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dangerousbiblegames
It has been fascinating reading the comments you are writing on the posts I’ve made about Phil Robertson and the Duck Dynasty debacle. I love reading all the different perspectives, yes, even the ones I don’t agree with. But I have seen a recurring theme among many of the comments as well as other articles I am reading, whether they are from Christians or non-Christians – and it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

We play dangerous games when it comes to Christianity. In my view, there are two main games we play that are both destructive and damning. One: we add things to the Bible. Two: we take things away from the Bible.

Whether by falling into one category or both, when we decide to pervert the Bible with our own interpretations, however well-meaning, we are playing with eternal Hell-fire, no pun intended.

What am I talking about, exactly? Let’s break this down.

The Danger of Addition

We’ll start with the category of adding things to the Bible. There are lots of religions out there (of which I will not name here for the simple reason that I don’t have time to list them all) that add things to the Bible. They claim things like, “yes, the Bible is true. So is this (insert random religious text or philosophy here).” Their extra-biblical documents serve as “clarification” for the things of the Bible that are difficult to describe or understand on their own. They are authored by men (as is every book in history except the Bible) and often contemporary writings (by contemporary I mean from the last few centuries). It is from these groups that most of the world’s cults appear. However, you don’t have to be of a cult to add things to the Bible and claim them to be true.

The danger in adding anything to the Bible is that you suddenly blur the lines of Truth. When do you stop? If there are truths that “pair well” with the Bible based on your own opinion, why don’t other “truths” pair with the Bible in my opinion? Why is your opinion higher than mine? Let’s say you’re a scholar. Does that make your opinion higher than mine? Let’s say you’re a very devout, religious person. Does that make your opinion higher than mine? Or higher than someone else’s? Where does it stop? And who’s to say who is right?

The thing about God is that, well, He is GOD. He gets to decide what Truth is. Not me. Not you. Not anyone well “learned” in any specific subject. Because if Truth is up to humans, then there is no such thing as Truth for it is subjective to passing whims, trends, and ideas over the millennia. Truth is either infallible, or it isn’t truth. Therefore ANYTHING outside of the Bible that is paraded as “just as true” as the Bible, is indeed NOT.

The Danger of Subtraction

The other category is of those who would take things away from the Bible. These are the folks who would say that we don’t really know what certain passages mean, or that certain passages are just metaphorical, or that much of the Bible is just folk stories that didn’t really happen. The danger here is similar to the danger of adding things to the Bible. Who am I to say what’s true and what’s not? Sure, I’m a person of intellect. I can read the book of Jonah and come to the conclusion that it seems highly improbable that a man was swallowed by a fish and lived to tell the tale. But who am I to say that it DIDN’T happen either? I wasn’t there. Neither were you. And why couldn’t it have happened? After all, if the God who CREATED THE UNIVERSE wanted me to hang out in the belly of a giant fish for a while to learn my lesson, I’m pretty sure He could get me out alive, too.

Aside from the fact that using the Huffington Post as your authority on the Bible makes about as much sense as using a high school student’s 300 word paper on rocket science as your authority on the science, I decided to click and read.

The danger in cherry-picking what’s true in the Bible is that you fall down a slippery slope where the Bible means one thing to this group and another to that group. The Bible stops being absolute Truth and starts being an ancient self help book that is about as trustworthy to stand on for your life’s problems as Swiss cheese.

Here’s case and point. I read something the other day by a well-meaning friend who was pointing out that we don’t “really know what the Bible means when it talks about [subject intentionally removed†].” This person then provided a link to a Huffington Post article entitled, “What Does the Bible Really Say About [subject intentionally removed]?” Aside from the fact that using the Huffington Post as your authority on the Bible makes about as much sense as using a high school student’s 300 word paper on rocket science as your authority on the science, I decided to click and read. The article cited all of the scriptures on the subject, both Old and New Testament, most of which say things blatant like “IT IS AN ABOMINATION.” Their conclusion? Well, we don’t know if that’s what they REALLY meant.

Really? This is your earth-shattering conclusion about a difficult topic in the Bible? We don’t REALLY know what they meant?

I don’t know about you, but I would not want to bet my eternity on a twenty-first century’s online editorial about the possible nuances of Biblical sentence structure. Seems like a losing proposition.

