Bedtime Prayers

Okay.  Seriously when did bedtime go from a sweet time of books, prayers and song…to wailing and gnashing of teeth???  I can’t remember when the change happened this summer, but happen it did.  Summer is just the worst.  Last night my youngest daughters where unwilling to consider bed… “Why is it light outside?  Surely that means bedtime isn’t for hours yet!!!  You must be mistaken Mommy!”  Actually that was my English major translation of our conversation.  It was really more like, “WAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

I think the only thing I’m looking forward to about my children going back to school is a schedule.  And if you know me that might shock you.  I start summer loving the unstructured days and night, the opportunities to be spontaneous and I definitely like to play with my kids, so sometimes during the summer months we miss a bit more sleep than we should.  Maybe that’s the problem – lack of sleep makes for children who struggle to sleep which makes for a mommy who’s hanging by a ragged thread at 10 pm… well maybe 9pm… oh alright 8 pm.

Those are not my most stellar mom moments…I just want them to go to bed already.  I mean really…GO TO BED!!!  My nights get later and later because after those two…ahem..cuties go to bed, there are still 3 more people I’d like to hang with!  And thankfully they’d actually like to hang out with me!  So what to do?  I wish I knew.

Last night I actually started bed time at 6:30 – it began perfectly.  I must have shown my delight (i.e. weakness), because they sensed it.  My two sweeties turned into my two, for lack of an appropriate word, not-so-sweeties!

I’ve reached the point of being the bad cop mommy consistently when it comes to these issues.  They are both old enough to handle bedtime better.  Their stalling could actually be an Olympic sport – they have practiced it enough.  I’ve had to lay down laws I never imagined even considering.  Only one prayer.  Only one kiss (well, maybe two).  As the bedtime prolongs, the laws are laid down with increasing volume – both in number and tone.

Last night my 6 year old daughter said, “I want my nice mommy back.  I don’t like this mommy.  Wahhhhh!”  My heart would have melted just a tad if I wasn’t chuckling.  Chuckling on the inside because I can show no weakness – I have to be firmer than I’ve ever been.

I believe that the bedtime pickle I’m in is my own doing.  I’m old and tired. 🙂

Honestly, it is difficult being a single parent when your tired.  It is so difficult to be “on” all the time.  There are so many people to love on, encourage, and train well.  I get to the point where I think, “I’m just done, please go to bed.  What do you want? Chocolate?  Soda?  Ice cream?”  I’m just kidding to a point, but God has shown me something (as He is always doing!  Thank goodness)

I’m always saying that God gave me my two little girls to keep me on my knees!  I truly believe that He did – for many reasons.  One because I can tend to believe I have the ability to deal with everything on my own – “Got this God, thanks though.”  Then amazingly I get annoyed when things don’t go well – “Really God?  Could just ONE thing go easily?”  All the while I have only uttered those “hail Mary” prayers of  “God, paleaze!!! Could you fix this?”  “Lord, HELP!!”  and “Oh Father!?!”  I know God hears them.  I know He cares.  I also know that He wants more from me.  He wants me to talk with Him, give Him my worries, verbalize the struggle and in doing that share the burden and allow Him to enter into my life in more intimate and practical ways.  That prayer thing…it’s BIG.

I’ve written about it before.  I’ve shared that I feel called to pray mightily for my children and others…I’ve said I’m determined, convicted, and willing.  BUT, I haven’t been…really.  I pray a lot, but they aren’t thoughtful prayers.  They are same ole same ole prayers…Lord, please help this sweet child know Your love, feel Your presence and never doubt her identity is in You.”  Good prayers, but not really a dialogue.   I believe He wants me to share as  I would with my prayer partner…golly, doesn’t that sound silly?  The Person we are going to say our prayers to doesn’t get the same level of communication as the person I share my prayer requests with?  I think I’ve been missing something.

I love William Carey’s quote, “Expect great things from God!”  I believe that when I pray expecting great things, God will do great things.  I don’t believe that He is my vending machine, I believe that He is my Father who loves to be kind to me.  My Father who loves me beyond measure.  My Father who will always and only do what is absolutely best for me!  That, Dearest, is a great thing!  How can I not want God’s best?  How can God’s best not be great?

So as I prepare for bedtime — and any other time of day — I’m getting down on my knees, really on my knees.  And I’m going to share the struggle, allow Him to take my anxiety for the past, the present and the future, and I’m going to tell Him all about it.  And I know… I KNOW…that He is going to listen, love me and answer with great answers!  He always does.

