Friday, September 18, 2009

Potty-training=God's Patience

We have been attempting to potty-train in our house the last few weeks. To say it's going poorly would be an understatement...but here's the worst part about what's going poorly. I realized that me, as a parent, was the PROBLEM! Not my sweet daughter, not her developmental stage, not her ability to understand what I was saying and asking of her. No, it was my incredible sense of urgency to make this happen NOW, not on her time, that was getting in the way. It struck me, like the air had been removed from the room, how impatient I am. And it saddened me greatly - there were a lot of moments I was a really crappy mom. From yelling at her for peeing on the carpet, then telling me about it (I am not proud of fact, maybe this if my way of confessing my brokenness and pleading for forgiveness)...and instead of reacting with love and grace, I shamed her. Oh how that breaks my heart, to know that my precious angel came to me with something she felt sorry for and instead of receiving her with open arms, I reacted with anger.

I've been thinking a lot about how often God reaches out to us with open arms and we shame him, or 'curse' His name (maybe not intentionally, but I know I sure do) or just flat-out turn the other way. And instead of being vengeful and hateful towards us, He waits for us to remember who He is. Not that there aren't repercussions for our actions, I simply mean He is always there with open arms. This has hit me very heavily the last few days, as I think about how I react to my child, His child. Do I open my arms to her at every turn and let her know I am here, no matter what? Do I open my arms to myself, realizing that God's amazing grace extends to me as a parent as well? His words, "Go and sin no more" (John 8:11) have captured my heart this week as I've gone over and over again in my head how I have let my sweet girl down. But I know, just as He is teaching her, He is teaching me...and I too need to turn and run into those beautiful arms of forgiveness!

Sweet Lord and Savior - parenting is rough! This is not for the weak...and it's proof again and again how deeply and truly we need you. Need your mercy, your wisdom, your patience, your guidance and most importantly, your grace. Father, I pray that you would help me, and my fellow parent friends, to have grace with ourselves. I know I am not the only one who is incredibly hard on myself as a parent. We will fail our kids, we will let them down, we will need to ask for their forgiveness and then move past it. But, you will never fail them, you will never leave them and you will never forsake them. Help us to teach them this and model this for them, that we believe that in our own lives! Lord Jesus, I would be lost without your grace. I pray that you would mold me into the mother you have called me to be and love that sweet girl you have placed in our lives as you have created me to. And Father, I pray for your patience as we journey onward. Thank you that you hear these prayers, and thank you that your mercies are new every day! Lord, we are grateful and humbled - in Your Son's Mighty Name, Amen

Monday, September 14, 2009


"Oh, that I had wings like a dove;
then I would fly away and rest!
I would fly far away
to the quiet of the wilderness."
Psalm 55:6,7

It is no secret that mothers are tired. Fathers are tired. Anyone who cares for a child is tired. It is a tiring job. We are a weary bunch. We work and clean and cook and dress and mop up spills and fix broken things and make sure homework is in the proper backpack and weeds are pulled and oil is changed and hair is brushed. We move at a relentless pace because life won't slow down for the weary. It does not acknowledge our plight. Time disregards my fatigue and continues to march along. Life does not pause while we take a breather. It keeps moving, sometimes like a snowball rolling down a hill, gathering momentum it fixes it's sights on us and plows us over. "Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest!"
There are weary parents out there. Beat. Drained. Burned out. Overworked. Fatigued. Done in. Exhausted. We need rest. Sometimes it's as simple as that.

