Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Self-Image: What Men Need to Know

In previous posts, I have spoken extensively about every women's battle with their own self-image. Whether it relates to weight, food issues, one's view of their beauty, I am convinced that every woman has internal struggles about her image. All of us have different degrees to which we wrestle with our own [false] ideas about ourselves and each individual's battle will look different. Admittedly, it takes time and energy to understand our own hearts, and the thoughts that too often plague us, but this is a crucial step in diagnosing the root of our problem and seeking grace from the only One who can truly heal us.

Recently, I spoke with a friend who described an extremely disheartening conversation she had with a guy friend about his response to her openness about her self-image struggles. This guy friend expressed his feelings of insensitivity, frustration, and disinterest in helping my friend deal with these deeply personal issues. It broke my heart to hear. But I believe the reason for this man's reaction was one thing: a misunderstanding of a women's struggle with self-image. I can attest to this reasoning because, 1) I have a husband, and 2) He doesn't always understand. Most men know very little of a woman's constant struggle with her image. It is not that men don't care, but for the the most part because they haven't experienced this to a similar degree, it is hard for them to be empathetic. On Friday, Chance and I were discussing this very topic as I shared some things that I have been dealing lately, mostly due to the trials of pregnancy. From that conversation, I would like to offer some counsel to all men about how to understand a women's struggle, and how to lovingly help her.

I cannot speak for all women, on a specific level, but I can speak for myself and my husband: this has been tremendously helpful. I have realized my frustration when Chance doesn't seem concerned or careful with his words regarding the distorted view I have of myself. I have attempted to be patient with him on recent occassions, to explain a women's desire for attention and for love. Deep inside of us is the innate desire to be wanted and when we feel ugly, we are ashamed and discouragement sets in. Many women struggle with their weight, which makes them self-conscious and timid. Other women struggle with distortions to their eating, problems that can be as severe as anorexia and bulimia, or as common as condemning thoughts about eating 2 extra slices of Papa John's (sound familiar?). The desire to be loved is not wrong, but because of the fallen nature of man, that love seeks its fulfillment in 'unnatural' places: unhealthy relationships, comfort from sweets, finding one's worth in exercise and seeking the 'perfect body.' God has created all of us for the purpose of worshiping our Creator, whose image we were made in the likeness of. But sin has caused our worship to go awry, which is why I believe all women have degrees of struggle with their own self-image.

Like I said before, the reason why most men don't seem empathetic is because they just don't understand. Women, on average, are the ones who most often deal with problems relating to "body issues" or "food issues." The first thing our male counterparts can do to help us women, is to understand the language and specifics. When I say, "I feel gross today," I am probably saying, "I am not believing that I am truly beautiful...in my opinion, the way my body is making me frustrated." Women tend to express feelings of self-pity (not okay) when we are discouraged about our outer appearance. Although the Scriptures address this specifically: "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she will be praised" (Prov. 31:30), it will likely not be helpful if you, husband (brother or friend) rattle off this verse and assume that this will solve the problem. Understand the language. When you pray for your wife, don't just say, "Lord, Kathryn is dealing with food." What does that mean to me? Am I having trouble shopping for it? Or am I dealing with self-condemnation in regards to my eating habits? See, the language is important.

Now women, this doesn't get you off the hook either. You need to be willing to explain to your husband (brother, friend, etc.) the specifics of your struggle. Don't just assume that he knows what you are dealing with, and don't write him off or get frustrated when he doesn't automatically 'get it.' Be patient and take the time to explain your heart - trust me, it will do you both a world of good.

Secondly, men, listen to your wife. I cannot express to you enough how much this matters to her. When a woman chooses to open up about her struggle with her self-image or a matter concerning her relationship with food, she means for you to listen to her. She needs you to. Loving her, as a sister in Christ and as Christ loved his bride, means listening patiently and actively. I know that my husband is listening well when he asks me questions to get me to explain more thoroughly, which in turn helps me to open up. I know that he cares, that he loves me, and that he genuinely desires for me to be helped through my battles. So listen up men!

Lastly, I eluded to this in the previous paragraph, ask leading questions. If I am sharing that I am discouraged about how I look today, you might want to ask your wife, "Sweety, what do you mean by that?" or "What kind of thoughts were you having?" I have often been helped when others ask me questions that cause me to think actively about something I have just said passively. I am able to go through my thought process, consider what made me think that way, and likely see what lie I am believing about myself or my situation. A husband will understand his wife better if he listens attentively and asks her questions that explain her heart to him.

