Archive for the ‘Reprint’ Category

This Kid-Raisin’ Thing…

…is tough!  More than anything on earth, I want my children to grow up to love the Lord, and not just in a surface way.  I want them to be IN love with God.  I want their lives to revolve around Him in the same way that I want my own life to revolve around Him.  And I know that they are individual souls who will have to make their own decision, but I want to do everything possible to portray the Kingdom of God to them in as accurate a way as possible.  As such, I have been thinking a lot about my own parents, and how they raised me.  They were amazing parents, and, though I’m not saying that they are perfect, they did a-LOT of things right.  The major ones that come to mind:

1.  They loved us beyond all reason.  I firmly believed growing up that my parents loved me far more than the average parents loved their children.

2.  You know that verse about teaching your kids as you walk along the road and as you lie down and wake up?  They did that.

We often reviewed the books of the Bible in the car.  My mom made it fun, like a game.  Also, I have clear memories of snuggling in bed with my mom and saying “chain prayers.”  Again, this was a fun treat.  “Hey, you wanna say a chain prayer?” my mom would ask, with the same tone she’d use to ask, “You wanna go out for ice cream?  We loved it.  As we got older, we would try to make our prayers long, like hers.  Her prayers were full of how much she loved us, and she would spend time talking to God about each of us, highlighting our strengths and special qualities.  We loved it.  And even though we played sports and had homework and my dad usually had to work late, my mom would valiantly succeed in getting us kids to Wednesday night church.  We’d always stop by Dairy Queen on the way home, b/c she said we all deserved ice cream for making it to church:).

3.  They loved church…and worked their butts off for it.

They were involved with everything.  My Dad has done announcements since before I was born, is a regular Sunday school teacher, and is basically the church maintenance man and landscaper.  All unpaid, of course.  He was always on this or that “logistics committee,” and had some role in almost every event.  And they both put all they had into it.  When my mom did the weekly newsletter (for ten years!), she made it so fun that people were lining up to get copies.  When she taught Sunday school and VBS (which she always did), she went all out with fun programs and prizes.  When she taught crafts for Camp Canaan or VBS (again, a long standing tradition), she made sure the kids had good crafts, even though this often meant she paid out of pocket for supplies, since the crafts were above the church’s budget.  And she did it for the right reasons.  I will never forget an instance when I was helping her prepare from some craft which involved painstakingly cutting out tons of maple leaves.  I was feeling a bit resentful for “always” being made to help out with craft preparation, and I was expressing to her the futility of our maple-leaf-cutting endeavor.  “Mom,” I said, “Don’t you know that kids are just going to go home and throw these crafts in the trash can?  In a day or two, they will forget they even made them!  What is the point of all this work??”  I will never forget her reply:  “Kim, I’m not doing this for the kids.”  Huh?  That was truly a shocker to me.  She followed that zinger up with, “I’m doing this for God.  People don’t know the half of what I do, and if they did, they wouldn’t care anyway.  But that’s okay.  I’m not doing it for them.  Everything I do, I do for God.”  That has got to rank in the top 5 most influential things anyone has ever said to me.  It rocked my world.

4.  They showed me that working for God (I was going to say the church, but then thought about my mom’s statement), is incredibly rewarding even by earthly standards.

Our church owns 57 acres of land, and my parents have literally put hundreds and hundreds of hours into that land.  Some of my best memories are out at “the property,” as we called it.  One of my all-time best memories is actually an amalgamation of several similar incidences.  Before we moved out there, my parents would take us there some evenings so they could work.  They would mow and fix and do whatever they were there to do, and my brother and I would ride 4-wheelers, pick scuppernongs,and cherry tomatoes, and have fun.  I love how, even though they would rightly make us help them sometimes, they never made us bitter against “church work” by forcing us to live out their passions.  So we played on those evenings while they worked.  They would work until it was too dark to work anymore, and then we’d turn the lights on in the pavilion and play ping-pong.  My dad is not much of a game player, so times when all four of us would play something really stand out in my mind.  Those nights were so happy for me.

