I did it again.

Do you ever do it?  I do.  Sometimes too many times in one day.

I know it is not good.  But at times I feel it is the only option.

What about you?

I am talking about escaping.  Running away.  Allowing the overwhelming parts of life to overwhelm to the point of hiding. 

How do I hide or escape?  My go-to escape is Facebook.  I hate it.  I have this love/hate addiction to Facebook.  The worst part is I think I can control it, and well I can’t.

So when life is crazy here, when I want to yell (and sometimes after I yell) I turn to cope with Facebook.  I don’t stop and realize that Jesus is right there in the midst of my being overwhelmed.  I don’t stop and pray that He would give me what I need to deal with what I am running from.  I run.  I hide.

So, today I deleted Facebook off my phone.  I admit, it may not be permanent, but for now it is necessary.  I need to face life.  I need to be here.  I need to deal with the hand I am dealt and not cope by entering the alternate reality of Facebook.  You know?

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who had been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.  Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence , so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Hebrews 4:15-16

Oh, my.  I need to put this somewhere to remember, maybe a screen saver to stop me when I am tempted to run.

I serve a priest who knows about temptation, and while sometimes I might add “but not the temptation we face with children” – but really, those disciples were just like children!!  He faced trials and he never ran away, instead he ran into it.  He stood his ground or he went deeper. 

When I run I miss the chance to go deeper with my kids, with my struggle, with my need.  I miss it because I run away, and the moment is gone.

So, instead of running (for a while) I hope to stand firm, lean in to my struggle, and see where God leads me and what God teaches me.

Want to join me?

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Where to start

Recently, my dear husband and I have felt like we need to back up and start some things over.  What prompted this?  Well, when you realize you are still falling into destructive patterns, say when you fight, it is not a good thing.  Not when you are on the brink of your 15th anniversary.  You know?  So we had to go backward a bit, dig up some of the yucky and ask ourselves how can we do this different?

Well, one way is to get away more often.  The past, say two years, we have had about 6 dates I think.  Especially if you do not count the company Christmas Party, or similar things.  Because, honestly, who talks about deep stuff at the “crazy” company Christmas party?  Not me. (it is hard to get my husband to talk about deep stuff anytime, but especially not in front of people who know him!!)

 

So we took some time to talk about our marriage and where we are looking for changes.  We talked about what we each do well, and where we are needing some improvements.  It was good.

Next up, date night.  So fun to get away and catch a movie, but the best part was the plan to work on our family mission statement over some dinner.  I was impressed that when I told Robert he was in charge of planning the conversation, that this is what he wanted to do.  Floored is more like it. 

So I printed off a few things that I found on the internet to help guide us, and I did not really look at it prior to printing, I mean, we were walking out the door….

Mistake #1.  When you sit down to do this, you need to make sure the guide you are using is Biblically based, otherwise you will see words like happy, fulfilled, and fun throughout.  Not sure those are God’s call to us as believers.   Honestly, I think we could build a mission statement with a piece of paper, a pen and the Bible.  Really, that is the only guide we need.  But it is helpful to see some steps outlined as we go through this.  The most important part of this statement, though, is that it reflects the overall vision of God, his word.  It must be able to lay next to the Bible and support what it tells us we need to do, and how we need to live. 

So, this morning I went back to my search and found the Simple Mom’s version of a guide HERE.  LOVE it!!  I am printing this so that my husband and I can look it over and we can start again.  There are other great bloggers out these who have shared their journey through this, but for now, we are going to follow Tsh as she went through her journey and the steps she took.  I know we will end up in a good place for our marriage and our family!!

So, do you have a Family Mission Statement?  I am so sad to say we have never written one down.  We have talked about it many, many times – but I guess we felt like we were good.  Now that our kids are flying through childhood, approaching adolescence, it is not a desire any longer – it is a REQUIREMENT!!  Life is far to hectic and crazy to not have the main purpose defined, clearly. 

So we are off, to plan, to share and to create. 

Parenting 101 (Romans)

I keep thinking this parenting thing will get easy.  What a lie!  I mean, when people told me when I had 4 kids 5 & under – when they told me it did not get easier, only different, I was sure they were wrong.  How could it not get easier?  2 to 3 in diapers, the physical needs of 4 kids being met primarily by me.  How could it not get easier?  It must!!  It must!!

But, again, I was wrong.  And now, as I talk to Kristen who had 4 closer than mine and 4 years behind, I tell her “It does not get easier.”  When I call in distress I think she is realizing it does not get easier.  My distress is not over potty training.  It is not over biting, or hitting, or dirty diapers.  It is over heart issues.  Big stuff.  Eternal stuff, if you will.

My day Tuesday was ugly.  I sent her a quick email half way through to say “uggghhh” – a quick plea for prayer.  I do not want to battle my child every day, all day.  I want to love him.  Or do I?

