Thank You, Lord, That I am Not Like This Paedophile

Every time a news story breaks about a new case of child sexual abuse or a child porn user, a slew of people rush to the comments section to declare their thoughts about the criminal.

“Scum of the earth…”

“Bring back the death penalty…”

“Let him stay with the general population in prison, see how he likes that…”

In one sense, I can relate. Nothing sickens me more than the thought of people hurting and abusing children, especially since I’ve had kids of my own. At times, I’ve read details of these horrific cases and felt a burst of rage, and contemplated what justice might look like for that person.

 

Justice.

We all want justice, don’t we?

We all want to see these vile offenders pay for the wrong they have done and the harm they have caused.

So we put ourselves firmly in the seat of Judge, and we mete out what we would consider Justice. I have to laugh at the incongruity here, given one of the maxims of our day is “don’t judge”…

“Don’t judge” – unless the person you’re judging is a paedophile.

“Don’t judge” – unless it’s someone who is clearly way worse than you.

“Don’t judge” – unless it’s publicly acceptable to do so.

 

Do you think you’re better than a paedophile?

That’s not a trick question.

Are you a better person than a paedophile?

 

Have a read of what Jesus has to say in Luke 18:9-14:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Don’t trust in yourself that you are righteous. Fall on your knees before God.

Ask for His mercy.

Because He can see inside your heart, and He knows you aren’t righteous.

He saw every time you lied. Every time you kindled the fire of hatred against another human being. Every time you lashed out in anger, whether with words or with hands. Every time you ignored Him. Every time you put someone else before Him. Every time you satisfied your lust. Every time you put desire for things above love for people. Every time you clamoured to get more than you need. Every time you deliberately deceived someone.

There is no one righteous, not even one.

Step out of the Judge’s seat, and onto the floor with the sinners.

I promise there is enough mercy to go around.

 

IMG_0009

Where Does Your Help Come From?

I love to look at the mountains. Something about them has always inspired a deep sense of awe in me, so much so that I often audibly gasp when I’m watching a beautiful sunrise out our kitchen window, or driving down the hill into the valley where we live, looking out on the majestic range to the west.

dsc_0230

Sunrise out my kitchen window – never gets old!

And whenever I look out on these mountains, I’m reminded of Psalm 121. Verse 1 says:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?

I used to think that David (the Psalm’s author) must have felt the way I do about mountains. That he must also have found them awe-inspiring and breath-taking.

When this verse sprang to my mind, I imagined that David was looking to the mountains as a way to inspire hope, or to boost his morale.

But when we read the rest of the Psalm, that’s not at all what the reference to “mountains” is about…

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

David does not find his encouragement and confidence in the mountains. He is not spurred on by a vague sense of awe and wonder.

No, he is looking to the mountains and not finding his help there. His help comes from God – the one who actually made the mountains!

It’s as if he’s saying, “I looked to the vast and wonderful mountains, but they did nothing to help me. No, my help actually came from God – the One who is bigger than the mountains, the earth and the sky… the One who was powerful and big enough to make them all!”

dsc_0069

I’ll always be a mountain-watcher (and climber!). But I know that the awe I feel when I look at them is nothing compared to the awe I will feel when I stand face to face with God one day. I know that the joy and they wonder they stir up in me, is really joy and wonder at the the beauty and magnitude of God’s creation. And I know that as great as this natural world can be – with it’s mountains, valleys and rich diversity – it all pales in comparison to the greatness and power of the One who made them.

So, with David, I too can say, “I lifted my eyes to the mountains… my help comes from God, the Maker of heaven and earth”.

Empty

This is a poem I wrote last year when I was struggling with my milk supply, among other breastfeeding issues. There’s nothing quite like the torment of being your baby’s only source of nutrition and not being able to provide that! (Yes, I did try formula – several times. He wouldn’t take it.)

I wrote this poem as I reflected on the spiritual dimension of my struggles. I wasn’t ready to share back when I wrote it because it was all too sensitive. I was thinking about trying to finish it, to give more “resolution”. But I’ve decided to leave it as is. Because we don’t always get answers to prayer immediately. And sometimes there are periods of really wrestling with faith, and no resolution in sight.


 

His furious face nuzzles my breast,

Searching

Searching

But

Finding not.

Dried up,

My hope is

Gone.

Father, where are you?

Where streams of living

Milk

Once flowed

Now only soft barrenness remains. 

I see you little one,

How I long to fill you,

To see you satisfied,

But there you remain,

Empty,

Mad,

We are exhausted.

I send up desperate cries,

Searching,

Searching for faith but

Finding  not.

