Crazy and Overprotective

At one point, I thought homeschooling was for crazy, overprotective parents.   And while my husband would attest to my craziness  - and I definitely could be classified as overprotective – I never saw our family taking  that route.

Social  concerns are,  of course, the most common reservation for the investigating home school parent.  We were afraid that pulling our children out of school will cause isolation and disengagement with their peers.   My children are already very shy and they do not have a very healthy example in me.  I know that my everyday actions predispose them to all those isolating, weird, and maladjusted character traits.

But despite my own downfalls, we landed in home school.

And because God is so good, He is blessing my kids in spite of me.    Anything I pull  off is totally out of God’s grace.

Amazingly, my kids are doing great.   They are making friends.  As they become more comfortable with who they are in Christ, their moods soften and lighten.  I get lots of hugs and smiles that I never received before.  I can see my daughter (our publicly silent child) smiling and interacting with other adults and children in new and exciting ways.

What I feared would be a disadvantage – it has been one of the biggest blessings.

So, in a way, I am glad to be a social screw up.  If  I had it all together, God  would have less room to work.  But as it is, I know that  I can’t take credit for the beautiful changes in my kids.  And,  I have to say, I would rather be a screw up than miss the incredible work God is clearly doing in their lives.

And I have also come to terms with what everyone else already knew.  I am that crazy and overprotective home school mom.

I always have been.

 

An Extra Measure

Leesy had a boo-boo.  She was overtired.  We also had five dentist appointments this morning.  There was a very unusual amount of fussing, temper tantrums, and tears.

A tough Mama morning, too.

I can usually masquerade a good deal  of outward patience.  But it rarely represents the storm brewing in my heart.  Lately, I have felt stuck on a plateau.  In faith.  That can be frustrating.

But the past couple weeks, I felt better physically and spiritually.

As I have concentrated on listening to His voice and reminding myself of His truth,  I quit trying so hard and handed my life all back to Him.  He has been cultivating peace in my heart.  And it has translated, very easily,  to patience.   An extra measure – straight from God.

But this morning, I was struggling.   My day  was over stressed, my ears over stimulated, and I was over touched.  I really needed  some space.  Away from sticky little fingers, cries, and monkey-like gymnastics up my legs.

But I had a crying, overtired two year old on my lap,  Eli  kept hanging over my shoulder asking for a snack, and I could see Zaiah headed straight for  the little bit of lap I had left.

But then, God gave me a little gift for the moment.

Zaiah jumped up onto my lap.  Leesy immediately squealed, shoved him, and wailed.   But then, he did the sweetest thing.  He gave away his brand new toy.  A prized possession.  He put the tiny puppy in her hand, told her to feel better, and gave her a gentle, little kiss.

Suddenly, I realized that my burden was not a burden.

I had three of my  precious children crowded on my lap.

I may feel smothered at times.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience Colossians 3:12 NIV

No Condemnation

It hasn’t  been the easiest week.

I was sick with some type of respiratory infection on Monday and Tuesday.   Wednesday,  my husband had a tire  blowout.  I was up with our two year old much of the night.  Thursday, I had a fussy kid, lost my phone, lost my keys, and  forgot about an obligation to clean up after our homeschool co op.  On Friday, we spent the morning running errands and the afternoon at the doctor.  The fussy kid had an ear infection in both ears.

When I have one of THOSE weeks, I feel like such a failure.  The unorganized, discombobulated, and tired self feels the weight….  Bad mother.  Horrible house cleaner.  Irresponsible person.

It flows through my mind so easily.   Most of the time, I am completely oblivious to that condemnation of myself.   A condemnation that I do not have to carry.

“…there is now NO condemnation for those  who are in Christ Jesus.”

But even if those over generalizations of myself were true, it doesn’t matter.

That’s the  beauty of God’s perfect grace.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships,             persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.                                                         2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Can

Without any prompt,  Abby said, “Five times Five is Twenty Five.”

I am not sure why she was thinking  about math at that given moment, but I guess the mind is always occupied with something.

