ImageTonight we dragged our tree out…well, I should say my oldest son and his friend dragged it out…leaving a trail of needles and water behind. Contributing to the messiness of my floor.

Today my floor has been an issue.

A neighbor stopped by unexpectedly.  As we stood in my kitchen all I could think about was all the stuff out, the general disarray of our home at that moment, and all the crumbs and such all over the floor,

I desperately wanted to ask her to leave and come back in 20 minutes.

I didn’t.

But oh did I want to.

I was trying to pick up things unobtrusively…sneak things off the counter, put things in the sink, push things into drawers, pick up a larger crumb on the floor.  I’m sure she could see my furtive attempts to clear the clutter.

I don’t know this neighbor well so she rarely sees the inside of my house.  But I believe I can safely say that EVERY time she stops by some sort of tornado has struck…well, 6 tornados – me included.

Today was one of those days.  It was back to school for my kids – both homeschooled and public schooled – and educational paraphernalia was strewn all over the counter, table, and foyer.

I began a new program to become certified to teach and earn my Masters in education so I have to admit that I contributed to the school stuff everywhere.

Calendars, bills, and other documents were stacked on a stool near the kitchen table because there was no room on the table.

My son had started a drawing project in the family room and paper had slid off the sofa onto the floor.

My youngest daughter had laid out Candy Land for us to play after dinner.  (She beat me! 3 times!!!)

Oven buzzers were sounding and pots were bubbling on the stovetop.

Sitting between the pantry and laundry room doors were 2 baskets of clean laundry waiting to be taken upstairs.

The only good thing about my house was there were no dishes in the sink – and that, my friends, is a miracle!

This unexpected visit was not one of my finer examples of hospitality…at least in the sense of my home being ready.

I love having people over and enjoy welcoming them into our pandemonium.  But sometimes… sometimes I want a little fair warning!

It’s okay though.  Just my pride being a bit wounded.

Why I think my sticky counters, cluttered tables, or messy floors would shock anyone, especially my neighbors, is beyond me.  Honestly, we are kind of like the Beverly Hillbillies of the neighborhood.  I feel like we should have their theme song blaring when we drive down the street.   (Hey!  I bet my teenagers would love that!)

When I pull into the driveway I have children climbing out of windows and/or falling over each other to get out of the same door.  And the number of odds and ends that tumble out of my car at any given stopping point is staggering.  My car is a giant purse…full of children, paper, shoes and goodness knows what else!

Where am I going with this blog?

Actually when I started this blog I was going to write about sweeping the floor – specifically the tree needles and some grapes that were dropped.

I was thinking how the needles, although everywhere, were quite easy to sweep up…kind of like all the mundane issues of life.  Those things that aren’t surprising or particularly difficult, but they seem to be everywhere.  They take up time and energy, but they are doable.

Then there are the things like grapes.  Grapes…ugh.  I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to try to sweep up those silly grapes.  They went everywhere but where I wanted them to go.

Those little buggers can roll fast and far!

I could have leaned over and picked them up individually, but I didn’t have the energy to do it.  (long, long day)  I just wanted them to go nicely into the dustpan.

But nope.  They went every which way.  Unfortunately I couldn’t leave them lying about because grapes are magnets for feet.  And squashed grapes are even more work…sticky work.  My house is sticky enough thank you very much!

I don’t know why I thought about the needles and the grapes…or why it struck me that it was so much like my life.  Maybe I’m over thinking things…totally possible.  I’m pretty tired.

But what I realized is that God equips me to handle both things.

Those needles are like the plethora of monotonous things that occur in any given day…like dirty dishes, cluttered counters, messy floors, loads and loads of laundry, and neighbors that stop by unexpectedly on a particularly messy day.  But they are all things that God gives me the grace to handle if I will rest in Him each day.

Part of that resting is finding my identity in Him rather than the state of me, my home, my children, my finances, my education, my work, my relationships, my marriage/divorce, my health…all of that is not defining.

I am defined by Christ!

And then there are the grapes…the things that roll around your life and cause trouble.

They roll in with things like dealing with our ex-spouses or struggles with our children’s behaviors, financial worries or household issues, health crises or work concerns…you can probably add your own grapes to that list.

