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Between silence and yelling…

August 7, 2014

Summer

It’s amazing to me how my mom moments lend themselves to Jesus moments…

Over the last year I took part in a “no yell challenge”. I received daily encouragement from a website and took great care in really speaking to my children lovingly. And then summer came…

More kids at home for greater lengths of time. Add in the one child who is very black and white and another who sees the world as a series of differently shaded rainbows and wow, just wow.

Confession; my tongue and tone have gotten the best of me this summer. I’ve grown tired of sibling bickering, sweat induced whining and sounds of the summertime blues. The grating sound of temporarily unsatisfied children surrounds me, creeps in and eventually I lose my cool.

As a pretty black and white thinker myself I have always seen 2 options when I hit boiling.

Option A would be to yell, which I do not think helps 99% of situations (except maybe when your tiny 2.5yr old thinks running in the road to see her friend who just pulled up would be fun…please alert your child of their surroundings and possible danger in that moment!)

Option B would be to say nothing, which sounds calm until you realize you’ve been quiet but your insides are in knots. For weeks I have tried so hard to say nothing. Walk away. Don’t respond. Count to 10. Take deep breaths. Whatever I could do to keep it together. And while it worked I would eventually hit a wall, lose it a little, have to ask my kids for forgiveness and then I would start the whole process again. (I’m a glutton for punishment!)

When I yell, I dismantle an environment of conversation, correction and learning. When I say nothing, I do the exact same thing. In saying nothing I haven’t dealt with my child, I haven’t managed my own feelings well and whatever the issue, it is still festering.

So what is Option C? Work it out. Confront the child (or children). Express how I am feeling and what I am thinking. Try and solve the problem together.

Option C is SO HARD. If the child is argumentative talking things out could take a long time and a lot of patience. Tapping in to my child’s empathy for how I might think or feel takes just the right language. And problem solving, ha! that seems nearly impossible.

Option C is exactly what both my kids and I need. They need to see me have the patience and self control to confront them. This is how they will learn to confront others. They need to hear that I have feelings and thoughts and expectations. This is how they will begin to understand what it means to live alongside others. They need to problem solve, even if that means making suggestions but eventually giving in and doing things my way (I am still the responsible adult after all!). This is how they will learn to work with authority.

So often this is how God deals with us too. He demonstrates through His Son and His Spirit how we should live. He expresses to us through the Word and His Spirit what He desires from us. He beckons us to come to Him and work things out, even when that means we yield to His ways over ours because He is still God after all.

As God demonstrates His love for me, so I commit to demonstrating love for my children.

It is work. Exhausting, frustrating, never ending, work. Yet, it is in the work that I meet God and am reminded how deeply, affectionately and patiently He loves me.

Take the plunge. Whatever hard parenting thing you need to do, do it. God is waiting for you there.

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Summer bleeds into fall…

August 4, 2014


I all the sudden feel like summer is bleeding into fall and while I knew it was coming I am just now noticing.

In just 3.5 short weeks we will be back on the school schedule. In just 4.5 more weeks my lovely community of moms will reconvene and I will find a new rhythm of study and prayer. In just 5.5 weeks I may not even remember what summer felt like.

This changing season has snuck up on me. I feel like this is also reflective of my personal life.

In the first 6 months of this year we have welcomed a new member to our family, I have stepped down from 2 jobs, my husbands schedule has shifted and our life rhythm has changed.

I am just now noticing our change of pace. More accurately I am just now yielding to our change of pace.

It is impossible to keep up the same tempo of work and not working, 4 kids instead of 3 and every other weekend with all of us home instead of spending all my weekends as a single parent.

I recently sat in church and listened to a sermon that spoke deeply about Ecclesiastes, the meaning of life and the beauty of God. Seasons.

Life happens in seasons.

When the seasons change we have two choices: See the change and move with it, ignore the change and fight against it.

I think I have unconsciously been fighting against the changing season.

Without thinking I have been holding tightly to what was.  I have tried to hold on to the working me. The commitment to being available and in the know and on call. The professional me that dresses for the job I want, schedules the children rigidly and constantly keeps on task in order to accomplish everything. I have tried to do with 4 kids what I did with 3. (While not impossible I don’t recommend this, babies need rest!) And then I wonder why I am tired, drained, unable to see the joy. Swimming against the current is hard work.

I see the summer ending and the fall on the horizon and am now choosing to move with the change.

I know deep down I can not do it all. It is obvious that I am no longer working outside my home and our family has grown by one. All of the sudden I am ready to embrace all that this season has to offer. I am putting on yoga pants and mowing the lawn at midday rest time. We are sitting on the porch swing just a few minutes past bedtime as we look for the moon. Deep breaths replace deep sighs and I begin to see joy around me.

I see God peeling away my former self and calling forth a new part of who I am created to be.

