Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mommy Panic

Moms are women. (Usually, anyway... but that's a topic for another day.) And as women, we are prone to moments that lack logic when it comes to our kids, right? I had a moment like that today.  It started this morning when my 15 year old son hopped out of bed bright and early at 8:30am on a Saturday and informed me we needed to go shopping.  But not for just anything... for a tie he could wear to the homecoming dance that would match his date's dress.  And I felt my heart skip a beat.  We had discussed all this earlier in the week, of course, but this morning it became reality!  And no, this wasn't his first dance, or even his first homecoming, but when you have a kid in high school, suddenly every occasion seems momentous... I started thinking, "Wow, this is the last year he will need me to 'take' him anywhere, next year he will be driving himself to buy ties, and the next year he will have his very last homecoming at Grissom High School, and then he will be gone forever and I'll have to beg him to come visit me, and who could blame him for staying away so much when life in this family is such a crazy mess!"  See, this is where the "lack of logic" comes into play.  And he is a son, a boy, a male, a man, and therefore not entirely comfortable with these moments of mommy panic.  The moments when all I can see in his face is that intense and serious little boy he once was, and how he's come out of his shell so much and how much I love who he is and at the same time miss that little boy soooo very much...  How proud I am that he is so independent and how much I miss being needed. (You should know that I type these words with tears flowing... Is there any other way to watch a child grow up? Joy and sorrow all mixed in together.. Are there even words to describe this?)

So I panic, but not because I fear for him. This young man is smart, capable, independent and competent.  He will excel.  But my mommy heart selfishly breaks a little each time I watch him take another step toward his future, because I fear it will take him far from me.  I know, I know... that is the way life is.  But gosh, no one told me it would happen so soon.  Or maybe they did, and I was too wrapped up in the little years to be able to wrap my head and heart around that as well.  And I want to tell him so many things, but at 15 he really has it all figured out, you know.  I wonder sometimes if he remembers... Sharing blueberry "beagles" for breakfast in the recliner while we watched Sesame Street, making costumes out of underwear, football helmets and legos, playing the "panio" with mommy, reading 10 stories at bedtime, playing games on the carpet, teaching his baby brother to hit a baseball off a tee... A million memories I have of this child and now he is out making his own... And I am proud.  And sad.  And happy.  Crazy?  Probably.

I know he isn't really going to leave me forever... I know to some degree he will always need his mom. And I know that God will direct his paths and watch over him when I can't.  I just look at the time I have left with him still "in my nest" and I think it isn't enough! 2 1/2 years just isn't enough.... But the days fly by, turning into weeks and months and I am left with this panic in my heart that it really is going too fast... And after him all the others will follow, one (or two) at a time.  And I just want to make the most of it, these fleeting moments that we have to love and live and laugh together.  So that they remember.  

I know I will.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Impossibly Simple

I love to read about marriage.  Blog posts, books, articles... After all, with one failed marriage already in my history, I could use the help, right?  I am currently reading Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas, along with his Devotions for a Sacred Marriage.  I also just started reading The Love Dare, and the 3 of those together make for some pretty revolutionizing reading.  I also read some blogs by godly women about being a wife and a mom, and I have come to agree with Gary Thomas' theory that God did not intend for marriage to make us happy.  He intended for marriage to make us holy...  To drive us to Himself when all of our efforts to be the perfect wife, the perfect mom, are seemingly in vain, and even that worthy pursuit leaves us empty and longing.

We women devote an enormous amount of time and energy in the pursuit of a happy family life, and of course we should! But I wonder if we are making it harder than it has to be?  This question has been turning over in my mind... What if we devoted ourselves to one purpose and one alone, and that one purpose being to conform to Christ, wouldn't the rest just fall into place?  Because who can resist Him?  If we become like Him, then who could resist us?  I've always wanted to be irresistable... but there are some qualities I possess that are unattractive indeed.  Like the need to be right.  All the time.  I mean, really, I have such a hard time admitting when I'm wrong.  And since I am wrong quite often, this causes some stress.  And the need to "feel appreciated".  I tell you, this might be the worst, because it exposes the selfishness behind even the so-called selfless things I do!

 I think what God is showing me in all of this reading I'm doing lately is that I do a lot of the right things. but with the wrong motives.  I am busy trying to win everyone's approval, busy trying to be the perfect wife (yeah, right! I can hear my husband laughing at this one) and busy trying to be Super-Duper-Mom/Stepmom and you know what? No one ever (well, rarely ever) says thank you.  And nobody really even notices half the stuff I do. So what happens?  I start feeling resentful, and at times even angry that I am not getting the approval I so desperately want.  Life for a recovering approval-addict just gets this way from time to time.  We know better.  But it is such a familiar way of perceiving things that when life gets busy it can become the default mode if we aren't careful.  So last week, when I was just really down in the dumps, God reminded me through all this reading, "Hey Kari, you really only need to be concerned with the approval of One...  Follow me, do what I do.  Love like I love, and forgive the way I forgive you."  Impossibly simple.  Impossible because I can't do those things.  Simple because He can.

