Sunday, March 30, 2008

He Will Deliver!

You may recall me mentioning the read through the Bible in one year program I am following. I am currently in Deuteronomy and before I get into this post I want to say, once again, how much I love this reading program. If you have never read through God's Word completely and systematically, let me encourage you to check out the link above and get started on an incredible journey!!!

The other day I read chapter 7 and have been thinking about it quite a bit since then. Up to this point in the book Moses has been recounting for the Israelites what God has been doing for them, reminding them how they have responded to Him, and exhorting them to love God and follow His commands. Now he is telling them about how God is going to drive out the nations before them, so He may deliver them into the land which He promised their forefathers He would give them.
Usually, I try to keep my blog entries from getting too long and I don't normally quote long portions of scripture because I know you have a lot to do and probably not a lot of time to read.
Today, however, I am going to quote Deuteronomy 7:17-24 and I am going to ask you to read it thoughtfully and carefully. I believe God's Word will speak for itself, so I am only going to comment briefly about it at the end. I think this is a very encouraging piece of scripture and I don't want you to miss it.

You may say to yourselves, "These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?" But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the LORD your God brought you out. The LORD your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear. Moreover, the LORD your God will send the hornet among them until even the survivors who hide from you have perished. Do not be terrified by them, for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. The LORD your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. But the LORD your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed. He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven. No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them.
As I read this passage I was at once impressed with God's power and faithfulness - reflecting on all He had done in bringing the Israelites out of Egypt. Surely, they had no reason to fear!
But it is verse 22 which has really stuck with me. The LORD your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. It isn't just His power and faithfulness which are perfect, but His wisdom, too.
I thought of several friends for whom I have been praying. There is one with a sick daughter, one with an injured daughter, another has a daughter in a far away country she is waiting to adopt, and yet another is waiting for God to open the doors to begin the adoption process. I am praying for a woman with an ill husband and a prodigal son, for a friend dealing with stresses of sickness and the delicate balance between work and family, and for a young man struggling to come out of a brain injury.
Surely, each of these individuals could say they are facing a "nation" which is much stronger than they are. I guess there is a pretty good chance you have a nation of your own which you are facing today. So we pray, and we ask God to drive out the nation, and we trust He is able to do it. But we wonder why "nothing" seems to be happening.
Could it be God is driving out your nation little by little - as He knows best?
My friend, whatever the nation is before you, which you are waiting for God to drive out, I pray you will be encouraged as you recall His faithfulness to you in the past and trust His wisdom for the present and future.

He will deliver!!!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cake for Dinner?

It's almost April first. Do you know what's for dinner???

My kids look forward to April Fool's Day every year because I serve cake for dinner, and salad for dessert. Want to join us this year? It's fun!

For dinner, make your favorite meat loaf in two round cake pans. "Frost" and stack them just like you would a real cake, using mashed potatoes. I put some extra mashed potatoes in a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe a shell border around the bottom and top edges. Then dot the border with spots of mustard and ketchup. It really ends up looking like a cake, and the kids think it's great!

For dessert you'll need waffle ice cream bowls, ice cream, flaked coconut, green and yellow food coloring, whipped topping, black rope licorice - cut into 1/4-inch slices, and maraschino cherries. Scoop the ice cream into the waffle bowls. In separate resealable plastic bags, combine about a teaspoon of water with several drops of the food coloring; add coconut to each bag. Seal the bag and shake to tint.
Sprinkle the ice cream with the green coconut. Dollop with whipped topping. Sprinkle with the yellow coconut and licorice; top with the cherries.
And voila! Taco salads for dessert!

Of course, you'll also want something to "drink"...For six servings, prepare 2 packages (3 ounces, each) of strawberry gelatin. Refrigerate until partially set, about 2 hours. Stir in 3/4 cup each, sliced fresh strawberries, fresh raspberries, and fresh blueberries. Pour into six tall drink or soda glasses. Insert a straw into each glass. Refrigerate until set. They'll look like wonderful drinks, but your family will be in for a surprise when they try to sip it up. Ha!

So now you know what we're eating next Tuesday. How about you? Will you serve cake for dinner???

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Romance Through E-mail???

