Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why I Left My Acting Career

You may not know this about me, but I had a big acting career, and I just decided to quit one day.  Oh, I know what you're thinking...  You've never seen my name in lights or on the cover of a magazine.  No, I wasn't famous.  You may not have heard of me, but I'm sure you've seen some of the productions I've been in like; "Super Mom" and "Isn't She Perfect".   Oh, what you mean you've never seen that?! 

Well, whether you've seen me or not, I just thought I'd share with the world why I would leave acting.  It was a hard decision.  I mean I love acting.  I loved performing and being on stage, but it was so exhausting.  I couldn't seem to act and live a normal life, so one day I just decided to walk away from it all.

 I mean sure it was glamorous. Just what you would think, always having to have hair and makeup, clothes done.   I mean people want you to look your best, but it was so much pressure.  Sometimes you just want to be in gym shorts and a t-shirt, with your messy hair up in a bun.  I mean people it's too hard to look perfect all the time.  I just got tired of worrying about looks.  You can't act and not be concerned with looks, so I walked away. 

It was super hard though to hold it all together.  You know being a acting mom can really be hard on family life.  It's so hard to relax and just be with your family.  Always running around from this acting gig to the next.  Even vacations can be a production.  The paparazzi can show up anywhere...  We actresses always have to be on our game.   I felt like my family was paying a toll, because I always had to be photo ready.  My house had to be like a museum instead of a home.  It's hard to have little children and keep everything perfect.  So I gave up acting. 

Busy.  Oh yeah I was busy.  Running from here to there.  All those balls up in the air...  You have to juggle it all and never let 'em see you sweat.  It was so hard.  I don't know how other actresses do it and not have a break down.  That's one thing you might not know, all that pressure just made me crazy.  I had a breakdown.  Took some time off to recover, but when I  realized how awesome life could be without acting, I just quit. 

For real though...  I really was an actress.  I wanted my life to be perfect.  I wanted myself to be perfect, my home, my children, but it wasn't and the pressure I put on myself and everyone else to be perfect sucked all the joy and magic out of life.  It was a relief one day to find out that God never called me to be perfect.  I was playing a part that was not made for me.  I found comfort and relief in quitting acting and just resting in GRACE.  Grace is Unmerited FAVOR.  God had lavished me with his favor.  His GRACE for my weakness and imperfection was just what I needed.  Peace replaced performance.  His perfect love replaced my fear.  His joy replaced my agony. 

My life's verse has become "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses that the power of Christ may rest upon me."  2 Cor. 12:9

I will never measure up to my idea of perfection.  I will never be Super Woman...  I tried.  It was too hard, so I'm trusting that God really is ok with my weakness and that when I am weak, He is strong. 

I'm tired of acting like I'm good or like I have it all together, because I don't.  I'm tired of caring what people think and living according to the way other people I should live.  God is ok with me and so I decided to be ok with me too.  I hope you will join me in the "Leave Acting Revolution".   I hope you can join me in resting in His Grace. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Soul Weary

It's been a while since I've had a good nights sleep.  We have been plagued recently with multiple sicknesses and that means Momma's up with sickies that can't sleep, cleaning up puke, or nursing a fussy baby.  Kid's that don't feel good and little ones who are whiny have a direct affect on my mood.  I try to be a good, kind, gentle mom, but a lot of times I'm a complaining, frustrated, yelling mom.  This morning has been a rough morning and my heart is heavy with guilt.  Guilt that I can't seem to be the mom I want to be, guilt that several relationships in my life are struggling, guilt that I can never seem to get it right.  When my heart is heavy I usually run to my closet and cry out to God.  I brought all of this and more to the Father this morning and prayed.  I was praying Psalm 23 and when my lips spoke "He restores my soul" my soul cried out "LORD, please restore my soul."   My soul is weary.  

Why can't I ever get any of this right?  AND why Lord did you give me all of this...  if you know everything, then you know I'm not capable of doing this and doing it well.  I feel heavy burdened today with the worries of the world.  My mind is consumed with thoughts of inadequacy and failure.  I worry about what they are eating, I worry about what they are watching, I worry about friends, or if my kids will be the ones who lead people astray.  I worry about the future.  I just worry.  I feel the heavy burden of it all on my shoulders and I know me...  I worry and then I wonder WHY?  Why me?  I'm not enough for all of this. 

David said "I have hid your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."  Thankfully through the years I have hidden some of God's word in my heart, because the Spirit can use His Word, which is alive and active, it's our defense, to calm my fears and worry.  Worry is a sin.  Worry is pride.  Worry is the belief that everything depends on us.   Worry makes us and our problems big, and our God small. 

