Thursday, March 10, 2016

When nothing is delivering...

I am tired. I am sure it has something to do with being 34 weeks pregnant with two toddlers, but I still somehow think I can beat it. I am internally blaming my thyroid or my diet or lack of exercise. But maybe I just need to call it what it is... my body is exhausted and there's not much I can do about it besides wait for this baby to arrive.

Being the fixer that I am, I have been seeking solutions to my fatigue issue. I have prayed for supernatural energy, pored over blogs seeking some sort of inspiration, read parenting books (my parenting isn't so great as of late), taken naps, guzzled coffee... all of the above. I want a quick fix for this problem and nothing is delivering.

At what point do we tap out? At what point do we kind of say, "well, this is my life right now. It's not ideal, but it is what it is." Not in a lazy way... I think more so in a, "this is my situation. I can't change it. What is God wanting to do with this?"

Maybe I need to drop some things... I already feel like I don't do much... but then there are things that really just  need to get done (dishes, laundry, dinner, etc.) I don't exactly know where to draw the line on what my boys need from me. Are they really content with endless sitting on the couch and reading stories? Are they happy enough with doing stickers every single day? (Notice I choose activities where I can do a lot of sitting).

I chose the word "faithfulness" for this year and I definitely believe "faithfulness" is a word that is fluid, changing with the seasons of life. What faithfulness looks like as a 34-week-pregnant mom with two toddlers is a lot different from what faithfulness will look like three months from now, or three years from now. Knowing that it is fluid, I can only trust God to show me... I have been praying Psalm 143:8- Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

God... let me hear... Lord... make me know. Because I clearly do not. None of my usual fixes are helping. I am tired. You know this. You have given me my situation- my boys, my pregnancy, my home. You are real and present. I don't know which way to go, but I trust you.

Here's to hoping in the future that this is the first place I turn- Lord, show me what faithfulness looks like today. Rather than after I have exhausted every other worldly resource.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Running for Presents

This morning, on our way to the grocery store, I drove by the church where I vote to see if there was much of a line. Thankfully, there were only two cars in the parking lot so we were able to pop in and out in less than three minutes. I did my civic duty with both boys in tow and all were rewarded with stickers.

As we were pulling out of the parking lot, Chief (my almost-four-year-old) proudly declared (or so I thought), "Mama, I want to run for president someday!"

To which I responded, "that is a very important goal! I think you can do it. It will take some hard work and important choices, but you can do it."

His ever so confident reply? "Yes. I know I can. I am very fast. I will run for the present and be first so no one else can have it. I will win."

So, we have confidence down. Generosity? We are working on it. As far as how democracy is conducted in our country? Maybe by the time he is 18.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Just so I will remember...

That is an entire tube of my favorite shade of coral lipstick. 

This comes shortly after my (almost) four-year-old was sitting in my lap and peed on me.

Some days this life feels a little surreal.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The downward spiral...

So often I catch myself defining my entire day by a single moment. I often joked when I was teaching that whether or not I said my day was good or bad depended entirely on how my last class of the day went. As if those 50 minutes somehow negated the previous seven hours.

I have learned since staying home with the boys that my days are filled with moments of joy and frustration, ups and downs, laughter and tears (sometimes mine, sometimes theirs). It's nearly impossible to sum up a day with one succinct word. Not to mention I am currently getting next to no sleep (being 31 weeks pregnant comes with a slew of challenges to tackle) which doesn't help me to respond reasonably to otherwise normal situations.

I recently read Gretchen Rubin's book on Habits and she devoted a great deal of time to the common belief that we all think one simple mistake ruins the day, so we might as well call it a wash. For instance, if you're trying to eat healthy and show up to work only to see that someone has oh so kindly decided to supply the entire office (or teacher's lounge) with a box of donuts, the temptation would be to eat a donut and then eat whatever you want the rest of the day, since you've already screwed it up.

I think I do that with my attitude... I've already started the day on a downer, so my tendency is to call the day a wash and switch to survival mode, rather than allowing myself a "reset."

Calling the day a wash and defining the day by a single moment is definitely not the kind of message I want to send to my kids... and it is far from biblical. We trip and fall and stumble millions and millions of times, only to be assured that we are still loved, still forgiven, and still fully equipped for every good work. God's mercies are new every morning and it's always morning somewhere.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

What doesn't kill you makes you hopeful...

I am aware that the phrasing of this post's title isn't correct... at least not if you're a Kelly Clarkson fan or even if you're into cutesy magnets or bumper stickers. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. That's the line.

There are analogies for this... when you break a bone, for instance, that part of the bone heals and the site of the break is stronger. I could go into the biological details of this... throwing out terms like "osteocyte" to show how smart I am and that, hey, I went to college. But I might just ask you to trust me and that I know what I'm talkin' 'bout. Mk? Also, ask successful married couples about what makes their marriage work, and they will most likely reference a difficult season in their marriage. A "breaking point" that they chose to endure, rather than (for the sake of analogy) "killing" the marriage.