The Bible, The Whole Bible, and Nothing But the Bible

As for me, I don’t have time to wonder what’s true and what’s not in the Bible. It’s either ALL TRUE, or ALL CRAZY. That’s really the only scenario that makes sense to me. And I don’t want to hear the argument that it’s all in “how you interpret it.” There is no difficulty in interpreting, “[Insert Biblically-cited sin] is an abomination.”

It would seem to me that the only reason to pick and choose what is true in the Bible is to justify our own sins. And it may even be as simple as just choosing to ignore certain parts of the Bible as opposed to redefining them. I know several pastors who were in the depths of an affair still preaching the Word. Did they say that the Bible doesn’t say adultery is sin? Oh no, they instead justified their actions by saying that they were really in love with their mistresses, but not with their wives.

So that makes it all ok, right?

Wrong. I’m not going to pretend to be intellectually on-par with a being who created the universe and orchestrated divine intricacies like photosynthesis and the miracle of conception by saying I know when He was just being metaphorical. Or ironic. Or sentimental. I’m going to play it safe (smart, rather) and assume He meant every word He said. Either that or I’m going to assume He meant none of it. Otherwise, I’m not doing myself or anyone else any favors by claiming to have correctly interpreted the subtle and subversive nuances of the Almighty God. I’ll leave that up to Him.

†If you’re wondering why I removed the subject of discussion, I wanted to make sure this post sticks to the intended purpose: a discussion of Biblical interpretation. I did not want to chase rabbits of the nuances of specific topics of the Bible. (At least not on this post.)

iblamegod
I fear we need to gain a little perspective on the subject of Phil Robertson vs. the entire homosexual community. I’ve heard a lot of people clarify their stance on the subject with phrases along the lines of, “it’s not what he said, it’s how he said it.”

Perhaps we need to have a little reality check. Phil Robertson is an uncouth, backwoods redneck (self-proclaimed). His beard is longer than my hair. His idea of comfortable clothes includes camouflage pants and a camouflage shirt. His idea of Sunday fancies includes camouflage pants and a black shirt. His idea of interior design includes a camouflage recliner to match his camouflage pants. If we were all expecting eloquent prose from the man, then perhaps we all need a gentle little “love slap” in our proverbial faces. Admittedly, his comments were uncouth and graphic. But his comments were also a paraphrasing of the Bible. So let’s all get honest here. We can hide behind the excuse of not liking how he said what he said, but reality is obviously that we just didn’t like what he said.

It has been God’s M.O. from day one to use the unexpected messenger.

And unfortunately, if you don’t like what he said, then you don’t like the Bible. That’s something you need to take up with God Almighty, not Phil Robertson. Or A&E. Or the whole of Christendom.

Yes, Phil Robertson is rough around the edges, to put it nicely. But if I don’t like that style, I don’t have to listen. I don’t have to watch. No one is forcing me to turn on A&E on Wednesday nights with my head in a vice turned towards the television, forcing the crudeness of Duck Dynasty into my sweet, innocent head. I can go watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo just as easily, and feel great about my much more sensible cable television choice.

But if you think that God can’t use someone like Phil because he’s uncouth and outlandish, you’re sadly mistaken. It has been God’s M.O. from day one to use the unexpected messenger. I don’t have the time to list out all of them (read the Bible for all the details), but I’ll use the example of John the Baptist, for the sake of this argument. (It is Christmastime, after all. And John’s mission was to herald the coming of the Promised One.)

John the Baptist. If you don’t know much about him, you probably at least know that he was dirty. And kind of gross. And lived in the desert eating locusts and honey. He was loud and kind of obnoxious in the face of the status quo. He probably, for all intents and purposes, looked and acted a LOT like Phil Robertson. (Consequently, Phil himself pointed out in his I Am Second† video that he doesn’t look nearly as rough as John the Baptist did. Funny, really.) But God used him nonetheless as a powerful herald to the world of that time that the Kingdom of Heaven was near! His message shook the world from the ground up, so much so, that the king himself (Herod) had him beheaded just to shut him up. (Oh the irony, A&E! Oh the irony!)

