Posts Tagged ‘faith’

It never ceases to amaze (and slightly frustrate) me how God uses situations with my children to remind me of the truth I know. It’s so blaringly obvious too, not just this subtle, “maybe that could apply to me as well.” No, it’s this in-your-face declaration of “you do know you’re behaving like a two year old, right?”

This morning Eliot decided he didn’t want his banana and breakfast bar cut up. He was perfectly content to eat those things, but for some reason, cutting them up defiled them in his mind and he’d have nothing to do with it. When he realized it was that or nothing, he broke down into hysterics. Not just the forced, dry eyed whine, but genuine, face soaking, snot running, wailing. His little heart broken over such a silly matter. What’s the deal? What’s the difference? He’s still getting what he needs. He’s still being fed. The flavor isn’t even going to change. The end is still the same. He will still be filled and fed. As I stand over him, listening to his keening I shake my head in disbelief and wonder at him.

That’s the first mistake! I’ve learned that I shouldn’t wonder, shouldn’t ponder, shouldn’t even think really about my children’s behavior if I don’t want to be convicted. Conviction follows my little monsters everywhere they go.

Anyway, as I wondered why in the world he had to freak out over a cut up breakfast bar, I couldn’t help but think about me and Andy right now. We’re not getting what we want. Not in the way we want it at least. We know were getting the best, we know the larger story is being written by a good Dad that we can trust, but we’re stuck looking at a cut up breakfast when we wanted the whole thing in our hands–our way.

And I don’t know where to go from there, because we’re stuck in that for a while. Not sure how long. Hope it’s not too long. It’s not the happiest of places. Just trying to rest in Him while we’re here, be in His presence and accept that HE is our promised land, not his stuff, not his easy gifts. That’s not always easy to remember, but it helps when I see Eliot, smiling face, full tummy, the trauma of his mutilated breakfast forgotten.


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It’s All In The Start

On my knees, open hands, humble heart. That’s how I want to start out, but that’s not how I do start out. It’s one of those things I know I should do. One of those things that in conversation and reflection makes so much sense and there’s always a, “yes, I’m going to start doing that,” but I never do.

Instead I lay in the bed until the very last minute–until the cries of the kidlets can no longer be ignored, the requests for breakfast put off, the dirty diapers unchanged.  Wring the very last drop out of the last moment of the soft warmth that holds me, pretends to be a comfort to me, but really is lying to me–really is chaining me down, making me captive to my idleness.

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Prov. 31:27

. . . and does not eat the bread of idleness . . .

. . . idleness.

It’s ringing in my ears this morning. How many idle mornings? How many lazy starts? How many days that drag along with the work piling up and my heart bogging down in this deepening pit that’s full of wasted moments, accusations and declarations of failure?

More importantly . . .  why?

It’s in the start. It’s in the way I keep my day in my hands and somehow believe that it’s mine to do with as I please, so that when I’m halfway through and haven’t lived it fully I can believe the lies that say I’m a failure and a sham. It’s fumbling my way through to 1:00 with the breakfast mess still decorating the kitchen, only one school lesson half done (and that fraught with discord), the mountain of laundry mocking me and lunch looming before I fall to my knees and cry out for help.

How else could these things get so big? It’s just dishes to wash and clothes to fold. It’s just living life with my kidlets and it shouldn’t take a saint right, because millions of moms have done it before me. I think that’s one of the dangers of the mundane. I get to thinking that it’s all so simple and I SHOULD be able to do it on my own. Navigating through my day isn’t like preparing sermons for thousands, writing legislature or presenting million dollar proposals. “Woman up!” I seem to say and I plow forward on my own, only making me feel more worthless when I fail or don’t have the motivation because, again, this stuff should be EASY.

It’s all in the start. There’s clearly this connection between prayer, or rather a lack of prayer, and idleness. I don’t mean that I’m beating myself up if I take a nap or sit down to read a few blogs instead of  cleaning something. It’s more an idleness of my heart. I feel like I’m just sort of rambling here and I don’t know if I’m making the connection clear. It’s just that I’ve been really noticing that these really crappy days when I sort of fall apart because everything about my life and my house seem overwhelming, I haven’t started the day right.

