Have you ever had one of those days where you feel totally inadequate as a mom? Like when your kids decide to have a firework war and use your car as home base?
Please note the ages of the two in the back and the fascinating markings on my car.
What mother, on the 4th of July, thinks about telling her children to not have a firework war and use her car as a fortress? Especially when they are old enough to carry a driver's license and to vote. Of all the things I have thought to tell them not to do, that’s just not one that ever crossed my mind.
And for all you supportive "boy momma" friends who are saying, “That’s just what boys do,” I want you to know that the only reason the girls were not in the picture was because they were taking them.
Nobody was innocent that night…nobody.
There have been times over the years were I have found myself thinking, “What in the world, God, could You have been thinking when You gave me four kids? Did You have any idea that I would be this bad at parenting?”
I can still remember when I brought my first born home. I had absolutely no idea what to do with him. Mothering just didn’t come naturally for me like it did for some of my other friends. They were so good at it. They just instinctively knew what to do. I guess I figured that the same thing would happen for me. When it didn’t, I panicked.
My first hint that things were going to be rough came when I was still in the hospital. Friends told me that they always knew when the nurse was bringing their baby to be fed because they recognized the cry…not me. In fact, when I heard a crying baby coming down the hall, I would start praying, “Oh please, don’t let it be mine.”
When I brought Drew home, my mom stayed with me for a week. When she left, I sat on the sofa and cried. I knew that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I wasn’t cut out to be a mother. Why didn’t he come with a manual? I needed instructions. As I explained all this to God, He remained silent.
Now when I look back over those first months of motherhood, I realize that God wasn’t silent because He didn't hear me, He was just waiting for me to become teachable; to surrender my ideas on parenting and allow Him to show me how to parent. I'm still learning, but oh my word, how I love being a mother!
Please note that I said I loved being a mother, not that I was good at it or that it was was easy.
You know what? Mothering is just plain hard sometimes. I don’t care how old our children get; every season brings an astonishing mixture of joy and tears. There are peaceful seasons when we feel like maybe, just maybe, we got some things right. But for most of us, there are those stormy seasons when our hearts are torn to pieces and we wonder where we went wrong.
There have been times when all I have had to cling to is the truth of God’s Word. When I have had to make a conscious decision to trust Him with my child. I’m sure many of you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Moms, we can train and teach and encourage and speak truth and attempt to effect outward behavior, but only God can change a heart. We all know Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not turn from it." I have quoted this verse to myself more times than I can count, and I choose to believe it.
Honestly, sometimes I do find myself saying, "Okay, God, I'm ready for them to be old now." Especially when I see the rocket's red glare in my car and not in the sky.
I ran across this in the book, When the Handwriting on the Wall is in Brown Crayon by Susan Lenzkes. Thought y'all might enjoy it.
but there definitely was not
a packet of instructions
attached to my children
when they arrived.
And none has since
Come through my mailbox.
Lord, show me how
to be a good parent.
Teach me to
correct without crushing,
help without hanging on,
listen without laughing,
surround without smothering,
and love without limit-
the way You love me.
Have a great week!
Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Psalm 127:1
When we began building our house, God made one thing very clear to me, it would be His house. He would graciously allow us to live in it; however, He would be the one to make the call as to how it would be used. I can still remember being so sure of His calling that one morning I spread the blueprints out on the breakfast room table and asked Him, “Lord, is this it? Is this how You want it to look?”
I really hate to admit this, but there have been more than a few times over the years that I have lost sight of whose house it is. See, I pretty much knew from the get go that my door was to be opened to anyone He chose to send my way. I guess there were just a few things I didn’t realize.
But mostly, I didn’t realize how unimportant walls, and floors, and chairs, and tea, and sleep really are.
It’s funny how God has so completely changed my heart. I always wanted that perfectly decorated house worthy of a Southern Living cameo. I liked an organized, clean, and orderly home…all that is gone. All the things that I once thought would bring me joy; all those things that I once took pride in just don’t matter anymore. Now I find that nothing thrills my heart more than seeing those precious faces of all ages coming around the corner into the kitchen or watching someone snuggle down into a well-worn chair and relax. I do sometimes find myself thinking that I would be even more joyful watching someone snuggle into a chair that didn’t have the cushion coming out of the fabric.
Back then, I just didn’t realize that surrendering all I once held dear and embracing my Father’s calling on my life could bring such joy. I do now.
This has been an exciting weekend for my family. On Saturday, we all piled into cars and headed to Augusta, Georgia for a celebration. Except, one member of the family knew nothing about it, and that made it all the more fun for the rest of us. The surprise was for my daughter. The occasion was her engagement to a sweet boy she has been dating.
She was very surprised, in fact, she was so surprised that she didn’t answer him when he dropped to his knee and asked her to marry him. She just cried and stood there. I finally couldn’t contain myself any longer and yelled out from our hiding place, “Say yes, Becca, say yes!”
Seriously, what would she do without her mother’s guidance and direction?