5.  Their lifestyle was just “this short” of radical.

Or maybe it was radical.  I don’t know; it’s hard to judge when I grew up with it.  I do remember when I thought they had gone off the deep end.  When I was 12, they decided to sell our beautiful two story house that I LOVED, in a beautiful neighborhood that I LOVED…to move out to our church’s property so that they could better take care of it.  To do this, they bought the trailer that was located on the property, way back in the woods, at the end of a half-mile long gravel road.  When they announced that this was their plan, I thought that they had seriously lost their minds.  I thought they were on crack.  I cried and fought and fought and cried.  They were unmoved.  I remember wailing at one point, “But this is our HOME!!”  My Dad shot back, “Our HOME is where our family is.”  That also probably goes on the top 5 most influential things list.  You don’t forget moments like that.  At least, I don’t.  And of course, like everything you do for God, it ended up being a huge blessing.  I spent the next 6 years of my life–up until college–living at the property and coming to love it.  And all that time, My parents worked constantly to upkeep it.  At the time, I thought it was normal for people to mow everyday in the summer, normal to install headlights on your tractor so that you could mow the fields at night.  Now I see that to do all that–unpaid–is insane.  Insane!  But it opened my mind up to the idea that loving and obeying God is kind of insane.  Turning the other cheek is insane.  Giving everything to Him is insane.  It is a radical lifestyle.  It does not make sense in the eyes of the world.

I really, really hope, and I pray everyday, that Greg and I can walk with God, can keep in step with the Spirit, in a way that reflects the Kingdom to my kids.  Just like my own parents did to me.  I’ll tell you one thing.  They are a tough act to follow.  I haven’t touched on the half of what they did, the half of how they lived (my dad’s thoughts on giving still blow my mind).  But I have the benefit of their example.  And I have a God who for some reason has decided to live in me.  And I have an amazing husband, who has his own set of amazing parents.  So I’m hopeful.

And the praying everyday can’t hurt:).


I originally published this post on my family blog on May 27, 2009.  I was reminded of it this week as I pondered the idea of living counter-culturally and what that might mean for my family at this time.  Whenever I think about how my goals and desires for my family, I’m naturally drawn to ruminate on my own upbringing and what my parents’ did to introduce my brother and me to the kingdom of God.  As the post suggests, I have a great example in my own parents (as well as in Greg’s parents).  That much, of course, is just as true today as it was in 2009.

The Amazing Thing

I first wrote this post a little over two years ago, in February 2010.  I remember so clearly the experience of writing it, and the depths to which I believed it.  As my posts from this week demonstrate, these ideas are still very present in my thinking, and they probably always will be.  For me, one of the great mysteries of the Christian life has been figuring out how to obey verses like Colossians 3:17, which tell us to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God.  Such verses find their way into my soul and ignite my imagination.  And every once in awhile, I get a little glimpse at how they are possible.  This article from 2010 records one of those glimpses:


“My eyes are small, but they have seen
The beauty of enormous things.”

Today, I was walking across the church parking lot to mop the bathrooms in the gym. I was wearing jeans with big holes in the knees, a solid gray t-shirt, and a navy blue hoodie. My hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and I had very little make-up on. I had just come from my weekly grocery trip, which involved a lot of clipping coupons and pre-planning. And after I mopped, I was going to return home to feed my daughter lunch, pick up my son from preschool, and spend the afternoon working on potty training Anna, getting some cleaning and laundry done, and preparing to teach my Wednesday night lesson at church.

As I crossed the parking lot, I was listening to the David Crowder Band on my ipod, and a song came on that said,

“You make everything glorious.
You make everything glorious.
You make everything glorious.
And I am yours…
So what does that make me?’