Lord, as we wake up and start our days please bless us with a kind of rest and refreshment that only comes from you. No matter how much sleep we have gotten, let us be renewed. This job is hard. It is tiring. But we know that it is so worth it. In the midst of life and it's continual movement, please pour your renewal and rest upon us. Like the crisp quiet of morning, let our souls and our minds have a stillness and peace. And as we run around, go to work and take care of these blessings you have entrusted us with, we pray for your continual renewal - for your continual rest, even in the craziness of this world. We ask that fatigue will not be allowed to steal our joy or make us quick to anger, but help love and joy and energy abound.
And, Lord, if it is our poor decisions or overloaded schedules that have run us into the ground, please give us the wisdom and courage we need to let go of commitments or addictions that make us even more tired. Help us make the best decisions for our families, ourselves and your body.
So, as I hear the little creaks and moans that tell me little ones are stirring this morning, I pray that the tiredness I feel will be fleeting and temporary - and that your Spirit will fill me up and carry me through this day. Help me overcome the weary nature of this job, and take joy in the blessings you have given me. And, Lord, give me rest.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. Jeremiah 31:25

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Anger Within

This last week my oldest two kids have been at each other's throats. They have been fighting in strange and unusual ways. They scream at each other. They push each other. It's gotten really bad. They seem like they've been constantly angry with each other. And they give "The Look". You know, where they tilt their heads down, purse their lips and look at each other (or you) out of the tops of their eyes. The kinds of looks that shoot daggers. I find that I do not handle these situations very well. I don't like seeing them this way and - honestly - I want to MAKE them love each other. As they pestered each other and scowled and screamed and pouted and huffed and puffed my patience wore thin. And then God slammed me. As they got in yet another fight and I jumped up to referee I noticed that their anger with each other made me...well...ANGRY. Yikes. Realizing this was like drinking that nasty bitter stuff you have to take when you are pregnant and getting those tests done. I needed to see this dark side of myself. But it was not pleasant.
I am a fallen and broken person, and it hurts my heart to see that I am passing on my junk to my kids. I am teaching them something, through how I respond to things and how I react to them, that pains the heart of God. I get angry with them, and they get angry with each other. They say hurtful things. They shun each other and shame each other. They boss and manipulate and use each other. And they often explode at each other when they can't take it anymore. Just like me.
I love it when people say that Ellie looks just like me. Or when they say Payton has my smiley cheeks or tiny ears. But realizing that my kids also have my anger and my biting tongue and my quick temper...that's not quite so flattering or heart warming.
I reminded my son today that the hard times we have today don't have to be carried on to tomorrow. The Lord's mercies are "new every morning". He is making "all things new". We don't have to carry the baggage from today into tomorrow. So today I am letting go of my failures and praying for his new mercies.
Lord, I have failed in being a living example for my children in more ways than I can count. I have passed on things I do not wish for them to own. I pray for your intervention in our lives. Inervene in my heart to stop anger from welling up. I pray that you would replace that response with one that would honor you. Help me to be patient, thoughtful, instructive and merciful. I pray that you would give me the tools I need to parent in a way that honors you. I don't want to depend on my feelings or on the ways the world accepts as adequate parenting. I want to lead them to you and I know that requires more than just knee jerk reactions. It requires more than I have. It is true that I struggle with anger, but it is also true that you redeem and transform. As I lay this burden at your feet, please help me to let go of it and allow you to deal with me. Have your way in me. And for my children, Lord, I pray that whatever I have passed on I can take back. I pray that they would witness my surrender of this sin and your redemption in my life. Let their hearts be softened towards each other and their anger subside. And I pray that they would not carry this feeling, this reaction, this sin, through their lives. Let patience, wisdom and tranquility mark their interactions with each other and with others. I pray that as they grow they would learn how to be even-tempered in all situations and that they would be able to react to situations with compassion, kindness and love. And I pray that your Word would become the center of our lives. Teach me to "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."(Deut. 6:7-9) I ask for your Word to feed us, renew our hearts and guide us as we learn and grow. Thank you for redeeming us daily, for changing us and for only dealing with us one issue at a time (or I may be overwhelmed by my depravity to the point of hopelessness). Your kindness and mercy amaze me. Amen.

