uptomytoes

Hope & Humor for Single & Divorced Parents

It All Depends on Where You Look

Recently I went on a walk through a beautiful park.  It was almost a spring day…chilly, but still warm enough to skip the jacket.  The trees were still bare, the flowers still asleep, and the air still a little crisp.

At one point, there was an overlook which provided a lovely view of the marsh and the river in the distance.  The contrast between the tall yellow grass of the marsh and the beautiful blue of the water beyond was stunnings.

IMG_0571

I loved the view.

But when I glanced down, I found that the view close up was rather unappealing.  It was muddy, dirty looking water full of  branches and old, wet grass.

IMG_0572

And it struck me that from this one vantage point there were two decidedly different views.  And how, in my life, there are definitely two views offered…two views ahead of me.

I can look at what is right before me and the view is kind of disappointing, definitely a bit muddy, and far from the view I was hoping to have.  While taking in the scenery of this view, I can only see the situations I find myself in…the difficulties, challenges, and disappointments.  I don’t seem able to see beyond the troubles of the day. And, oh boy, are there a lot of those I can see from this vantage point.

BUT, if I can lift my eyes, even just a bit, I can see beauty in the beyond.  Beyond my circumstances.  Beyond my setbacks.  Beyond my troubles.  Beyond my exhaustion.  Beyond my disappointments.

It, apparently, is the lesson of my life.  The lesson I must continually learn.

If my view is only of my circumstances, they will overwhelm me.

If my view is of my Savior, He will overwhelm me.

I guess I have to decide what I want to be overwhelmed by…been saying this forever.  When am I going to get my rear in gear and live as I know I should?

Part of the problem is that I make choices that aren’t great.  I’m not talking about decisions…all those life decision I need to make…I’m talking about choices each day.

I choose to worry when I just need to wait.

I choose fear over faith.

I choose to seek comfort apart from God.

I choose to disobey, when I need to (I must) obey.

I choose to question instead of trust.

I choose the struggle instead of the peace.

I choose it all instead of Jesus.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.  And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  Ephesians 2:13-17

I choose the things of this world…the things right in front of me…and somehow expect them to heal my broken heart, to fill the empty spaces, to comfort me completely.

They don’t.

Nothing does, but Jesus.

I’ve said it before, but in some ways, I almost want to go back to the place when everything fell apart.  When everything was truly out of my hands…when all I could do was rely on God.

Since then I’ve been under the false impression that there are things in my control…that somethings need me…that I can rely on myself…good golly!  That is so not true.

I no longer want to be in control of my life…it’s too stressful.  I want to let God have it all…so why don’t I?

Because for some silly reason I continually think this little thing…this thing before me…this one thing I can handle.  I can handle this thing.  No worries.

Thanks God…but I got this.

Ahhhh…why do I insist on this silly way of living?

Does anyone else have this struggle?  This insistence on self-reliance?

How do we win against it?

What’s the secret?

Focus.

Focus? Is it really that simple?

Simple….might not be the best word to use to describe anything in our lives.  At least in mine.

Even focus is not simple.  I’m a mess of focuses…kids, house, meals, schoolwork, classwork, homework, work work, teenagers, college student, college admission process, church, health, sleep, family, friends, car, stuff, and stuff, and stuff…

I just want to focus on Jesus alone, but all the other things in life seem to edge into my vision.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12: 1-2

It sometimes feels that I can’t really get my focus on Him alone because there is just so much to do…how in the world do I do it?

Maybe the problem isn’t the focus point (Jesus) as much as what I think focusing means…what does focusing look like?

I usually envision it as something akin to prayer on my knees, Bible study, and time spent fellowshipping with others.

That can’t be what focusing on Christ means because I can’t stop everything else in my life to do that and that alone.  We would be the most ragamuffin family ever…not to mention we’d probably starve!

Alright, so what does it look like?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:4 came to mind:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

It made sense to me that that would be a way to focus – rejoicing, praying, thanking.

If I’m rejoicing, I must be focusing on Christ, who is my Savior.

If I’m praying, I must be focusing on Jesus, who is working in my life.

If I’m thanking, I must be focusing on Jesus, the source of all things in my life.

It just makes sense.

