The Burden of Blessing

IMG_3433Today I am at my home and it is quiet and peaceful and I’m feeling blessed to be here.  The kids are sleeping soundly (and late woohoo!!)  I debated if I should enjoy this blissful quiet asleep or awake.  I opted for awake.  So rarely do I get a moment of solitude and quiet.  I’m so thankful!

For the past 4 months we have been staying with family and I cannot say how thankful I am for it.  But it would be a lie to say it hasn’t been difficult, stressful and exhausting on many levels. And it would definitely be a contradiction of all that I’ve been sharing for the past few months in my blog.  Sometimes blessings can be difficult.  The blessing of a place to stay during our transition is huge, the stress of that blessing is also huge.

Sometimes I wonder if a blessing can’t also be a burden.  I’m sure there are many that will disagree with me because it sounds wrong to say a blessing can be a burden, but I believe it’s true.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I think I’ve known for a long time that I can find a blessing even in my burdens, but I haven’t flipped it around before.  I haven’t realized that my blessings can sometimes be burdens as well.

But the more I’ve pondered, the more I’m thinking this is true.

Parenting is absolutely a blessing, but I cannot deny it is a burden to be sure.  Dealing with my children and the responsibility of raising them well can most definitely be a burden.  A welcome burden, but a burden nonetheless.

As a parent, I burden my children with chores to give them the blessing of understanding the value of work done well, of responsibility, and of being part of a family.  I’m fairly certain that none of them would refer to those things as blessings…well, at least most of the time.

A home is a blessing, but when there are issues it can most definitely be a burden.  Broken things, dripping things, creaky things, wobbly things…just lots of things that aren’t fun, but I’m sure thankful for the shelter.

Work is a blessing, but it seriously can be a burden.

It’s a bit embarrassing to think that at the moment I’m having to remind myself to be thankful for my blessings.

Shouldn’t that be a given?  Unfortunately,  I think it has been easier for me to focus on the burden aspect of the blessing than the blessing part of the blessing.

Maybe I’m throwing that blessing word around too much…but I can’t think of a good synonym for blessing.  Benediction doesn’t really work.  Approval and encouragement don’t really apply either.  Merriam-Webster defines blessing as “something that helps you or brings happiness.”  I suppose saying that something that brings me help or happiness is a burden is a bit odd.

But in God’s economy, maybe not.

I attend a great Bible study on Sunday nights.  The teacher said that when we pray for things, such as patience or courage, God is going to give us opportunities to exercise patience or be courageous. The blessings of patience and courage are going to come with the burden of experiencing situations that require us to be patient and courageous.  (That is one of those think-well-before-I-pray-this-prayer prayers!)  The blessing of being a patient, courageous, kind, or loving person comes with the burden of having to develop those traits.

We have all probably experienced the phenomenon that blessings don’t always come in the ways we expect them.  Many of the blessings I’ve experienced have come by way of difficulties and trials.  Those blessings are some of the most precious.  Just like labor and delivery – the pain and discomfort brings forth a great blessing!

Maybe the housing situation, although difficult, is not just a blessing of shelter, but a blessing of character-building, of refining, of eye-opening.

Maybe a job, although time-consuming and stressful, is not just a blessing of provision, but a blessing of purpose and ministry.

Maybe parenting, although exhausting and overwhelming at times, is not just a blessing of children, but a blessing of understanding the Father’s love for us.

Maybe all the things in our life are so much deeper and richer because God uses everything – those things we perceive as “good” and those things we perceive as “bad” – to bless us both in the present and the future.

I’m blown away right now.  I have been so easily frustrated and upset by things in my life and haven’t been able to see the good in much.  And if I do happen to notice it at all, I’m quickly overtaken by all the feelings of discouragement that keep me from focusing on the blessings for what they are….blessings.  It has been entirely too easy for me to see only the burden and miss the blessing.

I’m not sure that I know exactly how to “fix” myself, but God does.  He has definitely given me some great ideas in His word.

1.Take my thoughts captive.  (2 Corinthians 10:5)

2.Do not be anxious. (Philippians 4:6-7)

3.Hide His word in my heart. (Psalm 119:11)

4.Take heart. (John 16:33)

5.Trust God.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

6.Keep an eternal perspective. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

And once again, I’m brought back to the word of God.  Back to the strength and perspective offered there.  Back to the power of His word…the power of Jesus.

I was reminded recently of one of Paul’s prayers in Ephesians 1:15-23  – maybe this is the prayer we can pray for ourselves and for each other.

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you,remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

You know, I just have to include the other prayer in Ephesians 3.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…There really isn’t more to say is there?  What a mighty loving God we serve!

