uptomytoes

Hope & Humor for Single & Divorced Parents

sensory issues, socks, and serious stuff

socksSo the other morning, my youngest daughter decided to completely fall apart about socks.

To say it was a disaster is putting it mildly.

About 5 minutes into the exchange, I realized that I was acting more immature than my 6 year old.

I wasn’t sure how to stop the spiral, so unfortunately….I didn’t.  I just went with it…spinning in nauseating circles to the bottom of the pit of momma fail.

And I did it with gusto.

I’ve been thinking about it for days.

What caused me to respond so poorly to my little girl’s sensory issues?  I mean, it’s not like they are a surprise.

Okay, well the socks were exactly the same as the ones that were fine the previous day…so that was annoying, but really, she’s 6 and she’s got stuff she’s dealing with…and, honestly, I do too.

But being that I’m approximately 39 years older, wouldn’t it seem like I could hold it together better than her?

Yeah…well…apparently not.

I think the issue might be that I simply want things to go my way.

Everyone just do things my way, ok?

And don’t get in my way.

I mean I am the momma after all.

I’m the boss.

But I’d like to be a benevolent dictator!

I think I was more like a really, really mean drill sergeant.

Thankfully I don’t have these meltdowns often, but when they happen they are spectacular. And I don’t mean that in a positive way…

Ugh…Why do they happen again?

Oh yeah…it’s all about me.

I’ve been studying the book of Philippians.  Chapter 2 to be exact.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (3-8) 

I believe I could read the verse about putting other’s interests above my own and apply it to this situation, but most of the time, I probably put my children ahead of me even when I shouldn’t.

Although I believe I should always put my children’s well-being above my temper tantrums…above my emotions.

My emotional craziness that morning can’t really be justified…even though I was frustrated and nothing was going as I had planned.  I had stuff I needed to get done…they needed to get on the bus already!

Truly that seems to be what my life is about right now…getting stuff done.

Getting stuff done even if it means not being patient, kind, or gracious.

Getting stuff done even if it means less sleep…and a fussy momma.

Getting stuff done even if it means no time for relationships.

Getting stuff done even if it means oodles and oodles of stress…for everyone.

Do I really need to get so much stuff done?  Yes. I do.  But there has to be a way to do it gracefully.

Before I can figure that one out, I want to consider my emotions a bit….just a bit, because as I heard someone say once, “I don’t like the way emotions make me feel.”  I’m all over that.  (And I have to be honest, I’m not particularly fond of hormones either.)

When my ex- husband left 5 years ago, I wrote in my journal, “Remember it’s not what you feel, it’s what you know.”

That was written when I was feeling completely beaten down and I was trying to remind myself of my identity in Christ.  I wanted to be sure to make decisions and act based on what I knew to be true from God’s Word, rather than what I was feeling, especially the feelings based on my husband’s actions.

I think this situation with my daughter was another opportunity to remind myself that my actions must not be based on what I feel, but on what I know to be true.

I know that God has a plan even for my day and if things go awry He can help me handle it.

I know that my little girl needs encouragement, patience, and understanding, not the words I offered her.

I know that my actions impact my daughter and all my other children…that my thoughtless, frustrated words hurt.

I know that I have the Holy Spirit to help me control this blasted tongue.

And, thankfully I know that God forgives me for all my mistakes as a woman and a parent.

The other part of that verse that struck me was the humility of Christ.  He was GOD and He willingly took on the form of man to save me.  He humbled himself…humbled himself to death.

I need a minute to soak that in…

And I can’t humble myself to speak graciously to my child???

My little girl who wasn’t being disobedient (even though it felt that way), who wasn’t being defiant (even though it felt that way), who wasn’t being difficult on purpose (even though it felt that way)…she was just being a little girl with sensory issues who was completely undone by the toe seam on her socks.

And I was the momma who acted on how I felt, rather than what I knew.  I was the one in charge who instead of humbly and gently loving my daughter, chose to wield my big stick and verbally whack everything in sight.

Looking back I can see that if I had responded at first with graciousness, my little girl might have found what she needed sooner and we could have had a peaceful morning.  Unfortunately, I decided to disregard some of the other verses in Philippians 2:

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.  (14-16)

Oh the grumbling and complaining…oh well…no sense continuing to beat myself up about this.

So I have to tell you after all our sock craziness, as we were heading out the door, my daughter sat down in the foyer and said, “Momma, I don’t think I want to wear socks.”  So 45 minutes and 15 pairs of socks later…she went to school without socks.

Seriously.photo (4)

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What’s Your Choice?

basketball

This past weekend my youngest daughters started playing basketball with a local Christian program.  It’s such fun to see them playing.  They’ve never played before and at times it looked like a cross between football, soccer, rugby, and wrestling.  I was laughing a lot.  But another feeling crept in as I sat in that gymnasium. I was overcome with feelings of sorrow for what I have lost…what my children have lost.

Families came in together.  Fathers and mothers with little lines of children walked through the doors one after the other. I saw interaction I’ve missed.  I saw affection, unity, and love between parents.  I saw married couples coaching together and parents parenting together.

It brought back feelings of disbelief again.

