I had a wonderful weekend at the Mom Heart conference this weekend. It was refreshing, and I was truly inspired to come home and love my family, build into their lives, and create a setting full of love and beauty for my children to grow up in so that they may become effective warriors for His kingdom. What a lovely, inspiring, and civilized weekend it was--full of beautiful women with hearts for God, good food and lots of chocolate!
Then I came home to reality. First, I was greeted by my dog who had a dead chicken duct taped to his neck. He had killed this young chicken while I was away, and we have been advised by many knowledgeable Texan rancher types that this is an effective way to train a dog not to kill chickens. My husband decided to try it. So, there was pitiful Romeo, head hanging in shame, waddling around with this awful appendage--the evidence of his crime there for all to see. Then there was my house--it looked as if people had taken the muffins someone had made while I was away and scattered the crumbs in every direction around the house. I even saw muffin pieces on the shelves of our curio. This morning, about 20 minutes before church, my four-year-old boy and his six-year-old sister showed up on the front doorstep with their feet rather caked with mud. They had to be hosed off and dressed in fresh clothing appropriate for church. Dishes needed to be done, table cleared and wiped, and crumbs swept away. Reality was definitely in my face. When I arrived at church, my husband, who had driven separately due to a meeting he needed to attend at another church, was still not there. My older children walked nearly all the way to the front of the church and chose a pew for our rambunctious family almost all the way in the front. I spent the first few minutes of the service while we were singing feeling rather like an octopus as I attempted to direct my younger children's attention to the worship of our great God and keep them from climbing the pews and using the row as a jungle gym! Oh, yes! This is my reality!
Mercifully, the LORD gave me grace to look at my row of squirmy children and feel mega-blessed! God has given me these wonderful, beautiful, curious, outgoing, intelligent children as a gift to raise for His glory. I get the privilege of directing their eyes to our Heavenly Father, the Giver of every good gift! We feel convicted to bring our children to worship with us so that we can do this, no matter how difficult it may be or how squirmy or distracted the children may become. Today, by God's grace and because of my refreshing inspiring weekend, I was able to look with thankfulness on a humbling scene as I worked to sum up for the younger kids what the pastor was saying and keep them focused for the hour of church. The house will be neat again sometime in the near future, Lord-willing. I know this is not the most important thing. I look at the messes, and thank the Lord for the abundance of little mess-makers in my home! I am blessed beyond measure!
Now, back to the dog! As I watched our pitiful dog carrying his crime around his neck all day, I had a vivid picture come to my mind. How thankful I am that my Heavenly Father doesn't make me wear my crimes around my neck like a scarlet letter. I am given a clean slate and a second chance without having to bear the burden of my sins! We can't even let Romeo in the house because the shameful thing he has to bear causes his presence in our home to be unacceptable. He cannot be separated from what he has done. By the grace of God I can walk into His presence wearing a beautiful white garment, not a dead chicken! When Romeo's lesson has been learned, he will have the burden removed, receive a very thorough washing with many perfumes to make him smell good, and he will be welcomed back into our home. This is just like what God does for us--He removes our shame, our sin, and He washes us clean. Our prayers and worship are a fragrant aroma to Him and we are free to come into His presence. I am so thankful for all that the Lord is teaching me, and I am so excited to share it with my children and everyone around me. I love the pictures of His grace that He reveals to us every day if only we will look for them and allow ourselves to drink them in instead of getting wrapped up in the mundane and missing His glory.
"Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness..."
"Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."