The Rest of the Story…or Running Away

IMG_6011The other day I was reading the story of Elijah and the Baal priests.  How God rained down fire from heaven and burned up an altar saturated with water.  How Elijah prayed and God answered.  How Elijah was blessed to see the power of God first hand and to be a part of the display of God’s great glory!

And I thought how much I want to see God do amazing things in my life, and how I’m seeing now that He really does already do great things.  

Today…I feel like the Elijah that appears only a few verses later…the Elijah that ran away.

So God showed up BIG time and proved who is the one true God.  After the people respond positively, Elijah takes all the prophets of Baal down to a creek and kills them.  And then Jezebel, the queen over all those Baal prophets sent Elijah a message, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.”  (1 Kings 19:4)

And do you know what Elijah’s response was?  Just a few verses after the Lord did His “in your face” thing with the water and the altar and the fire…this is what the Bible says about Elijah:

“Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life…”

As my students would say, “Wait, what?”     

Yup.  Ran for his life…afraid of Jezebel.  

As if the power of God was all used up in that last miraculous display and now there is no more to protect Elijah from Jezzy.  

And then Elijah does this…

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough, now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”

Elijah sounds like he is despairing…He sounds weary and tired and afraid.

And right now…honestly, I feel a little bit like that as well.

I’ve been trying ever so hard to focus on the good in my life…to see where God is working. And I do see it, like Elijah.

But this life looks like its not getting easier any day soon and I feel so tired already and so weary, and so afraid of not being able to do it well…and so alone in this battle.

This was the first full week of everyone and everything going a thousand miles an hour and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed thinking about the coming years…how this pace isn’t going to change for a while yet.

And this weekend…Sunday is my dad’s birthday.  And then in a little more than a week it will be the anniversary of his death.  And I miss him so much.  I always miss him, but today I miss him a lot.  

He was an endearing, grumpy old man.  He was the kind of man who didn’t gush and who wasn’t terribly warm and fuzzy, but I never doubted that he loved me.  And somehow when he was here, I always knew that life would be okay.  He was an anchor of sorts.  My parents didn’t really walk with me through my husband leaving…I think sometimes it is too hard for family to understand how to unless they live next door.  It all seems too surreal unless you are right there.  But when my dad read my book, he talked to me about things and apologized for not being with me more.  It was okay, truly, because God provided in other ways.  And my dad cared for me in other ways too. He didn’t give me counsel or comfort like my friends did, but he provided me practical advice, security and protection.  I miss that.  I miss the security of knowing my dad would help me if I needed it.  

The night my dad died I held him up as he struggled to breath.  At one point I whispered, “I love you Daddy”  and he whispered even more quietly back, “I love you too.”  It is one of the moments of my whole life that I cherish the most.  A beautiful moment in the midst of one of the worst nights of my life.

I want my dad to be here…to help me figure things out, to help me fix things, to advise me on things.  He was never too busy for me.  He was always willing to help me figure things out.

I don’t know what to do right now.  I wish I could talk to him…to ask his advice.  I don’t want to live like this right now.  I feel like Elijah sometimes, “God please, it is enough now!”

It’s enough.  Stick a fork in me, I’m done.

I so wish I was stronger and more able to do this life gracefully.  I feel like I’m slogging.  Is that even a word?

But if we keep reading in 1 Kings, we see our gracious God’s response.  How I love Him!

God sent an angel to Elijah who gently woke him and gave him food and drink. Elijah ate and drank and then fell asleep.  Then the angel did it again, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.”

Golly, do I feel that the journey in front of me is too great.  I can’t even tell you…

But whatever God gave Elijah to eat sustained him for that journey.

“And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food for forty days and forty nights…”

If God’s angel woke me with something to eat and drink I wonder if it would be crusty bread and coke 🙂  Yum.  

Seriously though, I know God wants me to understand that He will sustain me…He will uphold me….He will provide for me.  He will be my refuge, peace, and strength.

I was thinking that maybe something that would help is just taking one day at a time…I can do that for some things…not sure how to do it for others.