If God chose a vagabond like John the Baptist to herald the coming of His Son (you know, the Messiah, SAVIOR OF THE ENTIRE WORLD), why wouldn’t God use Phil Robertson to remind the world that we need him? He uses all kinds of people to spread His message. We are all different, after all. And different styles speak to different people. If you want a squeaky clean, feel good Gospel, tune into Joel Osteen. If you want a passionate, challenging Gospel, tune into T. D. Jakes. If you want a meaty and deep combing through of the Gospel, tune into Robert Morris. If you want a down-to-earth, rough around the edges version of the Gospel, tune into Phil Robertson. God’s in the business of being all things to all people, after all. He meets us where we are; He doesn’t expect us to become something we’re not in order to meet Him.

No, it’s not really Phil the world has a problem with these days. It’s his message. And his message is the Bible. So let’s all stop beating around the bush and be honest – people don’t like to hear that their way of life is a sin. People don’t like to hear that there is only ONE WAY to Heaven through Jesus Christ. People don’t like to hear that “good people” don’t get into heaven. People don’t like to hear that things are an abomination in God’s eyes. People don’t like to hear anything these days that might challenge their comfortable little zone of the world.

No, my friends, it’s not Phil Roberson you have a problem with. It’s God.

Take it up with Him. He can take it, let me assure you. And He would absolutely love to have the conversation with you.

†As an inconsequential side note, it was this I Am Second video that got me started watching Duck Dynasty. Before I saw it, I didn’t have a care in the world to watch the show because I’m not really into uncouth, pointless reality television. Just like you, I have a choice NOT to watch. But once I saw this video, I knew I wanted to know more about this family that would stand so boldly for faith on an otherwise grossly secular network. And God bless them for it!

bibleisforbigots
Wow, the web seems to have blown up in the last 24 hours over the whole A&E Networks vs. Phil Robertson debacle! It seems everyone has a distinct and polarizing opinion on the subject. In case you’re unaware entirely, Phil Robertson, the father of the family starring in the A&E show Duck Dynasty, said (in a nutshell) in an interview with GQ magazine that he believes homosexuality is wrong because the Bible teaches that it’s wrong. And what a hullabaloo that created! People are shouting from their virtual mountain tops on either side of the debate.

“Christians are haters!”

“Stand with Phil!”

“Ban Duck Dynasty because the Robertsons are bigots!”

“Ban A&E for banning Phil!”

Wherever you stand, one thing is clear: the subject of homosexuality in America is touchy, to say the least.

The Bible also teaches other, very clear principles: things like “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) and “remove the plank from your own eye before you remove the speck from your brother’s” (Matthew 7:5).

But all of this racket has got me thinking. I have many, many homosexual friends. I have steered clear of the topic on this blog until now because I would never, EVER want them to feel hurt by something I might say in the heat of the moment. To be clear, I do believe the Bible’s stand is clear on the subject: it is wrong and a sin. But the Bible also teaches other, very clear principles: things like “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) and “remove the plank from your own eye before you remove the speck from your brother’s” (Matthew 7:5). All this to say that if you are one of those Christians who claims to believe the whole Bible, then it would behoove you to apply the whole Bible. And what that means, in a very tiny nutshell, is that while sin is sin, the Love of Christ trumps it. And our calling as believers is to stand with truth, preach the Gospel, and LOVE our brothers, our neighbors, our enemies alike, just as Christ loves us.

If we’re incapable of doing both, then we shouldn’t call ourselves followers of Christ.

If we’re going to follow that line of thinking, we would all hate all people, all the time, for no one is perfect, no not one.

But I would daresay that the problem actually lies in a giant, societal assumption about most things Christian these days. There is an underlying message that if you believe something contrary to me, you must hate me. Look around and see if it isn’t so. And unfortunately homosexuality falls square in the middle of that line of thinking.

I would like to propose the idea that we, as humans, are perfectly capable of believing in certain principles and laws of God without hating those who don’t follow them. After all, the Bible also says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). So if we’re going to follow that line of thinking, we would all hate all people, all the time, for no one is perfect, no not one.

