Friday, August 28, 2015
This afternoon my girls started walking out the door to head next door to my sister's house (yes, she lives next door) and immediately I went in panic mode. My sister has a brand new three week old baby girl and who knows where my kids hands have been. I don't keep perpetual tabs on what their fingers are digging in or playing with, but I know whatever it is, it probably made their fingernails grimy and black and sticky and I can only assume that no one wants the gritty fingers of adventurous children touching the cheeks of their first precious baby girl. So I panicked. I made them scrub their hands and I pulled out the toenail clippers, because I couldn't find a fingernail one. A toenail clippers will do just fine. And I cut those babies down as far as they would go. I breathed a sigh of relief. Almost. I knew Leila had just been running through the dirt without her shoes on. Here's to sending her off and hoping she doesn't take her shoes off while she's out of reach.
Last night, my son sort of went into a mild hysteria. It suddenly dawned on him that school was just around the corner, when I told him at 10:30 it was time for bed and it was time to get on a school bedtime schedule. His bedtime is actually 9:30 on school nights, but I'm easing him in. He nagged, cried, yelled a little, begged and then he mumbled something about people 'controlling his life.' And before I knew it, the word "brat" popped out of my mouth and everything in me wanted to pull it out of the air. I also wanted to take back a summer full of bedtimes at midnight for him, but what can I do about it now? Deal with the repercussions of my inconsistencies as a parent. Inconsistencies suck.
Last week, the girls were playing quietly and working hard all day in their bedroom. I saw blankets and tables being dragged into their room and I turned a blind eye to the inevitable tornado I was sure had hit their bedroom. I knew it was being demolished. But they were being so quiet and I was enjoying the silence.
And also, I'm a type B personality. I'm not saying a bit of panic or irritability doesn't set in when the house is a mess and people are on their way over or if I'm trying to work or watch TV and there are clothes and lucky charms strewn about. Stress happens. But usually, I tell myself to chill. Enjoy life. Yes, I can enjoy life in a mess, because my kids come before the house. My happiness is found in Jesus. And I simply don't have time to do it all. Particularly not in the summer when I have 4 kids and their friends over all the time. So I rest in the fact that I will get to it when I can.
However, this particular Saturday, I had just recently put the mattresses back on the bed from the bridge the girls built the day before with them and I left the house. The moment we had re-entered the house, I caught them in their room with the mattresses back off the beds and they said they were "making a book" with them. I put the kibosh on the book making fun and Jada told me in character of a typical nine year old that I was mean. In fun, I took the situation to facebook and asked how many moms out there were 'mean' like me and would not let their kids turn their mattresses into a book. The response basically bit me in the tush because it boiled down to 98% of them were mean by their own claim and were seemingly appalled that I had let it go that far.
I basically got the "I would never!!!" vibe.
And suddenly it kicked in.
Most days, I realize the mom guilt or self condemnation by any nature sets in when I compare myself with other people. Other moms. Other pictures on my Instagram feed. Probably type A's. In any case, I compare and I suddenly feel like I don't feed my kids the right foods. My kids aren't being home-schooled. I don't do crafts with my kids (at least not on a regular basis). I'm not a room mom at their school or on the PTA nor do I care to be. I let them make bridges with their mattresses occasionally. And yes, they eat in their room and their carpeting is paying for it. (Not to mention, my eyes and sometimes my feet.)
Am I the only one that feels the tremendous guilt weighing down on you when you find out what someone else is doing or isn't doing? Perhaps you are a working mom who longs to be at home with your children. Perhaps you are a stay at home mom, who feels like you should be providing better for your family. Maybe you rush home after a busy day only to feed your kids cereal or a peanut butter sandwich. Maybe you feel like you don't have time to study up, much less have money to buy organic, gluten free, paleo foods for your family. I've been in tears as I've watched other moms from a distance. I've seen their successful businesses made with 6 kids in tow while they homeschool and pastor a church or travel the globe and I think to myself, "How Lord? How do they do it and still seem so happy?"
All I can come up with is that God has equipped them in this time and this season to do what they are doing. And same goes for you and I. God has equipped us in this time for this season to do what we are doing. He hasn't asked you to do more. He hasn't asked you to do what that girl is doing. As a mom, God gives you the direction, you the grace, you the time to just be MOM. Being mom doesn't come with a rule book or a play by play. And the rules and suggestions of our culture are always changing so you certainly can't go by that. You have to go by your heart, your intuition and where He is leading you to. Sometime his leading allows for some unstructured fun in your kids bedrooms. I'm not kidding. I've felt that 'nudge' to let go of my own self proclaimed precedent about what life or family should or shouldn't be and I've learned to go with the flow.
I've followed His leading. His simple leading to enjoy life. Enjoy my family.