I have mentioned before about Maria at Free to Fly and her celebration of The Year of Romance. As a part of her blog she is posting monthly about marriage (Follow the previous link to read the details...) and is encouraging other bloggers to do the same. I believe, for those of us who are married, a healthy relationship with our hubby is crucial to surviving motherhood. With that in mind - and finding myself encouraged by Maria's Year of Romance - today I am going to share with you a little something that happened yesterday...

Brian and I were in separate rooms working on our computers. The kids were busy entertaining themselves and I was getting some work done when my computer chimed at me, alerting me of a new email.
The message was from Brian (who was less than twenty feet away from me) and the content was a bit of a proposition. I didn't say anything. I simply hit Reply and responded in kind. After a bit of playful banter back and forth over cyberspace, I excused myself from the computer and went to my room. Brian did, too. And the rest, quite honestly, is none of your business!!! *grin*

My point in sharing this story is to encourage those of you who are married to remember to have fun with your husband. The kids, the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, blah, blah, blah, take up so much of our time and wear us out so we often have nothing left to give to the one with whom it all started!
At least for me, at the end of a long day, going to bed - to go to sleep - is my main interest. I have a feeling the same is true for a majority of you reading these words. Sooooo, let me encourage you - in the middle of the day, when your kids are happily occupied and your hubby is around - to surprise him with some playful banter and maybe an afternoon rendezvous.
If he's at his computer, send him an e-mail.
If he's wroking around the house, slip a note into his hand.
If he's outside, call him on his cell phone.
However you do it, have fun. He'll love it. And I am quite sure you will, too!

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Brokenness? I Can Live Up to That!

I think we have already established here at Surviving Motherhood that I am not perfect. This confession should come as a surprise to no one who is even a semi-regular reader of this blog.
And I am glad to know the women who leave comments are on the same page as me when it comes to imperfection. (I'm trusting those who do not comment are in agreement, too, but I'll never know unless you tell me. hint, hint *big grin*)

As I mentioned last week, I am writing a talk which I will be giving to a group of women at a Mother's Day Luncheon in Florida. Part of my talk will be addressing an issue with which I think many of us struggle - be it in motherhood, or any other aspect of our lives - and I want to share just a bit of that with you here today.
The talk I am going to present comes from Mark 6:30-44, when Jesus fed five thousand men (plus all the women and kids!!!) with five loaves of bread and two fish.
The specific thing I want to address today is what Jesus did to the bread in order to make it "enough."
Clearly, the bread - as it was when the disciples gave it to Jesus - was not enough to feed the hungry crowd. There is no way 1,000+ people were going to gather around a loaf of bread and all eat of it. Not gonna happen! Jesus had to do something to it first.
So He took the bread and after giving thanks, He broke it. And somehow, in the breaking of the bread, the power of God came in and made it enough. Every person seated on that hillside ate and was satisfied, and there were twelve baskets full of left over pieces. Is that not amazing???

The thing that really spoke to me when I was studying this passage was Jesus' ability to take something which didn't seem to be anywhere near adequate, and make it enough.
And I realized that is exactly what He does with me.
Jesus takes me into His hands, breaks me, and makes me enough.
Enough of a mother.
Enough of a wife.
Enough of a friend.
Enough of a sister.
Enough of a daughter.
Because, do you know what happens when I come face-to-face with my brokenness? I come face-to-face with the reality that I, on my own, am not enough. I am not strong enough, wise enough, experienced enough, charming enough, or capable enough. I cannot do any of this life on my own.
In the face of my brokenness I recognize my imperfection and my complete desperation for God. I am reminded of the Truth that I can do nothing without Him, but with Him - and by His grace alone - I can do anything.
As I admit my need, and relinquish myself to God's power - through my brokenness - He makes me enough. And I have found brokenness is such a good place to be, because when I am there, I am in His hands.
Perfection? That is not gonna happen this side of heaven.
But brokenness? I can live up to that!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Being Blessed Was NOT My Intention