How in the world did my life happen?

I never imagined when I walked down the aisle to my husband that life would be anything but love for a lifetime, raising our children to love the Lord, and serving Him together.  Together.

Sitting together watching the rugby match…I mean basketball practice…enjoying our children’s activities together.

How is our family not together?

There are still days when I can’t believe this is the life my God has allowed for my children.  When those thoughts land heavily on my mind and heart, I, over and over again, endeavor to take them captive.  (I wish I could think of a good basketball analogy for this…but alas, I cannot…just…too…tired…)

Today I’m working on it.  I’m taking them captive again…and again and again.

God brought me to Psalm 145 and showed me some things:

  • I will not get the answers here…at least not all of them, but my God is greater than the answers I seek and I know I can trust Him.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.  (v. 3)

  • There are always wonderful things about God’s faithfulness I can share with my children and others (like you!).  I’m paying attention to the blessings.

One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.  On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. (v. 4-5)

  •  This verse seems rather self-explanatory

The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  The LORD is good to all and his mercy is over all that he has made. (vs. 8-9)

  • My Lord is faithful.

The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works. (v.13b)

  • My Father will hold me through this trial.

The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. (v. 14)

  • My God will provide all I need.

You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. (v.16)

  • My Lord is with me and He is good!

The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.  The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:17-18

  • My Savior will do this life with me…there is togetherness with God.

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (v. 18)

  • My Lord will save and preserve me.

He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. (vs. 19-20)

Throughout my life, I’ve had to continually remind myself of my God and His great love for me.

Sometimes I’m just overwhelmed by this world…it is NOT my home.  (Thankfully!!!!)

So much is not how I imagined it would be when I was little and looking forward to being a wife and mother.  It’s not how I imagined it would be when I said “yes” to my kneeling husband.  It’s not how I imagined it would be when I held each of my dear children for the 1st time.  At no point did I imagine this life for me or my children…or my ex-husband for that matter.

This life is just unimaginable.

But it is my life…so I don’t have to imagine it anyway.  I just have to live it.  Just get on the court and play ball.  (There it is…I knew I had one basketball reference in me!)

How do I do that?

How do I live this life in a way that doesn’t ache constantly?  I haven’t quite figured that out yet.  God is showing me.

I will say that when I’m in the Word and praying…the ache is barely noticeable.

It’s the same lesson I learn over and over and over and over (how many overs can I write to convey how often I “learn” this lesson…oh that I would actually learn it).

That lesson…focus on Christ not my circumstances.

Choose to be overwhelmed by life or by Christ.

Well…today right now…I’m making a choice.  Things might still hurt at times.  Sorrow might surprise me with a visit at the most inopportune times.  Disappointment might descend when I’m trying to find the good in this life.  Challenges might chase me down each and every day…BUT…

Today…today…I’m choosing Christ.

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Do You Have Any Needles or Grapes?

ImageTonight we dragged our tree out…well, I should say my oldest son and his friend dragged it out…leaving a trail of needles and water behind. Contributing to the messiness of my floor.

Today my floor has been an issue.

A neighbor stopped by unexpectedly.  As we stood in my kitchen all I could think about was all the stuff out, the general disarray of our home at that moment, and all the crumbs and such all over the floor,

I desperately wanted to ask her to leave and come back in 20 minutes.

I didn’t.

But oh did I want to.

I was trying to pick up things unobtrusively…sneak things off the counter, put things in the sink, push things into drawers, pick up a larger crumb on the floor.  I’m sure she could see my furtive attempts to clear the clutter.

I don’t know this neighbor well so she rarely sees the inside of my house.  But I believe I can safely say that EVERY time she stops by some sort of tornado has struck…well, 6 tornados – me included.

Today was one of those days.  It was back to school for my kids – both homeschooled and public schooled – and educational paraphernalia was strewn all over the counter, table, and foyer.

I began a new program to become certified to teach and earn my Masters in education so I have to admit that I contributed to the school stuff everywhere.

Calendars, bills, and other documents were stacked on a stool near the kitchen table because there was no room on the table.

My son had started a drawing project in the family room and paper had slid off the sofa onto the floor.

My youngest daughter had laid out Candy Land for us to play after dinner.  (She beat me! 3 times!!!)

Oven buzzers were sounding and pots were bubbling on the stovetop.

Sitting between the pantry and laundry room doors were 2 baskets of clean laundry waiting to be taken upstairs.

The only good thing about my house was there were no dishes in the sink – and that, my friends, is a miracle!

This unexpected visit was not one of my finer examples of hospitality…at least in the sense of my home being ready.

I love having people over and enjoy welcoming them into our pandemonium.  But sometimes… sometimes I want a little fair warning!

It’s okay though.  Just my pride being a bit wounded.

Why I think my sticky counters, cluttered tables, or messy floors would shock anyone, especially my neighbors, is beyond me.  Honestly, we are kind of like the Beverly Hillbillies of the neighborhood.  I feel like we should have their theme song blaring when we drive down the street.   (Hey!  I bet my teenagers would love that!)

