Why Is This So Hard?

Why is this so hard?

This is a question I ask at least once a day, sometimes much more.

Why is mothering so hard?

Why is selling our house so hard?

Why is being married so hard?

Why is managing money so hard?

Why is taking care of my body so hard?

Why is keeping my house clean so hard?

Why is thinking up something to eat for dinner so hard?

Why is connecting with friends so hard?

And the list goes on and on.  

You see, I’m one of those girls raised in church that loves Jesus. I try hard to follow God’s commands and love people the way God loves me. I’m trying hard to DO what God says.

So why is this so hard?

There’s a guy named Moses who tried really hard to do what God told him to do and he got pretty frustrated. He went to Pharaoh (just like God told him to) and told him to let his people go, but Pharaoh refused to do just that. Instead, Pharaoh made their lives even harder. So Moses had a chat with God…

O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all. Exodus 5:22-23 NIV

Last summer, after praying about it, my husband and I put our house on the market. Yesterday we bought a new water heater. I love buying water heaters. Said no one ever. We need a new roof because of hail damage. Our insurance company denied the claim. It seems like the moment we started the process to sell our house things have gotten harder. Why is that? I thought being obedient to God would open up some Skittle rainbow that we would use to slide onto our little promised land, but no. It’s hard and it doesn’t make any sense.

I’ve been having a few chats with God lately myself. He didn’t zap me with lightning for asking, “Why is this so hard?” He didn’t send any plagues. He told me the same thing He told Moses.

Now you will see what I will do…Exodus 6:1

If it wasn’t this hard, I probably wouldn’t know it was Him. I might be tempted to think it was because of (gulp) me and that will never work because if it’s up to me, I will mess it up and we’ll be right back where we started.

So we wait. We wait to see what He will do.

What is it that you find hard right now? It’s OK to have a chat with God about it. He loves you. He really does. Pull up a seat right next to me and we’ll watch to see what He will do.

(I love to read your comments and consider it an honor to pray for you if you’d like.)

I’m Not the Breast

Not long ago a friend came to me exhausted, overwhelmed, and ready to give up. She was physically, spiritually, and emotionally spent trying to balance her career with her role as a mother, wife, friend, and the kind of Christian she thought she needed to be.  The kind of Christian who says yes more than no because Christianity is about sacrifice. The kind of Christian who helps everyone even if it means sacrificing those closest to her.

I knew exactly how my friend was feeling because I had been there too. If I’m honest, I still find myself there far more often than I should.

We prayed and invited Jesus into our conversation and He reminded her of a situation in her past when she felt like she was feeling that day.

My friend told me about a time when she had small children and desperately wanted to help a needy younger mother from church. She believed that it was her Christian duty to make herself and her home available to the needy mother any time she needed. The needy mother wasn’t even all that nice to my friend, but she believed Jesus would want her to be available no matter what.

One day the needy mother dropped by with her baby and said, “I have to go somewhere today. Will you watch her for me?” My friend automatically said “Yeah…sure.” Without hesitating, the needy mother handed her baby over and left.

My friend stood in her small living room surrounded by her own small children, one of which was an infant who still needed to be nursed, wondering how she was going to care for all of these children. When the infant she was babysitting started to cry, she did what any babysitter would do. She looked for a bottle to feed the hungry baby, but her needy mother hadn’t left a bottle.  My friend had no way to contact the mother to let her know she had left behind a hungry baby. So she did the only thing she knew to do.

With tears streaming down her face, she held another woman’s baby up to her breast to offer the only thing she could. The baby fussed, not wanting to suck at this stranger’s breast. It wasn’t her mother, but after a few minutes of struggling, hunger and instinct latched on.  Nothing about this intimate moment was comfortable. Everything inside of my friend was screaming “NO! Make it stop!” 

Sometimes we say yes when everything inside is screaming “NO! Make it stop!” 

