When Mr. K and I became parents for the first time, no amount of reading, talking and planning prepared us for the life-changing experience of having a child. I loved everything about being a new mom but it was the most demanding job I ever had. My faith, patience, and stamina were tested daily and relentlessly. I remember saying over and over again, “Am I doing this right?!” Each time I figured out potty training, bed time routines, or discipline techniques, a new phase would come along with each child and I felt like I was learning how to parent all over again.
God met with me early in the mornings during my prayer time to give me wisdom. God encouraged me in the middle of the night when I changed and fed my babies. We had frequent meetings in the bathroom where I shut myself in to have a minute to think and breathe and pray, “Jesus, help me!” until little fingers wiggled under the door and little voices said “Mommy are you in there?” And He did help me.
Little by little my exhausted self-consciousness was chipped away and what remained was a single-minded focus: parenting with a purpose. Each day I worked on teaching the kids how to resolve conflicts, to speak kindly and work together with patience and love. I stopped thinking so much about “am I doing this right” to “how am I going to teach the kids good character?” It was a subtle but tremendously important shift in my perspective and this is what I learned. Time has a way of moving forward whether we are ready or not. Kids grow into adults with or without our best effort, and there is no guarantee of how they will turn out. Being a mom is a responsibility that needs lots of help and prayer and grace.
I hope God meets you where you are, in the chaos or the quiet of your home. He has words of wisdom and encouragement for you. This time will pass. There is no better mom than YOU for your child, so be brave! Have faith! All will be well!
Life does not always progress in the way we plan. Whenever I feel like asking “WHY, GOD?!” I think of the disciples and what they thought when Jesus was on the cross. Life did not go the way they thought it would either, so I think I am in pretty good company there.
It is ok to sit awhile in mourning during hardships. Our finite minds need time to process the circumstances and work through what we know to be true. God allows this mourning. God understands this pain. God is with us even when it feels like He has abandoned us. People will betray us and run away from our grief, but God will never forsake us even when we cannot feel his presence.
Here is the difference for those who believe in Jesus Christ: no matter how dead our Friday is, we have hope in Resurrection Sunday. But we cannot skip the long, dark hours of Friday night and the grieving hours of Saturday.
It has been a difficult time for our family as Mr. K has been out of work for 16 months, but we have hope in a living Savior. We know how the story ends better than the disciples did on that long ago day at the cross. We know Jesus is alive! That is how we get through each day as we wait in hope. We wait in faith. We wait in love.
This is a post I wrote a few years ago, but I wanted to re-post it as we will celebrate 30 years of marriage next month. Adult children are a blessing beyond anything I could have imagined when they were born. Praise God!
When our three kids were much younger, I got through the hard days by asking myself, “In twenty years what will it matter?” Well, Hubby and I have passed that 20-year mark on the life-long journey of parenting. Our two girls are in college and the little baby boy is 16 years old and 12 inches taller than me. We have passed through diapers, tantrums, and spilled milk at the dinner table. We are completely done with the heavy duty parenting of babies, toddlers, tweens… and almost done with teenage years. It is a great spot to look back and see how far we have come.
Obviously, the kids don’t know about the sleepless nights I spent feeding a newborn every 2 hours; the worry over fevers and finances; the loop in my fatigued brain saying, “Am I doing this right?” They remember an inflatable pool on our cement patio; donuts on Saturday mornings and wrestling with daddy before bedtime.
Now we look back at twenty years worth of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and realize there are no more bath nights and bedtime stories. The training wheels are done, tiny black tap shoes were sold at a garage sale and the tooth fairy will not visit anymore. They are having adventures on their own, but we still have a little more family time to treasure on our journey with our three young adults walking tall beside us.
Mr. K has been out of a job for 6 months. We never thought it would take so long for him to find a job and there is no way to know how much longer it will be. It is difficult to see a talented, hard-working man not be used to his full potential in a work-place environment, though he has been very productive at home and helpful to many others in his volunteer services.
The waiting is difficult, but the understanding of God’s timing is not. There are many examples of God staying his hand to answer prayer so we take comfort from these examples in the Bible. We believed in God’s faithfulness when Mr. K had a job, why would we stop now? We knew God loved us when Mr. K had a job, does he loves us less now? Of course not, that would be ridiculous! God is rich in mercy, overflowing with grace, giving us His best every day.