I guess that’s where I plop myself down and pray.

But not like Elijah.  Because I don’t want to end my life, I just want to make it better.  Lord, help.  I’m done and weary and overwhelmed.  

And what I need to be okay with is that God’s plan might be that it stays this difficult and tiring.  That it isn’t going to be significantly different for a while.  And I need to be okay with that.  Not because it’s “the right” thing to do, but because I want to be healthy and peaceful and content for my children.  I don’t want to always be seeking a way out or a quick fix or a perfect situation.  I want to trust that God can work even in the midst of great struggling and great exhaustion.  

I definitely don’t understand so much of this life and this week has shown me that I have limits, but it has also shown me that God has given me strength and resources and I just need to trust that He will continue to strengthen me…to trust that He will continue doing amazing things in my life.  

My dad might not be here, but my Father is and I know that He offers the ultimate security, protection, and love.  

Trust God.  Pray.  Trust Him some more. That’s what I need to do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Ranting and Resting

Dear Friends,

I really want to share the following blog with you all not because it is so well-written or anything, but because I believe that it’s where so many of us, particularly single parents, find ourselves sometimes.  It isn’t pretty at first, but God, as usual, used my time typing on these keys to get my head properly in the “game.”  I was having a big old pity-party and God showed me how to praise my way through it.  If you are a friend or family member, fear not!  I’m just sharing my fussy little heart and hopefully touching someone else’s fussy little heart too!  I’m in awe of God and His faithfulness to stick with me and even light my way out of the darkness.  He is good!  He will do the same for you!

So here goes.

I’m falling apart…again.

Tonight has been a down on my knees, weep and beg God for help kinda night.

Sometimes the sheer weight of this life is too much.  The pain is raw all over again.  The hopelessness washes over me and I think there is no way I’ll survive.  And there’s a good chance one or more of my children aren’t going to survive either at the rate I’m going.

There are too many issues.  I’ve said it again and again.  I feel like a broken record.  I list them all in my head and I can barely breathe… and part of me becomes exceedingly frustrated with God.  I don’t understand why nothing can be easy.  I just don’t.  No straight forward anything…just shadows, gut-feelings, questions, concerns, angst and some pretty obvious prayer requests.

I can’t seem to stop my own issues from resurfacing.   My issues make me a lousy parent…an impatient, frustrated, teeth-clenching parent.  And when I parent like that, I get impatient, frustrated, teeth-clenching children.  Not surprising.

I want a “not-complicated” existence, or maybe just one complication or maybe even just one complication at a time.  I want to be able to take a breath – one good long deep breath.

Tonight I ranted a lot in my prayer.  I told God exactly what I thought about the situation I had found myself in as well as the life I find myself living.  I told Him in no uncertain terms that I am not happy…in fact, I used the word “hate” a few times.   Not that I hate Him, because nothing could be farther from the truth.  I sometimes feel like I just hate so much of my life circumstances.

This single momma thing is HARD!  It’s exhausting…I need to make up a word that conveys the magnitude of the mental, physical, emotional, and even spiritual exhaustion.  I can’t think of one.

I realize that I’m focusing on the negative an awful lot.  My focus is all off.  I know I’m so overwhelmed because I’ve lost sight of Jesus.

I’ve been focusing on the behavior of my children, my fears for them, learning issues, school issues, anger issues, work issues, relationship issues, church issues, financial issues, and health issues.   I’m burdened by issues.   I don’t want to be weary and burdened.

Those words bring a verse to mind.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls. 

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:29-30)

Oh please give me rest for my soul! 

If I could remember to focus on what He’s done rather than what I do or don’t do.

If I could remember that He’s the perfect parent in answer to my very imperfect parenting.

If I could rest in the understanding that He will never leave me nor forsake me – and that that promise is absolutely for my children as well.

If I could really get that God is for me,

that my life’s battles are the Lord’s,

that He will not call me to something He will not equip me to do,

that His grace is sufficient.

If I could understand that it truly is all about Jesus, I believe I would have that rest for my soul.

It’s mine for the taking…my arms are just so full of my own stuff that I don’t have the strength or space to take on anymore.