As I listened to my friend struggle through tears to tell me her story, I could see how the pattern had repeated itself over and over in her life. She wanted to be able to say yes without fear and know that if she said no that she was going to be OK. She needed to know that God would love her anyway and that God would take care of the person she told no. She wondered if she could be liked and accepted without saying yes to everyone.

We cried. We prayed, and in my spirit I heard the Lord prompt me to tell her,

“You’re not the breast. I AM.”

Even as the words were coming out of my mouth I wanted to laugh because they sounded so absurd. I don’t remember ever hearing a Sunday School lesson about God being the breast. What I do remember is being told over and over about how God (El Shaddai) is all sufficient, powerful, provider, healer, peace, faithful…that He is everything we could ever want or need.

There are many references to “breasts” in the Bible. These are usually the verses that get my husband’s attention. Hey, whatever it takes. After doing some ‘Names of God’ searching, I learned that the Hebrew word “shad” (Shaddai) signifies the One who mightily nourishes, satisfies, protects, and supplies His people. Isaiah 60:16 NIV God tells His people that “they will drink the milk of nations and be nursed at royal breasts. Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” Isaiah 66:11-13 paints a similar picture. God is the one who sustains and comforts.

…to experience God’s sufficiency, we must realize our own insufficiency.–Nathan Stone

That day my friend needed to know it wasn’t up to her to be all sufficient. It wasn’t her job to fulfill everyone’s needs and solve their problems. My friend needed to be reminded that our God is everything we will ever need. He lacks nothing. He loves us. He’s already paid the ultimate sacrifice by sending Jesus to die for our sins. He wanted us to know that it was time to stop thinking we were the breast. We get to be part of how He provides from time to time, but it is all about Him. ALL OF THE TIME. He wants us to have the joy that comes from knowing we’re loved and that no one can take His love away from us.

This encounter with my friend was meant to encourage and strengthen her to let go of the guilt and shame she had been holding on to for so long. It was beautiful to watch Jesus set her free to love others more freely. I had no idea how it would affect me, but it has.

I’m not the breast.

It sounds silly, but saying those words (usually under my breath so my boys don’t think I’m crazier than they already do) when I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders has saved me from a good crushing lately.

If this is something you’re struggling with, I pray that God will use it to free you too.

 

I’m A Slacker Mom

There’s a saying that goes something like this:

“God couldn’t be everywhere, so He created mothers.”

Well, it’s a lie. I know this because no matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to be everywhere my family needs me to be.

For instance, yesterday my SUV had an appointment at the dealership to have some recall repair work done. The dealership is about 40 minutes from home. No problem. I would drive down to the shop with my almost 13 year old son and bribe him with Barnes and Noble purchases while my 15 year old went to work at his new job. Never mind that about a month ago we had signed up for some homeschool field trip and failed to let them know our plans had changed. (My brain has been on summer break for almost a month now and it shows.) I had it figured out.

Until I got a text from my 15 year old at 8am. He wasn’t needed at work. He didn’t check his phone before being dropped off at work to see the text sent to him at 7am saying just that. No big deal, right? Right. I picked him up and brought him back home. On the way home he mentioned that he’d still like to attend that homeschool field trip because his friends would be there and they really really really wanted him to go. I told him he’d have to text his friends and ask if their mom would be willing to give him a ride. She was willing. This meant that both boys would stay at home and I would take the car down by myself and not spend as much money in Barnes and Noble. Plan B was going to be OK.

The friendly courtesy shuttle driver dropped me of outside of Barnes and Noble and I proceeded to enter a mall that I hadn’t been to in a very long time. I sat down at a small table with the intent to work on the checkbook. Across from where I sat was the indoor playground area that used to be my sanctuary not so many years ago when my boys were little. No longer was I sitting on the inside watching my own children play while I talked with a girlfriend, I was outside looking in…alone. Cue the sappy music.

The next text I got from home was one saying that both boys wanted to go on the homeschool field trip. Of course it was OK that they wanted to go, but suddenly I was not OK.