Hanging by a Thread

threadTonight was exceedingly rough.  I really dislike those nights.  So instead of sleeping I decided to write.  I can’t sleep anyway…don’t want to wake up any friends…and I’ve already poured out my heart to God face first in the carpet.

I’m back to those days.

My face in the carpet days.

I don’t have a closet to hide in anymore…oh how I miss my closet.

One of the many things that broke my heart tonight was all my interactions with my littlest girl.  The transitions our family has made have been really very difficult for her.  She is feisty anyway and put a change in the mix and she’s just…well, REALLY feisty.

Unfortunately I have about 2 minutes worth of patience left at the end of the day and I can’t seem to be the mommy I want to be.

I want so much to be kind, gentle, and patient mommy, but right now I’m so blasted tired after work and staying up late to finish coursework or classwork or planning or grading or just being plain sleepless like tonight.

So I get fussy about my daughter’s fussiness and then mommy guilt comes crashing down.

I’m gone more than I am with my children.  It is yet another huge change that has occurred in my life in the past 5 years.  And, honestly, I hate it.

In my short amount of time with my children I want to love on them…and yet, this little one and I can seem to do nothing but butt heads.  According to her, I’m the meanest mommy ever.  Of course that is her response to being in trouble.

Tonight I told her that it was her choice whether she got nice mommy or mean mommy.  It sounded good in theory…at least it did about 2 seconds before I spoke it aloud.

But something seemed off…I couldn’t put my finger on it until she and I talked later.  I told her, “You have to make better choices.”  She gave me the reasons for her bad choices and all involved other people.

To which I said, ‘You can’t let other people determine how you are going to act.  Your behavior is your choice.”

Ouch.

THAT’s why my good mommy/bad mommy comment didn’t feel right.

Why does my 7 year olds’ behavior determine mine?

I’ll tell you why…I’M HANGING BY A THREAD!

Tonight as I lie in bed trying desperately to fall asleep, feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack, and begging God for something…I don’t know what…I began to pray more than I have in days, weeks.

I realized that the things that have changed in my life lately have been very good in some ways, and just so very difficult in others.  I have such guilt for working…such guilt for not providing a better situation for my children…such guilt for being tired, impatient, easily angered, and overwhelmed.

And sometimes I just want desperately to go back to life before…not even life before divorce, but life right after.  Life when everything was awful but I had perspective and peace.

I want perspective and peace again.

I know why I don’t have it though.  I haven’t made any time to pray…just those “Hail Mary” prayers I make on a daily basis.

I don’t make time to be in the Word – that would make such a difference.  I really need to do that…forgo more sleep I suppose.  Ugh, how is that even possible?

I don’t really know but that will be my first prayer…that God would provide time in the Word.

My second will be that God would provide time with my children…good, fun time with my children.

My third will be that God will enable me to handle the responsibilities He has given me with more grace and peace.  (I’m too afraid to pray for patience).

My fourth will be that God gives me perspective on my life…that I will remember that He is sovereign and I am not.  Good gravy – I have control issues.

I made decisions based on the knowledge that I had.  I trusted that God was leading me.  I did that whole step out in faith thing.  And although tonight I’m a mess, I know that God led me.

I just need to keep reminding myself that just because things are hard doesn’t mean that they are wrong.

I need to handle things better. God has given me the tools to handle things…His word, His strength, His wisdom, His peace.

I need those things very much.

And God gives them…just need to ask.

I’m asking.

Still hanging by a thread….but I’m thinking now it might be changing to a thread of hope.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Romans 12:12

Are You Feeling Toddlerish? I Have Some Fruit That Can Help.

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It’s official.  I’m 5 years old.

I’m fussy.  I’d like to stomp my feet.  I could plop down on my bum and cry.

And I definitely don’t feel like sharing.

I feel like I’ve shared quite enough already.

I’ve long said…well, 5 years long…that it’s important not to make our children feel badly about spending time with their other parent.  And for the better part of these 5 years I think I have succeeded.

But lately, I feel exceedingly irritated about sharing my children.

I think part of the problem is…well, actually there are a lot of parts to the problem.

One part is that I wanna be the fun parent.  Sometimes I don’t want to be the chores, homework, budget, real life living stuff parent.  It’s an age old divorce problem – invariably one of the parents is fun-parent.

But I wanna be a fun parent! (I think I’m digressing – I’m now 2)

And right now I just can’t pull it off.  I’m praying and trying to figure it out.  Honestly, up until just recently…very recently…I hadn’t even thought to ask God to help me find time to play with my kids.  Unfortunately I’m the mom on the culdesac that sits on the curb with a textbook or the laptop…or that takes advantage of them playing outside to get something done inside…or who is sometimes just too tired to race around like I used to L.  I don’t want to be the old tired busy mom…I wanna be fun mommy!