When I pull into the driveway I have children climbing out of windows and/or falling over each other to get out of the same door.  And the number of odds and ends that tumble out of my car at any given stopping point is staggering.  My car is a giant purse…full of children, paper, shoes and goodness knows what else!

Where am I going with this blog?

Actually when I started this blog I was going to write about sweeping the floor – specifically the tree needles and some grapes that were dropped.

I was thinking how the needles, although everywhere, were quite easy to sweep up…kind of like all the mundane issues of life.  Those things that aren’t surprising or particularly difficult, but they seem to be everywhere.  They take up time and energy, but they are doable.

Then there are the things like grapes.  Grapes…ugh.  I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to try to sweep up those silly grapes.  They went everywhere but where I wanted them to go.

Those little buggers can roll fast and far!

I could have leaned over and picked them up individually, but I didn’t have the energy to do it.  (long, long day)  I just wanted them to go nicely into the dustpan.

But nope.  They went every which way.  Unfortunately I couldn’t leave them lying about because grapes are magnets for feet.  And squashed grapes are even more work…sticky work.  My house is sticky enough thank you very much!

I don’t know why I thought about the needles and the grapes…or why it struck me that it was so much like my life.  Maybe I’m over thinking things…totally possible.  I’m pretty tired.

But what I realized is that God equips me to handle both things.

Those needles are like the plethora of monotonous things that occur in any given day…like dirty dishes, cluttered counters, messy floors, loads and loads of laundry, and neighbors that stop by unexpectedly on a particularly messy day.  But they are all things that God gives me the grace to handle if I will rest in Him each day.

Part of that resting is finding my identity in Him rather than the state of me, my home, my children, my finances, my education, my work, my relationships, my marriage/divorce, my health…all of that is not defining.

I am defined by Christ!

And then there are the grapes…the things that roll around your life and cause trouble.

They roll in with things like dealing with our ex-spouses or struggles with our children’s behaviors, financial worries or household issues, health crises or work concerns…you can probably add your own grapes to that list.

And there are bigger grapes that spin everywhere, are impossible to catch, and often just end up squashed on the floor.  These things are bigger things…heart issues, agonies that bring us to our knees, struggles and sorrows that linger, hurts that seem to take forever to heal…I’m sure you know what I mean.

Those are some whopping big grapes.  But thankfully our God is bigger than any grape…large or small.

Needles or grapes all need to end up in the same place…and so do all our troubles and struggles and annoyances.

It’s a little hard at this point to continue my analogy perfectly because I’m going to have to equate a dustpan to the Lord, so maybe I’ll mix it up a bit and say this:

All our stuff needs to end up in the dustpan of faith and handed over to our Heavenly Father.

There is no amount of life messiness that God can’t handle.  And He’s willing to handle it all.

I’m more than happy to hand the broom and dustpan to Him…I’m tired of cleaning anyway.

If I trust Him to take care of all those things, I can be peaceful no matter the state of my home.  And that means that when people stop by I can rest assured that even if my house seems a bit muddled, I will not.  I will be calm and able to focus not on my house, but my guest.

If I trust Him, when the pains and sorrows of this life seem too much to bear I can find solace in His Word, peace in His presence, and comfort with His people.

So sweep those needles and grapes toward Jesus and let Him deal with them all!  His dustpan is big enough.

I don’t know if that string of thoughts exactly works, but I hope that it blesses you in some way – even if it’s just a smile at my attempt to spiritualize a messy floor.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:6-7

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No 3-2-1…Our Missing 3 Seconds

Image

For the past several years my kids and I have celebrated New Year’s Eve with snacks, sparkling cider, and movies.  We always have a great time hanging out together and New Year’s Eve is no different!

This past year (all of 3 days ago!) we rang in the New Year in the same way.  Although I was also busy baking cookies for a get together on New Year’s Day and we were dog sitting two large, rambunctious chocolate labs…so it was a little bit rowdier than usual.  :)

My oldest son picked the movie, I popped the popcorn, and we all snuggled down for a good laugh.  It ended with 15 minutes til midnight.  We poured our sparkling cider…actually this year we did Italian soda…and prepared to countdown to 2014!

10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4…

And then our TV gave the message that the DVR was set to record two programs at once and which did we want to cancel.  We all gasped and two of my kids raced to fix it.

Unfortunately their fixes cancelled each other out and the TV switched to a totally different show.

By the time we were back to the right channel all we saw lots of strangers smooching!

Instantly there were sighs and groans and blaming…it was Zach’s fault for messing with the remote, it was Peter’s fault for jumping up and pressing buttons on the box, it was Emma’s fault for scheduling her show…thankfully I remained unscathed by the guilt-throwing!

This whole missing the last 3 numbers in the countdown was pretty funny.  I have to admit.  We laughed a lot about it.  The idea that we missed those 3 seconds…of all seconds to miss.  I mean we didn’t actually miss them because we lived through them, but we did miss the acknowledgement of them and it was certainly anti-climactic to not say, “Happy New Year!!!” at just the right time!

I’m trying to figure out what the lesson for the New Year is in this wacky start?  Maybe be ready for the unexpected?  Or don’t take things too seriously?  Or don’t schedule so much at one time?  Or be kind to one another?  Or blaming is banned?  Or don’t sweat the small stuff…like 3 seconds?  Or enjoy every second?