Don't wait for the weekend or for vacation. Enjoy it today, even in the rush.
I'm not saying structure is wrong. Or rules are wrong. Or schedules are wrong. They are all great. And perfect for you, if you know how to work them and maybe you thrive on them. But I'm talking to the 'everyones' who feel guilty because they don't feel like they match up to the next persons way of doing life. Maybe you are a structured by the book kind of mom and you wish you were more laid back. All I know is this: Follow that God appointed parental intuition on the inside of you. It's there for YOU and YOUR family.
I'm always learning. I'm always re-evaluating. I told my son last night as he was in tears about 'having to go to school to learn' that 90% of our life is learning (okay I don't have the statistics on that, but you get what I'm saying.). It never stops. I told him, I'm learning right now how to talk to you & work with you. Life is a continual process. And when I screw up and say something to my kids I feel badly about, I make sure to set the standard at apologizing with sincerity. Mommy makes mistakes, but I shouldn't have said that. I didn't mean it. So they know that it's okay to make mistakes, but it's better if we learn from them and resolve the problem or hurt we created.
So for all of us moms. Or parents.
Know that you are fully equipped with everything it takes to be a good parent... or a better parent if that's what you desire.. It doesn't take more money or healthier foods or more craft nights, being on the PTA or less mess. Or maybe it does. But just know you have what it takes. You have the ability to make sound decisions and fill their hearts with love and adventure right where you are.
You are enough.
Because He made you to be.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
I've been noticing this trend in our culture.
This trend where we dare to break free from fear of what people might think and we do our best to live authentically. It happens in all circles. Political, religious, personal. We are 'authentic.' No more being afraid of what people think. No more secrets.
We open the pages of our lives, for most of us it's online, (unless we are a published author or speaker or celebrity) and we dig out the nitty gritty dirty things of our lives and we share them. We parade our humanness in order to relate to humanity. We want people to know and understand us. Sometimes we need them to know us for our sake. We need them to get that 'we are only human.' We fall, we mess up, we suffer. So please, cut us some slack. But I think more often that not, we want to empathize with people. In order for people to hear us out, we need them to know that we understand. We've been there. We are there. And we are working it out. Someway, somehow... this too shall pass.
I've dipped my toes in these waters. I've opened my pages for others to see bits and pieces of my story. The messy parts. The hard parts. And the promising parts. I don't think I've dived completely in, but I've waded, somewhat hesitantly. And I've stumbled around, finding my place of comfort, my place of discomfort and where I can be stretched... and those places where I sense the Lord is giving me the 'go ahead' to lay it all out there.
And just like you, just like us all, I have been through the wringer. Some days the wringer has wrung and wrung and wringed and wrung. Some of those days have turned into weeks, and some of the weeks into long tormented seasons.
But here's the thing. I am still standing. Here's the thing. I am a daughter of God. Have I had brokenness in my life? Yes. But I am not broken. Have I had messy days? Yes. But I am not a mess. Have I failed? Yes. But I am not a failure. Have I felt hurt, been sick, lacked provision at times? Of course, we live in a human world.
But my identity is not wrapped up in my brokenness.
My identity is wrapped up in redemption.
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10 "...I delight in weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
So I get it. I understand that it's when we finally realize we can't do this hard life alone, that Christ's power can work through us. But it's for that purpose that we recognize the broken, tough, icky messed up parts of us... we recognize it, so that we can then become strong. If you are a redeemed son or daughter of God, you are not broken. You are not a mess. You are not a failure. You are not weak. You are not frail. You are not empty.
YOU ARE STRONG, friend. Walk in it.
Does our need to relate to others sometimes have us glorying a little more in our weaknesses than in His strength?
Have our immensely poetic and philosophical thoughts and quotes carried us to to a place where we just float and sulk in a weighted heaviness that Jesus already bore on the cross and redeemed us from? Sometimes I almost think it's unfair to Jesus, that after everything He went through for our salvation, healing, provision, joy, peace, abundant life and redemption as a whole... that we still qualify ourselves as 'broken.' We sing melancholy tunes of our empty lives that Jesus already filled.
Our testimony to others isn't in the middle of the mess we made of our lives or in the pain that our circumstances caused us. Our testimony of God's goodness comes when we walk out of our mess into our victory with confidence and thankfulness to our Redeemer.
I understand that people, all people... relate to brokenness. People relate to hurt. People relate to screwing up and making bad choices and being let down. And that is why all people need hope. They don't just need us to empathize with our own sad stories and a tidbit about God thrown in at the end. They need more.
We all need more. We all need Jesus.