For me, it is always changing.  One day it is jelly beans.  Another day, it’s preparing  a fun math game, and yet, the next day – it’s being overloaded with laundry or cranked up nerves.  My mind  could be consumed with  a crochet project.   I think about my baby stretched body that will never go back,  a blog post,  or conversation.  Endless possibilities.  Some better than others.  But the truth is - I have to think about something.

I have never felt  like I have much of a choice.   My circumstances dictate my thoughts.  I entertain anything  that enters my mind.  I just can’t help it.  It’s the  way I think.  It’s the way I am.

But that’s a lie.   I do have a choice.

 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– THINK about such things.   Philippians 4:8

I can dictate what thoughts flow into my brain.  And when one  of those false, unnoble, impure, wretched, despicable, pitiful thoughts poke into my brain – I can choose NOT to  think about it.

I can quit  letting my emotions dictate me.  I don’t have to drown in sadness just because I feel lonely or untalented  or whatever other lie Satan plants in my heart.  A  friend  told me, “I began to change when I realized that just because it feels true doesn’t mean it is true.”

I can declare my feelings false, and instead, let my mind  contemplate, settle, and dwell on God’s true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable,  excellent, and praiseworthy character.

And best of all,  the more I fill my mind with God’s incredible truth, the less miserable thoughts invade my heart.  And with such grace, God’s love surrounds, protects, and engulfs my heart AND my mind.

 

 

 

His Own Little Man


child of God
Zaiah just turned five.  And my parents took everyone out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse.

Zaiah ordered his own food.  And reminded every waiter  that  passed our  table that he needed his  Mac ‘n Cheese and applesauce.  And as the birthday boy, he got to ride the saddle and ye-haw.  All while throwing his napkin through air in true cowboy  style.

When we go out as a family, I am always reminded of the stark difference between his personality and the rest of our children.  Abby is painfully quiet, Eli is reserved, and Leesy is very adaptable – but she won’t speak  until you earn her trust.   And they all get that quiet spirit very honestly from their Mama.

But not Zaiah.

No, he is his own little man.  I never  know what he will announce to the grocery clerk.  Or say as we walk into a friend’s house.

I don’t worry about the others talking too much or trusting the wrong people.  In fact, Abby got terribly embarrassed at the restaurant because she voluntarily spoke to the waiter.  Then, she buried her face and burst into tears.

Too much attention in a loud, crowded restaurant.

But in those moments, I feel her pain.  She deals with it as a child.  But I deal with it as an adult.

We recently visited a small group at church.  Even though they were at the end of a study, I downloaded the book onto my phone.  It was definitely a God thing.  This book, Telling Yourself the Truth, spoke straight to my heart.   The whole book attacks common lies that we tell ourselves.  We then believe, feel, and act as if those lies are true.

Here are some of those lies that were deeply convicting:

I am a failure.  I am a rejected castaway, useless, unlovable,ugly, and hopeless.  My best isn’t good enough for anyone.  I am worthless and inadequate.  I will never be anything.  I am uninteresting.  People don’t like me.  I’m  always nervous.

And as I thought about it, this isn’t the first time that I have been caught off guard and convicted by these very lies.  It’s crazy how Satan can slowly sink his lies back into my heart as I let down my guard.  It’s so easy to fall back into familiarity.

 Just this evening, Mike was leading our family devotion.  He was telling each of our kids how special and loved they are simply because God made them.   And then, he went  on to tell me the same thing.  My first impulse was to argue with him.

And that hurts my  heart.  I want God’s love, His truth, His grace – to wrap around me and  around the hearts of my children.   And I think it has  to start with me.  And so, I have rewritten those lies:

Sometimes, I fail.  But I am an overcomer.  Not because of what I have done, but  because of what He has done.

I feel like a rejected castaway, useless, unlovable,ugly, and hopeless.  But I am not.  God loves and treasures me.  I am His.

My best may not be good enough for others.  But my confidence rests in God.  Not in the approval of others.

I am not worthless and inadequate.  God created me for His special purpose.

I do not need to amount to anything in the eyes of the world.  My worth is in God.  Not what I can do or be.

I am not uninteresting.  God has a unique plan for my life.

It feels like people don’t like me.    But my worth depends on God – not on anyone else.