As this season comes I can’t claim to have it all figured out. I don’t have a big goal that will signify my arrival or completion of this season, I’m not even entirely sure what to expect. All I know is that I feel it.

Today I sit in grace. Change is coming. Watchful, attentive, willing to move with the season, not against it.

 

 

Linking today with Unforced Rhythms.

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When Life is Hard…

July 28, 2014

shattered

The song lyrics “never gonna get it” keep floating through my mind. It is exactly how I feel about my relationship with my son at the moment.

I was texting with a friend this week and we were asking each other how do we overcome the days when we just can’t seem to pull it together.

At the end of a long week I’ve wondered if I’m even capable of being a good mom to my kids. (Rest assured that deep down I think I can but it sure is hard to have confidence in the hard moments.)

Sitting in church on Sunday I was just listening. The lyrics of the songs, the reading of the Psalms, the proclamation of scripture.

Truth. We have to live lives permeated with truth. And not just the pretty, beautiful truths but the ugly, hard ones too.

 

This past week was a week of hard truths.

    • It is true that I have a child who struggles with the daily simplicities of life.

 

    • It is true that those struggles affect our whole family.

 

    • It is true that my physical body is hurting and exhausted.

 

    • It is true that this season of my life is hard.

 

And I mourn.

    • I am sad for my child who struggles and deeply wish I could make it easier.

 

    • I am sad for the siblings, knowing they didn’t choose this family or these struggles.

 

    • I am sad for me. When the idyllic motherhood I imagined is crashing down around me, my mom heart hurts.

 

    • I am sad for my family and the things that will never be.

 

 

Truth in the difficult. My hard days and my mourning in this season are real. This is where I meet God.

I’ve spent so much time praying amidst my tears, filling my days with the words of scripture and unburdening myself to the One who carries us all.

And it is still hard and I still mourn.

And this is Grace. This is the beauty of being in relationship with the God of the universe.

In the deepest darkest parts of my humanity God continues to love me unconditionally and in that same place I see Him and am thankful for who He is and what He does in the world.

We can not change our humanity. Our hard days are hard and our sad days are sad.

The beauty in the darkness is we know we won’t stay  here. New days will come. Mourning can be turned to dancing. Humanity will one day be restored to perfect beauty.

This is grace. This is God. This is me seeing the whole truth on a hard day.

 

*If you are in the midst of hard days can I encourage you? Walk through today. Be honest in the difficult but don’t lose hope. God is in the midst of your humanity today and still loves you deeply.

 

 

 

 

Linking up with Unforced Rhythms.

 

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Confession…

June 30, 2014

bed
Today I just couldn’t do it.

I got up, got everyone in motion and still just didn’t have it in me. When everyone was in a safe, still place I went and laid in my already made bed.

In the dark. In the quiet.

In a moment of divine intervention I just started confessing.

I confess I don’t have the desire to take on today, I really just want to do my own thing. I confess that one more day on this schedule with my oldest child just seems more than I can stand. I confess that I am a little weary of changing diapers and doing laundry. and playing dutiful housewife when the only thing I want to be sorting through are my own thoughts. I confess that today I can’t see beyond myself even though I really want to.

What do we do when we feel defeated and the race hasn’t even started? Hide? Yell? Ignore? Or maybe we question our worth or our calling?

But maybe instead of falling down that dark spiral of defeat we find a way out. Locate the weight and try something new. Can I suggest the practice of confession?

Confession doesn’t have to be in the ancient language of the mystics that sounds more like poetry than sin slaying. It doesn’t have to be to a priest or your best girlfriend. Your confession doesn’t require a rehearsal or an outline.

You only need 2 things for confession. You and the Truth.

That morning underneath my once neatly fluffed pillow as my kids ate their yogurt I took the truth, spoke it aloud and laid it in Jesus midst.

It wasn’t a pretty truth but God already knew that. It wasn’t even followed by lightning bolts or audible voices.

In those few imperfect moments I didn’t all the sudden want to change but I felt peace that I could change.

Confession had been given. Grace had been sought. Peace had been received.

I walked out of my room back into to my current rhythm as mom of 4 and the peace of God presided.

Next time you encounter that moment where life just seems too much find a quiet corner and confess. Cast your burdens and your cares. The God who sees you, knows you and loves you encounters you there, in the darkest moments, and promises light.

Peace be with you.

 

 

Linking up today with Unforced Rhythms

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Getting to the “Amen”

June 23, 2014

Norah and Flowers

Our 2.5 year old just makes me laugh. Most of the time she walks around talking gibberish, incomplete thoughts and throwing in the word “Frozen” every couple sentences.

Recently at dinner I asked for a volunteer to pray over our meal and she volunteered. Wanting to give our children every opportunity, especially when they are this enthusiastic, we joined hands and waited…

“Thank you God.”
Amen

I giggled to myself a little at her very enthusiastic (read: loud) “amen” . Okay then. Not a bad first attempt. Short and sweet. We will take it!

