Garland of Grace

Scripture Crumb from Proverbs 1:8:

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction,
and don’t reject your mother’s teaching,
for they will be a garland of grace on your head
and a [gold] chain around your neck.

At the beginning of the book of Proverbs, Solomon urges us to make the pursuit of wisdom our highest priority. Wisdom, at its core, is seeking God. Our life’s goal should be to intimately know God and follow Him in every thought, decision, action and attitude.

In Proverbs 1:8, we are encouraged to hold tight to the instruction and teaching of our parents. Embracing their wisdom and living out their instructions will result in a garland of grace on our heads and a gold chain adorning our necks.

Though the sentiment of the verse is directed toward a child, as a parent, I am humbled.

My teaching is to be a garland of grace placed on the heads of my son and daughter. My words, my actions and my attitudes are to instruct and be modeled, leaving a beautiful and worthy necklace around the necks of my children.

What I say and what I do are to bring blessing to my household.

Too often, parenting is extracting the kids from a fight, or losing it when yelling for the fourth time for them to go to their rooms, or ignoring the “I’m hungry” whines after they choose not to eat a meal. In the messy middle of parenting, I am tempted to (and do) resort to a much heavier chain than a garland of grace.

Days can quickly become ungracious and ugly when my heart is not in full pursuit of God. In order to parent with wisdom, I must be filled with the grace and beauty I deeply desire to instill in the precious gifts God has placed in my charge. That means my priority must be to God first, not to God when I can squeeze Him in.

If I want my children to embrace God and receive a garland of grace from me, I must be wearing one.

The Antidote to Crazy

Crazy.

It’s that look in the eyes. Swelling momentum about to be unleashed to the detriment of all standing in its path. A loss of control.

Every parent has felt it. Sometimes it simmers and grows until it cannot be contained. Other times it comes on all at once.

This week I’ve had my share of crazy. Going rounds with my three-year-old is playing with my sanity, and I’ve struggled (and failed) to maintain composure and act like the adult.

After a particularly trying day, my husband just had one question after I had vented all my frustrations: Had I began my day with God? Did I read my Bible and spend time with my Savior before jumping into the morning?

Darn that wise husband of mine.

The next morning, I was determined to initiate the new day in the Word, rather than squeezing it in later. Psalm 27 was one of the chapters in my chronological reading plan for the day. It is a psalm written by David, entitled, “My Stronghold.”

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom should I be afraid?
When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh,
my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.
Though an army deploys against me,
my heart is not afraid;
though a war breaks out against me,
still I am confident.

God is my light, my salvation, my stronghold. When I am afraid or frustrated or angry or feeling full-on crazy, I must cling to my God. Sometimes as a parent, it can feel like my children are deliberately at war with me and what I’ve asked them to do. My heart will not be afraid. I must be confident that God will give me the strength to parent them with grace while pointing them to Jesus.

I have asked one thing from the Lord;
it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord
and seeking Him in His temple.
For He will conceal me in His shelter
in the day of adversity;
He will hide me under the cover of His tent;
He will set me high on a rock.
Then my head will be high
above my enemies around me;
I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy.
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

The first and primary goal in my life needs to be intimacy with God. When I forego my time with Him because of busy schedule or laziness or poor time management, not only me but my family will suffer. The antidote to crazy is time with Jesus. To be with Him is to be surrounded by peace, sheltered with joy and safeguarded in mercy. Only from that position I can be the wife and mother God intends for me to be. On my own I’m a chicken with my head cut off – flapping around and making a mess.

Lord, hear my voice when I call;
be gracious to me and answer me.
My heart says this about You,
“You are to seek My face.”
Lord, I will seek Your face.
Do not hide Your face from me;
do not turn Your servant away in anger.
You have been my helper;
do not leave me or abandon me,
God of my salvation.
Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord cares for me.

In the midst of the battles, my reaction needs to be prayer, not shouting. Praying continually is a parent’s lifeline. God will help me. He will not leave me or abandon me. He cares about me and He cares about my children. His way is always better than mine. I must be connected into the Holy Spirit and charging at all times.

Because of my adversaries,
show me Your way, Lord,
and lead me on a level path.
Do not give me over to the will of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing violence.

I not only need a level path, I need a level head. It’s difficult to remain calm when your child is having a tantrum or refuses to obey. God will give me both when I follow Him.

I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and courageous.
Wait for the Lord.

These words encouraged me tremendously. The promise spoken to me through God’s Word provided clarity and certainty. I will see the Lord’s goodness here, as a parent, with my children. There will be days that revolve around time outs and tears and tempers rising. There will be struggles with truth-telling and toy taking. But, I am certain that God is good, and He is molding each of us, for our good and for His glory.

I must be strong and courageous. And, as I wait on the Lord, the crazy inside of me is calmed.