Monday, September 15, 2014

To My Young Warrior

Son, I want you to know that a name is not just a name.

A name represents who you are. It reveals the dreams and desires and prayers that your parents have for you. Your sisters both have names that mean something, that represent the desires of our hearts for their lives. And you are no different.

So, Owen.

Your name means “young warrior.” And let me tell you what it means to me.

You have a dad who is a warrior. You haven’t met him yet but one day you will recognize what a gift God is giving you, to be born into his family and to share his name. And one day you will see what I have seen over the past decade and especially over the past month.

You have a dad who is not afraid to fight the good fight. He fights for people’s souls. He prays and he challenges and he doesn’t let the darkness win if he can help it. He doesn’t give up on people; even when he is exhausted and at the end of himself, he will do whatever it takes to fight. He knows what is at stake.

And there is a lot at stake, Owen. You are a gift from the Lord, a precious blessing, innocent in many ways – but you are being born into a world that is under a heavy curse. In fact, it groans under the weight of that curse, and many times it may seem that the darkness is winning.

But it’s not.

There is a Savior, son. A Savior who is the greatest warrior, who came to fight and do battle with a snake who thought he could win. A Savior who, when we thought He should pick up a sword, instead laid down His life. And in doing so, He won. He drank the wrath and became the curse so that men could be freed. And then He rose from the grave in victory and let us taste what hope really is, hope for a world that seems so crushed and bruised.

But the problem is, people don’t know it. They don’t see it or understand it. They still live in the curse, Owen, the curse that Jesus drank, and they don’t understand the freedom that He offers. And that is what is worth fighting for. Truth. Justice. Freedom. Let those words ring out in your heart and feed your courage and drive you to fight like a warrior for the kingdom of light.

Owen Spencer Shugart, I cannot wait to meet you. You are loved and prayed over and appreciated already. You will be a baby and a boy and a man, unique and wonderfully made. In so many ways you will be different than your father, but in the ways that matter – I hope you are just like him.

You are our precious gift from God. I’ll see you soon.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Truth Is.

It’s such a battle, this daily grind. And there is so much at stake in the moments.

I feel.

Sometimes I feel that I am failing. That I don’t have what it takes. That the weight of their souls lies solely on my shoulders, and every lie and tantrum and act of disobedience flowing from their hearts is proof that I am not doing a good job.

Sometimes I feel a sense of futility. That my life is full of never checked-off checklists and never fulfilled goals. That it is easier sometimes just not to try because the things on my plate will never get done.

And sometimes, God forgive me, I feel like these precious souls are a burden. That if I have to answer one more question or break up one more argument, I might explode. That I would rather hide in the bathroom or behind the computer screen than respond to the petulant cry of “Mamaaaa….”

But right now it is quiet in my house. With two littles sleeping in their beds and one kicking up a storm in my womb, maybe I can find some clarity. Maybe I can accept what I didn’t get done today. Maybe I can breathe in grace after the endless moments of frustration and impatience that filled my day. Maybe I can look beyond what I feel.

The truth is.

The truth is that my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. That His mercies are new every morning, and even and especially on my worst days His faithfulness is great.

The truth is that He has saved me and called me to a holy calling, not because of my works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave me in Christ Jesus before the ages began. That if I lose my life for His sake, I will find it. That He will fulfill His purpose for me. That the gospel makes a difference, and that Jesus died for days like this, and that victory is real in days like this.

The truth is that this story, this life, was never about me at all. The truth is that if I can just be still…cease striving…let go…and remember that You are God, and I am not, and that You will be exalted, and that this is the point of everything…then I will find the freedom to just live my part of the story, with three little blessings tucked under my faltering wings, and point them to the One who is our refuge and strength on the days when the feelings do not line up with the truth.