So maybe in some ways it is simple.  It is simply living my life with my mind focused on who Christ is, what He has done and continues to do, and thanking Him for it all!

Good golly!  We are brought back again to the Gospel!

If our focus is on Christ, we cannot miss the gospel and its impact on our lives.  We cannot lose our focus, because our lives are so covered by the gospel of grace.

Each day begins with the knowledge that I am saved, that I am blessed with another day to serve, that I am loved beyond measure, that I am forgiven, that I am precious to my God.

Each day continues with the sustaining strength of the Holy Spirit working in and through me to bless others.  If I am praying and thanking Him throughout the day, I find myself more aware of how and where He is working.  My focus is on what He is doing through me, rather than what I am doing for me.

Each day is covered with the grace of God…how can I begin to thank Him for that?  How often do I just want to crawl into a corner and weep for my sinfulness?  For the way I spoke to my child, the facial expressions I used, the anger I showed, for the thoughts I had that were unkind, the muttering and complaining that spilled from my mouth, the temptations I gave in to, the judgment, pride, and arrogance that invades my heart sometimes…oh Lord, how is it possible you love me so much?  I’m so very unloveable.

And yet, I AM so very loved.

Crazy.

Unexpected.

Amazing.

The view I’m taking right now…and I pray it will continue into the next 5 minutes…even into the next day!

Is the view of Jesus my Savior.

Jesus, who is my life.

Jesus, who is my peace.

Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of my faith.

Jesus.

1 Comment »

Had You Known?

photo (32)It was about this time 6 years ago when my husband left.

And although in many ways I’m stronger and better…the repercussions still vibrate through my life.  In the midst of something wonderful, I can feel the stirrings of fear seeping into my thoughts, the beat of insecurity pulsing through me, and the blending of sorrow and hurt spilling over my heart.  Sometimes it comes at the oddest times…sometimes it almost makes perfect sense.

And although the hurt and sorrow are dulled, the insecurities and fear have not…if anything, at times, I think they have increased.  And it drives me crazy!!!  I don’t want to live with the repercussions of someone else’s actions…I have all the repercussions of my own actions to deal with! (thank you very much.)

If my ex-husband could have comprehended how much his actions would hurt me, would he still have left?  If he could have looked ahead and had any idea of the sorrow and fear that would plague me, would he still have had an affair?  If he could have felt the pain that washes over me so often, would he have abandoned our children?

I don’t know, but I can’t imagine causing anyone the pain he has caused us.  I can’t imagine being okay with any of this.

But then again, there are a lot of things I can’t imagine.

I can’t imagine this fear ever leaving…I pray it does though.

I can’t imagine ever being free of this pain…although I pray fervently I am.

There are moments…sweet, precious moments of freedom.  Moments when I forget.  Moments when I see clearly a bright and hopeful future.

The fight for those moments is daily.  It is a constant battle to take my thoughts captive.  I know that settling in that fear and insecurity is a miserable place…a not-God-honoring place…a hopeless place.

I know that God wants more than that for me.  He wants me to be more than a bruised and shattered woman…He wants me to live a life of confidence and hope.

Each morning is an opportunity to set my mind on things above, not on things of this earth.

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  Colossians 3:1-3

Every morning is the opportunity for something new…a new start, a new perspective, a new vision for my future…

Every morning provides me a fresh way to grab hold of hope.

The LORD’S loving-kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”…  Jeremiah 3:22-24

What do I hope for?

I hope for peace.  I long for peace.  I have found that this world offers little peace.  It is a decidedly not peaceful place.  BUT Jesus is the author of my peace.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27

I often pray for peace that passes all understanding to guard the hearts and minds of those who share with me…I should absolutely be praying that for myself as well.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

I hope for the ability to truly trust again.

Trust others to know my heart…to take care of my heart…to treat me as precious and valuable.

Trust others to be faithful and honoring.

Trust others to love me.

But trust has to start with me trusting God.  Trusting that God has a good plan for my life…for this day.  Trusting God with my heart.

Yes, my soul, finds rest in God; my hope comes from him.  Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my might rock, my refuge.  Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.  Psalm 62:5-8

I hope for freedom from fear.

Freedom to love without fear.

Freedom to let go of the fear of pain.

I do not believe there is any freedom apart from Christ.  I will not find the peace, hope, and freedom I so long for from anyone but the Lord.

