Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Road Less Traveled

So here I am, on a path that I gather that I've wanted to travel for some time, but was too selfish to take the plunge. Many moons ago, after years of devoted church "attendance" I decided to cease all churchgoing, aside from dropping off the kids, or the mandatory holiday attendance. I made this decision for one reason: I didn't want to be one of "those" Christians...a hypocrite. The ones that are in the club on Saturday night and at church on Sunday. Now, I'm not judging...if that's you, do what you do. I knew I didn't want that for me. Yet, I wanted to have my earthly fun and lived on the premise of, "Jesus will forgive me", which (in my mind) gave me the freedom to sin to my hearts content. What I failed to realize then was that Satan was the one saying "Jesus will forgive you. Don't worry about it. Have fun." The more I indulged, the further I moved away from Christ. 

So here I am, years later, having fallen a gazillion times (and continue to do so) and notice that things are changing in my life. I'm not sure that I like some of the changes (like broken relationships), but I'll have to accept and live with them. The closer I draw to Christ, the more my closest relationships fall away. I'm repeatedly told "you're no fun anymore" or "you think you're better than everyone else."  To the contrary, I'd say I'm a happier person overall, and I try, at least, to acknowledge my faults. I will though, hold other Christians accountable, as I expect other Christians to hold me accountable. That's how we remain strong in Christ. Don't mistake accountability for judgement or condemnation. My friend Cindi "pulled me to the mat" about an issue last year, and for that I am forever grateful. She held me accountable, and because she did, I refrained from making a huge mistake that could have resulted in a lifetime of resentment from my daughter. It is when we're on the verge of making selfish decisions that we need to be held accountable. Being selfless is being Christ-like. Since we are not infallible, it's our sinful nature that drives a wedge between us and Christ.

My goal before I leave this earth is to become what Proverbs 31 defines as a "Capable Wife." (the wife part will happen in His time...and I am waiting patiently). In raising two girls and guiding a young man, it's my job to be Christ to them, and as much as possible, be Christ to the world. What does that mean?? That means living my life as closely as I can to what scripture dictates. I can no longer raise my kids with the "do as I say, not as I do" attitude. I cannot, in good conscience, say I'm a devout Christian, and then feed into the World's stereotypes of what Christians are and are not. No, we are not perfect, however, I don't feel that the promise of salvation gives us free reign to sin all over the place, as if we have a 'get out of hell free' card. In the Epistle of James, when he said "faith without works is dead", he meant, if you have true faith, your work will show your level of faith. I'm closely monitoring my level of faith to increase it day after day. Some days may be easier that others, but that's my goal. It may not seem like fun, but I'm basking in the glory of God's love, and that makes my life me!!

And so, here I am, on that desolate road, the road less traveled. The not-so-fun (to some) road. I wish the Lord would restore my broken relationships. And if it is His will, thine will be done. Until then, I am coming to grips with the solitude of the road less traveled. But I'm not traveling completely alone...the Lord is my driver and navigator!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Comfort In The Word

So, my son deployed three weeks ago today. And my oldest daughter is not handling it as well as my youngest.  She's been diagnosed with depression (which is most likely situational, and nothing to worry about long-term) and she is also the middle child, plus she is at the onset of puberty. Can you imagine the joy that is my life?! We have heard from my son regularly, but this week its been 3 days since our last contact. And of course, tonight would be the night that my oldest daughter is missing her Confidant and Partner-In-Crime.  Her counseling appointment was cancelled this week due to illness, so I'm sure she's feeling like she needs to vent. I spend my days listening to the woes of foster children with what I deem to be real problems, so maybe I'm not as therapeutic as her therapist is when it comes to the subject of hearing from her brother. I mean, we are certainly fortunate to hear from him several times a week! Trying to get that through her thick brain of hers is tough. Maybe its the fact that she feels like poo b/c her asthma symptoms are flaring up? Maybe its her hormones? Or maybe its just the fact that she misses her Bubba and still holds out hope that he comes home and we can be a unit again. The two men in her life that she is closest to are miles away, and she's struggling with that, according to her therapist.