Maybe this isn't revolutionary for you?  Maybe you have figured it all out already.  If so, please send me the link to your blog so that I can "follow" you! For me, it is always this winding path that keeps coming around to the same old issues and wearing the ruts deep.  It takes a few trips around the bend for me to really "get it".  This is just a short list of some things I am learning lately... Things that make my world look a little different than before.

1.  He understands.  No one was more misjudged, misunderstood, or mistreated than Jesus.  So He knows how it feels.  His motives were questioned, His credibility doubted, and even when He took the time to heal lepers He was left without even a simple "thank you" from all but one.  Very few believed the truth about Him, choosing to hold to their preconceived notions about this guy from Nazareth.

2.  He loved them anyway.  He responded to their doubt, their lies, their abuse, their slander, their insults, with love.  With a heart of forgiveness and mercy and tenderness.  He didn't retaliate or defend Himself.  He knew who He was.  Their unbelief did not change a thing about who He was.

3.  This was to be an example to me.  On a much smaller scale, for sure.  But who among us hasn't felt the sting of rejection?  The pain of being cast aside?  The heartache of being misunderstood?  The frustration of being unappreciated...  He showed us what to do.  Love them anyway.

Three simple truths.  A perfect model to pattern my life after... Impossible to live out in my own strength.  But as I am learning more and more with each day, what seems impossible to me is just an invitation for God to work and move in my life.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

E is for Exhausted

I am not even sure how to start this post, except to say Thank You God that this week is over and tomorrow is Sunday.  I could write a whole book just on the events of this week, but I don't have that kind of time tonight.  So let me just say that it has been HARD.  On every level, from every side, just plain hard.  And for once, I can't blame it on hormones.  Now, I do not want to say that there have not been any good moments, because that isn't true, but they have definitely been eclipsed by the difficult ones this week.  And no, there is nothing "big" going on.  Just the sinking feeling that I have spread myself entirely too thin, and its too late to turn back.  And every mom knows the result of being spread too thin.  Exhaustion.  I am forcing myself to be more transparent here than I am really comfortable with, but truly I have just shut down. My body, my mind, my emotions, they have just come to a grinding halt leaving me numb.  I don't want to parent, I don't want to see friends, I don't want to talk (mainly because I start crying every time) and I don't even really know why... I just feel so overwhelmed.

A sweet friend checked on me yesterday and reminded me that I have an Enemy who is seeking to steal my joy.... And I looked back over the countless, non-stop messes of this week and it was undeniably the work of someone who had calculated and planned each disaster to pierce me at my weakest, most vulnerable spots.  An Enemy who knows me well.  But I should be ready for this, right? God's word tells us to put on our armor... That there is one seeking to steal, kill and destroy... And maybe my guard is just down?   Maybe I forgot that I have a Defender, one who fights for me... At any rate, I felt defenseless.  Attacked.  Not ready.

Another dear lady reminded me of the fact that I'm not supposed to "do-it-all-myself", that in seeking to be super-woman I cheat myself of the blessing of being helped by those who love me and are willing.  And at the root of it all might be that seed of pride that I struggle with.  And ouch, that hurt, but yes, it resonates as Truth  in my spirit.

My husband, who doesn't say a whole lot, (especially not when I am having this kind of week) has listened as I have literally poured out all of the conflicting, contradicting, at times CRAZY things in my head, and has not really offered much advice (for which I am so thankful) until today.  But what he said today really cut straight to the heart... He gently reminded me of all the times I have encouraged him to choose the right even when it isn't easy, to be generous when being selfish would feel better, to turn the other cheek, to let the little things go and to give grace... Again, OUCH. But I knew he was right.  I had switched back into that old familiar self-protective mode.  Walls up, mind closed, heart locked up tight.  It is amazing to me how easy it is to fall back into this when I know better.  

I have another friend who has told me many times to "lead with my heart", because she knows my tendency to feign confidence when I am really steeped in self-doubt.  It's almost as if, the harder and more impossible things get, the more I try to prove I can do it all myself. Why do I do this? What do I have to prove? And to whom?

Is there a point to this post? I don't even know.  It is just the honest rambling of a really tired mama who has lost her way this week.  But tomorrow is a new day, a new week, another chance to start over.  I can at least leave you with some verses (compliments of Lauren Ford's study notes from bible study on Thursday) that I have been clinging to this weekend. Maybe it is just what you need too?

Philippians 4:6-7  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Ephesians 4:32  "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

Luke 6:32-35  "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked."

Lamentations 3:22-23  "Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning;  Great is Your faithfulness."

Isaiah 40:31  "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Luke 18:27  "Jesus replied, 'What is impossible with man is possible with God.'"