I’ll give a simple example. The Bible teaches to “honor your father and mother.” This is both an Old and New Testament principle (Exodus and Ephesians). My children, God bless them, have yet to master the art of honoring me and my husband perfectly all the time. Despite their sweet little faces, they can be real pistols from time to time. And while they fail at this clearly-stated Biblical principle, I don’t fail to love them for it. I haven’t decided to hate my children because they haven’t repented of their sins of dishonor. No, it’s quite the contrary. I love them all the more, because I know that love is the only thing that’s going to teach them that following said principle is even worth it.

And, my friends, the same applies to homosexuality. Do I agree with it? No, I don’t. There, I said it. But do I hate anyone who practices it? Absolutely not!! Absolutely not. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I love them dearly, because I know that they, just like me, are sinners in need of a Savior. And I don’t ever want any hate I might spew to ever deter them from finding that Truth.

When I read the words of Phil Robertson (all of them, not just the snippets that are being thrown around social media like a hot potato), I don’t see a bit of hate in them. I see a man who, when asked, shared that he agrees with the Bible on the subject of homosexuality. But he went on to say that, “I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”

Does that sound like a man of hate? Indeed, it doesn’t. And perhaps we would all be better off if we remembered that just because you believe certain things about the world, about life, about your faith, it does not in any way imply that you hate anyone who doesn’t share those beliefs.

There is a growing intolerance for anything Christian these days. And we Christians would do well to remember that, remain calm, and show love anyway. Otherwise, we will just be joining the squeaky wheels in a useless cycle of name-calling and tantrums. And it won’t get us anywhere.

The majority of the world is a bunch of crazies that need to be locked up.

So what does all of this have to do with Christmas? Everything, actually. The message of Christmas is that God loved us so much that He didn’t want to leave us the way we are. He saw in us something worth saving, worth loving, worthy dying for. So He sent His only son to earth that whoever would believe in Him, would have everlasting life with Him. Wow. Have you ever really thought about that? God. Sent His Son. To DIE. For YOU. So that you don’t have to stay how you are. You can have LIFE in Him. A life everlasting. Whatever our sins are, they are already forgiven by Christ. All we have to do is accept that. If we’ve all sinned, then we all need Christ. So it’s a good thing He came, isn’t it?

I love Christmas because I love Christ. And because I love Christ, I love everyone He loves. I may not like them all the time, but I love them nonetheless. And I’m determined to let everyone know who would listen, that Christ is everything we would ever need, if only we would let Him be. Does that make me an intolerant bigot? If I am, then so is Christ. And if Christ is, then millions, nay billions of those who have followed Him over the millennia were too. And if that’s the case, the majority of the world is a bunch of crazies that need to be locked up. And if that’s the way you feel, you DEFINITELY need Christ this Christmas! 🙂

Let’s all take a moment to remember what Christ did for us, and what we can do for each other in return. And let’s all calm down and stop crucifying anyone who might believe that, stand for it, and apply all that the God of the Bible teaches. Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails, after all. (I Corinthians 13:7-8)

secularsanta
It’s that time of year. When elves are being mischievous on shelves. When reindeer are flying around shopping center rooftops. When an old man can somehow see when I’m sleeping. He knows when I’m awake. He knows if I’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake. (That’s the only reason to be good, after all.)

I don’t ever want my kids to grow up thinking Christmas is all about Santa, or Santa’s birthday (thank you, Bart Simpson).

I know lots of families who wrestle with faith versus culture this time of year. I’ve read many blogs on many different philosophies. “Santa represents the magic of this season. Why would you deny your kids that magic?” Or, “Jesus is all the ‘magic’ we should ever need. How dare we replace Jesus with Santa!”

I’ve thought and prayed a lot about where our family should fall on this apparently polarizing topic (at least for Christians). On one hand, I don’t ever want my kids to grow up thinking Christmas is all about Santa, or Santa’s birthday (thank you, Bart Simpson). But on the other hand, I grew up with Santa but I still knew what Christmas was all about. I think I turned out alright (some of you are shaking your heads in dissent, I’m sure).

So what is the answer? Sure, people will point out that Santa comes from Saint Nicholas, a really nice guy from centuries ago that helped children and gave as a representation of the gift of Christ. Great. And some people would say that anything America associates with Christmas – trees, evergreens, red and green itself – is of pagan origin and should therefore never be in a Christian home. I’ve heard it all, haven’t you?