You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its remotest parts And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, ‘Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:9-10

I picture this woman with her hands outstretched…with a huge smile…welcoming all that God has into her life.

I picture a woman, healed and whole…a woman who loves others with abandon and without fear.

I picture a woman on her knees praying for strength to face tomorrow with hope.

7 Comments »

Don’t Worry…Just Walk

footstepsThis weekend was such a blessing. It set me up for a good attitude Monday…even with the sleep deprivation factor.

That factor is just life.

I was joking with my daughter that I’d look so much younger if the past 6 years hadn’t happened.  I’d be less stressed and more rested…but alas, the wrinkles are here to stay and the sleep deprivation for a little longer too I suspect.

I’ve always been a big picture person…and lately I’ve been focusing on long term life planning.  Where do I want to be?  Where am I heading?

My retirement plan has been an RV parked in each of my children’s driveways. With five children I shouldn’t have to be there more than a few months at a time, right?  Here come’s grandma!  J

But today everything seemed much closer.

Where do I want to live when my house sells?  What do I want to do this summer?  Will I be able to write more someday?  Another book?  What is my ideal job?  Am I already in it?

I can ponder questions with the best them…it’s the answers that are problematic.

Today I had all kinds of ideas, but really no definitive leading.

I have been praying for days…Lord, just show me.

I’ve been in this place before.  Asking for answers.  I’m pretty much always asking for answers. (Wish answers would just fall in my lap.)

I used to say that I’d just like a lightning bolt with a memo attached…and maybe some updates along the way.  Just some posted notes with status reports.  Just a basic outline of the plan…where am I going to end up…where do I need to look…what do I need to do…???

Where? What? When? How?

Honestly, sometimes I don’t even think I need to know the why…just what to do.

But I’m learning to trust that answers don’t mean everything…they are certainly nice to have, but I think I’m finally understanding that trust doesn’t always mean answers.  Sometimes trust just means taking the next step.

God says He will direct my steps…no matter my plans.

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

I’m starting my day thinking of only today…it might not last more than an hour, but it’s the way I’m going to try to start it.  I’m going to focus on the tasks before me and not worry about the ones waaaaayyy before me.  Just what’s in front of me.  That’s all I need to worry about…actually I don’t even need to worry, just walk.

Big picture planning or little picture planning, I trust that God will lead me one step at a time.

Lord, thank you for today…for another day with You.  Even though it is my plan to just take one step at a time today, I know I will struggle with wanting more.  Wanting to see the whole path laid out before me.  Father, I know that I can trust you with everything.  I just sometimes really want to know…actually I always really want to know….where I’m going, what I need to do, how am I going to get there, how I can help you…as if you need my help.  Lord, I just really want to be in your will and I really want life to make more sense.  Please comfort me with your presence, bless me with your wisdom, and uphold me with your strength.  This path is exhausting.  Father, I trust that You have a plan and it is good.  I trust that you love me.  I trust that you will never leave me.  You have always been faithful to me.  Thank you.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.  

 

2 Comments »

On the Road…On the Path to Prayer

I have been so looking forward to this weekend!  I’m on a girls’ road trip with two of my daughters!  We have had so much fun!  My oldest daughter has had me laughing almost nonstop.  I’m blessed with really witty children! 

We are looking at some colleges for my second oldest and I just can’t wrap my brain around it.  Part of me wants to ignore this impending separation and pray she decides to stay close to home.  But I can’t wish that…I can only pray that God will lead her well and help me guide her well.

It is part of the trusting thing…that thing I struggle with so very much sometimes.  

My oldest has had a very unique college experience…successful but different than I expected.  I had imagined my children would have similar experiences to me.  His has required a change of schools and working full time.  I’m so very proud of him – his perseverance, flexibility, and diligence! And I expect that God is preparing him for great things!  He certainly is an awesome young man!  

Back to my weekend…

My youngest daughter is here too.  She keeps me on my toes…or maybe I should say knees!  My spicy girl! A true blessing…a refining blessing! 

I have to pray and trust that God is going to work mightily in this very strong-willed girlie! I have to trust that God knew what He was doing when He gave her to me! I’m so thankful I’m her mommy but sometimes I feel so inadequate to the task.  Again…back to my knees! 

