I Stand in Awe!

I am always thankful, but some days I am overwhelmed by God’s goodness to me.  After praying for my children, grandchildren, and other extended family and friends I am just in awe.

I lost my mother to cancer when I was 19 and she was just 40.  She actually passed away 20 days before my 20th birthday.  She and my dad were married 17-years then divorced.  My mother never knew anything of any of her grandchildren.  For the longest time, I feared dying at a young age myself.  I don’t know why.  I am now 56 and I no longer have that fear.  I actually haven’t had it for a very long time.  When I came to know Jesus and was adopted into HIS family, I realized that my days on this earth were in His hands.  My earthly heritage was not necessarily my heritage anymore.  My parents’ paths were their paths and my path is determined by God and meant to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

I have had the incredible blessing of being married to my best friend for almost 25-years.  I have seen four children to adulthood and have been present at the birth of two of my six grandchildren (three of them are by marriage).  The one biological grandchild whose birth I did not witness, I am now raising.  My first grandchild was born when I was 40 and I not only got to be present at the birth, but I got to throw my daughter’s baby shower.  I’ll never forget the day of the baby shower because I was in awe of God’s goodness that day as well.  I was acutely aware of how my life was NOT going the same way as my mother’s and I was so extremely thankful that I was there, sharing in my daughter’s life and celebrating the impending arrival of my first grandchild.  That was 16-years ago and I remember it clearly.

Life is fascinating!  Just yesterday I was riding the bus to Huntington Beach with my brother, almost every day, to go body-surfing and hang out at the beach.  Young (thin), energetic, barely a care in the world.  Now, here I sit.  Older, wider, nowhere near the beach, praying for children and grandchildren, in awe of my blessings.  I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes and my children have entered the world with some issues, but they didn’t enter adulthood motherless and even if that doesn’t mean as much to them – it means the world to me.  My youngest brother and sister were 8 and 9 when my mom passed.  They grew up not really knowing her and they are not unaffected by that.  My heart breaks for children who grow up without a parent or parents.  It is always difficult to lose them, but growing up without them seems particularly difficult to me.

Some of my prayers for my children are for salvation.  They don’t all walk with The Lord.  Some of my prayers are for healing.  I have loved ones who are ill and/or injured.  God’s goodness doesn’t mean a perfect life or always getting what we want.  He never promises that.  What He does promise is to never leave us or forsake us.  He is always with us through whatever He allows in our lives, and whatever He allows is for our good for one reason or another.  Reasons we are not always aware of.  I don’t know why He took my mom at such a young age and left me and my siblings motherless.  I don’t know why He didn’t leave MY children motherless at a young age.  I don’t know why He has given me blessings that make me happy at some times and blessings that challenge me and make me cry at other times.  God is not to be put in a box or even fully understood this side of eternity (I’m not sure about the other side either), but He IS to be trusted, glorified, and worshipped because He is always good, and He is worthy.  My life has not been perfect, or an easy ride, and not everything God has done in my life has been pleasant for me.  It has, however, been good.  As a sinner deserving of nothing good, I am in awe of God’s goodness toward me.

Advertisements

The Beauty and Frustration of Homeschool

Homeschool is a beautiful and frustrating thing.  I homeschooled my grown boys for elementary school and now I’m homeschooling my granddaughter/daughter.  She is in 4th grade and we’ve been doing this since 1st grade.  Kindergarten was an eye-opening experience for me on how the public school system has changed just in the short time my boys have been out of it.  Seven years earlier, my youngest son attended the same school for fourth grade that my daughter went to for kindergarten.  It’s one of the top rated schools in our district and seven years ago I was very happy with it.  Unfortunately, we had several incidences with my daughter that left me a bit rattled.