Monday, September 7, 2009


I have been feeling guilty about a lot of things lately (one being that I've never actually posted on this blog yet...I think about it all the time). But mostly, I've been thinking about how little I lift my little girl in prayer when life gets busy. Sure, I pray over her every night and we pray at meals...but I mean REALLY pray for her, for us as parents, for my friends as parents and for their kids. It so easily escapes my mind when other things like To Do Lists, work and life crowd in like a freight train. It's like I don't have the capacity to hold it all, and I often wonder how to change that. We were on vacation last week, without our little one, and it struck me at one point that I hadn't prayed for her for two days. It made me sad and I felt guilty about it - that somehow because she was out of sight, I wasn't intentionally seeking the Lord on her behalf. It was weird, and a wake-up call for me I think, that I need to intentionally pray for my little girl every day. And, I've started a list of my friends who I want to intentionally pray for at least once a week as well - their kids, their marriage, them as parents. For me, it's so easy to forget to pray about those who matter most to me, unless there is a crisis.

Our church is starting something new this fall, we are doing a worship service for families. I'm pretty excited about it, though our little one is just a bit young to really take it in we feel. It's geared toward kids five and above, as far as them being able to 'participate and understand' the worship. I think it's wonderful that we are inviting our children to take part in church, to help them further understand what it means to be in relationship with Jesus and model, not just say, what our relationship with Him looks like. Again, it was a good reminder that my child sees my actions so much clearer than she hears my words. I was struck by this Scripture yesterday and it's stuck with me:

"People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belong to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." (Mark 10:13-16)

I was really moved by "he took the children in his arms" for some reason yesterday. Jesus stopped and took the time to embrace these children, to show them that they were important and mattered so dearly to him...even if they didn't understand his words.
Sweet Jesus, I pray that you would help me to be a mother that shows my child by my actions and my words how important you are to me. That I would be intentional in my prayer for her and for all the sweet children in my life I love so dearly. I pray the things my mind would focus on would be the things that matter to you, instead of the things I feel are so important they sometimes cloud my priorities. Help me to remember that the kingdom of Heaven belongs to children, because of their sweet innocence and unquestioning love for you. Help me to be like a child in my faith, to love and trust you without reserve. And help me to be the mother you created me to be. Lord, I am so grateful for the gift of my child - and I pray that not one day I would take her for granted. In Jesus precious name, Amen

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'm a bag lady.

It's been a week. I had a moment at the store the other day, my kids were playing in the play area when another parent comes up to and asks, "is this YOUR son?" That's never good. For some reason this week has been hard. We have been feeling emotional, tired, embarrassed, tense with eachother. I'm just d-o-n-e. Last night got a little ugly at our house...We went to bed tired, feeling defeated.

I got up early this morning, had some real quiet time with the Lord. As usual, things shifted right into perspective. "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say REJOICE!" Phil. 4:4.

I have been reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan (GREAT book, BTW). In chapter two, Francis says, referring to Phil. 4:4, "You'll notice that it doesn't end with '...unless you're doing something extremely important.' No, it's a command for all of us, and it follows with the charge, ' Do not be anxious about anything' .(v. 6)"

I had noted this verse last week in my journal, and as soon as I cracked it open this morning, I knew I needed to revisit it. I needed it. Here it is:

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, 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. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

I knew I need to give my stress, my anxiety, my embarrasment, over to Him, and fill my mind with the wonderful things he has done in my life. I made a "thankful" list. I gave my kids and husband, my menu plan, my budget, all back to him, where they belong. All day long, I've been chanting in my mind...Rejoice! Rejoice! God is good.

Francis goes on in chapter 2 of Crazy Love to say this: "When I am consumed by my problems--stressed out about my life, my family and my job--I actually convey the beliefe that I think the circumstances are more important than God's command to always rejoice. In other words, that I have a "right" to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities.

Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives.

Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, oru lack of grace toward others, or our own tight grip of control.

Basically, these two behaviors communicate that it's okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry and stress reek of arrogance.They declare our tendancy to forget that we've been forgiven, that our lives her are brief, that we are that we are headed to a place where we won't be lonely, afraid, or hurt ever again, and that in the context of God's strength, our problems are small, indeed."