Their Santa figurines will be kneeling with the wise men at the nativity.

I suppose the answer is the same answer for any Christian in any circumstance, with any topic that is not expressly spelled out in the Bible: let the Holy Spirit lead YOUR family.

For some families, that’s going to mean a strictly orthodox Christmas – the nativity, the advent candles, and absolutely NO Santa whatsoever. For some families, it’s going to be some hybrid of American Christmas tradition and religion. Their Santa figurines will be kneeling with the wise men at the nativity. (The wise men were never at the stable, by the way.) And for some families, it’s going to mean Santa, candy canes, stockings hung by chimneys with care, and perhaps the Christmas candlelight service at church – you know, give Jesus his due respect.

Wherever your family falls this season, just make sure you have prayed about it and let the Lord lead you. If you’re a Christian, that’s your job in all things, after all. And if you decide to incorporate Santa, don’t feel bad about it for one minute. If you decide not to, don’t feel bad about it for one minute, either.

As with most things in life, when put in their proper place and perspective, they can be completely used for the glory of God. After all, if we wanted to strip the church of anything remotely “secular,” we would never sing hymns, for those are mostly composed of the melodies of old bar tunes. And we would never use evergreens at Christmas because those were originally used by pagans to celebrate the winter solstice. We wouldn’t do a lot of things in the church if we avoided anything that was possibly linked to the secular world in some way: technology, air-conditioning, and on and on.

The truth is, it’s easy to become dogmatic when it comes to religion. But at the end of the day, as long as we teach our children that Jesus is the reason for the season, because Christmas is the celebration of His birth (which, consequently, was probably not on December 25th, or even in December for that matter) and the celebration of the beautiful gift God gave us by sending His son to the world to save us – as long as we teach them the truth – the rest is just details.

And to quote my husband, that’s my Christian opinion.

Either way, have yourself a Merry Christmas!

icepocalypse2013
“The worst ice storm in years!”

“The coldest weather DFW has ever seen this time of year!”

“Icemageddon!!”

“Icepocalypse!”

These are just some of the phrases floating around social media and local news over the past few days here in Dallas/Fort Worth. It has been the coldest, iciest weather I can remember in DFW. It started on Thursday with freezing rain and sleet, coming down in droves, for a solid day. And here we are, Monday morning, and about 2% of it has melted. Literally entire freeways are shut down. People have been stranded on the highway for days. No one can go anywhere. Schools are shut down. Businesses are shut down. Churches didn’t meet this weekend. Needless to say, this would be the absolute WORST time for your heater to go off.

Which is exactly what happened to us.

Last week was Thanksgiving and the kids and I spent a few days with my family while my husband had to stay behind and work. (Don’t worry, he got to come out and spend Thanksgiving day with us!) When we got back home last Sunday, he told me that the heater had been making strange sounds and that I should tell our landlord. My first thought? “Oh Lance, you and your worries. I’m sure it’s nothing.” I almost said it but something (which I now know was nothing other than God Himself) told me to call our landlord immediately. So I did. I never do that. In the past when we have had the inevitable little problems that arise in a home (water heater going out, toilets on the fritz, etc.), I’ve always waited a few days to call. Perhaps out of a fear of sounding like a whiner, but whatever the case, I NEVER call immediately when a problem starts to arise. But this time, I did. Never having even heard the heater make the sound myself, I called.

The landlord sent someone out that night to look at it. Sure enough, it was dying. He said we needed to order an entirely new unit! (Wait, what?) The weather had been predicting the ice-apocalypse that was headed our way for a few days so I asked the repairman if we could get a new unit before it hit. He assured me we would. The weather was due to hit overnight Thursday going into Friday. He said we would have a new unit by Thursday.

So when the sleet started at 2pm Thursday afternoon, I knew the prospects of a new heater were slim. But no worries, it was still working, it was just making weird, loud sounds. But those weird sounds got weirder and weirder and louder and louder. By Friday evening the heater would kick on for about 3 minutes and then shut off again for hours. But oddly enough, it never got arctic in our house, despite the temperatures in the teens and wind chills below zero outside.