So, today in my closet, on my knees, with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes, with the weight of my world sitting on my shoulders...  the Spirit reminded me:

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.  Psalms 23

The Lord is my Shepherd and it's his job to take care of me.  I have nothing to fear because He is the Good Shepherd.  I am his sheep.  The sheep contributes nothing to their own welfare.  They can't find food on their own or water.  They can't protect themselves or find places to rest.  It's up to the Shepherd to meet all of the needs of His sheep. 

Come unto me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

Jesus is supposed to carry the heavy load, not me.  I'm not able to carry the weight on my own and God knows that...  It's up to me to remember that He's got this.   He is good at spinning planets is motion and meeting the needs of His sheep.  He's used to telling the Sun when to rise and when to set.  He does all this on His own, without my help, but I can do nothing apart from Him.  He is the vine and I am the branch.  The vine supports the branch and supplies all it needs to flourish.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with ALL spiritual blessings in heavenly places IN CHRIST: According as he has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him IN LOVE: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved.  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins: according to the riches of his grace."  Ephesians 1:3-7

He blessed
He chose
He adopted
He forgave
He loved

According to the riches of His grace.   His grace is sufficient (ENOUGH).  He is strong, WHEN I am weak.  He gets glory when he takes the weak things of the world and shows his strength through them.  It has never been about me being capable.  He is ABLE.  It has never been about me doing or working.  It's always been about the work He is doing in me.  It's never been a test to see if I could do it all or be good enough.  It's always been about Him lavishing His love and grace on His child. 

I am His.  His banner over me is Love.  I can bring all of my worries to him and in exchange He gives me peace that passes my understanding.  I bring Him my failure and he gives me His grace and tells me His grace is enough for all that I'm not. 

I stand up in that closet, lighter than before.  The mystery of how all of this can be true somehow settles on my soul and gives me the strength I need to today.  He reminds me that this is not my home and I'm on a long journey, but He's walking beside me and it's all going to be ok.

You know that feeling you have when you've been on vacation, away from home and it's the day before you're supposed to head home...  you just feel worn out and want to get back home.  That's like our soul being weary in this place.  We are eager to get home and rest, but we aren't there just yet.  Sometime soon though we will enter into that complete rest, but for now we can go to that closet and meet with our Father and be reminded that He is real, heaven is real, and He is preparing a place just for us. 





Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Though None Go With Me

David was a shepherd.  It was a lonely job.  Out in the middle of nothing leading sheep from green pasture to green pasture.  Out there in the middle of nothing with his sheep, David had faced many dangers, like bears and lions, and David learned about God.

David the shepherd boy says in Psalms 23 "The Lord is MY Shepherd...  even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear NO evil...  You prepare a table before me IN THE PRESENCE of my enemies." 

Everybody thought being a shepherd was insignificant, but it was David's training ground for his future call.  Out there in the wilderness David had learned some things about God and those things made him brave.  He learned that in the Name of the Lord he could face any enemy. 

I've read the story of David and Goliath many times before, but this morning when I was reading something stuck out to me that I had never paid attention to before... 

"And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and encamped by the Valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines."   1 Sam. 17:2

The men of Israel prepared themselves for battle with the Philistine army everyday.  From all appearances they were ready to go to war.  They set themselves up day after day for battle, one army against another army, but when one man, Goliath, made a challenge for man to man combat, every man in that Israelite camp including King Saul, was shaking in their boots.  For forty days Goliath called out for one man to be brave enough to come fight against him and for forty days not one man could muster up the courage. 

"When Saul and all Israel heard the words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid." vs 11

David the Shepherd was the only man brave enough to fight the giant and when Saul heard this he called David to him, but when he saw that he was just a youth he tried to discourage him.  David's response to Saul clues us into why God calls him "a man after my own heart" and reveals a lot of why he was called by God and chosen to be King. 

"And David said to Saul, Your servant kept his father's sheep, there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: and I went out after him, and struck him, and delivered it out of the mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and struck him and slew him.  Your servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.  David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me, out of the hand of this Philistine."  vs 34-37

Out there alone in the wilderness with those sheep, doing the job that no one else wanted to do, the insignificant job of tending sheep, David had learned things about God that the men in that army had not learned.  He was ready to face any enemy even, if it was all by himself with only his God. 

He knew that God was BIG as he looked out at the night sky, every night and saw all that God had made.  When you read through the Psalms that David wrote you can see that he had an intimate relationship with God.  David knew that if God had made all that his eyes could see, then he was the living God.  Israel was surrounded by countries who worshipped dead gods, made by the hands of men, and I think that most people in Israel forgot that their God was the living God.  He is powerful and sufficient and David knew that. 

