Mommin’ Ain’t Easy

Newborn

“I will lead them down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.” – Isaiah‬ ‭42:16‬

I will be the first mom to say that mommin’ ain’t easy. I have been blessed to be able to be a step mom for almost three years and now have the privilege of raising one of my own as well. Both roles are difficult in different ways but both are beautiful as well. They don’t tell you about the difficult times and the sleepless nights. Maybe they do but in your mind you imagine different. They don’t tell you about being so worried about either of them or praying for their future. They don’t tell you how deeply and completely your heart will belong to them.

If there is one thing I’ve learned these last three years and these last two weeks, it’s that being a mom should be hard because being a mom means sacrifice. It means giving when you are empty. Loving when you are hurt. Praying when you don’t know what to say. And hoping that through it all you can be a light in the darkness and a refuge from the storms in this world. God has reminded me that it is a blessing to be walked out with Him. Time with Him is crucial to not lose your sanity and patience. Prayer is our biggest weapon against the enemy and love covers all.

So while there are many days I have cried over these last few years, there are many prayers that have been answered. God continues to guide and show me how to walk along this mom path. Sometimes it’s beautiful and sometimes it’s just really hard. But at all times, He is God and He is with us. He gives us the strength we need for each day if we let Him.

Not Fitting the Mold

BrokenPencilI’ve blogged off and on for years now. I’ve written commercially about fitness, how to grow your gym, and how to motivate your clients. Somehow when it came time to write this blog (my first for #ThisIsLiving) I lacked the ability to motivate myself to do it. I’d write a few sentences here and there that I’d quickly go back and delete. I’d stare at my computer screen with the cursor flashing, daring me to write something. I even got a whole paragraph in comparing the spiritual pursuit to running- something that has way more parallels than you can imagine. Yet, I still found every excuse under the sun not to write a blog entry – something I had volunteered to do. Why?

After staring at the blank page for the better part of two months, I came to realize the reason I couldn’t write this is that I feel inadequate to impart any type of spiritual wisdom. I am in no stretch of the imagination what you’d expect a Christian to be. I am tatted up with a half sleeve, live in yoga pants, I curse more than I’d like to, I’ve been divorced, and I loathe the societal stigma that has somehow attached itself to being an Christian. So, who am I to write to you about anything to do with holiness?

…I came to realize the reason I couldn’t write this is that I feel inadequate to impart any type of spiritual wisdom.

On Sunday, the message at church was on Jonah. During which it became abundantly clear that like Jonah, I had been running from doing something that I feel God has called me to do. Don’t you hate that? When people say stuff like that? “God told me.” I used to hate that, too. It sounds totally cliché, but I assure you it is also totally legit. When I say that God called me to write this, I don’t mean I audibly heard him say it. It is more like something on my mind and in my heart that I can’t quite put into words. Obviously, it wasn’t something of my own creating. I’ve fought hard against it. Where is all this leading you’re wondering? Don’t worry I’m finally getting to the main idea.

Like Jonah, I was afraid and I had taken hold of a pagan idea and pretended it was true. I was afraid to put myself out there by writing and being vulnerable. I had taken hold of the pagan idea that Christians are supposed to be perfect. Since I don’t fit that mold, I felt I had no business in writing this. Then I recalled how Hebrew literature depicted some of the best of the best: David, Abraham, Jacob. None of these men were painted to be holier-than-thou and perfect. God used them in their imperfectness, and with their many sinful blemishes, to do amazing things. They knew what I’ve come to realize in writing this and through the message I heard…what I hope you’ll explore as well: “We can keep trying our plan, or we can yield to God” and “Sometimes, the thing you feel uncomfortable doing is the thing God’s called you to do.”

Loving Him Despite It All

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God was there in the beginning and God is Love, but I wasn’t there in the beginning…and I don’t feel that love right now. There are days when it’s hard to love others, but God says that those are the most important days to do just that. I stand with this reality in front of me on those days, and it’s difficult to say yes to a love that I do not see in action in others. I do not exist seeing the fullness of time knowing the eternal insignificance of my anger and the importance of love. I don’t want to see the fullness of time because the momentary affliction is too strong for me to wrap around my mind.

