I Let Myself Go

I Let Myself Go

Sometimes… I forget to brush my teeth in the morning. I wear baggy tees and sweats more than I do anything else. If I’m lucky, I can slap on a pair of jeans and my kids wonder if I’m going somewhere special. Showers are a luxury and so is brushing my hair. In fact, my hairbrush is now used more for the brushing of synthetic hairs on dolls rather than my own. At least it is being put to use.

So, yes, I guess you can say I’ve let myself go, and while I used to once dread the possibility of such a thing, it is a decision I now choose to make and accept everyday–to let go.

This unraveling of my former self and surrendering of control has been driven by the unseen yet overwhelming force of little ones being present in my life and began when I first became a mother. Over the years, I have surrendered a clean house, an up-to-date wardrobe, peaceful mealtimes, nights of uninterrupted sleep, and even close relationships, at least the way I once knew them. All this and more I have let go of since this “force” has come and swept through my life like some kind of natural disaster that keeps pummeling through over and over again in all of its glorious chaos.

It is definitely painful and disorderly at times, but unlike a true natural disaster which only causes devastation, this force that comes with motherhood brings life.

A wild and unkempt state of affairs is the new normal and something I now embrace because it is simply the residue of the little lives (lives that I love) that are simply living and being and making their way into this world. The force that comes along with such magnificent life and beauty cannot be helped.

Now everyday I stand in front of a mirror while staring at my somewhat disheveled reflection that is always blurred behind some kind of smear or smudge or tiny fingerprint, and I smile. I smile because I have accepted all that I see before me and I also smile because I remember so vividly that warm July day when this force first took over my life and first challenged me to let go. 

It was a little less than six years ago in a small hospital delivery room, just hours before my first child was born. There, I experienced for the first time an unspeakable force I never could have even imagined. It was the start of labor.

Once labor began, I could feel these waves of intense pangs that rhythmically came and went inside me. As each one passed, they gradually grew bigger and bigger, longer and stronger. They swept over my entire body every few minutes like huge waves crashing over and inside me and then ebbed away only to come back again and again.

One wave of contraction was so powerful that I was literally knocked off my feet but thankfully caught by the bed beside me. Then on the force went.

On and on for hours I endured this untamable force of life trying to make its way into the world and all I could do was hold on for dear life. For even then as just a little fetus, the force this child came with felt greater than any known natural phenomenon. Hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, and the like–they all paled in comparison to what rumbled within me. Right then and there, I knew I was in for a ride and my life would never be the same again.

And with every wave that continued to come in those gruelling 36 hours, my instinct was to grab onto anything I could–a pillow, a hand, my body, my life, anything to save me from the debilitating force that took over me. Yet every time I clenched my fists, my eyes, and my jaws to brace myself for each new wave, the pain only increased and I would hear a whisper beside me that reminded me, “let go…”

These words came from the kindest, most gentle human being on the face of the planet who also happened to be my doula, my birth assistant, my angel. This woman stood beside me and my husband every step of the way and whenever I started to fight that great force, she gently reminded me to let go and to let life take its course.

Over time, I heeded her directions and came to a point of true surrender, and that is when things got moving and it all became easier, more bearable, and dare I say even enjoyable. Rather than kicking and screaming through waves crashing over me, I found myself being able to float and ride over even the greatest of waves as I let them come and then gently let them go. When I finally reached the climactic end of this great force, I closed my eyes with one final push and then opened my eyes to see the most beautiful form of life before me. It was life in its purest form.

Now 6 years later, that force is still with me today.

It is the force of 4 pairs of hands pulling at my shirt in 4 different directions, it is the force of 4 little bodies fighting to make space on my lap at once, and it is the force of 4 lungs all screaming or singing or laughing at the same time into my bleeding ear drums both day and night.

And whenever the force of motherhood smacks me down off my feet like it first did in that delivery room and I feel like I’m drowning rather than floating through the process of raising these children, I command myself to open my eyes once again and to gaze at life.

I look into their eyes and at their still small form, and I marvel as much as I can because one of these days I know I will look up one final time and the force will be gone. All of them will be grown and beaming in the fullness of life with everything I have taught them and it will be time for them to go. Then I will have no choice but to let go. They will ebb away and all I will be able to do is HOPE that they ebb back to me from time to time some day.