Longing to be filled –

My breasts and my heart –

But remaining empty.

 

p1060005

 

One Word for the Year: Discipline

I’ve been putting off writing this post. Because there is a certain amount of accountability that comes with writing things down.

I like to make goals at the start of every year, and usually I do this is a very planned-out, specific way. (You can read more about that method here: http://mops.org.au/archives/5463)

Last year, I anticipated my time would be filled up with caring for our existing little ones, and the one who was going to join the family. So I purposefully set the bar a bit lower for myself in my goals. I mean, they were certainly still a challenge, but rather than “aiming high”, I aimed lower, with simple goals that I felt I could handle. For example, in the area of “homemaking”, instead of writing something like “Get the whole house organised”, I wrote “Consistently stay on top of the dishes, laundry and cooking.” In the area of “marriage”, instead of writing “go on a date every week”, I wrote “pray for my husband every day”.

As I began to reflect on the year 2016, I realised that I hadn’t even managed to keep my goals, even with the bar as a low as it was. And I wondered – what do you do with goals you didn’t keep? Do I just discard them, and start again, focusing on all new things? Or do I write down the same goals, acknowledging that I have made progress, and working to continue that progress?

2017-planner

My pretty 2017 planner

Well, there are many different methods for goal-setting and yearly planning. And one I’ve read a bit about in other years is the idea of picking your “one word” focus for the year. Some people simply pick one word, others pick one word and use that as the basis for more specific goals.

And as I started to think about this idea more – the idea of “one word” – and talk about it with my Mum and husband, I found answers to my questions.

The thing is, I know what I need to do – in parenting, in marriage, in homemaking, etc. Of course, there are always ways I need to grow and things to learn. And the kids are always growing up and into new stages.

But where we are, right now, I know what I need to do. I just struggle in the actually doing it.

And that’s how I got to my one word for 2017: Discipline.

I want to have more discipline in my prayer life, in Bible reading, in craft projects, in reading books, in disciplining the kids, in my housework, etc.

dsc_2753

Climbing rocks when pregnant… don’t try this at home, kids.

I need discipline to get up and spend time with the Lord at the start of each day (or later in the day when it just doesn’t happen). I need discipline to consistently read the Bible.

I need discipline to love my husband well sometimes, to meet his needs not only when it’s fun and easy to do, but also when doing so requires a sacrifice on my part.

 

I need discipline in my relationship with my kids, to discipline them properly and make the most of each opportunity I have – it’s all too easy to let things slide because “I just sat down” or I just started doing something in another room. But the work of motherhood is largely the day in, day out, laying the foundations of character and applying the Bible to their little lives.

I need discipline to eat good, nutritious foods and to exercise regularly. (As an aside here, my husband bought me a Fitbit for Christmas and it has been a great motivator! I used to think, “I’m really active, I bet I’ll log heaps of steps each day!” Nope! I’m no where near as active as I thought, so that has been a great wakeup call.)

I need discipline to finish what I start, to do things well and to not overcommit.

My Bible verse for the year is 2 Timothy 1:7:

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

This is a great verse for me, because it reminds me that self-discipline is not something that I can just will myself into. It’s something that comes from God.

It is a fruit of the Spirit in the life of the Christian, therefore, I need to rely on the Spirit to develop and hone this characteristic in my life.

Honestly, I need that reminder. Because for all my list-loving and plan-making, I can tend to think that I’m the one to create change in my life… That I can be more disciplined if I just try harder.

But what I’m finding, even less than a month into this year, is that developing self-discipline takes complete dependence on God through prayer.

 

Practically speaking, I’m also choosing to focus on one “discipline” at a time. For January, this is reading the Bible and praying daily again.

I’ve also enjoyed printing off and hanging up this “Daily Disciplines for Homemakers” sheet from Young Wife’s Guide: https://youngwifesguide.com/getting-track-daily-disciplines/
I find it helpful seeing on paper what I want to get done every day, like, read the Bible, pray, read books with the kids, do the dishes, etc. For some people, these things might seem obvious and you wouldn’t need reminders, but for me… well, I really do need the reminders!


 

What are your goals for this year? Is there “one word” that captures what your focus is for 2017?

What’s Your Default?

I’m a huge fan of learning from other women, particularly when it comes to practical stuff like child-rearing and home-making. I’m sure most of the good ideas I use daily came from watching and learning!

So I was delighted to read this blog post by Jess Connell recently, called Here’s What I Learned Watching my Friend be ‘Busy at Home’. She talks about several tips she picked up by observing her friend.