Along with her spice comes struggles to learn ….just like my middle daughter.  She is spending the weekend with our next door neighbors from Fredericksburg  and having the time of her life! Again so thankful for friends! I’m continually lifting this little one up and asking God to make things click educationally.  She desperately wants to be a good student and works so hard to learn…it’s just really really difficult. And I must trust God’s goodness despite the school’s predictions of her never ending academic struggles. 

Two little girls I long to help and love well.  

My middle son is with a friend from Fredericksburg  this weekend too – again so thankful for good friends for my children.  My son is heading to high school next year and I pray that he will make wise choices too! He is a delightful young man who shares honestly with me often.  It is both a blessing and a source of fear for me at times.  I appreciate his candor and I guess I can be thankful for the knowledge of just how I need to pray for him.  I know his struggles and his joys…I know his hopes and his heartbreaks…and I know that he thinks girls are really awesome (ugh). 

I don’t think I pray enough…certainly not continually as God tells us to…more like when things are feeling difficult.  

Lord, forgive me for not conversing with you more…Lord, thank you that you know exactly what we need and when we need it…thank you that your will does not depend on anything I do.  Lord, please work mightily in my children’s hearts to love you very very much.  And assist me in guiding them…loving them…encouraging them…and praying for them.   

Leave a comment »

Some Quiet Please…

mud

In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.  Isaiah 30:15

Ever wanna be alone?  Just for a minute or two?

Me too.

(I’m assuming you said yes.)

Today I tried for a minute…not even two…and it was a disaster.

It was a wet and dreary day with ice, sleet and snow in the forecast so our schools let out early today. It had been a long week with little sleep… a long day with little quiet… and  I had a few minutes before I needed to be home so I thought I’d take a ride on one of my favorite roads, pull over and look at the river for a few minutes.   Have a moment of quiet all by myself.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Psalm 23:1-3

Its either been snowing or melting, sleeting or freezing, or just plain raining for weeks, so there are puddles, mud, and slush everywhere.

After pulling in, I decided to turn around so I could face a better direction.  I did a wide turn in my Suburban which usually is no problem, but for some reason I went a little bit (truly a little bit) into the grass.  I thought no big deal, but it was.

I slid. And I slid some more.  Right into a massive amount of mud!

I still thought, “No big deal.  I have 4-wheel drive.”

Nope.  Stuck, sinking, and sliding.

My little trip to pull myself together for a minute was becoming a fall apart moment instead.

Definitely not the plan.

I called a friend who offered to come pull me out, but it was a huge inconvenience and I desperately didn’t want to be the damsel in distress.

I just wanted to get out of the mud.

Thankfully!  God provided a Good Samaritan who offered to drive my car and get me out of my messy situation.  When I got in my car,  I didn’t stay to look at the river.  I left.   My alone time was officially finished.

What a disaster.

Sometimes I’m baffled by the way things go.  And I feel so very sorry for myself.

Lately, as I step away from my situation a bit (like right now), I feel like a complete goof.

So I didn’t get a minute to look at the water…but boy did it upset me.

I think I also realized that as much as I want to be a woman who can handle it all, I can’t.

I was acutely reminded of that as I slipped and slopped in the mud.

When I called my friend I felt so badly, but I didn’t have another idea.  I had no idea how to get out of the mud.  I thought surely I can be instructed on how to do this and get myself out.  Nope.  Not that smart.

I had to rely on the kindness of strangers.  God is good to be sure.

And up until just this minute, I have focused on how dumb I feel for even getting into my muddy predicament and how miserable I feel about the loss of my minute alone.

But I just thought about how at just the right moment, God provided someone to help me.

How often does that happen?

I will tell you…He provides me with help as often as everything falls apart.

 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.  Psalm 46:1-3

I wish He would prevent things from being messy, but that’s part of my growing up in my faith.  All the mess makes me rely on Him.

So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So maybe being a little bit helpless is okay…I get to see God’s provision.  I get to see God’s grace for me when I feel sorry for myself.  I get to see God provide hope when I feel absolutely hopeless.  I get to feel God’s comfort when I cry tears of sorrow or frustration.  I get to see God use everything in my life for my good.

Even muddy messes, deep puddles, and messed-up alone time.

