Friday, February 13, 2009

Mommy Moments

The last weeks have been a little difficult. Mommy moments too numerous to write about.

I started writing this over Christmas break: We were going a little stir crazy and I needed a few things at the store. I was making soup for a wedding which I was so happy to do because I absolutely adore the bride. We went to a few stores and the kids were getting cranky. I had one more thing to get that took a trip to yet another store. When we got inside the kids realized there were donut holes on the coffee table. Jenna got so excited she broke a display table and Abby knocked over the whole jar of liquid creamer on the coffee table. I told the lady at the customer service counter and apologized profusely. In my defense I spend half my monthly income at their store. So we quickly headed for the item we needed. Maren wouldn't sit in the cart, she was screaming and running away. I'm sure that I looked like a person that should NOT have had 5 kids. By the end I was just yelling commands at them like "No" or "Now".

All I could think about was what it would be like when I could just run into the store to get one thing by myself. And a quick trip could really be quick not a half day excursion.

Since then there have been many more store temper tantrums, the ceremonial dumping out of all the shampoo and soap in both bathrooms all over the carpet, poopy diapers taken off, I'm not sure how many gallons of spilled milk, fighting, hair-pulling, stubborness, throwing food on the floor, dumping out the garbage, falling down the stairs, sickness, school activities and the winner: a bottle of nail polish that shattered and spilled when hurled across the bathroom.

There have of course, been sweet moments of cuddling, laughing and playing too. And I know, I know that they are only ours for a short time and I should relish and treasure every minute, but by the time bedtime rolls around I am usually so strung out and frustrated that I want to curl up in fetal position in a dark room for a while.

How on earth in the midst of all this am I supposed to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus? I mean, really, it is so chaotic dealing with just the basic functions of life I hardly have the time or energy to meditate on the Bible or spend time in prayer. I'm just barely holding on some days.

The truth is I don't have the answer. I know I need to be more disciplined. As tired and busy as I am, I still find time to get on Facebook several times a day and watch Lost. Watching TV and being on the internet don't take much physical spritual or emotional energy and that feels good when you are numb from a trying day.

But it seems there are bigger problems than my obvious lack of discipline. Is my sinful and rebellious heart just using mommyhood as an excuse to stay away from God? Am I being attacked to keep my focus off Christ and keep my mothering stressful and unhappy instead of God-glorifying? And what is the faith of a mother with a young children supposed to look like?

In the life of David, there were many times where he was hard-pressed, stressed, literally running for his life and yet, he cried out to God in worship and prayer. When Paul was being persecuted he counted it joy and used it to further the gospel. There are people right now giving their lives for Christ and enduring unbelievable trials.

Usually I feel like a loser when I think about the trials others have faced and continued to rely on God. Certainly I have it easier than that. Could it be that God is using the very trials of motherhood to push me on to a deeper relationship with Him? How would things change if I choose to embrace the daily demands of my life as a vehicle to drive me closer to Him?

I don't know the answers to those questions but I want to. I'll let you know what I discover along the way. What have you discovered? Please share!

Psalm 13 (ESV)
How long, O Lord?
Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
lightr up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him,"
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in yoru steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Life's Not Perfect

Well, it's raining today. And in Minnesota, rain in February usually means ice. The school shut down at 10 this morning so it's kind of nice to have everyone home especially since I am sick and Mike is doing most of the work!

Last week a young family was brought to mind. They are in the early stages of establishing their home. They got married, had two babies and bought a house in a short time. Without coming out and saying it, they seem to believe that their life is and will always be perfect. And they wonder why others can't seem to get it right. There are those first few years you you seem to float along in life and think everything will be perfect. But it seems like for everyone, there comes a point where you run into a problem and realize that the perfect life is not reality.

I ran into that problem several years back. We had marriage issues, money issues and well I just couldn't believe that things weren't working out the way I had dreamed it. We were going to be happy, always have money, have the perfect kids and house. Mike would do whatever it took to please me and life would be good.

Some of my friends have dealt with a depressed husband who can't hold a job, a child with major medical and behavioral issues, infertility, big-time real estate disasters and the list goes on and on.

When those cracks in the armor start getting bigger it can be shocking and horrifying, but when I look back at our own life I think it makes for a deeper bond, a better grasp of life and suffering and it revolutionizes the way we relate to God.

As I was thinking of this person who hasn't hit that point yet and probably won't take it too well, I am envisioning total devastation when perfection can't be reached. I couldn't help but think about my own kids and how to prepare them for life's inevitable disappointments.

As parents we tend to try to make everything "happy" for them. We work hard to involve them in activities, have their friends over, buy them the "right" clothes or toys. And that's mainly because we love them and want to do our best for them, but also because we want them to fit in and protect them from the pain of rejection.

I think preparing them for life's disappointments involves, not purposely disappointing them, but allowing them to feel those naturally and not always trying to fix things. If they are having a problem with a teacher or a friend we need to help them work through it, not ride in a make it go away. If they want to buy something that we can't afford, we can teach about how material things are not the focus of life and the answer to our problems - not necessarily reach for the credit card. There will be mean people. I still deal with mean people in my life now and it's my job to walk them through it, not hide them from it.

And the bottom line is, there will be disappointments and failures we can't stop or fix. I remember when I didn't make the cheerleading squad. The girls who made it got flowers in their first hour class to tell them which sport they were cheering for and I didn't get one. ( If only they could see me swing dance now - ok that would not help.) I heard that there were just too many girls and not enough spots. My parents didn't storm down to the school and demand I be given a spot. It was just one of those tough learning experiences. But you have to have those to learn that not everything is going to go your way.

I also want to teach them to not let fear of failure stop them from trying. That's how we grow. If they learn to have their hearts firmly fixed on Jesus and His perfection, those dissapointments can be bumps in the road not a drive off a cliff.

I want to focus on the idea of having a mature, Christ-loving adult at the end of this journey, not a spoiled brat in an grown-up body who thinks everything should always go their way.

Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.