I love the way my children’s eyes light up when I actually stop what I’m doing and pay attention to them. When I get into their world and play.  Lord, please help me find time to do that!  Like today.

So back to my toddler issues…

Another part of the problem…you know what?  There’s no reason for me to go on and on about all the parts of a problem.  Because really it’s my choice to let things be a problem…let my emotions decide my reaction.

So how do I NOT do that?  ‘Cause emotions are very tricky things.  Very.  And I have a LOT of them!

I have emotions, but I also have the Holy Spirit.

I know the Holy Spirit is stronger than all those emotions I feel.  God has called me to love others…even the difficult ones…therefore I know I’m equipped and I suspect that the fruit of the Spirit is a big part of that.

So how do I apply this to my life…to my toddlerhood?

How about each fruit in turn…

Love      Kinda feel like this is an obvious one.  Love one another.  Love your enemies…so I suppose that means I’m supposed to love my children’s father.  The question is what does loving that man look like when I really don’t want to interact with him if possible?

As is so much of this life, it’s choosing to do the hard thing.  Choosing to love when it seems like the obvious choice is to dislike immensely.

For me, it’s being willing to talk when I want to avoid. It’s being willing to smile when I want to glare.  It’s being willing to overlook an offense…or many.  To turn the other cheek.  To speak kindly.  To love like Jesus loves…without condition.

Joy is totally dependent on my relationship with the Lord.  There is a direct correlation between my abiding in Christ and the fullness of my joy.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  John 15:9-11

This joy isn’t because my circumstances are great now, but because my circumstances will be great when I’m with Him.  (John 16:22)  This joy isn’t because life is easy, but because He carries me through this life.  This joy isn’t because I’m happy, it’s because I’m loved.

Practically speaking, how much joy of the Lord am I displaying to my children or my ex if I can’t make the effort to be kind and smile at times?  I need God’s strength to do this joy thing…to love when I don’t wanna.  God says His joy is my strength.  In Him I have the strength to live a godly life…a life marked by joy.

Joy looks like me focusing on Christ not my circumstances.  It means being Christ-like in my attitude about sharing my children.  It means that I smile and thank God for my children being able to visit with their dad regardless of how it makes me feel.

I can’t tell you how often I pray that God will give someone His peace which passes all understanding.  (Philippians 4:6-7) There are so many life situations in which it seems like it would just be near impossible to feel any peace…but God gives peace regardless of situations, circumstances, and people.

He actually gives a formula for peace…two steps…thanksgiving and prayer.

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:5-7

I don’t think I’ve paid enough attention to the beginning of that first sentence – The Lord is at hand.  It’s that abiding thing!  AND it’s a reminder that Jesus is coming back!  How wonderful is that!  We have peace because we can be thankful for Him in our lives, for the hope of our future inheritance, and for the many blessings He has faithfully provided.

Peace for me looks like this…”Lord, thank you so much that my children have a father, however imperfect he is. Lord, please give me the strength to live in such a way that you are glorified even in my relationship with him.”

Patience…I’d almost like to skip this one…

So in looking up verses on patience I found one that applies…ugh.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.  God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.  2 Timothy 2:24-26

Patiently enduring…I’m pretty sure that phrase says it all.  I believe a big part of patiently enduring is also trusting that God will indeed work through this whole difficult situation.

Along with that phrase I see kind and gentle…those are Spirit fruit as well.

Kindness – The verse above in 2 Timothy says to be “kind to everyone”.  Not just the people who we enjoy being kind to, but those who don’t necessarily deserve kindness from us.

The one thing I will say is that God doesn’t call us to suffer abuse from others…please don’t put yourself in an abusive position.  Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is stay away.

When I first thought of kindness I thought of Romans 12:18-20

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Might be the wrong motivation but heaping some burning coals sounds like fun…just kidding (sorta).  Although the idea is that there is a possibility your kindness will bring them to repentance…God’s goal is always salvation.

And that should be ours as well…it is not ours to avenge or judge, but rather to allow God to use us.

