On Saturday, I read a blog from a wonderful mom of four young kids who had one of THOSE days. You know those days, when little fingers get into so many things, you don't have time to recover from one episode, before another drama unfolds before your eyes? Those days when you wonder how someone not able to even speak in sentences can render you into the same condition. Yea, one ofthose days.
Her blog made me miss little kids so much, it took me a few minutes to remember the overwhelmed feeling that often accompanied those little blessings.
I still have those days, but not with those kind of trials.
My kids now read books, not just throw them off the shelves or eat them.
My children no longer unwind a whole roll of toilet paper just for fun. Not saying they've mastered hanging a roll of toilet paper, but I haven't seen this scene for years.
The kids are driving larger, more expensive vehicles we have to insure and fill with gas. Road rage is absolutely NOT tolerated.
I miss little kids. Having a "baby" who's 8 going on 24 is not the same as being the mom of a baby or a toddler. I love my kids at every stage, but I miss those early years.
I miss little problems. I miss the simplicity of wiping up spills and putting away a bajillion Legos for the kajillionth time. At the time these problems seemed so hard, and they were, but now seem so simple compared to the situations we face now.
As I look back on those early years, there is more than just love of little ones tearing at my heart. There's regret. I didn't completely understand what I was doing.
I loved what I was doing. I planned to be a mom. I prayed faithfully. I studied the Bible. I asked older women questions. I was in my element, serving in the career I had chosen - MOTHERHOOD.
But, somehow, I missed out on some important aspects of parenting. I didn't understand the small problems, like spilled milk, were preparing me for larger problems.
I also didn't understand I needed to handle my children's small problems in a way that would build trust and confidence so they'd come to me with their bigger problems. Over reacting and ungodly anger can prove inability to handle their problems. If you're faithful in little issues, you'll be prove faithful in larger issues.
Do you want your teenager to come to you and confess the true details of how they dented your car? Be patient and gracious now when they tell you how they broke your glass or your vase. Yes, they still might be reprimanded for playing ball in the house, but they have to know you value their right standing with the Lord and their safety more than your possessions.
Do you want your teenager to come to you and discuss all friendship/relationship problems? Begin now training their relationship skills and your listening skills in dealing with their sibling confrontations. Hear both sides. Teach them to confess and ask for forgiveness. Let them know that nothing they tell you will freak you out. Allow them to entrust their relationship problems to you.
Do you want a teenager to admit to their weaknesses? Don't deride and rail on them for their weaknesses as children. Have a bed wetter or one hard to poddy train? Be patient. Be encouraging. Be supportive. Even when you have washed the bedding for the third night in a row, bite your tongue. Do you have a child prone to stealing? Lying? The goodness of God leads to repentance, deal with them with firmness and a determination to find the truth, but in a spirit of grace and not offended anger. But, let them trust you with their weaknesses.
Picture how you want your children to act as teenagers and young adults. Then trace backwards to the stage they're at now. Pray for wisdom, and ask the Lord to show you how to root out sin in their life, teach them to apply the Word of God to their weaknesses and help them grow into that godly young adult you envisioned.
I Thessalonians 5:14
"Now we exhort you, brethren,
warn those who are unruly,
comfort the fainthearted,
uphold the weak,
be patient with all."
Motherhood, despite having those days, is still the best job I've ever loved.
For years we primarily looked after ourselves. Yes, we served others, but in the timing and way WE chose. Some of us taught Sunday school, Bible studies or worked with youth groups. We might have babysat, worked with Daily Vacation Bible school or a kids Bible club ministry. We might have even been very, very active in working with younger people, but it was usually according to OUR schedule.
Now, as a Mom, there is no timing, no control. 24/7 you're on call for the needs, desires and even wants of your kids. It can be tiring. It can be utterly exhausting.
It can be hard to discern at 2am if the cry is a need to be fulfilled, or a want to be ignored. Answer their cry or let them cry it out? Pick them up and comfort them or let them learn to comfort themselves back to sleep?
When do you stop what you're doing, intervene in a situation, and when do you ignore?
When do you make them eat, and when do you allow them not to? When do YOU eat? When do you play with them and when do you make them entertain themselves?
I don't think I initially understood that
parenting is setting myself aside and putting my children first.