All day, we battled.  All day I remembered the advice I doled out but a few days before.  “Woo him Kristen,” – my point that God woos us, he loves us.  He does not treat us like we deserve to be treated.  Our blessings are not directly linked to our good works.  Woo him.  I heard it, in my head, over and over.  But I could not live it.  Instead I yelled (a little), lectured (A LOT), and grasped for light at the end of this tunnel (Does it end???).

 

Then, I wake up at 5:30 today (Wednesday).  Why!!??  I am frustrated, trying to grab sleep back, and put it on.  I toss and turn.  Then I hear Romeo “crowing” outside.  And I am more frustrated. (one – I know I will not go back to sleep, two – I beat the rooster to wake up – Ugghhhhh) Looks like it is going to be day 2 – a repeat of yesterday,

So I slip out of bed, walk through a quiet house (rare here), make some tea, grab my Bible and BAM.  There He is, waiting for me.  Accident that I woke at this crazy hour?  I know, not.  He wanted me.  He wanted my mind clear and fresh, He wanted to pour some truth into my heart.

Romans 4:21 – being fully persuaded that God [has] the power to do what he [has] promised.

A look back at the promised God gave Abraham.  A man who loved God but had not law, not Christ.  Just loved and obeyed.  A promise to me and to my sweet son.  He will do what he has promised.  He will guide my steps as I parent.  If I go to him, he will steer me down the path I need to go.  He will fill my son with what HE wants to, if J is looking to Him.  God has the power to do all that he has promised.

Romans5:13b But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 

WOW!!  Sin is not taken into account.  Do I live by the law in my house?  Do I hold my son to the law?  Jesus abolished the LAW.  He took away the Law with his death.  We live by grace.  Do I parent by grace?  Do I live out the book Grace Based Parenting that I read years ago?  Or do I need to dust it off and have a refresher?  Do I show grace to J every time he messes up?  Anytime he messes up?

Thank goodness God does not parent like me!!  My sin is wiped clean.  Jesus defeated the law – and my sin is wiped clean by his death.  It is all about grace.  Grace.  Grace.  Grace – I need to keep reminding myself.  I do not feel it.  I do not want to pour grace to a boy who rolls his eyes, grumbles about EVERYTHING, hits his brother, shoves his sister, and did I mention rolls his eyes???  Grace for that?  Really, Lord? 

Ughhhh – Grace.  Grace. Grace.  I need to tattoo that on the back of my eyelids.  I need to see it every day, all day.  I need to offer more grace. 

Romans 5:20b But where sin increased grace increased all the more so that just as in reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Oh man.  You mean, by offering grace I might point to eternal life in Jesus?  You mean, that by wooing my boys heart, instead of bruising it will guilt, I might draw him deeper into the kingdom?  Not that I could really do that, I know it is not about me.  But my grace to him might reflect a God who offers is so much freely?  My grace is really HIS grace anyway.  My grace is a reflection of the REAL grace  – like a magnet – it draws other closer to HIM.  Oh man.

{Can you tell God woke me up for a reason, really though?  5:30?}

Finally, I turn back, I need to catch up in Chronicles.  And I see it again – a word to me.

1 Chronicles 5:13b We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.

This is David, talking about moving the Arc.  David.  Again, this Godly man – like Abraham in Romans.  David.  A man who God loved – and a man who loved God.  Two men who grasped what grace was.  They were given it, just like me.

They did not inquire and he did not bless their actions.  Truth to me : ask Him.  Daily, ask God for guidance on this parenting journey, and just maybe he will daily lead me as I lead these kids.  Just maybe he will give me the patience I need for that day, the kindness, the love, the GRACE. 

This morning was good.  I hope, next time I wake up early I do not toss and turn trying to grab hold of sleep – this time with Him was so much better than another hour or two of sleep.  This was real stuff.  Right where I am.  He met me there.  Right in my need of encouragement and promises.  God is good, all the time, even when your 10 year old rolls his eyes at you.

**Note – just another way God is amazing.  After I finished my time with God and my reading, I checked email and Kristen read the same passages this morning and typed many of them up and sent them to me with a brief message too.  God is so amazing – he knew I needed to hear these truths, twice even!!

Little Disciples

It is amazing how when our hearts are filled to be poured out again, there is so much to pour out!

Sally Clarkson talked a lot about disciple-ing (training & leading) our children instead of just disciplining (punishing).  Sometimes I fail to see that as my role as much as I should.  I know I am teaching them about God, daily.  We read our Bible, we apply it, we talk about it all the time – it is a REAL part of our lives – we live it.

But when they falter, when they fail, when they sin, sometimes I get distracted (frustrated) and maybe look at it like I am just doing a job for so many years and then I will be done.  Their failure sometimes  makes me think I am failing them too.  I am not really but it feels that way sometimes.  Sometimes it is hard to see a boy – almost young man – fail. 