I guess I’d say, ENJOY EVERY SECOND…the ones you acknowledge and the ones you just live!

Be there…be where you are.

Be with your children…not worrying about them or how they are going to get through the day (or the next 3 seconds)…but trusting that God can handle these next 3 seconds and the next 3 million as well.

Be with yourself…that sounds a little wonky, but I mean that we take time to rest, to care for ourselves, to spend time with friends and family, and to do those things that bless us (like reading, running, sewing, writing, or playing an instrument…whatever you enjoy!)  That we take 3 minutes to be by ourselves.

Be with God…talking to Him, reading His word, and praising Him.  It’s easy at this place in our lives to spend more time wrestling with Him about everything, rather than trusting that He’s going to handle it all in His perfect way and perfect timing and with the perfect love He has for us.

So right now…I’m going to stop being with my computer and instead I’m going to go be with my kids!  It’s freezing cold outside and there is ice everywhere but they want to play in the snow and I best put on my mittens and join them! Brrrr…..

God bless you this New Year and may every second be filled with an awareness of how loved you are!

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Whole Magazine – Longing for Home

Whole Magazine – Longing for Home

Grand Teton National ParkI’ve been so blessed to have the opportunity to write for Whole Magazine.  I hope you enjoy the post.

Not to sound like a cheesy 70s song but I’ve had heaven on my mind.  In a beautiful way God has been reminding me of the wonderful future He has prepared for me – and you!

Just some thoughts about our glorious future!

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Do You Transition Well?

christmas tree

It’s been five years and still I struggle with transitions.

I would have thought by now there’d be no problem whatsoever when my ex-husband picked up our children.

And yet…there is

There is no conflict between him and me…no issues of arguing or glaring or anything…it’s just the transition.

It’s not like I even think about it.  It just IS awkward.

And tonight was no different.

My ex-husband is often late and no matter how hard I try to get my kids organized there is always a measure of chaos when he arrives.

Even though he’s late we can’t seem to be ready.

Tonight was no exception.

Let me set up the scene for the disaster.

It was our only night for my children and me to decorate our tree together because of school, work and bedtime schedules.  And because it was their night with their dad we had about an hour to do it.

I was ready.  Dinner was made.  All the boxes of decoration had been brought up.  The stage was set for a lovely hour of decorating.

And we had a lot of fun even though not all the children were excited to be decorating.  My 7 year old escaped outside to play with the neighbors, my 12 year old had a very difficult time getting his face away from his IPod, and my 16 year old lasted about 15 minutes before she needed food.  It ended up being my 6 year old and me decorating with my 19 year old keeping us entertained.  A tad goofy but still good!

As our hour to decorate became an hour and a half, my little girls worried they were going to miss a special math and science event at their school.  They’d been talking about it for weeks.  I should probably have just taken them on time, but we had so much to do and I thought they would enjoy doing it with their dad.

When their dad did arrive, it seemed like everything just fell apart…including me.

My oldest daughter was up in her room doing her hair and makeup.  A bit on the bad timing side of things and absolutely unnecessary – she’s beautiful.

My shoeless middle son was frantically looking for his IPod which my oldest son had hidden (with my blessing).

My 7 year old was ready and at her father’s car almost before it stopped.  She wanted to get to school fast!  They were already 45 minutes late.

My 6 year old was shoeless and decided to redo her hair…only she can’t redo her hair.  She’s at the age where she can mess it up really well but absolutely not fix it.

Then my 7 year old came back in because the tinfoil hat she needed to wear to the school event was tearing.  She was close to tears.

As I was searching for tape to fix the hat, I glanced around and realized that my teenagers hadn’t done any of the things I’d asked them to do.

It just seemed like everything went kablooey.

I know I’m probably not sufficiently portraying the level of chaos in those few moments, but I figure you can catch the “feel” of the house regardless of my poor description.

Everyone going in different directions, lots of emotions, and dad waiting in the driveway.

I just wish I could keep calm, cool, and collected.  (Well, cool might be a stretch…at least according to my teenagers! :)!!)

I got annoyed with my youngest pulling all her hair clippies out.  I was frustrated that the few things I’d asked my middle son and high school daughter to do had not been done.  I was disappointed that my daughter went to do her hair and watch Netflix in her bedroom instead of staying downstairs with us, and she still wasn’t ready! I was a little miffed that my ex-husband was late and that meant the girls had missed half of the school event.  I was just a hot mess.

And I didn’t hide it. I oozed hot mess on everyone.

I don’t want to send my kids off with fussiness.  I hate that!

It isn’t always this way, but more often than I want, to be sure.

I just don’t know what exactly it is except that maybe it’s simply that I hate being divorced.  I hate sharing my children.

I miss evenings together.  I miss looking forward to my husband arriving home from work.  I miss family dinners and bedtimes together.  I miss going together to their school events and concerts.  I miss celebrating birthdays and holidays together. I miss so many things.