And I would ask, if you know me or even if you don’t, please challenge me…if you see me or talk to me or want to email me, ask me if I’m being the prayer warrior I want to be…hold me accountable to all these things I write.  And if you’d like, I will do the same for you.

It’s time to fight the good fight of faith on our knees – for ourselves, for our children and for each other!

GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!  ALL THE TIME GOD IS GOOD!!

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Little Boxes…annoying little boxes

Recently it seems I have had to fill out a ridiculous number of forms that all require me to write down my status…single, married, divorced, widowed…  It’s amazing how much I want to deny my actual status.  Who would have thought I’d ever wish I could check any box but divorced?  Just being honest.  I feel as though I have a giant D plastered to my front, my back, my forehead and everywhere in between.  As a Christian, it’s particularly difficult to come to terms with this life status.  It is an epic failure.  I’m getting used to it…I guess.

In the past several weeks I’ve been to more medical/dental appointments than I thought possible. And at each one those blasted clip boards with those horrid forms are handed to me.  And each time I have to reaffirm that I am divorced.  And each time I want to add a posted note with the circumstances of my divorce.  “Divorced due to the adulterous actions of my husband…blah blah blah.”  But why?  It doesn’t really matter anymore.  I have forgiven him and I don’t want to malign him any more than his actions already have.  I have peace in my heart about what God is doing in my life. And yet, I cannot deny that it feels crummy being a divorcee.

No matter how many of us there are out there, it stills feels like a tragic life circumstance with a definite negative stigma attached.   But in all honesty, that crummy feeling is because I’m trying to find my identity in something that isn’t ultimately going to give me any peace or even a good perspective.  My relationship status – married, single, separated, divorced, widowed – none of those truly are who I am at the core.  Does that make sense?  It is a circumstance in my life not me at my most defining point.  Although even as I write that I know that there is more to it than that. There is a depth to marriage that makes it so much more than just my relationship status…maybe that’s why divorce feels so shattering.  As much as I want it simply to be a box I check or don’t check…it feels like so much more.  Married is how I have wanted to describe myself since I was a little girl. It was my most anticipated adjective.  I had it for a long while and then, in what felt like an instance, it was gone…my adjective was replaced with one I really don’t like much at all, but I have long ago accepted this new adjective to describe me…not happily or without a bit of fussing.

But today I have decided to focus on other things that I prefer much more.  I bet a bunch of them describe you too.  I made this list in preparation for a talk I did at a ladies’ retreat…it blessed me to be reminded of who I am in Christ…I pray it blesses you too.

Beloved Daughter of the King

Cherished Bride of Christ

Precious Child of God

A new creation

God’s workmanship

Free from condemnation

Forgiven

Not forsaken

Lavishly and Unconditionally Loved

Worth Far More than Sparrows

Never alone

Never separated from the Love of God

Blessed with every spiritual blessing

With reason to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful

Filled with the Holy Spirit and all His fruit

Afflicted in every way, but not crushed

Perplexed but not driven to despair

Persecuted but not forsaken

Struck down but not destroyed

Saved by grace

Reconciled to God

More than conquerors

Ambassadors

Free

Have grace

Have love

Have purpose

Have eternal hope

Each one of those descriptions speaks to my heart and mind…reminds me of who I am and Whose I am.  There is always hope.

Dearest, you are loved beyond measure. 

Nothing can change that fact.  

And certainly not a little box on a form.

Growing My Grassy Garden and Other Things

I’m a gardener-wannabe.  I have so many friends who have flourishing gardens.  Alas, I have a black thumb when it comes to gardening.  No one truly has believed me until now.  This summer, I have proof.  And it isn’t even the dead cherry tree in the side yard.   My yard is full of clover and dry ground and my vegetable garden is growing the most beautiful green grass you could ever imagine!  What is up with that?

I guess maybe my black thumb only applies to things I’m actually intentionally trying to grow.  Apparently the things I’d prefer not to grow…those I have a greener than green thumb for!  Weeds, clover and grass, but only where it isn’t supposed to grow.  I’ve been joking that there has to be a great blog topic in this…and maybe even a really super spiritual application.  I don’t have it yet – maybe as I ramble it will hit me.

I have found that God very often, if not always, uses the things that are going on in my life to reveal something about my walk with Him.  There is no denying that everything does indeed work together to point ME  to Christ.  When I’m paying attention I see it clearly.

So I will share the biggest issues I have right now…and I’m kind of ashamed to share it, but I’m struggling with trusting that God is going to show me what decision to make regarding my children’s education.  How I feel about each option depends on the day and sometimes what time of day…I just don’t know what is best and I don’t know what God would have me do.  And there are deadlines and money issues and preparation issues…there are so many things to consider. And, honestly, I don’t know what to do?!