David knew that it was God who had delivered him from his enemies and he had nothing to fear.  If God be for me, who can be against me, was David's mantra.  He had seen what those men of war had not seen.  He had been one on one, with God on his side, and he had prevailed.  He knew that as long as God was fighting the battle the victory was sure.

Sometimes we have to follow Jesus alone.  Though none go with me, I still will follow.  What we have seen God do, in the past, will give us the courage for the battle.  The enemies that we have faced with God before prepare us for the battles that we will face in the future.  When we have walked with God in the valley, we will be able to stand with God on the battle field.  He reminds us again and again "Don't be afraid, I'm going before you.  The battle is mine."  He whispers "Be still, and know that I am GOD: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."  Psalms 46:10

You know the rest of the story... David went on to defeat Goliath in the Name of the Lord.  David's victory ignited the courage, in the men of Israel, to pursue the Philistine army and defeat them.  Sometimes it's one person's courage to follow God alone that leads others to follow God.  Will you be the one?  Will you believe God and go when none go with you?

I'm reminded of two songs this morning... The old hymn "I have decided to follow Jesus..."

I have decided to follow Jesus,
no turning back, no turning back,
though none go with me,
I still will follow,
though none go with me,
I still will follow,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
no turning back, no turning back.

and "You make me brave"

You make me brave
You make me brave 
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

Sunday, June 21, 2015

When They Get What You Wanted

I watched his face change as she pulled his little brothers gift out of the bag.  He had already received his, a super cool Avenger t-shirt, that up until that moment was the best gift.  He's just now getting into super heroes and Granny had picked out just the right t-shirt for him.  He had a big smile on his face, until she pulled out the Super Man t-shirt with a cape attached and handed it to his baby brother.  From that moment on his gift wasn't good enough.  Even though he's not a big fan of Super Man, he loves capes and ties small blankets around his neck, and flies around the house saving lives everyday.  All the sudden all he could think about was that his little brother got what he wanted.  I watched him admire that cape for the rest of the day, I watched him sulk, and poke fun at his little brother and I knew I had to sit down and talk with him.  We talked it out and I told him I understand how he feels.  It stinks when other people get what we want.  We talked about how Granny picked out his t-shirt, just for him, with Avengers, because that what she thought he liked.  No matter what I said though, he just couldn't get over wanting that t-shirt with a cape.  It's hard to be 5.  It's hard to be 37.  It's hard to sit by and watch other people get what you wanted.  

Maybe you know the feeling?!  Maybe you are single and want to be married.  Maybe you are married and want a baby.  Maybe you've suffered a miscarriage and had to watch as friends bring home new babies.  It's hard to see someone else get the very thing you have been wanting. 

Sometimes it's stuff like cars, homes, clothes.  Sometimes it's how someone looks or the friends they have.  Somehow no matter how great our life is, we get jealous and discontent, when we notice someone else who has it better.  T.V., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pintirest have made things even worse, because we can be plugged in 24/7, and imagine how everyone out there has it just a little better than we do. 

Tonight I was reading about someone who could really understand this feeling.  In 1 Samuel 1, the Bible tells us the story of Hannah.  Hannah was married to a man who loved her dearly, but had married another woman, because Hannah was barren (vs6 ...but the Lord had shut her womb.)   Hannah did not have a child, but her husbands other wife did have children (vs4 ...all her sons and daughters).   Hannah was jealous, but to make matters worse the bible says her adversary (the other wife) would provoke her severely, and make her miserable, because the Lord had shut her womb.  She was so upset that she wept and would not eat. 

"Then Elkanah her husband said to her, Hannah, why are you weeping?  and why are you not eating? and why is your hear grieved? am I not better than 10 sons?" vs 8

Elkanah asked the question that we all ask ourselves when we are upset about what the other person has...  WHY isn't what I already have enough?  Isn't that the truth.  We have good lives (most of us).  We have lives full of good things that make us happy, but sometimes there's just that one thing we can't stop thinking about.  We can allow that one thing to steal our joy. 

If we focus on that one thing we can grow completely discontent with our really good lives.  How do we keep that one thing from consuming our thoughts and stealing our joy?

Hannah did what we all need to do.  She went to the temple of the Lord and she prayed her heart out.  She prayed so fervently that Eli the Priest thought she had been drinking, but Hannah assured him she had not, but that "out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken here."  Then Eli said "Go in Peace and may the Lord give you what you ask for."  (my paraphrase). 

