I have said it before that I love it when people have the courage to admit their weaknesses. Yet at the same time talk about how the gospel meets them at their place of greatest need and empowers them. With that said, I want to introduce Kimm Crandall; wife, mother and author of “Christ in the Chaos”. Kimm was gracious enough to allow me to ask her a few questions. My hope and prayer is that this encourages you in the middle of everyday, mundane life!
Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
Hmmm….how do I answer this question without romanticizing our life? It would be so easy to share all of the great things that happen in our home and what fun we have together. There is a time for that, but what you really need to hear is that I am just like you.
When I was young I didn’t want to get married and instead of raising children I wanted to have pet monkeys. Things have changed and here I am in my seventeenth year of marriage and with four kids, Grace (13), Jonah (10), Lily (8) and Jackson (6) (all of which do great monkey impressions). As you can imagine my adult life has turned out much differently than what I had expected.
There is never a dull moment with four kids and there is always a need for much grace in our home. Our family is just like yours and we struggle to believe the gospel just like you do. Our life is a constant cycle of messing up, asking for forgiveness and messing up again. We face the daily challenges of life with kids who argue, cry and don’t want to go to school. We have to make them eat their broccoli, clean their rooms and do their homework. Justin and I are in the trenches and have never seen our need for Christ more clearly than we do now.
Unfortunately, many of us have been taught to think that the gospel is what gets us into the kingdom of God but fail to see how it sustains us every moment of every day. How does the gospel empower you in everyday life?
I used to think that the gospel was just a way in and that the rest of the Christian life was about following the rules and trying harder to be a better person so that God would be happy with me. When life fell apart and I could no longer hold to the standards that I had kept for myself of what a good Christian was to be, I was forced to finally acknowledge that my need for Christ extended into every minute of every day.
The gospel has freed me to embrace my weakness as a means to embrace Christ. Grace is not just a net that catches us when we fail; it is what sustains us. We are in constant need of Christ’s work on our behalf. For example: When we yell at our kids and the condemnation threatens to overwhelm us, we can remember Christ’s perfect life of never having treated others unfairly. We can remember that there is no condemnation for us because his record of always treating others fairly became ours at the cross. We can also remember that the Holy Spirit continues to work in our hearts, changing us and sanctifying us. Just as we have died with him we are also raised in the newness of life with him. He is, in that moment, providing us with everything we need. We are no longer slaves to our sin.
Knowing our freedom through the gospel then frees us to admit that we have sinned and gives us the desire to run to our kids and ask for forgiveness. There is no more shame and no more pride. Just grace and freedom and restored relationships.
When I forget the gospel and try to do things on my own, living by the law, I become demanding and harsh with those around me. It’s when I fall back into performance based Christianity that tells me that I must earn my way through perfect parenting, and rule following, that I become “Monster Mom.” When I forget that my right standing with God is based on Christ’s perfect record I spend my days writing my own resume’ of works thinking that I have to impress my way back to into God’s favor. And when others don’t fall in line with what I believe makes me look good on that resume’, I become angry and more demanding.
How do you discipline your kids in such a way that is not merely punitive but it leads them to Jesus Christ?
Ha, this is a tough one. I feel like much of our discipline has been in the chaos management area for a long time now. We have so many different maturity levels in our home that it looks very different for each child. As my kids have gotten older we are finding ourselves with more and more opportunity to share the gospel through not just discipline but every day situations. We do our best to help our kids to see that good behavior is not a requirement for Christ’s love or their parents’ approval. This is hard because it is so tempting as a parent to rule over these little people with the law. I find that the use of the law gets me immediate results but the results don’t last very long or change their hearts. It just gets me what I want at the moment. There is certainly an important place for the law in parenting. We use it to show them their sin. We teach them what the law requires and after doing so (and this is not something we do every time with every kid) they often say, “but I can’t.” It’s then that their hearts are ripe for the gospel. I agree with them and then tell them that I can’t keep the law either and that’s why we both need Jesus. There is a lot of sin confessing and forgiveness-seeking on my part throughout our days. I don’t have any parenting answers but I do know that this is how we are to treat our other relationships so I do it with my kids.
What are three or four books (outside of the Bible) that have encouraged and challenged you when it comes to how the gospel relates to everyday life?
I’d say that the book that really got me started down the path to the cross would be Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick. It was given to me as an assignment in counseling and although I fought it the first time I read it, this book completely rocked my world.
A Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent quickly became a handbook for me. I continue to go back to this book for encouragement when I forget the gospel.
The third book would have to be Gerhard Forde’s Theologian of the Cross. This was the first theology book I had ever read. My husband almost died of shock when he saw it in my hands the first time because I always left the studying to him. Now I can’t get enough of Forde.
Luther on Galatians is another book that I continually refer back to. I loved reading this book so much that I carried it around in my purse for at least a year. It’s like my second Bible. Luther gets me. I love his boldness and ability to admit his weakness.