Thursday, March 31, 2011

Being Real Amidst "Reality"

I'm sitting here, watching some reality television (The Real Housewives...please don't tell anyone!), thinking about the issue of being real. To be honest, this is the first time I've watched it (the Atlanta group anyway), so it is a bit confusing, since I don't know all the characters, and their back stories, etc. But because it is "reality" TV I can watch knowing that there will be some transparency, back-story filled in, strategic editing, so that I can get hooked into the "real drama" created by sticking a group of sassy ladies in a social circle with cameras following their every move.

I actually think that everyday life and real people are much more interesting than reality TV. But... in real life, people are so much harder to get to "know" since we don't always share our struggles along with our strengths. I think that we all have ways that we'd like to present ourselves. I know for me I would like people to see me as a cheerful, helpful person with a delightful litle family. Of course, the reality is that while I may truly be those things sometimes, I can obviously be cranky, unhelpful, and sometimes my little Julia is NOT much fun to be around.

I think that one of the hardest places to be real for many people is, unfortunately, in a Christian community. I think there is often the temptation to present an image of having it "all together" at church and with church friends. (I suspect that people even censor or edit their prayer requests!) But I think it's also somewhere that it really "pays off" to be real with other people, if it is truly a community of people who love Christ. If I can't be real about issues or struggles I have, especially within the church, then I don't want to be there. I want to be somewhere that it's safe to struggle, to need prayer, to need encouragement and support. And to actually be able to receive it.I believe that my closest friends are those who share my faith and they see me, all of me...the good, the bad, and the very ugly. The beauty of it is that they love me anyway.

I am so thankful to have this family that walks along side of us in our struggles as parents and husband and wife. There is trust, compassion and encouragement surrounding us. Receiving this love compells Tom and I to live this way as well. I can honestly say that my relationship with the Lord is strengthened and nurtured when I am in the presence of others who love Him. There is a connection with these folks in our lives...a connection that is deeper, I believe, than what our culture sees as "family" because it is rooted in the blood of Jesus. I am thankful to be a part of a "faith family" who desires to love, no matter what. I know that I can be unlovely at times and I am so very thankful that they love me, pray for me and encourage me every step of the way.

*I don't usually "name call" but there are a few people that have especially made an impact on me as a wife and mother. Mom, Jillian, Gretchen, Deborah and Christy---you have without a doubt encouraged me in ways you may never know. Thank you for being used by the Lord to encourage me and love me. Your tender words and sweet spirits have made unbearable moments bearable...even beautiful. I love you ladies and how you have made my life so sweet.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Godly Parenting

Sometimes I get discouraged in parenting little Miss. There are days when defiance is her mantra and there is no changing her mind. I have learned that I need to press on and keep focused on the goal. For Tom and I, the goal in parenting is to lead Julia in a way that will guide her to a strong relationship with the Lord and a passion for Him. With that in mind, confronting her attitude with mine does little to achieve that. :) With that said, i'd like to share a poem written by Lee Wise who is the author of Godly Parenting.

The Challenge of Godly Parenting

Knowing when to encourage
and when to exhort,

When to release
and when to restrict,

When to correct
and when to assist,

When to give hope
and when to warn,

And most of all...

Knowing never to stop loving,
being a friend and praying --
as if their lives depended on it.

Because... they do.

I encourage you as mothers, fathers, and friends to cling to these words. They are powerful. The greatest way that we can show love to our children is to pray for them and guide them to His saving grace. There is nothing more tender in this world than for me to hear Julia's sweet voice lifting the ones she loves in prayer. She prays fervently with all belief in God's healing and power. If we could all have the faith that is bottled up in her mere 2 1/2 years...