On one occasion, my daughter had a small accident and was sent to the nurse’ office without an escort.  While she was gone, the teacher moved the class to the cafeteria.  My daughter returned to the classroom to find no one there.  She knew that they would go to the cafeteria eventually, and she knew the way there, so that’s where she went and fortunately found them.  Another time, the teacher took the kids to a small park across the street from the school.  My daughter and several of her friends slipped away and took a “shortcut”.  They got in trouble for that, but the fact that they were able to slip away unnoticed was more than a little disturbing.  Also disturbing was the time my sister picked my kindergartener up for me, and was not questioned by anyone.  She walked up, took my little one by the hand, and walked away with her.  No one said “Boo” to her.  My sister had never been to that school before and there’s supposed to be a protocol for anyone other than a parent picking up.  I had instructed my sister on what to do, but apparently the protocol is not enforced.  I was fuming about that one.  There were a couple more incidents like that and when I finally spoke to the principal about it, she was more than a little indifferent.  I spoke to the teacher as well, and as much as I like her, her answer was a cop-out in my opinion.

I don’t care how many students you have, you make sure you have them all before you move them and you don’t let kindergarteners walk the halls by themselves.  What if some bully of a 4th or 5th grader happened upon her and decided to be mean.  I shudder when I think of how many times I could have lost my daughter due to negligence on the part of the staff at her school.  Those experiences coupled with some of the education techniques I did not agree with, led to our decision to homeschool.  It’s been an interesting journey.  We have a lot of freedom and I am challenged on a daily basis (she does not like math), which is a good thing.  It keeps me on my toes.  I love the look in her eyes when she finally gets something that’s challenging her and I want to cry when it takes her four hours to do one math paper and I’m prodding her the whole time.  I am always looking for ways to not get burned out as well as ways to challenge my 4th grader and nurture her creative spirit.  If you have any suggestions, I am very open to hearing them.

Pinterest is a fun place to find ideas.  What do you do to keep your frustration level down and the “love to learn” level high?

When You’re Tired …

Let’s just be honest.  Motherhood is tiring!  Even if, unlike me, you’re a young mother – you still get tired.  In reality, it’s not just MOTHERhood.  It’s WIFEhood as well.  We don’t just take care of the kids.  We take care of our husbands, our homes, our social lives, our kids, and more.  We basically run the family.  I speak from a stay-at-home mom perspective these days, but I was once a working mom and it wasn’t much different.  My husband helped some, but the majority of the responsibility for the home and kids still seemed to fall on me.  And that’s okay.  I happen to be of the camp that believes that is as it should be – for the most part.  Or maybe I’m just such a control freak that I needed it to be that way.  But I digress.

So, what to do when you’re wiped out and the work’s not done?  Here are just five ways to keep yourself energized and/or recharge your batteries on the fly.

#1 – Push Through

That probably seems harsh, but sometimes it’s what needs to be done and quite frankly, I think we’ve become a bit soft in this area.  I’ve often heard the saying, “Put your big girl panties on and deal with it”.  I believe that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  My grandmother and great-grandmother were pushers and they were some of the strongest women I’ve known.  If it needs to be done, just do it and get it over with, keeping a restful reward as the carrot at the end of the stick to keep you motivated.  You may find that 10th wind kicking in while you’re doing it.

#2 – Know Your Limitations

Having said to “push through”, at the same time you don’t want to push yourself to the point of a breakdown.  That does no one any good.  If you are so exhausted that the thought of pushing through drives you to tears, STOP.  Take a tea/water/coffee break and sit down for a few minutes.  An hour if necessary.  Sit and watch your kids play.  Read a few passages in Psalms – out loud is even better, if you can.  Or just close your eyes and breathe.  Push the reset button.

#3 – Stay Hydrated

It is SO important to our energy level to stay hydrated.  As soon as I start feeling fatigued or start to get a headache, I know I haven’t had enough water.  That is my first go-to when I feel my energy draining.  Drink, drink, drink … water.

#4 – Keep Your Blood Sugars Level

I know how it goes.  We get so busy taking care of everyone else, we forget to take care of ourselves.  The first thing on our to-do list should be a healthy breakfast (more than a cup of coffee).  I’ve started keeping overnight oatmeal jars in the fridge, full of healthy super foods like flax and chia seeds, and plenty of berries.  I keep plenty of nuts and other fruits around as well for the rest of the day.  I try to eat a little something every 2-3 hours; a handful of nuts, an orange or apple.  Something to keep me going that doesn’t take a lot of time, especially on my busier days.  Neglecting your health is the same as neglecting your family.  You can’t take care of them if you’re sick.  Make sure you’ve eaten today.