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:26-28

Leave a comment »

Spaghetti Girl

supergirl My quiet time is happening rather late in the day, but I’m so very thankful for it whenever it happens.

Last night I was blessed to spend time with all 5 of my children to celebrate Peter’s 14th birthday!  My oldest drove down to spend the evening with us.  It was so nice to have all my chicks under one roof again.

Unfortunately, it also made me realize that I gave that up when we moved here.  Taking this job required us to be here, and his job and classes required him to stay there.  It was one of the most difficult parts of my decision.  Although he is turning 21 this year so I imagine it didn’t impact him nearly as much as it impacted me J.

The time went by so quickly and this morning when we parted to head to our different jobs – mine 15 minutes away and his 1 ½ hours away (I definitely had the better commute this morning) – a little bit of my heart broke.  It is hard being a momma.

I love my children so much.  Sometimes I’m just shocked at how much and how deeply I love them.

And I desperately want to make decisions that bless them, encourage them, build them up, and show how much I love them…

Sometimes I worry my decisions do none of those things.  I wonder if I make good decisions…I just feel like I’m always spinning…

This morning was one of those mornings where all I could think was, “Did I make the best decision for my family?”

I hate when I start second-guessing.  I’m so blasted good at it though.  I can second-third-fourth-fifth-sixth guess with no problem at all…it’s so easy for me.

So this morning I had to pray and remind myself AGAIN that this was a good decision.  I listed the good things AGAIN to myself.  I thanked God for the blessings AGAIN.

And I did start to feel better.

I just wonder if in this world any decision is going to feel like a slam dunk?

It is kinda funny (not ha-ha funny) but one of the times I felt absolutely sure I was following God’s will was when I married my ex-husband.  I’m not sure how to feel about that…

I believe part of the second-guessing I hear so many single parents or divorced people share is because one of our very biggest decisions (if not the biggest) didn’t end well.  There’s nothing like that to destroy any confidence in the ability to make decision.

Decision-making brings out all my “spaghetti-girl” issues.  Everything affects and impacts everything.  When I feel badly about one thing it oozes over into other areas and then it makes me feel badly about everything.  When I feel sad it spills all over everything.  When I’m worried, I’m worried about everything.

It is exhausting being Spaghetti Girl!

I don’t believe God called me to be like this…I am a girl so that part has to stay, and there are certain things about being a girl that lend themselves to feeling a lot like spaghetti.  BUT I don’t want to be all goofy.

I want to trust again…trust myself to make wise decisions because I have God and trust God that He will lead me to make right decisions.

I want to be a woman who loves the Lord not just with all my heart, but with all my mind.  I believe the theme of my week of Bible study continues to be taking my thoughts captive.  God keeps bringing me back to getting my thoughts straight.  It is so easy to get overwhelmed and feel hopeless, but this verse reminds me from where my relief comes:

If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.  When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.  When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul….the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.

Psalm 94:17-19, 22

I looked up “consolations” – it wasn’t a word I was very familiar with – it means “comforts”.

God’s comforts cheer my soul.  I don’t think I reap the benefits of having my soul cheered if I don’t recognize God’s comforts in my life.

What are the comforts in my life?

Jesus

His Word

My children

Friends – dear, dear friends

Family

Within those are so many other comforts…how can simply stating the name Jesus adequately communicate the multitude of comforts I experience because I know Him.

His Word….I want to write verse after verse after verse…all my favorites.

My children…such sweet blessings

My friends…those who stay with me even in my worst Spaghetti days especially!

My family…who love me and help me in so many ways

Do you remember how often God told the Israelites to be sure to remember what He had done for them?

My favorite is Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Put God’s words on your heart.

Teach them diligently to your children.

Talk about them all the time and everywhere.

Talk about them from the start of the day to the end of it.

Keep them in all that you do, think, see, and say!

Keep them in your home at all times!

A good list.  A plan to keep the comforts and blessings of God ever with us and before us and around us.

Kind of like that thankful list I make…which I haven’t done in a while.

Maybe if I focused more on the blessings (WHEN will I learn this lesson?) the decisions and second-guessing wouldn’t be such an issue.  I could see that things truly are in God’s hands.  I could see that God works everything, even all my decisions, for His good and my good!

