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The Rules of Motherhood

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The dog threw up and Leesy knocked over a bowl of water…. just as Eli was walking across the kitchen balancing his bowl of cereal and juice.  His little legs flipped up and he landed on his bootie – sitting in throw up, water, orange juice, milk, and cereal.

But with little ones at home, this is not an extraordinary scene.

If I clean the floor, juice spills.   If I windex the glass, noses and hands smash in to see the new clear view.  If I vaccum, my husband tracks in dirt.  If I clean the bathroom, a child will smear toothpaste on the mirror.

It’s the rules of motherhood.

Sometimes, in the moment, it makes me want to cry.  I just want a sense of accomplishment.

But, unfortunately, that is simply not real.

My life is not perfect.  It’s messy.

It’s loud.  A bit chaotic.  Topped with a little oneryness.

But God is a God of joy.  Laughter.  And giggles.

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting.                        Job 8:21 ESV

And sometimes those giggles belong to Eli trying to tickle me under the disguise of a hug or Leesy crushing the Cheerios she threw on the floor.

And yet, when the stress mounts, my children cannot be the only ones laughing.  His joy must break through.

And I must surrender.

But not to frustration.  Not to anger.  And not to emptiness.

But to God.

And I ask Him to cultivate joy in my heart.

So I can laugh.  Giggle.  And smile.

          With my cherished children.

                          My family.

                                 His blessings.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.  Proverbs 17:22 ESV

 

Comfort! Guest Post by Author Nancee Fox

It was way past time for some up-dates; the old place was looking a tad bit shabby and I had gone on a fact finding mission just to see what was on the market now in the way of den furniture.  Of course I realize they are not called “dens” anymore and we have gone on beyond “the family room” to the “great room”. If fact I have noticed it is not even a room now; it is a “space”!  On HGTV all they talk about are spaces.  (What happened to rooms?!)   “How do you visualize this space?” they ask; or “How do you like your new space?”

I had ventured out to see what could be had to improve my tired den/ family/great space. As I wandered about the furniture show room I forgot my mental list of must haves: a sofa cracker crumb  beige, possibly with accents of strawberry kool-aid red for a pop of color and an area rug that would blend with dried play-doh. Instead,I was seduced by a low slung sectional in creamy off white fabric. If this were in my SPACE I would lounge upon it beautifully dressed and sip white wine while reading trendy novels. “Does this come in any other color?” I asked the approaching sales person. He had spotted me drooling over his sofa.  “Unfortunately, no; but it is polyester not cotton so it would not be hard to keep.” He replied. I just looked at him in wonder then offered, “Honey, we have 8 grandchildren.  There is not enough polyester on the planet to help me!”  So much for style and sophistication.

Back home I looked around at my comfortable but out of fashion room. This is Nana’s house; warm and safe and welcoming to all children, no matter how old they are because at heart we are all children who long to be comforted. Here the little ones can build a fort with cushions and throws and eat Fruit Loops in front of the fireplace. The big ones can take off their shoes, put up their feet and tell me all about their day.

Nana’s house is a place of peace, love and joy, blessed by the Father who wants security and comfort for His children. Come by for a visit when you can. I will put on the coffee or perhaps water for tea. Try a slice of the apple brandy loaf. It’s best warmed a bit with some honey drizzled over it.  Come on, let’s have it in the den. It is more comfortable in there.

Click here to follow Nancee Fox on Facebook.  Her book, I Am a Child of God, can be purchased at amazon.com/author/nfoxbooks.

My Deliverer

One chocolate brownie.  Four drooling kids.  And one lie.

Abby claimed she had not eaten a brownie yet.  But I knew better.  And eventually, her story crumbled.

And I crumble.

Not because I ate a chocolate brownie.  But because the pressure of life eventually exposes my weakness.

In my “better” moments,  peace is so near that I can almost feel the breath of God against me.  

I would like to say that this spiritual high is an everlasting mountain that my heart unceasingly resides on.

But eventually, circumstances change.  Exhaustion sets in.  Stress increases.

And I crumble.

In those everyday moments, I still have a choice.  I can choose to lean on my Father.    Or I can choose despair and frustration.    But more often than I would like to admit,  I don’t actively pursue God.

And the battle goes on.

But with God, there is always hope.

He never leaves me.

I may be tired from the constant battle within my heart, but He isn’t tired.  He isn’t worn down.  And He isn’t defeated.