I hate that my children’s father isn’t here to decorate the tree with them.  To hold our youngest up to put ornaments on the highest branches.  To sip hot cocoa and eat cookies.  I miss Christmas shopping together for our children.  I miss Christmas Eve services and Christmas morning together.  I miss hosting a Christmas party together.  I miss caroling.  I miss it all.  All the togetherness.

Maybe the nights when he arrives in the driveway it’s just a reminder of all those things that are now gone.

And maybe we all get a little wonky because it just isn’t right.  The whole thing is just awfully wrong.

Children aren’t supposed to have to go back and forth between parents.  They are supposed to be with both of us!

I’m so grieved just thinking about it.

And yet here I sit, all pitiful and sad, looking at our beautiful tree and decorations, and I’m struck by how truly blessed I am.  Who every said life was going to be perfect…or even close to perfect?  Nobody.

It might just be that there will always be a little touch of sadness to everything even the joyful things.
mantle #1
And maybe that is also just life on earth…this world is not our home.

This world…hmmmm…that makes me think about Christ coming here…leaving perfection to come to this sinful, sorrowful place.  How He became a man of many sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3) for us.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteem him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.  Isaiah 53:4-5

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by this life, isn’t it?  To focus on all the things that are amiss.  I can so easily get caught up in the things that aren’t going my way, and I can stay there for quite a while.  But we have a great Savior who wants to walk this life with us…who wants to carry our burdens.

We have a savior that didn’t just come here to change our eternity.  He came here to change our daily.  He came to give us all that we need to live a life of hope and joy right here – to live each day with us.

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.  Isaiah 40:11

The Lord offers us strength and guidance.

…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

Jesus doesn’t just want to help with the transitions, He wants to give us all that we need in every moment…and all that we need is Him!

Just as God delivered His people repeatedly, he has delivered us through the birth, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus! We have a blessed hope and reason for great joy!

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth in singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.  Isaiah 55:12

Just reading those scriptures and all the others I glanced at while looking for them, has put my heart and mind in a completely different place.  I feel a great hope welling up in me.  A hope that even though this life is not and never will be exactly what I want it to be, God is going to make it something beautiful…even in the transitions.

Well this post didn’t go in the direction I thought it would.  I was just planning on saying that this season is a time to reflect on the hope and peace we have in Christ.  And God led me in a bit of a different direction!  I love when He does that.

I hope my stream-of-consciousness writing today blesses you.  And I pray that we will all have the perspective of peace and joy this day and everyday as we remind ourselves repeatedly of the beauty of the gospel!  Of the glorious intrusion of God into our world, our lives, our very selves.

Of a Savior who gladly gave up glory for grief to save his beloved children.

Oh Lord, please help us have the right perspective on this life.  There is so much to be joyful about.

Father, just look at those 5 beautiful children you’ve given me!  And I have a beautiful Christmas tree, a kitchen full of food, a pretty dependable car in the driveway, clothes for all my children, heat in my house, my house!, toys to trip over (could stand to have a few less of those) and friends and family who love us.

Not to mention this wonderful season of hope!  Thank you Father!  This is a time to remember the blessings – to not get all wiggy about the bad stuff…the difficult stuff…the challenging stuff…the disappointing stuff.

I do wiggy really well.  I need to do peaceful really well.

Lord, please help us find Your peace in the craziness and challenges and disappointments.  Father, you love us so much and we know that you are going to work through all this difficult stuff…even though at times we can’t imagine how.  Thank you that we can trust you.  And thank you for the hope of this Christmas season.  And thank you for our sweet Savior Jesus!

nativity #1

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Are You Under the Table Too?

Thanksgiving Feast

On a recent Sunday, my pastor spoke on Matthew 15:21-28. It’s an interesting passage.

The interchange between Jesus and a Canaanite momma imploring Him to heal her daughter is quite challenging.

Jesus doesn’t respond how we would expect.  He seems a bit rude.  (I can’t believe I just wrote that Jesus appeared rude.  That seems exceedingly cheeky on my part.)

Although I have to admit not necessarily understanding Jesus’ way in dealing with this Mom, I trust that He knew what He was doing.  I trust that He had a plan to bring her and even His disciples to a deeper understanding of Him and themselves.

My pastor said, “Jesus intentionally reaches out to us in ways we don’t like or understand in order to show us what we really need.”

Jesus is always intentional in His interaction with us.  Always was always will be.  All that the Lord allows to happen in our lives is purposeful… and God will use it all for good.

What got my attention in this passage wasn’t necessarily Jesus’ response, but the momma’s response to Jesus.

She was desperate and willing to do anything to get her daughter healed.  I think I’d be the same way. Persistent and insistent.

At first Jesus doesn’t answer her pleading.  In fact, His first words are not directed to her.  He responds to the disciples when they ask him to send her away because she’s annoying them.

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (v. 24)

I wonder if that wasn’t for the disciples in a way.  Maybe to challenge them to see her as a person in need rather than just a Canaanite.  I don’t know…my pastor didn’t mention that.  :)

Her response is what gets me though.

But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” (v. 25)

She is undeterred.  She isn’t bitter or angry at Jesus’ words.  She knows that He is the source of her daughter’s healing.  Maybe what Jesus wants her to grasp is that He is also the source of her healing…her spiritual healing.