After Hannah had taken her petition to the Lord she went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.  

She took her grief to the Lord and she went away better.  Psalms 37:4 says "Delight yourself in the Lord and he shall give you the desires of your heart." 

Sometimes what we want so badly is a good thing and God wants to give it to us.  James says "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes from the Father of lights..."  God loves to give good gifts, but sometimes he waits.  Sometimes he's teaching us patience or he's teaching us about answered prayers and increasing our faith.  There is no end to the things that God desires to teach us and why he makes us wait, but we can trust His heart.  We can trust his goodness.  We can rest in His love.  We can know that God would never withhold something from us that we needed. 

Did you notice how Hannah walked away feeling better after she prayed?  She didn't have the answer she just knew she had taken it to God and it was in his hands.  God blessed Hannah abundantly...  she had 4 sons and 2 daughters.  Isn't that amazing. 

"Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works with in us."  Ephesians 3:20

I'm not sure when Andrew told Granny that he really liked, the Super Man t-shirt with the cape, better than he liked the one that he got, but she mentioned that she was going to look for one for him, because he really liked that one.   All I know is that after talking about what had him upset his attitude changed and he went away to play no longer sad.  He told Granny what he wanted and I'm sure it won't be long before he has that Super Man t-shirt with a cape.  

I'm not sure what it is that you want, but have you taken your complaint to the Lord and prayed your heart out?  No matter what the answer is, it always feels better after I've had a talk with my Father!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Misunderstood

God doesn't make sense and when you decide to follow a God, who doesn't follow human rules, people are going to misunderstand you.  The bible says that David was "a man after God's own heart", but David was also the object of a lot of ridicule. 

If you are like me and like the people who knew David, you probably would have chosen someone else.  At times in David's life you probably would have felt very justified in thinking that God had made a mistake in choosing David.  David was God's chosen man, but he was a man. 

David was a lot of things.  Saul's servants said about David, when they were looking for someone to come serve Saul, that he was a skillful musician, a mighty valiant man, a man of war, prudent (wise) in speech, handsome and the Lord is with him.   It was obvious to some that God was with David. 

Very early in David's story you can see a trend that will follow David throughout his life...  opposition from people who think they know something.

One day David's father sends him out to bring food to his older brothers and to hear how the battle with the Philistines is going.  When David shows up, he hears all this commotion about a giant and something about Saul making promises to the man who will slay the giant. 

"and David spoke to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel?  for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?

Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said 'Why have you come here? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness?  I KNOW your pride, and the naughtiness of your heart; for you have come down that you might see the battle.'

It makes me laugh when I read Eliab's reaction to David.  WHY ARE YOU HERE?  Well, His father sent him.  Then Eliab brings up the "few" sheep that David was tending...  to remind David where his place was and that he was insignificant.  Eliab then accuses David of being prideful.  I think Eliab is deflecting.  He doesn't want to be reminded that NO OTHER MAN in that camp, including himself had taken the challenge to go against the enemy.  Here was his little brother acting like he was going to go up against Goliath and Eliab's PRIDE was wounded. 

Isn't that the way it is.  People who think they know you or know what God would do, try to discourage you from following God...  WHY?  because they aren't brave enough to follow God.  Maybe they are full of fear, pride, jealousy...  who knows, but people think they know and they don't. 

David's response is so brilliant to me.  Instead of defending himself the bible says he turns to someone else and said the same thing, "What's going on?"  Most of us would be so focused on what the accuser had said, that we would lose track of what we are supposed to be doing.   We would be stuck right there and never move on, because so an so thinks such and such.  We get paralyzed and analyze "now why do they think that?"  Not David, he moved right on and remembered what Eliab thought about him did not matter.  You know the rest of the story...  they brought David to Saul and Saul sent him out to defeat the enemy. 

David did not get side-tracked with worry over what people thought about him.  He just did what he was supposed to do and if people didn't like it "Oh, well!"  He cared more about following God and defending the name of the Lord, than he did about defending himself. 

People are going to misunderstand you when you walk with the Lord.  God doesn't make sense to us.  The Bible says the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man.  His way are not our ways. 

Proverbs 21:30 "There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord." 

I want to be like David.  I don't want to spend anymore time caring what people think about me.  I want to be focused on the mission that God has sent me on and if it doesn't make sense to the world around me I can be pretty sure I'm on the right path. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Home is where the... mess is.


In this last year I have been delivered from an obsessive need for my house to be clean.  Don't get me wrong I still want my house to be clean, and I have someone come every few weeks to sanitize, because that's important and I can't get to it.   I'm just saying I have let go of the idea that my worth and value are somehow tied into how clean my house is. 

