an infestation of them?

I hope not. I spent most of Saturday scouring my pantry and everything in and around it. It reminds me of when my daughter was in middle school and lice seemed to accompany her home from every spend the night. Trying to rid them from her super thick, dark, long hair was a nightmare!

That’s what tackling pantry moths is like!

When I first noticed them flying out of my pantry I had no idea where they were coming from, or how they got there. After a google search and a conversation with someone with a food packaging business I now know pantry moths first enter your house through dry or canned goods such as rice, pasta, cereal, dried fruit, nuts or sugary products.

Unfortunately, once they enter they quickly multiply before any detection. They start as tiny, nearly invisible larvae who spin web-like cocoons before transforming into the moths. But even the cocoons are not easily spotted. That is until you know what you’re looking for, which is why my first try at eradicating them was unsuccesful. I had no idea how widespread and undercover they are.

So why am I telling you this? Well, the last thing I wanted to do on Saturday was spend my day scrubbing down my pantry with bleach. But to get rid of the moths I had no choice but to put in the long, hard work.  There was no quick fix or shortcut. Just like in parenting!

I was reminded of this truth earlier in the week while listening to Heather MacFadyen’s God Centered Mom podcast interview with author/speaker Paul Tripp. Tripp has been a favorite of ours since our kids were toddlers. His parenting books instrumental in shaping a grace-based, long-term parenting framework.

Even so, taking the time to do the hard work of disciplining and shepherding our kids is not always what I want to do.  I mean isn’t it so much easier to pretend like we didn’t see their bad behavior or act like we don’t  know what they are up to? What we don’t “see” we don’t have to deal with, right?!

The other option we tend to gravitate toward is to spew out law in hopes of the quick external beavioral fix.  But what happens when it’s not as easy and quick as we hoped? We get mad don’t we? Maybe more about the inconvience or embarrasment to us, than we are grieved by their sin!

Yes, it’s hard to diligently/faithfully point them to Jesus, but for different reasons than we normally think. It’s hard because like I discovered the pantry moths to be far worse than I thought, harder to deal with and much more time consuming than I wanted so is parenting.  And if I am honest, I don’t want to do the hard work of walking them through their sin so they see their need for Jesus because it encroaches on my time!

I don’t want to die to myself to deal with their hearts over and over again. What I really want is for them to just obey and to be easy. I want stress-free, sin-free lives for them, but even moreso for ME. Because what happens when they hit trouble? It effects me! It messes with my agenda and potentially brings chaos to my life. And what I want is peace to go about my business as planned.

You too?

I don’t think I’m alone. In fact, I know I’m not. For Paul Tripp to refer to our kids’ issues as “interruptions” in the quote below tells me he too knows from experience how I feel about my kids at times…

If your eyes ever see or your ears ever hear the sin, weakness and failure of your children, it’s never an interruption, it’s never a hassle, it’s always grace. God loves that child…and he will expose the need of that child to you so you can be a tool of his rescue and transformation. That’s parenting.

I could stand to read this every morning; To wake up being reminded All is grace!

But if all is grace when my own idols (my comfort, my peace, my schedule) surface in my parenting (or lack of desire to do what parenting takes), that is grace too. God in his goodness exposes my yuck so I see how much I need him too. And the double grace is when I see my need I will be more likely to enter in with compassion and identify with my kids in their sin and struggles.

Parenting is hard; a never-ending task we won’t always do well. But by God’s grace when I see where I’ve failed I want to do a better job of confessing it to my kids so they see Mom needs Jesus too. Paul Tripp calls us “tool(s) of (God’s) rescue and transformation (in our kids lives); instrument in the Redeemer’s hands.” Interesting that at the same time, our kids serve as instruments in our lives leading us to greater dependence of our Savior, too!

My favorite Tripp books:

*Age of Opportunity for parenting teens
*Parenting:14 Gospel Principals that Can Radically Change Your Family
*Instrument in the Redeemer's Hand
*New Morning Mercies devotional book

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My pantry moth excavation…

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My Dirty Dishwasher Heart

I can’t believe I am showing you this disgusting picture of our old dishwasher. Literally, we tried every product on the market and talked to several plumbers in our effort to get rid of the slime. But nothing worked! It got so bad and so useless I tried to avoid opening it, as if not seeing it would mean it wasn’t there! Of course, out of sight out of mind doesn’t work with a dishwasher because that just left me with an endless stream of dishes piled up on the counter and filling the sink.

Thankfully the problem is resovled now.  Not in the way I had originally wanted. But boy do I love our new sparkling dishwasher for more reasons than one (and am happy to offer recommendations based on my obsession with the added 3rd basket; you’ll have to message me or comment for more info on that!) .

During the last couple weeks we were dealing with the old dishwasher I was hit by the thought that my heart is just like it on the inside! Now you might not think so, but you wouldn’t have known how bad my dishwasher was either from the outside. The truth is in the same way I tried to avoid seeing what was in the dishwasher, I do with my heart too. Only I don’t always realize that’s what I’m doing.

Leave it to my girl though to expose my heart’s “dirt.” Isn’t that how it normally happens? God puts other people in our lives as sanctifying agents to help us see what is true! For our good.

So this summer when she was home during the same bad “dishwasher” weeks, I was busy stressing over a new manuscipt deadline. I felt out of control and overwhelmed, struggling to stay afloat, which causes me to grasp even harder for control. I tend to think, “if I do this, and check that off my list” I’ll get to a better place and be okay. To some degree that is true. But when I get in this mindset anyone or anything that interfers with my agenda is a hinderance. Sadly, that is just how my daughter felt.