It is not easy to be the one sitting on the inside trying to look out at these issues. When the ones that I am called to love are fighting me at every opportunity they get, how can I be expected to love then? Sometimes I sit and wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to not love at all. I wonder if I could exist in a world of solitude knowing that I don’t have to be hurt when my brother in Christ turns to me and looks me in the eye and lies. I wonder if it’s easier to exist in a world without commitment and accountability when he takes that advice I give him and spits it in my face. I wonder if it’s easier to love without covenant when my loved ones and I fight to the point where it gets too personal and too direct. When the resistance gets so strong I can’t stand, where is God’s teaching of love?


When the resistance gets so strong I can’t stand, where is God’s teaching of love?


What exactly am I expected to do? I turn to the books and I re-read them, but what I’m reading has lost its meaning long ago. I flip through the pages of my bible looking for the answer but the Spirit sends me back only with the commandment to, “love as I loved first.” These words sting in my ears because they are the very reality I am fighting against. Love. What a word to come from someone I have cursed out in my prayers and yet He stays there. Am I expected to understand the depths of love from Someone who knew my every action while sitting on the outside of time and said yes? How can I stand in between the pain of my brother and the ones I love with this knowledge in my brain and say nothing?

I come back to the depths of my mind and ask, “Where am I to go?” God sends me back to the beginning and asks me where I am. I look into the depths of Him and see myself there. In the beginning of time. When God was love, and I was on His mind. He loved me first, and I chose to fight Him every opportunity I got. He loved me first, and I looked Him in His all-seeing eyes and I lied. He loved me first when I cursed His Spirit as He called my life and made it personal and direct. He loved me first when the resistance got so strong and I said no to the forgiveness of His Son, and yet He still called me back with those three words. Love Me first.

Going Through Deep Waters

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“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you” – Isaiah 43:2

This verse has resonated with me a great deal recently. I feel like the Lord just kept saying it to me over and over again this past week as my anxiety crept up in the way it usually does. This anxiety is not necessarily due to any one certain thing, but everything–the small and the big. I like to be in control of all aspects of my life, and when I realize I’m not, it can feel so immensely halting. The unknown can feel truly crippling at times. I’ve struggled to give this control over to God for so long. For too long I’ve fought this battle by myself, not letting anyone else take control. Especially not the One who wants to take it all from me. I am only so strong.

And as I let this verse from Isaiah settle in my mind and in my heart, I realized I don’t need to be afraid anymore. I’ve struggled with this burden for as long as I can remember and I don’t want to fight this battle alone. I don’t need to fight this alone. I can keep trying my plan…or I can yield to God. His grace abounds in deepest waters and I feel God’s grace most when He settles the storms inside me. I know He can use these struggles to draw us closer to Him and this includes the anxiety we may feel in life.

Admitting I struggle with anxiety has been such a rough battle in itself. Anxiety at it’s depths is ugly, and I didn’t want to burden others with my struggles. But that’s where I’m learning about community as well. I’m slowly growing a community around myself that encourages me to draw closer to God when I feel weak. He will never abandon me when I’m afraid. He knows my struggles and fears, and He holds me anyway.

Trusting God When It’s Not Fair

WomanMountainWe’ve all heard it, bad things happen to good people. It’s also true the other way, good things happen to people that…well, aren’t so good. Right? As I read Jeremiah 33:6-9, God is telling Jeremiah how He is going to bring back Judah and Israel from captivity, rebuild them as they were before, and forgive them from their sins of rebellion. Just like these countries, I have rebelled. Did that rebellion cause bad to happen to me or others who have experienced something bad? I don’t have an answer to that question. Yet, what I see in these verses is God telling Jeremiah that even though these countries have strayed He is going to restore, and not just restore but in verse 9:


“Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.” – Jeremiah 33:9


I don’t understand God’s ways, why things happen to “good” people, but I trust Him. I also believe these verses show that adverse situations happen, yet He is a God who restores to the point that others are in awe. Why would He do that? Maybe so the world will take notice, and when someone states, “Wow things sure have turned around for you,” you get to pour out a heart of gratitude for the One who has restored those things that were desolate, dark and seemed destroyed.