People need to know 'I am just like you. I've been depressed. I've been abused. I've been poor. I've been sick. I've failed too many times to admit. I've been a bad parent. I've neglected my spouse. I've rolled my eyes, gossiped, wallowed in self pity, been addicted, experiences loss....
But that is not who I am.
I am not broken, because I know the restorer of broken lives.
I do not fall apart daily because my God is the lifter of my head.
I may fail but I am not a failure, because I know someone who forgives and empowers me to keep going.
Life can get pretty dicey sometimes. We live in a natural world. But as sons and daughters of God, we are no longer broken, but made whole. Let's show the world how big Jesus is, what he can do with broken lives and how his redemptive work brings healing and newness.
Old things are passed away. All things are become new.
Sunday, July 12, 2015
It's been a quiet place around these parts lately. I don't really have any reason or excuses to give. I actually could rattle a list of things that have kept me busy/ entertained/ losing my marbles, but nobody is asking me for a list. I've been settling lately. Settling for just being, not so much doing. I'll be honest. It takes effort these days for me to hop on here and write something. Anything. And all my energy is sunk into family in this season. I feel like I've been saying that all year long, but since having a 4th child and with him still being a baby, it's just true. Ya know? It is what is is. I'm wiped.
I have noble head goals to want to do more for myself. I want to go full steam ahead or I want to take it day at a time. Whatever works. But I've done neither. Because parenthood really does take it out of you and you really have to be super duper intentional to get anything done in life other than 'the kids.'
I don't beat myself up too much. When I realized a month has gone by, then two months since I sat down to write...my fists clenched a bit, my heart felt a little frustrated and in that moment, I tell myself "What is wrong with you? Just do it. Do what you want to do. Get it done...better yet, Get 'er done." And then someone yells "MOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!" And that's that. And that's why I don't beat myself up.
I'm so very thankful for the grace of God in this season. I can't say that enough. I seriously believe all parents must have a dose of God-given ability to raise little people into big people. Believer or not, that ability is God given. It's just learning to rely on Him which takes some practice and faith. Self reliance leaves us feeling frustrated and imperfect. Because none of us can do it alone. Who really wants to go at it alone?
I think sometimes we dwindle the grace of God to be a blanket to cover our sin or weakness. Or we mistakenly use it to excuse our laziness. He never intended for us to be bound to our weakness so that He could simply cover for us when we fail. He wanted us strong. He wanted us to rely on Him. He wanted us durable so that we could hunker down and finish this course with joy and satisfaction. His grace is a spring board that we can catapult from and move forward, despite our human weakness. It picks us up and gives us the muscle along the way to move faster, lift harder, and carry bigger loads if they are dropped in our lap.
Grace isn't a covering or a blind eye to what went wrong. It's so much more. It's a strengthening to help us get it right. And we all need more of that.
When Paul addressed the things going wrong in his life, God told him "You got this. Why? Because "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So Paul then said he is content to admit he is weak, because then the power of Christ can strengthen him and work through him.
(2 Corinthians 12:9) It kept him going!
The other day I had a friend comment on my facebook that she loved 'how open and honest' I was about life. I so appreciated that comment because I felt that all these words I spill out into the world are not pointless. Some days I wonder. But I know this sort of gut wrenching openness wouldn't be as easy if I didn't know victory and peace on the other side of the stories I share.
If I spilled my guts without sharing my glory, it would really just be me candidly complaining about life and everything in it. But I'm open about my frustrations + weakness + victories as a mom, as a wife, as a friend, in my health, in my commitments and goals, because it's real life. And more importantly, because in my real life there is real grace to do it all, sometimes go through it all, sometimes trudge through it all...knowing that HOPE that only lies in Jesus. It's His ability alone working through me that keeps me moving, keeps me real, keeps me victorious in the end.
Let me say this. I don't try to do it all or be it all or trudge through anything just for the sake of doing it. Or to win some sort of award for rule following. Or to measure up to some level of perfection I saw on Pinterest.
I don't even really even try to do "it all." When I say it all, I mean, I do what I have on my plate just because it's there set in front of me. Don't get bent out of shape thinking I'm struggling to reach some unseen level of perfection to be noticed by God or anyone else for that matter. I do what I have to do and my aim in every basic life activity is to bring Glory to Jesus. Why shouldn't it be?
On the other hand, I'm not trying to give the illusion that I don't want to do more with my time on this earth. Mostly, I want to do more in my personal life. But I'm still learning in some ways how to rely on that grace to catapult me into all those dreams I have for my life. And it's okay that I'm still learning. It's okay to admit I don't have it all down pat yet. It's okay if I never get there. It's okay if I am just Mom and Wife and Friend and Sister and Daughter of God....but when I do all those things and be that person, my desire is I do it all for His Glory. Keeping my eyes on Him...
"We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne." Hebrews 12;2