We called the landlord again to tell her what was going on. I could tell she felt really bad. I didn’t want her to – it’s not like she planned this perfect storm of freezing weather and a dying heater. Nonetheless, she asked her repairman to brave the icy roads and come see if there was something he could do to keep it going. He came on Saturday, worked some magic, and got it up and running again. He said he thought it would hold out until he could get the new unit here on Monday. But again, it still wasn’t arctic in our house.

The “fix” was short-lived and our heater died again. Lance and I were worried sick about our kids. We have two pathetically small space heaters and we kept them on in their rooms at night and rotated them around the house during the day in the areas we were using the most. We each separately laid hands on the heater (unbeknownst to each other) asking God to keep it going. We laughed when we both, embarrassed, admitted to each other that we were laying hands on our heating unit. Every time it would try to come on, I would start my 9-1-1 prayer, begging God, “Please, oh please, oh please keep it on! Let it work this time!” Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. But still, the house wasn’t cold.

I was tired of begging God to keep the heater running and tired of feeling like sometimes He answered and sometimes He didn’t.

By Sunday night, I was frazzled and tired. I was tired of worrying about our kids, tired of praying like a dying woman every time the heater tried to come back on. I was tired of begging God to keep the heater running and tired of feeling like sometimes He answered and sometimes He didn’t.

Our sweet neighbors offered to let us sleep at their house last night (Sunday). Lance and I talked about it and as we did, I realized something – it had never really gotten cold in our house, despite the fact that we hadn’t had a heater for days and the temps were at record cold. Then it hit me. I had been praying all weekend for the heater to keep coming on. I had been riding a roller coaster of ups and downs – elated when it would come on, disappointed and upset when it didn’t. But never once on that roller coaster did I stop to take into account that we had never gotten cold. In fact the temperature gauge on the thermostat never went below 68º. And most of the time it stayed around 72-73º. It was a miracle. A true, no reason this should have happened, bonafide miracle. And the miracle made me realize that often we pray for something specific like “keep our heater on” when all we really need to do is say, “God, I trust You to keep our house warm, heater or not.”

How often could we apply that to our prayers in life? More often than not, I would imagine. When we have financial problems, it’s easy to pray to win the lottery. Sure, that would solve your problems (maybe), but what’s the real need there? The real need is for God to provide for and protect your family. Perhaps that’s what we should be praying. Because miracles don’t always (or ever) come in the form we think would be best (and thank God!). When we have a sick loved one, we often pray for their illness to be healed. And while I know healing happens all the time, and there is a time to pray for healing, sometimes we need to just pray that God would deliver them in His way. And sometimes that deliverance may even mean death. I’m not saying this to sound crass or callous. I’m saying it to point out that God’s ways are bigger than our own and infinitely better than we could imagine.

Our little ice-capade has given me a new perspective on what miracles really are. And as I sit here at my computer typing this blog on what should be ice-cold keys on the keyboard, I’m marveling in the warmth of my un-heated house, and resting in the warmth of the miracle that took place when I wasn’t expecting it.

We are a blessed house, indeed.

Isaiah 55:8 – “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.”

Pictured above:

Left – Icicles on our house, some of them as long as two feet!
Center – The ice so thick it looked like snow. 4-6 inches in some areas.
Right – Virgil “helping” daddy try to dig the car out of the ice.

perception-reality
Before I had children, I knew exactly what kind of parent I was going to be. After my first child, I just knew I was mother of the year. After my second child, I questioned whether or not I should give my children up to be raised by wolves – perhaps they would do better than I.

After my second child, I questioned whether or not I should give my children up to be raised by wolves – perhaps they would do better than I.

I went to the hospital yesterday to visit a friend who just had her first baby. It was a beautiful baby girl and I saw the joy and sparkle of new parenthood in her mother’s eyes. But what I didn’t expect was a mirror image of myself three years ago. There she was, my friend, a new mom, laying in the hospital bed asking me the very same questions I asked myself, my mother, my sisters, my parent-friends when my first child was born.

“She’s nursing every hour but the nurse says she’s supposed to nurse every two to three hours. Is everything ok?”

“She cries all the time. I’m afraid something might be wrong.”