This song put into words perfectly what I was feeling already. As I walked to mop floors in my holey jeans and little makeup, I felt glorious. Glorious in my “average life.” Glorious in my menial labor. Glorious without having had a shower that day. Glorious in the knowledge that the rest of the day would center largely around cleaning up pee-pee from carpets and hardwood floors as I tried to coerce a toddler into using the potty.

I see all these people around me who are looking for what I call the Amazing Thing. The longing for it is present in all walks of life, but it is especially evident in adolescents and college students. People just have this nagging feeling that life is supposed to be amazing, and that something is going to come along to make it so. Perhaps that something is a great work that they are going to do. Perhaps that something is a person. Perhaps it is a family. Or a place. Or a job. Or something. And as they are waiting for the Amazing Thing that is going to bring them ultimate fulfillment, they pass their time by living an ordinary life. They do schoolwork. They hang out with friends. They have relationships. They get married and have kids. They find jobs. They go on vacations. And many of them slowly become disillusioned b/c the Amazing Thing never comes. Of, if they don’t become disillusioned, they decide that the Amazing Thing was a fantasy, a dream, and they give up the quest for ultimate fulfillment.

The truly sad part is that many of these people are Christians, are members of churches, and as such, are surrounded by the Amazing Thing the whole time but don’t recognize it. The Amazing Thing has been tamed, has been domesticated, has been relegated to certain hours of the week. The Amazing Thing has been reduced to a list of rules. It has been reduced to practical irrelevance. And so these Christians long for something Amazing that will make their life Amazing. In their mind, if they aren’t doing something truly mind-blowing, if they aren’t preaching the Gospel to 1,000’s of people or writing best-selling books or starting churches on the African savanna, then their lives are not Amazing.

And all of those things are good things. But they aren’t, in and of themselves, the Amazing Thing. The Amazing Thing is God, and He is everywhere, not just in mega-church pulpits, or top 10 bestseller lists, or on the African savanna. The Amazing Thing is that we can commune with our All-Powerful Creator every second of every day. The Amazing Thing is that we can be both priests of the Most High (1 Pet. 2:9) and the sacrifice on the altar simultaneously (Rom. 12:1-2). And when that starts to sink in, just a little bit, it makes our lives amazing. It makes them glorious.

I wish I could share with everyone what this life is like. I wish I could help them see how mopping the floor can be a mountain-top experience, how changing a diaper or covering a small face with kisses could be a sacred offering to Yahweh, how folding laundry and making meals for people can be full of meaning, and joy, and profound love. I feel like if people truly understood that planting the kingdom of God in the heart of a child is, in and of itself, more miraculous than preaching a sermon before 1,000’s, that truly dying to yourself in your perfectly ordinary day is a miraculous work of God, that deeply loving the person who gets on your last nerve is the powerful work of God’s Holy Spirit in you…I think if people realized those things, then they would understand that the Amazing Thing could permeate every part of their life right now. They would realize that truly miraculous things like that happen everyday to those who believe and who serve God.

Like I said, I wish I could make people see what that life is like. But ultimately, words won’t do it. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of words, but there are some places that only God can take a person. And so I pray for the teens at our church, for the college students, for myself, and for all my brothers and sisters, that we would all continue to seek God’s face, and that He would teach us all more and more how to die to ourselves and how to trulylive amazing lives, finding our fulfillment in the Amazing Thing that has been all around us the whole time.

Bleeding-Heart Liberalism and Faith

Before I started this blog, I used to pepper my family blog with random spiritual thoughts that, honestly, did not fit in very well in a venue that existed mainly to inform relatives of the antics of my toddlers.  Since starting Kingdom Civics, I have been slowly transferring these old posts over here where they would be more at home.  This post has nothing to do with the post on conservatism I put up earlier this week, but I thought that the titles made for an interesting contrast.  I wrote this post in 2008.  Even though I’m not in the same place I was then, these ideas still resonate with me:

I’ve always heard that having kids will bring you so much closer to God.

For me, this was not true.

