The longer I am a parent, the easier it is for me to recognize the different seasons in this life-long journey. Some seasons I love…other seasons I endure. I rejoice when a tough season ends and we get to move on to something new. When difficult things happen in our family, it is easy to lose faith that God is in the details and that he will help me parent my children with love and integrity.
There are so many things I love about the season we are in right now. My kids are healthy and strong. They each have their own passions and interests. I enjoy each one of them separately for who God has created them to be and who they are becoming. They are thriving as individuals and it is fun to watch.
This season is also incredibly difficult for me. There are things I am believing for in my family and sometimes I am unable to recognize God's hand moving. I want more for them and it is easy to lose heart when I expect to see results and all I see is the struggle. God's timing never seems to work on my timeline.
Since the day I went from having one child to two, I have prayed for my children to be friends. With the addition of two more children, my prayers and hopes for their relationships have only increased. I believe the enemy has pursued my family and has attempted to steal their love for each other through different situations in our home, at school, and our community. I refuse to let go of my hope for their friendships. I pray. I believe.
Lately, it seems my watch in this area only stops when everyone is asleep and their mouths are closed. I have been frustrated and weary from the constant bickering and poking that has been happening in my home. Yes, they poke each other for fun! I have been referring to this as a season because I believe one day this will end.
This past Wednesday, after having all four children home all day from school, by 5 o’clock, I was done. Done with the fighting. Done with the complaining. Just D-O-N-E. At the end of myself, I sat three out of my four children down and declared this a fight-free-holiday. The results of that stern discussion lasted 15 minutes.
The fighting has been particularly worse between my two youngest. I have prayed for God to give me insight and to show me how to curb their words, their anger, and their selfishness. My daughter has been particularly mean and I have been fearful that my son will grow up resenting her.
God has yet to give me a revelation as to how to stop their constant bickering other than by being consistent in my parenting, but he has given me a renewed hope about their relationship hiding just below the surface.
Wednesday evening I found this in Lincoln's lunch bag. What could a water bottle cap possibly have anything to do with their relationship? I am so glad you asked.
A month ago, Jennifer started a project with my mom. It was a train made of decorated toilet paper rolls and bottle caps as wheel. Her project was almost complete, but she didn’t have enough water bottle caps to finish the train. No one ever told Lincoln to save his bottle caps for Jennifer. On his own, he started bringing home the caps and placing them in a pile. After a few days, he told his sister that he had saved enough for her to finish her project.
When I opened up Lincoln's lunch bag, I was instantly reminded of how God is in the details of our lives…and that includes the lives of my children. He knows what is important to me as a mother. He knows my hopes for them and my desire for them to love each other well. My family is far from perfect. My kids fight, sometimes they war, but I am believing for more. I am believing for life-long friendships among all four of my kids.
I know God opened my eyes to see beyond a water bottle cap perfectly placed in the center of his bag. He showed me how much my children truly love each other. Occasionally I catch glimpses. A hand holding moment. Caring words when one is upset. A protective war-cry if anyone messes with the other. There is a loyalty there that will sustain them.
I believe God gave me this “Proof of Love” so I wouldn’t lose heart and that I would continue to pray and believe for my family.
His promises are greater. His ways are higher. His truths are forever sure.
Living Completely Undone
When I was pregnant with Lincoln I had extreme vertigo. My world spun round and round and my stomach often went with it. There were times I could feel it coming on. If I twisted my head a certain way or I looked sideways too long, the spinning would start.
After I delivered Lincoln, my vertigo stopped...almost. Occasionally, there are certain quick movements I make that bring on the familiar feeling. I have learned to recognize what is happening and stop what I am doing. With rest, the sensation eventually leaves me. Vertigo has definitely made amusement parks fun!
This morning my alarm went off and I wasn’t prepared. Honestly, my week has been crazy full. The busier I am…the better I sleep. I was out. When the sounds of birds chirping hit my awareness (I have absolutely no idea why I have selected the “Happy Bird” sound to wake me up), I jumped out of bed in a way that brought the vertigo sensation on strong.
In that moment, I had to make a decision; get up and push through or lay back down and relax so the vertigo would leave. I chose to lay back down and rest until I felt better. It wasn’t in my plan for the day, but it worked and I was able to complete everything I had scheduled. One of those things was a very important lunch date with my daughter at school.