Here’s the one that stood out to me:

#7- CHOOSE TO HAVE A DEFAULT POSTURE OF BUSYNESS, NOT IDLENESS

I noticed throughout the week that her default “position” was at the kitchen sink. This may be the most important of all… not that we all stand around in our kitchens all day… but that her position was one that put her in a ready position to field meals, cleaning, and the family calendar. Did you ever play baseball or softball? “Get into position!” meant to hustle to the spot where you would be most advantageously used for the position you were playing. THAT is what I saw in my friend Kelly. She was “in position” for much of the day, doing dishes, preparing treats for her gluten-free son, checking out the calendar to be ready for what was coming, browsing a cookbook for something tasty that night, etc. Her default position was one of busyness, not idleness.

I found it particularly challenging because if I think about it, my default “position” throughout the day is probably sitting at my laptop, reading news or current affairs sites. Sure, I do plenty of other things, but that’s where I bounce back to in between activities. And it’s a default position of idleness, for sure.

Since I read this last week, I’ve been actively trying to change my default to one of busyness. Like the mum mentioned in Jess’s article, the kitchen is probably a good central place for me to default to. It’s where my planner lives, and there is always something I can do there – dishes to wash, food to prepare, floor to sweep. So I’ve been making more of an effort to head back to the kitchen when I seem to have a spare moment, or when I’m not sure what to do next. There, I either just start doing something or check in with my planner to find out what I should do next (I usually mentally divide tasks into things that can be done with “kids awake” or “kids asleep”).

The results are that I’m getting a lot more done! (Surprise!) And I don’t have as much of the restless “I should be doing something, but I don’t know what” feeling.

dsc_03421.jpg

My kitchen doesn’t always look like this, but when it does, I take a picture!

But I’ve been thinking about this concept of our “default”, and I think it applies beyond just busyness/idleness.

Here are some other questions I’ve been thinking through:

  • Is my default demeanour one of cheerfulness and laughter, or sombreness and sighs? (Remember, we’re talking about what our default mindset is, not our constant mindset!) I remember once I sighed and my daughter asked me, “Mummy, why did you say *sigh*?” I hadn’t done so consciously, so it was a good reminder that my children are watching how I carry myself, and that they pick up so much from the unspoken things. Sometimes I remind myself to put the smile back on my face as I finish something more serious, like disciplining a child or concentrating on a physical task. I’m not talking about fake-smiling (plastering on a smile to mask real feelings of despair) – but I often find that when I consciously put a smile on my face, I feel more happy (or maybe I remember that I am happy). Another method I use to reset the mood is bursting out in song or making a loud, silly noise (I have preschoolers – they think I’m hilarious).

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

  • When I face hard circumstances, do I default to worrying and fretting, or do I take my concerns to God in prayer? This is one the Lord has really been impressing upon my heart lately – just how much worry is a waste of time. Sometimes I will spend half a day worrying about something, going over scenarios in my head, trying to think of ways to fix it but coming up short, which leads to more worry. Then I remember to pray. And I put my concerns in God’s hands and walk away from it. And I breathe easy. And I wonder why it took me so long to do, realising that I just wasted a whole morning’s worth of thoughts. God wants us to bring our concerns to him – he has the power to take away our anxiety and also to fix what is troubling us (even if that doesn’t always look how we imagined). If we truly believe this, we should work to make our default response one of prayer.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:27

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7

dsc_0136

I’d love to hear your thoughts – what do you default to?

Idleness or busyness?

Cheerfulness or sombreness?

Worry or prayer?

 

 

 

Does God care about your parking spot?

I’ve often heard people scoffing about the kind of people who pray for God to provide them with a good parking spot.

god-parking-spot

A clever ad for a car park company!

These people seem to see God as some kind of supernatural philanthropist, granting answers to prayer if they are “worthy ” enough. To them, the idea of God having the time or inclination to help people with something as frivolous as a parking spot is ridiculous. Don’t they know there are starving children in the world? Terrorists destroying homes and families? Surely God has better things to do…

Then there are those who feel quite comfortable asking God for a premium parking spot, or anything else that pops into their heads. To these people, God is a happy-go-lucky genie, passively staying in his magic lamp until you beckon him to shorten the queue at the cafe or put in a good word for you at the job interview.

But you know what – I’ve asked God for a good parking spot before, and even thanked him for providing one when I didn’t ask! And I’ve also asked him to bring comfort, relief and provision to those who are suffering horribly locally and around the world.

I don’t think these two kinds of prayer are in conflict. Here’s why:

God is a Good Father

Jesus tells us to pray to God as “Our Father in Heaven” and Paul tells us that if we are in Christ, we have been adopted into “sonship”. If we are Christians, then God is our father.