Some of you know I have written something I call the Irritable Mother's Survival Kit, and moms who visit my website can sign up to receive the Kit and my newsletter. In order to send out these items, I had to buy a service which allows me to do mass mailings. Yesterday I logged into my account just to check on some things.
As I was looking over the names of these women, God prompted me to pray for them. So I spent the next hour or so praying for each one by name. Many of them are women I know personally, or with whom I have interacted over email, so I knew specific things to pray for them and I brought those things to God. I thanked God because He is fully aware of the needs of each woman and I asked Him to meet those needs. I asked Him to make His presence clear to these women and to cover each one with His love. And I prayed Paul's Ephesians prayer for them - as I do for you now: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
It simply delighted my heart to consider God knows and loves us all. And though most of the women I prayed for were familiar to me by name only, it brought me joy to realize God is intimately interested in each one.
Sitting at my table, looking at my computer screen, praying for His daughters, I became aware I was a part of something way bigger than I could really understand. I was truly blessed to pray for my sisters, and being blessed was NOT my intention.
After I finished praying I sent a message to all of the women for whom I had just prayed, telling them what I had done. In the hours that followed, God really began blessing me.
My inbox started filling with emails from women thanking me for praying for them. They told me how much they needed to be prayed for yesterday. Many of them shared specific requests and I prayed for them again. They told me of the ways they experienced God's protection and comfort yesterday and I sat here thanking Jesus, nearly crying because He is so good!
God knows what we need. He knew these women needed to be lifted up yesterday and He moved in me to pray for them. He was even perfect in the timing for when my message was delivered to their inboxes.
My desire was simply to pray, but God poured out blessing on me as He allowed me a glimpse of His goodness and power. And I am so thankful.
Praying that today, you will draw near to Him and experience the blessing of His love and presence.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Leviticus 26, a la Motherhood

Two months ago I began a Read through the Bible in one year program, and I recently finished Leviticus. As I was reading chapter 26, I couldn't help but wonder what it would sound like to tweak the chapter just a bit to put it in my voice. What do you think? (BTW, to get the full effect, I would suggest grabbing your Bible and reading God's words first!)

Leviticus 26, a la Motherhood

Reward for Obedience
Do not make messes or set up forts which you are unwilling to clean up later. I am your mother.
Observe my rules and have reverence for my house (which I work so hard to keep clean in spite of you). I am the Mom.
If you follow my rules and are careful to do what I say, I will send clean clothing to your room in its season. I will wash your dirty underwear, fold your socks and even put them away for you. Your outfits will always smell nice.
I will grant peace in your land. Your brother and sister will not be allowed to torment you. You will enjoy safety among them and I will make sure they give you fair time on the Wii.
I will look on you with favor and will prepare your favorite dinners. When I go shopping I will look for sales on the snacks you love, and I will buy them for you. If I can find the fleece lined jeans you love, in your size and on sale, I will buy them and they will be yours. All yours - for you to enjoy until you wear holes in the knees which are unmendable. Even then, I will try to fix them for you.
I will put my dwelling place among you. I will walk with you to the bus stop and be your mom and you will be my child. I am the Mom who brought you out of my womb so that you would no longer stomp on my bladder; I supplied you with shoes and helped you learn to walk with your head held high.

Punishment for Disobedience
But if you will not listen to me and do as I say, and if you reject my rules and do not do exactly as I tell you to do, then I will do this to you:
I will raise my voice and tell you one more time the command I expect you to follow. I will pause for just a moment to allow you to think about your next move, but I will look at you with stern eyes.
If after this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins. I will take away your computer privileges and your time on the Wii for two days. I will not allow you to go on Webkinz to do your Daily Kinz Care or to play the Wheel of Wow. For two days you will not be able to play Tanks or Super Mario Bros. no matter how much you beg and whine.
If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions. I will take away computer and Wii privileges from you for four more days and you will not be allowed to participate in Movie Night on Friday. You will sit in your room and smell the popcorn, but you will not be allowed to eat any of it. While the rest of us enjoy whatever comes from Netflix this week, you will sit in your room, alone and without popcorn.
If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me, I myself will be hostile toward you. I will make you clean the entire bathroom by yourself, and I will not help you. I will still wash your clothes, but I will not fold them. You must do that yourself. No longer will I prepare your favorite meals. You will eat brussel sprouts and spinach. And you'll like it! In my anger I will unplug the Wii and remove it from the house completely.
But if you will confess your sins - your treachery against me and your hostility toward me - then when your heart is humbled and you apologize to me, I will remember the covenant I made with God at your birth. I will remember the promise I made to Him to love and care for you and to be your mother.
When you have calmed down and will listen to me I will talk with you about your behavior. By the grace of God alone, I will love you and I will remind you it is my job to train you in the ways that are right. I will explain to you once more that when I punish you, it is for your good, to mold and shape you - not to discourage you. I will repeat to you that everything I do for you is because I love you.
I will remember I am a broken woman, in need of God's grace and mercy - just as much as you are an immature child, in need of my grace and mercy. I will confess my own sin to the Lord and beg of Him to carry me through these difficult moments of mothering.
I will fold your clothes and pray for you.
I will make your favorite dinner and thank God for you.
I will play you in a game of Tanks and laugh with you.
I will thank God for His presence with me and His perfect faithfulness.
I am the Mom.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Practically Perfect in Every Way???