It used to be super important to me what people saw when they walked in my door.  I would stay up late at night and get up early in the morning cleaning, if we were having people over.  I would dread a knock on the door from an unexpected visitor.  I would yell at my kids and stress myself out and entertaining became something I dreaded.  My kids playing and having fun was just more work for me. 
 
This picture is just a small glimpse of what my kitchen looks like everyday.  Little bit gets everything out of the pantry that he can reach and all of the bowls and pans out and sits for a couple hours creating.  This kind of thing used to drive me crazy... because it's just another mess.   It made my children nervous to get stuff out to play, because they knew CRAZY MOM would come out. 
 
I know I'm not alone.  I talk to moms all the time, who HATE the mess.  It consumes too much valuable space in our thoughts.  Instead of enjoying our children and watching them lovingly create and play and use their imaginations, we fret and fume and gripe and cringe when they make the dreaded mess. 
 
Our friendships are suffering too, because we either don't invite people over to our homes or we make apologies for our mess.  We frantically run around our houses making them look perfect and answer the door breathlessly, with sweat running down our forehead, because we just couldn't let them see the way we really live.  We are missing out on friendships because of mess. 
 
We yell at our kids and we walk around angry at everyone, all because of mess.  I'm not sure when we started buying into this idea that our houses have to be picture perfect, but we need to stop.  We need to let go of that idea.  Houses are for families.   Houses are not museums.  Houses are for rest and for relaxing, and for fun.  Houses are places for little people to learn new things and play and have fun.  Houses don't give us worth and value...  families give homes value. 
 
Children and mess go hand in hand.  We need to stop wishing away our children's youth, eagerly waiting for the day that we don't have anymore mess to clean up.  When that day comes I bet we will look back sadly wishing we had made more cookies and read more books and just let our kids be kids. 
 
Children learn through play.  They recreate what they see in the world around them.  They use their imaginations and build forts and color pictures.  One of my children's favorite things to do is make home made play-do and use beans, rice, oatmeal, crackers, sprinkles and anything else they can find and they play like they are on "CHOPPED".  They make a huge mess, they drag out every pan, every cooking utensil and spill half of it on the floor, but they LOVE to play that.  They are happiest sitting at my kitchen table making an enormous mess.  They are building relationships with each other and making memories and HAVING FUN.  I can clean it up later or leave it for tomorrow, but I don't want for my house to be a place where they can't be children. 
 
Home is where the mess is.  If you are brave enough, let go of perfection and let your kids play and let people see the real you.  Let people think what they're gonna think...  they are going to anyway. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

First of all, Thank YOU for everything.  It must have been hard to raise another woman's daughter, but you never let it show.  You were so quiet and gentle, I WISH I wasn't the polar opposite of you, because somehow you made it all look so easy.  And, well, the thing is I've found out it's not easy...  I wish you would have told me a few things, but thanks for not telling me.

Thank you for not telling me that sometimes you really loved me, but you didn't like me.  That probably would have devastated me to know.  I found out the hard way though...  You can love your children with all your heart, but not like them sometimes.  Like yesterday, it was raining and I was tired of being in the house, so I took the kids to a surprise trip to Chuck E Cheese.  I HATE that place, not even sure what I was thinking, because I wasted valuable hours of my life and spent too much money.  They were super excited and I had that "I'm a GREAT MOM" moment, but as we were walking out the door two of the little people had fits and ruined it all...  I didn't really like them at that moment, but I love them.

Thank you for having self-control and not screaming every time I spilled milk on the floor...  That should be awarded with an Olympic Medal or something.  Thank you for cleaning up those messes everyday and not giving up or taking me to a home for messy kids.   Yesterday one of them spilled a full cup of SWEET tea on the floor.  I mopped 10 times and I'm still sticking to the floor.  That's ok though because after someone else spilled a bottle of EVO on the same spot this morning I had to get the mop out again, hopefully we won't wear down the tile in that spot. 

Thank you for the time that you spent crying and praying to God for me, because you knew there was NOTHING you could do.   It's hard to love a person with every fiber of your being and be so completely out of control of their thoughts and actions.  I realize I can't make them do anything after a certain point.  Thank you for never giving up and for crying out to God for my soul.  I know there were times you grew weary, but God answered your prayers.  

Thank you for reading me books OVER AND OVER again...  I know every word to "Are you my Mother."  For 10 years I've read the same books over and over and over, but I know it's worth it.  One of the things I remember about being a kid, is being snuggled up to you and listening to your  voice as you read my favorite books, so I know how important it is to my little ones.

