Thursday, September 07, 2006

On Thin Ice

I never felt like I was an impatient person before I became a mother. But there are times when things are stressful and my teeth start to clench and I feel the temperature rising. This weekend a couple of the kids and I were sick. Cleaning up puke, a vicious diaper rash (who knew that could be such a trauma!) and a few other things made me feel pretty drained. Then back to school and back to waking up at 6:00 a.m. Mike's back to coaching football so he's been gone from early in the morning until after supper this week. My bible study plans for fall fell through so it's back to the drawing board on that. Abby is being extremely demanding. I have made a point to spend extra time with her this week. It seems the more I give, the more they demand. Annie is extrememly irritable and is only happy when she is sitting right on my lap. Today, she didn't get a nap, I didn't get the breakfast dishes cleared until after lunch and it all adds up to my patience skating on thin ice.

So when Grant and Jenna got home and started yelling and crying over a video game they were playing I lost it. I yelled that we weren't going to yell at each other. (Where's the sense in that?) They went off to their rooms crying and yelling and Abby was crying because of all the chaos. Not my finest hour as a mom. I think there are some issues that need to be dealt with in regards to video games in our house, but that was not the point. The problem was that all these strains of the last few days added together pushed me to the end of my rope and they took the brunt of it.

I don't know how to be more patient. But I do know that I want episodes like today to be extrememly rare in our home. I'll tell you what I learned about patience in the Beth Moore Bible Study Living Beyond Yourself, Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit. It's been almost a year and hopefully I can apply it to my life.

There are two Greek words that translate to patience: hupomone and makrothumia. Makrothumia is the word found in Galatians 5:22. Here's the difference, hupomone is perserverance, endurance and bearing up under difficult things or circumstances inspired by a beneficial expectation. Hupomone is inspired by hope. (You can find hupomone in 1 Thess. 1:3, James 5:11 and the book of Job)

Makrothumia is patience in respect to people. Makrothumia is inspired by mercy. This type of patience, that is listed in the Fruit of the Spirit, is the result of the Holy Spirit in you. It is the most difficult and the most important.

(The previous two paragraphs are paraphrased from Beth Moore's bible study book - It's a great study!)

But what I realized is that I need to have both. I need to endure in tough circumstance like the last few days, keeping my focus on the future hope of Christ's glory. Hopefully as I look towards that and keep focused on Christ the demands and trials of this life will fade.

And I need to have compassionate mercy in the form of patience with my kids. This type of patience is not possible without the Spirit's power. I need to tap into that every day by spending some time in prayer and asking for patience.

I blew it. I asked them to forgive me for losing my patience. We had a good evening together and when we prayed I asked God to forgive me right in front of them. I think it is important for my kids to see me apologize and ask for forgiveness of them and God. It shows them the path to seeking forgiveness and restoration in their own lives.

Galatians 5:22-23
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

This Is Not What I Expected When I Was Expecting!

I thought being a mom was going to be fulfilling. Little did I know the only thing the baby would be filling was his diaper! When I envisioned bringing a baby home from the hospital it seemed like it would be loftier - I needed to be there to bond to my baby and meet his every need and thus save the world through my mothering. It would be so . . . unfulfilling!

Then the guilt sets in: I'm supposed to love this! How can I not love this? I didn't think a baby under six months did so little and demanded so much! Eat, sleep, diaper, awake at night! So monotonous, exhausting and stinky! It seemed anyone could feed the bottles and change the diapers and the baby wouldn't care right? My husband gets to escape to work - I'd like to shower, get dressed and leave the house sometimes.

I think it might be a lot more about what God is doing in me during those early months. He had to change my perspective and develop the care and compassion I would need to care for them. He taught me patience and perserverance. You need all those things when you are potty training a two year old or find someone has just colored all over your freshly painted walls. So as I learned to love and care for each child as a baby it grew right along with them!

It is such a dramatic change in life. I was no longer focused on myself and the things that used to seem important withered away. But at the same time I missed the old life: Shopping whenever, eating out, going to a movie on a whim, freedom, having money and not spending it on diapers! It seems that God keeps pressing me into this mold of His. Teaching me to quit being selfish and developing character in me that really is a miracle because I'm not naturally patient or compassionate!

However, I do think that we matter to them in the early months even though it doesn't always feel like it. When Jenna was born she was in NICU for a few days. I didn't get down there to see her until the next day. I will never forget when I sat by her bed and said, "Hi Jenna" she turned her head and looked at me. I might have had mommy mush brain but I think she recognized my voice.

I'll never forget the first time Grant smiled at me or when Abby used to cry with everyone else until I picked her up. That is what it's all about; through caring for a little baby, we see the work of God. And I find that very fulfilling!

Psalm 139:16
"All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be."

Loosening My Grip

Well, I did it. I sent Grant and Jenna off on the bus this morning back to school. On Friday, Abby will start pre-school. It seemed sad for summer to come to an end. We've been together so much (not always a good thing) and have had so much fun! Now they are under other people's authority and influence for 8 hours of their day. So am I letting go? I think God is just loosening my grip little by little.

It really all starts the first time you hold your new baby and realize there are things that are out of your control. The nurse comes and takes the baby away to the nursery and the grip lessens. Then they roll, crawl, walk and talk. Little by little they are leaving our grasp. They get involved in activities, with friends and would rather play in their room by themselves. I suppose as time marches on they will get jobs, go to college and date (scary thought!)

I don't think it's a bad thing though, I want them to grow up to be productive adults and maybe it's God's graciousness that takes them away just a bit at a time so my heart can adjust. But as I let them take those steps away from me, it seems like they are walking into the dark world and God has to pry my fingers off of them. However, I think they are ultimately walking towards Christ. They must leave us at times to grow, be challenged and be hurt so they can establish their own relationship with Christ. Not Mommy and Daddy's faith but their own authentic relationship with Jesus.

I'm not sure why I have such a hard time turning them over to Jesus at any given stage. Why I think I can love and guide them better than Him is beyond me. Jesus loves them even more than I do - and that's hard to imagine because I love them so much it hurts. But He does and He is always with them. He is in control of their lives not me. And that is a good thing!

So, whether you are watching your infant crawl or beginning a new year of homeschooling or home all the time with pre-schoolers there's always a new stage and the progression of life. We've got to begin to let go and guide them straight to Jesus - he'll never let go!

John 10:27-30
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."