After this episode dissipated, I started thinking about how often when I was pregnant I pushed through. Instead of stopping when I felt dizzy I kept moving, hoping it would go away. It didn’t.
I started to think about other situations in my life where I have pushed through. For some reason, I have spent most of my life conquering tasks and moving on. The more challenging the obstacle, the harder I push. Eventually this cycle causes me to crash and burn and I am left with chaos.
These moments of chaos slow me down and cause me to re-evaluate my situation. Often, I am forced to decide on the best course of action to stop the tsunami from overtaking my life. Simply stated: I was not designed for this.
I have made a point to recognize the signs of being close to the edge. A fast beating heart, a quick temper, or an inability to focus on a task are all signs I am over-extended…either physically or emotionally.
Like many women, I have a full plate. Whether I am in a season of working or in a season of staying home taking care of my family, there is a tendency to push through when I know it is time to rest. I believe resting is a skill that does not come naturally to me.
No one says you or I have to push through. Who knows, maybe in the rest, God will speak to my heart and give me a strategy and a plan to push through my obstacle or to manage my chaos? Maybe even these plans will result in quicker action than if I had just kept moving? God really is good like that.
So whether you are a working woman or a college student…
A single mom or a stay-at-home mom…
A leader or a follower…
Remember God delights in you. His plan is for you to have times of rest that rejuvenate your soul and give you a sustaining strength to accomplish his plans and purposes.
Often we just have to rest long enough to recognize it.
Living Completely Undone
God Bless the moms of Walmart!
Walmart is an overload of stuff, with a side of stuff, with some extra stuff for my kids. Of course, I can’t forget the chocolate stuff, the candy stuff, and the ice cream stuff also calling out to my little humans as I tiptoe down the aisles.
I went to Walmart for a few things before my kids got home from school yesterday. Sipping my sugar-free vanilla latte, it was easy to forget the “joys” of shopping with my tribe. All alone, I meandered through the store, stopping occasionally to check out something I had no intentions of buying.
My quiet shopping experience suddenly came to an end. I heard it…the child screaming and the mom telling the screaming child to be quiet. Oh the crying. It got louder. I rounded the corner and in the middle of the aisle was a child sprawled out screaming, “But I need it!” A poor exasperated mom was trying her hardest to get the child off the floor. She pulled her close, “You need to stop NOW! We will have a conversation when we get to the car!”
I saw the stares. The eye rolls were in full swing as I walked past the other moms who obviously forgot what it was like to take their small children to the store. Tired, cranky, and pushed to the limit…little bundles of blessings (mixed with lessons of humility) can bring us to the end of ourselves faster than we can remember that a good mom shouldn't raise her voice. Good grief!
For 30 minutes I heard the disaster happening a few aisles over. I want to tell my fellow mom that it was okay and that she was doing a good job. My heart went out to her because she drew a firm line and the entire store was paying the price. I said to myself, “Rock on Sweet Mama and hold the line!”
The pressure to parent well is overwhelming. My struggle has never been in loving my children well. My forever test comes in the management of my family chaos. An even greater test is when I am forced to manage my chaos in front of strangers...strangers who don’t know I am an awesome mom and that I love my kids!
Any shift in routine or need for a different plan, my 4 children turn into little button pushers. My first instinct is to push back. This is where I get in trouble! My biggest flaw is that my "push back" is usually louder than their initial push.
Finally, at the checkout line, I see the tear-stained face of a little girl and the sweating red face of an exhausted mom. I overheard the little girl ask quietly, “Can I get it next time if I promise not to tell her to shut up again?” The mom’s response, “Yes, I will get it for you next time if you follow my rules and you talk kindly to your sister.”
My eyes water because my own mom journey has wrecked me. In spite of all the snickers and eye rolls from the people around her, she stayed the course. She didn’t cave in order to get her daughter quiet. She didn’t yield to the peer pressure of performance. She didn’t run out of the store and return later without her kids. She stood her ground, drew a line, and taught her daughter a lesson.
In the moment, I am sure it didn't feel like it was worth it, but it was. You’re embarrassed because someone somewhere told you that your kids should be perfect, but they aren’t. You’re exhausted because you chose to stay the course and win the battle. Some may say you entered into a power struggle, but I say you were just a fellow mom sticking to your guns.
We need more Mamas like you.
Rock on Sweet Mama. Rock on...