That moment should feel like light years away since they are all just a few years old now, but it has been on my mind because in  a few months, I will already have to let one go.

The little boy who stormed into our lives this past March and who we have had the joy of hosting will be leaving us. We received news this week that after battling what felt like insurmountable challenges, legalities, setbacks, and obstacles, grace prevailed and the judge made the verdict to give custody back to his biological parent. A second chance has been given and this family will be reunified. It is the very news we have been hoping and praying for and now that it has finally come to pass, the only thing left to do is to prepare ourselves to let go.

There is no doubt a sting of pain that comes with the idea of missing this boy’s presence, cuddles, and laughs as well as becoming a mere blip in his memory. We’ve even attached since day one, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say a part of me wants to hold on.

But even greater still is my desire for his life to flourish and be where he is meant to be. So I will let go and do so with great fondness of the rich time we had together and with great honor of having mothered him through one of the most intense, difficult, and crazy waves of his life. Hand in hand we rode over it together, and now we just pray that this time will end with the birth of a fuller and greater life for this boy’s entire family.

With that, I let go and bask in the joy of mothering the rest of my children and others along the way in order to release them all into the fullness of life. There is no greater joy.

And to all the other mothers who have been experiencing the force and learning to let go everyday, Happy Early Mother’s Day!

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No Borders

No Borders

It has been amazing to watch my children welcome another child into their lives. Just like the rest of us, they have known about the possibility of this new addition for the last few years and have waited for this friend/brother/sister to come join them in their room. It didn’t even matter that one of my kids would be bumped to a mattress on the floor. In fact, my oldest gladly volunteered to give up his bed before we even thought to ask. Then when we finally received news a little boy was coming to stay with us, the kids were ecstatic and prayed with us every night over the empty bed beside theirs, wondering what he would be like.

Then he came. And it was as if he was family all along.

I’m not sure what I expected of my children who are all under the age of five, but whatever it was, they completely exceeded all of my expectations. I have not only been absolutely shocked by how they have loved this kid from day one, but on a regular basis, I am inspired, humbled, and in awe. Most of all, I am amazed at how there are no borders around their heart. While the rest of us spent days and weeks wondering to what extent we should touch him, how we should speak to him, and even what we should refer to him as, they calculated no such thing.

They dove right in, embraced him as a brother, and welcomed him to be part of the family. It did not matter to them where he came from, what he looked like, or how he might respond. They just loved him. It took the boy a little longer (but not by much) to have the same sentiments, but starting last week, he began to proudly tell my children that they were his “sistuh” and “bruddah” as well. Of course, my daughter beamed from cheek to cheek and my son who plays the big brother role nodded with approval.

I was so proud of them, all of them, because it is one thing to ask an adult to love, but to ask another child to love so bravely? I wasn’t so sure they could do it… and I could not have been more wrong.

Maybe it’s a kid thing. Because I see the same thing in this little boy. He comes to me like I am, and have been, his mom all along. Sometimes I think he was sent to love on me more than to be loved by me because I often feel like his love is so much sweeter than mine. He cups my face gently in his little hands and looks into my eyes like he’s known me his whole life. He runs up from behind me to throw his arms around my neck for surprise hugs and he never fails to reach his hands to place them into mine wherever we go.

And the other morning, I was in my bathroom, and having washed up and gotten dressed and ready for the day, I came out looking a little fresher than usual as a stay-at-home-mom. When I opened the door, I found him on my bed staring up at our wedding photos on the wall. When he saw that I had come out, he looked up at me with this gentle smile and whispered, “You’re perfect.”

Did this three-year-old boy really just say that I was perfect? He doesn’t even know me!

Shocked, I ran right up to him, picked him up, and asked him what he said. When he repeated those words once more, I hugged him as tight as I could and spun him around in circles. Then one by one, the rest of my children crawled out of the blankets in my bed where they had been hiding and began jumping wildly on top of one another in squeals and laughter.

Just watching them, I felt winded by the sheer magnitude and tenderness of their affections for one another. How they have opened up their hearts like this in such a short time, how he has learned to trust and love in return, how he has disarmed his fears as well as our own–it is all truly beyond me.