Thank you for making eat my veggies, even when I would throw fits.  Thank you for making me take a bath.  Thank you for not letting me dress like a "dancer" when I was under your roof, as a teenage girl.  Thank you for telling me the truth when I really didn't want to hear it.  Thank you for forgiving me over and over again and keeping your heart soft towards me...  did you know some moms don't do that.  I didn't even know that was possible, but I do now.  I know women who didn't have a mom like me.  I also know that it's up to me to continue to love my children and forgive them when they hurt me... because children do hurt their parents and they really don't even know it, until they have their own kids. 

There is so much to thank you for.  I see that now, because I'm a mom, and I love being a mom...  but it's not always easy.  There is not a day that I don't think, WOW, my mom should have told me, but you knew I needed to figure it out on my own.  You loved me too much to tell me how much loving me cost you.  You loved me too much to let me see how hard it all was.  Thanks Mom!  You are my hero!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Idenity Crisis

Who am I?  That seems to be the question of our generation.  We begin the quest for identity early...  like the minute we walk into that Kindergarten room and look around wondering where do we fit in.   Somewhere along the way through Elementary we decide what we are good at and spend our time perfecting that so that we can stand out and be seen in a world that is full of people looking for something to make them stand-out.  What makes me special, we ask?  What sets me apart?  Is it friends, grades, sports?  For kids these days the questions are even more complicated...  am I a boy or a girl, gay or straight, bi or trans?  As a 30 something, who struggles with identity issues, I feel for kids these days and I know the struggle for something to set them apart is real and often painful.

We have a driving force inside us to be found worthy.   We long to be loved.  We yearn deeply to be seen and known and adored.  This yearning for love is so powerful that it can drive our every decision, without us even knowing.

 Unfortunately, we are looking to the worst possible sources of love, affirmation and validation.  We look to people, and people are notoriously flawed.  People, even moms and dads, are not capable of meeting this need for unconditional love.  All people are broken and flawed.  Instead of figuring this out early we continue through our life to transfer our need for love to the next person who comes along, never realizing that people can never give us what we are longing for.

Our identity becomes intertwined with the people around us.  If times are good, then for a while we feel good.  For example, on my honeymoon I felt adored and loved.  Life was finally good in that moment, I had found the one who made me his wife and gave me my new identity.  Fast-forward to our first misunderstanding and I no longer felt loved and adored.   Then I transferred my worth and validation to being a mother, after having my first child.  I'm sure that I thought she was going to finally give me worth, because I was now a mother.   I never dreamed that I would, for one minute, not enjoy being a mom, but when the time came, not too long after she was born I crumbled.  I thought I was going to be this amazing mom, who would love my children with everything I had and enjoy every second of my life from that moment on, but that is not what happened.   Don't get me wrong I love being a wife and mother, I love my husband and my children, I would not trade any of my life or do it differently, but it was a mistake to place my worth and value in these things, it was shifting sand.

I am constantly transferring my worth and identity from one thing to the next.  It can be from moment to moment.   I can even find worth in what people think about me, that I don't even like (don't judge...  I know I'm supposed to like everybody).  For real though, people who have absolutely nothing to do with my life can strip me of my self-worth with a couple of words.   Right now as I'm typing this out my little puppy is sitting outside my kitchen door, looking in so sadly.   He is so happy when one of us goes outside and spends time with him, but if no one is out there he just looks sadly in the window waiting for some attention.   I know how he feels. 

There is always someone better, faster, smarter, prettier than me, so my worth can't be in anything I can offer, and I can't look to people who are flawed and inconsistent to give me worth and value.  Where do I find worth?   The only place I can look for worth and value is in God.  God who created me.   I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  God who chose me to be his child.   God who bought me with a great price, the blood of his son.  I must look to the eternal, immoveable, never changing God of the universe for my value.  He gives me worth.  He gives me value, affirmation, and unconditional love.  He gives me everything I have been seeking, and when I look to him and his word everything else passes away. 

Who am I?  I am His.  I am loved.  I am valuable.  I matter to Him.   It's not what I have to offer, but what he has offered to me. 

I'm reminded of the words of the song "Banqueting Table"

He brought me to His banqueting table, His banner over me is Love.
He brought me to His banqueting table, His banner over me is Love.

A banner is the flag that armies would fly to show who they belonged to.  Christ is our Banner.  We belong to Him and because of His love we have value.  Because of who He is, we are loved.   He is bringing us to His table, in His house.  The ONE who is worthy, desires us and has placed His love on us.  

