Posts Tagged With: Kate Motaung

Pursuing Peace, Expecting Joy: Five Minute Friday

I was sorting through pictures this year to find some for our family photo books that I make for grandparents this time of year. I came across this picture.

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For some reason it moved me. I remember when it was taken. I was smiling so much my face hurt. It was probably the best day we’d ever had as a family of five. (I’m hoping to talk more about that special day next week).

 

I love this picture of myself. Because it’s one of the first times in the last year that I remember feeling happy. I know I was happy other times. But I never looked happy in pictures. I looked tired, worried, stressed, irritated. But never happy. Because being a mom of three isn’t always a happy time. I deal with lots of screaming, arguing, enforcing of chores and school work, breaking up of sibling fights, butt and nose wiping. In fact there are days when I hardly remember genuine smiles. You know the kind I’m talking about, the ones that you don’t have to think about or remind yourself to do.

 

I have a few very distinct memories of times when my face hurt from smiling so much. One was my wedding (and that was before we even got to the formal wedding photos). Another was in my parent’s dining room playing board games and laughing until we cried. After my daughter was born. My 30th birthday girls game night. Then our Edaville trip. I know there have been others, those are just the ones that stick out in my mind.

 

When I was starting my memoir in college I wrote a chapter that I shared at our final public project reading. Pursuing Peace, Expecting Joy. I’m just realizing now what a perfect description of the Advent season that is. Because for us joy is not a surprise. The Messiah was born! We are no longer the shepherd’s shocked by the appearance of the angels; we can be Simeon. He knew he would see the Messiah and in his lifetime, he believed God when he said it. So he looked for it, watched for it and anticipated the Incarnation.

 

We don’t have to just wait to feel peace this holiday season. Very little about the traditional way this holiday is celebrated in the United States lends itself to peace naturally. But we can pursue peace, seek the Prince of Peace in fact. We can expect joy because we know He already came. We can look for times to feel joy, remember the times that happiness overcame us and we couldn’t stop smiling. We may not be able to force it to happen, but remembering it can and will happen, is half the battle. We can nurture joy in our hearts by drawing close to the Savior Born to us and reveling in all he has done for us, both in the past, now and in the time to come.

 

As you review your year, (as many of us are prone to do during the year end holiday season) whether through pictures or just in your mind; remind yourself of the joy that came, even at times that didn’t appear on the outside to be joyful and the peace that descended into the most chaotic of situations.

 
Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

 

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

A Christmas Connection: Five Minute Friday

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Photo Credit: melolou Flickr via Compfight cc

December is here and the crazy is setting in. It’s getting too chilly for the kids to go outside most days and I’m attempting to keep the house ready to show at all times. This is not quite the Christmas we had planned. Last night I broke the news to the kids that we won’t be getting  Christmas tree this year. I’m probably as upset as they are. It’s  compromise I’ve agreed to make with my tired, overworked, long suffering husband. Only once in our 13 years of marriage have we not had a tree. It was not  good year.

Even as I try to keep the holiday decorating simple, I’m trying to focus on the things that really matter to me this year. What is it I really want? The treasured moments of listening to Christmas music while sitting by the fire in the light of the tree may not happen. But I can still drink hot chocolate by the fire and listen to a Pandora Christmas station. (Our favorite Christmas CD’s were packed up with everything else non-essential). I can take a few moments to cuddle my children. Today we sang Christmas carols and talked about the meaning of the words and their history as a large portion of our school day. My daughter and I were invited to a Christmas Tea on Saturday. I resisted the urge to say no to the last minute invitation, as I am saying no to so much this year, but I decided to make room for it  anyway. It’s exactly the kind of thing my daughter loves and we rarely have time to do.

If I’m honest, I’m hoping to be remembered. Not to necessarily get fancy gifts, but that in all the chaos and crazy of getting ready to move that I will feel loved, and maybe even a bit appreciated. (Yes, I realize it sounds a bit entitled and self-centered, just being real here). Because there are definitely days around here, especially lately where I feel like the abused house elf (the Harry Potter variety, not a member of Santa’s workshop team). But I also know it isn’t really about me.

As we sang those carols today I was comforted and reminded of the fact that Jesus came to earth for me. To save me. (Ok, yes all of us, but in that moment I needed a bit of a personal connection). I loved the moment explaining to my daughter the line in Hark the Herald Angel’s Sing.

Rise the woman’s conquering seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.

I told her this means that Jesus came to crush Satan’s head and when he did that, he crushed in the sin in all our hearts too. She liked the sound of that.

While I do crave a bit of peace on earth (my son is launching himself off the coffee table as I type this), what I want most of all is to feel a connection with the Christmas story. That it would be more than a story, and feel as epic and earth shattering as it was, and is. Because God became man to save us from our sin and ourselves;  to lift away the veil and allow us to commune more closely with our Creator until the time when we can be together again. What better news is there than that?

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Categories: Advent, Five Minute Friday, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Out of My Control, But Not His Power: Five Minute Friday

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Photo Credit: ScottNorrisPhoto Flickr via Compfight cc

We are a month from a full house move. In the meantime, we need to keep our current house showing ready as potential tenants filter through, hoping that one of them will be the one to make this their new home. Of course the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a terrible time for this kind of thing. (As is the idea of closing on the new house and moving during New Year’s). These are not the times I would have chosen for this kind of upheaval in our lives.

