1.Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust…
– Psalm 103:1-14
The things in nature that have been speaking to me the most recently are not plants or animals…but my children.
Kyle was traveling for work last week and for some reason, I was extra stressed and anxious about holding down the fort. During that time I had one of my worst parenting days ever. I impatiently and condescendingly yelled at my kids during school saying some really mean and harsh things. At the end of the day, I hated myself and just sat on my bed weeping at what a horrible mother I had become. That night as my kids were sleeping, I whispered over and over again in their ears, “I’m sorry… I’m so sorry… Elijah, I’m..I’m sorry. You are a great reader. I’m so proud of you. Please forgive me.”
I don’t know if they heard me, but the next day, unbeknownst to me, during their quiet time, the kids cut up confetti, decorated their room, and then invited me upstairs.
“Wow, what is all this?” I asked, somewhat stunned and annoyed that they had made such a huge mess, but trying to look impressed at the same time.
“It’s a surprise party for you.. and Jesus! Do you like it?”
“Uh…wow…uh hu, yes…I love it! But what’s it for?”
“For being such a good mommy!” (What???!!!)
Then they sang me a few songs and put on a puppet show that they had practiced. They were so excited to throw me this party and kept asking, “What’s your favorite part?? Hu!? Do you like it!????”
Later that day, they had a friend over and their friend was telling them that her mommy yells. I expected my kids would chime in and say, “Yeah, my mom does too.,” so before they could talk I quickly jumped in and said, “You know, sometimes I yell too. It’s hard being a mommy.,” to which Elijah jumped in and said, “No you don’t. You’re a good mommy. That’s why we threw you a surprise party.” (Again…What???!!!)
Did he somehow totally forget all about the day before??? Was this some kind of joke? What about all the verbal abuse I had just thrown at him? I had been the worst mommy ever it was THEN…THEN that my kids threw me a surprise party for being the BEST mommy! This made absolutely no sense to me until, at that moment, God, in His sweet, gentle voice said to my soul,
“Carrie, I don’t see you as your sins deserve. Your children are a reflection of my forgiveness. Don’t you remember that it was when you were DEAD…DEAD in your sins that I died for you? You had nothing to offer me and still have nothing to offer me – no goodness of your own whatsoever, yet I desire to shower my grace on you. It’s by receiving my grace that MY goodness will flow out of you. I see you through the lens of your potential, not your past. If you listen to the lie that you are a bad mommy, you will be a bad mommy, but if you listen to my voice – the voice of truth – though not fully seen or realized – you will rise up to be the mommy I’ve called you to be. Your kids speak the truth. You are a good mommy. You are a good wife. You are joyful. You are kind. You are loving. You are caring. So go…go be who you really are.”
I learned this week in my small group study that the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives is not just to convict us of sin but also to remind us of who we are in Christ.
We are chosen.
We are adopted.
We are heirs.
We are forgiven.
We are called.
We are important.
And if we are in Christ, we have the seeds of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control planted on the inside our bodies – our bodies made from dust – from dirt. And I was reminded this week in a message by Robert Madu, that seeds can only grow in dirt. So as dirty as I may be, God will grow life in me.
My children serve as reminder of who I am in Christ. I love that my kids threw a surprise party for me… AND JESUS. It’s just so fitting. Because it’s only by the undeserved, amazing grace of Jesus, and who I am in HIM, that I could ever even attempt to be the good mommy I want to be.