Goodness – So seriously, this has been the neatest study for me.  I keep seeing the connectedness of Scripture.  If you read the next verse in Romans 12, it is,

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Romans 12:21

God calls us to live an honorable life so that those who would speak against us will see the good we do and glorify God.  (1 Peter 2:11-12).  The goal of goodness is the gospel.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.  Galatians 6:9-10

This verse reminds me of love and kindness…they are offered to EVERYONE.  There is just no getting around it.  I guess we all have to pray about what that means for us and our ex-spouses.  I think we can all come up with a way that we can do good without putting ourselves in painful situations.  Maybe doing good just means holding our tongues.  Maybe doing good means praying for that person.  Maybe doing good means acting just as we would want our children to act toward a school chum who is less than stellar.  Maybe doing good requires some thinking outside of the box…

Faithfulness – One of the things that has most profoundly impacted me is God’s faithfulness even when I’ve been anything but faithful.  The struggles I’ve had have been real and difficult and I have fallen many more times than I thought possible.  And everytime…everytime…God has faithfully picked me up again…and again…and again.  He has offered me love over and over and over.  Do you see the pattern?  God doesn’t give up on us!  I’m so thankful for that.  And you know what, God hasn’t given up on my ex either.  His choices haven’t excluded him from experiencing God’s grace.

As I ponder God’s faithfulness to me, I feel compassion for my ex and that makes me want to pray for him…for him for his sake and the sake of my children.

Gentleness – I found that most of the verses dealing with gentleness were about how we deal with people who are not walking with the Lord.  Again, God’s goal is restoration.  He set the example.  Jesus was gentle and humble in heart.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

As I read that verse, I’m reminded that the burdens I carry, both the ones put on me by others and the ones I heap on myself, can be given to Him.  I can let Him deal with this situation and I can trust that as I strive to be like Him, He will work in this for my good and His glory.

…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  Ephesians 4:1-3

Self-Control – Yet another one I’d like to avoid…self-control is something I do not want to be tested on!  I feel like daily I mess this one up! Especially if it is measured by the words that escape my lips.

The one thing that jumped out at me from the following verse in Titus was the word “training”.  God’s grace is training us to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives…it is a process of faith and trust.  It is the gospel.  I desire to live this way…to be trained to live this way…because I’m so very thankful for what Jesus has done for me and what He continues to do for me.  And my future hope is my motivation to hang on through the training.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.  Titus 2:11-14

I think self-control looks like me not acting as the world would see fit, but rather as God has called me to walk – in the fruit of the Spirit.

This blog was waaaaayyyy longer than I planned, but  I hope it blesses you.  I’ve been so thankful to go through these verses and see how God has worked them all together.  And I’m going to continue to think through how to practically apply the fruit of the Spirit to all aspects of my life, but particularly my “toddlerish” attitude toward sharing. 🙂

Got Direction?

photo (23)Does anyone else have a pile of book on or around their nightstand?  Mine is getting to the point of ridiculous.

Not only that but there are books on the chest at the foot of my bed, stacked in bookshelves throughout my house, and in various bags I carry around in the off chance I’ll have a moment to read.

I joke that my house is combustible.

The other day I had a moment to pick up a book, but I couldn’t figure out which one I should read…

The book to help me discern how best to raise my sons to be godly young men?

The book about helping my teenage daughter makes good and healthy decisions?

The book about learning issues for my 1st grade daughter?

The book about parenting strong-willed children for my youngest daughter?

The book about dealing with emotions for me?

The book about believing God’s word in an age of skepticism for my brain?

The books about trust or grace or peace or hope or relationships?

Or the mystery novel hidden beneath them all just waiting to be enjoyed?

I can’t even say I have a preference at this moment.  I just want to have read them all so I can already know what I need to do!

A few months ago I decided that I didn’t want to read another parenting book…ever.  And yet I have a stack of books on my nightstand that in one way or another could be considered parenting books.

I guess I just gotta admit it…I want answers.  I’m searching for direction.  I need help!!  photo 1 (2)

Right now everything is up in the air.  Literally everything.  I have no idea where God is going to lead me…how my kids are going to be educated….what I’m going to be doing…where we will be living…

It seems that all my perfect scenarios are on hold…everything is in someone else’s hands  And it would be easy for me to think that that someone else is the administrator or principal at a school, or the potential buyer of my house, or a book publisher, or any number of people in my life…

But the reality is…the REALITY is that Someone else’s hand is in control.  God’s.

And I am at once thankful for the realization and also struggling to rest in that knowledge.  It seems that God has not often done things the way I would have liked…or in the way I think would be best for us.  And I get all twisted up in knots because I want so desperately for things to go one way and I have a feeling that isn’t the way they are going to go.

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I keep having to remind myself that I TRUST GOD!  Because I do.  I do trust Him. I know I can trust Him…and I know He is going to handle all this stuff in the perfect way.  It’s just so much stuff and it is so difficult to give up control of all of it.  And yet, I don’t really want to be in charge…I hate making decisions.  I just want God to show me what to do and I’ll do it.