See, He never leaves us. On top of that He alone restores, and His idea of restoring will not look like your idea of restoring. Remember God is another level. He has a plan, and when He starts working and moving, He wants your praise and honor because this shows others His goodness. Be His mouthpiece of praise as He does things you didn’t think possible. Some people won’t understand it, and that’s not your problem. Be obedient to God, and He will take care of the rest.

Church In The Midst Of Yard Work

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I will say that even in the simple activity of weeding and planting, I saw God everywhere I looked.


This weekend I took time to do some much needed yard work. I also recently read a post by a well known food author. She talked about how being outside was her “church.” While I don’t recommend giving up church for hiking, I will say that even in the simple activity of weeding and planting, I saw God everywhere I looked. Not just the “isn’t God amazing” feeling we get when we view an awesome sunset or watch a spider spin a web, but the kind where God speaks directly to your heart through a very simple thing.

Here are a few things God said to me…

Bloom where you are planted. We feed a lot of birds at our house (and a lot of squirrels, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue). Subsequently, we have a lot of “volunteer” sunflowers randomly popping up all over the yard. These volunteers literally bloom where they are planted. Rocks? Not a problem. Shade? No worries. The ones in the shade do the best they can. Are they tall and strong like the ones in the sun? Nope. But they are giving it their best, and they produce a flower. Do I do that? Do I complain about my situation? Do I wait to serve, or to help until all the conditions are just right? Perfect soil, right amount of water, great location. Or do I do the best that I can right where I am…even if I struggle?

Sunflowers know their job. Everyday, all day long, they face the sun. Their bright beautiful faces are even brighter, because they point in the right direction. They are not looking around to see what all the other sunflowers are doing.

God can redeem all things. A few of the trees in our yard have become diseased and are dead or dying. One of my favorites looks this way this year. It’s leaves are dull and small instead of bright green and healthy like it’s neighbors. I have worried that it too will begin to lose its leaves and die. This weekend I saw one bright green leaf emerging from the end of one of the branches. There is struggle, but there is hope. God can make beauty of ashes, rivers in the wasteland, and bring new life to what was dull and lifeless. He is reminding us of that every day. Every season.

I felt spent and tired that day. But as the song goes…His love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.

 

Cultivating The Mind Of Jesus

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C. S. Lewis said, “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.” This truth has been reinforced to me in recent days. During a battle with my 11-year-old son, I wondered what Jesus would do in my situation. The words of Philippians 2:5-8 came to mind: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who…humbled Himself.”

The mind of Christ is not a natural fit for me, and each time I embrace meekness, my flesh exalts itself with thoughts of what I “deserve.” In my quest for humility, I am finding out just how prideful I really am. Discouraging as that can be, the lessons I am learning through these
struggles are rich. Thankfully, changed thinking is the first step toward changed behavior! Here are five things I am learning that help me let go of my “rights” and meet my son where he is: Continue reading “Cultivating The Mind Of Jesus”

Momma Prayers

MommaPrayers


“The fear of the Lord leads to life and he who has it will abide in satisfaction.” – Proverbs 19:23


It was that “something else” in others that first drew me to a real relationship with Jesus Christ. Although in church all my life, I had been a slave to up and down emotions; falling apart over trivial things, while I watched others stand strong through tragedies. In the midst of really hard stuff, they had peace that made no sense to me. I wanted that. I finally found lasting peace when Jesus became more than a story to me – when I asked Him to be Lord of my life, and when I stepped out in faith to obey Him, even when my emotions said do something else. In fact, I learned to walk in real relationship with Jesus in the midst of intense trial and tragedy in my life. It was through those hard days that God taught me to trust Him for all of my days and where He became my everything – more than enough for whatever life may bring.


Some trials come not because of sin but so Biblical truth can get in us, become forever part of us, and strengthen us for the rest of our lives.


