Stuff to know

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I am guilty.

Guilty of trying to be the greatest mom.

Guilty of trying to convince others of this pretense as well

I looked for affirmation among the motherhood crowd and the crowd I tried to appease came with a big price tag.

I am a Christian and I want my children to be raised following Christ.
So my first clue should have been to turn to Him and Him alone.

But I was surrounded by other great believers and great church and endless Christian resources. 
Some of you may be able to decipher better than me and could take the advice of some either in person or through a book and then throw out the rest that doesn’t work for you

I didn’t possess that great skill but I ended up earning it.

When I didn’t meet the criteria that I thought was better than me I poured on the guilt and then the determination followed by the exhaustion and then the explosions.

Next came the shame and repentance, followed by fatigue and depression.

Then I would get just enough to carry on in a recognizable form of sanity but eventually would cycle back .

You are probably thinking what in the world made you like that ?

Things like:

 Homeschool – I didn’t  I don’t

 Family devotions everyday without fail-  we tried, some were funny others I was to controlling

Lead and encourage other women at church- I’m not good enough in my walk to lead others

Work the children’s nursery- I love the little ones they don’t judge

Volunteer – so much that we went to church as a divided family unit for an entire  year

 These  may seem silly to you but I bet you can insert your own statements from  whatever is important to you and I might find it ludicrous.
But I bet we are not that far apart when
 we have good intentions and unstable motivation.

Anyway I realize I set many of these things up in my own head 
and to be honest with you not many of the people 
who surround me would ever guess at my insecurities.

Others who had to one up me were never secure to begin with .
I went the route of “let me tell you all the great things” 
I do thinking  and I would  just justify myself bless the socks 
off of who ever was listening!
God quickly cured me of that as I realized 
I was talking about doing more than I was doing- OUCH

But even in  a circle of believers I never seemed to be enough. In my mind anyway.

We should encourage one another and not one up, 
,judge or belittle one another.

But ultimately my relationship with God relies on Me and God.
And since God has no insecurities about His love for me ,  I had to conclude that it was ME.

I mistook the approval of those I admired for the approval of God.

And it could not have a been a bigger lie.
My behavior wasn’t the matter.
I was doing all the good things so to speak
But my motivations were not pure.
And they brought no peace.

It was like a task list of Holier than Holies.

  • 3 chapters of the Bible read-check
  • Devotion read –check
  • Prayer journal-check
  • Scripture cards memorization-check
  • Bible study done-check
  • Bible study attended-check
  • Read latest Christian parenting book-check
  • Asked (nagged) husband to lead devotion (again)-check, check, check
  • Read Bible story to kids-check
  • Got fussy when oldest didn't do devotion-check

And then there were these unwritten checks

  • Talk about a parenting moment when you used Biblical principals-check
  • Correct your child in that non sarcastic sweet way when disciplining in front  of others- check
  • Recommend date night with out fail because your marriage depends on it
  • Join 4 Bible studies simultaneously (seriously someone smack me)

I am not saying that these things are not good or are not helpful I’m simply saying
It matters what or who motivated you – that is when authenticity is born.

Now I’m not claiming “if you feel like it” here.
 NO those who don’t do anything until they feel like it are just lazy- self included .

I understand obedience is necessary, but to Whose obedience?

Your Bible study leader?
The chick down the street who has “it all together?”

Even if the end result is what it should be
God knows my heart – He knows who I am trying to please
To be affirmed by

This surely has to quality for the “filthy rags” Isaiah refers to  as our acts of righteousness.

It is no wonder so many of us lose our true “want to”
and we label God as demanding and oppressive . I did

But He is not either of those things-
HE is waiting for me kindly and lovingly .
Waiting for my  control freakness to die .

Can I really rest?
Not in an exhaustive hot mess heap but really rest and not “do” anything but be loved?

I am reminded of the words in Isaiah

 In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust  is your strength, “   

Yes I can rest and count on Him . 
The end of this verse holds a sharp reminder
 and rebuke to the people of Isaiah day
 and it is a red flag for us.

It states :
“but you would have none of it.

The verses that follow as you can imagine are not pretty.