Suddenly I felt like a slacker mom. Again. I was sitting in the mall working on my checkbook while my kids were 40 miles away relying on another mom. For some reason, it hurt more than it should. There wasn’t anything I could do about it. I didn’t even have my car to drive home.

So I cried. Yep. Right there in the mall, I had a good old fashioned three Kleenex pity party. I hoped one of the moms in the play area wouldn’t notice a middle aged blubbering mess and alert security. So what if the security guard circled the area where I was having my meltdown a couple of times? I’m sure it was perfectly normal.

Right in the middle of my second Kleenex, I got a text from my mom and decided to call her back even though I knew I couldn’t really talk yet. But if you can’t blubber on the phone in your mama’s ear, who can you blubber to? I mean, really? She listened. She countered the nasty messages I was believing with love and truth. Except that she told me that coffee didn’t taste good, and I know that’s a flat out lie, but she was trying to be helpful, so I gave her a pass. She never has been a very good liar. Before we said our goodbyes, my mom prayed for me. She wielded her shield of faith on my behalf all the way from California and made it OK for me to do the same right there in the mall.

This morning I’ve been reading some scripture out of Romans about offering our bodies as living sacrifices. These are verses that are very familiar to me, but this morning one particular phrase in The Message translation jumped out at me like never before. It’s one of those times that I question if it really was there before, even though I know it’s always been there.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you; Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Romans 12:1 The Message

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

This is the phrase that He wrote for me this morning. Yesterday God took control of my out of control morning and I need to embrace it. Embracing what God does for me is an act of worship. Yesterday I couldn’t be everywhere at once. Today I can’t be everywhere at once. Only God can be everywhere at once and I will choose to embrace what HE does for me and my family. May it be a holy and pleasing sacrifice and bring glory to His Name.

Does it bug you that you can’t be everywhere at once? There’s an app for that. 🙂 Embrace what God does for you today. He really likes it and He really loves you.

I welcome your comments and insight. Thanks for stopping by.

Lilacs and High School Graduations

Spring is a teenage drama queen.

It was only two weeks ago that I drove through a snowstorm. Two days ago it was in the low 90’s. It’s the kind of thing that drives me crazy because I was raised on the West Coast where temperatures are slightly more predictable.

I like predictable. However, I’ve also fallen head over heels with simple things like green leaves on trees…any trees, fruit tree blossoms, and Lilacs. I. Love. Lilacs. Over the years I’ve expressed the desire to have lilacs in my yard, but my husband doesn’t think they’re worth the effort. After all, they only bloom for a few weeks and then they just look like a bush.

lilac bush

But while they bloom…wow. The color. The fragrance. There’s nothing quite like it. Yankee Candle doesn’t even come close. For me, lilacs are the opening act after a long, hard winter…they are the first song that grabs my attention inviting me to a symphony of peonies, roses, pansies, petunias, and so much more.

Yesterday I shuffled through the pile of mail on the kitchen island and found two envelopes from the same address. One was an invitation to honor a family’s high school graduate. The other was an invitation to say goodbye to their daughter who is moving to California. I couldn’t believe how quickly this little boy had become a young man. My heart ached for the loss of this beautiful woman who has touched my life so deeply. And then my heart grieved for the mother, my friend, who is in the eye of the most unpredictable season she’s ever known. This ache reminded me that I needed to continue to pray for my friend.

So today I want to extend this prayer that I’ve been praying for my friend to you:

Father God, thank You for the blessing and the often painful privilege of mothering children. They have captured our affection in a way that even the most beautiful flowers have not been able to even come close. For every reader who finds themselves in the eye of this unpredictable season of change, I ask that You would remind them of Your great faithfulness. You alone have sustained them all along this long, hard journey and you alone will continue to sustain them. You’ve been there during the sleepless nights. You’ve caught every tear that has been shed. You see what WILL BE when it feels like everyone is stumbling in the dark. Your great mercy shines the Light that will lead the way one step at a time for these children and their mothers. In the beautiful name of Jesus, Amen.

