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preaching to my daughter what I would preach to younger me

Posted in faith, kids

Even before we found out we were expecting, we knew that being a parent of any child is a wonderful and weighty responsibility. We both have good parents active in our lives. We have watched friends parent and disciple their kids, ranging from elementary age to adulthood.

But a fresh perspective has been planted in me, here in week 25, about having a daughter. Not only do I hope to teach, take care of, and love her well, to disciple her in the truth of Christ, I’m finding a fierce desire to speak life into our daughter as if I could speak it into 12, 16, 20 year old me.

There’s no shame or condemnation here. Only a desire for her to know in her bones and believe in her heart truth I would challenge my younger self to be more deeply rooted in if I could.

I’m such a list-maker it’s almost laughable, but here we go…

You are not God’s and He is not yours for you to walk through life timid, anxious, and insecure. Find your confident stance in Christ and praise Him with your life.

Being served and being comfortable feels like the way to happiness, but they’re actually pretty shallow. The road to joy is one of going low like Jesus did, serving and loving and giving, relying on God’s sufficiency to fill the gaps.

Fight the temptation to put around your neck the yoke of pleasing everyone. It will never happen, and it not happening isn’t your fault or your responsibility. Love all, please One.

Trying to earn love or acceptance is like being stuck on a hamster wheel. You are loved unconditionally and relentlessly by God, and everyone else’s love is a bonus. Learning to accept it thankfully will release you from the paralyzing pressure of maintaining it. It will also fuel you to freely give it away without demanding it from others.

Being right, being the best, being perceived in a particular way by your peers does not make you more worthy. It doesn’t make or break you. What makes or breaks you is your life with God and how you love others.

You are going to mess up. In big ways and small. Frequently. We know that. And our love for you won’t waver. Don’t run or hide. Don’t fret about the ongoing struggle. Confess your need for forgiveness and walk in God’s light and love.

It’s interesting. These are things that will naturally flow from me into our daughter because this is the fruit of abiding with Jesus for the years I have so far. (Clumsy, slow, sometimes messy, sometimes even resistent fruit bearing.) We are the parents she’s getting. I can’t preach something authentically I haven’t owned. And it would be challenging to ask our girl to live and love a certain way without confiding in her how I know it’s the best way (stories of my pride, my sin, God’s goodness and always-sufficient grace).

“Knowing how God saved you enables you to feel a fitting thankfulness to God. You can’t be thankful for what God did if you think you did it.” John Piper

As the years go on, through the grace of God, each of us will be growing and changing and learning. As we’re filled with more of the fullness of God, as we continue to cling to the Vine (John 15), we’ll give who we are to each other. And when she’s grown up and possibly a mom herself, she’ll hopefully have her own unique fruit to share with her kid. And so on.

What a design of God. Generations. Family. Discipleship. Community.

I’m both humbled and excited. And will shamelessly throw in that bit about the sparkly silver liquid eyeliner I wore in middle school. Yikes.

what I’m learning about God in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy

Posted in faith

As a person who desires to know and love God, no matter how clumsy or athletic the walking is, as changes happen in life and in us, we are bound to see new facets of God. Would you agree?

Pregnancy is no different. And while I know from friends’ testimonies that each pregnancy and child is different, your first pregnancy throws you into a tornado of new, unfamiliar, wonderful, weird things. (Side note: I learned recently that anything that seems super odd actually isn’t in pregnancy, a.k.a tailbone pain that will have you limping if you’ve been sitting for too long. Who knew?)

I’m in my 21st week of being pregnant with our first child, a girl, and what I’m learning is that knowledge of God and belief in that knowledge is a lifeline like no other. There is great magnitude in understanding God as One who is the perfect mixture of sovereignty and compassion.

He is sovereign. Glorious. In control. Creator. Sustainer.

He is compassionate. Merciful. Attentive. Good. Generous.

One side is might and power. The other side is tenderness and love.

At about 7 weeks, I remember anxiety swirling. I’m not in control of anything happening in there. Anything can happen. What if I miscarry? What if something happens before we get to the first trimester appointment? What if we find out something serious at the 20 week appointment? or any appointment after that? And then, the kicker, if something I deem scary and bad happens, will I believe the same about God as I do in this moment, when everything is sweet?

My journal reads: Father, I trust you in my fear. With all the possibilities. With everything that is outside my control with this baby. What do you think about this? How do you see me? our baby? Clear my mind of everything but your voice. Help me believe you. And borrowing from Isaiah 33, I know you are the stability of these days, these minutes, no matter what comes. Only you.

I’ve never audibly heard the voice of God, but I am trying to practice stillness and listening in prayer, writing anything that comes to mind. After those lines are these statements:

My presence is all around you and my presence is love.

Don’t trust your body or circumstances to be right. Trust me.

I am your God and I am your baby’s God. Don’t be afraid.

In a matter of words, I’ve been confronted these first 20 weeks with what I believe about God. He’s high and lifted up. He’s mighty and glorious. He is to be feared and worshipped. He is holy and in control. His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. He’s the creator and sustainer of the world. He’s going to surprise us. He will take His time teaching us as we hurt, as we struggle. But He will bring us the most joy.

But in His might and glory and sovereignty, He is tender and kind and compassionate and nearer even than my next breath. His love is unconditional. He is faithful when I am faithless. His grace is sufficient. As we wait on Him, He is working for our good.

What does this mean for today? for tomorrow?

It means the reality of life’s uncertainties will be more challenging than we ever thought, but because of God, better than we could ever imagine. Weird, right. Regardless of my feelings, or what I’m seeing with my eyes, He can be trusted. As things happen as I hope they will, or as they don’t, He can be embraced as the One who cares for me (and this baby) perfectly.

These last few weeks have also confronted me with how I prioritize my life with God. Satan and the world attempt to overwhelm me with all the ways I’m not enough, or in control, and if I allow it, I could sink into the quicksand of fear and doubt. Knowing God in a deep, intimate, experiential way is the only way I’ll survive the suffering, challenges, and sanctifying seasons to come. This is my fight of faith: to believe God even if my humanity and the world and the Enemy scream otherwise.

At 21 weeks pregnant, what I find myself most needing, almost desperately, is an enduring confidence in the unchanging nature and character of God. I must live from a foundation of knowing He works all things according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11), joys or challenges, and His heart is for me.

I’ll never arrive, and I have a LONG way to go, but like I’m learning to do, I pray our daughter comes to desire God as her everything.

You need to hear what God says, and to experience that he does what he says. You need to feel the weight and significance of what he is about. He never lies. He never disappoints (though he wisely sets about to disappoint our false hopes). Though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you need fear no evil, for he is with you. Goodness and mercy will follow you. This is what he is doing. God’s voice speaks deeper than what hurts, brighter than what is dark, more enduring than what is lost, truer than what happened. David Powlison