Did you think of Mary Poppins when you read the title of this post? Remember when she took out her special tape measure to size up Michael and Jane, and the tape told her about their personalities and quirks? And when she measured herself, it said, "Mary Poppins. Practically perfect in every way."
Ahem. Just because she was, does that mean we need to be?

Let's shed a little light on Miss Poppins' situation, shall we?

Do you realize she didn't cook? Did you ever see her doing the laundry? I didn't! And when she did clean, all she did was sing a song and snap her fingers, and the toys put themselves away! Mary Poppins didn't have a husband to attend to, and she got paid to be nice to those kids!!!
Is anyone reading these words living under the same conditions as Miss Practically Perfect?
No? Me neither. So let's put away the notion that we need to be perfect, OK?

I realize last week a wrote another post about our need to receive grace as mothers, but I am willing to risk the possibility that some of you will begrudge the redundancy, because the need just keeps surfacing.
Yesterday I met with a dear friend with whom I am in a mentoring relationship. She has recently had her first baby and we spent much of our time yesterday talking about how hard this phase is. My friend has been concerned about various things common to first-time moms, and now her husband is putting in a lot of hours at work and school - leaving her feeling rather alone. She told me she wants to support him and be there for him at the end of the day, but she is just so tired all she really wants to do is go to sleep.
I know many of you can relate to my friend. You want to make sure the children are healthy and safe. You want to do everything you can to stimulate their minds and bodies to develop and grow strong. It would be nice if you could maintain the house in some semblance of order. Meals need to be prepared and there is laundry to do. Perhaps you even have a goal of ironing your husband's shirts. And you might also have in mind to preserve all your children's memories in a fancy scrapbook!
I reviewed all the things going on in my friend's life and asked her (as I am asking you), "Is it any wonder you're worn out? You need to take it easy on yourself."
It seems we moms think the world might fall apart if we don't see to it that everything is taken care of and in order.
Guess what??!!
Someone Else has taken on the job of holding the universe together in perfect balance. He has been doing it since the beginning of time and He doesn't need our help.
Will you join me in realizing life will go on even if I am/you are two years "behind" on the scrapbook? Will you take a deep breath with me and accept the fact that a small hole in my/your son's jeans isn't going to stop the world from turning? Will you concur with me on the understanding that the family isn't going to starve because I/you burnt the muffins?
Yes, I want to be the best I can be as a wife and mother. I hope you do, too. But we aren't, nor will we ever be, practically perfect in every way.
I recently read a quote by Michael J. Fox which went something like this, "I will strive for excellence, but perfection - I'll leave that up to God."
Yeah, I'm with Michael. How about you?

BTW, I am in the process of writing a talk which addresses an issue many of us face regarding our imperfect-ness. That is, doubting we can ever be "enough" for our children and family. Stay tuned - I may share some of those thoughts here someday!

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Not an Inconvenience

A couple months ago I updated you on the progress of my next book, which I have now decided to call, Finding Joy: More Confessions of an Irritable Mother. I told you of the decision I had made to cut a few of the devotions (to satisfy my Type-A personality tendencies, so I could divide the book into four "one week" sections) and also the decision to post the "cut" entries here (to further satisfy my Type-A need to waste what I have worked on so hard! *grin*).

