Light streaming into our bedroom from the hallway woke me up. Our five year old was up….at 5:45. After giving instructions about how he was to stay in bed because it was too early, I decided to take advantage of the early morning hour.
I was going to start off right in the peace and quiet of our home. Jesus, my coffee, and me were going to have some time together before our family’s day started. It was going to be a good day.
“Maybe we’ll make cookies or do a fun craft this afternoon after school,” I mused. While we were at it, we could even sing Kumbaya around the fireplace too. The day was just going to be that good.
My stomach rumbled so I set my scalding coffee down and headed to the kitchen. I had just spread peanut butter on my toast when the dog, Rocky, popped his perky head around the corner. Seriously? He never comes downstairs before Eric.
I sighed and put the warm toast down so that the dog could go out to take care of business. Our dog is high maintenance and likes to take his (my) sweet time to find just the right “spot” in our open yard.”Typical,” I thought, “it will be another cold breakfast this morning.”
I did not want to share my quiet morning with Rocky. After all, Jesus was waiting.
The dog’s bed was near my cozy chair and I instructed him to lay down. I settled and opened my Bible. I had three chapters to read. I was only a few verses in when I heard a five year old voice upstairs. He was going to wake the rest of the household up. Putting my Bible down, I marched upstairs.
“STITCH,” I whispered a little too lovingly (or something) to the child who was apparently having a conversation with himself, “It is not time for talking. You are to lay here quietly so that you don’t wake up anyone else. If you can’t go back to sleep, then read a book. QUIETLY!”
Take two. Back in my armchair and a few more verses into the chapter, I could feel the dog’s bug eyes staring at me. I looked at him. “Stop it. No staring. Lay down. You’re not getting my cold toast.”
Putting my eyes back on the text, I wondered what I was even reading. Focus was alluding me.
Eric came down early. Of course. Not that I didn’t want to see my husband, but didn’t he know I was trying to have some quiet time?! I put my Bible down and tried not stomp to the kitchen.
I started some eggs about the moment that two kids came downstairs.
“No, no, NO!,” I screeched. It’s not even 6:30! You march right back upstairs and don’t come down until it’s 7!” The kids disappeared into their room and Eric kept a safe distance from the storm brewing by the stove.
“It’s just SO frustrating!” I said while my voice rose a few octaves. “It’s like this every morning! I try to get up early because it’s the only time of the day that is uninterrupted… or it should be! All I wanted to do is spend a little time reading my Bible! Three measly chapters… that’s all! I’m not even halfway through and can’t tell you what I read! First, the dog needs something! Then a kid needs correction. And I haven’t even had a drink of my coffee that is now cold – again! What’s the point of trying to getting up early if I can’t even read in PEACE?!” I stabbed the eggs with a fork.
Eric gave me a cautious kiss on the forehead before he darted out the door to the safety of his car.
Despite the growing hum of children conversing upstairs, I was determined to finish my reading. I raced through it like a runner in a sprint. Quick, over, and done. I’m sure Jesus was thrilled with our quality time together.
Sitting on the table nearby was a book I’m working through about parenting. It might be a good to read a little bit of it, I thought. Apparently, Jesus thought so too.
“The kind of parenting that I have described in this chapter takes patience, humility, self-control, submission, gentleness, love, faithfulness, and joy.
They are moral gifts of a God of glorious grace. God knew that apart from His intervening work on our behalf, we wouldn’t have a prayer of these character qualities ruling our hearts, and therefore, shaping our responses to our children.
God puts an uncompromising standard before us, then sends His Son to perfectly meet that standard on our behalf, so that we can be free to admit our failures and go to God for help. The cross of Jesus Christ means I don’t have to deny my struggles as a parent, I don’t have to act as if I’m something that I’m not, and I surely don’t have to hide from the only One who is able to help me. The Galatians 5 passage teaches me that God blesses me not only with forgiveness, but also with new potential. Jesus died not only to forgive me, but by His grace to also transform me.
He works through mundane situations, locations, and relationships of your live to progressively transform you by His grace. And on the days when you are anything but patient, there are two things to remember. First, of all of your failures have already been forgiven, so you can humbly admit them, confess them, and seek God’s help. Second, you need to remember that you are not trapped in your cycle of failure because a God of abundant grace is at work changing, maturing, and growing you so that progressively you are more often part of what He wants to do in your children and less often in the way of it.”
(Text by Paul David Tripp in his book, “Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family.” Excerpted from pages 95-96).
The kids came downstairs and, as was promised the night before, I started making pancakes. Stitch came over and asked to help.
“I’m melting the butter right now,” I said.
“We’re going to have a butter day?”
Ha. No, but a better day sounded appealing!
It was time to restart. It was time to acknowledge my failings and ask for forgiveness. It was time to receive that gift and move forward in the grace that God gives as He changes me.
Does that mean that everything is Normal Rockwell now? No! The kids have been fighting. I’m a few hours behind schedule for the day. Our morning of school and learning was tough. I can’t honestly say I’m looking forward to our school time this afternoon.
A good day doesn’t mean perfection. A good day means that I’m not relying on me to get through it well while setting myself up for failure. Rather, I’m holding fast to Jesus and asking Him for the help that I constantly need! Through His parenting to me, I am learning to parent and live differently.
If you need a new beginning like I did, all you have to do is start by asking for forgiveness and then step into the grace that God gives.
HE really will change your day but, even more than that, He will change you.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.