I am so thankful that we get to have this sweet time together. He has become family. Truth be told, he is even starting to look like the rest of us. Even though he is half black, half white and we are Korean, some have mistaken him and my daughter to be twins. I thought they were crazy at first, but now I don’t blame them. He is starting to look a little Asian to me as well. But no matter what he looks like or what we look like as well, no matter the fact that we aren’t blood or even family by law, it is so refreshing and liberating to have no divides standing between us because we have torn them all down with this love he taught us that knows no borders.

It is most definitely something to be learned. I am learning it more and more everyday, and in this way, I am learning yet another face of God who embraces all and loves so freely, inviting us all to be part of His family. I want to be that free. Free to love and free to be loved in return. This is what we all need. It is and has been healing for all of us.

And I pray these kids never stop being so free.

 

Thy Will Be Done

Thy Will Be Done

Thy Will Be Done

These are words that have been all too familiar through my life groomed as a Christian. Yet these days, I find they are no longer mere mechanical words, but a genuine plea that I often find myself uttering to God straight from the pit of my soul.

When there’s no way out, Thy will be done. When there are no answers, Thy will be done. When I cannot see what is to come ahead and have no choice but to only live by faith, Thy will be done. 

And what exactly is God’s will?

Is it that my many sins be cast away? Is it that I relinquish control over my past, present, and future life? Is it to let go of my quickness to anger, to snap, and to let my hasty tongue go loose? Or is it to trust in God fully when nothing goes according to what I desired or what I had planned. Yes, all this and more, is this not the will of the Lord that these things I have held onto so desperately should completely DIE within me?

It is then no wonder that as I fearfully whisper these four words under my breath at every turn and difficult juncture of my life, that it has caused nothing short of  wrenching pain because DEATH is indeed what is transpiring.

I am dying. 

Dying to my will and learning to let it go. In this way, I die more everyday, and this is the great will of the Lord that I have learned to yearn for when I say the words, thy will be done:

Thy will be done and my will be dead.

It may seem a bit grim and difficult to believe that God desires the death of me–to inflict pain on one He loves and strip me of my life–and while it may pain Him to do so, it is the same will that Jesus asked for in the garden on the way to His gruesome death on the cross where He died according to the will of the Father. God’s will for us may also appear to be gruesome or painful and dark at the time, but only in passing because beauty is just up ahead.

So what is my will that must die today.

While I have plenty of different obsessions, sins, worries, and agendas that come to mind, the one thing that stands out the most is the lives of my children.

Over the years, so much of my will has been the driving force of my parenting decisions. Even in the daily grind, I find myself trying to exert control over their little lives and what I want for them in every single little way. I toil in my training and raising them up. I anxiously mull over the difficulties and obstacles they will most likely face in the years to come. Most of all, I desperately hope they will hold on to their faith. While some of this may sound like “good parenting,” a good amount of it is my earthly, short-sighted will that stands with its back against the true will of God.

And in these past few weeks, I have cried out for safety and protection and everything good for this new addition to our household. I want so badly the very best for him, but because I don’t know what that really is, I have again come to that place of surrender and asking God’s will and not my own. I do it with trembling because more pain may be involved. There are no clear outcomes of what will take place in this boy’s life in these next few months and his future is even more uncertain than the lives of any of my own biological children whom I have, too, worried about incessantly.

Even in this week alone, I have heard stories and news of instability and destruction still raging through this boy’s family sphere which has left him facing potentially dramatic and traumatizing life altering events which he has no idea about while staying sheltered in our home. As for me, there is nothing I can do, but care for him in the now and hope God pours into the seeds we have sown into his eternity. With absolutely no control over the situation, all I can do is bow down at the feet of the cross where Jesus died and echo the same words He spoke before–Not mine, but Thy will be done … in this boy’s life.

Because Jesus did it, I can do it too. I can die to myself in all things and trust in God.

Today is Good Friday and it is indeed and truly GOOD because we know the story does not end with death, but it ends with LIFE. It ends with victory and it ends with triumph. That is what I wait and hope for…the good that is yet to come and God’s perfect and good will in each of these children’s lives until… it is finished.

Thy will be done, Lord.

Fear and Confusion

Fear and Confusion

It has now been 3 weeks since we brought home our first Safe Families placement, this little wide eyed boy with a cute husky voice and a set of massive hands and feet that seem much too big for his little 3-year-old frame. As each day has passed, we have learned many things about him and feel we have gotten to know him pretty well. I can predict most of his behavior and know how to respond to his many cues. It has been so sweet having him and I love and treat him like one of my own.