I can trust God with my decisions and even my second-guessing.  I can trust Him with everything.  Maybe if I say that (write that) enough it will really stick and I will start acting like I KNOW it because I do know it!

1 Comment »

Day 7 – Where Have All the Snow Days Gone?

birthday cupcakeI have to admit being a little disappointed that I didn’t get a call for a snow day or a two-hour delay today…it is definitely a Monday  :)

I’m ready though and willing to start the week off well.  A little sore from my weekend of skiing – no broken bones and I didn’t fall off the ski lift!  I loved it!  Really!!

Today is my middle son Peter’s 14th birthday!  I can’t believe it!  I’ve referred to this sweet boy as my tender warrior, because he always wants to protect and defend others.  And because he cares deeply, seeks answers to tough questions, and goes above and beyond what I ask many times.  He isn’t perfect – he is an 8th grade boy after all!

One of the things this wonderful boy has desperately sought throughout the past  6 years is a godly man to be his role model.  It isn’t even a subconscious quest – he longs for fellowship with a man who will encourage him, bless him, and challenge him.  It is one of the things we left in Fredericksburg – one of the reasons this move was difficult.  He had just begun a great friendship with a man from our church – they met for coffee which Peter loved!  It couldn’t happen a lot but when it did what a blessing!  And I cannot tell you how much I appreciated this man stepping into my son’s life even for a short season.

It is one of the difficulties of being a single parent…having to be a “dad” to our sons, or a “mom” to our daughters.  I know single fathers who struggle with knowing how to parent their daughters – it is so different from their sons.  And I’ve had the same difficulties with my sons.  It is just hard to do a job you really weren’t made to do.

I believe this is a wonderful place where the body of Christ can step in and do amazing things to help single parents.  Many churches really do it well!  It is difficult though…I know.

I have prayed for 6 years for someone to encourage my daughter. God did not provide it, so I must trust that all that she needed He provided in a different way.  That’s another part of single parenting…of parenting…that is difficult.  Trusting when things don’t go the way we are “certain” they should.

There is a verse in Isaiah that I know I have written about on this blog before because it is one of the verse I cling to for comfort.

All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.  Isaiah 54:13

Isn’t that beautiful!  Once again God says to us, “I have this.”  Even this…even this parenting thing that feels like such a heavy burden at times.  God has it.  And not only will  HE teach our children but HE will give them peace.

What makes this verse even more profound are the verses leading up to it.  They speak to parents being in tough places.  Please bear with me as I share them:

O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony and lay your foundations with sapphires.  

I will make your pinnacles of agate, and your gates of carbuncles, and all your walls of precious stones.”  Isaiah 54:11-12

And even before those:  For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.  Isaiah 54:5

God really does have it all covered.  You and I have learned that things might not look the way we envisioned them, but God still holds it all in the palm of His hand…including our sweet children.  I trust Him with them.

And I trust Him with me…He is my husband and my Redeemer.  God! The God of the whole earth has made me promises in His word!  And those promises ring true always and forever.  He uses words like “shall” and “will” not “might” and “maybe”.  He knows where we are, all storm-tossed and hurt, and He promises to establish us in beautiful places.

It’s easy to imagine that that means it will happen here, but I believe this is another opportunity for us to have an eternal perspective…to understand that in this world we will have trouble! Jesus promises that, but He always promises the brightest of futures.

Sometimes in the yuck or busyness of the day I forget about what lies ahead. I can only see the next step, but God has established the path.  It leads right where He wants it to and the destination is glorious!

Today I’m going to celebrate 14 years of the privilege of parenting a fantastic young man and I’m going to take time to pray BIG prayers for him.  And again, I will be placing my boy in the hands of his Father…remembering that our Father will provide all that he needs to grow into a man after God’s own heart.

And this week, as I have so often forgotten to do, I’m going to pray for each of my children to love the Lord their God with all the heart, soul, mind and strength.  I’m going to pray that God will love and bless my children through me.  And that He will give me discernment to know how to encourage each of them.

And maybe that He will let me know when to step back, get on my knees, and let Him handle it…well, that’s probably all the time, isn’t it? :)

 

2 Comments »

Day 6 – Today I Pray

Today I’m going skiing after 30 years of avoidance.  The last time I went I fell off the ski lift – didn’t even make it to the top of the mountain before I took a spill.  This sport will probably not be my forte, but I have been convinced to give it a try.  After all how  different from sledding can it be…right? 

