Prayers of a Weary Mom: Five Minute Friday

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“Jesus, help me, please!”

This short phrase is uttered by me several times a day, most days. Sometimes through tears, often through clenched teeth. You would think it sounds bad, like my life constantly out of control but i actually consider it an improvement

Being a mom is hard, there is no other way around it. It doesn’t matter they style or flavor of your mothering experience this is a universal truth. I feel the need to clarify here, hard doesn’t be it’s all bad or never enjoyable. I means exactly what it says. Difficult.

One of the more challenging aspects of motherhood for me has been learning to ask for help. Not because I don’t need it, or even because I’m embarrassed at needing it (well, there is some of that) but because I don’t wan to inconvenience others. I don’t want to be THAT mom who is always dumping her kids and responsibilities on others. But somehow I mistakenly carried this pattern into my relationship with God. I’d plow through my days feeling angry, put upon and overwhelmed. But I never turned to the one person who could help me in the most important way. The one who could help change me.

When I pray for help, I know that I’m asking for a change in my situation, or often my children. But what I know in my heart, though it may not enter my mind as I pray those prayers of quiet desperation, is that more often than not I am the one who will change. My deepest desire isn’t just to get my children to behave, but that I would be the mom they need.

I unfairly project my own parenting failures onto the Father. I am frustrated when my child asks a question for the 100th time, but he is not. I may be exhausted because the baby was up crying at 3 AM and the preschooler had another nightmare, but he neither slumbers nor sleeps and is always available, providing us with his rest. I want to run and hide from my children because I feel so touched out, but his desire is to gather us under his wings. He never tires of hearing from us, spending time with us.

My pleas for help are not a bother or an annoyance. I want to be more like my perfect Father and the only way for this to happen is to continually ask for his help.

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Don’t Go back to Egypt or How Not to Be a Squirrel

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I was driving home the other night when a squirrel shot across the road in front of me. I slowed down and it had plenty of time to cross, but two thirds of the way over he did an about face and headed back again. Fortunately there was no traffic, so I stopped for him. But in that moment I thought to myself, I am that squirrel.

Because two weeks ago I heard a sermon. It was a good sermon with many good points, but the one in the beginning stuck with me most.

Why settle for a simple escape when God wants to provide a reversal of your situation?

I kept thinking this over and over to myself. Because we’ve faced some serious difficulties in the last couple of years. There have been tons of times I’ve wanted to escape (though usually only for little while). From negative situations, taxing relationships, my house, our debt, my family, my life. It felt like it was all too much. There were definitely dark nights of the soul when I could think of little else. I wanted God to magically take all my problems away or I wanted to flee those problems.
That night, as I saw that squirrel a single line came to mind.

“Don’t go back to Egypt.”

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The nation of Israel stood with the Red Sea in front of them and the army of Pharaoh behind them. Faced with the possibility of drowning versus capture, they thought a return to the former things, slavery and bondage, seemed preferable over what appeared to be certain death. They just wanted to escape. But God had a better way in mind. A way they could never have anticipated, one that their minds were unable to comprehend. If they had settled for simple escape they would have missed out on true deliverance.

That squirrel was almost there. But he couldn’t see it. All he could see the was oncoming car and he headed back where he came from.

What does Egypt mean to me?

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It’s a place of captivity but the illusion of security. Where problems are known but seem unconquerable, at least without outside intervention. Chances not taken, because of fear of failure. When I am so focused on praying for God to provide a way of escape (which admittedly he sometimes does), I am not always looking for his unexpected answer. A reversal that may seem improbable if not impossible; unanticipated, unpredictable, and unfathomable. Because that is the God we serve.
Don’t be the squirrel, look for the unexpected answer and face the waters head on. You are not alone.

 

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The One in Which I Admit The Good of Social Media

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I both love and hate social media. I joined Facebook several years ago in an attempt to connect with other moms. It seemed like I was always missing out on fun meet ups and other last minute stuff because I wasn’t part of it. But then I quickly realized the dangerous world I had been sucked into. Social media (especially Pinterest and Facebook, but others too) is great fodder for comparison. Because no matter how good my life is, I can see someone else’s perfectly filtered version of their day, and it usually looks better than mine.

But I also saw the potential for it to be a tool to build community. I’m on a number of private forums for homeschooling, fitness, mom stuff, etc. People that are strangers but still take the time to support each other with genuine comments and encouragement. I’m lucky to be part of a couple of groups that are virtually drama free, which I love. But in the last several months I’ve been seeing how amazing and online community can be first hand.

It started with our homeschool forum for the curriculum I use, Five in a Row. It’s a fun place to share ideas and ask questions. Earlier this year I asked if anyone knew where I could get some traditional Japanese wooden clogs in a child’s size. We were reading The Red Clogs and my daughter really wanted a pair. Amid the suggestions, someone chimed in and said she’d found a pair at a local thrift store. I offered to pay her, or at least cover the cost of shipping, but she insisted that she just wanted them to go to a good home. A few weeks later, a pair of wooden clogs arrived at my door with a sweet note all the way from Texas. (We live in the North East, so that wasn’t a cheap shipping bill).

