All posts by The Unraveled Mom

Defeat

susan phone 308This summer, we took the kids to Devil’s Den.  But at the start of our adventure,  Abby was scared.  She clasped my hand tight trying to hold me back from the trail.  But once she was engaged in our little adventure, we all had a great time.

Fear can be so paralyzing.

Faced with fear,  I hold back too.  In my own  way.  I won’t speak in a group until I feel very, very safe. And even then, maybe never.  When I go to the gym, I plug earphones in my ears so no one will talk to me.  And you are likely to cause a  panic attack if you catch me by surprise at the grocery store.

I  know that God has released me from fear’s POWER and DOMINANCE over my life, and yet, the struggle to depend wholly on Him remains.   But that’s the beauty of God’s grace.   Where self defeat leaves me, Jesus picks me up.  In the moment, I  can choose to surrender to him.  And then, He replaces my loneliness with His comfort, my isolation with His closeness, and my lack of self-confidence with His God-confidence.

 

 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.                                                                                                                                      Isaiah 40:29

 

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Expect the Unexpected

may2014 139My fear-filled Abby smiles, raises her head, and begins to dance.  Ballet seems to release some of the intense reservations that naturally reside in her little heart.  I never would have guessed that my silent little girl would be released by dance.

It  warms my heart to see that release in her.  It is such an unexpected blessing.may2014 130

And yet, it is in the unexpected where God’s  sweet glory shines the brightest.  

may2014 145Recently, the kids and I joined the  team of greeters at church.  It is definitely not the expected pick for our little  clan.   I am very quiet.  Many times, socially awkward.  Abby rarely speaks to others in a public setting.  Eli  is very reserved until he feels comfortable. So you can see why it might be a bit of a stretch for us to greet people as they come through the doors.

And yet, despite our many disqualifications, God led us into this ministry .  But He fully compensates for what we lack.  He makes quiet into sweetness, insecurity into confidence and fear into God dependency. My little family gets  to trade everything  that we are not for everything that He is.

I expected a panic attack and distressed children.   But He poured His strength into our weakness.

And, unexpectedly, we were blessed.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”     Jeremiah 17:7-8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Bandage for my Heart

Leesy wanted a backpack.

Since she was suppose to be sleeping, I told her no.

So she grabbed my hand and showed me how she got a boo-boo on her head. She didn’t want a backpack.  She wanted an ice pack.  Big difference.  Band-aids and ice packs can cure anything.

Especially if you are 2. yrs old.may2014 007

As  an adult,  I know that Christ is the only bandage for my heart.  Yet, I try to heal so many other ways.  Caffeine can pump me full of energy.   Deserts make me superficially feel indulged and satisfied.  Exersize can burn off some stress.

But, my heavy duty band-aid unfortunately, is the approval of my friends and family.  With their pleasure, my scars of rejection, fear, and insecurity are covered.  But with the smallest sense of rejection, that band-aid is ripped off and the injury deepens.

But I can protect my heart against the devil’s scheme to fill my head with doubt, anxiety, and frustration.  I have to know that my identity is in Christ.

But what exactly does this mean?  In Christ?

I have a vague understanding of  that identity.  So, I began collecting bible verses that identifies my position in Christ.  

In Christ….

 

I am the righteousness of God.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 1 Corinthians 5:21

I am a child of the promise.

Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise.  Galatians 4:28

I am a new  creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.  the  old  has gone, the new is here!  2 Corinthians  5:17

 Desert, cokes, approval – they all pale in comparison to the soothing balm of believing God’s truth.

I

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