I joked with my daughter this morning that I was doing my hair and makeup so I’d look good in the ER.  I thought it was funny.  She was not amused.

I really want to be brave and adventurous, but it’s cold.  Doesn’t hot cocoa and a good book near a roaring fire sound perfect for a cold winter day? But nope.

I’m packed up and praying for a fun (relatively warm) day!  And no broken bones.

This is probably the first sorta first I’ve done since becoming a single mom.  I’ve been kind of close to home and focused on survival. 

But I think this is good.  A day away.  A new thing.  A little bit of wind in my face…sounds exhilarating! 

I’m so thankful that the Lord is providing me with this time after all the snowcation days! I feel overwhelmed with his love right now! 

Praying for us all to feel His love in delightfully refreshing ways today!  

1 Comment »

Day 5 – What Will the Neighbors Think?

house

I have often joked that wherever we go, we are kind of like the Beverly Hillbillies.  I should just blare that music from our car when we enter the neighborhood.

I’m looking for a house right now.  I think maybe we should move out into the country!

We are loud and busy and just a lot…

My cul-de-sac in Fredericksburg knew us and loved us still…thank goodness!  I can’t tell you how blessed I was to have understanding neighbors…although I can’t imagine they didn’t shake their heads behind closed doors :)

The year that my husband left I had to learn a lot about the house and there were many days of decluttering, organizing, and projects…lots of throwing away and fixing.  One unintended project was a toilet bowl issues.

I had misplaced a set of keys…a big set of keys.  My friend Darcey and I tore the house apart looking for them.  No luck.  Finally, we had to figure the slow flushing powder room potty was the keys’ location.  My littlest daughter was two at the time, and we believed she was the culprit. We tried desperately to remove the keys with coat hangers, plungers, and gloved hands.  I won’t go into too much detail, but it was a very dirty job.  We finally ended up having to drag the nasty, dripping toilet through the foyer and out into the front yard so we could hose it out and recover the keys.

By this time, my friend Laurie had arrived to assist.  My friends are awesome!  Darcey, who in her first trimester, was amazing even in her nausea.  My friend Laurie was great too.  We could barely work for all the laughing.  My life had definitely become a really bad sitcom.  Darcey stated, “All your neighbors are in their houses calling their realtors right now.”  It was probably true.

After having a neighbor be front page news for adultery, watching massive amounts of stuff pile up at the curb, witnessing the craziness and noise of a big family daily, and now a toilet in the front yard…who wouldn’t second guess being neighbors with me?

But they didn’t move and instead they have laughed along with me, helped me more than I can say, welcomed my children into their homes so I could work, taken girls to AWANA, fed my children on crazy days, loaned me tools and ladders and supplies, answered questions, and prayed for me.

Now I’m moving and my heart is breaking for the loss of these neighbors.  They cannot be replaced…ever.

Right now, we are guests in my mom’s house and her neighbors don’t know us.  But they have heard us, and watched us, and probably been annoyed by us.  And I don’t have time for them to really know us.  And I wish I could.

I imagine they think I’m crazy.  Sometimes I worry what they think of me.  I wish it was summer and I could go outside and chat, but I can’t right now.  Life is just too busy.

I wonder when we move if we will have the time to invest in our neighbors like I want to.   How do single parents make friends? Build relationships.  Seriously?

I don’t know how to find time to meet people and even if I did, I wouldn’t have time to spend with them.  I know this is a season, but it is a season that I’d like to have the encouragement of friends close by.

I’m not complaining…well, maybe a little…:)  I’m ever so thankful for a job, and how could I not feel beyond blessed by my children.  It is another opportunity to focus on the positive and pray for answers to the negative.

And maybe I just need to make time to say “hi” to someone, even if I don’t have time.  And maybe I just need to call a coworker to sneak away for coffee.

I think it will be easier when I have my own home and leaving isn’t imposing on someone else…because my children rock and are happy to babysit….well maybe not happy, but willing. :)

There has to be a reason I’m in this place now…really trying to figure out what it could be.  Could it be to spend time building my relationship with the Lord and realizing that He is enough?