I think my problem is with His timing.  It seems to take Him forever to show me.  I joke that He usually reveals it to me in the 11th hour and 59th minute.  Apparently the Lord REALLY wants me to trust Him.

So I’m excited to see how my life is going to come together. I’m so very curious about where God is going to have us this fall.  I’m intrigued by how He is going to address the issues…resolve the difficulties…meet me in the struggles.

I know that He will.   He always has before.  Right now though, I just want an update.  I just want Him to reveal something…a glimpse of the plan.  But I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

I’m learning to live these verses:

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! Psalm 27:14

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.  Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!  Psalm 37:5-7

Have you not know?  Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:28-31

I see a theme of patience.  Ugh.

Just to be honest, I have NOT prayed for patience.  (I know better. 🙂 )

Patience is not one of my virtues.  I know I have the Holy Spirit so I have that fruit in my life.  I just don’t often take bites of it.  I’m probably more likely to wing that piece of fruit at a problem rather than apply it gently.

But I believe that God is asking me to trust patiently.  And even though I know I can absolutely trust my Father…I gotta be honest that I want answers now…in fact, I wanted answers yesterday, last week, long before now.  I’ve got things to do, decisions to make, and places to go (or not go)…I need direction.

I keep thinking I’ll find it somewhere, but unfortunately I don’t believe any of the massive number of books I own are going to tell me what to do or exactly what God is going to do. photo 3 (2) I can read them though and many will remind me of how great is my God and how worthy of my trust He is!

I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again, God has a plan, it’s already in motion, and it is good!

Maybe I won’t worry about which book on my nightstand I’ll read, but rather I’ll pick up my Bible.  I’ll remind myself of my great God who has orchestrated amazing things throughout history and who will beautifully orchestrate my life and the lives of my children.  I just need to BE STILL and BE QUIET and BE READY!

sensory issues, socks, and serious stuff

socksSo the other morning, my youngest daughter decided to completely fall apart about socks.

To say it was a disaster is putting it mildly.

About 5 minutes into the exchange, I realized that I was acting more immature than my 6 year old.

I wasn’t sure how to stop the spiral, so unfortunately….I didn’t.  I just went with it…spinning in nauseating circles to the bottom of the pit of momma fail.

And I did it with gusto.

I’ve been thinking about it for days.

What caused me to respond so poorly to my little girl’s sensory issues?  I mean, it’s not like they are a surprise.

Okay, well the socks were exactly the same as the ones that were fine the previous day…so that was annoying, but really, she’s 6 and she’s got stuff she’s dealing with…and, honestly, I do too.

But being that I’m approximately 39 years older, wouldn’t it seem like I could hold it together better than her?

Yeah…well…apparently not.

I think the issue might be that I simply want things to go my way.

Everyone just do things my way, ok?

And don’t get in my way.

I mean I am the momma after all.

I’m the boss.

But I’d like to be a benevolent dictator!

I think I was more like a really, really mean drill sergeant.

Thankfully I don’t have these meltdowns often, but when they happen they are spectacular. And I don’t mean that in a positive way…

Ugh…Why do they happen again?

Oh yeah…it’s all about me.

I’ve been studying the book of Philippians.  Chapter 2 to be exact.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (3-8) 

I believe I could read the verse about putting other’s interests above my own and apply it to this situation, but most of the time, I probably put my children ahead of me even when I shouldn’t.

Although I believe I should always put my children’s well-being above my temper tantrums…above my emotions.

My emotional craziness that morning can’t really be justified…even though I was frustrated and nothing was going as I had planned.  I had stuff I needed to get done…they needed to get on the bus already!

Truly that seems to be what my life is about right now…getting stuff done.

Getting stuff done even if it means not being patient, kind, or gracious.

Getting stuff done even if it means less sleep…and a fussy momma.

Getting stuff done even if it means no time for relationships.

Getting stuff done even if it means oodles and oodles of stress…for everyone.

Do I really need to get so much stuff done?  Yes. I do.  But there has to be a way to do it gracefully.

Before I can figure that one out, I want to consider my emotions a bit….just a bit, because as I heard someone say once, “I don’t like the way emotions make me feel.”  I’m all over that.  (And I have to be honest, I’m not particularly fond of hormones either.)

When my ex- husband left 5 years ago, I wrote in my journal, “Remember it’s not what you feel, it’s what you know.”

That was written when I was feeling completely beaten down and I was trying to remind myself of my identity in Christ.  I wanted to be sure to make decisions and act based on what I knew to be true from God’s Word, rather than what I was feeling, especially the feelings based on my husband’s actions.

I think this situation with my daughter was another opportunity to remind myself that my actions must not be based on what I feel, but on what I know to be true.

