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Mother’s Day Thoughts

Mother's Day Blog PicWhen 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!

 

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Good Friday

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.

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A Father’s Love

Jeremiah 29.11Mr. 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.

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Joy and Pain

Romans 12.12Over 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.

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Envy

 

 

Peace Pic

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.

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Unwanted Gifts

Birth of Jesus Blog Pic

How do you handle it when what God provides is not what you want?  I’ve been meditating on this thought through this season of gift-giving. What do we do when we are given a “gift” that is unexpected?  Unwanted?  Unwelcome?

As I read the Christmas story, I thought about Mary.  Imagine being given the gift of pregnancy when you are a virgin.  Imagine traveling with your betrothed and giving birth in a shelter God provided, but not a clean house. Imagine receiving the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh from benevolent strangers, foreshadowing the gift of a Savior dying on a cross. Mary said “I am the Lord’s servant… May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38) She graciously accepted her part in God’s narrative but life was not easy for Mary.

Many years ago God provided our family with a tiny 2 bedroom/1 bath 800 square foot condo.  Mr. K and I had 3 energetic little kids and a cranky cat and I was thankful, but I knew I could be a much better wife and mother if I lived a bigger house.  It was my constant prayer.  I reminded God daily that He could do better and 12 years later, God answered.  We moved to a bigger house and the waiting years created in me an understanding (I am a slow learner) that it did not matter where I lived if my heart was discontented with what I had.

The blessings that God provided were my husband and children, and as much as I thought I was grateful for them, it took the years of waiting to show me how God provided everything I needed.  I learned so many lessons in humility and patience while waiting for God to move us out of our condo.  Waiting time is not wasted time with God.

He is Immanuel, “God with us!”  Through death and divorce, cancer and chronic illness, betrayal and abandonment, Jesus is with us.  Are we willing to receive the gifts God has for us and like Mary, accept what God provides with humility?  Even in grief we can have gratitude because we have a Savior who is acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3).  Look closely at what God has provided for you.  May the peace of God be with you as you remember the true Gift of Christmas with a humble and grateful heart.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

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Head Tapes

Blog Head Tapes Picture

My kids seem to need a soundtrack from the moment they wake up until they sleep. They play music in the car, while they do their homework, when they exercise and even when they walk through the house. Many years ago there were things called cassette tapes which would be put into a cassette player to listen to some great 80’s music. Now of course, there are all kinds of ways to listen to music with iPods, MP3 players and even cell phones.  As easy and accessible as these forms of music recordings are, old-fashioned cassettes are what I picture when I say to myself, “Stop playing those negative tapes in your head!”

All of us have an ongoing internal dialogue throughout the day.  I talked with a few friends about what they say to themselves and here are some negative head tapes they shared with me:

“I can’t handle this!”

“I’m going crazy!”

“Why me?”

“I messed up.”

“I don’t deserve this good thing happening to me. Something bad will happen now.”

And the ever-popular name-calling, “I am stupid, clumsy, lazy…”

My personal collection includes two hit tapes, “Depressing Thoughts,” and “Anxiety!”  I have found that it doesn’t help to stop playing a negative tape.  What needs to happen is a replacement recording.

Depressing Thoughts

Aside from my daily bible reading, prayer time and listening to sermon messages, there are a few things I do when my spirit is down.  I count my blessings. If I am having negative thoughts about my body for example, I thank God that I have two healthy feet so I can walk on my own.  I have eyes to see and ears to hear and mind that can think.  There are so many other things to be grateful about but that is a start.

Another thing I do when I am depressed is praise God.  I listen to worship music and sing at the top of my voice while I am doing housework or driving. When I don’t have any words, I read the psalms out loud and that eases my sorrow.  Sometimes it takes a few hours, or it may take a few days but that is how I get through my low times.

Anxiety

For anxious thoughts that begin with “What if…” I say to myself, “If it is not happening now, it is not happening,” and that gets me through the moment.  When I feel overwhelmed and think, “I can’t handle this!” I replace it with “This is hard, but I can do it.”  Deep breathing, relaxation exercises, praying and meditating on God’s word are other tools that help in my battle with anxiety.  Challenges make me fret and I may not be able to stop negative thoughts from popping into my head but I am learning I have the control to replace the negative head tapes.

Maybe one day my unhelpful head tapes will be moldy oldies and I will have a continuous new soundtrack of affirming tapes to share like my favorite 80’s classic tape collection!