I want this same satisfaction for my kids, yet as much as I want to do so I know I cannot simply tell them about it. Faith is a personal thing to possess. It lives deep inside of us and is part of us. Strong faith can’t be told, it must be lived and grown. I know it must grow in my kids just as it grows in me. Some trials come not because of sin but so Biblical truth can get in us, become forever part of us, and strengthen us for the rest of our lives. And though the flesh in me and my mother’s heart wish it were different, I know the hardest trials cause faith to grow much deeper and stronger than the easy days. I know very few who fell deeply in love with the Savior over their blessings but many, who instead, found Jesus to be their faithful everything during real, gut-wrenching hurt and tragedy. Deep down I know this will be the way for my kids as well. The reality is, if I want my babies, who I love with all my heart, to grow in life-giving, hope-giving real faith, then I know my job is not to rescue my kids from every trial they face. No, my job is to do all I can to point them to the Rock who will be their stand-on-strength and direction all the days of their life, and long after I am gone.

This hard truth has changed my prayers for my kids. I used to pray “momma prayers” – “keep them safe, help them to do well in school, help them to get along with others” and on and on. Yet, my Holy-Spirit-inspired desire for them to love God more than anything, and be blessed by all that brings, has prompted me to ask Him to take them through whatever it takes to know He is enough when all else seems to fail them. That is a hard prayer to pray and especially hard when I see God answering it. Yet, I know if my kids learn at an early age that He is their rock; they will have a steadfast faith that is not easily shaken by life’s ups and downs, sorrows and pain. They will have peace, hope and joy that is not dependent on their circumstances. They will rest in the freedom that comes from living their lives to please God, rather than chasing all the empty things this life has to offer.

Saying all that is one thing. Living it is entirely another. Every fiber of my momma heart wants to rescue my kids from pain. Sometimes I am to do just that, yet other times my job is to stand back and pray and the only way I ever know the difference is by staying at the feet of my Savior who loves my children much more than I ever could. I trust Him so much more than I trust me, not only for my life, but for theirs.

Prayer: Oh Jesus, You are the Rock. Your Word is true. Your presence is peace. I want more than anything for my kids to love You above all else. I pray they will give You glory all the days of their lives. I know You can sustain them when all else seems to fail them. I know You alone can give them real hope, real joy and real peace. May I stay so connected to You that I know moment by moment how to best point them to truth. And give me the courage to ask You to take my children through whatever it takes to love you first…because You love them most. Your plans for them are exceedingly and abundantly more than (even their momma) could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Please be their abiding satisfaction. Thank you Lord. Amen.


Jesus, give me the courage to ask You to take my children through whatever it takes to love you first…because You love them most.


Just A Whisper Of His Name

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Today I’m thankful that the same God who parted the Red Sea still has His hand and power in all of our circumstances. “The waves and wind still know His name.” So when confusion or hurt, doubt or fears, trials or failures come our way, we can rest securely in a God who works all things – the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly – into His perfect plan.

In those moments that I find myself feeling anxious, I have to remind my heart that just a whisper of His name can cause the mountains to move and the hills to be leveled. God will always show Himself faithful. I am so quick to forget this fact. When worry or hard times hit, I forget all He has done (can I just say how much I relate to the Israelites!) and quickly conjure up scenarios of the worst possible outcome.

Today, I’m taking a moment to look over the last 7 years of my life and choosing to see where my God has shown up. Because truthfully, some days we do have to choose God over worry or anxiousness. Choose to see the good. Choose to trust Him. Choose to remember His faithfulness through the years. Choose to know that He is the God who sees it all and is working in ways we can’t imagine.

Future Joy

AbbieFutureJoy


“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” – Psalm 30:5


Jesus spoke to His followers of both abundant life and of trouble. These two things may seem contradictory, but my experience verifies that God’s children will have both. As I have dealt with the ups and downs of life, particularly of parenting five sons, I have experienced joyful seasons as well as darker times. I learned, with one son’s heart transplant, that a single situation can bring great heartache as well as immense joy. Despite this knowledge, I am sometimes overwhelmed by new difficulties, forgetting that they, too, will culminate with days of rejoicing. When difficult days turn into difficult seasons, it is easy to forget past victories and the promise of future joy. Continue reading “Future Joy”