But there have also been difficult, heart wrenching days. Days he cries and cries and cries because he misses his family. Then he looks at us, a bunch of Korean folk who one day took him away, and although he knows now that we are not all that bad, he can’t understand why he has to be with us and not his real family. And who are we really?

Sometimes he calls me mommy and happily plays with me. He often runs to jump into my lap, grabs my face to stamp a kiss, and naturally holds my hand wherever we go. Yet other times, he has intense bouts of sadness and sits looking out the window as he cries out for his real mommy. The familiar security of a mother he’s been with since being in her womb cannot be so easily replaced. Sometimes he plays with my kids and laughs so hard that they are all snorting like little piglets while other times, he wants nothing to do with them and declares his allegiance to his “real” sisters and brother. We have days of screaming “happylujah!” (his version of hallelujah) while playing our pretend guitars and we have days of weeping with him in the corner of the room. He does not know what to make of all of this or how he is supposed to relate to us.  

Then there is my own inner struggle and a part of me can relate in a very small way to the confusion that he is feeling. Sometimes I look at him and he feels like my son. I enjoy his attachment to me and I feel attached to him too. I hold him in my arms and sing to him, bandage his wounds with kisses on top of bandaids, and caress his hair as I read him his favorite books. But I have to remind myself constantly that he is not my son. We are all just temporarily being a family to him and I am temporarily playing the role of his mother. My job is to love him unconditionally and FULLY like I would love my own children because that is what he needs and what he deserves–someone who will tenderly love him like a mother because his real mother can’t be with him at this time.

But to invest and to love him like this also means that I have opened myself up to fall victim to those deep and intimate mother-child bonds that have already naturally formed between my heart and his, and I know now that when this time ends with him, my heart will shatter as he leaves and is taken away to where he is meant to be. It is a painfully bittersweet thought that I try to avoid bringing to mind as much as possible. To be honest, it is frightening, and because I know I will have such a hard time, I desperately want to know how I can hold back while still giving him my all. That, however, seems to be impossible.

So in this way, I, too, have very conflicting feelings. Yet I know my struggle is nowhere close to his. He is the brave one and the one experiencing the greatest confusion and chaos in his little mind which can’t even comprehend what is happening around him. He is the one being thrown back and forth and bearing the brunt of a difficult situation that is a result of no fault of his own. He is the one managing to allow us strangers into his world and giving us a chance to laugh and to play with and to love him. And for that reason, I can love him. I can put aside the fear of my pending hurt as I see his greater pain and his greater need for ALLLLL the love we can offer him at this time. He needs all of it.

The other night, he returned to our house after a weekend visit with his dad and cried for hours. He could not understand why he was with us again and constantly cried out for his father. All night until he eventually cried himself to sleep, all he could say was, “I want daddy… daddy… daddy… daddy….”

Listening to him as I held him, what I really heard through those deeps sobs was, “Daddy, why am I still here? Why isn’t this over yet and why aren’t you coming for me? Daddy, do something to end all of this.” After each attempt to cheer him up utterly failed, we just held him and let him cry. Then when he was finally asleep, my husband and I returned to our rooms and fell to our knees crying as well and begged Abba to do something.

We cried out for God the Father to come, not only for this boy, but for this broken world, and I, too, begged the question of why He wasn’t coming back yet. This world looked so bleak and in the moment, now seemed like a pretty good time to put an end to everything. But of course, God is working and God is also waiting. He is waiting for more and more hearts to turn back to Him and then at the right time, God will defeat the enemy who has been wreaking havoc in this world in so many lives and so many families, and God will gather all His children back to Him. That is the final end to which I wait and pray for. At the same time, I also plead now for the restoration, the resurrection, the wholeness that this little boy needs in his family and that he will be able to be reunited with them once again, once and for all. Lord, we know you can do this. You are sovereign and You are good. Do this, Lord!

No Room for Groceries

No Room for Groceries

I remember walking through the aisles of the grocery store when Micah, my first child, was just a little infant. I struggled to bounce him in the carrier to keep him from fussing and could hardly manage to get through half my grocery list before we were both breaking down. Then every once in awhile, I would pass another mom with 4 or more kids and my eyes would automatically glaze over. I could not imagine ever being in those shoes, shoes that were tattered and frayed at every corner and stained with mud from playing in the backyard yet still the same pair she mindlessly slipped on everyday because there just was no time to pick another pair, much less buy a new one.