And when he does I have a hard time processing it sometimes.  I have a hard time responding like I am training him to deal with failure and how to recover from it – instead I want to make him never want to fail again.  Not the healthiest approach, per haps.

But then I read

They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about he loaves; their hearts were hardened. Mark 6:51c-52

And it hits me.  These were Jesus’s best friends.  These were the men he was pouring his life into 24 hours a day.  Boy.  Jesus had kids too.  He had 12 of ‘em.  {in a sense if you will}

And those silly disciples were dense at times.  They failed to get it.  I know I have talked about this before, how these men are real men, like us – they fail.  They disappoint.  They question. 

And yet, Jesus rarely rebukes them.  I think in that moment after the feeding of the 5000, I would have blown a gasket if I saw their hearts were hardened and they did not get it.  Honestly, I think I have blown gaskets for much less.

But, He did not.  I should not.  He loved them.  He was probably often disappointed, but did he ever heap guilt on them?  Did he ever rebuke them, unless it was REALLY a big deal?  No.  He spoke in love.  He understood our sin nature far more than I do. 

So, as I disciple these little people, I see that I need to be more patient, loving, and less “gasket blowing”.  Really.  My kids get so much of it – they get it.  They love HIM.  They want to live for HIM, and yet they sin.  Kind of like someone else I know.  {Ahem}   Yet, Jesus still speaks truth into my heart, he loves me, he encourages me, and blesses me far beyond what I deserve or expect.  Shouldn’t I do the same for my children?

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Name It!

It never ceases to amaze me how sneaky the lies creep in.  You never see them coming.  All is well, things are rolling along, and then all of a sudden, there they are staring you in the face.

Today is like that.  This afternoon, as we ate lunch, we talked about how the disciples felt on this day.  How God may have felt on this day.  How we should feel on this day.  The day he was separated from all He knew – the day he was suffering for my sins.  The day he was in Hell.

But by late afternoon, I am bombarded with the lies in my head.  Lies of inadequacy.  Lies of not enough.  Lies of if only….

I was feeling completely overwhelmed, but not sure by what.  That should have been my first clue.  If I cannot identify what is plaguing me, then it is not okay, it is not natural, it is most likely a lie.  It is not worth this feeling of gloom and despair. 

And then, I saw the letters.  They were laying on the counter because they keep getting blown into the sink when the window is open. 

The letters.  T T R E G A I U D.  Jumbled they seem meaningless.  Kind of like my life – all mixed up at times.  In the wrong places I put things.  My focus, my energy, my hope.

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So while I stole a moment of quiet, had a cup of tea (yes, hot, and yes, it is in the 90’s today) I grabbed the letters.  I also grabbed the scrabble tile holder and set them on the table next to my tea time partner.  She asked me to spell TEA – and I was happy to find that word in those letters.

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Then I fixed them – all together – all in order.  All right.

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GRATITUDE

That is what they are supposed to spell.  They are to remind me in all things choose gratitude.  And I try.  I fail many times, but once in a while I catch myself and before I fail – I choose to thank.

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And then it hits me.  The origin of my feelings.  The root of my overwhelmed sense.  I have not thanked today.  Or yesterday. Or for too many days.   And yet, there are so many (too many if that is possible) reasons to thank – most of all this weekend. 

When we honor/celebrate the GIFT he gave us, and the promise it gives us!  And yet, I have been busy.  And when I get busy, I stop thanking.  I stop counting.  And because counting makes me, oh, so aware of all that I have to offer thanks for, I really need to do it.  But when I stop counting, I start dwelling on all that I do not have or do not know.  I borrow.  I borrow trouble from tomorrow instead of thanking for the lack of trouble I have today.  Make sense?

So I grabbed my journal.  And I started counting again….

~ an unplanned visit with a grandfather

~ a successful first JMG meeting

~ a breakfast from the coop, a lunch and dinner from the garden

~ time feeding the fish in the evening, on the dock with just Robert

~ screen doors that were fixed & the 3 sets of hands that did it

~ children who know what this weekend is all about {honestly it does not get any better than that}

So, I am not a “Name it and Claim it” kind of girl – not that kind of Christian, because honestly I cannot support it with the Bible.  But I am a name it kind of girl when I see the lies.  I have not been claiming HIS truth as I struggle with this feeling of being overwhelmed.  And it stops right now. 

I serve a Victorious Savoir!  Tomorrow in church I will proclaim along with all the others there – He HAS RISEN!!  And indeed he has.  So I am not overwhelmed, because God does not give me more than I can handle.  I am not lacking, because every good and perfect gift comes from him – and good and perfect can never be “not enough.”  And “if only…” is a myth and a lie.  I am…, I will…, I do…. – words of power and strength – because I am a daughter of the Risen King!!