Thursday, September 23, 2010


At some point last night a familiar thing happened, although it doesn’t happen very much anymore.  Maren appeared by my bed.  I was so groggy that I invited her into my bed  which has always been a big no-no in our house until child number five.  She responded that she wanted me to come to her bed.  Have we won the war?  These past few years I’ve been trying to taker her back to her bed so she would learn to fall back to sleep IN HER BED.  Mainly because it was uncomfortable to have an extra body in our bed.  The plan was pushed along when she was potty training and I didn’t want her to have an accident in my bed.  I think I should have felt glad that our training was working, but I mainly just wanted to stay under my down comforter.

I was just reading Kristy’s blog.  Kristy has a beautiful baby girl.  She was writing about dealing with how and when to take away the pacifier.  I remember those days and stresses: the pacifier, the sippy cup, the big kid bed, potty training.  All of those things were new and difficult issues.  Do you know what I commented to her?  I basically said “This too shall pass.”  And all the things I hated to be told:

You’ll look back and love these years.

Don’t let it ruin these precious times.

No one ever went to kindergarten in diapers or with a sippy cup. 

Just wait until they get older and they will have bigger problems.

Blah, Blah, Blah.

I didn’t appreciate any of those sentiments when I was in the trenches with little kids.  Every new problem or stage was hard because I love my kids and want to do a good job.  I want to do what’s best for them.  So sleep schedules, bedtime routines and tummy time were all really important to me.

Now here I am repeating the hated advice.  At the same time, I am totally stressed dealing with some new issues that have come up with my kids.  Guess what?  Everyone was right.  The issues get bigger and harder.  But I realized I probably need to take my own advice.  It’s a new stage and it’s hard because I’ve never dealt with it before and I want to do the right thing.  Exactly like when I wondered how to get a one year old to give up the bottle.  I hate feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing in the most important job I’ve ever had.

It’s important to seek wisdom and try to make the best decision while at the same time not  letting it ruin these precious years of parenting.  That still applies to me, after all what years of parenting aren’t precious?  For some reason I had in my head that when they are 11 it isn’t as sweet.   The issues keep coming and the years are going just as fast.  But I have been letting the worries ruin a lot of moments of parenting.  I really have.  In a few years, maybe I will look back at what is stressful now and think it was no big deal.  It will work itself out.  It seems there should be some balance between trying to be wise about how we parent and not letting it turn us into a big stressed out mess. 

I was praying for wisdom in a few of those situations that have come up recently with my kids.  I kept asking God what to do and how to deal with it. I was kind of shocked to get a response.  You know me, the great woman of faith.  I felt like He was impressing on my heart love, respond in love.  It makes sense because the meat of all the issues I face with my kids is an issue of the heart.  From more mature issues to sleep issues to pacifiers, my job is to shape their hearts and point them to Jesus. 

The funny thing is that after feeling mildly smug in the wee hours of the morning, I woke up with a little girl in my bed.  But don’t worry, this too shall pass.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fight or Flight, Part Two

Here we go again with the part two.  It’s not that I plan ahead and think I should write a series.  It’s just that there is always more to say.  That’s why I am thankful for rollover minutes on my phone.

I was thinking more about quitting today.  There are lots of things that are easy to quit.  Phone contracts, banks, churches and jobs seem to be changed without a second thought.  When things get hard, uncomfortable or lose their thrill, we bail.  When we’re young it’s easy:  sports teams, paper routes, lab partners, piano lessons.  Even with parents that try to teach us commitments and follow through we can still choose to walk away.  Unless you’re one of my  children taking piano lessons – forget it. 

It’s not until I got older that I had things in my life important enough that it was not so easy to walk away.  Careers, college, relationships, marriage and parenting change the game.  The stakes are high.  The investment costs a lot.  The consequences are great.

So I guess through giving me these grown up commitments, God is teaching me an important lesson by giving me challenges I can’t or don’t want to abandon.  Even when it gets hard and I want to run away, it just isn’t that easy.

Why?  Because I need to grow up! 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Perseverance must finish its work; making me mature and not lacking anything.  We don’t get there by running at the first sign of hardship.  We don’t grow by giving up.  We don’t gain anything by seeking our own selfish pleasures.  Trials develop perseverance.

