Some Days Aren’t Pretty

 

Some days are just plain hard.

Some days the ugly comes pouring out.  Some days it’s not sacred ointment I pour on His feet, but soul-vomit and tears.  Do you have those days, too?

When the haggard woman staring back is NOT so much the kind, sweet, put-together girl that you want to see, but some crazy lady who looks like she is one espresso shot shy of a latte.  (If you know what I mean.)

And as much as I want it to be all picture perfect, my life just isn’t.  Grouchy attitudes, unpleasant realities, and peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches smashed into car seats happens.  Irritations simmer, personalities collide, and the laundry mountain isn’t going anywhere.  (Except up.)  It is days like this when I most need to be reminded of the truth of the Gospel.

Jesus came to save.

And oh, it is His love that saves.  I don’t need to be reminded of how far short I fall, I need a love that never fails when I do, again.  The gospel holds up.  It takes the worst of us and gives back grace.  This is not a porcelain love to be admired on a tidy mantel shelf – it is a sturdy love to build a life on.  It is a hammer and nails kind of love that will hold you together when everything else is falling apart.

Love is not just for the pretty days, the sunshine and popsicle days, the days we’re kind of almost winning this whole life thing…it’s the arms that hold us when our world has crashed in.  When it’s the darkest night we’ve ever seen, the deepest pain we’ve ever known, when we are at the utter and total end of ourselves.  Love sustains.  In the face of senseless brutality, and the horror of evil played out in the reality of a fallen world, this love does not flicker out or wither away. It is an anchor, a beacon, a refuge.  It’s not going anywhere.

And in the mundane, the hormones-awry, kids-are-fighting, and hubby’s-late days, it still holds up.  It is the fabric of our very life, the fiber that weaves our torn pieces together.  This is not some cheap, synthetic blend that pills and wears through the first time it hits hot water and throw up.  This Jesus love is rugged.  It can endure the day-in, day-out tug of war between the girl we want to be, and the girl we are when the poop leaks out of the diapers and becomes something to use as finger paint.  (I am not. Even. Kidding.  Toddlerhood is a very body-fluids-intensive time of life.  Also, I use Lysol wipes by the case.)

When Psalm 61:3 reports that God is a shelter and a strong tower, it’s easy to forget that the writer knew what is was to have his world collapse.  His father in law literally ordered a hit on him, his wife was given to someone else, and he found himself rejected and betrayed multiple times.  His child died.  One son raped his daughter, and another son killed the rapist.  And that’s just the abbreviated version.  And yet, this grieving man found the love of God to be the one thing that could hold him up when everything else in his life was knocking him down.

I see it written all over the pages of sacred Scripture, and scattered across the ages of history: this faithful, sustaining love.  And yet, I hesitate.  I get distracted.  You, too?  When my wonder dulls, and I gloss over the truth about Calvary, I miss out.  My family misses out.  Because THIS day is not beyond His ability to redeem, too.

Saving grace is not just for eternity, it’s for here and now, too.  Jesus’ favorite place is not the church pew, but your kitchen table.  And your office.  And your laundry room.  His love is the most important thing, not because we must spend hours sitting and admiring it, but because it is the sturdy thing that carries us through the ugly moments, the hard things, and the endless routine.  His love elevates taking-out-the-garbage-and-washing-dishes mundane into something holy.

When we serve with love, drudgery becomes opportunity.  The gospel saves, yet again.  Not just your soul, but your day.

Because the Gospel is Christ’s love, applied.

And it makes all the difference.

Grace, peace, and wet wipes,

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Building a Safe House – With Free Printable

She laughed as she spilled the story, animated and bright-eyed.

It was funny.  Her husband’s epic fail gathered a good sized crowd of listeners, and we laughed together as she regaled us with extra silly tidbits of his other shortcomings.  Years later, I still don’t have a high opinion of the man – and I never met him.  He held a respected position in the community, was promoted at work, and yet…his wife held up his most humiliating moment as public entertainment.

If you’re sobering down right about now, so am I.  It scares me to think that I could so easily and unknowingly wound the most precious relationships in my life.  ‘Cause here’s the thing: this lady wasn’t trying to be malicious.  She was a good-hearted, well-meaning woman.  She just acted in violation of rule #1 in the safe home handbook.

Home should be a safe place.