So today I give you...

Not an Inconvenience

I had my plans. I had just picked up the van from the repair shop and was on my way to run some errands. By myself. It is always enjoyable to run errands when I can do it without kids in tow, asking for this or that toy, needing to go to the bathroom, or complaining about the “quick errand” taking too long. Perhaps when I was finished I would do some window shopping, bargain hunting, or just go to a coffee shop and enjoy one of their wonderful no-bake cookies. I had not worked out all the details – I just knew I was going to get my errands done and enjoy the afternoon, by myself, at a leisurely pace.
Just as I was pulling into the parking lot of my first destination, my phone rang. The caller ID told me it was someone from school calling. Because I was not expecting to hear from anyone at school, I figured this call was not a good one. Reluctantly, I answered the phone.
The school secretary told me Joshua was in the office and wanted to talk to me. He told me he had a headache, and when I asked what he wanted me to do, Joshua said he wanted me to pick him up from school and bring him home. I would like to say I immediately switched over to saintly mother mode and sped out of the parking lot to rescue my hurting child and nurse him back to health. But that would be a lie.
Instead, I started arguing with myself. Awww, how am I going to get my shopping done? Can I take him with me? He won’t want to run errands. Do I go ahead and complete my errands now and make him wait at school? Why does he have to have a headache? Do I really need to go get him? What ever happened to, “Just put your head down on your desk. You’ll feel better in a little while.”? This interruption is ruining my plans today!
I sat in the parking lot for a minute contemplating what to do next. I had told Joshua I would come and pick him up. Should I just run into the store real quick, since I was already there, and take care of my shopping before I fulfilled my word? Technically, I had not said I would come right now to pick him up. Maybe Joshua would not even notice if it took me fifteen to twenty minutes longer to get to school than it should. Perhaps I could get some of my errands completed before my afternoon plans were totally interrupted.
Or, perhaps not.
Before long, duty and responsibility won out and I begrudgingly drove out of the parking lot to pick my son up.
As I was driving to school, trying not to be mad at Joshua for having a headache and ruining my plans, it occurred to me God never sees me as an interruption. When I come to Him with my needs, God never feels “put out” or inconvenienced. He never looks at me and says, Oh, Karen. I had other plans today. I was going to bring a few babies into the world. There is a hungry mother looking for food for her children, who really needs my attention. I wanted to paint a beautiful sunset for someone to watch tonight. And after I’m finished, I thought I would like to just sit back and watch the stars for awhile. This really is not a good time. Could you try Me again tomorrow? In fact, He wants me to come to Him when I’m not feeling well, when I am troubled, when I need to ask for His help, and when I just need comforting.
Is there something weighing you down today, which you have neglected to bring to the Lord’s feet because you did not want to bother Him with it? Were you thinking He had better things to do than listen to your little problems? Did you want to avoid inconveniencing God or interrupting His other plans for the day?
Give Him your burdens, my friend. He loves you and He wants to carry them for you. Don’t worry. He can handle it!

Your Turn:
Do you sometimes feel like a burden to God, like you’re inconveniencing Him by telling Him your problems? Read 1 Peter 5:6-7. Based upon this scripture, do you think God wants to hear your problems, or wants you to keep them to yourself?
Spend some time in prayer unpacking your burdens with God. Give them to Him, and leave them with Him. Really. Picture yourself opening a suitcase and removing the burdens, giving them to the Lord. Don’t put them back in! Then just sit and imagine yourself resting in the lap of your Heavenly Father who loves you so much. Thank God because He cares for you.

Truthfully, I didn't want to cut this entry, because I like the Your Turn section so much. But I had my reasons...Anyway, I hope you will take time with God to go through it!

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

You're a Good Mom!!!