I want to rest in Him .
 I want to trust in Him and I do not want it said of me that “ I would have none of it”. 
NO Lord I do not want you to be able to say that to me.
I want to say that “I took all of it”

All the repentance from my striving
All the rest You have to offer
This is my Salvation

All the quietness in my mind
All the trust in Your love for me
This is my strength

I wanted to be such a good mom and I am a good mom.
I love my children and they love me and all of us are strewn together by the loving hands of Our Sweet Heavenly Father, who has been abundantly generous in  His grace.

I made many mistakes as a young mom and I still make some today but one thing is sure: God has never left or forsaken me
And I can rest.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Reminder

Its 11 p.m.
 I did it again.
 I didn’t want to.  I didn’t intend to.
I didn’t see it coming
I don’t know if I should have or not

But I did it
I lost my shit last night

Lost my temper, mind, reasoning, religion

Whatever you want to call it- I lost it
Lost it right into the lap of my youngest, Forrest.

And not in a funny – “oh my will eventually make a great sitcom episode” way.
No .
In the “What the hell am I doing?”
And “God please repair the heart I have broken”
Kind of way

That messed up.

The one ray of light in the whole dysfunctional whirlwind was I didn’t look past the hurt on her face-
It was there : raw , red and my doing.

Thank God it became my undoing.
I watched internal pain produce a desperate look and it floored me –
it made me to say to myself   “You incredible ass, what are you doing”

And my blood pressure was still up,
 and my anger was still there (stupid as it was) 
and my selfishness still gripped me –
but my spirit sank like a lead weight.

Like a millstone hung around my neck was that weight and it hurt.

I wanted to crawl in the hole that I belonged in.

And I would have taken a life of despair in exchange for her healing.

I wish I could have made the trade.
But it doesn’t work that way.

We cannot undo

We can only redo

The next moment
The next time
The next choice

I sent her upstairs
Afraid to have us in the same room
Ashamed to let her see the monster I was

It’s 11:05
5 minutes-
5 foolish, reckless, damaging minutes

Heated, 0 to 1,000 in 30 seconds or less-
 the moments have now past
And I can’t get them back
No amount of grieving can do that- and trust me I’ve tested the theory

Now at this point I have a tendency to think the thoughts of the damned:

“What a lousy mother you are”
“You are a freak”
“Seriously this is a request, not cancer”
“Don’t you love your child?”
“You always do this”
“Spare her please- she would be better off without you”

The decent to the pit is a rapid one
When you let your conviction turn  to condemnation.
And that is where I went……fast.

But then I realized some facts:

Yes I acted foolish
Yes my reaction was hurtful
And then
 I saw what it was doing
I stopped.

I heard the conviction.
I listened.

And actually I listened much earlier than the last time I lost it.

I fell down on my knees asking forgiveness
 and asking twice over that God would fill her with His truths and not my lies.

That He would comfort her and let her know how wildly important and loved she is.

I pulled a small amount of myself together and humbly walked the stairs , knowing what had to be done .
I sought and received her forgiveness.
I attempted to be back in her  good graces.
That is going to take longer.
I understand that.
 NO one wants to snuggle up with the dog that just bit you.

I left her room and attempted to sleep.
I didn’t. The longer I lay there the madder I got.

At myself,
at my husband (honestly he is sleeping while I’m sniveling in the dark)
And even at God

“Why Lord?  Why does this keep happening?
What is wrong with me?
Why won’t you just immerse me in your Holy Spirit and make me like so many I see; happy walking in faith with you?”

And I kept on descending into the
Bowels of unhealthy thinking with:

“Yes I’m envious of other’s faith  . They have a seamlessly, effortless, wonderful, doubtless relationship with you .”
“Why can’t you just zap me into that?”

I am being brutally honest here
I actually said that
And then in the background
I am pretty sure I heard a Whaambulance.

Finally I shut up enough and did a few deep breaths.

I then heard that still yet commanding voice

“You want to hear from me?   Then meet me.”
You want to know what I think?  Then seek me”


“You want to know if I forgive you?”
“Yes Yes Lord I wan’t to know. How can I be forgiven?”

And I began my argument

“Shouldn’t I have a millstone around my neck?”  Luke 17:2
“Doesn’t her angel see your very face in heaven? “  Matthew 18:10
“Won’t I have to give account of every careless word spoken and won’t I be guilty?Matthew 12:36

I had asked and God was faithful to answer:

“Your answer is not going to be here in the dark writhing in your bed”
“Move , get up”

I roll out of bed and walk like a hunchback to the couch. I grab my Bible,  tears are streaming down my face. I’m a total snot bubble and pretty sure I have created a new breathing pattern for myself.