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Righteous anger doesn’t come easily. In fact, I have almost no recollections of anger that was purely targeted on sin rather than the negative effects that my or someone else’s sin had on me. I like to think that my anger is righteous when Eliot scatters soggy toilet paper all over the bathroom, or when Gillian wears her nicest pair of shoes outside in the mud, but that’s always “my kindgom” anger. We sing this song at church that says, “break my heart for what breaks yours . . . ” and whenever we sing that I ask God to give me a heart that’s less accepting of the sin in and around me-a heart that is angry but pure. That just hasn’t happened very often for me. The other day though, I got angry. Thoroughly and utterly pissed at Satan’s messing with my motivations when the Spirit leads me to do something good. Some day’s it’s just constant. This past Sunday I felt like I couldn’t do a single thing without my motivations being questioned in my mind. On stage, in the green room, in the nursery, in my conversations, just everywhere. It was completely annoying! As if I don’t already second guess myself enough without those whispers of, “you just want to look spiritual,” and “you’re just saying that to impress them,” or “you’re just doing this to make her like you more.” At one point I was like, “shut up!” Then it hit me that I was angry about something and not actually sinning at the same time. It was a cool moment–a thank you for answering that prayer moment. That lasted for a few minutes, then I sort of started feeling sorry for myself and it went from good anger to not hoping in God. SIGH. I’m going to choose to be thankful for a little victory.  What do your righteous anger moments look like?  Do you have them?

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We’re well into week four of our school year and starting to settle into a bit of a routine. The scariness of teaching two separate grades at the same time is wearing off, but the reality of trying to do so with a needy toddler underfoot is sinking in. As I reach the end of the day I find myself often looking at the whole as a failure, noticing mostly the times I got frustrated, the times I was short with the kids or didn’t give Eliot enough attention, the things I didn’t get done, the gifts I didn’t give thanks for, and all the ways I lived “no” rather than “yes.”   Well, that obviously won’t do with 32 weeks to go will it?

I’m finding it helps if I can take it one moment at a time. Looking back just isn’t a good idea at this point in life. I have to take the moment as it comes, ask for just enough grace to get through that one. It goes back to naming the gifts. Each moment is a gift and I have to notice it as that, live in it, take it in and know that it’s good because He is a giver of only good gifts. Moments of NOISE, when all three of them have things to say at the same time, moments of exasperation when the four year old is having a break down over her spelling, moments of laughter when I inadvertently make silly noises as I’m teaching them how to form letters, moments of pride when Gill cranks out the number ‘8’ correctly the very first time, moments of blessed peace when something soft is playing and they’re working on their own, moments of jealousy when I lay Eliot down for a nice cozy nap,  and moments of bedlam when I’m trying to get them all out the door to make it to a gym class on time. Oh, and also moments of disgust when I’m sitting on the edge of the tub washing out Eliot’s stinky diapers and asking whose fool idea it was to use cloth (geez, I’m trying to save the kid’s butt and planet at the same time, the least he could do is poop just once a day for me!) Anyway, they’re all gifts. I have  to be reminded so often. I had to be reminded today. I’m writing about it because I figure maybe someone else out there needs to be reminded as well.            

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We’re halfway through our second week. It has been utter chaos. It’s honestly been pretty hard for me not to get overwhelmed. Eliot is running about the house at a mile a minute, climbing in and on everything and tearing apart anything that comes in, or can be torn into pieces. After he does all of that, he starts crying for attention. Not that cute little, “aren’t I sweet and pathetic” cry, but that piercing, annoying shrieking cry–and that starts when I still have an hour till lunch. This has been the soundtrack to which Liam has had to crawl out of the lethargy while straining to restart his brain. In the meantime, Gillian balks at the idea of actually having to sit still in her chair and not being allowed to say, “this isn’t fun, I don’t want to do this,” and we’ve had more “disciplinary incidents” between all three of them in the last few days then we did most of the summer. They’ve very quickly gotten back into the habit of praying at mealtimes for mommy to be patient. (That part really is pretty funny to me.)

On a personal front, I’m trying to cling to a few truths to get me through.

For the anger of man produces not the righteousness of God.

James 1:20

Why is there so much anger in me when they don’t act the way I want them to? When they don’t learn as quickly or as easily as I expect, when they don’t enjoy the parts that are meant to be fun? My kingdom is build so much on these tiny, constantly moving, never settled little creatures, no wonder it so easily topples. The other day I sent them to the couches and ran to my room to breathe, to cry, to pray, to feel like a crappy parent and a worse teacher. I wanted to stay, to lock the door and crawl into my covers where there are no flash cards, no glitter, no half completed handwriting worksheets and no fighting over who gets which musical instrument. You can’t do that though, can you? Eventually they come to the door, they get hungry, the baby wakes up. Eventually you have to go back to it and get back at it . And as I lift myself off the bed, begging for more grace,  I feel someone else’s arms lifting me a little too. “For me,” a voice inside says and I remember. Remember the thing I always forget. The thing we all forget. The gospel.