This morning I spoke for a MOPS group and, in addition to the fun of seeing a friend from college - whom I haven't seen for 15 years! - I enjoyed my interaction with the women in attendance.
After I finished speaking, I joined one of the discussion groups to talk about the ideas I had presented and we had some great conversation. There was one topic that came up, which I want to share with you here.
One of the women at the table said she could really relate to me when I shared about the time in my life when I thought every other mom in my MOPS group had it all "together." When I thought I was the only one who struggled - the only one who wasn't perfect.
I spent too many years feeling that way, hiding the truth about who I was and the fact that I was struggling. Those were not good years, and I was glad to hear this woman say she realizes she is not alone in her struggle. We all agreed we need each other for support.
As we talked about the fact that our kids generally think we are "good moms," we also agreed it isn't our kids who are holding the standard of perfection over our heads. No, that high ridiculous standard is one we put out there for ourselves.
Honestly, think about it.
Though your kids might compare you to "Timmy's mom" who lets him have candy for breakfast, watch TV for five hours every day, never makes him take a bath, and gives him ice cream whenever he wants it, when was the last time they compared you to Mary Poppins, Carol Brady, or June Cleaver? When was the last time one of them said to you, "Mom, you need to try harder. You simply are not measuring up to my standards." They want "fair" (and I could spend a few posts talking about "fair"...but not today!) not perfection. I don't think our kids have the same unrealistic standards for us as moms as we hold over ourselves, and I am willing to bet - if you asked your children - they would tell you they think you are a good mom.
While each of the moms with whom I was having this discussion agreed with our assessment, one mom said, "Still, it's nice to hear every now and then that you're doing a good job."
Everyone agreed with that sentiment.
So, Mom...because I know you love your children, because I believe you are doing your best - even though you aren't perfect, because your kids love you and need you and you are caring for them by the grace of God, please recieve these words from my heart to yours: You're a good mom!!!

Resist the voice in your head which would say, But, Karen, you don't know how upset I got with them last night. You don't know how selfish I have been this week. You don't know the foul attitude in my heart some days...
Yeah, but I know my heart. And I know my Savior. I know He offers second chances and new beginnings. And I know, by His grace, each one of us can be a good mom. So, please receive His grace today - and go love those kids!!!

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Monday, March 03, 2008

A Heart Assessment

Have you ever visited Rachel at A Heart Assessment? I don't remember how we first became acquainted, but we have had some great conversations via email and I consider her my friend. So I trust she won't mind that I am borrowing her blog title for my post title. (By the way, her dad needs our prayers right now. Click over to her site for the details.)

A Heart Assessment.

That's exactly what I had to go through last night.

On Sunday nights Brian and I have small group at our house. We've been doing this for years and, when we began, the timing all made sense. The kids were always in bed by 8:00, so that's what time everyone gathered at our house for small group. Sometimes we were a little "late" getting downstairs, but the kids were in bed, everyone was happy and it all worked out very well.
Fast forward to the past month or two.
Our kids are older now. Their new school starts later than the previous one, so they don't need to get up as early in the morning. Therefore, bedtime is no longer 8:00. But small group still is.
We have adjusted our timing and expectations of the kids and their bedtime to work with our Sunday nights, but recently there has arisen a problem. Joshua has decided he just "can't" go to sleep if I don't come in, sing to him, and say goodnight right before he has to go to sleep. In other words, I can't sing and say goodnight at 7:45 and then let him stay up until 8:30, or whenever he wants to go to bed. It just won't work for him.
I have tried to tell Joshua it is rude for me to leave my guests in the middle of our meeting to go in and say goodnight to him. I told him if he wants me to go through the regular bedtime drill, he will need to be in bed by 8:00 on Sundays. He hasn't been too crazy about this option, but last night he was ready for bed before 8:00 and I tucked him in before small group began.
Everything seemed to be going smoothly, and I was relieved.
About 8:45 or so, Joshua came into the family room with a very sad look on his face and mumbled something about not being able to sleep. He asked if I would come say good night to him again. I could see he was on the verge of tears and I got up to go back to his room with him. When we got there, Joshua climbed into bed and said he was sorry.
Sorry? For what? Because he was having trouble falling asleep?
Why should he be sorry for that???

That's when the heart assessment began.

I realized Joshua was apologizing for asking me to leave small group to come and say good night again. He didn't want to "inconvience" me or my guests. I could tell he thought he was bothering me, and he felt sorry for that.
Oh, how I wanted to cry!
This was my sweet little boy, needing his mommy, yet afriad I was going to be upset by his neediness. The moment caused me to come face-to-face with my sinful nature. My selfishness.
What had I told him before? I didn't want to be rude to my guests by saying goodnight to him in the middle of small group. Was that it?
No, last night I realized the truth. My small group members are my friends. They don't care if I get up to attend to my children. They expect it - I'm a mom!
The truth of the matter is, I didn't want to be bothered. I was allowing my selfishness to speak for me and pin it on not wanting to be rude, but that wasn't the truth at all. And Joshua's simple, Sorry, made me see the truth.