So, feeling inadequate, as I quite often do when it comes to being emotionally available to my daughter, I turned to scripture to find just what I need to help me help her. And sure enough out pops 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:

"Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (HCSB)

So I read it to her, and she asks, "Can you read it in 'The Message version'." She prefers that translation when we cuddle in the mornings and do her devotionals together. So I read:

"All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us." (MSG)

I advised her that she needs to take comfort in the Lord, and that Bubba is exactly where He needs him to be at this moment in time. I also reminded her that the Lord has brought me through some rough times, and now it was my turn to comfort my daughter the way that Christ has comforted me throughout my life, using Him as the source of comfort (if that makes any sense??). And so we talked. I asked her if she felt better, and she nodded. Then I reminded her that, just as Christ has comforted her and I, and I have comforted her, she will be given the opportunity for Christ to shine through her pretty little self and give comfort to someone who will need it. She smiled. Then retreated to her room where she's laying in bed, jotting a journal entry, as I enter a blog entry.

It is amazing to me how God many times uses our loved ones to humble us, and reflect on His Word. He uses them to draw us closer to Him...especially when we go off on a tangent.

How much is TWO much??

I have a thing for TWOs, hence the quirky title. It's specifically related to my children. For the first ten years of parenting, it was just the TWO of us, me and my son, Christian. Then I became a mother of TWO, on the second day of the second month of the second millennium (02/02/2000). Then I became a mother of TWO children born on the same day of the month (my oldest and youngest are both born on the 28th day of August and September, respectively), and became the mother of TWO girls. I have been a mother for TWO decades now (more than half my life).  This year, my son turns TWO-TWO (22) and his second year in the Air Force. I have TWO daughters, my mother had TWO daughters, and her mother had TWO daughters. When I get married again (because I know God has that in store for me because I love being married), we will be TWO.  So, like many people have a thing for sevens, I have a thing for TWOs. (I also have a thing for sevens and elevens, but I'll leave that for another day.)

The TWO thing has really nothing to do with this post, except it's about parenting my TWO.

So, today, I had a complete mental breakdown. Here I am trying to be super-mom. In the moment, I feel as though I am doing what God commands me to do in parenting my children. According to Proverbs 31:26-28 (HCSB), "She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle." So, I strive not to be idle, and try to ensure that my girls are never idle either. You see, I spent much of my childhood being idle. And as the saying goes, "Idle hands are the devils playground." So, I found myself getting into much trouble in junior high school. Failing grades, gang association, school suspensions, fights, and eventually, a pregnancy that resulted in the birth of my son at the beginning of my 11th grade year.

As my oldest daughter is fully immersed in her tween years, I find myself giving her the okay to any and every activity she asks to be involved in. Most of them are church-based, so "how could I possibly say 'no'? I mean, here is a 12-year-old who wants to hang out at church, with her church friends (many of whom are parented like mine are.)  Then comes a day like today...when I get smacked with the reality that there isn't a Super-Mom cape hiding under my shirt. When I realize that I am driving over 100 miles each weekend carting the girls back and forth to church/school for their activities, in addition to the Monday and Wednesday night activities as well. Tuesday nights are reserved for my bible study which is only usually 6-8 weeks each season. Thursday evening are my late work evenings to do home visits for work (I am a Social Worker). Did I mention that I am also remodeling my kitchen single-handedly? So, today, as I am mentally trying to hold it all together while waiting at the girls' bus stop for the bus (that was late), I hear my oldest say, "Mom, can you just take us to school?" And without even processing the statement, as if on auto-pilot, I put the car in drive, because my over-achieving daughters couldn't possibly be late for school. And as I am still on auto-pilot, scanning the street for children (there were none in sight), I speed up in attempt to get my kids to school on time, and get flagged down my a cop who isn't even on his bike. Yes, I got a ticket (which I will fight). It was then that I realized...I am doing waaay too much. It's as if I'm in a fog most of the time, and not really living. And there I sat, fussing at the girls (for which I apologized later) and crying my eyes out because I really cannot afford to pay (or fight) this ticket. So off I went, ticket in hand, still on auto-pilot, dropping the kids off, telling them I loved them and wished them a blessed day. Then I pulled over and prayed. Not because of the ticket, but because I felt as though, in that moment, that this kind of chaos could not be what God was referring to about never being idle.

My best friend gave me a bit of insight: If I overburden myself and cause myself to be incapacitated in any way and unable to work (i.e.: mental breakdown), then who will care for my TWO?

Later on, I began to realize, that would certainly be counteracting what my goal is, which is to fulfill the duties of a mother as God commanded. So this evening, I sat down with my TWO, and explained to them that there is no cape under my shirt, and that Mommy is exhausted. So, we went down the list of weekly activities, and they gave up ONE activity, for now.

Today's lesson: do not get caught up in the nuances of what you feel God is commanding you to do. Sometimes doing too much can be counterproductive, and He certainly does not want that for us. 

Pray about it: He will reveal to you what He needs you to know. It's called an "aha moment".