Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Baby Baggage...

Just some random, jumbled up thoughts:

We have been super busy the last few days and I'm tired, but there is so much on my to-do list.  I'm sure you can relate.  This morning as I was sitting, drinking my coffee and going over all the things that need to be done and holding my little guy I could feel that none of those was going to get done.  My need to hold and his need to be held was just too strong.  That's when it hit me...  JUST MAYBE babies were MEANT to slow us down.

I know I used to fight it.  Press on...  Keep going.  Somewhere along the way though I just stopped.  At my house babies slow me down to a crawl.  I'm out of the races.  I can't do what I wanna do, what I think I should do and a lot of times not even what I need to do.  Some days are just a total wash...   Nothing productive accomplished except holding a baby.

I know I'm tired, I know my kids are tired, but it's baby that determines when it's time to just stop.  Babies are NOT in a hurry, they don'thave to-do list and they don't care about yours.  They just want to be taken care of, loved, held, fed, and all of that takes time.  And we do all this because if we don't we have a fussy baby, who will stop you in your tracks. 

The truth is big kids need all that too, but they can't get our attention like the baby can.  Last night we had something, and the boys stayed home with the grandparents.  When I walked in the door my 3 yr old talked my ear off until bedtime.  He missed me.  He needed me.  Not just because we were gone last night, but because we have been so busy.  He needed me to slow down. 

This morning when I was sitting drinking my coffee, holding the sleeping baby and thinking all these thoughts I decided today would be the day to just rest, relax, read books, talk or whatever.  We had a late, leisurely breakfast and afterwards I took the baby to have a bath...  as if he was reinforcing all my thoughts I sat and watched as he just splashed and played enjoying his bath, in no hurry to get out. 

In conversations that I have with all my mommy friends they say the same thing...  the worst part of any day is getting ready to go somewhere.  You know when you're yelling hurry, hurry we have to go.   Go get your shoes.  Go put on your coat.  Hurry we have to go we are going to be late.  But, children are notorious for NOT BEING IN A HURRY!!!  Take my 3yr old for example, he always wants to dress himself and I could do it a whole lot faster, but he wants to do and he takes a really long time.  

What about sickness.  At our house we come to a sudden stop when someone is sick.  The sicky wants mom to sit right beside them on the couch and take care of them.  Then the next sicky wants his turn.  On and on until we are all better. 

As I type this out I have all 5 children in the room beside me.  My oldest son is pressed so hard against my arm I can barely move, letting me know in his way that he needs mommy!!!  So, I'm gonna get off of here with unfinished thoughts, BUT knowing that maybe BABY baggage is meant to slow us down so we can truly see what's important!!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Save the Drama for your Momma...

Oh Jacob...  How I feel for you.  Even before you were born your life was full of DRAMA...  Fighting with your brother in the womb, making your momma think she was CRAZY.  YOU remind me of someone, but I won't name names.  

Jacob your life would make Jerry Springer blush...  If you had a reality show it would be top-rated.  I mean really lying, cheating and stealing, almost getting killed by your brother.  Everywhere you go you have trouble.  I bet you were so thankful every time God rescued you from the drama you got yourself into.  Really, how did you think it was gonna turn out when you married sisters?  OH and way to go you really did a super job of training those boys up in the way they should go.  SUPER DAD... will NOT be your legacy.  I'm sorry Jacob, but your life was one HOT MESS and I for one am so THANKFUL.  It gives me HOPE.   God can redeem even our messes for himself.

DRAMA!!!  I hate it.  I cause it.  I run from it.  The only way to get away form DRAMA is to move to some remote island and be all alone, but pretty soon that would get old.  Drama is a part of the human experience I suppose.  Reading Jacob's story really is a breath of fresh air, because no matter how hard I try to have a drama-free life it has been unattainable.  Sometimes it seems that drama hunts me down looking for a prisoner of war.  You ever feel that way? 

Look at Jacob's life for example.  First, he runs away from home and the brother who wants to kill him.  When he gets where he's going he decides it's a good idea to marry sisters, and that is constant friction.  Then he decides to head back home because he's got problems with the in-laws.  Because of God's intervention on his behalf he narrowly escapes big trouble with his Father-n-law.   He has to be CONSTANTLY reminded who God is and who God wants him to be.  God intervenes on His behalf again as He travels to meet his brother (who's heart change is nothing less than a miracle.)   The story just goes on and on...  There is so much here to explore, but I think you get the picture.  Wasn't it Job who said "man's life is few days and full of trouble."  You can't escape it sometimes.  Once again I see an imperfect (even dysfunctional) family being used by a gracious and loving God.  I see a God who is DETERMINED to bring forth HIS WILL, His plan, and His purpose.   I mean really this clan had some issues...  but BLESS GOD He used them anyway. 