And there are bigger grapes that spin everywhere, are impossible to catch, and often just end up squashed on the floor.  These things are bigger things…heart issues, agonies that bring us to our knees, struggles and sorrows that linger, hurts that seem to take forever to heal…I’m sure you know what I mean.

Those are some whopping big grapes.  But thankfully our God is bigger than any grape…large or small.

Needles or grapes all need to end up in the same place…and so do all our troubles and struggles and annoyances.

It’s a little hard at this point to continue my analogy perfectly because I’m going to have to equate a dustpan to the Lord, so maybe I’ll mix it up a bit and say this:

All our stuff needs to end up in the dustpan of faith and handed over to our Heavenly Father.

There is no amount of life messiness that God can’t handle.  And He’s willing to handle it all.

I’m more than happy to hand the broom and dustpan to Him…I’m tired of cleaning anyway.

If I trust Him to take care of all those things, I can be peaceful no matter the state of my home.  And that means that when people stop by I can rest assured that even if my house seems a bit muddled, I will not.  I will be calm and able to focus not on my house, but my guest.

If I trust Him, when the pains and sorrows of this life seem too much to bear I can find solace in His Word, peace in His presence, and comfort with His people.

So sweep those needles and grapes toward Jesus and let Him deal with them all!  His dustpan is big enough.

I don’t know if that string of thoughts exactly works, but I hope that it blesses you in some way – even if it’s just a smile at my attempt to spiritualize a messy floor.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:6-7

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.

Growing My Grassy Garden and Other Things

I’m a gardener-wannabe.  I have so many friends who have flourishing gardens.  Alas, I have a black thumb when it comes to gardening.  No one truly has believed me until now.  This summer, I have proof.  And it isn’t even the dead cherry tree in the side yard.   My yard is full of clover and dry ground and my vegetable garden is growing the most beautiful green grass you could ever imagine!  What is up with that?

I guess maybe my black thumb only applies to things I’m actually intentionally trying to grow.  Apparently the things I’d prefer not to grow…those I have a greener than green thumb for!  Weeds, clover and grass, but only where it isn’t supposed to grow.  I’ve been joking that there has to be a great blog topic in this…and maybe even a really super spiritual application.  I don’t have it yet – maybe as I ramble it will hit me.

I have found that God very often, if not always, uses the things that are going on in my life to reveal something about my walk with Him.  There is no denying that everything does indeed work together to point ME  to Christ.  When I’m paying attention I see it clearly.

So I will share the biggest issues I have right now…and I’m kind of ashamed to share it, but I’m struggling with trusting that God is going to show me what decision to make regarding my children’s education.  How I feel about each option depends on the day and sometimes what time of day…I just don’t know what is best and I don’t know what God would have me do.  And there are deadlines and money issues and preparation issues…there are so many things to consider. And, honestly, I don’t know what to do?!

Let me share why this is so silly.  Last week my oldest had a change of heart about the college he had chosen.  We prayed and can I tell you how God answered!!  He showed us very clearly that what my son was feeling was absolutely from Him…and He firmly shut the door to one place and flung open the door wide for him to be able to attend the school he really wanted to go to and even provided a scholarship!  God is so good.  SO, why am I struggling with trusting that He is going to show me what to do?  I confuse myself.

I still am not sure what this has to do with my lack of gardening ability.  Maybe, I need to recognize that there isn’t a perfect place to grow my children.  Maybe God is going to grow them wherever they are – whether it’s in the spot I consider “perfect” or a place I consider not the best at all.  You know…I know that.  I know that God is going to take care of my children, and yet I’m stressing over it.  So what’s new?  That’s my S.S.O.P. (Sue’s Standard Operating Procedure)

Eventually when I no longer have any giant decisions to make regarding my children, I’ll probably get it.  Although I’m hoping I’ll grasp the concept of trusting God sooner…I mean really trusting Him with all the stuff of my seconds, minutia of my minutes, and drama of my days.

This place where I live is definitely not the garden I’d planned.  And yet, I’m flourishing.  I’m growing stronger and even producing some lovely fruit..and even some rather pretty grass.