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A Forceful Lie-Down

There is no greater joy on this earth for me than to be a mother. This is simply the thing on this earth I know I was created to do. It’s not something I often admit aloud, because I would hate to trigger any insecurity in someone who does not share my joy, but I truly, deeply love it.

It’s not something that’s always easy, though. Last night was one of those hard nights. With school, we have to get into bed to read and head to sleep by 7:30 pm at the latest. It’s the reality of our life right now — and it’s a temporary routine in the scheme of things. On nights we get to bed any later, there’s a price to pay. Last night, we didn’t head to bed until 8:15.

This meant it was a long, sleep-interrupted night followed by a very hard and tired wake up this morning for my daughter. I didn’t fare much better. My son woke up “refreshed” at 4:55 am and I stirred hot chocolate mix into his milk while waiting for my coffee to brew. I could not figure out why the stupid powder would not dissolve, and of course I had added too much milk to his cup, so I had to take a big swig of the disgusting mushy chocolate sludge so I could shake up the milk. It wasn’t until after I handed him his cup and went to put up the canister that I realized it said “Nestle hot chocolate mix.”

I like to start Mondays off right, y’all.

I try to be tender to my daughter when she wakes in the morning. I know she’s not a morning person, I know that things are huge and BIG FEELINGS when she’s tired. I know her hair is extra tender when she’s tired. I know that being angry and yelling at her only results in a frustrated me, and a tearful child. While I fail almost as often as I succeed in the mornings, I try to send her off making sure she knows that I believe in her, that she is loved, and that she’s safe with me. She’s safe to be angry, she’s safe to feel tired, she’s safe to express herself to me because I will not change how I love her. Now, I won’t let her get away with certain behaviors, but if there’s any place she can have a safe place to try, it’s here.

Bluebelle got off to school on time, and she was finally sweet and ready to learn by 7:30. You’re welcome, teachers.

I went to make myself a second cup of coffee a few moments ago to shake off the fog of sleep deprivation, and I thought about how tender God is with us. I can be tender to my children because I have experienced tenderness beyond anything I actually deserve.

I’ve been dissecting Psalm 23 lately, and looking at it through fresh eyes, in part for a thing I’m leading soon, but also because it’s where I have felt like I was supposed to be.

“He makes me to lie down in green valleys, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul. He leads me through paths of righteousness, for his name’s sake.”

You know what I never noticed before? The word “makes.” In my world, I always just kind of assumed that I have always been a willing participant. The idea of laying down in a green valley, and leading me beside a nice, calm, still water, and that idea of restoration … It sounds like a nap. A glorious nap. Who wouldn’t love a nap?

My children, that’s who.

Am I no different than my child? Do I not think that I can do this on my own? That I’m “not that tired” and “I don’t have time to rest?” I wrangle my children into early bedtimes and naps because I know that they need to recharge even if they can’t see it. My tenderness towards them doesn’t always look tender to them. It looks like I’m squashing their fun. It looks like the end of their little world.

Sometimes God’s tenderness doesn’t feel all that tender to me either. It feels like disappointment. It feels like disaster. It feels like closed doors, wounded feelings, and being all alone.

It’s only after I get my rest and restoration that I can see why things were done the way they were. Before that, I’m in that exhausted tantrum state where logic is anything but logical. After my rest I can say, “Lord, I see why you did what you did. Thank you.”

Growing up, my dad was exceptionally good about coming to my room after any conflict.  Dad would give me about 5-15 minutes and then come in to talk to me and resolve things in a calm manner. I feel that’s how God is with us — he’s patient and able to withstand our wailings and anger, but he doesn’t want us to remain there.

Thank you, God, for being tender with us and for always being our safe place. Thank you for being merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8)

Tonight we will go to bed earlier than last night, and I will remind my children that the rest is for their own good. Hopefully I’ll get some sleep of my own. But if not it will be okay, because there are always opportunities to rest and find refreshment.

There is also coffee.

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I am strong (2 of 2)I’ve always battled with my weight. I was never a really fat kid, but I was easily swayed by the message that our bodies had to be absolutely rock hard. I remember being in 6th grade and my friend Caitlin pointed out our fat rolls when we sat. That was the first time I wished I didn’t have any, not realizing that everyone has some version of it. By the time I was a freshman in high school, I was playing softball, cheerleading, and I was a size 10. I was a hundred and forty pounds. Sophomore year I was on Metabolife that my grandmother would buy for me and not eating carbs. I was the largest cheerleader on the squad. I graduated high school a size 12.

In college I got down to a size 8 for one whole month due to the fact that I was just too busy to eat. I would spend all day living off of peanut butter crackers and one meal a day. Then I met Todd, and I’ve always gained weight when I was happy, so I went back to the size 12 I had always been. Fast forward another 12 years, two babies, and a lot of changes later and I’m 40 lbs heavier than I was when I was when I got married, and another 10-20 from my 15 year old weight.