Yet today, I was that mom. With my trusted gray and white sneakers which have also gone through its own war, I mustered up the courage to take all 4 kids to the store for the first time. When we pulled in, I snagged the nearest two seater kid cart (thanking God for the person who invented it), and very strategically slid two in behind the play wheels, put one in the main part of the cart, and instructed the older one carefully to walk beside me. My plan was genius. That is, until I looked down and realized… there was no room for the groceries.

Before I had even entered the store, my cart was already full of these little human beings who I took a moment to look at in disbelief….where did they come from and how did I get here? Yes, my cart was completely full of them, my minivan was full of their carseats, my home was full of their toys, and their rooms were filled with mattresses and clothes and stuffed animals and books.

Slightly overwhelmed, I think I could have panicked because there was so much I needed to get. But instead, I took a deep breath and commanded myself to give thanks because there was SO MUCH MORE to be thankful for and not only the children, but the means I have been given to care for each and every one of them.

Especially since our latest addition, I have absolutely MARVELED at the support we have been given since we have taken in this little boy. Although we have the honor of being the ones hosting this child and being in the trenches with him, I am realizing more and more how we are just one small part of the puzzle and how there are SO MANY PEOPLE who are just as vital in caring for this boy and seeing him through. I cannot stress this enough. WE COULD NOT DO THIS ALONE.

And to clear up any confusion, this is not foster care. It is called Safe Families which is a national movement of Christians and churches all around the country who are stepping forward and answering the call to care for at risk children in our community BEFORE they are placed into foster care. Similar to foster care, these children are placed into a host home while their parents are working on getting back on their feet, but the difference is, there is a NETWORK of people all playing different roles to love the child AND their family with the love of Christ. Our family, specifically, is playing the role of temporarily hosting children, but others who are not have come around us in so many different ways playing their own various role.

For example, when the honeymoon period ended for us with our new little guy and the reality of not being with his biological family set in, he acted out in extreme ways. Rightfully so, he was scared and began to go into survival mode, lashing out at all of us aggressively with claws, fangs, and more. It was a trying period and so easily, we became feeble and tired. Then on top of the behavior which we hardly knew how to handle, we had to get clothes for him, prepare food for the entire family, figure out rides, get him situated into a daycare, and pretty much felt like anything we used to do normally had to take the back seat. The question of “could we really do this” set in with dark clouds.

Then our network within Safe Families reached out to us. All of them pretty much strangers whom we hardly knew, I wasn’t sure how much help they could really be, and at the same time, I feared asking for too much help. But I didn’t even have to ask. Very quickly, along with our church and our friends, these “strangers” came around us and began to offer us supports in every way, just like family would. In the same way we invited this boy into our family, they invited us into their family network, and it has been such a beautiful picture of the body of Christ loving each other selflessly.

Now, our home is full of not only the food and clothing and other items they have given us, but with their prayers, their love, and their unconditional encouragement. What’s more is that since we have been given such lavish support and the ability to focus solely on loving this boy, he has been FLOURISHING. Our house has not only regained order, but it has been thriving and has been even fuller with joy than before this all started.

I am humbled to be part of such an amazing movement and sincerely thank all those who are involved. If ANYONE has a heart for these families and children who are at risk of being separated and becoming orphans, there is a role for everyone in Safe Families, and the best part is, Christ is glorified.

Please contact me if you would like to get involved. It’s not just a ministry or a movement…this is real people with real lives who need a real chance. One is sleeping peacefully down the hall from me this very moment and I seriously feel like I am hosting angels in my home, if not Christ Himself. I am overwhelmed.

 

 

Our First 100 Days

Our First 100 Days

It has been 24 hours since we brought home an enormous bundle of joy, packaged inside of this little 3 year old boy–our first placement. I’ve heard many stories of foster children and adopted children before, but they varied so much that we really did not know what to expect. At the very least, I tried to brace myself for a difficult transition by reading books on trauma, making phone calls to my support network, and praying desperately on my knees for patience and love. After all, no matter how much love we were ready to give him, the reality was that he was being torn apart from the only family that he knew and being thrown into a complete stranger’s home. And I was right–it did not start off easy.