I saw them as an addition to my life, not my entire life. I loved my children. I wanted a houseful of children. I just didn't know how much I would have to give.
I quickly learned. Fulfilling their basic needs took way more than I expected I'd need to give. Time for Mommy to read, craft, sew, bake, visit, shop and talk on the phone could not come first. Sometimes it was an easy sacrifice because I love babies and small children so much, and was thrilled to have my own. Sometimes, it was a hard sacrifice.
Why is Mothering so hard?
It showed more ugly than I expected was beneath the surface.
I never expected to get impatient with a little one who whined just because they wanted to be held in my arms, again.
I never expected to be frustrated that a little one couldn't master a new skill that would relieve me, even slightly, of some of the burden of their care.
I never expected my heart to be cold to the cry of a little one, just because my bed was so warm. It wasn't always with a joyful heart that I bounded out of bed to pick up a precious little one.
I never expected that every sin hidden in the corners of my heart, mind, body and soul would be stirred to the surface by these precious little ones entrusted to my care.
I never expected it, but the Lord did. That's why He allowed it.
Why is Mothering so hard? Because Fathering is so hard!
I also learned God the Father is never impatient when I need to be held in His arms, again.
I also learned He is infinitely patient when I can't master the victory over sin that would relieve Him some of the burden of my care.
I also learned when I cry out to Him in the darkest of night, He never sleeps nor slumbers.
I also learned that whatever ugly sins are stirred to the surface during my parenting, He will cleanse and send them as far as the east is from the west.
I never expected it, but the Lord did. That's why He allowed it.
Years ago, I was in the same fellowship as a godly older woman named Cheryle. She loved the Word. She loved her husband. She loved her boys. She was a smile erupting out of a heart filled with the joy of the Lord.
Cheryle's husband was dying of scleroderma, her heart was still full of joy.
She had several boys going through the typical rocky transformations from teenagers into men, and she still had joy.
Sunday mornings, while our children were in Sunday school, the adults enjoyed visiting. Cheryl usually had a few younger sisters gathered around while she shared what she was studying in the Word.
When I learned one of her sons was engaged to a young woman I wasn't sure was a Christian, I privately asked Cheryl about this. I might have been a little forward, but I craved knowing how she was handling this situation. Watching as a young mom with six kids not yet on the brink of these decision making stages, I knew someday I could be in her shoes.
She paused very deliberately, showed no offense to my question, but gave a wise and prayerful answer. Her pause, as she summoned the Lord for all the grace and mercy of Heaven, gave me an answer that has burned into my heart and soul for decades.
(heart traced into algae plagued lake water)
She smiled at me and simply said, "I CHOOSE to love her." She didn't say anymore.
I learned much from her answer.
1. She sought the Lord before she answered.
2. She didn't gossip, nor did she brush aside the honest question of a younger woman. She didn't share any concerns about this young girl who was soon to be her daughter, or her son, yet gave me a wise and kind answer.
3. She told me how to act the rest of my life with all relationships.
When my siblings married, usually to strangers, and brought them into the family, I knew what to do.
When my children went through their own transformations from teenagers into adults, I knew what to do.
As my children began bringing home people they chose to love, I knew what to do.
We have probably all had times where we wondered why the wicked prosper. Like Asaph, the writer of this Psalm, we can be grieved by their lack of troubles and our abundance of them.
I was blessed by the commentary by William MacDonald concerning this passage. He is profound, yet writes in a conversational, encouraging manner.
"What good has it done me to live a decent, honest, respectable life?" The hours I've spent in prayer. The time spent in the word. The distribution of funds to the work of the Lord. The active testimony for the Lord, both public and private. All I've got for it has been a daily dose of suffering and punishment. I wondered if the life of faith was worth the cost."
"Then something wonderful happened. One day I went into the sanctuary of God - not the literal temple in Jerusalem but the heavenly one. I entered there by faith. as I was complaining to the Lord about the prosperity of the wicked in this life, the question suddenly flashed across my mind, "Yes, but what about the life to come?" The more I thought about their eternal destiny, the more everything came into focus."
I hear one sentence that solidified my thinking about the presence of suffering in the life of a believer.
The Lord Jesus had a life of suffering,
why shouldn't I?