Jacob's messy life is so inspiring to me.   YAHWEH is salvation.  It's not who we are, it's not what we do, it's not what we have to offer...  It's who HE is, what HE does, and what HE has to offer.   God was determined to bring forth HIS SON in the fullness of time to REDEEM a messy people for HIMSELF.   Thankfully nothing and no one, no amount of drama can keep God from doing what He has determined to do.  He is the one who seeks us.   Nothing is too hard for him.  No situation without Hope because of Him.  HE will make beauty from ashes.  He will redeem the years the locusts have eaten away.  He will change hearts and work ALL things to the good of those who love Him and who are called according to HIS PURPOSE.  He takes the tax collectors, the sinners, the stinky old fishermen and uses them.  He can take our mess and make it amazing. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Not what I expected...

I've been reading Genesis this week...  People always say you can't exhaust God's Word and I believe that.  Now though I'm starting to understand that it's really because we are ever changing...  therefore you never read the same thing the same way.

Take the great love story of Isaac and Rebekah  The first time I read this story I was a brand new Christian at the ripe young age of 19.   To me at that point in my life this was the most inspirational love story in the Bible.  I focused in on the parts of God leading Abraham's servant right to the "the right woman" and it all played out so perfectly.  I was inspired by the love at first sight, dreamy feel of Rebekah's first meeting with Isaac and I just knew it was "Happy Ever After". 

As a baby Christian at the age of 19 this story had captured my fancy...  God was gonna work it all out.  I was a new creation...  My life from this point on would be cloudless days, filled with rainbows and I would meet the "right" one, and we would be perfect together and we would be perfect parents and because we followed Jesus EVERYTHING would be PERFECT...  Idealistic, but true nonetheless.  Maybe it's youth that makes us dream such impossible dreams. 

17 years later I read this story so differently...  I bet Rebekah didn't expect things to turn out the way they do.  I bet when she was swept up onto that camel, rescued from her father's house, and delivered straight into the arms of Mr. Right, she was thinking this is the beginning of the rest of my life.  I bet she had a vision of perfection in mind.  

Maybe it's my experience that makes me think she was SHOCKED with reality. Was she confused and upset with 20 years of barrenness.  In a culture where children were highly prized and the most important reason for marriage I imagine that she was NOT expecting to have any trouble producing a child.   THIS IS NOT WHAT SHE EXPECTED.

After her husband pleaded with the Lord (lesson 1... hardship draws us to the Lord), she became pregnant, but we know that this pregnancy didn't go the way she expected.  Again we see a situation that draws her to the Lord.  She goes to Him to find out what is going on. 

Rebekah that young idealist is learning that the harsh realities of life make us draw near to a loving God. 

I bet Rebekah didn't expect to behave so imperfectly...  I know I didn't.  She probably expected Mr. Right to always do and say the right thing.  She probably expected Mr. and Mrs. Right to bear perfectly delightful children...   but as the story goes this didn't happen.  In fact the legacy of the patriarch's family is filled with people behaving badly.   Not at all what you would expect to find in God's chosen family... 

The problems in her family are enough to break any mom's heart.  We could just inject in this story our own story, because I''m sure we can all relate.  This is not at all what we expected.  At one point Rebekah even tell Isaac that "I am weary of my life."  Have you ever been there?  Has life turned out less perfect than you thought it would? 

What can I learn from Rebekah's life?  ALOT.  First and foremost the story is not about Mr. or Mrs. Right.  The story is not about them at all.  Mr. and Mrs. Right don't exist.   The story is about the graciousness of a PERFECT God who chooses a regular family to bring forth  His son so that we can be saved from our sins. 

Secondly, I can see from Rebekah's life that LIFE IS NOT PERFECT.  Life is HARD, life is painful, and life can make you weary.   The weariness of life can be just the thing that draws us into a deeper relationship with God.  Our faults, failures and weakness are the perfect backdrop to see God's AMAZING GRACE. 

The failure of others (husbands and children) to meet our expectations of perfection can be just the thing that highlights our need for a relationship with a loving, perfect God, who will never leave us or forsake us.

Finally, this story is our story because life was never meant to be perfect.  This place is not our home.  The struggles of life serve as a constant reminder that Jesus is preparing a place for us.  THAT place is the place of NO MORE tears, NO MORE dying, NO MORE pain.  That place where God will be our God and HE will dwell with us is where our affection should be. 

This life has moments of pure perfection...  but they are fleeting.   This life has joy, but NOTHING in this life can compare to what He has planned for those who love him. 