Okay, in some ways it did. I certainly pray a lot more now and beseech God on behalf of my children. I think about my actions so much more, knowing that I have two little souls who are watching and learning from me.

But motherhood also made me realize how different I am from God. When I became a mother, my empathy toward children skyrocketed to the point where the thought of a child being neglected or abused does serious damage to my psyche. It saddens me, horrifies me…I mean, it seriously depresses me. For real, do not talk to me in public about abused children, especially babies, unless you want me to start crying on the spot. I’m tearing up right now, see?

And so while in the past, I was able to reconcile myself with the idea of human suffering through the my own reasoning and the intellectual thoughts of others, it just didn’t work that way any more. And I found myself asking, “God, why would you let some poor, innocent baby be born into the world only to be horribly neglected and abused? What possible good can come from that?” I knew that as a parent, there was NO WAY I would ever let that happen, so how could God, whose love is so much greater than mine, and who has the power to stop it?

Oh, and in regards to the title of this post, these thoughts also apparently made me a bleeding-heart liberal. See, I read somewhere about this study that determined that a big difference between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives are okay with the thought that “life’s not fair,” and they don’t expect, or apparently want, it to be. Liberals, on the other hand, want everything to be fair, and all the unfairness and suffering bothers them. So I guess I’m a liberal. I will say this: the idea that Life Isn’t Fair does not comfort me at all.

So anyway, like I said, God has helped me through this several times in the past through the use of logic and intellect, but this time, I guess He thought I needed a picture. And whaddaya know, He used parenthood to teach me, and, yes, bring me closer to Him:

On Wednesday, through an unforeseen chain of events, I ended up mopping the Family Life Center at church with Anna. She was supposed to be at a friends house/in Greg or Katy’s office/asleep in her carseat, but it didn’t work out, and now here she was awake in her carseat screaming at me. The problem was, not only was she in her carseat, but she was in her carseat in the foyer, while I was ten feet away in the bathroom, quickly sweeping so I could mop. As I hurried, I started to imagine Anna’s feelings, completely bereft and alone, not knowing where her mama was or why she was essentially left to die strapped in her carseat.

And I wanted to talk to her. I wanted to say, “Anna, I’m right here. I’m right on the other side of this door. Why do you cry like I abandoned you? You know I would never leave you. And furthermore, everything that I’m doing, I’m doing for you. The money I make from sweeping and mopping pays for your health insurance. And I know the concepts of sickness, serious injury, hospitals, and medical bills are completely beyond your ability to grasp, but they all play into what I’m doing here. I’m helping you right now, even in the time that it seems like I’ve abandoned you.

And you know what? Furthermore, Anna, this particular situation wasn’t supposed to happen. For one thing, you got too tired to stay at my friend’s house, and then you got woken up by a paper shredder in the church office. Your daddy is out running errands, and so, due to the free will of many different people, including yourself, you are in this particular situation. But frankly, it’s not even that bad of a situation. I know it seems like an eternity to you, but it’s really just a few minutes.”

Now, while you could make many analogies connecting my particular thoughts to Anna to some possible reasons that God lets suffering happen, that wasn’t what struck me. Frankly, none of those reasons hold up in my mind to situations like lifelong abuse or starvation or so many other atrocities that happen. What struck me was the degree to which all these reasons were completely beyond Anna’s grasp. Even if we spoke the same language, which we don’t, her mind is simply not able to understand things like HSA’s and jobs and scheduling breakdowns. And the difference between her mind and my mind is nothing compared to the difference between my mind and God’s mind. He’s told me so himself in Isaiah 55:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Again, these ideas are not new to me intellectually, but seeing it so starkly as a picture was really helpful on an emotional level. Another new dimension was the immense love I felt for Anna the entire time that she was wailing to me about my unfairness.

The idea that “life isn’t fair” definitely doesn’t help me sleep at night. But the fact that there is an all-powerful and all-knowing God who loves all of creation…does.

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