Faith

Though the Darkness Comes, I Am Not Alone: Five Minute Friday

29974929944_21f811db0e_o

Photo Credit: R J Ruppenthal Flickr via Compfight cc

 

I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in nearly two weeks. We’ve been virtually house bound (except for a 20 minute run to the grocery store) for nearly two weeks. First came the snow, then the respiratory infection my daughter had. Followed by the stomach bug that hit both the big kids and my husband. My daughter became so dehydrated we thought we were going to the emergency room. Now the baby has a nasty cold. Definitely not the week I had planned.

I know these are just part of parenting. I feel like, for the most part, I’ve accepted it. But this time was different. I could feel my nerves wearing thin by the fourth night of getting up with one vomiting child or another. When I have to leave the door open and I don’t really sleep because I know the minute I close my eyes, someone will need me. It is exhausting.  It has been such a challenge for me to sleep in this new house, it still doesn’t fully feel like home.

There are so many things I want to be doing and things I feel like I should be doing. Instead I’m tackling the 18th load of laundry and disinfecting everything in sight. I found myself angry at my daughter yesterday because she didn’t like the food I made for her (though she had requested it). I snapped at my son when he decided to serve himself soy milk into multiple glasses and onto the table. Even the baby, who is usually my happiest and most easy going child, threw his lunch on the floor. (I guess nothing tastes good when your nose is stuffy and you can’t blow it).

I have never been great at embracing this part of parenting. I love the cuddling babies, the connecting with my big kids. The light in their eyes when they learn something new. But the drudgery and monotony gets to me. I also have trouble with the way an illness just derails life. I want to be the nice person who doesn’t spread the germs so I have to be the mean mom that makes everyone miss their activities. Some women rise to the occasion at times like this. I always survive (as does everyone else) but just barely.

Instead of leaning into the difficult moments, and soldiering on, I find myself holding my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop and praying like crazy that things will just return to normal.Because this crazy life is hard enough without everything being derailed indefinitely until the bug of the month has had its fill of terrorizing my family and moves on.

I want to be able to learn to feel the embrace of the Father during times like this. I am not alone. I don’t know why some of my prayers whispered in desperation in the dark weren’t answered. I’m grateful for the one’s that were. I watched my children sit at the dinner table last night and I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Yes, they were driving me crazy, but they were all there. The baby isn’t throwing up, though his nose is stuff. My son is fully recovered. My husband is back at work again. My daughter averted an ER visit and is showing interest in normal food again. For this I can be thankful. Until next time, I continue to try and hear His voice amid the daily chaos, hoping that when the difficult times come again, I will feel His presence more.

embrace--600x600

five-minute-friday-4

Categories: Faith, Five Minute Friday, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Loving With Abandon, Serving Without Bitterness: Five Minute Friday

33076178412_67df4fda69_b

Photo Credit: Calpastor Flickr via Compfight cc

Parenthood has a way of making things both clear and confusing at the same time. It quickly revealed to me my worst qualities, while also showing me how much I am really capable of. But as I approach my eighth year of parenting, I continue to find myself analyzing my reactions.

When the children are small (or in the case of my older two, not quite as small as they used to be) it is easy to feel like a victim. Maybe this isn’t your experience. But I have found myself struggling with bouncing between the extremes of selfishness and martyrdom. Yes, I have needs, and burning myself out (and feeling bitter about it) isn’t useful to my family. But at the same time, I am not entitled to my “me time” either.

Even the church can’t seem to make up its mind. After generations of telling women to sacrifice all for their families, now the pendulum swings the other way and we see women willing to abandon their families for a “higher” calling of ministry. (Let me be clear here, I am not criticizing women who work outside the home or are heavily involved in ministry. Those things aren’t good or bad. It is what we do with them, and the attitude in which we do it that the issue lies).