James goes on to give us the answer to what to do when we are living in fear, not faith and don’t know what to do. 

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. James 1:5-8

When I am tempted to quit, all I need to do is turn to God and He will give me the wisdom I need.  He promises to be there for us.  Even on days that it seems the kids will not make it out the door without issues or tears.  When I wonder if it’s all worth it.  When I don’t know what to do.  That’s when God is working.  Ask Him for wisdom.  Fight the good fight of faith.  Perseverance must finish its work. 

Fight or Flight

There have been several mornings I end up crying after the kids get on the bus. It’s not what you might think. It’s not because I am so sad to see them go, it’s because the mornings are so brutal. I’m not a morning person in the first place and no matter how hard I try to be prepared, it’s chaotic trying to get everyone to move in the same direction at the same time. Someone is always crabby. Someone can’t find their shoes or gloves or sweatshirt. Someone didn’t get their homework done. Everything that doesn’t go well or causes distress is like an arrow in the heart. So after everyone is on their way I feel like I’ve been through a war.

There are times in life when things become overwhelming. Or too painful. The demands of work, parenting, family or marriage seem like they are going to put you over the edge. I can be somewhat stubborn, but am not what I would call a fighter. I have hit the wall enough times now that I get this familiar feeling: RUN! I want to get the heck away from anything that’s hard. I want freedom. I’m tempted to run away.

I’m reading the book “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I have to say that I like this woman. She’s a good writer and funny. And I admire a lot of things about her. Like her willingness to break out of the mundaneness of life and look for happiness. Although I like her, I don’t agree with her. She’s looking for happiness in the wrong place. It seems so brave and romantic to just drop all our responsibilities and go find happiness. But I think from what I read in the Bible instead of running, I need to stay and fight.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8

I’ve read these verses a lot of times over the years. I am not sure I’ve ever seen that the point is not our happiness in the here and now. It’s about sticking with the suffering and tough stuff in this life in anticipation of the joy we will have in Christ. I think fighting the good fight means fighting against those feelings of defeat, doubt, boredom, unhappiness and continue on with the roles and responsibilities God has given us. We’ve got to fight. I know I must. Because for the first time in my life, I know I can’t quit. I can’t quit on my kids. I don’t want to run from my marriage. Not that it’s not natural to feel that way sometimes. I think it is. I don’t like feeling trapped and smothered and I feel that pretty frequently. It doesn’t mean that I should act on those feelings even if that is what’s sold to us all the time. Do what make you feel good. Put yourself first. Blah, Blah, Blah.

I don’t really consider myself a fearful person but don’t you think that is where a lot of the running instinct comes from? I am scared of giving up my desires, my time, my freedom for … nothing? That is what the world sells us. Beth Moore says this, “Where great faith lives, destructive fear cannot live. Where great fear exists, no faith can survive. Fear is the arch enemy of faith.” Living Beyond Yourself, Page 169.

Maybe we won’t be loved. Maybe we won’t be important. Maybe our needs won’t be met. Maybe it will happen again. Maybe I won’t be happy. Those fears are the antithesis of faith. When we fight the fight of faith we meet those fears with promises from Christ. He fights for us. Again, Beth Moore, “Oh Beloved, we have nothing to fear. The pitiful powers of this world are nothing compared to the armies in heaven fighting on our behalf. Fear cripples faith, but never forget – just as quickly faith cripples fear. Whether fear or faith prevails depends on the commander we’re saluting.” Living Beyond Yourself, page 170

So although it seems intriguing to fight fear by running away, you won’t find faith there. Where we find faith is in the arms of Jesus. He hold the answers. He fights for us. He has a plan for us. When we feel like we can’t trust anything around us, we can trust Christ. He is all powerful. He has work for us to do here. He is coming back. That’s the way to chase away fear. That’s true freedom and faith. And you don’t have to run any further than your Bible.

“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom

or the strong man boast of his strength

or the rich man boast of his riches,

but let him who boasts boast about this:

that he understands and knows me,

that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,

justice and righteousness on earth,

for in these I delight.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24