But I don't know that this is the end goal. At least not for Christians. Romans 5 says that suffering produces endurance. I get this. We learn to endure by pressing into Jesus and our community, pouring over scripture, praying, whatever. It doesn't stop there, however. Paul goes on to say that endurance then produces character. I think this where we, and Miss Clarkson, choose to stop. It makes us stronger. It makes us better people. This is the secular view of justifying suffering. Although I have known people who have came out of suffering for the worse (embittered, angry, calloused) there are numerous stories of people coming out "stronger" or more gracious, understanding, patient. So, in a sense, they come out "stronger." But Jesus doesn't want to stop with our character. The passage says that "character produces HOPE and hope does not put us to shame."

This is a little confusing. We start with suffering and along the way learn to endure and develop better character... and the end result is hope. Hope in what?

Jesus. His return. His dependability. His unchanging nature. We hope in the fact that, despite all of the chaos and confusion in the world, He is still who He says He is and He is still for our good. And we surrender in our suffering by accepting it as being allowed by God so that we can become more like Jesus... even if we never know the reason for our suffering. We can respond like Job- who ended up still praising God despite NEVER know the origins of his suffering... or like Job's wife- cursing God and begging her husband to turn his back on his Creator. Because when Paul says in Romans 8:28 that God works all things together for our good... he goes on in verse 29 to say that this "good" is that we be conformed to the image of Jesus. That is our hope. That is why we do not become untethered and emotional by the state of the world or the small disruptions throughout our day. Because all suffering is for our good... which is making us more like Jesus, giving us more hope, reminding us of our good, good Father.

This is how I can go through my day with open hands... knowing that interrupted naps, unplanned stomach bugs, family drama and a tight budget are all for my good- which ultimately is making me more hopeful and more Christlike. Because God says it is... and everything He says is true.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

trust.

There are so many times in a day where I throw my hands up in the air... almost as if to say, "I can't do this." It's true that I can't... and I am reminded of that far more often than I would like to be.

I've been thinking about the word "trust" a lot lately. We tell our boys that we discipline them because we love them and that they can trust us because we want what is truly the best for them.

Every time I say this, I think, "we are basically indoctrinating them. We are setting their standard for 'trust.' They have no real reason to know whether or not to trust us." I'm not exactly a cynical person... I tend to give the benefit of the doubt and am usually surprised when people let me down. Which is funny... given my tendency to withhold my trust from God.

We have had a fairly serious situation arise in my family recently. As usual, I make a plan, tell everyone what I think they should do and how it should be handled, and then get frustrated when things don't go my way. It's usually at this point in my cycle of alleged control that I find myself, once again, with my hands in the air declaring, "I can't do this!" This is when I decide all there is that's left to do is trust God.

I say I believe the Bible is 100% true. All of those  verses about God's goodness, wisdom, faithfulness, unchanging character... I have several memorized and spout them off to my children throughout the day. But, when it's go time, there I am again, frustrated.

if I believe that I have no good apart from the Lord (Psalm 16:2), that He answers me and delivers me from my fears (Psalm 34:4), that He is my refuge, my fortress, my God, in whom I trust (Psalm 91:2), why is it that I believe in my small, finite self? I believe that me, with my limited knowledge and abilities, can really lean on my own understanding? Doesn't Proverbs 3 say that if I acknowledge Him in all my ways, HE is the one who will make straight my paths? I'm not capable of this on my own... which I find myself realizing time and time again.

So, here I am again, preaching God's wisdom and trustworthiness to myself... believing He is really the source of wisdom. I may not see His hand working all things together for my good and for the good of those who love Him, but His word says He is. He has proved Himself time and time again for all of eternity and has proved His love for me by sending His Son. I think that is worth resting in and trusting... knowing I can cast my anxieties on Him, since He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Because it's been a minute...

I haven't written in quite some time.

Most of my writing takes place in my journal... it's very harebrained and nonsensical with a few coherent thoughts, prayers and Bible verses included. My most recent entries are comprised of my inability to make a single New Year's resolution. I think it's the Type B in me that fights any idea of goal-setting. I am a fairly driven person... I do things if they make sense. I am an intense researcher and am willing to commit to a change in diet or exercise or method of parenting if I can justify it with lots of facts. So, that might be why I struggle so much with resolutions. They seem arbitrary... January seems arbitrary. All of that to say, I did pick a word for 2015... and it was "Rest" or "Abide." I allowed everything else to fall under the umbrella... I was going to focus on resting in Jesus and abiding in the Holy Spirit... so, when it came to goals or diets or planning, I prayed about it. A lot. And I can say that, despite a fairly difficult year, I never really felt out of control. There were fleeting moments where I felt untethered... but in my mind I never felt like I was in a place of unrest. I was able to rest in the fact that God was not surprised by what was happening and that he actually ordained it... that his not answering specific prayers was for a reason that my brain could not comprehend. Sometimes his denial of grace in our lives is actually a much larger grace that we cannot yet see. I am starting to see small glimpses of that but, in the meantime, I am trusting that he is, as he always has been, good.

For 2016 instead of choosing one word I chose two... a phrase I suppose. "Faithful obedience." Everything can fall under that umbrella. Even when I do not understand, I will act in faithful obedience and continue to trust that God's word is, as it always has been, true and he is for my good and his glory. That means being faithful in the great commission... inviting neighbors over. It also means being faithful in my marriage... pursuing my husband. Faithfulness by taking care of my body, mothering my children, loving my church family... all of these are simply ways I can obey God and show him to the world around me. Not because I am placing my hope in having a great marriage, body or obedient children... but because my hope is in Christ and what he did for me. That is the only way I can be obedient.