Let me share why this is so silly.  Last week my oldest had a change of heart about the college he had chosen.  We prayed and can I tell you how God answered!!  He showed us very clearly that what my son was feeling was absolutely from Him…and He firmly shut the door to one place and flung open the door wide for him to be able to attend the school he really wanted to go to and even provided a scholarship!  God is so good.  SO, why am I struggling with trusting that He is going to show me what to do?  I confuse myself.

I still am not sure what this has to do with my lack of gardening ability.  Maybe, I need to recognize that there isn’t a perfect place to grow my children.  Maybe God is going to grow them wherever they are – whether it’s in the spot I consider “perfect” or a place I consider not the best at all.  You know…I know that.  I know that God is going to take care of my children, and yet I’m stressing over it.  So what’s new?  That’s my S.S.O.P. (Sue’s Standard Operating Procedure)

Eventually when I no longer have any giant decisions to make regarding my children, I’ll probably get it.  Although I’m hoping I’ll grasp the concept of trusting God sooner…I mean really trusting Him with all the stuff of my seconds, minutia of my minutes, and drama of my days.

This place where I live is definitely not the garden I’d planned.  And yet, I’m flourishing.  I’m growing stronger and even producing some lovely fruit..and even some rather pretty grass.

I’ve always said that the adjective that best describes my house is “sticky” – not the most sought after description I know.  But today, I feel like I might actually be living in the bottom of an old cracker box…full of crumbs and cracker dust.  Seriously, everywhere I look is a preponderance of dust.  Not sure what changed but…dang!

Recently I have had SO much to do and SO little time to do it.  It isn’t like that is unusual for me, but this time I have a contractual deadline for a project so I gotta get it done and I can’t just do my usual fly by the seat of my pants thing.  I must do this really well.  Actually I’d prefer to do everything really well.

Last month was crazy busy. I don’t think I’ve ever understood that phrase to the extent that I do now.  Between end of the school year activities, room mom responsibilities, senior graduation and all the accompanying  things, parties, birthdays, 3 trips out of town to help with my parents’ health issues, and…oh yeah…I got the first edits of a big project in the middle of it all.  Nothing like “perfect” timing.  I must believe that God has this all under control because I most definitely do not.

I seem to be back in my sleep-a-little, work-a-lot mode.  And unfortunately, as I’m working so hard on so many things, my house gets dustier and dustier and dustier. The dishes get done, the laundry gets done and meals get made.  Well….meals…hmmmm…I feel like I’m not doing the best job on that front either…thankfully I have children who are good eaters because I’m throwing veggies and fruit at them all the time to make up for the lame meals I’m preparing.  I’m blessed to have understanding children…who are also quite good at flying by the seat of their pants!

See I am helping my children without even realizing it!  I’m helping them be flexible, spontaneous and not easy flustered by unexpected scheduling issues.  I love how God can take one of my many flaws and turn it around to something kinda positive.

So now I’m figuring out how to breath better in the midst of my sticky,dusty chaos…I’m trying to chill a bit.  Do any of you struggle with chillin’?  I’m finding it incredibly difficult not to feel like I’m in a whirlwind mentally, emotionally, and even physically lately.  I believe it all begins with simply too much to think about, consider, deal with and decide.  I’m wanting a mental break not a mental breakdown.  Being mentally overloaded tends to make me feel emotionally spent as well.  I feel frazzled and a bit hopeless in my outlook which tends to make me either sad or fussy depending on the situation or day.  All that mental and emotional baggage makes my bed lumpy so I don’t tend to sleep well.  I have some silly health issues which make sleep imperative so if I don’t get sleep I worry about my health and then I feel worse. Know what I mean?  Mind games…and not fun ones.

Thankfully, I feel like I’m coming out on the other side of my little black rain cloud…or maybe I should say my funnel cloud.  And it isn’t because things have necessarily gotten “better,” but I believe I’ve gotten better at dealing with things – those blasted things that destroy my peace, overwhelm me and make my house dusty.

My faith is strengthening me –  God has not abandoned me.  I’m continually learning to trust Him.  He is working all this for good in my life because I love Him.  My friends are strengthening me with kind and encouraging words…and also a few “put your big girl pants on” words.  My children are strengthening me simply because I love them so dearly and want to give them my best.  They don’t need a whiny, fussy, overwhelmed mommy!  And I am putting on my big girl pants because I want to be the best woman and mom I can be.

I must get my focus off of the chaos and onto the hope God gives me.  And I’ll have to get used to the dust because the to do list isn’t shrinking anytime soon!