There is such beauty in parenting.There is loads of grace for it too.
Two things. Really, that’s it this week.
Honestly, these are two really simple thoughts. But, are some of the hardest to keep in mind when the stuff hits the fan. I’m just keeping it real. I guess it would be more comfortable to think that pastor’s wives or Christ followers don’t struggle with this. This one did…..
It is interesting the beliefs you hold on to and never doubt. Their validity stays in tact until the very essence of them are tested. I think we have all been there. If not, I’m pretty sure it will come. Here they are:
God never leaves you.
God never stops loving you.
There are two types of people.
There is the one who comes through a difficult challenge, gets the t-shirt and decides to use the experience to make a difference.
The other is the one who comes through the same challenge, jaded and disillusioned, bitter and angry.
Same situations, different outcomes. I don’t know. Life throws some pretty nasty curves. And sometimes we might believe we don’t really deserve them. I certainly admit to that one.
I sat on the counselor’s couch. I can still see the picture in my head. Sometimes, in a particularly quiet moment, I still feel the intensity of the emotion of that moment. Such a lost and hopeless darkness…..the darkest feeling I had really felt up to that moment. I thought, “So this is how it feels to not have Jesus.”
For me, I didn’t just have the trauma of my child being sexually abused; for several years I had dealt with deep professional struggles, as well. I had seen things and experienced things that, piled onto the abuse revelation, were causing a very real dark night of the soul. I was beginning to believe God was nowhere to be found and his love felt far, far away.
Many of the beliefs I held so easily before seemed to no longer work for me or my life. I wasn’t sure why He left. It was such a scary place to be and I remember thinking “this is what aloneness feels like.” I was deciding whether to stay in the boat with Jesus, if you will, or get out.
Long story short, if you were wondering what my decision was (LOL), I stayed in the boat with Jesus. In reality, I heard a sermon about staying in the boat with Jesus. My husband preached a fabulous one that day! But, I had to have some schooling in order to truly understand and develop a deeper knowledge of who Christ was. He revealed both his amazing presence and great love for me. See, he hadn’t really left and he hadn’t stopped loving me. The clouds were just so dark I couldn’t see the light. I couldn’t see his hand. I could, however, hear his heartbeat for me. I had to remember something I had learned years prior….another great sermon from my Honey.
Here it is, “When you can’t see his hand, trust his heart.” Right there. Nailed it.
I began to hear his heartbeat through the people he surrounded me with. I could hear his heartbeat through prayers that were prayed for us by people near and far. I could hear his heartbeat and trust his hand more and more when I began to truly believe what he had taught me in the light.
This week’s blog is pretty simple. Psalm 23 says he is our shepherd. When we go through Death Valley he stays right next to us. Here’s my thought. I wouldn’t take my child, leave her in the darkest woods, tell her to find her way out and leave her to do just that. No, I would stay right next to her and walk out together. She would probably get scared by the sounds and the wind. It would probably be quite overwhelming. But, I would reach out and hold tightly to her hand. So, if his beauty and love chases after us every day, that means even in the darkest places he is busy loving us and keeping us.
But, if we learn these things in the light, we can rely on them in the dark.
Matt Redman wrote a song “Never Once”. It is a declaration of God’s faithfulness in the hard places in life. I heard it on my drive to church this morning and knew this was to be my blog post for the week. My assignment for you this week, if you will, is to listen to the song.
I can heartily sing this and know it is my declaration this week. How about you?
Our life is full.
Seasons come and seasons go.
This season is very full….of beauty.
I’ve had seasons that I felt looked nothing like this. I failed to notice the exquisite beauty.
I’ve spent enough days frenetically tending to my littles. Many long days and nights filled with much one-on-one with my babies. That season felt very isolating. At times, my heart and brain fought and struggled against the craziness that is mothering babies, toddlers and preschoolers. I didn’t always readily recognize the beauty of those moments.
I’ve had struggling seasons full of angst as to what my purpose is in this life. Mothering, yes. Loving my man, yes. I knew there was more. Not better, just more. Not as much living in the moment, but struggling and wrestling with life. Some seasons are like that. It seems that insecurity and feelings of inadequacy are often at the heart of striving and struggling. Who am I really in Christ? So tightly wound up in the angst, I failed to appreciate all the beauty to be found here.
But, one thing I am learning is the art of soaking in the moment.
This just might be the cure for the struggle. We may never pass this way again. So, I will look at moments and turn them into memories. Time is fleeting and life is changing. Sometimes in the middle of pain and the Shadowlands, it seems as if the pain and dark will always accompany us throughout this life. But, this too shall pass. Even here, there is so much beauty waiting to be noticed.