It usually, if not always, is that, right?  God wants to spend time with us. With me! Sometimes I’m so shocked by that.  Why in the world does He want to spend time with me?  That’s nuts!  But He isn’t nuts…He is loving.

I love spending time with my children.  I love hanging out and doing things.  I really do love them even when they are rotten.  I’d still choose them.

I’m so grateful that even when I’m rotten, God still chooses me.  That when my house is a mess…when my children are difficult…when our family is noisy and chaotic…when the yard is decorated with a  toilet…when our family falls apart in front of the world…God still loves us!  He wants to be with us.

He’d always choose to be our neighbor!

3 Comments »

Day 4 – In Spite of Me

winter berries bestI few years ago I had the privilege of leading a women’s retreat for a church I used to attend.  The title was “In Spite of Me.”  (I cannot take the credit for the title because my friend Phoebe came up with it.)  I loved it.  I still do, because my salvation is totally in spite of me.

Actually so many good things happen in spite of me…probably some bad things too.

In spite of me…God loves me.

In spite of me…God is faithful to me.

In spite of me…God is kind to me.

In spite of me…God provides for me.

In spite of me…God blesses me.

I find myself thinking the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, speaking the wrong thing, and feeling the wrong thing A LOT.  It is so easy to be wrong.

I can’t seem to get myself to be the woman I want to be…

Thankfully, God can.

I’m in awe of grace…overwhelmed.

“The gospel of justifying faith means that while Christians are, in themselves still sinful and sinning, yet in Christ, in God’s sight, they are accepted and righteous. So we can say that we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope — at the very same time. This creates a radical new dynamic for personal growth. It means that the more you see your own flaws and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God’s grace appears to you. But on the other hand, the more aware you are of God’s grace and acceptance in Christ, the more able you are to drop your denials and self-defenses and admit the true dimensions and character of your sin.”  Timothy Keller

Recently I heard someone tell my children if they weren’t good they weren’t going to go to heaven.  In fact, this person told my children they need to be perfect.

I don’t believe I’ve ever had such an emotional reaction to something someone said. I was shaking and wanted to scream, “NOOOO!!! Please don’t put that burden on my children!”

It has taken me what feels like forever to get grace…and, even now, I know there are many things I can’t even begin to grasp about grace.

But please don’t take grace from my family!

We need it so desperately.  In fact, so does the person that discounted the power of God’s grace and spoke such wrong words to my children.

For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9

Please don’t’ misunderstand…I want well-behaved children (desperately).  I want my children to be obedient, respectful, and kind because that is what honors God and me.  BUT, I also know that their behavior is not the determining factor in their salvation.

It certainly is easy to think that…if we are Christians shouldn’t we do the right thing, say the right thing, think the right thing, and feel the right thing?

I wish.  I wish I didn’t struggle so much with being good.

I disappoint myself often.  It is difficult to believe God doesn’t view me as a huge disappointment as well.  But He doesn’t.

I don’t know how deeply I believe that even though I know it to be true.  How could He not get tired of my failures?  I don’t understand.

I love my children more than I could ever convey…in fact, I cannot think of an adequate adjective to describe my love for them.  And boy do I get frustrated, annoyed, and angry with them…fairly regularly to be honest.

BUT God, is not at all like me (Alleluia!)

He is infinitely patient, unconditionally loving, relentlessly faithful, and forever forgiving.

He is my Advocate.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  1 John 2:1

He is the Author of my Faith

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right had of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1-2

He is my Mediator.

For there is one God and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.  1 Timothy 2:5-6

He is merciful.

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalm 103:8-13

He is the Shepherd and Overseer of my soul.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By his wounds you have been healed.  For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.  1 Peter 2:24-25

 

I could spend the rest of this snow day (yes, another snow day) looking up scripture about who God is and who He is to me…it is so encouraging.

What a blessed reminder of the God we serve and the grace He gives.  I’m blessed beyond measure.

In spite of me…in spite of me and all my sinfulness and goofiness…God loves me!  He forgive me again and again and again….

I just started to write “God is the BEST!” and I thought it sounded kinda silly, but you know what?  It’s true.  He absolutely is the Best.

And in spite of me, I’m forgiven and loved!

 

 

Leave a comment »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,070 other followers