And He answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” (v. 26)

Again, she doesn’t take offense.  I think at this point I might have.  But not her, she is single-minded.  Being desperate definitely gives clarity of what’s important and what isn’t.

She knows the source of her help.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come.
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2

I found this to be true for myself.  When my husband announced his plans to leave, I was desperate to save my marriage.  The word desperate doesn’t even seem to capture the way I felt.  I couldn’t imagine losing my husband and the father of my children.  It just couldn’t happen!

I had clarity.  I knew it was all a God-sized task.  And I trusted that God was going to take care of things.

And even though I kept expecting God to answer one way, He very clearly answered another way…over and over and over again.

His answers shocked me at times, BUT He didn’t leave me.  He was there all the time.  And I knew, I knew, I could trust Him.  I knew that He was the only source of hope I had…even as I watched my marriage end.

I think that Canaanite momma got it.  She got that Jesus was the answer…the only hope she had.

After Jesus speaks to her, she answers, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

Wow!  She is solid.  She definitely gets it!

She gets that even a crumb from the Lord’s table is enough.

It reminds me of the woman who knew if she only grabbed hold of a tassel on Jesus’ robe she’d be healed. (Matthew 9:18-26)  And the Centurion who knew Jesus only had to speak and his servant would be healed. (Matthew 8:5-13)

Just a touch…just a word…just crumb…just Jesus!

They each knew His power to be great and trusted that even the smallest bit of it would provide what they needed.

So I’m thinking about how I relate to my Lord.  And I’m disappointed in myself.

I keep living under the table when I’ve been invited to the feast.

I don’t have to settle for a crumb – I have it all.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… Ephesians 1:3

…having the eyes of your hearts enlightened that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:18-21

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of God…the same power that created everything…the same power that God uses to fulfill his good and perfect will…is the same power that is at work in my life…in me!

That blows my mind.

Which begs the question why I don’t act like I have the power of God working in my life?  Why do I feel so defeated at times?

This weekend I had such a feeling of imminent failure.

It’s not unusual for me.  There are moments when it seems that everything is going to be ruined that isn’t already ruined.

How is that living for God’s glory?  How is that living with the joy of the Lord?

It’s not.

At all.

God says I can confidently approach His throne of grace knowing He can and will handle my problems.  I know that I can and I know that He wants me to, and yet I choose the struggle instead of His strength.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Unlike the Canaanite woman I don’t have to think I must settle for crumbs…I get to partake of the full feast!

The full feast of God’s love, mercy, peace, strength, and grace.

No crumbs of grace for this girl!  Even though a crumb is enough when it comes to Jesus…

He offers me so much more!

So let’s sit at the table and enjoy the bounty of God!

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

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Hope and a Pipe Stand

pipe #2It was just a very full pipe stand.

My first thought was how much they reminded me of my Dad…my second was, “Ewwww…that’s kinda gross…think of the mouths that have been on those!” (ever the mother)

Recently I went antique shopping with a friend.  I love looking at all the beautiful things, the knick-knacks, and the oddities of by-gone eras.  It’s very much a treasure hunt.

It’s a joy to meander through packed little shops filled with old jugs that remind me of the hillbilly band The Darlings on The Andy Griffith Show, teacups and pots that make me want to host a tea party as soon as possible, furniture that I know would look lovely in my home, and musty, yellowed books that are just begging to be read again.

Shopping this time seemed more somber.  Every shop offered a reminder of my dad.  A pipe, some Army paraphernalia, an antique clock ticking and donging, a toy car, history books, and it seemed like a hundred other things.

I didn’t feel like sitting down and weeping.  I just felt a little bit heavy-hearted.

Until the past couple of years I wouldn’t have ever used the word melancholy to describe myself.

I think I would now.

At least this particular definition:  “Sober thoughtfulness; pensiveness” (Dictionary.com)

That’s better than the few months after my husband left when I could be found weeping at stoplights and crying in my closet.

Now it’s more of a sigh.  It’s healing from deep sorrow.

The loss of my husband and my father…of my marriage and life as I knew it has been so so so difficult.

There was a time when I just wanted to replace the missing piece in my family.  Just find a godly man and plug him in!  That’d be the perfect solution to my problem.  Insta-fix.

There is no instant fix to this life.  We cannot always regain what was lost.  In divorce or death there is no going back to life before sorrow and its effects.

But there is moving forward.

There is hope.

Hope is a funny word.

Sometimes my hope is lacking.

Hopeless hope.  Know what I mean?

Hoping but not believing.

I thought maybe that was a crazy thing until I looked up hope in Lawrence O. Richards, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.  The author said that when we use the word hope we usually mean something wavering and doubtful.  That’s exactly what I mean!

But the Bible doesn’t ever use the word hope in an uncertain way.  Our hope is not in things here but the certainty of future things.  We can be encouraged, blessed, and comforted by the beautiful life to come.

But meanwhile there’s this life…pipe #1

I believe maybe the problem is that I’m not hoping in the right thing?

I’m hoping that my circumstances will change.  Hoping that I will change.  Hoping that my kids will change.  Hoping that people who have disappointed me will change.

Hoping in restoration.  Hoping in a fix.

