Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I heard the voice of Folly whisper in my daughter’s ear the other day…..literally. When I said “no” to an inconvenient play date, I heard her friend, who at 7 has yet to acquire a skill for discreetness, suggest that Julia could sneak out of the house to play any way. Hmmmmm……. She’s seven so I didn’t freak out, but later, when we were alone, Julia wanted to know how that would work……… “sneaking out”. Thankfully, my explanation reeked of foolishness to her because she knew I would miss her eventually. Absolutely, I would.

That particular afternoon I had the unusual privilege of hearing the voice with my own two ears, barely two feet away. So how many times does she hear it in my absence and decide to keep it to herself- hiding the key to the ongoing diary in her developing mind? Of course, I have no way of knowing how much foolishness there is floating around in her little head—some carefully concocted on her own, some just out of nowhere. I am helpless- and feeling every bit of it- to pull it out myself, dissect it and give her a three point talk on WHY it is foolish.

I was with a friend over the weekend who brought to my attention how affected I am by a story. I finish a book and I can’t leave it alone. I rehash it, reread it and retell it to whoever will listen. There has been a book on my night stand for almost a year waiting to become my “beach read” for the summer. I knew it would be good, but before I could finish the prologue, it had lodged itself comfortably in my most sentimental places. Wrapped in Rain is the story and now I want to be a little God -fearing woman who two little boys, and later two grown men, refer to as “Momma Ella”. She was not their “Momma” in the regular sense of the word, but she filled the shoes and burst the seams. I set out to read something entertaining and engaging –check, check—but sitting there reading to the tune of rolling waves, I was forced to look at my parenting style and my expectations of my children from every vantage point. It may be the best “parenting book” I have ever read surprising me with its guise of paperback fiction.

This gigantic character of “Momma Ella” gave me plenty on which to ponder- her faith, her prayerfulness, her devotion, her creativity, her consistency, her wisdom, and her patience which seemed to have no end. I found comfort in the fact that she was just a person created on paper because otherwise, I might be guilty of stalking or worse, idol worship. With obstacles none of us even dream of {and if we did, it would only come in the form of a nightmare}, Miss Ella Rain figured out how to secretly dish out Biblical instruction that was palatable and age appropriate for the boys she was raising. She loved them fiercely even though she was merely employed by the family. She vowed to protect them no matter what and more than once, actually found out what “no matter what” looked and felt like. And last, and most certainly not the least, she made sure she threw the baseball with them any time they asked. What captivated me most though, was Momma Ella’s tongue. Oh my. Apples of gold in settings of silver. The words that rolled off her tongue were always “aptly spoken”—from times the boys blatantly disobeyed her clear instructions to times they would crawl through her window during the blackness of night because they were scared. She was constantly praying for them, battling for them, filling their minds with Truths from God’s Word- principles to guide them, light to show them the way. Even when they knew they were in trouble—big trouble—they would run to Miss Ella because they knew hers was the voice they needed to hear…... wanted to hear. Her words would steer them straight and make all things right in their horrific world. In Miss Ella’s arms, those two boys found grace.
Challenged with every page, I kept telling myself she was just a character in a book- a make believe person that “worked” for the author’s plot until I read that the inspiration for Miss Ella Rain was the author’s own mother. Drats. A woman like that really existed somewhere out there and that reality served me a mixture of conviction and accountability. Then I had some real thinking to do and so it began there on the beach with my toes squished in the sand and has gone on since I read to the end of page 368.
I was impressed that my job is most certainly to pour in the Truth giving Julia and Brighton the plumb line to hold up against the folly of this world as it wafts it way into their ears from the four corners of their ever expanding world. Obviously, the first thing is I must have something in my pitcher to pour. The hours I spend alone with God are invaluable and indispensable for me and the parenting of my children. Spending time in His Presence and in His Word guarantees me something to offer them. I have no excuse for slacking on their spiritual instruction. It is a non-negotiable.

I also realized that no matter how much Biblical instruction I give them, I won’t ever be able to control what choices they make. The best thing I can do is to pray for them and, in love, saturate their minds with what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy so that when folly comes strolling along, they are struck by the STARK contrast and sense the Spirit’s still voice.

Julia did tell me of another time when someone spoke absolute foolishness to her. Upon finding out that Julia was adopted into our family, the little girl made up this far-fetched and tragic story about my Julia’s first days out of the womb. What shocked me even more was that I didn’t hear about it until 24 hours later. Interestingly enough, I found that she was quite unaffected by it because she knew the truth of her beginnings because she’s heard it every year on her birthday from her Daddy plus many times in between. She trusts what we have told her to be true, so the tale the little girl told was nothing but that, a tale. I can pray for the same discernment between wisdom and folly- that Christ’s voice through me will help establish that in Julia and Brighton.

I was also reminded that I want to be the voice that Julia and Brighton long to hear- even when they have chosen “folly”. My mouth has to be offering something refreshing and life giving -- not confining, shaming words for the sake of control or appearance. They need words to live by, not words from which to hide. They need words that point them to the Truth, not words that make it hard to believe the Truth. I need to give them a reason to seek me out when things haven’t turned out just so. They need to know grace will be found at home- sensible consequences, yes, but also overdoses of grace.
Folly’s voice is loud right now—deafening, at times and always competing for listening ears. What is mine like? I know what I want it to be--calm, consistent wisdom which whets their appetites causing them to long for more. I also know this type of voice only comes by regularly experiencing sweet fellowship with Christ. I think the greatest discipline of parents is abiding. Nothing about me is calm and consistent, much less wise, apart from Him. In my flesh, my best voice to Julia and Brighton is nice, but while abiding in His Spirit, my voice is everything they need and want. Refreshing and life giving. A little bit like Rain. Folly can’t compete with that.

"You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the LORD, have created it." Isaiah 45:8

{A re-post from the archive, July 2009}


Alyssa said...

Great reminders! The picture of abiding is so powerful because of what flows in and what flows out of that time.

TJ Wilson said...

"I think the greatest discipline of parents is abiding."
Loved that book when you shared it with me -

Erica said...

Thank you for once again sharing wisdom. I wish I could just come sit in your home for an afternoon or two and soak in all you offer to your sweet children.
You abide and therefore have so very much to offer!