The worst thing about it though is she had every right to feel that way because I wasn’t loving her well. My lack of control was ruling me and all I could think about was ME. That’s how selfish and self-centered I was! My work was more important than my time with her.   And I was living as if I could be my own “savior” doing everything that needed to be done; modeling to her my own sufficiency and not my need of Christ. Ewwwww. Yuck!

Through our conversation she challenged me to see that in keeping my sin, struggles & emotions locked up as I often do, what she sees is a mom who has it all together. And this makes her think I surely can’t relate to all her struggles because I just sail through life. Ha! Exactly why she often chooses to talk – really talk –  to her dad over me because he too lives life way more vulnerable than me (if you know him, you know he is much more of an open book).

Hearing what she said was hard. In my mind I am open; I write a blog afterall. I even talk about vulnearbility and identification. But still I can gloss over and totally miss the mess of what’s really going on in my heart.

To show anyone what’s yucky inside our hearts is hard because we fear rejection and judgment. So most of us, including me, keep the door to our dirty dishwasher hearts closed. What’s so ironic though- is it is only when we live out of our brokenness and need that others see we can identify with them in their muck and mess. And it is only in knowing our weakness that who Christ is for us becomes more beautiful.

I see this in my daughter (and my husband, too) and know it is why so many people confide in her. What’s funny is I think she tries to be more like me when really I’m the one who needs to be more like her.

This then is my prayer: For God’s grace to take everything I know, write and say to be true, and pierce my heart with it so I will stop trying to whitewash over the self-sufficiency and pride, and the desire for control (the sin) and have the courage to open the door to see it for what it is. And even then, just like we couldn’t ever solve the problem with our old dishwasher but needed a new one, the only solution to the depth of my dirty heart was met in Jesus who left his throne in heaven to come to earth to give people like me a new heart.   So though I still sin, God sees me according to the righteousness of Christ! Praise be to God!

 

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A Plan of Attack for Back to School Busy

As soon as I clicked on my inbox, I instantly regretted it. It was early July and we were on vacation, but already in my inbox, along with emails from my favorite retailers and the blogs I follow, were half a dozen school related messages. A high school football booster club meeting that Wednesday night, a Sign Up Genius to volunteer for the middle school carnival the first week of school, a solicitation to fill a vacant PTO position, a schedule pick up day reminder and billing statements from both my daughter’s university and her sorority. My heart started racing and though half of summer was left, it felt like it was coming to a screeching halt.

If you have school-age kids (and maybe even if you don’t) you likely also feel like back-to-school time can rival the Christmas holidays on the busyness scale.  But then again, in today’s culture does the busyness ever subside?

Busyness was not meant to define and control us, so before we get too far buried underneath all the activities and meetings to come, let’s put on our gospel lenses to evaluate and shape how we prioritize our time.

How Busyness Becomes An Identity

I often hear moms complain about how busy they are; sometimes I’m one of them. But as I started to respond to a text with this sentiment, I stopped myself. Not because it isn’t true, but to evaluate whether my busyness has become an identity. If I’m honest, how much I do and accomplish in a day makes me feel better about myself. I am also tempted to view others according to what they do—as if being less busy or less super-woman-like signifies being less than.

As ugly as it is to see this about myself, I think many of us functionally live as if our identity is tied to what we do. Isn’t this why we often take on more responsibilities, volunteer roles, and projects even when we are already running ragged trying to get dinner on the table and our kids to their activities? If this is you, ask Jesus to help you see yourself not based on what you do, but who he is for you.  Jesus did everything necessary to set you free from having to prove your worth through your own performance and perfectionism. So whether you have a lot on your plate, or a little, rest in his finished work for you.

How Busyness Reflects Your Treasures

Just as our busyness can become a false identity, we can see our false treasures in our busyness. So consider what you make time for. It is said a look at one’s pocketbook and calendar will reveal what’s most important. God’s word puts it this way, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

By the looks of our calendars, what may appear to reign supreme is our kids’ activities, jobs, hobbies, and me-time. In their proper place these things are not bad. But elevated to a place in our lives that prohibit us from routinely being at church, spending time in God’s word, and investing in the lives of others is a clear sign something other than Christ is our greatest treasure. Of course, it’s easy to justify not having control over our schedule, but generally speaking we do what we want to do. If this is you, ask God to show you how to redeem your time by reordering your priorities to match what his word says is most valuable.

How To Evaluate Busyness

As a pastor’s wife, author, and mom of three teenagers, I understand how stressful life feels when being pulled in so many directions. Easily, what I value most can fall to the wayside with my family only getting what’s left of me. So I’ve found it takes knowing myself and being intentional when it comes to calendar commitments.

So while I genuinely enjoy wearing multiple hats, in this stage of life it is not best for my family or my mental health to say “yes” to too many things— even if they are good things. Therefore, before quickly agreeing to something because it sounds fun or like something I would like to be involved with I must consider the costs. Would it require me to be spread too thin? To neglect family time? Miss church? We must remember saying “yes” to something consequently means saying “no” to other things.

Likewise saying “yes” in order to please others is never the right reason to add more to our plates. I am guilty. At times I have not said no when I should have because what mattered most to me was someone else’s opinion, whether it was not wanting to disappoint or wanting to be associated with a particular person. Either way and whatever the case is for you, by God’s grace, may we recognize the ruling idols for what they are and see our identity secure in him so we can live with better balance even in the busy seasons of life.

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