But it isn't just the suffering we share.
if indeed we suffer with Him,
that we may also be glorified together.
The wicked seem to prosper on earth, but this earth holds all the glory they will ever behold.
The believers, in the likeness of Christ, suffer on earth, but the earth holds all the suffering they will ever behold. They will prosper in Heaven for all of eternity.
The light of eternity turns our hearts turn from our earthly suffering to their eternal suffering.
Then we fully understand their need to eat, drink and sleep for tomorrow they die, because when they die they face the judgement.
Mondays aren't my favorite day of the week, I have to admit. I've admitted it before, I'll admit it again. Monday can have a bit of an icky feel to it.
Monday means I am facing another week of homeschooling, softball, baseball, laundry, housework, yard work and three meals a day. I am usually starting out with an empty fridge and a bit of a messy house from the weekend. I've reminded myself to say "I get to" instead of "I have to" when faced with the chores of a wife and Mom, but getting rid of the bad attitude doesn't get rid of the chores.
I learned to start our Mondays on Friday, but that still doesn't completely take away the feeling of Monday slamming into me when I'm not ready mentally and emotionally.
When I really dig deeper than the chores and the attitude of Mondays, I have to admit that my dread comes from the habit of viewing the new week as another whole week to face my trials. For some reason, I have this weird idea that by facing Monday, I'm facing seven whole days at a time.
one whole week,
seven whole days,
of the trials of life,
is just too much to face at a time.
I don't have the strength or the faith.
So, I'm reminding myself that Monday is justone day. It's not a week, it's one day. I can face one day. I can handle 24 hours, especially when I sleep through about 8 of them. I'm not facing a whole week of chores, attitudes and trials at once, I only have to face
Being organized and diligent in our prayer life is important, as long as our prayer ritual doesn't become more important to us than our prayer. A. W. Tozer gives good caution in keeping ourselves out of bondage to the form and keeping our souls alive to Christ.
When religion loses its sovereign character and becomes mere form this spontaneity is lost also, and in its place come precedent, propriety, system--and the file-card mentality....
The slave to the file card soon finds that his prayers lose their freedom and become less spontaneous, less effective. He finds himself concerned over matters that should give him no concern whatever--how much time he spent in prayer yesterday, whether he did or did not cover his prayer list for the day, whether he gets up as early as he used to do or stays up in prayer as late at night.
Inevitably the calendar crowds out the Spirit and the face of the clock hides the face of God. Prayer ceases to be the free breath of a ransomed soul and becomes a duty to be fulfilled. And even if under such circumstances he succeeds in making his prayer amount to something, still he is suffering tragic losses and binding upon his soul a yoke from which Christ died to set him free.
Christians love this theology. We boast in this theology. We sing about this theology. We love to proclaim we want Jesus above anything else.
It's easy to boast that money, fame, possessions and a good name mean nothing to us, until they are taken from us.
It's easy to scorn the rich young ruler who had everything, but wasn't willing to give it up to follow Jesus. But, we must exercise caution in judgement. We who are following Jesus still aren't always willing to give up everything to follow Him wholly.
It's hard when the Lord tests what we boast, sing and proclaim.
When you/hubby lose job, is this still your theme?
When you lose your health, is this still your song?
When your good name is muddied, do you lower your lip or use them to praise?
I was thinking about the Innocent Man this morning, praying and crying out to the Lord as I do daily, sometimes hourly, for justice, for help, for strength.
As I drove through the Seattle gray, the gloom settling around like a worn-out blanket that should be discarded, there was a slight break in the clouds. Rays of sunlight peered through, promising me the sun is still in the sky.
Like living in a cliche, it was Sonshine to my soul. At that same moment, I had been thinking that despite the trials that try our body, soul and spirit, at the end of this world, we have this beautiful eternity waiting for us. We will be with Him, at the end of this hard life on earth. Rays of hope peered through my desolate prayers, promising me the Son is still in the sky.
In an email I was entailing to a friend all the Innocent Man has lost :
He can't graduate from college this spring because circumstances forced him to drop two classes.
He can't marry the love of his life this June.
He lost his good name, in s a small town, word travels fast and not accurately.
He had to quit his new job.
After he was bailed out of jail he found himself with nothing in the worldly sense.
What keeps him from despair?