In conclusion, our husbands are instruments God uses in our lives to help us see truth, and fight the lies that our hearts believe. Men, please take heed to these instructions and lovingly seek to understand, listen, and ask questions of your wife in order to empathize with her situation. You may not ever fully understand, but she will certainly appreciate your genuine effort.

"By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us." -1 John 3:19-23

[Note: I used husbands as the prime example here, but the principle is applicable to brothers, fathers, uncles, friends, boyfriends, fiances, etc.]

Friday, July 27, 2012

Food on Friday: Cravings

About a week or two after we found out that I was pregnant, I wanted to start making a list of the foods that I craved along the way, just to document. And partly because it is so funny to me. I think that this is the first time in my life where I do not have reservations about eating a lot of chocolate, cheese or dreaming of peanut butter toast for breakfast. I am going to blame it on the hormones, while also being conscious of my tendency to idolize food. I definitely don't want to use my pregnancy as an excuse to sin! Going on week 7 here was my list:
  • Cheddar cheese (lactose-free!) & crackers
  • Mac'n'cheese (unfortuately I'm allergic to wheat & dairy, so it might be difficult to quench this craving)
  • Dark chocolate.. haven't eaten much though
  • Fruit
  • Anything with tomatoes >>>>>>>>>
  • Peanut butter toast
  • Peanut butter on rice cakes
  • Peanut butter.. on ANYTHING! The salty/sweet taste is perfect for a queasy tummy
  • Grilled cheese & tomato soup - oh man I want this so bad right now (written at 9:30am, Tuesday 5/15/12)
  • Red pepper flakes (spicy)
Week 8:
  • I especially did not want = salads or coffee
Week 9:
  • EGGS! Scrambled & sunny side-up with GF toast, in the morning. Yum.
Week 10:
  • Cherry Jolly Ranchers (weird, right?)
  • Frozen yogurt - well I actually crave this even when I am not pregnant.
Week 11:
  • Still a lot of fruit! Berries in particular
  • Still a lot of tomatoe-y foods
  • Lemon anything - esp. lemon rice, lemon tea, lemon water
  • Salads are back :)
  • Greek salad
  • Vinegar-y salad dressing ONLY
  • Hummus
  • I really want some pita bread.. but I can't eat it :( Dumb gluten allergy.
  • Protein - I think my body is alerting me more to my need of certain nutrients
  • Any raw vegetables
Weeks 12-14:
  • Back to pretty much normal.. although deli meat was yummy these weeks
  • Cake pops/balls - my friend made some gluten free for me and they were so good
  • Coffee in the mornings again!
  • Indian food
Weeks 15-16:
  • Resumed normal eating habits
  • I had a strange craving for DILL PICKLES, so I bought a jar and ate them all in 3 days
  • Creamy peanut butter.. as always :)
To recap: weirdest craving  all sorts of tomate-based foods: soups, stews, Other than that, since I am now into the second trimester I am trying to eat healthfully while not being too hard on myself. I have been reading that the second trimester is really the most important time to be getting all of your nutrients and to stay hydrated. I usually drink about 64 to 72 ounces of water a day, so pregnancy has just given me a better excuse to drink all the water I want! I am very grateful that thus far I have felt great (second trimester) and have been gaining weight just as the doctor ordered. Four months down, five to go.. EEK!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why I Love the Local Church

This is actually not the topic I was going to write about this morning, but while I was thinking about the other topic I was contemplating writing, this one popped into mind. So this is more of an impromptu post than I normally write ... in other words: bear with me.