IMG_0012 He is my Deliverer.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

                                                                                                        Psalm 18:2 NIV

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xYvBTd58xw[/youtube]

 

A Blessed Day

Spilled juice, broken glass, temper tantrums, and whining can easily transform quiet into chaos.  And some days, the stress of raising small children compiles.  The disasters multiply until I feel out of control.

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And I have a choice.

I can surrender and have one of THOSE days – where all the disobedience and disasters squeezes the patience out of my heart.  And the urge to snap overrides all emotion.

OR

I can surrender my heart to God.  And He may not change my circumstances, but I know that He changes me. 

This morning, my patience was tattered.  Zaiah threw countless temper tantrums over minute details about his breakfast and clothing.  Dishes, laundry, and bills were piled high.  And Leesy was tired from a poor nights sleep.  She spent most of the morning crying, whimpering, and slamming her head against the floor.

But the stress didn’t ruin me.

I was tempted.   Tempted to yell at my kids.  To stomp in frustration.  To be bitter over a compromised day.

But at the onset of temptation, I surrendered my heart.  And the peace that He has been cultivating in my life conquered the impending emotional snap.

And my children were blessed by a mother who could cherish and cultivate their little hearts.  It could have been one of THOSE days (and I am sure that I still have many coming) but it wasn’t.

It was a blessed day.

  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.  

                                                                                             Romans 8:6

Beautiful

Abby loves flowers.  And, at eight years old, weeds with a bloom qualify as a flower just as much as a daffodil or rose.  And so, when her Boppa murdered a dandelion, her tears  erupted into anger over his thoughtless elimination of the beautiful sprout.

Where her Boppa saw a weed, she saw beauty.

And I am so glad that my Heavenly Father  sees beauty in me.

Because, honestly, I often feel like a weed.  By the standards of this world, I am unsuccessful,  boring, and rejected.   And by God’s law, I am a condemned sinner.

But Jesus changed all that.

What I am, who I have become, and what I will be – it doesn’t matter.  Because God sees His elegant creation covered by the grace of His son.

Beautiful

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

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

2 Corinthians 5:21  NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Significant Change

Big dogs have never appealed to me.  But I fell in love with Nessa, a one year old Catahula, and so we adopted her.

She seemed well behaved but soon after ingrafting her into our chaotic household, she decided to reek havoc and denounce all our commands.

The biggest struggle was her crate.  When we told her  to “crate” and she would flee, play dead, or stand firm her ground.

But after two months of training, we can  ask her to “crate” and she calmly walks to her crate, opens it with her paw, and lays down.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcVIp02JfLY[/youtube]

A significant change.

But it pales in the comparison to the change that God has worked in me.

I am still quiet.  That will never change.  That’s the personality that God created in me.  I don’t want to change that.

And yes, it is great to see progress, relief, and hope as I deal with old, and new, physical symptoms of anxiety.

And yet, that is not the real change.  That is not where my life has been impacted the most.

Peace.

The peace that only God can give.

My heart can stray from the protection of His love as I look outward for affirmation and purpose.  But as soon as I divorce my heart from those sorrows and dwell in His presence, His love transforms my heart.

That unchangeable,  unshakable,  and unstoppable love overshadows my desire to dwell in the darkness.

And His peace overcomes me.

 

 

 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Isaiah 54:10

 

All the Glory

Lunch included a  sandwich, animal crackers, and applesauce.   But apparently, I have been depriving my children of applesauce.  Because it was a huge hit.

Especially for Eli.  He slowly slurped his applesauce out of his spoon.

He was absolutely delighted by the treat.

The Turtle Eating Applesauce

Delight

But my greatest treat, my delight, is in God’s love.

But sometimes that delight fades when my heart wanders.  And then, when I turn inward, I suffocate in my own strength.  In my own hope.  My own confidence.

I enjoy, with all my heart, writing these blog posts.  I love to share God’s marvelous works.  I love to encourage.  And I love the writing process.  I have found my sweet spot.

However, last weekend, I struggled.

     I couldn’t find inspiration.

                               My words labored on the page.

                                          I was discouraged with my lack of  impact.

                             I doubted God’s hand in the project.

But after a few days of self condemnation, I realized that I had begun to rely on my own ability.  I had begun to place my confidence in my own reflections of God’s work in my life.

 It had become my work, not God’s work.

With my hope in myself, my confidence shattered.  My hope failed.  My strength withered.

And so, I surrendered my heart, once again, to Christ.

And in scripture, I find my prayer:

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  (Psalm 51:10.)

And as I drew closer to Him, His love transformed me.  

He is the delight of my heart.