I find myself in the place again looking at how to love sacrificially. How can I learn to love them with abandon? What does this look like in my life? The only example I can look to is Christ is his time on earth. Why only him? Because he did take time for himself yet he was without the sin of selfishness. We see in the scriptures that sometimes he prioritized self-care for both himself and his disciples. But I doubt Jesus looked as his disciples and uttered the words “Ok, I’ve had enough of you. This is ‘my time.’ Get out of my face.” (Not that I’ve EVER said that, and I’m sure you haven’t either, right? wink wink).

So how did he do it? The Father was his source. He had a mission, and he constantly communed and touched base with the Father to keep him on course. This is something I can do as well. I can serve my children, my family, and my ministry obligations and still take care of myself. But I need to be continually listening for the still small voice so I can learn when to stand aside and when to press forward. Not because of my own selfish desires but because I have become attuned to the voice of the Father as Jesus was. Then I can love and serve without expecting anything in return and without worrying that the well will run dry. Because I am connected to the source and allowing myself to be continually replenished.

This will look different in each life. For me right now, it looks like pursuing silence, listening closely, deep breaths and constant attitude adjustment. May you find what it looks like for you, so you can love with abandon.

abandon-600x600

five-minute-friday-4

Categories: Faith, Five Minute Friday, Parenting | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Making Peace with Imbalance and Process

33131649685_7bc0296870_b

Photo Credit: Kiwi Tom Flickr via Compfight cc

I am what is called a J on the Myers Briggs scale. Part of this is that I like product better than process. I’ve been working through a decorating course and it’s been a bit difficult because one of her big points is that it never has to be finished. But I want it to be finished. I put to put the cherry on top, call it done and sit back and relax. I find it very difficult to relax sometimes. I need to be productive and check things off. But I’m having to accept that life is not like this. (Yes, I know that’s basic logic and most of you probably figured this out ages ago, but I’m just getting to it now so bear with me).

When my daughter turned one, my mom bought me the first book in this series. The authors talked about the concept of equilibrium and disequilibrium. Basically, children cycle between phases of equilibrium where things are more balanced and settled in their body and emotions, usually making them more easy going and pleasant to be around and disequilibrium. During disequilibrium, things are just off. The child is bothered by many things, easily distressed, often unhappy.

(It should be noted here that this is relative to the child’s personality. My son is difficult at the best of times, so you have to very attuned to notice the difference. I usually become aware when he his disequilibrium because suddenly things get worse than I imagined they could).

I’m realizing that this is how my spiritual life is, and probably will always be. How long each period of time will last varies. If only it were as easy to predict as the typical 6-9 month cycle of a small child. I will never arrive and suddenly have it all together. I hate that thought. Because it means I will constantly be in process.

I hate being in process, it feels off balance and involves continual change. I told my counselor that I fear stagnation, but I don’t think that’s exactly accurate. I aspire to experience security and stillness. My desire to continue growing is at least in part because I want to get to wherever it is I’m going. But it’s an impossible destination, because when it comes to knowing God, mathematically we’re dealing with infinity here.

So if I can’t arrive, I need to learn to live where I am and try to enjoy the process. Obviously I won’t always enjoy it, but I can remind myself that the bad still is only temporary and try to lean into the good stuff. (This applies to both parenting and spiritual growth by the way). To cling to grace and accept the mercy offered to me. Remembering that I am loved for who I am, not what I do. God is not trying to trick me. If I am genuine in my seeking of him, he won’t let me miss the mark, even if I’m not sure what exactly it is I’m shooting for.

30427476206_a816f56ec5_b

Photo Credit: Paul of Congleton Flickr via Compfight cc

Categories: Faith, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

There is No Avoiding the Big Questions: Five Minute Friday

32763563942_228d77207d_b

Photo Credit: Onasill ~ Bill Badzo Flickr via Compfight cc

 

I thought that if I made different choices I could have saved myself from this. Then I started reading the work of women different from me. They had teaching ministries and high performing careers outside the home. Yet, they too were struggling with the big questions. Why am I here and how do I really love? I’ve been going through my own purpose of life debates. Wondering if some how the choices I’ve made are going to get in the way of me becoming who I’m meant to be, of not fulfilling or even coming close to my potential.