The local church. There is much talk amongst us Christians about the importance of, the necessity of, the value of: the local church. And I have come to the conclusion that it is for good reason. Recently, I finished the new release RetroChristianity by Michael J. Svigel -- a DTS professor and elder at our local church here in Dallas. It was a thoughtful reflection on evangelicalism as a whole and what we as Christians need to do in order to "reclaim" the faith of our forefathers. As I read through the book I was provoked to think more deeply about the why of how we do things in the local church and Christianity as a whole. In my experience, it has taken me quite some time to grasp the importance and necessity of the local church body and for me to understand the reasons why all Christians must strive to serve the church with "all his energy that he powerfully works within me." (Colossians 1:29)

In college, shortly after I became a Christian, I began attending a church about 25 minutes away from my university in Jupiter, Florida called Grace Immanuel Bible Church (see picture below). It was the grace of God that led me to this church, and while it is by no means perfect (as no church is), this body of believers was who God used to shape me as a young Christian in the faith. I learned much from sitting under the teaching of wise, godly men and through spending time with older, humbler women who showed me what being a godly wife and mother truly looked like. It was at this church that God began to show me the importance of a local body of believers. I quickly made many friends both older and younger and for the first time saw what "fellowship" in the truest sense, looked like. Though as a young Christian, I had my own ideas about community and I was skeptical about some of the ways in which I was being exhorted to be involved. As these ideas of mine began to be challenged, I couldn't help but admit that my opinions were solely that: my opinions. The gracious arguments against me were coming from none other than the Scriptures themselves. After getting married and working through these issues with Chance for a whole year, disagreeing often, we moved to Dallas where Chance would re-start classes at DTS.
Upon arriving in Texas, both Chance and I had made up our minds that we did not want to "church hop" but we wanted to settle into one church, as soon as possible. We visited Scofield Memorial Church that first Sunday and have been there ever since. Chance had attended the church prior to moving back to Dallas, and was encouraged by the ministry there. Over the past year, both Chance and I have come to realize our naivety and immaturity in some of our past 'beliefs' and opinions about the local church body. Scofield is currently in a transitional phase in their life as a church - almost 135 years old! - and we have seen first hand the work that God has been doing in the lives of its members and congregants. We have grown fond of the body of believers that calls Scofield its home and have cherished the opportunities we have had to serve there. From Sunday School teaching, to preaching in youth group (Chance), to speaking at a women's outreach event, to coordinating the volunteering of youth workers, to "captain-ing" ScoGames teams, to serving hot dogs at an apartment complex outreach, God has used all of these opportunities to grow both Chance and I in our love for and desire to serve in, the local church body.
If I had to sum it up, I would say that the major reason why I have come to love the church is because 1) Scripture says that Christ died for his bride: the church; and if he loved her enough to die for her, then I had better love her too; 2) The body of believers serving one another in Christian love. The second reason, my friends, has been an active way in which I have witnessed the gifts and talents of God's people all working together for the mutual benefit of others, and the glory of God. It has not always been pretty, but it has been truly genuine. As believers who are reconciled to God, but not yet fully redeemed, we still have our own sets of problems and sins. Multiply that by hundreds of church members and that makes for a whole lot of problems. But by the grace of God, he chooses to conform us to the image of his Son while we serve one another and seek to benefit others for the sake of Christ and for the glory of God's gospel. He uses our faults, our insecurities, and even our failures to show us that apart from him we can do nothing. We look to Christ, as his body, the church, to get our strength and to find our identity. As we serve and seek to honor him, he blesses our efforts in turn blesses those whom we serve. It's an amazing entity that all Christians not only should be a part of, but must be a part of. What a privilege and what a joy that God gives us each other: "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ...For the body does not consist of one member but of many."  (1 Corinthians 12:12,14) And that's why I love the local church.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Confessions: Of A Pregnant Runner

Since this is my first pregnancy it's been quite the rollercoaster of experiences. In the first trimester, I had a vast array of physical symptoms: nausea, irritability, breast tenderness, emotional "flexibility" (more like instability), and fatigue. Recently, I entered into the second trimester - wahoo! - and am now almost 15 weeks pregnant! I have noticed that my difficulties are now the internal struggles of insecurity and uncertainty. In this post I want to relay what sort of struggles this pregnant woman, like any woman, has had on both the heart and head level.

