Stokes Family | Fall Photos
This has been a year filled with adventure, home-life refinements, and growth. Our family added Eveline and Flex, our Pekachu puppy. This year we have been watching our children grow and mature, some more than others. We are reminded daily that life is precious at every stage of life. We continue to have our eyes opened to God’s grace in our lives. In spite of our ourselves, he has sustained us through it all! Often we are our own worse enemies, believing the lies we’re told. For us, every part of our life has been a leap of faith, hoping that through our failures God would be glorified in our weakness both as parents and as entrepreneurs. It isn’t that we have a “leap off a cliff” type of faith, but more that God has brought us to the edge without much choice. I am thankful for that!
The overwhelming lie we hear and tell ourselves often is “you’re not enough!” I have to admit and confess that perfectionism and the illusion that “we have it all together,” is something we perpetuate and allow others to believe. We think our lives and homes should be clean and tidy and our Instagram feeds should be perfectly curated with beautiful images. As a child and even into my college years, I wanted straight A’s, a 4.0, I wanted it to be perfect. This is how I funded my expensive hobby, photography; my father fiscally motivating my efforts. While having high expectations can be good, I fear it has robbed me of joy and hindered my walk with the Lord and certainly robbed me of YEARS. So much of my value I feel came from what I could do and how well I could do it. Do I have value even when I am not doing anything? The hard truth is yes, especially for someone who HATES sitting still.
Even in our brokenness, by God’s grace, we are HIS! It is in the stillness that we can commune best with him. A struggle I think for any parent. Sadly, my joy has not been KNOWING God. It hasn’t been the focus of my heart and the framework I have built my life around.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33
Until a few short years ago, my main focus has been school and paying for it! Over the past seven years, it has been our business. How can I be the best? Through it all I have leaned on my own self-sufficiency. Thinking that I can do it all on my own; online schooling, self-help, YouTube. This is a lonely and isolating place to be and it isn’t where God wants us.
While the Bible tells us to be dependent on no one and to lead a quiet life, It never says we have to do life and faith alone. While God does demand perfection, but it is never something we can do apart from Christ. Our salvation is rooted in our complete dependence on Jesus! And because he has already done the work we can rejoice in his free gift. Sometimes harder said then done, especially when everything isn’t going the way we would like.
The perfection God asks of us is of a heart that finds so much fulfillment and satisfaction in the God of grace that it is able to extend grace to those who don’t deserve it.
None of us deserve Grace and in our journey as parents, there is a constant tug-of-war between the law & gospel, yet so much of what causes tension and disharmony is setting biblical emphasis on worldly unrealistic expectations. In short, projecting our own sinful desires into the expectations of our children; how clean they keep their room is not a reflection of how much we love them or how much God loves them. They are not valued because their handwriting is neat or they scored the winning goal in the soccer game. They are valued first because God made them and second because they were given to me to shepherd. Grace meets us in navigating what are realistic expectations and what is disobedience. Addressing the hearts of your children is far more important than addressing why their sock drawer is always left open. I am a person who is often looking for ways of making things better. That is a nice way of saying I see flaws. Lots of them. In everything. I spend hours perfecting skin, removing blemishes, cropping out ipads, and culling out the not-so-wonderful rejects that no one ever sees all for the sake of creating the illusion of perfection. My soul can become burdened by this. Altering binary in a virtual world can feel frivolous and cumbersome for a person who longs for relationships, adventure, and simply moving. It points to the reality that we were made for more!
We live in an age where work isn’t so much a location as it is a state of mind and one that is very hard to escape. We’re always connected. The news feed, inbox, and calendar dauntingly move forward to infinity. The constant stream of information at our fingertips keep us longing for more, to satisfy our innate hunger for knowledge. Our distraction and our constant search for entertainment are idols that rob us of joy. GUILTY. So where is that balance?
The answer: I don’t know, but God does. He promises that when we put him first everything else will come into order. Our God, the one who created the Universe out of NOTHING and holds it all together for his glory, will sustain us and provide for us! He is a God of order and structure beyond all measure, yet has mercy on his children. As parents and as business owners, it is our goal is always to become more like Jesus and to raise disciples, serving other well, administering grace and kindness in all its forms. This takes a lot of prayer!
In a beautiful way we can’t quite fathom, Jesus loves our children more than we do.
Special Thanks to Courtney Smith for capturing our family and for being an inspiration to us!