 And He is my strength, my hope, and my confidence.

And so, in whatever I do, He gets ALL the glory.

Not to us, Lord, not to us
    but to your name be the glory,
    because of your love and faithfulness.

                                                            Psalm 115:1

Peace in Spite of Dirty Underwear

My eye slits open to little underwear boy.  It’s 5 a.m. and he needs a glass of water. And the pitter patter of little feet through our front hallway signals the wakening of the whole clan.

Temper tantrums.  Cherrios caught between toes.  Baby Leesy feeds the dog her lunch.   Dishes mount.  The Laundry stinks.  Corn dogs for dinner again.  Someone has peed onDSCN6977 the bathroom walls.  Snot boogers.  Sticky spills.   And why are Zaiah’s dirty underwear in the middle of the living room floor?

But as I fall exhausted into bed, a crying baby signals an ongoing task to be tackled.  Sore throats wake to be tended.  Nightmare’s need comforting.

It’s, honestly, very hard to laugh at all the boogers, dishes, and dirty underwear when I am exhausted.  I am in 24 hour service to precious, but demanding, little blessings that God has entrusted to me.

Not long ago, this overwhelming stress of raising little ones constantly edged out any sense of peace and welcomed anxiety into my life.  But I am learning how to let God work His peace in my heart.

I am slowly understanding that I cannot rely on my own strength.  I cannot force a positive attitude.  I cannot cultivate a  patient spirit.  I cannot redeem my selfishness for a sacrificial heart.

The challenges of motherhood remain the same.

But God changes me.

With my heart welcoming God’s gracious peace, my perspective changes.

My eye slits open to little underwear boy.  Yes, it’s 5 a.m. and I am really exhausted,  but I patiently remind him where the cups and water are located.

The pitter patter of little feet through our front hallway signals the wakening of the whole clan.  I am surrounded by smiling faces.

Temper tantrums proceed naptime.  Cherrios crumbs are swept by Zaiah and his talking broom.  Leesy squeals in delight as her leftovers are gobbled up by “doga.”   Dishes mount.  But my husband has discovered the art of washing dishes and watching t.v. on his little handheld device.  Abby loves folding laundry.  I cannot believe she is big enough to really help.  I am so fortunate my kids love corn dogs so much.  Someone has peed on the bathroom walls and now two little boys enjoy the task of being cut loose with rags and water to scrub the walls.  Snot boogers.  Gotta laugh.   Sticky spills can be licked up by the dogs.  I will mop it when I can.  And why are Zaiah’s dirty underwear in the middle of the living room floor?  As long as his little bottom is covered now, it’s o.k.

In an unexpected nighttime feeding,  I pray and recite  memory verses to Leesy.   Eli wakes with a sore throat during the night.  I give him his medicine and take a moment to snuggle in the quiet of the night.  Nightmare’s need comforting.  And I thank God that I have precious little children to hug.

His peace brings me thankfulness, laughter, fulfillment, and motivation –  in spite of dirty underwear and crushed cherrios.

 

  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26 NIV

 

 

He Will Deliver Me

Abby requests endless Tinkerbell movies.   Not wanting her to dwell on her sour stomach, I endure the repetitive charade.

Fortunately, the repetition is temporary.  But when everyone is well, the Tinkerbell marathon abruptly ends.

In contrast,  I am an endless repetition.

The same problems.  The same mistakes.

I get tangled in unhindered concern, distrust, and insecurity.  I unintentionally invite anxiety to slither, unnoticed, into my heart.  And then suddenly, I am winded with the realization my imperfect faith has left me stranded.

I have wandered from the loving arms of God.

Again.

I am acutely aware of my triggers – those circumstances that leave my heart vulnerable to succumb to temptation.

Sleep deprivation.

 Stress.

High Expectations.

 Too little time abiding in God’s Word.

A couple nights ago, I suffered from several nights of children waking, my own sickness, and children resisting the time change.  I was exausted.

On night five, it caught up with me.  And I lay down to sleep only to encounter a relentless debate of  my thoughts and actions.  I found myself caught in the claws of anxiety.

Again.

But I am comforted.  Because God has brought me this far.  In the words of Samuel, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7: 12)

My trust, my faith – will never return to its previous state.  I may stumble.  I may fall.  Again.

But God has brought me this far.  He WILL deliver me, again.

And so, I reside in God’s word – coating my soul with His calming balm…… His unhindered joy, mercy, and love.

When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines.  They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.”  Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.

 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites.  The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar.

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

1 Samuel 7: 7-12