 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

1Cor. 13:7

Love bears all things, endures all things. All these little things that are so hard for a mama to bear. All these noises, all these messes, all these tears and arguments, these disobediences and self-revealing opportunities to teach and learn at the same time. This is when I remember that I can bear all these things because Love is what I have. It’s what I’ve been given and it doesn’t matter that I can’t always feel it. Love is what He is and I have Him. Love endures a trashed house, a whining kid and days not working out as planned.

“The state of my space doesn’t reflect the state of my soul.” and “God doesn’t ask me to be perfect, he asks me to praise”

Ann Voskamp

How much was endured for me? And how ungrateful am I? All I’m asked to do is praise . . . . and love. I can do the latter because it’s Him IN me and I can do the former because I have the latter in HIM

I don’t suppose that has much to do with Back to School, does it? This post didn’t go exactly in the direction I’d intended. Maybe it does have something to do with school. Maybe all that is my lesson plan for the year.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 

James 1:12

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Up to this point, community has not been hard. Three years ago, our ideas of community were revolutionized and we embraced it in ways that were new and exciting. There was a lot of “His Kingdom” talk going on and a lot of getting real and laying it out there. A lot of Total Church moments were happening. It was brutal and great all at once. It was liberating, getting our dirt out on the table and embracing friends when they revealed theirs. “Dude, I’m so messed up!” and “Whoa, you’re so messed up too! Isn’t it great that we’re BOTH so totally screwed up and Jesus STILL loves us!?!?” There was a lot of that. Giving comfort. Receiving comfort. All good stuff.

But now. . .  I guess now, well, the romance has died off. The newness is gone.

It’s getting harder now. Not so much to be honest and stay transparent. I’ll get up and tell you all day if I’ve got something new to say. I want to be transparent, but it’s not easy to keep spilling the same old stuff. You know it’s hard enough to keep taking the same sins to God over and over, but it’s REALLY hard to sit in your group and share that you’re still struggling with the same issues you were struggling with a year ago. How do you not sit there and know, just KNOW, that inside people are rolling their eyes, saying, “STILL?! REALLY?! I’m tired of her whining about being impatient with her kids,” or “yeah, we already know she struggles with thinking on things that aren’t true and pure.” Maybe I need to give more credit to my community. Maybe I”m forecasting on them a response they aren’t really having? I’m just being tempted to go back to the old, “oh, I”m good, thanks,” when people ask how I’m doing because I don’t want to embarrassingly admit that I’m still dealing with the same stuff. What will they think of me that I can’t have victory over this one? What will they think of God that He’s not changing my heart in this area? I’ve got to make God look good, right? He NEEDS me to do that, doesn’t He?  Seriously, where’s my brain?

BTW, when I say community, I’m not just referring to my Shepherding Group, although that’s a huge part of it, but also some others that we try to live very transparently in front of, as well as a few that I go to for counsel.

I’m also struggling in community to not expect God to change other people’s hearts or fix their situations in the same time frame He may have done something for me. I want Him to help other people on my timeline almost as much as I want Him to fix me on my timeline.

Laying it out there, it’s just a lot of impatience, isn’t it? A lot of not wanting to wait for Him and His plan. Sigh. That’s not really new either. 🙂

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My heart is very heavy right now. It is a day of “bad news.” All around and close to me are so many broken hearts, so many broken people. Loved ones lost, prodigal sons and daughters, unforgiveness, lost souls, bitterness and regret. It surrounds all of us and I’m seeing it in so many lives that are connected to me today. It is a beautiful thing to mourn with those who mourn, but it’s not easy to accept that I can do nothing to fix the brokenness. Hard to accept that I have no skill to heal the hurting ones I love. Hard to remember that all will soon be put right, that joy will come and the broken ones be mended. I feel lost in a sea of “comforting” words that won’t arrange themselves into a coherent message of hope. I am so weak a counselor, so feeble a friend. My only course is to pray. To pray as the boy’s father did, his soul so desperately conflicted within him, “I believe; help my unbelief!” To pray for the faith to keep praying when praying doesn’t feel like it’s doing anything at all.

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