(Did mention that the whole family is sick, and we have an open house tomorrow?) As I weigh the consequences (being totally out of it) with the advantages (release of severe sinus pressure) of taking cold medication, the to do list keeps piling up and all I really want to do is crawl under a blanket with a cup of something hot and a good book. But the continual calls of the small ones in my life rise above it all, needs for meals, noses wiped, diapers changed and conflicts resolved.

I realize that this is now within my power to solve. There is truly more to do than we have time for. I cannot will myself and my children healthy again. (Why does it seem that the kids are never as sick as the parents at a time like this?). After some whining about the unfairness of it all and having a mini-pity party, I must get back to work. Starting with talking myself through the basics. Get dressed, pray. Wash my face, brush my teeth, pray. For the last two months I have lifted up every aspect of this seemingly impossible journey we are on, and so far, we are still continuing, putting one metaphorical (though sometimes literal) foot in front of the other.

I have never been in control of the outcome, only how I handle the process. I haven’t always handled it well. But more often than not, I’ve been forced to recognize how much I like things to go my way, and that I must learn to make peace with the unknown and the unknowable. Because it is all known by the All Knowing One. The One who has determined my going out and my lying down. So I will lift my worries up to him, say a prayer of thanks and carry on.

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

Our Way of Escape from The Common: Five Minute Friday

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We hate being disappointed. It makes us feel angry, bitter, and fearful. Because met expectations give us a sense of security. We think that if we get what we want in life, it will some how protect us from bad things happening.  But this is an illusion. Firstly because we are dealing with people. People are unpredictable. We may think we know what we are getting, but rarely is this the case. Because leaders are more than the sum of their campaign promises.

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt was Common. (I’ll say right now that I’m already blowing the 5 minutes out of the water, but please bear with me anyway).

1 Corinthians 10:13 came to mind.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

(If you can find the time, I really recommend you read the whole chapter. There is much there that is encouraging in light of much that has gone on in the last week.)

No temptation will befall you except what is common to man. Meaning, what you are feeling is real, and painful but also common. It has happened before and will happen again. The temptation to despair is equally as damaging as the temptation to put our security in the wrong things. Leaders are just people. Flawed people, who will fail us. I don’t care how much you love or hate our current (or future) political leaders, they will at times disappoint and surprise you. The mistake is believing that getting what we want will make things OK. Because it won’t. There was only ever one Messiah, and his name is Jesus. But since then people of all political persuasions, especially in the United States, have made the mistake of putting our faith in systems of government.

I happen to think our system is a pretty good one, with many flaws for sure. I am grateful that I live in a nation where the transition of power can occur peacefully and safely. But the hidden danger is that I can begin to put my faith the governments process and procedures instead of God. At the same time, if my preferred political leaders don’t rise to power as I’d hoped, or do gain power and don’t do what they promised, it is easy to let my disappointment embitter me. Peace is replaced with indignation. Kindness with bitter entitlement. The reverse is also true, optimism can become arrogance, confidence turns to superiority.

I imagine that this problem is likely unique to those of us living under governments where we do have a say and influence. Those who have no security in their governments, do not put faith in a system that they have seen fail them time and time again. While I don’t desire to be in  that situation, I desire their faith and perspective.

If I claim to be a person who puts my faith in God, I cannot put my hope in political machinations. I can be involved in the process, assess the choices and make the best one I can. As a citizen of the United States I am lucky enough to be allowed a say in this process. But to say that if I don’t get my way, all hope is lost, is to say that God’s love and power can be thwarted by the choices of flawed human beings. That is not faith.

If you are still grieving what you see as a defeat, I’m sorry. Not because I owe you an apology for disagreeing with you or because I agree with the words (or actions) you are using to express your grief. But because I know what you are feeling is common to man. I have felt it too at many times in my life.

If you feel positive and optimistic, I encourage you, in the same way, to make sure you don’t put your faith in the wrong thing. We elected a president, not a king. Extend grace to the people who disagree with you. (Whether you have received the same grace in the past or not).

Because kindness, grace and love will win the day, only if we extend them to all, regardless if we agree. It is our way of escape, because God is faithful.

 

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

Created for Cooperation

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Photo Credit: Sesc em São Paulo Flickr via Compfight cc

I am only one person. But I get to be mom, wife, housekeeping, cook, scheduler, personal assistant and now handyman, professional packer and mover. Fortunately I am not the only one. I have a husband who puts in as much time as he can when he comes home from the office. I have wonderfully supportive parents and family who are giving me childcare and practical help. (God bless my dad for agreeing to help my husband with a last minute tiling job). I’m also lucky enough to be surrounded by friends, the kind of are willing to take my kids, even if only for a few hours, so that I can try to do some sprint packing without the constant interruptions.

We all go through periods of struggle in our lives and parenting. But we weren’t ever meant to take it on alone. We are designed for community and created for cooperation.

This 31 Day challenge didn’t not turn out like I expected, but I’m glad that I decided to attempt it anyway. It’s been a helpful way for me to work through the complicated phase of life we are in. I look forward to what next year’s challenge will hold!

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Categories: 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes, 31 Days of Real-Life Honesty, Writing | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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