I’ve spent many years only losing weight when I got fed up with myself and would mentally punish and shame myself into not eating certain foods. I would tell myself that if I wanted to be skinny I had to stop it and not eat that stuff. When I felt good about myself, I would eat whatever I wanted. I would indulge. I would also indulge when things were really hard.

In the last several years, I have been learning to be better to myself. I’m learning that I used this behavior cycle of mentally willing to be better and then shaming myself when I fell short of the high marks I set for myself. I thought I was doing it right, because it was no different than what I saw on TV, or even in my friends and families’ lives. Everywhere around me I saw women I loved telling me and themselves that they were fat and lazy and just needed to do something. I would look at them and I would see these beautiful women, most of them smaller than me, punishing themselves in their words and thoughts. Never content, never enough.

What I’m seeing today is that we are believing lies. The lie that there is a standard quantitative weight or size we must be at to be “normal.” The lie that our identity and worth as a woman lies in what we can produce, whether that is on a scale or in our homes or our jobs. We believe the lie that when we fall short, we are worthy of the punishment we give ourselves. Our identity was never meant to be found in anything we can manufacture on our own. 

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

I always associated 1 Corinthians 6 with passages on sexual immorality and purity, but there is more to it than that. If you are a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a vessel for the Holy Spirit. We are the jars of clay, with our temporary bodies that are meant to hold the greatest treasure in the whole world. Some of us may look like a Waterford vase, and some of us may feel like something my 6 year old made out of Playdoh, but we are all designed for the same purpose. To live a life for Him and to share this treasure we hold for as long as we draw a breath.

I move my body every day. I exercise. I’m strong. I hold my children in my arms and I carried them far longer than 9 months. I eat well but I need to do better. The point is, I’ve been punishing myself because of a size and a number, when I’m healthy and I use my body to do good things. I’ve got to trust Him to do a good work in me, and to release my struggle to Him.

As for me, I’m going to do my best to be okay with where I am, just as I am. When my identity is in God and not a number on the scale, I am free. I am happy. I am loved not because of what I can do or produce, but for me.

If you struggle with this, know that you’re not alone and you are not a number on a scale. You are so much more than you know. I am strong (1 of 2)

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Faith and Facebook

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Every time I get or send a friend request on Facebook, I look at my profile. True story. I take a minute to read and scroll through it to see what kind of picture a person is going to get about me when they look for the first time. I don’t know if this is good or just crazy, but now you know this about me. I think its also good to do this to ourselves on occasion to see what kind of message we are putting out to the world to see. Instagram and Twitter, too. (Or whatever you use.)

Here is the thing that struck me today: I don’t put my faith out there nearly as much as I think I do.

I’m not saying that this is a good or a bad thing, and I know I can’t control others’ opinions no matter how I try. I’m sure I seem zealous to some and not active to others, simply because the way I choose to spend my time and energy is different from theirs. If you were to look at me at first glance, you’d see that I love coffee, my kids, and self-depreciation. I have some private outlets where I share my faith so while my personal feed is saturated; what I put out into the feed is diminished.

The truth is, my life is becoming increasingly consumed with who I am in light of what Jesus Christ has done for me. I spent a lot of years not knowing how to speak about my faith anymore, because I wasn’t sure how to explain the wrestling I have done in my soul.

This is who I am: I am first and foremost not a mistake. I am a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ. I believe he died on the cross for my sins — not just the little things I do, but the core of who I am that is empty without him. I am a wife, but my identity is not in my husband, although I want him by my side until my dying breath. I am a mother, but my children are not my identity. They are my current occupation, they are the light of my heart and my days, but my hope is not in them. I am growing in him. I do not fit a typical church mold at this stage in my life. I understand those who doubt God’s existence and those who struggle with believing God’s truth far better than those who know how to live the Christian life well. A church does not hold my identity. I am quiet about my faith more than I used to be because I know how Christian rhetoric has often pierced people deeply, and I don’t a word of what I say to become rote.

I am learning that I am exactly who God made me to be, and as I grow in him, I become more of who I am. This comforts me as I encounter moments and people where I may not feel as though I fit a mold. There are many, many, many wonderful places, churches, people, and organizations out there…I’m just not obligated to force myself to fit into all of them anymore. What’s great for you may not be the best for me. And that’s okay. (I just have to remind myself of this on an hourly basis.)

I’m not saying I’m about to post daily bible verses, although I may feel a little more convicted to share to my regular feed some of what I share privately. I think that our faith is our own and I want to treat it with the preciousness I feel towards it, but I do want to be more mindful of what I’m not saying.

Do you look at your own social media feeds? Do you ever feel like you say too much? Or not enough? 

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