Later as I was cleaning up I drifted back to that moment. Who knew my 2.5 year old had such developed theology.

At the end of the day when we sit down together she had it all right.

Thank you God. Yes!

Indeed! We made it through the day. We are all in once piece (a small feat when there are 4 children under 7!). We had an amazing meal before us. We had enjoyed the good moments, endured the hard moments and offered and received forgiveness in the bad moments.

Life is not perfect but we have so much to be thankful for. What more is there?

A strong AMEN!

Amen: Truly; It is so.

It is true and it is so. We are thankful. I am thankful.

Not to many days from now I will remind my daughter of this prayer. I will tell her she was right. I will implore her to not lose her hope and her conviction. I will encourage her to number her gifts of thankfulness and never forget. I will tell her it is okay to simply be thankful and get to the Amen!

Today. Simply be thankful and let it be so.

 

Linking with Unforced Rhythms

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When the answer is simple

June 16, 2014

David Campbell Dove

It was Pentecost Sunday. As I sat surrounded by 150 other people we were encouraged to pray our words aloud, into the open. After a few moments and some beautiful prayers there was a voice. Quivering, simple, sure. “Thank you for Jesus.”

That was all. “Thank you for Jesus.”

The light bulb of my heart filled me from top to bottom. YES! Thank you for Jesus.

I thought about this man all day. I do not know who he was or what his intent but the simplicity of his prayer brought joy to me for days.

We so often make life complicated. My analytical personality makes my own mind spin constantly down one rabbit hole into the next.

Yet, Thank you for Jesus.

In the many years this man must have lived what had he experienced? In his current aged state what may be ailing him or troubling him?

Yet, “Thank you for Jesus” was all he said.

He’s right. The world is a complicated place. Humans are complicated beings. Life is a complicated rhythm.

Yet, Thank you for Jesus.

Jesus. Almighty. Perfecter of Faith. Bread of Life. Counselor. Deliverer. Holy. Light of the World. Prince of Peace. Redeemer.

Yes, Thank you for Jesus!

In these complicated times the answer is simple and eternally profound. Jesus.

Yes, thank you for Jesus.

 

 

Linking with Unforced Rhythms

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Small Sacrifices…

June 3, 2014

Baseball 2014

Baseball season has begun in our house.  Our oldest son plays in a park district league for 6 weeks.  This year my husband is helping out on the field with the kids when he is in town.

It really is a fun time of year for me. I find joy in watching my son play, be a part of a team and really enjoy himself.  I am also enjoying watching my husband encourage other young players and put himself out there as a role model and helper.

Recently my husband asked me if I was going to stay home during the next game and put the other 3 kids to bed since the game won’t even start til after 7pm. The thought had never crossed my mind.

And then I started to tear up.

It was the first time I realized that I may have to miss some summer baseball games. I have 3 other small kids under 4 who need love, care and attention. Their rest and wholeness is just as important to me as being present for my son.

Part of me feels sad. I want to be at the game and enjoy my sons bliss as he does, cheer him in success and comfort him in failure.

Part of me feels selfish. My other children are just as important to me, why does this occasion prompt me to perhaps test and stretch them beyond their small selves capacity so I can be where I want to be? Yet, my intentions of presence come from a place of love and love is not self seeking.

Part of me gets caught in the lies that I sometimes believe about my role as “Mom”. Why do I feel like the simple “needs” of my children are such a huge sacrifice on my part? Yet, I love them deeply and just the fact I am thinking this thought gives me hope.

As I think of these things over the dishes my thoughts wander to the Garden. That Garden. The one Jesus prayed in and sweat blood in.

That place where His sacrifice was His life. Where He was willing to give it all for His disciples. A moment where He knew His love for them and the people of the world far outweighed any experience He might have in the future.

And I am humbled. I am moved to silence. Peace overwhelms me.

What feels like a sacrifice is really a gift.

I am not sacrificing myself on the altar of motherhood but instead I am gifting myself to my small children who need rest at home. I am not sacrificing my “need” to be with my son but instead I am gifting him time, experience and memories with just his dad.

And my sacrifice is nothing compared to what has been given to me.

Lord willing my children will grow older, bed times will get later, summer baseball games will happen again. This season, this time, is short. It’s significance is small in the big story of life.

And I begin to understand. I begin to see Jesus praying and crying. The sweat becomes blood as his heart wells and overflows with the deep love He feels for His people. And ultimately, He is willing to sacrifice it all.

All the future maybes are put aside for the ultimate forever with a single life.

I am the beneficiary of that sacrifice.

Today, I see my small insignificant sacrifices and pray that all the missed games and little kid bedtimes and hard choices will point my kids to the one Gift they really need. May my life be full of small gifts that point to this garden moment. This Jesus.

 

Linking up with Unforced Rhythms

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