He tries to focus on what he has gained, not what he has lost. He soul is secure in the Lord. He knows he's saved, he knows the Lord is in control. Christians he hardly knows have rallied to his side, offering support, prayers and physical helps. Yes, we all daily grieve, pray and cry out to the Lord for justice and the restoration of these things, but we do not despair to the point of depression.
More than just the Words in the Scripture have upheld, the Person who gives power and life through these Words has ministered to us all. We rejoice in Him. It is not enough to know these verses, we have experienced them.
Exodus 15:2 The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation;
But You, O LORD, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
The Innocent Man is surviving by the grace of God because,
My daughter, Bethany, is the best beggar in the family.
She knows how to smile and beg all at the same time with the perfectly, resonating voice.
It's not so whiny it's annoying, not so sweet I think she doesn't deserve what she's asking for,
It's just enough pleading to make me actually smile before I say NO.
The epilogue to every ask in her life is usually,
(doncha' love how kids can make a one syllable word three?)
"I really, really NEEEEEEEEEEEEEED it!"
I'm hoping she outgrows this stage soon.
She turns 21 this fall.
Lately, I've been thinking about something I really, really need.
I need a cape.
Ya' know, as in SuperMommaMindy kinda' cape.
I might have to resort to begging, like Bethany, because
I really, really, NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED a cape.
I've been thinking about all the cool things I could do if I had a cape.
Edna, from the Incredibles, doesn't believe in capes.
Edna didn't have six kids.
1. I could wrap up in my cape and keep warm during these months of sunless, rainy days when we turn the heat UP to 64 degrees to save money. Not this this happens much in the Pacific Northwest, but I'm pretty sure if the sun ever dared to shine, a cape would made a good sun shade.
2. I could use my cape to wipe sweat off my brow when I'm working really, really hard cleaning up after my six children, one husband, one SIL and two and a half grandkids. On the days I felt like cleaning, that is.
3. A cape would be useful in covering up my pj's when company comes to door unexpectedly.
4. Since the weather guys are never right, my cape could double as a weather forecaster. If the cape is wet, it's raining. If the cape is dry, it's not raining. If the cape looks like I have dandruff, it's snowing. If the cape has iciles hanging on the edge, it's freezing rain.
5. Speaking of weather, my cape could also act as a weather vane. One of those roosters wouldn't look too good on my head, but a cape could be styling some serious homeschoolin' momma' 'tude. If the cape isn't moving -wind is less than 11 mph. If the cape flaps once in awhile in a sporadic pattern - 12 to 18 mph. If the whole length of the cape is flapping - 19 to 24 mph. If the cape flaps quickly and is partially extended - 25 to 31 mph. If the cape is fully extended - 32 to 37 mph. 6. I could shove part of the cape into my ears to muffle the sounds of kids whining, fussing, fighting, crying or asking for money. It would clean out my ears, too, so actually this would be a 2-fer-1 kinda' deal.
7. A cape would cover my hair when it's raining or when I didn't have time to comb it. Or when the kids "borrowed" my hairbrush and didn't return it, for the umpteenth time.
8. A cape might entice the kids to wipe their bodily fluids on the cape instead of my sleeve, shoulder, etc.My kids are a little past this stage, but I actually think wearing a booger or a baby spit-up wouldn't be so bad if you didn't have to look at it. It could fly behind you, unnoticed, on a cape. 9. I could sew my money into lining of a cape so the kids wouldn't know I had any. Robbers wouldn't know about my money either, but a mom loses more money to kids than to robbers, so it's all good.
10. A cape would allow me to turn invisible. With all the stuff on the floor of my home, I could crouch on the floor, fling my cape over me in a wrinkled fashion, and nobody would know I was there. I'd be invisible.
No wonder, those whalebone corsets cinched around their waists gave them little stamina.
A little stress, a little illness, and they fainted.
They even invented these cool lounging couches, called fainting couches, to catch the distressed damsels.
The Bible talks about such weak people, too, but their weakness doesn't come from vanity. There is nothing glamorous about sinking in weakness as a believer, when the trials of life are cinched around your ribs.
The Lord loves us enough to be honest. He doesn't patronize us with, "It's OK, I'll always love you," even though He will always love us.
