Friday, May 17, 2013

The Hard Stuff - Part 1

Let's be honest. Life is hard. No one ever said it would be easy - unless you have the money to buy the things you want. But for those of us in the day-to-day rat-race,
 it gets boring, exhausting, tiring, hurtful and wearing. We face demands on our time, our affection, our energy, our very selves - we deal with pettiness from ourselves and each other, we work with people we don't like and we find ourselves being drained daily: moment-by-moment, hour-by-hour, get the drift. 
Dr. Hawkins' Concentric Circles - Liberty University
Downhere has a song simply titled "Rest"; a friend of mine mentioned it and I found a link for it here: Rest - Downhere; Youtube - it is based on Jesus' Words.
What does this rest and the "peace that passes all understanding" look like? To some, it is immersing oneself in the Scriptures, the Word of God. To others, it is a certainty, a faith and trust in the promise of Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV) "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified [because of them] for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." It is a simple trust, a child-like faith, that allows them to call God our Maker by the title "Abba" - Daddy. For others, it is being in the midst of the storm and still able to praise - knowing that even the rocks will cry out to Him. It is hiding in His Shadow, in the embrace that one can imagine and sometimes even feel. It is surrounding oneself with loved ones who know how to simply be there to offer one encouragement and support - just offering self and not demanding any time. It is entering into the presence of our Father, allowing His Spirit to recharge and transform us. 
It can come through meditation, putting on calming music, reading an inspirational or even a light-hearted book, enjoying a nice cup of your favorite beverage, lighting your favorite candles,
enjoying a long hot shower, soaking in the tub, or even through exercise. It can come through emptying your mind of all noise, all distractions, and filling it with lovely things, as Paul the Apostle states in Philippians 4. It can come with learning to be content and it can come with being thankful and joyful in all things. It can come with the simple (yes, there's that word again) act of forgiveness. 

Jesus says, in Matthew 11:28-29 (KJV), to "28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." 

We all too often labor under the misbelief that we must work towards this rest and this peace, that once our good works are done (Matthew 5:16), we'll find it - that someday "When We All Get to Heaven". But that's not what Jesus says. He says to come to Him NOW, not when you've earned it. He says to take His yoke - His lifestyle, His hopes, His expectations, His ministry, His Will (which is the Will of the Father) - NOW. He says to learn of Him - an on-going process, the learning, the KNOWing Him, but to learn OF Him can be done NOW and begin the journey. Jesus describes Himself as meek and lowly of heart. He was humble, putting His Father's Will before His own; seeking after the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of others; looking to complete that to which He had a Higher calling.
What does it mean to be meek? According to Merriam-Webster, it means: 

: enduring injury with patience and without resentment : mild - He chose to give up His divinity and live a life on earth. He chose to bear our burdens and suffer gross abuse. He chose to die on the cross and pay the sin-debt. He did these things without resenting the race for which He suffered and died. 
 2: deficient in spirit and courage : submissive - while this one does NOT describe our Lord, He was submissive to the cross and to that which His Father planned. He lowered Himself from that glorious state to become as mere man. 
: not violent or strong : moderate - Jesus was not violent but could definitely be strong; He spoke with authority, He spoke with wisdom and knowledge. 
Synonyms of meek, which describe our Lord: 
and Merriam-Webster even includes the following "related words":
Not all of the above words describe Jesus, nor should they describe us. He was acquiescent until the things others demanded went against what His Father laid out. He was compliant, He was deferential of others' authority, He was submissive to His Father's Will, He was quiet until a need for speaking arose. He was all these things, which only added to His own authority when He did speak. This is the authority and the certainty with which He speaks when He says "Come unto me, ALL ye that labour and are heavy laden...." 
Learn of Him and find that rest and that peace that He offers. Shall we journey together? 
Over the next several weeks, or even months, we will look at the application of the above post. I will ask others to guest blog for us, so we can share our journey with them and gain their insight. 
I hope to hear from people of all walks of life and learn how they handle their struggles, the day-to-day demands of their selves. And I hope that we learn, along the way, of this rest and it becomes a reality for us instead of a far-off goal to achieve or a dream that never comes true. 

    In Psalm 62:1 (NIV), the Psalmist states that "Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him." 