There is a baby in that belly!
As a runner, it is important to keep yourself consistently fit, which means maintaining your fitness level by eating healthfully, running an average number of miles per week, and cross training to keep your body free from injury. This past spring, I trained for and ran a half marathon and was in the best shape I have been in, since junior year of college (when I ran a semester's worth of cross country). I felt great and was proud of the work that I had done in order to look and feel like I did. About 3 weeks after that race, as I was recovering, we found out that I was pregnant. As we rejoiced and celebrated, I thought quietly in my heart about what this meant for my body: a lot of changes. And since I have never been pregnant before, this also meant a lot of unexpected changes. These thoughts produced fear and worry in me and I began to become anxious about the coming months and what this would mean for my overall fitness. Motherly instincts kick in as soon as you discover that you have a little person growing inside of you, and you instantly want to do "Whatever is best for the baby!" But as a woman who struggles with insecurities about her appearance, I couldn't help but have these nagging thoughts.

Like I mentioned before, in the first trimester your body is adjusting to the onslaught of hormones that your body is producing and you definitely see and feel their effects. I took a much needed break from all exercise save for walking and the occasional run. The first time I got out on the road to attempt to keep my heart rate at 150 (doctor recommended) I was sorely disappointed: 180, 190, 205, 170, 165, 190, and so on. My fitness level had clearly waned in just a month off, and I became discouraged about the possibility of running during pregnancy. My doctor has okay'ed it as long as I kept my heart rate low (my max HR is around 230) which proved somewhat difficult for me at first. Not only was I discouraged but I was humbled. Not being able to run the same pace, the same distance, with the same amount of exertion can be quite frustrating and for me it most definitely was.. and still is.

Many woman tell you that after you enter the second trimester, you start feeling much better. Thankfully, I found this to be quite true. I am very grateful that my nausea lasted only 5-6 weeks, and my fatigue became less after about 8 weeks. So I started to get up the hopes that I could get outside and continue running at a more 'normal-for-me' pace and be just fine! Well there have been a couple of factors that have still kept me from that goal: 1) My overall fitness level has somewhat decreased, 2) My body needs to exert way more energy in order to run at paces and distances that were 'easy' just a few months ago, and 3) The Texas heat kills me. I have never been one who enjoys running in 90+ degree weather, nor have I ever been able to do it particularly well. Combine all of these factors together and it makes for one discouraged, frustrated, and irritated pregnant woman.

While out for a walk last night, I discovered that these thoughts and feelings were rooted in a few different areas of sin: selfishness, discontentment, envy, and jealousy. My frustration in not being able to run how I want virtually spells out the selfishness in my heart. I want to do it for me, and when I don't/can't get what I want I become frustrated. I am discontent because what used to come so naturally is now feeling very unnatural and that creates a lack of joy in my heart. I am envious and jealous of other women that I see running with no problem: most of whom are probably not pregnant. See how foolish these things are when they are exposed? I am confronted with the fact that I am still yet to be fully redeemed, and am in need of my Savior. David says it well in Psalm 86 when he cries out, "Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me! For I am poor and needy." In God's infinite wisdom, He knows my desires and my frustrations. Yet, He desires that I cry to Him with those frustrations and tell Him my honest feelings. I am comforted by the fact that He is "...good and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You." (86:5)

Do I still want to run right on through this pregnancy? Absolutely! Do I believe that God will surely answer that prayer? I don't know. In the meantime, I must choose to trust Him and believe the fact that even when I can't run fast, or even run at all, God has ordained this time for my good - to teach me humility, the fleetingness of physical beauty, and fact that He cares about me in all of my weakness and stumblings. Have you ever dealt with insecurities in your pregnancy? I am right there with you sister.. let's keep fighting.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Goat Cheese Makes Everything Better

A memorable incident that occurred during the first year of Chance and I's marriage was the infamous purchase of a log of "chèvre" (i.e. goat cheese). We had just returned from a trip to the cold, northern parts of Michigan with my parents where we had stayed in a lovely condo, enjoyed tubing and skiing for a few days, and relaxing by the warm fire. One night my mom and I ventured out to the grocery store to collect ingredients for that night's dinner: roasted asparagus, a green salad and chicken breasts: stuffed with goat cheese. After that meal I fell in love with the stuff all over again and wanted to make the same meal for Chance and I when we got back to our little Florida apartment.
A few weeks later I made a visit to Publix (although in those days we mostly shopped at Wal-Mart) and meandered over to the gourmet cheese section of the deli. There I beheld what I had been looking for: one 4 oz. log of chèvre. I snatched it up and went to check out. I ended up making the chicken for dinner and used sun-dried tomato spread in addition to the goat cheese which was quite a hit. I don't really remember how the subject came up, but Chance probably asked out of curiosity how much the goat cheese cost. I probably showed him the receipt, not thinking much of it, and he practically fell out of his chair: $5.99 (or some amount that he deemed outrageous for a log of cheese)! This began a long conversation about our grocery budget and what my views were of spending money on food (something that would be the topic of conversation for some time to come). Needless to say, we didn't quite agree with each other but were able to laugh it off later, as I 'owned up' to my oversight and apologized not telling him before I splurged on the goat cheese.