Then last week, I got a note with a generous monetary gift from a member of the fitness forum I’m part of. (Fit2B Studio, which I’m discovering is about so much more than fitness). The note itself was so encouraging. She had read a post I’d shared about a difficult day with my little ones and my frustration with lack of progress in my body. So she sent me a gift and told me to treat myself to a dinner out or a new outfit that makes me feel beautiful.

I was floored for the second time. These people don’t know me in real life. But then I realized that the sign of a good online community is where you can share your frustrations and joys and receive genuine encouragement and support in return. While this will never replace face to face friends, an online community can be a wonderful asset and a huge blessing. While there are many downsides to the technological age, this is one of it’s positives. We don’t have to live down the street, to listen (or in this case read). Good advice and kind words can traverse the miles, across oceans and continents at times. Prayers know no distance.

So if you are like many of us, and social media is a part of your day, use it well. To build up, rather than tear down, to give rather than take and to surprise the world when it seems kindness is in short supply. Better yet, don’t just hit like, do something.

(If you are interested in Five in a Row or Fit2B Studio, feel free to click through and find out more. Some of these may be affiliate links. Thanks.)

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I Hold Too Tight: Five Minute Friday

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I spent so much of my life holding on so tight, to things and people. Not necessarily in a loving or appreciative way but in a strange, possessive way. Because I worried that there wouldn’t be enough. Whether it was money, time or love I was worried that there just wouldn’t be enough to go around. Three kids later I hold onto things a bit more loosely. (Though I’m challenged by that daily as my four year old destroys something else that once felt important to me, and I’m forced to remind myself that it is just stuff).

People are more important than things, I tell my daughter. (Also, that’s why you can’t beat your brother up when he crumples your drawing or messes up your stuff, as angry as it makes you.) My husband is a bit of a pack rat, he associates things with people and he is fiercely loyal to people. When I want to give something away or god forbid, throw it out, he has trouble letting go.

Maybe it’s the phase of life that I’m in. I’m constantly drowning in stuff and mess, so the idea of owning less and loving what I own is appealing. But people are more complicated. I’m having to be more deliberate and intentional about keeping up with people close to me. This isn’t always easy either, when I’m desperate to be alone most of the time. Making new friends is hard, and maintaining old friendship can be nearly as difficult, especially over distance. (I’m also married to a massive introvert for whom it takes great effort to agree to anything social after a long day/week at the office). It often feels like this time of life filled with little people who can or won’t do much for themselves, is destined to be a lonely one. I worry that I’ll find myself on the other side of fifty trying to start from scratch like I’m in high school again. (I wasn’t great at making friends then either).

I can’t go through life worried about what I might lose. Yes, it has hurt, the friends I have lost over the years. But the friendships I never gave a chance hurt too. Where I was too afraid, or too busy and I never really put myself out there. Because if I hold too tight to what I know, to what I have; I’ll miss out on too much.

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Fit2B Beginning (Again): Week 5

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I was hoping to be more consistent by now, but truthfully, I’m just barely getting through my workouts right now. (If I don’t quickly get my act together there is no way I’ll be able to review Week 6 next week). It’s not just a matter of building strength, it’s finding time. Because in my head, prioritizing exercise is the right thing to do. But the reality is that the urgent things in my life (baby that needs to nurse or nap, children that won’t stop whining or fighting until they are fed, bills to pay, laundry to do, etc) always seem to get in the way.

Thigh Workout II

It has been a long time since I’ve done this one. Last tried when I was in my third trimester, I didn’t have enough muscle control and flexibility to do the “Thigh Thing.” But now I can, while still keeping my core steady. It’s very encouraging. Yes, it is a tough workout, but not insurmountable if you’ve made it this far.

Plain Ol’ Pilates

While I definitely didn’t find it as relaxing or enjoyable as one of the Pilates in Pajamas routines; this is a good, solid Piilates workout. It reminded me of some of my favorite pre-Fit2B routines.
Kelly’s Total Body Toning

Ah, it’s good to see you again old friend. This is still one of my all time favorite workouts on Fit2B, because in less than half an hour, you get a full body workout with constant core reminders. I was pleasantly surprised how well I was able to engage and squeeze my core almost every time Kelly reminded me too. Yes, my lower back and shoulder blades were a little sore from some compensation, but when I put my hand on my stomach I felt my belly button pull inward almost every time. This is huge. My separation may not be shrinking the way I’d like and my stomach may not look any smaller, but here is an encouraging sign of growing strength. The arm routine section especially taxed my muscles, but sometimes it feels good to know you still have muscles places that feel so jiggly.
Tummysafe Gentle Blend

This is a gentle workout, but don’t confuse gentle with easy. Whenever I come back to this, I’m always struck by how physically demanding it is, while also being slow, steady and gentle. I had to workout, especially the side leg series, but it felt good to move for a longer period of time as well. Getting in longer workouts is so difficult, but it’s also something I know I need to do to grow my strength and endurance.
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Totally Transverse

Basic Step Aerobics

Since my DR has not been making the progress I’d like, I was happy to see Totally Transverse back in the schedule. Plus, I’ve been looking forward to doing step aerobics again. I really like Basic Step and I was able to pick up most of the combinations fairly easily, except for the turns at the end, which really through me. (I’ve always found mirroring turns hard). I’ll definitely be coming back to this one. Once you’ve grown stronger, you might even be able to add some light weights to this, for an upper body challenge.

 

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