I know that God has a plan even for my day and if things go awry He can help me handle it.

I know that my little girl needs encouragement, patience, and understanding, not the words I offered her.

I know that my actions impact my daughter and all my other children…that my thoughtless, frustrated words hurt.

I know that I have the Holy Spirit to help me control this blasted tongue.

And, thankfully I know that God forgives me for all my mistakes as a woman and a parent.

The other part of that verse that struck me was the humility of Christ.  He was GOD and He willingly took on the form of man to save me.  He humbled himself…humbled himself to death.

I need a minute to soak that in…

And I can’t humble myself to speak graciously to my child???

My little girl who wasn’t being disobedient (even though it felt that way), who wasn’t being defiant (even though it felt that way), who wasn’t being difficult on purpose (even though it felt that way)…she was just being a little girl with sensory issues who was completely undone by the toe seam on her socks.

And I was the momma who acted on how I felt, rather than what I knew.  I was the one in charge who instead of humbly and gently loving my daughter, chose to wield my big stick and verbally whack everything in sight.

Looking back I can see that if I had responded at first with graciousness, my little girl might have found what she needed sooner and we could have had a peaceful morning.  Unfortunately, I decided to disregard some of the other verses in Philippians 2:

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.  (14-16)

Oh the grumbling and complaining…oh well…no sense continuing to beat myself up about this.

So I have to tell you after all our sock craziness, as we were heading out the door, my daughter sat down in the foyer and said, “Momma, I don’t think I want to wear socks.”  So 45 minutes and 15 pairs of socks later…she went to school without socks.

Seriously.photo (4)

stormy skySanity in the Storm
Why is it that I’m most productive, energetic, and awake after eleven pm?  Seriously.  Why can’t I be a morning person?  Actually I think I would be if I would just GO TO SLEEP ALREADY!  I know if I put my head on my pillow I’d be sound asleep in seconds and yet I’m sitting here typing…goofball.

I’ve just gotta get on a better schedule…it’s probably going to mean that I don’t get much done for at least a day…or a night. But golly it would be a good thing to do!

I’m highly motivated to get things done. I’ve started writing down a lot of to-do lists and I’m thoroughly enjoying checking things off.  I feel much better about things…although there are definitely days when I don’t have the pleasure of checking off many things on my list.  Days when things just don’t go as planned and everything goes wonky on me.  

I’m finding that much of my success depends on my attitude. A positive attitude seems to enable me to accomplish more. I think it’s because I’m not allowing myself to feel or be defeated by the day. 

I trust God even when things go kablooey. I know that God will use even the craziest of days to help me be the woman He designed me to be. 

The blog I’m sharing from MomLifeToday.com, Sanity in the Storm, is one a wrote about a totally different kind of list…my list of things that overwhelm.  Unfortunately I seem to be able to check everything on that list almost daily.  I do definitely struggle with the whole overwhelmed thing…entirely too much if you ask me.  Especially considering I KNOW that God loves me and will not give me more than I can handle with Him.

The problem is that I keep trying to handle everything without Him.  Again…goofball. 

I do know without a doubt that God did not make me to be overwhelmed nor did He make me to do my life without Him.  I’m made for so much more…I’m made for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control…all those fruit of the Spirit…and I’m made for relationship with my Lord and Savior!  I’m made to do this life with Him.

And I’m so thankful because I can’t imagine any other way to do it!

Am I a minute from angry? Or a minute from peace?

iced tea photo“Momma! Look there’s a tea with the word Relax on it! You should get that!”

“Yes. Yes I should!” I replied.

And although the tea is very yummy and I’ve had several glasses, it has not helped me relax…or I’m just too stressed for words or tea or anything…

I hate being stressed.

I can feel it. It’s an air of impatience…an attitude of annoyance…and a minute from angry.
In the car today my 7 year old kept asking me questions. And each sentence started with “Mama?” And my response was not, “Yes sweetie?”
It was more like a very testy exasperated, “Whaaattt?!”

I’ll give myself a little bit of leeway being that I was driving in traffic on I-95, but really I don’t deserve much at all. I have darling children…even when they are being stinkers.

I have no excuse for being such a fusspot.

My poor children. Even when they were good today, I wasn’t the sweet momma I like to be. And when they were naughty…yikes!!! Everyone DUCK!!!!
And all this fussiness has made me think of how easily it is for me to apply scripture to other people and even to circumstances, but I sometimes forget to apply it to myself especially when I’m persnickety.

So I’m preaching some gospel to myself…

In the past I used to pray daily that God would fill me with the fruit of the Spirit
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to
Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit,
Let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25

But then I realized that I already have the fruit of the Spirit in me because I already have the Holy Spirit and He comes with all those beautiful qualities. It’s my choice whether I live them out loud or not.