After we all hugged and kissed the newly engaged couple and each other…and a few bystanders, who appeared somewhat shocked, we all headed to a picnic shelter for some food and about 1003 more pictures.
I began texting family and friends to share the exciting news, but something went wrong. Some people only got the picture while others only got the text, which said something to the effect of, “Will have a new son June 6!” Now, if the picture had gone with the text, it would have made perfect sense. However, without the picture to bring context to the statement, the meaning of the statement took an interesting turn.
My phone began blowing up with comments like:
“And you’re ok with this?”
“I hope you are referring to a new son-in-law?”
“Are you getting senile?”
“Is that possible?”
I began texting back as quickly as I could trying to explain that I was NOT having a baby June 6, I was getting a son-in-law.
Right after that all my children gathered together for a picture… all EIGHT of them. Four of them I birthed, the other four God gave me in different ways. But make no mistake, in my heart they are all mine. Every - last - one - of them. For me, that means that the four I did not birth have the same rights and privileges as the ones I did birth. Sadly for them, there aren’t a whole lot of rights and privileges…but still, if there were, it would be theirs.
Each of those four has my heart. I see them as I see the others, a blessing from God. They are my children. I love and tend and protect them as I do the others. I have fretted over them, wept for some of them, and spent countless hours on my knees before the throne on their behalf. I have felt my heart burst with pride over them, and I have issued some maternal correction and guidance to a few of them… Who am I kidding? I have issued motherly correction and guidance to all of them because, well, it’s my job and I like telling others what to do from time to time.
You know what I realized as I reflected on my love for these four? My God loves me like I love them, only much better. I am an adopted child through faith in Jesus Christ. God chose to adopt me because it gives Him great pleasure (Ephesians 1:5).
2 Corinthians 6:18 says, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
As I look at the picture of all of them standing there, I realize that my first statement, “I will have a new son June 6,” was exactly what I meant. I am thrilled for this new son. I am overjoyed over my adopted children. And, I am most grateful for a loving Father Who found great pleasure in adopting me.
Have a wonderful week!
Have you ever wondered why God protected the Israelites from the Egyptian army by parting the waters of the Red Sea? What I mean is, why part the Red Sea when He could have just wiped out the entire army even before it got near His children, or He could have simply changed Pharaoh’s heart and caused him to not even desire to pursue the Israelites? Why did He orchestrate such a dramatic escape and rescue?
I really had never questioned why God choose to part the Red Sea over less exhausting options. But a while back, I was reading Psalms 66, when I ran across the answer that prompted me to ask the question. I’m not sure that makes sense, but hang with me a minute and I’ll try to explain what I’m talking about.
When God parted the Red Sea, He did so to show His children Who He was – how powerful He was. I think maybe He knew that the image of the walls of water on either side of them as they passed through to the other side would be so branded on their minds that it would help to encourage them during the hard times ahead as they followed Him through the dessert.
They were told to set up stones to serve as a memorial and to tell future generations about Him and the mighty things He had done on their behalf.
But somewhere along the way, as that story and others were passed down, they must have lost their luster because the children of Israel had a difficult time trusting and following God through the dessert. They even forgot about Him and turned to worship other idols. I wonder if when they told the story to their children, if they even remembered to tell the story, was there any excitement? Did they share the story in such a way that the hearer was in total awe of the God of Israel or was it just another story?
What about us? Do we share all those stories with others? Do we even remember them ourselves? Are they just some stories in a book, something we’ve heard, or do they thrill us and encourage our hearts? Do we fully realize that our God is the same God who rolled back the waters of the Red Sea?
Are those stories even applicable today? It’s been a long time since waters have been parted…or has it?
If our God parted the Red Sea, is He not completely capable of parting seas in our lives today? If He can shut the mouths of Daniel’s lions, can he not shut the mouths of the lions circling us? And, if He can walk through a fiery furnace with three men and bring them out without one singed hair or even the faintest scent of smoke on their clothes, can He not safely bring us through the intense fires in our own lives?
Think about it a minute: Has a sea ever been parted in your life, or a lion’s mouth closed, or have you ever walked through a fiery trial…and survived?
If so, then you have a story worth telling.
When He does great things for us, He intends for us to be awed by them and by Who He is. He intends for us to set up memorials so that when we face future trials, we will remember what He has done in the past and we will receive strength for the journey ahead. And He absolutely intends for us to share our stories with others. He is not looking for eloquent storytellers. All He wants is for us to share our stories with sincere awe, gratitude, and a humble heart. As our brothers and sisters in Christ are reminded of the intimacy we are allowed to share with our Father, how He is actively involved with His children, they will be reminded of Who He is and gain strength for their journey. Maybe He will stir a desire in others who don’t know Him and He will draw them to Himself…all because we shared our story.
If you have some time, grab His Word and read Psalms 66. Then start telling your story to everyone who will listen.
Have a great week!
Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell you what He has done for me. Psalm 66:16
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