I’m thinking my definition of hope is not exactly right so I looked up hope.

There are a fair number of verses with the word hope in them and reading them was convicting.

I wrote down most of them, all but 2 I think.  God has shown me some things about hope.

He is my hope and the focus of my hope.

For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth  Psalm 71:5

Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain?  Or can the heavens give showers?  Are you not he, O LORD our God?  We set our hope on you, for you do all these things.  Jeremiah 14:22

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.  1 Timothy 4:10

 Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.”  Job 13:15

I just had to include that last part…because it’s me.  Right now I’m a big arguer with God.  Job was a mess and Job’s life was a mess – and even though he understood God could be trusted he still struggled with the way things were…with his circumstances.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised is faithful.  Hebrew 10:23

My hope is for now and later.

 But I will hope continually and I will praise you yet more and more.  My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day for their number is past my knowledge.  Psalm 71:14-15

He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us.
On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.  2 Corinthians 1:10

My hope is centered in Jesus

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:13

He who was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.  1 Peter 1:20-21

Even though hope is something I don’t think I’ve completely grasped, I sure love it!

Hope!!!

How can you not smile when you think of hope!?!

I pray that God will give us a vision of what we have in Him…what a hope we have for His strength to keep us, His wisdom to guide us, His love to comfort and heal us, and His blessings to well…bless us!

And of what a glorious inheritance He has for us and what a beautiful eternal home He is preparing us!

Now that’s something to hope in!

Next time I’m antiquing I’m going to think about the honorable life my father lived and the beautiful place he is now!

How we’ll share heaven together!

And when the circumstances of this life get me down, I’ll remind myself that there is hope…even if I don’t necessarily feel it, I KNOW it!

That’s hopeful hope!

MY HOPE IS BUILT

by Edward Mote

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

 On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

 When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

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Anybody Got The Trust Thing Down?

sky

“You’re not my mom, Mom.”

When my 6 year old said this we all chuckled a bit that while referring to me as Mom she declared me “not mom.”

Lately my sweet daughter has discovered that she can wield a pretty hefty weapon against me. Unfortunately, I still haven’t figure out the proper defense.

My two youngest daughters were adopted through foster care. Their adoption has never been a secret. We talk about it and I try and answer any questions I can…with a heaping load of discretion.

Lately though when my youngest daughter is in trouble, she has taken to saying, “I want my other mommy!”

She has been known to call for many people in her state of discipline distress…Poppy, Grandma, Zachary, Emma, Peter, the dog and even Santa…and thankfully Jesus.

Usually I have a good answer…or I just choose to say nothing.

Her wail for the “other mommy” is just a ploy. She and I both know it.

But there is something to the “other” mommy thing that just gets me. And I think it might also get her.
I know she doesn’t mean to hurt me to the depth she does. I know she is just trying to make me crazy…which she does do really well, but ugh…

I can’t help but run ahead years in my head and think about her as a hormonal teenager armed with her “get away from mom” free card.

And to be honest, I’m pretty sure I’ll be menopausal at the same time so beware! When you see the windows pulsating in my house, run!!

Anyway. I digress.

So, I need help! I don’t know how to help my little girl with this issue. AND I don’t know how to help me either.
Thankfully I haven’t been fussy with her…well not too much.…Oh dear, I have been fussy.
It is so difficult sometimes to be the mommy.

In my head and heart I’m making this a really big deal because I see what the potential issues could be.

And you know what? I’m NOT trusting God with this.

Remember when Jesus said, “Do NOT worry about tomorrow”?

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.   Matthew 6:34

Yeah well…I’ve been worried a lot. And it has not done me any good at all.

As always, Jesus is right.

And I believe I’ve missed the beauty of this command.

What does worry take from me?

Well it definitely robs me of my joy that’s for sure. The joy of being in today and knowing God’s got tomorrow.

The joy of trusting.

Trusting God.

In this situation how do I need to trust God?

I need to trust that

  • God gave me this precious girl because it was His perfect plan that I be her mommy .
  • God knew when he entrusted this beautiful little person to me that my husband and her father would leave
  • God will never leave us nor forsake us.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

  • God knew I’d be a single mamma with 5 kids – that I’d be overwhelmed, exhausted, and definitely not perfect at being mamma.
  • God will be the perfect husband and father to us

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. Psalm 68:5

  • God knew this little one would be oh so spicey…and that I’d need Him to raise her
  • With God I can be the Mom my kids need – even to Miss Sassy-Pants

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

  • God loves us…unconditionally.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:7-8

Unconditionally.

That’s one of those words I take for granted. It’s huge in its application and beautiful in its practicality.

I looked up the definition:

Unconditional: with no conditions or limitations: complete or guaranteed, with no conditions, limitations, or provisos attached.

My Father loves me without conditions or limitations. There is no limit to His perfect love! Oh my goodness…I’m overwhelmed (in a good way!)

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18

I can’t really comprehend it but oh how desperately I want to model that for my children. I don’t think it is possible…I get annoyed too easily and can be so unloving.
But God loves my children unconditionally…maybe I can’t model it perfectly but I can pray that God will love my children through me.