When we know that, how can we not be overcome?  How can this truth not change us at the core of who we are?  His Banner over me is Love.  The very thing he offers me is love without condition.  Oh, what a Savior.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Misplaced Identity

Last night I was up around 3am, taking care of one of the little people and taking the dog out, afterwards I was wide awake, so I took a scroll through face book.  The latest story going around caught my attention and I read several articles about the white lady, who has been living as a black woman for 10 years.  She must have been pretty good at pretending, because she became the President of the NAACP in her city.  Her story really intrigued me, and I've thought about it all night, and when I went for a walk this morning I tried to figure out why?!?

There's a pretty dramatic difference between what she looked like as a young white girl and her as a black woman.  As a young girl she looks like an average looking, teenage, Midwestern girl.  Not much about her appearance was special or different. 

Her life story has also been altered to fit her lies and the truth about her growing up from what I have read is pretty, well you probably guessed, not special or different.

I think this story resonated with me because I want to be special.  Doesn't everybody.  Whether it's this woman or Caitlyn Jenner...  We all want to be special.  These are extreme examples, but I think we can all identify with feeling average, not special, and going to some length to alter what we feel is lacking in us. 

My struggle is not as much with my outward appearance.  I struggle more with trading who I am, and who God has called me to be, in exchange for seeking the favor of the people around me.  I struggle with knowing that God has called me to be "just a mom".  It's not glamorous, amazing, or attention grabbing, so I continually try to find things to make me feel more "special".  I look for ways to be validated and seen.   I don't want to be just this average mom, hidden away in my home, raising these children, being under-valued and under-appreciated. 

Maybe I'm alone in this, but I doubt it.  I think to some degree everyone I know is trying to alter themselves in some way to be more, different, better, accepted, loved, validated.  We are all looking for a way to be special...  But, we have missed a very important truth. 

We are seen, we are known, we are validated.  We were created individually, perfectly-imperfect.  I don't really understand how God knows 7 billion people, but I know that he knows me.  The Bible says that He created me.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made, not to be anyone else, but to be ME.  I was fashioned together, in my mother's womb.  My DNA is unlike any other person.  My story is unique.  My gifts and talents given to glorify God.  My life a blessing to be enjoyed and appreciated.  God knows every hair on my head.  He knows my thoughts afar off.  He loves me.  

I think we are all missing the fact that we have been created for eternal purposes to display the image of God and bring Him glory.  My desire should change from how I become special, to how can I make much of GOD. 

My heart hurts deeply for the people who never find rest for their souls, who seek for something that is unattainable and who go to drastic measures to become someone else...  because I know how they feel to some small degree.  I am thankful that when my thoughts turn to what I'm not, that my God draws me back to HIS WORD and HIS TRUTH, to see through His eyes.  I pray for eternal perspective.  I pray for contentment in who God has made me to be.  I pray that being seen my Him would be the only thing that matters to me.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Pig sty

I woke up this morning covered in pig slop.  I looked around disoriented, wondering just how I got here.  It's all a blur.  I remember being with my Father and having all that I could need or want, but deciding to leave and see if there was something out there in the world that I was missing.   It's been a while since I walked away and I've been all over, lost all that I had, and suffered through a famine.  Here I am sitting in this pig pen starving to the point that I would gladly eat what the pigs don't, but I remember My Father's house.  I remember that, with Him, I had all I needed.  I was never hungry.  I was loved and honored, but I know he's disappointed.  I know he would never take me back as his child, maybe we he would let me come back and be his servant.  Maybe I'll head back home and see what happens.  I have my speech all planned out.  I'll beg forgiveness.  I'll make promises.  Yeah that will work...

My stomach hurts, my heart is beating fast, and my palms are sweaty...  I'm almost there.  Just over the rise and I will be home.  I'm so embarrassed.  What is everyone going to think?  What's my Father going to do?  Wait...  I see someone.  OH MY GOODNESS It's Dad.  He's running towards me.  He must have been watching for me.  "Dad, I um..." 

Before I can get the rest out he's holding me in his arms and kissing my cheek.  I hear him as if I'm faraway, but he's saying "I love you, I've missed you, I'm so glad you came back.  I've waited here everyday waiting for you to come home.  Let's have a party to celebrate your return my child." 