Meditation on the Beach -  basking in the Creator's glory


Matthew 11:28-29
Deuteronomy 31:6
Psalm 62:1
Anderson, N. The bondage breaker.
Hart, A. The anxiety cure. 
Hawkins, R. (n.d.) Strategy for intervention. 
Merriam-Webster. 2013. Meek. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day. Another time to wax eloquent. Not this year. This year, I'm going to share briefly our home life; with who I am, personally, I've never expected gifts or a big to-do (my family may disagree, but as I've matured I've become this way) - maybe because I didn't want to burden my family or maybe just because I didn't feel as though I deserved anything.
My first mother's day I was pregnant with CoM. My oldest brother wished me a happy mother's day. Kudos for him. He scored major points with me that year. My then-husband told me I wasn't a mother and didn't deserve the recognition or honor. - points for him. My second mother's day, I actually had a baby in my arms. I was thrilled - and had already noticed that I'd ceased to be recognized for myself and was always either then-hubby's wife or CoM's mommy. By my third mother's day, my marriage was in danger and by the end of that year I would be separated.
Each holiday, each celebration time, I've felt empty, as though I'm lacking something. I'm surrounded by friends and family, loved ones, my children - and yet I always feel empty. I have cards stapled to my wall, pictures the girls have drawn me, I wear the cross necklace they bought me 2 Christmases ago. But I always feel empty.
This year, I knew the big day was coming up. I prepared. I'm working towards a 31:31 challenge, I just joined another fitness group, I dabble in Yoga and Pilates and I've ordered another xBox game that will (hopefully) challenge me and whip me into shape. (It will be here Wednesday.) This past week, I finished up my schoolwork early, stayed off FB more than usual (not at all, but didn't keep my FB window open), and actually got outside to play with the girls. LB wants to play baseball. CoM wants to play football. I have no interest in sports - or gardening, yet that's what we've done all week long. I've filled my emotional quota, my personal interactions with my children, I've volunteered at a local pregnancy center (starting Monday). I'm reading my Bible more, and wondering more and more what God's purpose is - we are supposed to glorify Him. What does that look like?
I'm being slowly worked, molded, into shape - what that final shape is, I don't know. I am at peace, and I am content, even with the storm and the questions raging inside. I recognize that I am blessed, but I am still saddened and a little lacking.
CoM at 6, LB at arms are full <3
You see, I have only my children to recognize my inner beauty - only my children to recognize ME. They know how I stay up really late, working on projects, trying to finish that last school report, they know how I will lose items (misplace - it's always in the last place I look), how I hate coffee but drink it anyway and how I prefer tea - they're my tea-drinking buddies, how much I love them and how I sometimes ignore their little pleads to come and play because I get caught up in workworkworkworkworkwork - that dreaded 4-letter word that had LB asking me last week "Can't you just be DONE with work and come play with me?" This question, asked so innocently, spurred me on to take that last exam early so I would have the whole week free to focus on my children and on their needs. My children know I love to paint and create and design and they also know that I'm never satisfied with my own work - CoM asked me just last week why I can't be satisfied with just 1 or 2 stars within a game and how I'm always like that in life.
I'm messy, I'm constantly thinking, I'm wondering, I'm questioning, I'm trying to encourage my children to explore and discover life. That means that we get out the fingerpaint, and sometimes forget to put it away, spill it or over estimate how much we actually need. That means that the backyard is littered in toys, chalk-drawings decorate the walls and the ground, the garden is arranged to CoM's preference, LB knows how to turn on the water faucet (and I want to buy a pool so she'll leave the water alone!)....That means that the kitchen, which we can work so hard to get clean is immediately messed up lived in/used again as the girls help me measure, mix and create another yummy dessert or meal. CoM is learning independence by cooking her own dishes: Macaroni and Cheese, instant mashed potatoes, even making some of the BEST sandwiches. LB is learning obedience by seeing the consequences of not having her work done (she loses toys or watches them get tossed if they've been on the floor for more than a week).
I live a fulfilling life, I have a working relationship with my Lord, I'm NOT a perfect mommy, though my children tell me that I'm their best mommy. LB wakes in the mornings to tell me, with a sweet smile on her face, that I'm the Bestest Mommy Ever! And yes, my heart melts. I'm finally in a "place" where I am at peace.
Is there still some discontent? Yes. That is a personal issue God and I are working on - still healing all these years after my divorce. I've met women who are happily remarried and say that they still deal with issues years after the fact of their losses - little things that they hear, lies they believe for a moment, about how they're not good enough as a wife or mother, how they can't be lovable, how they're not perfect....but they tell me they've learned to stop, look around them and count their blessings, reject the lies and focus on the truth.
Are we perfect, as women? No. Are we perfect mommies to our children? No. I read a blog (I'm truly sorry, I can't remember where or I'd link to it) in which the writer stated that while we are NOT perfect women or mothers, we are perfect for our children  to whom God assigned us. I am equipped or being equipped to meet my children's needs. I am learning to stand up for my children. I am examining my own heart and prioritizing my life to reflect these discoveries: my God should always come first, my health is important in the care and raising of my children, my children trump the busy-ness of life and the day-to-day monotony that we can get so distracted by, my education truly is important and there are people I am able to encourage and exhort even now.
Is it emotionally draining being on-call 24-7/365? Yes. Is it emotionally rewarding being available and accepting of the sticky hugs, sloppy kisses, constant rocking as we watch t.v. or read books together? Do you even have to ask? :)

Happy Mother's Day to all you imperfect ladies, who have faults, who fail at goals we set for ourselves or who inadvertently hurt our children by being so focused on the "mommy" stuff we forget to focus on the beings that make us mommies. Happy Mother's Day to all you who hate all children but your own. Happy Mother's Day to those worthy mommies who have adopted their precious burdens gifts, who gave up their babies for adoption, and especially those mommies who have to live with the pain of losing their babies - abortion, stillbirth, miscarriage, death or a breaking of the relationship....Happy Mother's Day to future mommies and to those mommies who haven't held a baby in their arms but are mommies to many children. You are blessings waiting to happen and that are still happening.

Take the time this week, this month, to reflect on those things that make you a mommy and consider the many ways in which you can fulfill your role as a mommy and how you can minister to your children through acknowledging them, playing with them, speaking with them, appreciating their individuality and loving them. If you don't do anything to celebrate your mommyhood, just love your children and realize that they love you, faults and all.

~ Blessings ~