Back in the Shadowlands, I use to wonder if we’d ever be able to laugh again. There was so much ugly. How was I ever going to be able to look back at pictures of my babies and not grieve and ache for what should have been or what was? For so long I could not pull out albums and look through the memories. I felt robbed. I couldn’t scale the divide of before….and after. A divide that is definitely there. Maybe it will never go away. But, the pain of that season is turning to more of a scar, and so, I can take glimpses and survive. I am learning to trust the beauty I find.
In this new season, I am learning so much.
This learning is fun.
I’m learning to take the moments and turn them into beautiful memories.
I look at my Loves and know time is passing and each moment is beautiful. No, the moments aren’t always as full of grace and joy as they should or could be. Sometimes, I get frustrated and irritated when things don’t turn out like I want. We run crazy with little margin and meet somewhere in the middle. We disappoint and turn mole hills into mountains.
We forgive and love fiercely.
We show up and cheer each other on.
We open our hearts and listen.
So much is right. So much is beautiful.
We don’t usually travel far for Spring Break. Usually it is the unsung holiday. But, this year was different. Oh, the memories we have made and the futures we have dreamed about!
Time is passing. I see it.
Who knew all the life we would live in these years? So much more is hoped for. So much beauty is to come.
But, we have to be willing to notice it.
How long does it take before we realize our lives are already full? How long before we realize beauty lies even in the cracked and messy days, or years? If we don’t notice it now, it will slip silently away, lost for the ages. If we don’t notice it now, how will we know it when we see it later?
It takes stopping and looking and breathing.
My, the crazy days leave us breathless and tired. We slump and sling and harden our hearts. We can’t even hear the whisper of the call of beauty.
We must mark it. Make an altar of it. See it for what it is.
This beauty given us by God….this holy place that points us to Him.
So, to the ones who are seeking fuller and brighter seasons, they are coming. To those in the messy and crazy season, find the joy and beauty that is staring you in the face. The beauty can be exquisite if you look for it.
Sometimes it is wrapped in the most unlikely tapestry.
Perfectionism. Conjures up a whole range of emotions. Kinda makes you feel anxious and guilty. It’s a hard taskmaster who is never satisfied or pleased. It is the nasty twin of Excellence. Nothing is ever quite good enough to receive that seal of approval. In its wake are half completed or “never out of the gate” goals or dreams. And probably should receive the title of “the mother of procrastination”.
MY SCARY TALE
I walked down the hall and opened the door. I realized I shouldn’t have done that!
I have a 14 year old…a teenage boy. Need I say more? I shook my head and shut the door. I glanced into the game room. Probably shouldn’t have done that either. I should really keep up with these rooms better.
I headed down the stairs. Doesn’t anybody know how to put away the box of cereal and throw out the empty gallon of milk? And, look at these sofa pillows on the floor… The floors. Why can’t people take their shoes off and put the pillows back on the couch after the movie?!? Truthfully, why didn’t I get this cleaned up last night before bed? If I would just stay on top of things, it wouldn’t look like this!
Everybody knows I stay at home and educate my children. What would they think if they saw the house like this? I am such a poor home manager.
And speaking of homeschooling…..I just know my kids are gonna be the ones that aren’t “smarter” than the average kid. For goodness sake, they all have to be so we can prove homeschooling is better! I am failing! They don’t take Latin and we don’t finish all their subjects every day.
Speaking of deadlines! I guess that bill is gonna be late! Out of the corner of my eye I see the little gift left behind by our adorable four legged baby. Should have trained her better. Oh yeah….that blog post….why didn’t I catch that glaring grammatical error?
Get it together, sister!!
Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Well, that’s my brain stuck on perfectionism.
And, I’m not exaggerating….not by much, anyway. You should live in this head of mine when perfectionism has moved in and has set up housekeeping.
I imagine there are quite a few of you in the same boat.
I was told once that maybe I should try thinking,
“I am okay just the way I am, but I can do better.”
I have learned that comparing myself to others leads to one of two things. One, it leads to pride. I decide I am indeed better than my comparison. Or, two, I conclude that I leave a lot to be desired and fail miserably. Before I know it, I am on my way to a toxic lifestyle. What a slippery slope! From there, my day-to-day life is spent on the merry-go-round of the unachievable.
I can’t imagine perfectionism is very good for the heart and soul, much less the mind. I realized I needed to give myself room to be human. Not only do I carry that for myself, I find I expect it from my crew. My family needs me to conquer this thinking.
One day my sweet song bird told me nothing she does for me is ever good enough.
That hit me between my eyes. It hit me hard.
I didn’t even realize what I was doing to her. Who wants to try anything or help out when they know it will just have to be done again?
Somewhere along the line, I felt my self-worth depended on how well I put my house together or how cute my kids looked or how smart they appeared to be. After all, this is what I do. This is my job. If I am going to do something, I better do it right the first time….with extra effort for good measure! Too much comparison was going on!