And as I answer hard and sometimes hurtful questions, God can give me kind, loving words. Words that soothe achy hearts and heal broken hearts.

God’s words…soothing, healing and loving.

Making that list of what I can trust God for really helped me. I think I might have to do that with some other issues in my life. It really blessed me to see them written out.

Golly, God is good!

I think heading into the fray of single parenting with a trusting heart is going to make a big difference in being able to love my children well.

God can handle them and me…God will love me and love my children in the best way possible!

Unconditionally!

Today and tomorrow.

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Are You Okay with Broken?

broken heart

 Broken.

One of those words that doesn’t bring a lot of joy.  Who wants to be broken? 

Broken things.

             Broken bones.

                            Broken relationships.

                                                  Broken vows.

                                                                        Broken homes.

                                                                                                Broken hearts.

I assume we are all on the same page and don’t want that word to describe much if anything in our lives.  In fact, the only phrase with broken in it that I can think of ever wanting to use is “broken fever”.

For a while I’ve tried to figure out a different word to describe my family other than broken.  Initially I thought it was just too negative. I started trying out different descriptive words.  Wounded.  Bruised.  Hurting.  Anything but broken.

I wanted to stand up and holler, “WE ARE NOT BROKEN!!!!” 

But you know what?  I believe we are.  And I’m realizing that that’s okay.

We are broken but healing.  God, the Great Physician, is fixing up all the broken parts.

A couple of things have brought me to this conclusion. 

The first was reading this verse:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  2 Corinthians 4:7-10

After reading that verse I looked up the meaning of “jars of clay.”  One of the definitions said that the jars of clay would have brought to mind a common household jar – probably inexpensive and fairly easy to break.  It would probably have cracks and chips from being well-used. 

There is so much to get from this verse, but the idea that struck me was that the brokenness of the jar of clay allows what’s inside to be seen – to flow out. 

The brokenness of our lives allows God to shine through us.  Oh my goodness, that sounds like some really syrupy sweet quote to post on Facebook.   Unfortunately for all of us I can’t think of a better way to say it.

I just know that when everything in my world went cablooey, God was the only explanation for why I didn’t personally go cablooey.    It was abundantly clear that the strength I had to move forward came from God and God alone – “the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

One of my first fears following the shattering of my marriage was that my testimony was toast.  I kept thinking of all the people that would think we were just absolute frauds.  I felt like a fraud.  Or maybe I should say I felt like I’d been defrauded.   Everyone, including me, thought we had a great marriage.  How could I speak about my relationship with God, if everyone thought I hadn’t been honest about my relationship with my husband?

But God showed me that my testimony wasn’t about what I could or couldn’t do…my testimony is what God has done and is still doing in my life.

 And He worked mightily in those days following the shattering.  He loved me and my children through our church, our homeschool community, our neighbors, and even the city where my husband had worked.  He provided for us in amazing ways.  He gave us peace and even joy in the midst of our pain and breaking.  It was HIM, all Him.

Just as light shows through or water pours out of cracks in a broken pot, Jesus shows through our brokenness.

He showed through broken vows when He gave me the strength, peace, and perspective to fight for my marriage in the face of my husband’s betrayal.  Believe me it wasn’t me.

He showed through the broken relationships caused by my husband’s actions when He gave our friends wisdom, kindness, compassion, and grace to pursue my husband and love him despite his response.

He showed through our broken home by strengthening the bond my children and I have, strengthening our faith, and gracing us with love and joy.

He showed through my broken heart when I was able to comfort with the comfort I’d been given (2 Corinthians 1:4).

I could probably think of a million more ways that God has shown through the brokenness of my life.  I’ve seen it in others too.  My friends who have or who are battling illness…the grace they have while suffering greatly.   The way my suffering friends reach out to others in their grief and pain.  The compassion I see in my children because they understand what it means to be loved by others while going through difficulties.  The love I see in those who have had their hearts broken, but are still willing to open up to love again.

So I’m thinking that maybe being broken isn’t such a bad thing. 

Especially if God is allowing the breaking…which I believe He does.  If God allows it He is going to use it.  If God allows it He is going to bring good out of it.  If God allows it He is going to bring us through it.  If God allows it He is going to be glorified! All those things are good…very good.

I really am okay being referred to as broken.  I’m not a broken woman…I’m a woman broken by the Lord so that I can be healed.  And I believe that I’m much better as a healed woman than I ever was before the breaking.  

I have a long way to go and there is a lot of brokenness that needs to be healed. 

I’m realizing this is a big topic.  One that I’m going to have to ponder more.  Because it’s one thing for me to be broken and to watch God work with me towards healing.  It is another thing all together to watch how the breaking of so much in our lives has affected my children.  That has been very very difficult for me.  I’m definitely going to have to pray about that before I share my thoughts.

I believe it’s going to be me again recognizing that I have to entrust my children to God.  I have to believe that He is working good for them in all of this too. 

A lot to pray and ponder to be sure.

Thank you so much for being willing to walk this path with me.  For being interested in my thoughts.

I pray that they have encouraged you that no matter what way we describe our families…whole, broken, wounded, healing, etc…God has us and it is good. 

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