Sheeee-yoot. Guilty of all of the above, right here!

Lord, forgive me for clinging to my worry and stress as if I had some control over the things in my world. Fill my heart and mind with the knowledge that you are the one with a grip on this planet, not me. Let me freely release my bags full of crud that I carry around with me each day. The bag that says I'm a lousy mom, when my kid embarrasses me in the store with his shocking behavior. The bag that says we don't have enough money. The bag that says I am not good enough to raise respectable respectFUL kids. The one that says I need to do more. The one that says we need this or that...Lord, take them all. Replace them with your joy. With bags full of lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Let me be full of thankfulness and peace. Let that flow into my kids lives and fill them up too. Amen.
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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On His Own

It's official. My baby is leaving. In a few hours he will walk out the door to a new phase in his life. All day school. No more lazy mornings watching Little Einsteins. No more morning trips to Winco together. No more "Can we just have a pajama day?" He'll be gone. He is very excited. I am not.
Of course, I don't show that to him, but he knows. Yesterday he asked me, "Mommy will you be sad when you only have Ellie and Shiloh to play with?" I said a very sincere, "Yes".
I know this step is going to open up whole new worlds of wonder for him. Playground friends, field trips, a library with more books than he could ever read, new knowledge, adventures and fun. But in the back of my mommy mind I know there are also other worlds that will be there. Worlds filled with things that are not so fun or wondrous. Insecurities. Temptations. Pain. As he steps further and further from the nest, I have to admit that the world is full of those things. And there is no way to stop him from encountering them. He will have decisions to make. He will have obstacles to overcome. And I won't be able to be there with him, gently guiding him down the right path or comforting him when his feelings get hurt. I can't tell the kids on the playground how fun he is or stand up for him when someone is playing unfairly.
As I sat in sadness and resignation this morning I realized that I need to bring this before the Lord. Not just for today, but every day forward. He needs that guidance even when I'm not there, and that's where the power of the Holy Spirit will shine bright in his life. I may not be able to walk with him, but the Spirit of the Living God does not leave his side.

Lord God, I want to lay my son before you this morning. He is walking out the door and leaving a part of his childhood behind. He will be out of my reach for so many hours of the day. And I have no idea what he will encounter. It feels like having a part of my heart walk away into that first grade classroom. I so desperately want to be there, but I know I must loosen my grip and let go. He is your son and you are with him.
I pray that you will be his comforter. When his is lonely, scared or hurting, scoop him up in your arms and give him comfort. Hold him close, so that he can feel and know your presence. Whisper truth in his heart when he is tempted to believe a hurtful lie. Calm his fears when he feels like he cannot take another step. Give him the confidence that comes from walking in your presence. Be the arms around him that I cannot. May his heart say "May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant." (Psalm 119:76)
I pray that you would be his protector. When he is in danger, either physical, emotional or spiritual, please stand guard for him. Keep him safe from physical harm, accidents and injury. Protect his heart from Satan's lies that are intended to wound and scar him. And please protect his spirit from temptations that threaten to draw him away from your loving embrace. Please, Lord, be his guard and sentinel. Fight for him. Cover him. Save him from the plans of the enemy as you did David when he said, "He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters." (Psalm 18:16)
I pray that you would be his friend. Let him know that you are beside him, walking with him throughout his day. Hold his hand. Be his constant companion. Give him the confidence that comes from being a friend of God. I pray that as he walks into that school he would be ready and excited to make friends, that he would have the wisdom to choose them carefully and that he would be comfortable in his own skin because you have made him perfectly and walk with him daily.
In all the ways he will need you that I have not mentioned (or do not even know about), I pray that you would be with him, caring for him and watching over him. Lord, your son is about to step further out into the world, and I know you have a path marked out for him. Please give this mamma peace that her boy is your boy, and he is in your hands.
In the name of Jesus, who died for my son, Amen

Psalm 121
1 I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!

3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.

5 The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.

7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.