He doesn't downplay our downfall and make excuses because of our weak flesh, even though He knows our flesh is weak is He had to provide the Holy Spirit and His Holy Word to help us endure life on earth.
He tells us plainly, "your strength is small."
We eventually realize the strength we were using wasn't His, it was ours. We use our personal fortitude, our personality, our network of friends and even diversions to endure trials.
But, when we faint, when we falter, when we don't have enough faith to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we have to stand before Him and admit, "Lord, my strength is so small."
Not until we admit our weakness, can we get strength from the Lord.
2 Corinthians 12:10
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities,
in reproaches, in necessities,
n persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake:
for when I am weak, then am I strong.
CONDITION OF BELIEVER STRONG IN SELF
AND WEAK IN LORD
DRIED UP - Psalms 22:15, "My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death."
GRIEF, WEAK - Psalms 31:10, "For my life is spent with grief, And my years with sighing; My strength fails because of my iniquity, And my bones waste away."
CONDITIONS OF BELIEVERS STRONG IN LORD
BUT WEAK IN SELF
NO FEAR: Psalms 27:1, "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"
TRUST, JOY and SINGING: Psalms 28:7, "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise Him."
COMPLETE/PERFECT: Psalms 18:32, "It is God that girds me with strength, and makes my way perfect/complete."
PEACE: Psalms 29:11, "The LORD will give strength unto His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace."
Have you ever criticized people for behavior then later find yourself sportin' that same attitude? Criticism kinda' sneaks out of your heart in viperous form, then eventually slithers back to bite you.
I just ate some of that viperous humble pie.
One of my strengths and beliefs as a Mom has been to play with my kids. I slept outside with them in tents and on the trampoline. We made forts inside. We played raft. We went on teddy bear picnics. We played games. We built Barbie houses and Lego creations. We slid down the slide on waxed paper. We made snow cones out of real snow.
From the time they were young I declared we had to do One Fun Thing a Day because I knew my Martha attitude could seriously use up every moment of the day with housework and homework.
I used to inwardly admonish the non-playing moms; the ones who sat silent on the sidelines, not playing, not jumping, not pretending, not praising. I was usually the only mom sliding, pushing, tagging, rolling and giggling.
Not anymore. Seven years of papillary thyroid cancer has taken a toll on my strength and stamina. Sometimes it just affects my mental attitude, because cancer goes where ever I go. It has no respect for personal space.
During a sun break, that magical time when the sun appears just long enough to give PNW'ers hope that summer will eventually show up, I took Rebekah to a park. After walking what seemed to be a mile through "protected natural grasslands" on a boardwalk, we arrived at the glorious castle-like play area. I was already tired, my heart racing a little, I had to sit down on a bench.
After a rest, I walked over to give her a push on this tire swing. The little girls who were next sweetly asked, "Will you please push us, too?"
Heart-broken, I walked away pretending I didn't hear them. I had just enough strength for my little girl, not enough for someone else's.
It was while I was resting and silently watching Rebekah climb the wall my viperous criticisms returned to bite me. It never occured to me that moms might be sitting on the sidelines of the park because they don't feel well enough to play - physically, emotionally, or mentally.
Criticism doesn't leave room for compassion or understanding. It puts yourself forward as the example, the expert, the law. The only problem is, when we criticize, we eventually fail our own standards. After we fall, we wipe the dirt from the world off our hands, bandage our wounds, and rise up with compassion and understanding.
Beka, wanted to try a new trick, master a new skill. Strengthened by the humble pie I had just eaten and the rest I had received sitting and thinking, I had to try.
Beka likes being on the other side of the lens for once.
She cheered me on...
....and enjoyed my minor victory.
I felt like I had won an Olympic Gold Medal.
The four years olds who scaled the wall that day were much quicker,
but that didn't matter.
I had made it to the two foot top.
"With my God I can scale a wall."
My three month bloodwork came back with news I haven't heard in about five years. My thyroglobulin and thyroglobulin antibodies were both undetectable. You don't have to understand the medical explanation - but it's good news.
I will have a sonogram in June to check on the three cancer tumors that decided to grow back right after my second surgery two years ago.
My Vitamin D is low, which attibutes to some of the fatigue I am experiencing.
But for today, I will rise up on the wings of rejoicing for some good news.