Here’s the thing about good fathers, they care about the big stuff and the trivial stuff. I’ve called my dad to ask him where would be the best spot to plant my tomatoes and to tell him I’m pregnant. He had no more “time” for one phone call than for the other. He loves to hear from me at all.

This is how it is with God. I talk to him about all kinds of stuff, the big things and the little things.

He delights to hear it all.

090

My kids have a good father too.

God Gives Good Gifts

(Sorry, went a bit overboard on the alliteration there, lol!)

Not only does God care about the trivial things in our life, he delights to use them to bring us joy (if we are paying attention).

James 1:17 says that

 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Got a great parking spot? You can thank God for that!

Beautiful sunrise? You can thank God for that!

A peaceful moment where all the kids are playing happily? You can thank God for that!

Lightbulb moment with that impossible problem at work? You can thank God for that!

dsc_0363

The older kids sitting together at sunset the other day.

God does not have Limited Resources

What about the idea that God is too busy to deal with our insignificant car park requests because there are many, many more pressing matters for him to attend to?

Well, this would make sense if God had limited capabilities like humans do.

As a mother, I’m very familiar with the need to prioritise.

If my daughter asks me to come look a fascinating blade of grass, but the baby just woke up screaming and my middle boy just walked into the table and bumped his head, then I’m not going to have time for that blade of grass. (I may even feel inwardly frustrated at the request!)

But it’s not like that for God. He doesn’t have a limited amount of time or energy to give out.

Helping someone find a parking spot does not take his attention away from other things!

dsc_0342_1

God doesn’t fit in a box, but my son does!

God Wants a Relationship with Us

It all comes down to relationship.

Because of my intimate relationship with God, it just makes sense to me to talk to Him, whether I am grieved by the latest horrible thing in the news or really hoping for a parking spot close to the doors. This is the way I “pray without ceasing” – I carry on a continuous conversation with God throughout my day, spanning many different topics.

Have you been saved by Jesus, do you call God your father?

If you do, then he has all the time in the world to hear from you about the big things and the small things.

If you don’t, then you have bigger issues than a parking spot to deal with.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

Come to God, confess that you need his forgiveness and be welcomed into the family.

 

 

 

On Fathers

It’s Father’s Day today, and the lead up to this day, with all the advertisements and catalogues in the mail, have had me thinking a bit about fathers.

I have extra space to think today (or less space, depending how you look at it) as my husband is away on business for the weekend.

I expected I would miss him (and I do!) but I also expected that I wouldn’t find it too challenging, since I do most of the child caring stuff anyway. But, surprise, surprise – it’s harder than I thought!

So, when I saw several posts on Facebook today saying “Happy Father’s Day to all the single mums doing double duty” or something, it made me pause.

Now, being the sole parent in the house for 4 days is quite different to being a single parent. For one thing, even though I’m the only one here, I still don’t have the burden of financially providing for our family. And we’ve also enjoyed sending my husband pictures and updates of our days while he’s been away, so while we are physically separated, we are very much still together.

But what has made this weekend so hard is not that I have had to “step up” and somehow fulfil the role of both mother and father. But it is that we feel the lack of the father in the house. That is, it’s hard precisely because I, a woman, cannot fulfil the role of father.

I can discipline the kids, but my words don’t seem to carry the same weight as my husband’s. The kids’ activities have not changed much, but they seem more listless. My daughter keeps asking me, “Mummy, are you sad because Daddy’s not here? Here, I will give you a cuddle.”
Instead of looking forward to that special time alone together at the end of the day, I seem to be literally just collapsing into bed about an hour after I get all the kids to sleep.

How arrogant of me to think that this wouldn’t be too hard!

In our culture, feminism tells us that men and women are interchangeable – that they can and should do exactly the same things. That there is no “mothering” and “fathering”, just “parenting”.

You guys, that is a lie! It’s not how God designed humans. He didn’t make us all the same, he made us “male and female”, to His glory. He made mothers and fathers, not just parents.

The Father’s Day posters at my local shopping centre have really been grating on me over the last month or so – they say “Don’t Forget Dad”. Plastered all over the place.“Don’t Forget Dad.”

It’s very apt for our culture. And I think this is why is grates on me.

Why are we likely to forget Dad? Why do Dad’s go so unnoticed and unappreciated?

Let’s make sure this is not the case in our households. Let’s make sure our dads and our children’s dads know how much they are needed, and how uniquely valuable to the family they are.

P1070095

Save