And He arose, and came to his father.  BUT when he was a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him."  Luke 15:20

The story of the Prodigal son is my story.  I'm so prone to stray from my Father. I'm not sure how it happens, but even though I know I have all I need in Christ I walk away.  It's starts out innocently enough I think...  maybe it's a busy day, but then it turns into days and weeks far away from God.  This morning I woke up knowing today was the day I had to head home, I couldn't take one more day away from my Father, but it's always hard to turn around.  When I opened my Bible this morning I went to Psalms.  I always find comfort there.   This morning I was drawn to Psalms 145...  and these words were like a balm to my soul...

The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.  vs 8. 

That is exactly want I needed to remember this morning and that reminded me of the story of the Prodigal and how his Father was waiting for him and had compassion on him. 

Gracious- pleasantly kind.  Doesn't that describe our God.

Compassion- a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken with misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Mercy- compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender.

It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I put my trust in YOU.  Psalms 143:8

He was waiting for me this morning.  Standing at the top of that hill, running to embrace me, eager to forgive.  He was not waiting with a lecture, but ready to throw a party. 

Last night before bed I was frustrated with Caleb for not eating dinner, but this morning when he came running in the room, all of that had been forgotten, and I was waiting for him and ready to lavish him with that morning love.  Just like my Father in heaven was ready this morning to draw me in and restore my soul once again. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Puppy Training for Dummies

First of all, IF you came here thinking you would learn ANYTHING useful you came to the wrong place.  You need to find a site run by someone who knows about training a dog, because I surely don't.  This is just a post about the things that I have learned in my 1 whole week of having a new dog in our home and how the training of a puppy and children have a lot in common.

Last Thursday we surprised our children with a 4 month old puppy named Max.  We were told that he is a Boxer/Lab mix, but everyone who sees him says he has to have a little German Shepherd in him, Max is super smart and cute.  Max is also very much a puppy and likes to jump, chew, bite, and play.  

Max is a super sweet boy, but he needs to be trained.   He needs to know what kind of play is ok and what is not...  like he can not run and pounce on the 2yr old, that's NOT acceptable.  He needs to learn what he can chew on and what he can't.  He needs to learn that he can't climb on tables and grab food.  From what I have read all of these things can be taught, but unfortately learning to train my dog has been very similar to training my children, which I don't have a great track record at.   Training Max has taught me three valuable lessons that also apply to my child training.

Consistency is the main thing you need in training and that just happens to be the one think I stink at the most.  Training takes repeated action OVER AND OVER AGAIN.  It's not just a one time thing.   I am not consistent in anything, which causes me a  lot of frustration.  I only do what I feel like at the time...  When I'm tired I forget about training and resort to yelling...  then I wonder why no one listens, which leads to frustration, which then leads to counter-production.   It just doesn't work.  Take chewing for example, when Max chews on something, like one of us humans, I am supposed to offer him a toy to chew on over and over again and eventually he will learn that he can only chew on toys.   This works great WHEN you are consistent, but when I'm not, it's a battle. 

Starting EARLY is the second thing... I thought about this last night when I was putting my little one in the bath.  We have been sleep training for two weeks.  They (the experts) say establish a routine and be consistent.  Our routine is bath, read a book, rock a little, and lay him in the bed.   It's been working wonderfully.  Part of our little routine has been Asher taking his dirty clothes to the hamper, before he gets in the bath and last night as he put his clothes in the basket he noticed another pair of shorts was on the floor and he picked them up and threw them in the hamper.  I was seriously impressed with him considering that I have been yelling at my other kids for years about picking up their dirty clothes.   The difference with him is starting early.  You know the ole saying "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."  It's true with humans as well.  The Bible says train a child in the way they should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.    Science is supporting this theory as well...  repeated behavior establishes grooves or ruts in the brain that then become habits that are very hard to break.

Focus on the positive-  I know for me this is so hard and very much against my nature.  This is probably the thing I have to work on the most, because I am so prone to focus on the negative.   When we focus on the positive it reinforces that good behavior that we want in our children or our puppies.  They really don't come programmed to know what is ok and what is not.  One of my biggest failures as a parent has been thinking that training means looking for the bad and weeding it out.   We want to discipline (which means to TRAIN)...  the definition of disciple is: training to act in accordance with rules; drill: military discipline.    We have to train by reinforcing the positive and ignoring the negative...  eventually the good will be an established habit and the bad will usually with time be self corrected.    Finding things to praise takes a big effort on our part.  We have to have a positive mind-set, meaning that we are always on the look out for the good things our children or pets do and reward with praise and puppy treats(not the kids).   If they know what we like they will try to repeat that over and over again.  

I don't know a whole lot about training, except what I have learned by making big mistakes, and then in desperation looking to experts to help me, but I feel like these 3 things are going to lead to success in our future training adventures.  I hope in some small way this helps you today!