Fast forward to today, almost a year and a half later, we shop at Sunflower Market (a natural grocer/farmer's market here in Dallas). While flipping through their weekly ad I spotted it: a SALE on goat cheese! $2.99 per 4 oz.! HOORAY! At my last grocery store visit, I picked some up and went home a happy lady to a happy husband. This past week I used the goat cheese on salads, in wraps, and in one recipe that is worthy of sharing. Chance had his wisdom teeth out on Monday (ouch!) and has been eating only soft foods, like yogurt and soup, so that left me to cook dinner for myself. I decided to do something easy (go figure) and roasted some vegetables, cooked some pasta, and tossed it all together -- topping it with goat cheese of course. And POOF - instant goodness.

Roasted Vegetable Pasta topped with Chèvre
2 red peppers
2 green peppers
1 yellow pepper
1 red onion
1 small yellow or sweet onion
2 cups of brown rice rotini pasta (or whole grain if you're not Gluten Free)
2 thin slices or crumbles of plain goat cheese
1 tbs. olive or grapeseed oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Cut up all vegetables into 1/2 inch chunks and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Spray with either canola oil or drizzle olive oil on top of the veggies. Sprinkle with garlic powder, and any other seasoning you might care to use. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are browning and tender. At the 10 minute mark, cook your pasta according to directions on the box/bag. When the veggies are finished roasting take them out of the oven, drain your pasta, add to a bowl or plate, mix them together, then top with a generous amount of goat cheese - to your liking.

This recipe is DELISH! I had the leftovers at work the next day and it was still good. Like I said, goat cheese just makes everything better...

Additional recipe using goat cheese - 'Paris Cafe's (WPB) "Moulin Rouge" Salad
Toss together 1) organic mixed salad greens, 2) 5-7 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved 3) A handful of pistachios (shelled) or unsalted pumpkin seeds, 4) Goat cheese crumbles, 5) a 1/2 to 1 whole avocado, diced 5) Some sort of balsamic dressing (I like Dijon/balsamic vinegar/evoo) -- this salad is SOOO good! The homemade version competes with Paris Cafe's but I would encourage anyone visiting West Palm Beach, FL to visit Paris Cafe on S. Olive Ave -you will not be disappointed! Enjoy :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

From glory to GLORY

As I have been reading and studying through 2 Corinthians with a friend, there have been a few apparent themes that have stuck out to me. One of which is the idea that God is transforming those who "turn to the Lord" into the same image as His son.  This is especially encouraging to me, because over the past year I have experienced a season of particular spiritual dryness. Many things have contributed to this, change being the biggest factor, and I will write about that later. But this morning I want to look at the idea of the transformation of the Christian into the likeness of our Savior. Let's look at three particular passages:

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB)"

"For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. " (2 Corinthians 4:6-7, ESV)

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16, ESV)

As we begin to look at the themese that run throughout these verses, we can pick up on a few key words: glory . glory of God . transformed . Jesus Christ . renewed . These words give us a hint as what Paul is talking about in this section. After he has just ended a discussion on the old covenant's fading glory, he climaxes by showing us that the glory of the new covenant is not fading but is instead a great glory that is permanent. Specifically, in 3:18, Paul says that all who have "turned to the Lord" see the glory of the Lord (Jesus Christ) "as in a mirror". As I began thinking of what that imagery meant, I got a clear picture in my mind of what looking into a mirror shows us. If I look into a mirror, I will see myself staring back at me! And Paul here is saying that we behold Jesus in a mirror! What does that mean? He is saying that as we are transformed into the the same image that we see of Christ in the mirror. God's glory is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ who is in all believers and God's Spirit transforms us to look more and more like Christ so that we behold a better and better image of Christ in ourselves.