If I couldn’t do it God wouldn’t say to us through Paul:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling
to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing
with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3

There are some words in there that really convict me…humility, gentleness, patience, love, unity, peace…all words I want to describe my parenting, my family, and my home.

Humility to set aside how bad my day is going so that I can be a kind mom. Just because I’m the stressed out parent doesn’t mean I get to take it out on those precious children God gave me.
Gentleness in my speech and attitude with my children. I’m modeling behavior to my children. I’d love for them to treat each other with more gentleness. I believe that will start to happen more regularly when they see me speaking calmly, kindly, and tenderly.

Patience being my response to all those silly frustrating things that happen when you live with 5 other people. Probably should have taken a few deep breaths before I responded to my children’s disobedience or just plain childishness.

Loving my family even when they aren’t exactly the easiest people to love…goodness knows I needed some of that love today. That verse “bearing with one another in love” means accepting each other and loving one another even when we are not acting lovable.

Unity…being united in our love for one another and our love for the Lord. Being willing sometimes to put aside what we want or how we feel to bless someone else.

Peace is the tone I want to set for my home. Peace that God is with us always…that He will give us strength for the day and hope for tomorrow.

I feel a little better just having opened the Word and reminded myself that I’m not a victim of my emotions or feelings. I can choose to trust that God has equipped me to live a life that pleases Him even on my fussiest of days.

Joyfully Enduring

Endurance:  n. 1. The act, quality, or power of withstanding hardship or stress.  2.  The state or fact of persevering: continuing survival.

MP900163580 (1)This past weekend I was blessed to hear a sermon about endurance. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take notes because I’d left my purse, Bible and notebook in the car in my mad dash to be relatively close to on-time for the service. I do not understand why I can get all my kids to school on time, but can’t seem to make it to church before the first worship song.

    Anyway, notes or no notes, I want to share what God has been showing me.

Lately I’ve been in a tired and overwhelmed place…an unusual place for me. I’m usually the goofy one…the one who laughs too loud (which my children are constantly making fun of), the one who wears the rose-colored glasses, the one who can find something amusing about most things.

Not as much anymore. I think its life. I kinda got kicked in the fanny and sometimes it’s a bit more difficult to find anything really amusing in this place I find myself.
One friend recently asked if I was all right because my writing is so much more serious than it used to be. I was a bit bummed to hear that but replied that I’m okay, just dealing a little bit more seriously with things…things are a little bit more serious, after all. But this serious side of things and me is just no fun…I’d like to figure out how to do this with more joy.

I used to do the joy thing better. Even after my husband left I think I “got it” better than I do now. I believe it’s because life is hard and, as many pastors say, this life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon…I think it might be more of a triathlon…but with WAY more than 3 legs. Just when I finish one leg relatively successfully or even just barely, another one starts…ugh.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Joy in trials.

That seems impossible, but I can attest that God gives joy even in the midst of great suffering. I have seen it in my life and in the lives of others.

Joy – not a giddy happiness nor an absence of sorrow – but a peace which passes all understanding guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

There is a grace to walking with joy. I believe when God tells us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling…it’s to walk with joy. To endure this life of sojourning…to wholeheartedly believe that God loves us, has a purpose in each moment of our lives, and that His plan is perfect…and to know the joy of trusting Him with our eternal future.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14

Awesome verses. I hadn’t realized that there would be a reference to endurance and joy in them. I love how God brings us to just the right passage without us even knowing we are headed there.

What an interesting phrase – for all endurance and patience with joy – I’m intrigued by the word “all” – all endurance with joy…all patience with joy.

I think that all is similar to the all in count it all joy from James. Part of me wants to find some curious thing about the word all, but I’m pretty sure the word all means all. My thesaurus uses these words among others, “entire, whole, total, integral, any and every, each, nothing but, totally.” I guess that means that there isn’t a time when I shouldn’t have joy…every time I’m enduring something or patiently dealing with something I choose joy.

Joy beyond happiness.

Enduring adj. abiding, firm, never-failing, steadfast, steady, unfaltering, unqualified, unquestioning, wholehearted

Maybe that’s the secret to enduring? Joy.

Joy that I have the Lord. Joy that the Lord is all that I really need. Joy that there is freedom in Christ. Joy that I’m forgiven. Joy that my inheritance is secure. Joy that sorrow may last for a night, but more joy comes in the morning.

And somehow or another I believe peace is tied in there. Peace that God isn’t just letting my life fly willy-nilly wherever the wind takes me…He has a plan and it is good. Peace that He will never leave me nor forsake me. Peace that God is good, faithful and kind, slow to anger and abounding in love.