“She’s not latching well. I’m afraid we’re going to have to supplement and I don’t want to.”

I heard my mother’s words in my head: “He’s three days old! Give him a chance to figure it out!” I looked at my friend with a smile and said, “Everything is ok. There’s nothing wrong. You’re both just figuring things out.”

That’s it. We’re all just figuring things out.

I have the privilege of leading a life group for moms at my church. There are new mothers of months-old babies, mothers of teenagers, and everything in between in our group. I love hearing from each of them the joys and challenges they face at every phase of parenthood. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from being around them on a weekly basis, it’s that in every phase, whether young or old, we, as parents, are just figuring things out. There is no handbook. There is no club. I never knew how lonely that could feel until I became a mother myself.

Before I was a mother, I had this idea that all parents are in some sort of unspoken club, the kind where once you’re in, you’re told all the secrets, learn the secret handshake, and get winks and nods from other parents wherever you go. Kind of like the Masons.

Much to my chagrin, there is no such club.

No, in fact it’s quite the opposite. That doctor hands you the baby and then expects you to figure it out. Jerk. No handbook. Not even a pamphlet. Just a smile and a weak, “Congratulations!” He should have said, “Congratulations. You’re about to realize everything you thought you knew means nothing at all. Have fun!”

I will never forget that first day my husband went back to work after our son was born. My parents had been staying with us for a few days, cooking meals, cleaning up, helping us get used to the baby. But, like all good things in life, that came to an abrupt end and there I was, sitting on the couch with a brand new baby in my arms, watching my husband walk out the door and thinking to myself, “What now?”

We’re all just blindly walking around a giant room with our hands out, feeling for the next thing to grab on to that we call our “parenting philosophy.”

I had never felt so alone or scared in my life.

But this particular blog is not to discourage you. This is no, “Welcome to Club Hell. There is no escape.” In fact, this is to let you know that despite how it feels, there really is a club of parents. Despite what it seems, we’re all in the same boat, no matter what age our children are. We’re all just blindly walking around a giant room with our hands out, feeling for the next thing to grab on to that we call our “parenting philosophy.” It’s not always easy. It’s often quite frustrating. But I can assure you, you will figure this phase out. And as soon as you do, the next one will start. My sweet sister even had to remind me of this fact at Thanksgiving. My little “Princess and the Pea” wouldn’t sleep to save her life during the entire holiday. By Thanksgiving night I was ready to run away and tell God I died. I know for sure I gained a few more gray hairs that weekend. I saw them this morning. But as I was sitting outside alone in the cold wondering how I had become such a terrible mother, my sister came out to remind me in a way only she could that it’s ok. None of us has it all figured out. And that doesn’t mean we’re inept parents. It means we’re human. And, as my mother would say, “this too, shall pass.”

So sweet friends with brand new babies, I want to send you my love, my warmest wishes, and my sincerest prayers and tell you that it’s going to be okay. I know, even if you’ve only been a parent for a few days, that you’ve probably already felt overwhelmed and wondered what you’ve gotten yourself into. It’s ok. We’ve all been there. And we’ll all be there again from time to time.

But the blessings of being a parent – the sweet first smiles from your three-month old, the laughs at peek-a-boo, the silly games you play in the car, the first time your toddler tells you he loves you – those are the moments that will fill you up to overflowing. Those are the moments that will get you through the days when your infant screams when you hold her, screams when you put her down, screams when you feed her, screams when you don’t feed her. Those are the moments that will keep you from killing your son when he screams, “I CAN’T WANT THAT!!!” at you for the thousandth time that day. Those are the moments that will never, ever leave your heart and will remind you why God graced you with parenthood to begin with.

So hang in there. Take all the advice you get, put it together and form your own conclusions. Do what works best for you and your babies, not what Dr. Phil says. Or Oprah. Or your favorite parenting blog. So what if you have Disney Junior on longer than the recommended 30 minutes per day? (Thirty minutes? Give me a break!!) So what if you co-sleep? So what if your kid drinks cow’s milk at 9 months old? So what if you don’t immunize? So what if you do? It’s your kid and God gave you something precious that ONLY YOU have for your children – intuition. Use it. Trust Him. And have a glass of wine.

Everything is going to be okay!