I’m watching you, brave mothers, and I what I see is stunning. They are worth the effort. Thank you.

 

I’m Not a Good Mom

I’m not a good mom.

I’m not a bad mom, but I’m never good enough when I compare myself to really good moms. Like the ones who are constantly gushing about their children on Facebook or Twitter. I sometimes wonder if I would have slit my wrists if those things had been around when my boys were little. None of my Facebook friends’ statuses ever say “Losing my mind. Thinking about hiring a baby sitter and never coming back.” Oh, I’m guessing a few of them have thought it, but that’s not what they broadcast to the virtual world (for good reason).

You see, this mom has never measured up to what a good mom is supposed to be.

I’ve never been one of those moms who misses her children terribly while they’re at school. I love school. We home school now…and I don’t love it. Every year I hope that this will be the year that I fall in love with educating my children so I can be like the really good moms. So far, no. Maybe next year.

And what kind of mom doesn’t miss her kids when she’s gone for a weekend, or feel like breast feeding was the closest thing to heaven ever experienced? When I see young moms packing around their babies in those sling things, I cringe. That would have driven me crazy…er. Thank God it was OK to plop them in the stroller. While I’m at it, thank God for the five point harness and THANK GOD for baby food from a jar because I was too lazy to make my own!

What’s wrong with me?

This is the question I’ve been asking God for years.

His answer? “Nothing. Let’s talk about what’s right with you.”

I’ve been prompted to make a list that looks something like this:

*I love my sons fiercely. Nobody messes with them without meeting the Mama Bear. Just ask them.

*I pray like crazy for my kids. I know God has BIG plans for their lives and I want them to LOVE HIM more than anything in this world.

*If…no, when the devil messes with my kids, he messes with me. I fight back. My God is a warrior God. I am his daughter, therefore I am a warrior princess and I battle accordingly. Spiritual warfare is real and my children know it.

*I am head over heels in love with my sons’ daddy and they don’t have to wonder whether true love exists or not.

*Nobody plans and executes a better birthday party than me. Nobody.

*I think my sons are hilarious. They make me laugh daily…which helps when they make me want to cry. Mothering is HARD.

*My cooking isn’t half bad. Nobody’s going hungry.

For now, that’s what I’ve got. It’s not perfect, but maybe it’s good enough. Maybe good enough is good enough.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. My husband and my sons will go out of their way to honor me and make me feel special. They’ll take me to lunch and give me cards that will make me cry. I’ll read the messages of what a great mom they think I am and I’ll feel the familiar sick feeling in my stomach that believes differently.

Or I can choose to humble myself and receive the grace that God so generously offers. I can resist the negative messages that tell me I’ll never be good enough, ask forgiveness for believing the lies that I could be good without God to begin with, and drop to my knees in surrender to the Only One who will make anything good come from this mother. (James 4:7-10)

Maybe you’re reading this and can relate to not feeling like a good mom. I want to challenge you today, right where you’re at to begin to ask God to show you what you’re doing right. Grab a piece of paper, your smart phone, whatever…and make a list. He wants to speak truth and life over you today. Then take your list and thank Him for giving you the grace to allow Him to fill in your mothering gaps. He is more than able to do that and a whole lot more. The greatest thing we will ever do for our children is to trust God.

Let me say that again.

The greatest thing we will ever do for our children is to trust God.

It would be an honor to pray for you today.

Gracious God, I thank You for the mother who is reading this post today. I thank You that YOU are more than enough for everything she lacks. Strengthen her. Speak tenderly to her. Give her space. Grant her the rest that her body and mind so desperately need. May this Mother’s Day be different because she chose to humble herself and allow You to raise her up. Increase her faith so that she may trust You more than she has ever dared before. In the beautiful name of Jesus…Amen.

Feel free to leave a comment. If you share something you don’t want me to publish, just say so. I will always respect your privacy.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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