After years of being an overachiever, I married young, worked mostly meaningless jobs to pay the bills and then became a stay at home mom. I’m not one of those super woman stay at home moms either. My kids rarely do craft, when we do they are never Pinterest-worthy. I don’t bake with them often, because it usually ends in yelling and mess. Needless to say I won’t be winning any awards for most fun mommy. I thought that some how my choices would mean that God couldn’t use me, that I no longer had any “real” work to do for his Kingdom beyond wiping noses and bottoms.

But that was a lie, and it continues to be a lie that I face daily. Because yes, the things I do every day with and for my children are part of the work of the gospel. But also, everyone has these kinds of existential questions at some point. If I had taken on a high powered career, had children at a different time or not at all, I would still have come to this place. We all must face the questions of what were we born for and what are me meant to do.

Right now that means realizing that what I do is only part of who I am. I look at my 17 month old son. He offers no concrete work or objective function. (In fact he makes more work for me.). But he is adorable and winsome and makes my heart glad. Who he is, is enough. I’m coming to terms (again) with the fact that I am loved for who I am.

But I also know that I was created with work to do. I have this deep fear that some how I will miss that work. That on this long and winding road of life I will veer left when I should have gone right and end up off course, missing out on wherever God wants me to be. I often questions my choices and decisions (many of which are joint decisions which affect the separate but complementary callings of my husband and me, and our family). I haven’t figured it all out yet. It’s all part of my acceptance of the process and the journey, which goes against my personality that likes to check things off the list. But I’m also realizing the peace that comes with that acceptance. Knowing that I have a purpose, even if I don’t know exactly what it is or what it will look like in the future, has to be enough for now.

purpose-600x600

five-minute-friday-4

Categories: Faith, Five Minute Friday | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Take It Slow: Five Minute Friday

32943215166_7fc2da09fa_b

Photo Credit: Paul Saad Flickr via Compfight cc

I’ve been attempting to find silence and solitude lately. If you don’t already know, I am also a mom of three young children. (Ok, don’t laugh at me yet). I’ve always been fascinated with many of the ancient spiritual practices that are rarely highlighted in the modern church. But I also live a life of noise and chaos, also known as motherhood. But I still believe it is possible for both to coexist; both silence and motherhood. My counselor recommended I begin thinking and praying about how I could work this into my life. I’ve gotten a little better at self-care.(Though I missed my weekly relaxing bath, and I find that I’m feeling the lack). But spiritual self-care is just as important.

There is nothing wrong with the prayers of desperation that are such a regular part of my day. But something in me wanted something more. I wanted to become more aware of the voice of God and more attuned to his presence in my daily life. I am consistently aware of my need for a Savior, but I wanted to reconnect with what it means to be Fathered and loved by the Almighty, just for being who I am. I can look at my 1 year old, and I love him just for being him from the moment he was born. Yet I have trouble believing God feels this way about me. So I am trying to find moments to rest and listen.

But how can I do that when my days are so full and so loud? By starting slow. When I am in the car without the kids, I turn the radio off and try to pray. I take deep breaths and meditate in the shower. When the baby is taking a nap and the big kids are watching TV downstairs, I try to take five minutes to sit quietly in my bedroom with my eyes closed and quiet myself. Choose to slow my soul and let the hurry fall away. I expect interruption and distraction. Then I’m not so surprised and angry about it. I just take a deep breath and begin again. (I am still very much working on this. The other day when both my big kids were pounding on the door I barely resisted the urge to yell “What could you possibly need right now? Can’t you understand I’m TRYING to TALK to GOD!”)

It has been very difficult for me to accept that life is process. I’m always trying to check off boxes and pursue goals hoping that eventually I’ll have arrived and I’ll be able to relax. But life is a constant progression of renovation and transformation. This unsettled nature of life goes against my natural state, my innate personality. I enjoy the destination more than the trip. So finding moments of silence and solitude is part of engaged and accepting the nature of the journey. Finding a place to pause along the road, whether it appears to produce results or not.

sunset-chaser-600x600

five-minute-friday-4

Categories: Faith, Five Minute Friday, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.