  1. Don’t spill what’s private to the world.  (This seems to have been lost in a culture of revealing clothing and Facebook fights.)  Some things are just best kept under wraps when in the public eye.  Amen?  Let’s keep it classy.
  2. Don’t underexpose.  Protection sometimes means exposing to the light. Removing secrecy is to sin what antiseptic and oxygen are to a wound.  If you need outside help, get it.  (Case in point, the Duggar tragedy.)  This is not a violation of rule #1…you are not spilling it to everyone.  But staying silent in the face of sin is neither healthy nor safe.
  3. Tell it like it is, and do it lovingly.  Speaking the truth in love is God’s way to create a safe place for your family.  A healthy place.  There is room to grow and enough oxygen for everyone when this protection is in place.  Where else do our family members have room to be themselves without fear of rejection or smoke screens?  Truth and kindness make the best house mothers.
  4. Treat your family better than your friends.  (This is not a pass to treat your friends worse; it is a challenge to elevate the level of courtesy in your home.) 🙂 Give family members more consideration, more compliments and kindness, more loving words and your best-self-moments.  Be present.
  5. The best protection you can give your family is to cover them in prayer.  When you pray, you invoke the power of God over your family.  That’s a big deal.  A HUGE deal.  Because He can go where you can’t, knows what you don’t, and protects better than you can dream.

Do you want to guess which one gives me fits challenges me the most?  It’s #4.  I can manage politeness (barely) to the world on a horrible day, but my family gets what I really think.  It is a constant challenge to me to treat them with consistent, unfailing courtesy, regardless of circumstances.  When the trail of mud leads across the carpet, and I have a writing deadline, and the baby is down for a nap, the reasonable request for a cup of milk can be what unravels me.  Work in progress?  You bet I am!  (I also gratefully accept prayers and casseroles.)

Is your home secure?  Is it a place where grace thrives and healthy boundaries exist?  A balance between airing dirty laundry to the world and allowing toxicity to grow unchecked might be tricky, but it is possible.  The world doesn’t need to know that your kid did something stupid unwise or your husband acted like a jerk tested the limits of your Christian forbearance.  That’s what your Bible study girls or your BFF is for.  Better yet, that’s what Face time (with your Creator, not your device) is for.  Spill it to Him, spill it to the ones who will lift you up in prayer, but please…don’t splash it on social media or your coffee klatsch.  The world just doesn’t need to know, and more importantly…your family doesn’t need the world to know.

Home should be a place of safety, where confidences are held close to the heart, grace is dispensed gospel-style, and toxic secrets are brought into the light.  It is where we grow, together, in Christlikeness.  It is not a halfway house for sin to grow undisturbed.  You are the guardian of precious souls, and it is as vital to expose serious sin as it is to safeguard our family’s trust.  Doing the former is one of the many aspects of fulfilling the latter.  It’s easy to become hoodwinked into thinking that no good will come of bringing in outside help, but it is foolish to put a band aid on a wound oozing pus.  That’s what you’re doing if you cover over sin.

Home is a buffer.  It’s an island of safety in a nasty, hurtful world.  It’s a place where we can retreat from the worries and ugliness and find refreshment and people who both know us and actually like us.  So much damage can be done by unkind or untruthful words, and our family is exposed to who-knows-what when they’re out and about.  We can’t put a muzzle on the rest of the world (tempting as it sounds.)  🙂  But we can speak words of kindness and honesty in our homes and relationships.  We can become go-to people when someone wants a straight and loving answer.  We can live out Proverbs 31:26 and have the “law of kindness” arrest mean words that want to slice and gut others.

Home is where family goes to be treated better than anywhere else.  My kiddos are tiny still, (I’ll keep them that way, thanks!) but I am looking at a not-so-distant future when home will be only one of many options for my family to spend their time.  I want it to be a fun, refreshing, delightful place that they want to come back to.  Much of that depends on how they are treated in the here and now.

Intentional, regular prayer on behalf of our family is the best safeguard we can implement.  If you do nothing else, do this.  Pray for their hearts, their minds, their bodies.  I won’t belabor the point, but there is nothing you can do that will have more eternal impact than your prayers.  If you need help with what to pray, I created a free printable (usually on the Subscriber Freebies Page, but here today!) Prayers For A Christ Centered Home.  Just click on the link and print as many copies as you need! 🙂

In summary, it needs to be a huge priority in the life of every Christian woman to create a loving home environment.  Single or married, children or not, the home is a gathering place.  As such, creating a safe and nurturing home is both life-giving and essential.

It’s up to us to set the tone.

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