The other day, Mr. K drove over an hour to drop off a care package for The Boy who is working as a counselor at a Christian camp for the summer. They didn’t get to see each other there, but The Boy texted later to say thank you. He wrote, “You got all my favorites! How did you know I was almost out of gum?” A father knows what his son loves. A father goes out of his way to meet his son’s needs and to make him feel loved and special. There is nothing Mr. K wouldn’t do for the Boy and over the years he has proven his love, care, and sacrifice over and over again. God loves us the same way. We trust God knowing that our value is not in what we do but in who we are in Christ Jesus. The job will come when the timing is right.
When people earnestly say “It takes a village to raise a child,” I know they mean it. But their actions seem to change the sentiment into, “It takes a village to raise MY child.” It can be disheartening to hear entitled speeches and media posts filled with people living for themselves without a thought for their struggling neighbor.
I’ve been blessed to work with so many unselfish people over the years. Moms who work full-time yet still become president of the PTA. Men who coach soccer, baseball and football even when they don’t have a child on the team. People who work in service organization to support schools and donate countless volunteer hours to students. But there are many people who look to their own family and do only what serves their own children.
There are kids in our “village” who don’t have elders to help them. That is when neighbors, teachers, friends and other capable and kind adults can step in to say, “I will help you.” Very early on in our parenting, a wise mentor told Mr. K and I that if we were blessed to have our family, then we ought to see how we can bless other children who didn’t have our same network of support. Parenting is hard work. It becomes harder still when we feel isolated or overloaded with stress and that is when we need each other most.
Politics and policies don’t matter to children who need the help we can give them today. Be aware of what you can do with what you have for the people in your life right now – especially those who cannot help themselves. To paraphrase a famous quote, let’s not ask what our village can do for us, but what we can do for our village.
Over the last few weeks we have had a couple of weddings, two graduations (one more tomorrow), two birthdays, a funeral, and the tragic death of a student who attended the high school where I volunteer. There has been joy and pain, celebration and mourning, and in the background of it all, the continuous job search for Mr. K who has been out of a job for 5 months now. The bigger things put the smaller things into perspective. Death has a way of doing that – making our thoughts come to a full stop. We ask each other, “Are you okay?” feeling our emotional parts as if we had a bad fall. “Is anything broken? Can you move forward?”
People often think about God when bad things happen. It is right to think about God when people die because He is the Creator and we wonder what happens to His creatures when there is no more breath. We think about the fragility of life, at least I do. I feel like we are held together with bubblegum and duct tape. “Are you okay?”
We live through brokenness and our bodies survive abuse, but a delicate skull can get crushed, and a heart can stop beating suddenly. Our next breath may be our last without preparation or notice. What is important? What should we focus on? Life goes on whether we want it to or not. Children need to be fed, the trash needs to be gathered and put on the curb, and love needs to be shared. “Are you okay?”
My 90 year old mom has seen her share of the joy and pain of life. I said to her how tragic it is when young people die and she gently disagreed with me. “Young or old, death is death,” she said. “A young person is spared the pain of living in this world, and that is good,” she explained. “An older person has enjoyed a long life, and that is good.”
We mourn our loved ones and we ask, “Are you okay?” Then we check the bubblegum and duct tape and take a deep breath.
When I was a young mom I met a lovely woman at church who was the epitome of everything I admired. She was smart, friendly, and kind. She had a wonderful husband and family, an interesting job, and she was as pretty as a model. She invited me over for lunches and we had play dates with our kids in her spacious home. I envied her uncluttered house. I envied her huge yard. I envied HER. It was a struggle for me in my dumpy, lumpy, frumpy state to see her have all the things I wanted for myself and I had to pray for God to help me with my attitude. My friend was transparent in sharing her life with me and I saw that there was nothing fake or contrived about her. She was genuinely sweet and wise and deeply spiritual, but I found out that her life was not as simple and charmed as I thought.
She told me about her medical issues, financial difficulties, and problems with extended family members. I was heartbroken to learn about the abuse she suffered in her childhood. She shared her life with me as a testimony of how God carried her through her many trials. I saw her blessings and assumed it had all been easy for her, but I didn’t know about all she went through. It is just like when I see the pictures and events people post on Facebook which are the highlighted moments and not the whole story.
No one is exempt from trials. Christ followers do not live in an isolated blessing bubble. I sure don’t. People may think my life is perfect but they do not know about my hardships. I am exceedingly grateful for what I have and I do not envy anyone their blessings because I do not know what soul-shaping events they went through that I never want to experience myself. When the hard days come, I will praise God for my blessings, hold tight to His peace, and post my highlights on Facebook.