I believe excellence is attainable.
I think as Christ followers we should strive to do excellent work. The tricky part is when the shift happens.
Excellence shifts over to perfectionism and our self-worth soon becomes based on our performance. And, not only does it damage our own spirit, but it is toxic to those we lead or do life with.
No one can really achieve perfection and still keep margin and peace. What relationships are damaged and what hearts, beside our own, are we stomping to death? We beat ourselves up and our loved ones get caught in the fight.
What can I do today to kick perfectionism in the teeth?
- Be aware of the comparison trap. What circumstances, stressors or frustrations make me more vulnerable to comparison?
- Be aware of the control trap. Insecurity begs for control. Relinquishing control can be freeing. Life can be beautiful, even if I’m not in charge!
- Be aware of the mind chatter. I would never let someone talk to my friends or family like I talk to myself. I deserve grace, too. And in large doses!
Grace is a wonderful healer of wounds.
Whose standard am you striving to live up to? Who are you trying to copy? What negative messages are tearing you down? And what arbitrary deadline are you living under…..thinking if you don’t get this task done today and to this highest standard, you will be marked as the failure of all.
Perfectionism is a harsh taskmaster. Please give me grace!
I am troubled.
I am deeply saddened and troubled by the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and other vulnerable places around the world. Churches are ransacked and burned to the ground while Christians are murdered for their faith. We all have heard about the martyrdom occurring for the whole world to see.
Christians are being rounded up and carried away. The Islamic Extremists are taking women and children and selling them into sexual slavery…..to use them for their sick purposes. Little girls ages 1-4…..I can’t even imagine the horror they are experiencing at the hands of ruthless evil. Christian men have been paraded through the streets in cages and then beheaded. They bravely kneel before the world with Jesus being uttered with their last breath.
This is the world we live in. We see these images splashed across our screens and the stories told on the radio. Hatred is growing and evil is moving from city to city. It has a plan.
It is as if evil has been unleashed and all of Hell is being poured out. It makes me wonder.
How has this happened?
How have we gotten here?
Had you ever imagined such sights in our advanced world?
I know there are all sorts of geo-political and historical reasons for this unrest. I also know it is a battle between good and evil. The stakes are high…..the costs are even higher.
Regardless of your political or theological persuasion, evil is evil. We see it in the every day morality battles America is engaged in. There is truth. There is right and wrong. There is evil. And there is good. Yet, it seems so incredibly difficult to call it for what it is. Some seem paralyzed to utter the words while Christians and Jews are being openly and brutally persecuted right in front of our eyes.
We are not worthy of them.
These persecuted Christians are willing to give their very lives with the name of Jesus on their lips as they take their last breath. Many have grown mute in America and can’t seem to find our collective voice. We are more concerned about political correctness, all the while watching the advance of evil. I fear we will pay the price and mourn our inaction.
These extremists are not peacefully practicing a religion. This is not a freedom to be protected. They are on a mission to destroy anyone and everything that would differ or speak out against them.
So, I have a question for you, my friends. I know these brothers and sisters in Christ ask the same question.
Where are we in this great fight and why can we not stand with them in this dark hour?
Here is my concern. If we can’t stand with them now, how are we going to have strength to endure if this evil spreads to our soil? If we can’t stand up as a country and speak honestly about who these evil people are and what they are doing, how are American Christians going to be protected? How will we deal with persecution?
I know there are those who would say, “It will never come to America. We are too great.” How can we be so sure? Look at the rise of these extremists in such a relatively short time. I have no credentials on the subject and probably sound ridiculous to some. But, did you ever imagine such a holocaust could ever happen again? In our lifetime? I hoped we had learned from the mistakes of our past.
We should pray for our fellow Christian brothers and sisters around the world experiencing persecution. I am moved by the reports I see. My emotions and thoughts run wild.
What can I really do? How would I handle being persecuted?
We live in America and we have never really had to defend our right to be a Christian. Not really.
We’ve given up key fights over the years and so now we experience social push back. But that is our own fault. That’s not really persecution.
We are not worthy of them. These martyrs for the faith.
I pray God would give peace and strength to them. I pray God would hear their prayers and meet their needs. Preserve them and draw them close to Him. Jesus, protect the women and children who are being sold into sexual slavery for heinous and perverted purposes. Comfort these your children as they witness heinous evil so vile and grieve as their loved ones are carried away. I pray for the families that are split and divided perhaps never to be together again…..speak peace to the mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. I pray you would carry them and stay close to them as many will be called upon to give their very lives. I know you find them faithful.
This is not my usual topic for blogging. But, I couldn’t get away from it today. I pray about my posts each week and I just couldn’t walk away from this. I would ask you to join me in praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
They are being called upon to give their lives for their faith.
He has found them worthy….we are not worthy of them.