Walking out of the social services office, the caseworker followed us to our car, doing her best to not let the flailing, screaming, kicking body fall out of her arms and onto the concrete below. He was crying bloody murder as if we were kidnapping him, and it sure did look that way. Once we got him in the car, it took both my husband and I to use all our strength to hold him down and strap him into the car seat. We both broke a sweat and tears began to break through the huffing and puffing as I wondered to myself, what in the world are we doing.

A few rows away in that parking lot was his mother, equally distraught, and they both screamed after one another, trembling with rage and confusion, as we finally drove away. I was sitting in the back seat next to him while he screamed the entire hour ride home and my husband and I just glanced at each other with helpless eyes through the rear view mirror.

But then it was done. As we pulled into our neighborhood, his crying suddenly ceased as we joked over his confession that he pee’d in his pull-up. We laughed and wiped away our tears and since then have become the best of friends. He has fit right in with our rowdy family of 5 (7 including the grandparents) and has stolen each of our hearts, even Grandpa Kim who this morning could not even look at him with dry eyes.

Everyone had woken up before him and was already eating pancakes when he was still fast asleep on his super hero bed that we prepared for him. I sat there beside him waiting for him to wake up because I did not want him to open his eyes and be afraid. Soon, my daughter Kindle came in and sat on my lap looking with me at this new person in our home. I asked, “isn’t he amazing?” to which she replied, “he’s beautiful.”

And as I sat there looking at him, I felt my heart torn apart. On one hand, I could feel my heart had miraculously already expanded to love this new little guy in my life as if he were one of my own, but on the other hand, I felt the pain of his past and the pain of his unknown future. This placement was meant to only be for 100 days and while I never thought this would happen, I began to fear the moment I will have to let him go.

100 days. That is his mother’s deadline to get her life in order and then a decision will be made. The “ideal” situation would be that she will be doing great and he and his brother and sisters will be able to go home. But will she be able to give him the best? Will she be able to love, protect, and teach him the way that he needs her to? Will she speak life into him, pray for him, and comfort him when he needs her to? All my motherly instincts kicked in and I wasn’t sure if I could let him go.

But of course, I will have no choice. If all goes according to plan, he will return to her in 100 days. So I began to surrender his life back to the Lord…that it wouldn’t be my will or my love in his life, but that GOD will be with him wherever he goes. I had to lay his life down at the cross.

Then, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the best for him really is to be with his mom. The mom God gave him. The mom, who like me, is broken and makes mistakes. The mom who I can so easily judge to be inferior for the bad decisions and shortcomings in her life. The mom whom when he woke up, this little boy immediately called out for.

He really needs his mom, I realized, and I have made up my mind to pray for her. To pray that she will be restored, healed, and made whole in these next 100 days. To pray that she will meet Christ in a new way and find her identity and the strength and love to care for the beautiful children she has been entrusted with. Yes, I will pray for her and hope in God for what He can do in her life, and in the meantime, I will also love this precious life in our house and hope that he walks away with a little more than what he came here with because he has already given us so much. He has changed our lives forever and I am so thankful for this time.

Thank you God for how you bring families together and how you keep families together as well. Above all, I trust you Lord.

Lord, Help Us All

Lord, Help Us All

The other day, I had a bad mommy moment. I rebuked the devil in my son, Micah.

He is the oldest of three and although he is still only five, I expect more from him than the others. On the norm, he is really a very good kid. Kind, thoughtful, and gentle. He definitely has his moments though, and his attitude as of late has hardly been tolerable. It has been terrible actually and has caused the rest of us to live in a constant, thick, dark cloud. It’s difficult to even breathe when he is in one of his disgruntled states.

This particular day, he had been grumpy all morning and was taking it out on his little sister, Kindle. Back and forth they went, and I could hear Micah from around the corner with his angry, bossy, big brother voice, taunting her about how his Legos were better than hers. I was trying to change baby Moses’ diaper and get him dressed as quickly as possible in between screaming over threats to put the two older ones in time out, but my words couldn’t match their escalating bickering. Feeling incredibly outnumbered, I just hoped it would soon die down, but of course it didn’t. It only ended when Kindle broke down into bitter tears and screams from Micah wrestling her to the ground in order to snatch the wings off of her Lego creation which was now broken into a dozen pieces.