I am not ALWAYS nervous.  God has released me from so much anxiety.  But when I feel those nerves resurface, I will remember to depend on  Him for deliverance.

 

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Isaiah 36:3 NIV

A Terrible Concoction, Part 2

See A Terrible Concoction, Part 1.

When Mike and I were still dating, it was easy enough to be all fun.   That’s what teenagers are  suppose  to do. We went skating.  I giggled.   We ate dinner.   I giggled.   He showed off his flashy violin skills.  I giggled. He called me.  I giggled.   He tickled me.   I giggled.

Simple.  Normal teenage stuff.

Fast forward fifteen years….. stress, babies, work, financial strain…. it isn’t  quite the same rosy picture anymore.

Recently, we visited alot of churches-  but one pastor said something that stung my heart a little.

He said that the church would be helping with a community event.  And he encouraged people to wear their church t- shirts.  Why?  Not as a plug for the church or to identify helpers.  But to let people see Christians having fun.  So that others could see the joy that we have out of God’s blessing.  Life is to be enjoyed.  God is to be enjoyed.

Hmmm.  It’s not anything I haven’t heard before.    John Pipers words have followed me around.  The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

But that’s not the picture of God in my head.

Imagine that traditional portrait of Jesus.   You know the one. I think the intention is to portray  a Savior worthy of respect. But it also  looks so sad,  serious, worn….  and completely bored.

And for a long time, I didn’t even realize that was how I pictured God.

I guess I was just ready to hear it that Sunday morning at church.  And I was convicted… In my heart, joy is practically sinful.  Especially if I happen to be happy, too.   I guess that’s what a lifetime of an internal war against panic and anxiety will do to a person.  It slowly eroded the joy out of me.

But praise God – He doesn’t leave me there.  As I slowly discover my completely depraved spirit, I also uncover more and more of God’s grace, love, and joy.

And it is wonderful.

                        My joy is beyond myself.

 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  Psalms 16:11 NKJV

 

A Terrible Concoction, Part 1

This is probably the most serious I have ever  seen him!

This is probably the most serious I have ever seen him!

Before I share what I did to my husband, you must know that he is the humor in my  life.  We have dumped buckets of ice on each other, set pops  to go off  in the bathroom, and yes, I have painted his nails in his sleep.   So, before you judge my little prank, just know he is an ornery husband and he had it a long time coming.

Recently, Mike has  been on a bacon spree.  And I have, too often, found myself cooking up some greasy bacon.  So,  I decided to give him a good taste of bacon.  Before he came home from work, I cooked the bacon and poured the bacon grease into his glass. When he settled into his recliner, I brought him a glass of “juice.”

I enjoyed the way he scrunched up his face  in reaction to that grease.  He had no idea what concoction I had just given him!  It was an enjoyable moment.

My practical jokes are his fault.  He IS the fun in our marriage.   He has taught me that God wants joy in our life.  And it IS good.   Very good.

For some reason,  I always viewed having fun  as bad.  Wasted time.  Why should I enjoy my family if there are little kids on the other side of the world eating mud cookies, drinking dirty water, and cold with out appropriate clothing and shoes.   How can I know that exists and still enjoy anything?  For every ounce of my fun comes two ounces of guilt.

There is no reason my childhood should have ingrained those principles in me.  I  grew up  in a solid Christian family.  My family laughs.  Especially my  Dad.  He has spent so many  years   fighting serious illness – feeling awful – but he always finds a way to laugh.   The most hilarious story I have heard was when he ate a blue Popsicle and then told the nurse he had something wrong with his tongue.

And we spent lots of family time together.   Our  family camping trips are my very best childhood memories.  I loved the summers we  spent on Petite Jean Mountain running through the trails, playing basketball, and enjoying visits with cousins.

When Mike and I were still dating, it was easy enough to be all fun.   That’s what teenagers are  suppose  to do. We went skating.  I giggled.   We ate dinner.   I giggled.   He showed off his flashy violin skills.  I giggled. He called me.  I giggled.   He tickled me.   I giggled.

Simple.  Normal teenage stuff.

 

COME BACK FRIDAY FOR PART II OF A TERRIBLE CONCOCTION.