I believe that is why God calls us to take His yoke because when I take His, I gotta put mine down.

And, I’m thinking He’s gonna carry it all anyway…in fact, in the biggest way imaginable, He already did.  He carried it all the way to the cross.

It’s not me being better at anything – thank goodness!  It isn’t my children being better at anything – again, thank goodness!  It’s about God being best at everything – about God being my focus, my strength, my Savior.  He saves me every day.  Over and over again, I’m reminded that I need a Savior and over and over again I’m grateful for His sacrificial, unconditional, everlasting love for me.

I feel better just thinking about Him.  I’ve spent the majority of my time these last several days thinking about my issues rather than my Savior.  And although I’m thankful it brought me to my knees, I’d prefer to be on my knees praising rather than ranting.

So here is some praising!!

Father God, I’m so very thankful for my sweet children.  Thank you for the joy I find in being a mom – even a stressed out, overwhelmed, exhausted single mom.  Thank you for my life – for hope for the future, for joy in small moments, for peace that truly does surpass all understanding.  Thank you for loving me even when I’m clenching my jaw and slamming doors.  Father, please forgive me for losing sight of you.  Lord, please set my feet upon a rock, make my steps secure, and put a new song in my mouth – a song of praise to you Lord! (Psalm 40:2-3)  I pray that my life will bless others, my hope will encourage, and my mouth will praise!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Single Parenting by THE BOOK

Recently a sweet friend gave me a parenting book.  Thankfully I’m at a good place to receive it…I know I’m in over my head!  Single parenting five children is daunting, difficult, and downright exhausting.   There was a time when I’d have been appalled that someone thought I might need any professional assistance with my parenting.  Not anymore.

Help!!

It’s a good book – well-written, thoughtful, and scripturally based.  I’m sure it will inspire me, and hopefully help me become a better mom…I could sure use some inspiration and help.  The bigger issue might be finding time to read it.  There are, after all, a pile of books beside my bed waiting to be read.  Books on grace, books on prayer, books on everything from A to Z that might possibly help me live this life better.  Unfortunately every night I’m completely exhausted and unable to read more than a page without my eyes crossing.

The other day as I climbed into bed with my new parenting book, I happened to look over at my bookcase.  There, stacked nicely all together, were all my previously read parenting books.  I climbed out of bed, walked over and knelt down beside my bookcase.   I counted 10 books on parenting.  Ten!  Apparently I’ve been looking for help for quite a while!  Or else someone’s sneaking them onto my bookshelf in hopes that I’ll pick them up and read them and possibly apply what I learn effectively.

There was a time when I decided that parenting books were all well and good, but I was determined to simply study the Bible and pray diligently. I don’t think that was necessarily bad.  I’m sitting here remembering back to my first two years after my husband left.  There was absolutely never time to read a parenting book, any “free” time I had I tried to devote to Bible study and prayer.  I knew where my help and comfort was coming from – my help came from the Lord!!

Life was stressful.  Days were full and overwhelming.  My children ranged in ages from toddler to teen.  And there was only one parent to figure everything out.  I’m remembering how faithful God was to lead me.  How gracious He was to guide my parenting, to aid my decision-making, and to refresh me each morning.

I had forgotten. I remember how difficult it was, but I tend to forget how precious so much of that time was.  My kids and I were closer than ever, our conversations sweeter, our time spent more wisely, our issues less pronounced.  I believe that it was because I was praying fervently every night.  I was passionate in my approach to staying within God’s will.  I have lost that passion recently.  I don’t think I’m terribly passionate about anything anymore…just tired.

I think I will indeed finish the book my friend gave me, and I will apply any good principles, or at least try to.  But I think I most definitely will try to get back to my time with the Lord and my passion for Him more.  I think I will not just think about praying, I actually will.  I know it isn’t going to be easy…but now that I remember what it was like to do this life with my focus on Christ, I really want that again.  It was a blessed time.

Maybe someday I can write the parenting book on how to parent without a book.  Well, actually how to parent with THE BOOK.