God

Quiet Time: Giving Yourself to God

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Giving yourself to God is both exhilarating and terrifying. It’s a lot like riding a roller coaster: it’s positively thrilling, yet your stomach feels as if it’s going to drop out of you and you can’t shake the “DANGER” alarm that your body is sending. But you know that you’re safe; there is a very heavy harness strapping you in, making it impossible to wiggle in your seat, much less fall out. Yet every time you go through a loop, you brace yourself for the potential danger and hold your breath, because you know that it’s going to feel like the world just collapsed underneath you. But when you are at the very top of the loop, you see the world from a view that you have never experienced before and you feel like you are flying as free as a bird and you are exuberant with every kind of feeling all at once. Even after you survive the ride, you will still have that strange mix of emotions of sheer panic and thrilling joy. Your stomach will still drop to the deepest pit and the question of, “Why am I doing this?” will still cross your mind at the exact spot of the ride. Every. Single. Time. It doesn’t matter how many times you go on the roller coaster. You will panic every time.

God asks us to do crazy things. Things that make absolutely no sense. Things that push us way out of our comfort zone, and cause us to panic. Sometimes He asks us to do things that will hurt. In the moment, we can’t understand why He is asking us to do whatever it is that He is asking. We want to know the why so that we can talk ourselves into going through that ginormous loop on the roller coaster, because from where we’re standing it’s absolutely terrifying and seems like a horrible idea. But He doesn’t tell us the why. He wants us to trust in the knowledge that His harness will keep us safe and will never let us go. Once we say “yes” to whatever journey He is calling us to and allow Him to wrap us in His arms, He will never let go. So even when we’re in the middle of the biggest loop and we’re screaming, “WHY AM I DOING THIS?!!!”, we feel the strong hold of God’s harness not allowing us to even wiggle. Even though our world is completely upside down, we know that, somehow, we are still safe.

I don’t know what journey God has called you to. I don’t know what part of the roller coaster you’re on, if you’re sailing happily with the breeze in your hair, or if you’re hanging upside down where nothing makes sense. But if you’re on one of the scarier bits, I want to encourage you to trust in that harness. Everything else might be spinning out of control around you, but you can still feel God’s arms holding you.

He will never let you go, my friends.

You will feel scared every time you come up to a new loop. It doesn’t matter how many you have already safely gone through. Every time God comes to you with the next crazy thing for you to do, your stomach will drop and your heartbeat will quicken and you will doubt if you will be able to do it. That’s just being human. Just take a deep breath, grab the handlebars on your harness, and go for it again. Trust in Him, for He will get you through it. And you won’t believe all the goodness He has in store for you! Just hold on and follow His lead.

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I Call You Blessed

Today was seemingly insignificant. I didn’t accomplish anything worth talking about; laundry, a few dishes, dance class, dinner. It was a very typical day in the life of a stay-at-home mom.

It’s really easy to feel insignificant and unimportant in the role of motherhood. On the surface, it doesn’t look like you do very much at all. At the end of days where I literally only accomplish keeping the kids fed and alive, I sometimes feel stressed because I wasn’t even able to keep up on housework. This feeling is compounded when my 4 year old actually complains about not going to day care like all of her friends and says things like, “Auntie works all the time, but you never work Mom.”

When you work a 9 to 5 job, it’s easy to find satisfaction. You keep busy all day doing important things and at the end of the day, have finished one or many projects. So you give yourself a mental gold star for doing something of value with your life for that day and are happy about it.

I feel like being a stay-at-home mom is looked down on in our culture. Since the feminist movement to allow women into the work force, it seems that if you are a woman who chooses to stay home instead of work, you are then wasting all the efforts of the women who fought so hard for that right. I feel our culture teaching us that if you don’t work, that you aren’t doing enough with your life.

So even though I don’t believe that anymore, I still allow that thinking to make me insecure.

Am I doing enough?

Am I wasting my life?

I put unrealistic expectations on myself, believing that I have to have the house spic and span all the time, homemade dinners ready at the same time every night, and laundry clean/folded/put away. So when I am unable to keep up on the house or when I can’t manage to get dinner out any earlier than 8 pm or when only half of the laundry is clean and is in an unfolded pile, I feel like I am just not cutting it. I feel like I am not enough.

And I know that some people will look at my life and say, ‘I feel sorry for her. I mean, she raised great kids, but she didn’t really do anything with her life.’

But if at the end, I’ve done my job right (because motherhood is a JOB), my children will rise up and call me blessed. How do I know this? Because the Bible tells me so:

 

Image via pixshark

Image via pixshark

I can’t stop thinking about the deliberate language in this verse: her children rise. Why ‘rise’? Why doesn’t the verse just say, ‘her children call her blessed’? That would send the same message. But it says that they rise. Rise against whom?

Do you want to know what I think?

I think that her children are rising against those who would dare call their mother’s life insignificant. I think that now that they are grown, her children are able to see how much she has done for them. They couldn’t see it when they were young, but they see it now. They know now that they would not have become the people that they are without her. They also see that there are people who do not understand everything that this woman, their mother, is worth.

Another thought–why doesn’t the mother defend herself? If you read the previous verses that describe her, you will see that she is a strong woman. Why does she stay silent?