I love my children. I do not ever want them to think they are a bother or an inconvenience to me. They are gifts from God, and I want them to know I believe it. My battle with selfishness and self-centeredness is likely to be life-long, but I thank God for taking me through this heart assessment and allowing me to see what's really there.
My prayer today is from one of my favorite choruses: Change my heart, O God. May I be like You!

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Free to Fly Award!

She has done it again!
Maria over at Free to Fly has blessed me - not just with an award, but with great encouragement. She has created her own award to give out and has absolutely captured my heart's desire in her post about why she is giving it. (Click over and read it. I am sure you will be uplifted, too!)
The struggle.
The growth.
The beauty.
The encouragement.
It is what I am experiencing and it is what I want to share with everyone who reads this blog. Thank you, Maria, for seeing it in me and for encouraging me with your words and prayers.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Is it Inevitable?

Bedtime last night was sweet, and it made me wonder if it is inevitable that one day my kids will be “too grown up” for their mother’s love. Is there something automatic about adolescence that makes a kid not want their mom to give them time and affection? Does it have to be???

Because I would be happy to continue nights like last night for a very long time.
I started in Joshua’s room. He was tired and hoped he wouldn’t have trouble falling asleep like he did the night before. We talked for a minute about going to sleep and agreed on a strategy for how to get the rest we need. (I told him I always pray when I am having trouble sleeping. For a minute I thought, He’s probably going to think, "Man, she prays about everything!" Then I figured – Well, I do pray about everything. And I want him to know it!) I sang to Joshua and rubbed his hair, then kissed him goodnight. As I was leaving his room we spoke our “I love you”s and went through our usual banter about who rocks.
Joshua said, “You rock!”
I replied, “You rock more!”
He came back with, “I know I rock, but you rock more than I do.”
I said, “You rock more than I ever will!”
And so it goes every night. Even if we have had some rough times getting ready for bed, we always end the night with a song, I love you, and You rock!

Then I moved to Matthew’s room. I sang a song, as usual, then Matthew rolled over onto his tummy and was raising his arm up behind him, looking as if he were grasping for something. He looked very awkward in this position and I kept asking what he was doing. Since his face was in his pillow, I was having a hard time understanding him and I leaned closer to hear him better. It was then I heard him say, "I want to hug you." I thought, Then why don't you roll over on your back so it will be easier, but instead of voicing my thoughts, I leaned closer still so he could wrap his arm around my neck.
And as I kneeled by Matthew's bed, held closely by his arm, I prayed for him. I knew he was also praying for me (You may read the story behind these prayers here, if you wish.) and I simply loved him in that moment. After a couple minutes we both said, "Amen," I kissed Matthew, and said goodnight.

Finally, it was Elizabeth's turn. We usually tease each other a little before I sing her song, and last night was no different. So we giggled and then I sang. It was while I was singing that I began to wonder if it is inevitable that a teenager doesn't want her mom around.
I looked at Elizabeth, almost 12 years old, and recalled a conversation we had recently. I had been in her school that day to listen to kids practice oral presentations. Elizabeth's teacher asked which group I wanted to start with and Elizabeth ran over to me saying, "Mine!" Her teacher chuckled and said something to the effect of, "Enjoy that while it lasts!"
That night as I was saying goodnight to her, Elizabeth asked me, "Mom, why do some kids not want their parents to be with them?" I smiled at her and, instead of listing the reasons I thought other teens would give - thereby planting ideas in her head, I just said, "I have no idea." Elizabeth went on to share her own ideas and told me she thought I was a good mom, and always wants me to be around.

I don't imagine Elizabeth is going to be calling me from college when she goes to bed, asking me to sing her a song. I'll worry about her if she does!
But I wonder, I hope, I even pray my girl and my boys will never get "too big" for their mother's love.

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