Next time you are in Walmart, Target, or Wegmans, please remember when you see the little boy or girl pitching a fit and a mom unable to manage her chaos...the reason the child is causing a stir is because he or she was just told the magic word, "No." We can all get our kids to smile. We can all make our kids easy to be with by giving them everything they want. A brave mom will risk her pride and her sanity to draw a line and win the battle even if strangers are rolling their eyes and shaking their heads.
Motherhood is not about having perfect children. Motherhood is not about performing well in front of others. Motherhood is about loving our children enough to tell them "no" even when that answer makes us look less-than-stellar.
Living Completely Undone
My husband told me a story that he had heard in a message. I am pretty sure it was in a message by Joyce Meyer, but I can’t find the story to verify it. So, for the sake of not hearing from her attorneys, I will say Joyce Meyer possibly told this story in a message. The point is clear either way.
I will call lady #1 Joyce and lady #2 Betty Crocker. I couldn’t resist.
Joyce and Betty were out to lunch. When it came time to order dessert, Joyce ordered a piece of chocolate cake and Betty passed on dessert. Betty began to tell Joyce how God had spoken to her about eating well and she felt convicted not to eat cake. On and on Betty went until the cake arrived. At that point, Betty leaned over to Joyce and asked her if she was going to eat the cake. Joyce replied, “God talked to you about not eating cake. Until God talks to me about cake, I’m going to eat the cake.”
God impresses on me often about what I should and shouldn’t do. God has spoken to my heart about the movies and shows I watch, the music I listen to, and the words I speak. Every year, I grow in new ways as I follow His leading. I am a different woman today than I was 20 years ago, five years ago, or even last year. A sign of a growing believer is someone who knows they are in a process towards perfection that will not be attained until they are face to face with Jesus.
In other words...EVERY DAY, FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, I WILL BE IMPERFECT.
Many Christians I know have similar convictions about their lives and follow similar standards. Other Believers have different convictions and make different choices. Does that mean I am a better Christian? No! It means that we are all on a journey and God takes us different places and uses different circumstances to grow and mature us in our faith.
Here is my struggle: when I get my eyes off Jesus and onto those around me, I can become critical and judgmental if they are not making similar choices. I can also become harsh and critical with myself if I see others moving and growing faster in the areas I am working on. Comparison either inflates my pride or creates discontentment. It never brings life or freedom to my heart.
Some things in my life have been easy to change. For example: God convicted me about the TV I was watching. The next day, I talked with Philip and we set a standard. Simple. 18 years later, this is still the standard. If anything, adding children to our family has only tightened things up. Yes, people are still shocked when I tell them we don’t watch R rated movies unless they are the TV approved version and we can fast forward scenes.
Other things in my life have not been so easy to correct. For example: learning how to speak life-giving words continues to be a PAINFULLY SLOW lesson for me. There I stand, my mouth opens, and out comes something I shouldn’t say. Thankfully, after I am done beating myself up, I am reminded that God’s mercies are new every morning and I get to try again.
When I was a new believer, I was tossed back and forth between what was right and what was wrong and what was truth and what was religion. Getting saved a few months shy of 18 certainly set me back in the game of playing “holy.” I am horrible at playing the role of a slightly less passionate, quiet, demure woman who knows her place. Instead, I have a tendency to rock the boat, push limits, and make people a bit nervous. It is my strength...and weakness.
I have always been a strong person. When I gave my life to Jesus, that didn’t change. I spent the first 6 years of my Christian journey trying to navigate being a new believer and breaking old patterns of sin. As God started speaking to my heart, I found myself putting those standards and expectations on others around me. Although there is nothing wrong with sharing my convictions, the error comes when I place those convictions on others and expect them to abide. It is remembering I am not Jesus to anyone and that only His words have the power to change lives.
Every day we are given a standard to live up to. You won’t find this standard in bold messages posted on Facebook or Instagram about politics, money, or the church. The only standard to live up to is His word. I have learned to love others well by accepting them for who they are…shortcomings included. It is not my job to save anyone, but to be a conduit of His love and truth.
There are times I still stumble with this. When I find myself on the wrong side of a judgmental thought, I remind myself that I should just shut up and eat the cake.
I am a girl passionately in love with Jesus, my husband, and my children. I am forever learning how to live a life completely undone for my God. This blog is about my journey and a few funny stories in between.