#5 – Catch some Zzzz’s

At least 7-hours worth.  A good night’s sleep is paramount to maintaining a sufficient energy level throughout the day.  When I was younger, I would stay up well past everyone else going to bed in order to get some things done that I wanted to do.  It’s a common mom practice.  We get more done when the house is quiet and no one is in our way.  Unfortunately, that can rob the next day.  Especially if you’re like me and don’t function well on minimal sleep.  Pushing ourselves to the brink by not getting enough sleep is neither productive nor healthy.  MAKE yourself go to bed at a decent hour.  You should certainly be tired enough to sleep.

There are lots of other things you can do to get your energy level up when you’re sagging; take a walk outside, dance, do some jumping jacks with your kids (kids love jumping jacks for some reason), take a nap when the kids take a nap.  Or, some advice another mom gave me years ago – take the kids to Chick-Fil-A and let them play in the play area while you just sit and be.  I’ve done that a few times.  It works.

Bottom line, Mom, is this:  You have a job to do that requires lots of energy.  Do your best to take care of yourself so you will be at your best, able to love and care for your family to the best of your ability.

Blessings!  😊💕

A Vital Season of Motherhood

I had such an interesting day yesterday.  I’m not sure I’ve had one quite like it since my kids were young.  Three of my four grown children called on me for help of one kind or another.  I won’t go too much into detail out of respect for their privacy, but some of it was quite draining, emotionally.  The strange thing about it was that while I felt a little drained emotionally, I wasn’t as drained as I thought I should be.  Let me try to explain.

In my mind, my formerly co-dependent mind that is still being renewed, I was really trying to be wrung out from the emotional drama, if you will, of each of my children’s situations.  My mind was trying to “react” the way my old self used to.  However, what my mind was trying to perceive was not the truth.  I had more than enough energy to deal with what was being thrown at me and my child (whichever one I was talking to at the time).  THAT is a God thing.  That was God’s strength and energy, and peace that passes all understanding.  It never ceases to amuse me when I can “see” the flesh and the spirit going in different directions – my mind trying to react dramatically, and the spirit of God keeping me calm and energized, and at peace amidst the turmoil.  It’s just SO awesome!

I love my children dearly, as most moms do, and I always thought that once they were grown parenting would be so much easier.  Amazingly enough, it’s not!  Now, I get to watch while they make poor choices and suffer the consequences, or be attacked by the world and have to work it out for themselves.  I am honored when they come to me for help or advice, yet I know that in the end they will make their own choice and it may not be the choice I would choose for them.  I get to deal with that.  I get to watch them walk out into the big, wide world – sometimes far away from me – and take any control I ever had over their lives with them.  When they were little, I could steer them away from impending danger or simply deflect anything that was coming at them that would cause them harm.  They were under my wing and protected.  I don’t have that control anymore.  Now I pray that they are under God’s wing and protected.  Which is far better protection anyway.  It’s not always easy though.

Sometimes I feel like I’m just not strong enough to endure the heartache of watching my children become subject to the pain and anguish of this world.  Not just since becoming adults.  We all know it starts early – as soon as they start to venture out.  That first day of school, their first friend, their first crush.  It has always been my goal, at least since coming to know Christ, to help them to be independent of me and dependent on God.  Now that they’re grown it’s time for the rubber to meet the road.  For all of us.  For them, for their dad, for me.  It’s time to actually LET them be independent of me and dependent on God – fully.  God is so faithful, and He keeps me strong when I feel like falling into a heap of weariness and heartache.  He reminds me that I am still their mother and I am still useful in their lives.  As long as I have breath in me I can contribute the most powerful things I have to give – love and prayer.