Maybe because for a moment, she doesn’t fully see the significance in her life either. Perhaps she is just like me, wondering if she did enough.

But her children say she was more than enough. And they rise up for her, at a time when she cannot do it for herself, and call her BLESSED.

It’s so very easy to sweep all the extraordinary that we do as mothers under the rug of mundane. But we mustn’t forget how very important our job is. We are shaping lives. It is the most important job in the world, and yet is the most undervalued one. Personally, I feel that true feminism should embrace all that a woman can be, including a mother. Motherhood is not something to demean; I truly believe it is the highest honor and calling in life. Think about it– God is trusting us to raise tiny humans into extraordinary beings. What an honor!

So if you are reading this on a day where you are thinking, “Seriously, what did I do with my life today?”, I want to say:

I will rise up and call you blessed.

And one day, your children will too.

 

The Furnace of Motherhood

“But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.”

-Philippians 2:17 NLT

There’s this debate in parenting circles of where the fine line is of giving yourself to your family without losing yourself in the process. Many blog posts have been written on ‘making time for you’ and ‘putting yourself first sometimes’, because it’s so easy to get burnt out as a parent. This is good advice; after all, you have to put your oxygen mask on first before helping another with their’s, right?

But–the Bible tells us to give all of ourselves to God and His calling for our lives. If His calling is motherhood, then I have to believe that we should give all of ourselves to our families.

I am not the same person I was before I had kids.

But, I don’t lament that.

Ever since I said ‘yes’ to God and leaped off the cliff, He’s been transforming me into the woman He created me to be. The Bible likens this process to refining silver. The metal is put into a burning furnace for a very precise amount of time, for it can easily be ruined if the silversmith leaves it in even a moment too long.

God takes us and burns up all the bad that has tainted us, and it hurts. There are moments when you feel the furnace is too hot, that it’s going to swallow you whole. But your Silversmith knows when to take you out, and He never takes His eyes off of you.

I never wanted to get married and was never entirely sure about having kids. I looked down at stay-at-home moms, thinking they were wasting their lives.

The old me was bitter and selfish; condescending and cruel.

I do not miss her.

I do not wish to go back, even though I am tempted to think I do.

Motherhood is the hardest job I have ever had. It has broken me many times. But it has also made me stronger.

God has been refining me in the furnace of motherhood.

I will happily lay down my life for my family. I will let the old me die, and choose to rejoice about it.

Honestly, I think that’s the secret: rejoicing in losing yourself in your family. Not seeing it as a failure or waste, but as something miraculous and beautiful. Because it’s hard to put others first all the time. But that’s the calling, isn’t it?

And because God is who He is, I now understand that the only way to find myself is to lose myself.

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”

-Matthew 10:39 NLT

I will no longer mourn the woman I lost, but celebrate the woman I am becoming.

I know God won’t stop until I am the masterpiece He destined in the beginning (because we are all His masterpieces). So I will look into the foggy future with joyful anticipation. Because I can’t wait to meet that woman.

Quiet Time: Mom Burnout

I have been so tired lately. Like bone weary exhausted. Every day.

I read a 3 day devotional series on burnout, and the last entry really struck a cord with me. It talked about how people tend to deal with burnout in 2 ways: lashing out at others in anger, or withdrawing from others. I’m an introvert, so before kids, I tended toward withdrawing unless someone tried to invade the space that I needed, in which case I would lash out. But you don’t get the luxury of being alone once you’re a mother. Especially when your children are all preschool and under. They puppy dog you all. day. long. So now, my reaction to being burnt-out is to lash out in anger. And who is around me all the time, getting the brunt of my wrath? My kids.

I hate when I lose my temper with them. Yet it happens every day.

Psalms 37:8 NLT

“Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.”

The last thing I would ever want to do is harm my kids. They are my entire world.

But how can I conquer burnout?

It’s not like I can ask my boss for fewer hours.

The kids need to be taken care of. The dishes need to be done. Lord knows the laundry never ends.

I know what you’re all going to tell me–take time for myself; ask for help.

My husband and I just had a day date 3 days ago. It was so wonderful and we needed it so badly. But yet, here I am 3 days later feeling burnt out again.

Contrary to popular belief, I do ask for help from time to time. But if you ask for help every day, then you’ll burn out your support system.

I can’t help but feel that this issue runs deeper than simply taking time for myself and asking for help. I feel like this is an issue of the heart. My heart.

Here’s what I know: God did not put this spirit of anger inside of me. God entrusted me with the honorable and enormous task of raising tiny humans. I can not do this from my own strength. God wants me to succeed and has a plan that is already in motion to help me succeed.

I may not yet have the answer for how to conquer burnout, and I doubt that it will be found in 3 easy steps. But for now, I will take life a day at a time. I will refuse to worry. I will let go of what I can not control. I will accept the fact that I can not do everything all the time; sometimes the dishes will not get done and the laundry may be clean but unfolded. I will breathe through my days, releasing the nasty poison of anger that I allowed to seep into my heart. I will pray throughout each and every day that God will help me tame my wild tongue and temper, so that I will not harm my precious children.

And most importantly, I will extend grace to myself when I fail, so that I don’t add guilt to my burdens.