Tag Archives: sin

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!









Despite Less Drama, Life with Teen Boys is No Cakewalk

When our boys were young and rambunctious my husband used to say, “Pick your pain.” By this he meant girls may be easier when they are younger, but the pain will come later in the emotional drama of the teen years. Whereas boys will be harder during the toddler years, but will get easier as they grow. Either way there will be pain.

Yes, either way there will be pain.

Obviously this philosophy stems from the stereotype of girls and boys, and in many ways we’ve seen it to be true.  Boy drama is nowhere near girls. We know! But, being a teenage boy – and parenting them – is no cakewalk either.

Now that I’ve been through it with a girl and am in it with boys I honestly think in many ways it is harder for boys. I know, all you moms of just girls think, “No way!” But boys struggle with identity and worth in much the same way as girls. They get left out, feel alone, experience hurt feeling and rejection. Only they tend to stuff it even more than girls- because they’re boys and boys are supposed to be tough and non-emotional.

This same unspoken expectation to be “manly” plays into boys’ decisions to give into sinful behavior.  They worry what others will think, don’t want to be made fun of and feel pressure to conform to what “cool” boys do so they take a puff of the vape, use foul language, look at pornography, and share inappropriate pics from girls.  Before you know it none of these things seem like such a big deal. Did God really say don’t eat of the fruit from the middle of the garden? 

Of course this happens with girls too.  Boys and girls act in accordance to their desire for attention and affirmation. But from my vantage point I see a widely disproportionate number of girls vs boys who are able to withstand teen year temptations. And in our society of double-standards certain behavior for boys isn’t even considered a big deal. Boys wil be boys, right? 

As a boy mom this worries me. I know with pornography, drinking, drugs, immodestly dressed girls and sex always put before them standing strong against temptation will be by God’s grace alone. Recognizing this does two things:

  1. It drives me to the Father in prayer knowing he loves my boys even more than I do.
  2. It challenges me to be the contrary voice against the culture in my boys’ lives.

Both are hard. In the midst of our kids’ sin, struggles and trials it is hard to trust God when his ways are not always ours.  It is also hard knowing how to engage our kids’ hearts and speak truth into them; even knowing what it is they need to hear. What I do know though is God has given parents the high calling to shape how our kids see him, themselves, and the world around them. But eighteen years goes fast.

Ever since my daughter neared college, I’ve been hit with how many things I want to impart with each of my kids. Lessons and truths that take time and repetition. Things that when we were in the thick of the parenting forest I thought we’ld have plenty of time for later. But then time whittles away so quickly, it can feel overwhelming and hopeless to start in on things we’ve neglected.

Thankfully God has not left us to do it alone, and it’s never too late. He promises to equip us with everything necessary to do what is good and pleasing to him. So as we start this new school year, whether we are feeling fearful or tired of fighting the uphill battles, may we turn to him and be met by his infinite wisdom and grace for our parenting. In him there is always hope for us, our girls and our boys.

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Before the Teen Years: Living Redemptively in Our Homes

This is the second article in the series: Before the Teen Years. If you missed the first one, or the post 8 Things that Parents Can Do Now to Shape the Teenage Years that sparked this series they are linked at the bottom.

Today I want to focus on #2 in my list of eight. I said:  “Live redemptively in your home. This means owning up to your sin instead of hiding it, dismissing it or justifying it. Let your kids hear you confess and ask for forgiveness. Tell them how unlike Jesus you are, which is why we need him. When they know mom and dad need a Savior, it will help them see their own need to live dependently on Jesus.”

Owning Up to Our Sin

Why is this so hard? Not just in front of our kids, but with our spouses, friends and in all other relationships?

My husband likes to say the problem is not that we sin, it’s what we do with our sin. Can you imagine how much better our relationships would be simply by how we handle our sin? But fear keeps us from living redemptively. (By “redemptively,” I mean living out the gospel with one another; confession, repentance, grace, forgiveness – repeat!)

We fear what others will think of us if they see our sin, detect our false gods or the true motives behind what we say and do. So we deny it, justify it, or flat out ignore it. Believing they’ll actually think better of us if we act like it’s not there is absurd! Seriously, think about it: If you’ve seen my sin but instead of me confessing and asking for forgiveness I self-justify, won’t you be more bothered than had I humbly owned up to it? So why are we living delusional – avoiding conflict and true heart conversations? And in doing so we are teaching (inadvertently, of course) our kids to do the same.

Letting Your Kids See You Need Jesus

How different things could be if your kids and spouse see you as a regular repenter. When we put our sin on the table to deal honestly with it, we not only move the conversations in our homes from surface-level to the heart, but we show our kids by word and deed we are sinners in need of Jesus.

If this is the message we want them to embrace, I can tell you they need to see it applies to you, too. Otherwise, do you think they will feel free to divulge what’s really going on in their heart? Nope. Not unless they see YOU are in the same boat.

The best part of them seeing you are not Jesus is the opportunity to tell them again and again why you need him. Jesus is everything for you that you are not. Where you have sinned, he met the standard perfectly. So for all the times you’ve lost your patience and lashed out in anger at your kids, Jesus never lost his patience or acted sinfully in his anger. And because he was perfect for you, God views you according to his record!

This is the good news of the gospel that is often left off, but it is vital to understanding that for the believer our sin does not cancel out God’s love. We are at the same time more sinful that we even realize and more deeply loved than we can grasp. This is our true condition that both we, and our kids, should live freely in.

What this would look like is: your kids in their sin knowing they can go to you, and to God with no shame or fear of rejection. Can you imagine how this would help in the teen years and beyond? How this would change the dynamics in your family? How this would shape their future relationships?

Living redemptively in our homes starts with you acknowledging your sin. Next post we’ll talk about shepherding their hearts rather than solely focusing on behavior and I can guarantee how you handle your sin will absolutely effect how they take correction when it comes to their sin. So stay posted for more in this series…

For previous posts in this mini-series:
Before the Teen Years: Getting to the Heart of Sin with Our Kids
8 Things that Parents Can Do Now to Shape the Teenage Years