In the next two verses, Paul is expanding on the idea of glory of God revealed in the person of Jesus. We clearly don't like like glorified Jesus externally. We don't glow, as He did at the Transfiguration, nor do we have resurrection bodies (yet!) that are without the stain of sin. Let's face it, we are simply "jars of clay", common vessels that have no special appearance in and of themselves. But Paul is saying here that the same God who created the light, has also shone light in the hearts of believers to reveal an inner knowledge of the glory of God, which is shown in the face or person of Christ. This inner knowledge is what is held in our 'jars of clay' bodies and it is what Paul calls "surpassing greatness of the power" that comes from God and not from ourselves.

Lastly, as Paul has mentioned the trials that he and his fellow ministers of the gospel have been through, he makes an astounding statement, "So we do not lose heart..." (4:16), because he knows that we should know too - that though our earthly bodies are decaying, dying everyday a little bit more, our inner selves are being renewed. How are they being renewed? By the knowledge of the glory of God that we possess, and by the transforming work of the Spirit of God to change us from one image of God to a more glorious image of God -- the likeness of the perfect image of God: Jesus Christ.

So how does this relate to the daily grind of work, family, friends, and life in general? John MacArthur, his 2 Corinthians study guide asks the question, "How can you practically 'behold the glory of the Lord' in everyday activities?" and so I pose a similar question: How in the midst of the distraction of daily life can you 'behold the glory of the Lord' by looking to Jesus? That may mean a daily reminder that it is GOD who works in us sanctification, and our own efforts are NOT enough; or that may look like simply resting in the righteousness that is imputed to you and not trying to add to it. By beholding Jesus in the mirror of the Word, we see both our lost state apart from Him AND our new selves that are continually being transformed into his likeness. And that I can praise God for because I sure do need that reminder!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Grace Versus Anger

{ "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." -Ephesians 6:4 }

As I sat in my office this morning, I couldn't help but overhear a 'discussion' that was going on between a father and his daughter on the phone. Apparently, the daughter blatantly disobeyed the order of her father and had her car towed. The father refused to pay for this though the daughter likely was very sorry for her mistake and disobedience. I heard this 'discussion' that had turned into more of an argument for the better part of 15 minutes, all the while, trying to focus on my computer screen. After the phone call ended, my heart just broke. There was much cursing on part of the father, and I can imagine many tears on part of his daughter. One scripture came to mind: Ephesians 6:4. When I've read this verse in the past I have wondered and tried to imagine what this might look and sound like. I'm sure I have had experiences with my father in which I was disobedient and he yelled at me out of anger or frustration. But listening to the aforementioned conversation, I couldn't help but say in my head, "This is exactly what Paul says NOT to do!"

Why do you think Paul gives this command to fathers, to not "provoke their children to anger"? I think it is because where anger sets in, the root of bitterness begins to grow. Paul here in one verse, contrasts "provoking children to anger" and "bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord". He notes the difference in the way that the father acts, because he has just finished instructing children to "obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (6:1). For a child to listen to the disappointment and anger in a father's voice is much like being slapped in the face. No child likes to disappoint their parents, regardless of how rebellious the child is, there is that deep down guilt when one is "disobedient to parents" (Rom. 1:30).

So how should a parent respond to a child who has acted in disobedience and is seeking forgiveness? Grace. Parents need to extend the same grace that they have been given at the cross. This is not to say that discipline is not in order - in fact Paul commands this! But gracious discipline trains a child that a parent disciplines out of love, not out of frustration or anger. Just as the Lord disciplines his children, so parents ought to discipline their children in order that their children might grow up to fear the Lord and his commandments (see Hebrews 12:5-11). God's goal in disciplining his children is their "holiness" (Heb. 12:11) and parents' goals in their discipline and instruction should be first and foremost to glorify God, and second to teach their children to do the same. Grace can be extended by parents to their children through chastisement, as long as that grace is motivated out of a pure heart that recognizes the same undeserved favor that has been extended to them.

We must first learn grace in order to show it to others. This has been my prayer for the past few weeks: God, teach me your grace that I might show extend it to others! I wonder what this might have looked like in the conversation I overheard this morning. Let us never become weary in the task of being grace-giving, God-glorifying people.

[See also The Gospel Coalition's recent blog post about this issue: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/06/13/dont-just-wait-until-theyre-teenagers/]