Peace makes me think of Philippians 4:6-7 which reminds me to not be anxious about anything but in everything give thanks.

I believe that is the other ticket to endurance…thankfulness.

I cannot deny I’m blessed when I begin looking for and focusing on the good things in my life. God is absolutely working in my life, and He is so very faithful and loving to me. I can even look back and find things that I wouldn’t necessarily have described as “good” that I can now be grateful for because of their part in making me who I am now. Maybe that’s the testing of my faith that produces steadfastness that leads to me lacking nothing? (James 1:2-4 again )

Once again, I’m reminded that my joy, my peace, my ability to give thanks, and my endurance are all because of my Savior. It is not because I can make myself joyful, peaceful, grateful or strong on my own…I know I can’t. But with Christ, I can be all those things and more. I know that God will bless me with the ability to endure.

I totally didn’t follow the sermon I heard on Sunday…see what happens when I don’t take notes!! Stream of consciousness writing…yikes!

Lord, I pray we will know your peace, that thankfulness will be nurtured in our hearts and you will give us the grace to live joyfully no matter the circumstances of our lives.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Thessalonians 5:16-18

Definitions taken from:
Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus (1976) and The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (1973)

My Newest MomLife Today post!

This month at www.MomLifeToday.com we are dealing with that age-old mommy problem – anger.  Mom’s March MADness! 

I know that I struggle with this…it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and feel frustrated.  There are days when fire and smoke spew from my ears and words I’d rather keep to myself spill from my lips.  It’s definitely a huge prayer in my life…that God would give me the strength to rise about the frustrations. I would like to really show the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).  After all God has already given them to me…why is it so difficult to use them, show them, and offer them? I believe this is another one of those things I do in God’s strength…with God’s perspective.  Let us join together and pray that God will give us an overflowing of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives so that we can bless our children.  And maybe stop the smoke and fire :)! 

Leaving is Not an Option…This Family is About Staying

no exit picThere is something profoundly painful about a child saying they want to leave. It cuts to the core.
I know that when my children say things like, “I’ll just go live with Dad,” or “I’ll just go live with insert name” or even “I want a different mommy,” it’s more about being frustrated than actually leaving…at least I hope so.
Lately two of my children have said those words to me. It causes me to gasp inwardly. The pain is acute. I believe this falls into the category of you hurt the ones you love. Again, at least I hope so.
Children can use words frightfully well to hurt, and they certainly know the words that push the most buttons. Oh how I wish they wouldn’t push this button. It hurts too much.
My teenage daughter said it last night. She’s in a tough spot in lots of ways and I know I’m a safe place to vent, but dang it, ouch! It hurts because it means I’m not enough…just me being mom isn’t good enough. And instantly I go to just like me being wife wasn’t good enough…I know that those things aren’t necessarily true, but they are thoughts I have…thoughts I need to take captive.
Maybe for children of divorce this is a “weapon” in their arsenals? It would make sense. It’s a stronger version of pitting parent against parent.
When my daughter uttered those words I didn’t respond. I didn’t know what to say and I feared I’d just start weeping buckets if I opened my mouth. Thankfully I was driving so I kept my eyes on the road. And I prayed.
I don’t want my children to think that leaving our family is actually a viable option…a reasonable option. It’s absolutely not. Their father used that option with disastrous results for all of us. I refuse to let this be a generational sin…it will stop with him! So what do I do?
I know my first course of action is to pray and pray hard. And I need to trust God. Trust Him with my children and their future.
And I will try to hold my tongue and my temper. And I will listen. And regardless of how unkind my children are, I will love them. Regardless of how tired I am, I will love on them. And I will model that love is a choice…a choice to stay regardless of how you feel or what you want to change or not change.
Maybe I need to share openly with my children about how their comments hurt? I’ll have to think about that one. Maybe I need to tell them gracefully and gently that leaving is NOT an option. Period. Ever.
And I definitely need to remember that my children are hurting. That my children are confused and scared. Just like me Lord, they long for life to be different. I pray that my children will find their hope and strength in the Lord and Him alone and that they know with certainty that their Heavenly Father will never leave them nor forsake them. (Joshua 1:5)
And no matter how often they declare they will leave me, I will not leave them.
Father, my sweet children are living such a different life than I had hoped and planned. We’re all struggling. God, I need wisdom to do this well. I need strength and patience I don’t feel capable of exhibiting. Father, I pray that you will protect my children and guide their decisions. Please reveal your love to them in unexpected and amazing ways. Please help them to know that you have a wonderful plan for their lives and that the struggle is doable with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.