My kids may be grown, but yesterday confirmed for me that it doesn’t mean that being “Mom” is over.  It just means that the role of “Mom” has changed and with God’s help it can be a vital season of motherhood.  😊👩‍👦‍👦

Divine Appointment With a Heat Wrap

Today was the first day since last Friday that I was able to move around almost normally.  I have permanent damage in my neck from an accident years ago, and every now and then it freezes up on me and I can’t move my neck very much.  When that happens, I spend some time with a heat wrap around my neck and I’m okay in no time.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of those times.  My neck decided to be stubborn, and I was wearing the heat wrap off and on all weekend.  Which, now that I think of it, may have been a divine appointment.

A couple of months ago my husband bought me a “just because” gift – Priscilla Shirer’s book Fervent.  It has been sitting on my chair-side table ever since.  I’ve been meaning to read it, I just hadn’t gotten to it yet.  Well, this weekend I picked it up and even watched the movie “War Room”, which stars Priscilla Shirer and inspired her to write the book.  The movie was excellent, and the book is inspiring.  I’m working through the book right now.  It’s not a book that you just read through.  It’s a book you WORK through.  It’s helping me work on my prayer life, which needs it right now.  I am definitely in a dry spell there.

Sometimes I think the Lord allows these down times so we’ll stop long enough to really focus on Him and something He has for us.  I started working on my first book while I was down with a broken foot (here’s a little more info about that).  God gets our attention any way He can, and sometimes, the only way I’ll slow down is if I physically have no choice.  I’ve known for awhile that my prayer life needed a revival, and this weekend was just the kick in the pants I needed.  Between the movie and the book, I have been inspired to seek God with renewed fervor.

We all have spiritual dry spells now and then.  Along with the mountain tops we have to have valleys.  I think we moms especially struggle with finding the time and the energy for spiritual pursuits.  When my boys were little, right after I put them to bed at night, I spent at least a few minutes in The Word.  Nap time was when I got any Bible study homework done.  As they grew older and things changed, so did my quiet time routines.  Yours will change with the seasons of your life as well.  One thing I think I’ve learned over the years is that the dry spells end and the rain that comes afterward is all the sweeter because of what we experienced during the drought.  I know that I’m feeling very excited about this new direction in my prayer life, and I eagerly anticipate what the Lord is going to do!

“Calm Down, Mom”

Do you ever have those days when you are dead set on a path and plan for the day, and you get waylaid before you even step out your bedroom door?  Today was one of those days.  I completely forgot my daily habit of asking the Lord to have His way in my day. I was so set on accomplishing one particular thing today that I didn’t leave room for much else.

I do A LOT of cooking for my family.  It is very important to me that we don’t eat a lot of processed “convenience” foods.  I cook and bake from scratch, and I try to leave a lot of ready-to-go things in the fridge for easy snacks and lunches.  I spend the majority of my days in the kitchen.  In fact, I rarely stop cooking long enough to really give my kitchen a good cleaning.  So, I decided today was the day.  I even got up early to get a head start.  Looking back I can almost laugh.  This morning though, I was getting upset.  My oldest son still lives with us while he prepares for the mission field. He currently has a job working at the same place my husband does, however, he has been sick this week.  This morning he decided to call an advice nurse, and guess who’s help he needed?  Then, we had to get Dad involved because we got new insurance cards, but somehow Mom didn’t get one and the advice nurse was asking for numbers.  It turned into a complicated ordeal involving emails, scanning, and printing and by the end of it I was ready to start throwing things.  I’m just being real, folks.  I’m a real, imperfect person.  In my mind I’m thinking, “Can’t they just leave me alone long enough to get the kitchen cleaned?  Grrrrr!”  I’m laughing at my ridiculousness now, but I wasn’t laughing then.

I knew it was going to take me a good part of the day to get my fairly good-sized kitchen clean, and these interruptions weren’t helping.  Then there was my daughter, who is not a morning person and even once she’s up, I think molasses moves faster than she does.  She walks into the kitchen, wrapped up in a blanket, with her hair flying every which way and heads straight for the pantry.  Excuse me?!  We at least comb our hair and brush our teeth before gracing others with our presence and she knows this.  She’s going through another “testing the limits” stage (does that stage every really end?) and I know she’s just waiting to see if I’ll say anything or if she’ll be able to get away with stumbling into the kitchen looking like she stuck her finger in an electrical socket.  I send her straight back to the bathroom, where she proceeds to take half an hour to brush her teeth and comb her hair.  It turns out she decided to get dressed as well, then got sidetracked.  Something that happens often around here.