This story has become for me a reminder that sometimes life is painful, BUT God is for me.  It reminds me that I am NOT perfect and that's not why God chose me.  My husband is not perfect, my children are not perfect.  This story reminds me that in spite of all that God loves me and went to extraordinary lengths to show HIS great love for ordinary, messed up, always doing the wrong thing people!!!  OH what Good news that is, because I could NEVER live up to the life I did expect. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Even Though

Hey Again...  How's it going?

It's been a while.  I guess I've been in a spiritual winter.  I haven't had much to write about because I want my words to build up and they would not have.  Thankfully as with the earth around me winter does not mean DEAD.  It means resting and we all need REST.  Rest, reflection, and renewal.  While I was watching Wild Kratt's with my sick three year old, a few days ago,  I learned a valuable lesson; A squirrel hides his acorn in the ground and sometimes he doesn't go back for it, it sits through the winter not doing much, then at the right time it starts to grow, and eventually it becomes an Oak tree, which by the way takes a VERY LONG TIME.  Nature can teach us a lot.  The acorn is waiting for the perfect time to begin to grow.  Fruit takes a long time to sprout, grow, ripen.  The Designer designed it just that way.  He's ok with waiting.  He's patient. 

In the last few months I have become increasingly aware of my parenting stupidity.  Certain behaviors in my children have become blinding spotlights helping illuminate some of my parenting flaws.  I've ALWAYS known from day one that I was not a perfect parent and as time went along that become more OBVIOUS!!!  So, I would lament my becoming a parent at all.  I am somewhat of a perfectionist (in my head, anyway) and I thought to raise GOOD children you had to be a perfect parent.  To raise GOOD children I thought you had to be hard, strict, and unmovable.  I could handle all that, but I didn't get the results I wanted.  Instead of GOOD children I started to see fear, stress, perfectionism, and anger (at themselves).

Of course I then said to the Giver of these little ones "WHY DID YOU GIVE ME THESE KIDS???  I'M GOING TO RUIN THEM."  BUT GOD (my favorite words of the Bible)...  BUT GOD began to show me some of the problems.     #1 I was parenting them out of fear.  Fear that they would be like me.  Fear that they would grow up and be lazy, stupid, worthless slobs, OR vain, worldly, and self important.  You name it I'm afraid of it.  That's why I HAD to be so hard on them so they wouldn't be all that.   So, the first thing I had to realize is THEY MAY BE ALL THAT and it's ok.   One thing is certain FEAR is not effective.  Fear makes you hard and mean.   If God is the perfect parent and He has disobedient children...  I can bet I will.   FEAR needs to be replaced with HOPE.  Hope in God.  So, how should I parent.

These are some of the verses that have helped me.

"He remembers that we are dust." Psalms 103:14.  God knows I'm NOT perfect... He remembers I'm just dust.  He knows I'm going to mess up.  There is HOPE in knowing that God knows that and yet he blessed me with these little people.  He CHOSE that I would be their mother. 

"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and rich in faithful love." Psalms 103:8  If God is all of those things then those are the things I need to concentrate on with my children.  I love this HCSB translation...  RICH IN LOVE...  What is LOVE; patient, kind, gentle...  It bears all things, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

This one thing in my child's life, that is a direct result of my harshness, began to spotlight all my failures as a parent.  I had lost hope.  I felt like a complete failure and I cried out to God.  As he always does when I say "I really screwed this up."  He said it's OK.  Now let me show you a better way.  It's not fixed, but I have hope.  I can do this better and the Lord can heal hearts.  I can have a second (million) chance. 

Even though I'm not perfect (or close).  Even though I'm clueless.  Even though.. God chose me.  God is patient and remembers where I came from.  He is the designer of slow, steady processes.   Because of his graciousness and compassion to me I am learning to be gracious and compassionate to them.  Because He is ok with my slow growth and sometimes no growth at all, I can give my children some space.  Because at the end of the day YAHWEH is the AUTHOR of salvation I can trust HIM with their souls.  Because of HIS great love and mercy I can be RICH IN LOVE and FULL OF MERCY.  BECAUSE his word says, "Or do you show contempt for the riches of HIS kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's KINDNESS is intended to lead you to repentance."  What does God use to lead us to HIM???  KINDNESS and LONG-SUFFERING. 

I started reading the Bible over again for the new year and the plot of every story is the same...  God uses regular people in spite of themselves and their faults, failures, and weaknesses.  He does this because He has to since none of us will ever arrive, but also He does this to display His character, His glory, His GREAT LOVE FOR IMPERFECT MANKIND.  His ways are not our ways.  His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  He remembers we are just dust and for that I'm thankful and hopeful for our future.