I HAD it. That was it. I no longer could stomach this ridiculous tirade that was running the show in our house day in and day out. I ran to the room they were in, grabbed my over grown son under one arm (mommy strength multiplies when angry, I tell you), and marched back to my room. I had him stand against the wall with his hands up in the air while I grabbed the heaviest object I could find. My New King James Study Bible was in arms reach. Perfect. With fire in my eyes, I handed the Bible to him and demanded he hold it up high in the air. If he lowered it even an inch, he was warned that he would be spanked big time.

Then I began to yell. “What is wrong with you?! Why are you being so mean?!!! Tell me!!!!”

He then burst into tears, but only for a second because I interrupted by snapping sternly, “DON’T YOU CRY!”

As he whimpered and struggled to hold back tears, I had no sympathy. Instead, I asked him if his cries were because he felt sorry for what he did and how he hurt his sister or just because he was getting punished.

Snot dripping down over his mouth, he spoke through sobs, “b….b….b….because….I’m…getting punishhhhhhedddddd.”

WRONG ANSWER. “Put your hands up higher! You don’t care your sister is hurt and sad?? You don’t care you are making everyone upset everyday?!”

“N…n…n…ooooooo.”

“You only care about yourself?!”

“Yes!”

Such ugly truth.

The entire time, I was livid. Fuming. Then in a failed attempt to calm myself down, I told him we were going to pray…but maybe that wasn’t such a good idea because this was my prayer. Looking straight into my trembling son’s eyes, I muttered, “In the name of Jesus, I REBUKE YOU SATAN.”

Immediately, I regretted it. And my husband, who almost never questions my disciplining, paused from his work and gave me this questionable look.

Now let’s pause. I wasn’t calling my son Satan. Even at his worst, of course I know he is not Satan. But in the moment, all I could think about was how SINFUL he was and really, the next thing that popped up into my mind was the devil. Well it certainly was not God anyway. So I rebuked him…him being the devil.

But now here was my son with eyes suddenly big and round with shock. He was staring blankly back at me and probably wondering why I was calling him Satan. And I had to explain.

At this point, I was completely sobered from my wrathful outburst and now feeling completely guilty myself. What did I just say to my son??

Both of us quiet, I gathered him into my arms on my lap and kissed the top of his head. For a while, I did not know what to say. “Lord, help us,” was all I could think of followed by, “sorry Micah…I’m not calling you Satan.”

Then I kept thinking. Both of our actions and words had been awful, and while I have always known my own personal need for a Savior, I had almost forgotten my son was no different. He is no longer just a little baby that is completely harmless and innocent. No, he is a big boy. He is a person, a human being who should know right from wrong, and I realized he, too, will one day stand before God the judge.

And what was I going to teach him now? Could I tell him? Would he understand? I’ve told him the gospel many times before, but this felt different than just telling him a story. So I spoke again. With words I thought a five-year-old could understand, I told him why Jesus came.

I started by thanking him for telling me the truth that he didn’t care about his sister, but that that was very wrong. I told him that the truth is, we all do bad things sometimes, and sometimes, we don’t even WANT to do what is right. We are supposed to love each other, but because we are people, we all have sin that makes us bad people who do bad things, and mommy makes mistakes all the time too. The problem is, this is God’s world because He made it and God is GOOD. He is SO good, that when there is something bad, even just a little bad, we should all be punished with time-outs and spankings FOREVER. But God loved us so much that He decided that Jesus will get the time-out instead of us. His time-out was on the cross and it hurt so much, but He didn’t want you to do that so He did it for you. So now, since we are free from our punishment, all we can do is thank Jesus for what He did for us and do our best to follow what He tells us to do and He will always help us.

By this time, Micah was squirming and asking if he could go play, and I was choking up thinking more about my own salvation. So I released him and got on my knees. I prayed and pleaded with God that He would meet with Micah personally one day. That one day, Micah would know His true need for a Savior and that he would surrender his life to Him and even live to serve Him and His people with all his heart.

I knew these were the same prayers of my parents and grandparents and countless others who prayed for me as I grew up. These are the prayers that brought me to where I am today, saved and set free. Now a lover of Christ and mother to these beautiful children, I hope with all my heart that I will one day be able to see the answer to my prayers come to pass in each of their God-given lives. Until then, I will never cease to lift them up as burning incense from the prayers of my heart and lips. Lord, I know you hear me. Lord, help us all.