So, instead of spending an uninterrupted morning cleaning the kitchen, I was helping my son, texting with my husband, prodding my daughter along with her morning routine, and being very frustrated in the process.  I should know better by now.  First off, my daughter RARELY sails through her morning routine and chores all on her own.  Secondly, I know from experience that when I focus only on my agenda, I get frustrated by the interruptions.  There’s much more peace in being open to other things that come into my day – being a little more flexible with my agenda and a little more open to helping others with theirs.  After all, serving my family is my job as “Mom”, and I am my husbands helpmate.  These are things the Lord has called me to and I need to remember my priorities.  As it turned out, I got about half of my kitchen cleaned.  Not what I wanted, but better than nothing.  It was much more important that I got to help my son with his missionary application, visit with my husband at lunch time, make sure my daughter got her school work done and to piano lessons on time, and enjoy a little family time at dinner before my husband dashed off to his bowling league.

These are the things that are really important – relationships.  My son will be off in another country in about seven months, if all goes as planned.  My daughter will be a teenager before I know it, and we are never promised tomorrow.  I want to enjoy these people who interrupt my plans and disrupt my agenda, as long as I possibly can.  I want sweet memories, not regrets of time ill spent.  The kitchen will be there long after all the babies have flown the nest for good.  And it will be cleaner because I won’t be cooking as much, which may sometimes make me sad and in those moments I will need happy memories to fall back on, not regrets.

I’m glad the frustration was short-lived today (helped in part by my son encouraging me to calm down when he saw the stress building) and I was able to enjoy the rest of my day, being open to whatever the Lord had for me.  Even though my kitchen is not spotless (it never is anyway), it was a nice day after all, spent peacefully with people I love.  😊💕

Expectations, Hopes, and Dreams – Oh My!

I try not to put unrealistic expectations on my kids, but what exactly are UNREALISTIC expectations.  Is it unrealistic to expect them to finish college if they start?  Is it unrealistic to expect that they’re at college to get a degree and not just an “experience”?  And what exactly is the difference between a hope and an expectation when it comes to your kids?  I feel like the line is blurred somehow. I really hope that they’ll do the things I expect them to do, and I expect that they may not realize all my hopes for them.  Do you see what I mean?

Then there are dreams.  The big things I would love for my kids that probably aren’t even on their radar.  I’m not sure I can even be specific here.  The main thing I have always wanted for my kids is that they walk in God’s will for them.  An example of a dream there might be that they become a pastor or a dynamic evangelist.  I do have one that’s on a path to the mission field, so there’s that.  Or a dream that they get to make a living doing something they are absolutely passionate about.  I want their lives to have meaning and purpose, as well as overflowing peace and joy.  In this world, that IS a dream.

I think I might be back to the whole “letting go” thing.  I was disappointed when one child decided that God had a different path for him and he left college at the end of his junior year.  I didn’t WANT to be disappointed and I tried to pretend I wasn’t, but I was!  I fully expected that he would finish what he started because he has always been that way.  Surprise!  Things change.  It’s so hard for a control freak like me to not be in control.  It hurts to see my kids making choices that I don’t want them to make.  I KNOW what the best choice for them is and they just need to LISTEN to me!  Ha!  That’s a good one, Mom.  God is the One in control, and He has a plan for all our lives.  I need to trust Him in that.  In every moment where I want to give orders and re-direct their path, I need to breathe and remember that God has got this.  The grown ones don’t listen to me anymore anyway.  Unless I say something they like or that they agree with … or that they know to be truth (during their more mature moments).  And who am I to know better than God anyway?!

When it comes to my kids I think I just need to let go of expectations, and give my hopes and dreams to God.  His plans are bigger than any of my hopes or dreams anyway.  He also knows so much better, how to get them form point A to point B – whatever those points may be.  Sigh!  Let it go, mama.  Just let go and let God.  😇