 

 

 

Abide in Him

It’s not really unusual to find Zaiah wearing underwear on his head.  Or dismantling  a calculator.

And then there was the sink incident.

Zaiah decided to wash Eli’s hair with bubbles he made  in the sink.  However, I didn’t catch him in the act the second time.   He left the water running. The sink plugged up.  And after he was sound asleep, I found a flood  that went through our cabinets and walls into the laundry room, living room, and bedroom.

What  a mess.

But with four children, I have come to expect lots of chaos.  I have very low expectations when I make plans.  I  know that there WILL be a poopy diaper, spilled juice,  stained carpet,  a runaway dog…… or even a flood.  At  exactly the wrong time. But it is a new concept for me to realize that my house, my kids, my day – it can all be in chaos.  But I don’t have to be in chaos.

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That heart struggle began when I lived in the busyness of a husband working and earning a second degree while we parented two babies and a four year old.   Even if my words didn’t reflect it, I often felt like exploding            

 

I write as if these internal struggles are in past tense.  They aren’t.   I am especially tempted when I am tired or overwhelmed.  Sometimes I fall flat on my face as I  impatiently rush my little treasures out the  door or nag my husband about moving the laundry I folded.  And I begin to feel that old discontent, selfish boil race to my heart.

But I know a truth now that I did not know then.

Despite my circumstances, my heart can rest in peace. But only if my heart is fully surrendered  to Christ.  Because, ultimately, it’s not even about me.   It’s all about Him.  

                    His love.

                            His mercy.

                                    His Joy.

                                           His peace.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

                                                                       John 15:4 NIV

 

 

Really Nervous

Because of sickness, the  kids and I stayed home from church today.  And  so, we watched the service on our computer.  As Kevin  (the pastor) walked up front, Eli exclaimed, “Hey!  That’s the guy that stands in the middle of all the people and talks.  He must be REALLY nervous!!”

Eli would have been nervous.  He  isn’t unbearably shy – but he doesn’t care too much for  large groups.

In fact, we dedicated Leesy a couple weeks ago.  We wanted the kids to be part of that commitment, and so, our family stood in front of the church together (instead of sending the kids to Kid’s church ). I tried to grab a couple of little hands as we stepped up front.  But this was one time that Eli, and the other kids, quickly threw me over to crowd into the security and confidence of their Daddy.

As much as my heart has changed over the last two years, my kids can still see through me.  They know when I am uncomfortable.  They read my body language.   If I am stressed, they sense it and react according to my emotions.

But not wanting to stand up in front of a crowd is so vastly different from some of issues I previously dealt with….  My muscles didn’t spasm, my heart didn’t race, and I didn’t panic as hyperventilation sucked the air out of my body.

At the same time, I can still feel my fall from that initial change in faith that propelled my heart to fall in  love, all over again, with my Savior, my God… my love.

That  initial adrenaline from a drastically changed heart gave me lots of energy, enthusiasm, and hope for change.    As some of my physical problems eroded and settled into issues that are more manageable – I have lost some of that hope and initial dependency on God that I quickly acquired when my life seemed to come to a screeching halt.

Two years later, I have lots of days that I physically feel really good.  I have a husband who has fiercely loved me through everything.  But even now, he communicates that love so much clearer to my heart.   I have close friends whom I love and trust.  Life is good.  But in all those huge blessings from God, my heart easily wonders from the very source of those gifts.

And without my heart closely woven in His, sometimes I simply don’t feel like trying.  I would rather check out and do nothing rather than put some effort into my spiritual and physical health.

However,  I am reminded in this new year that it isn’t really about that outward change.  Hope, enthusiasm, and energy don’t come from trying to change.  I spent years determined to make a career out of music simply to prove I could rise above my personality.  And I have attended countless meetings, bible studies, and small groups just TRYING to make things different.

As if a new goal would break the ice and cause a lifetime of panic attacks and other stress related health issues go away.

As if I could suddenly love the company of strangers and become totally at ease when I am far, far away from my comfort  zone.

It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

I cannot change from the outside if God doesn’t change me from the inside.

It’s all  Him.

Only Him.

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh  Ezekiel 7:19