 It is now 2 a.m.
I flop like the leader of the pity party that I am on the cushions.

 “Fine,  fine”  I think , “I’m just going to randomly open up my Bible, roulette style, and see what I get’

It wasn’t thought in hope.
It sure wasn’t spoken in expectation.
I half way thought that I would open up to a passage
about a possessed woman or a the Philistine foreskin story
or something that I can make hide nor hare out of.

At this point it would have done me good to remember that God can hear me even if I’m just thinking.

So I whip open my Bible and glare at it with blurred vision
And this is what I read:

21 “Remember these things, Jacob,
    for you, Israel, are my servant.
I have made you, you are my servant;
    Israel, I will not forget you.
22 I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
    your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
    for I have redeemed you.”

I thought I had lost it
But I was wrong

You can obviously go lower

You can be lower than prostrate
I got that low  as I was overwhelmed by God’s incredible Mercy

I wouldn’t forgive myself but
He reminded me that He didn’t need my permission  in order for
His forgiveness to be granted.

And all He wanted was to
 remind me

Remember these things

What things? 
The scripture above the remember scripture
speaks about idolatry and states this:

“Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him;
    he cannot save himself, or say,
    “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

I was feeding on ashes, convincing myself
that my self loathing accomplished something.

That gripping the “don’t forgive myself card” was righteous
What it was is the thing in my hand that was a lie
Then He reminded me I was His
“for you, Israel, are my servant”
His servant- one He choose to carry out His will

And that He made me.
“I have made you, you are my servant”
He choose me.
He didn’t get stuck with me in some cosmic Saint Sinner League draft
or acquire me by default with a trade for Mother Teresa .

No. He decided to make me and then put me on His team.

Then He reminds me in the middle of my “me” mess
That He has not forgotten me.
Israel, I will not forget you.”

My rambling about not being this way or that
or having what I see in others is a group of poop .
He has not forgotten me for one moment

And He proves it with God  action-
Demonstrative Love

22” I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
    your sins like the morning mist”
He sweeps away my offenses like a cloud
Like a whispy  frail gas like as if it is  nothing
My sins like the morning mist
Evaporated, faded into invisibility

NOT that the offense was nothing - no it was something and it has consequences.

A HOLY SHOO and it is gone before His presence.

At this point if I were God I would be like
“Ok I done dealt with your crud now please go slither away somewhere and try to keep a low profile”

But God is not like me
His thoughts are not my thoughts (PRAISE JESUS)
And His ways are not my ways

He goes on :

Return to me,”
I’m like “What?  You want me to come where You are?   You almighty God want me to be hanging out with you?”

“Umm do you not remember the past couple of hours?
The pain I caused,
the regrets I have ,
the snot I have produced, the pity party I held in my own honor?”

And it’s at his point that He reminds me that
All of that is immaterial to WHAT HE WANTS.
He is not bound by me
or my thinking or  my behavior.

 Because of how HE handles sin, death and the enemy, who just a few hours ago had all my attention.
Because the biggest reminder of all
 HE saves for last:

“for I have redeemed you.”

He says “ I HAVE.”

And so it is.

And because of that my next moment can be  new moment 

A merciful moment,
 a healing moment.

And Forrest and I can share that moment together in the arms of the only unfailing parent there ever is.

And together we can learn that
  Grace is the only thing that ever makes a way.

I have been encouraged by a number of great strong women one who has encouraged me by reminding me that God loved me first and that anything synonymous with Israel, Jacob, His servant, His Bride is in reference to His redeemed.
 I am one such redeemed and so are you.
So as you read scripture I would encourage you to rightful by His Blood place your own name in scripture where the redeemed are.
For instance the above passage could be an encouragement to you as such:

21 “Remember these things, your name,
    for you, your name, are my servant.
I have made you, you are my servant;
    Your name I will not forget you.

22 I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
    your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
    for I have redeemed you.” Your name

And I pray today you are reminded of His great love
Before you lose it
If you lose it
Or after you’ve lost it
Because at every stage
You have never been lost
You are always the Redeemed.