The Best and Worst of Times..

To say the last seven years have been hard would be an understatement. There were times I thought it would kill me or admit me. But God…

He sustained me.

This morning, I’m sitting in my new office in our new house. The space I set up to write. My loving husband asleep upstairs (there were times I never knew if I would be able to write those words). Our kids asleep. Our dogs asleep. Home. A beautiful new home (there were times I never thought I’d write those words).

I knew I wanted them all (a loving husband, a new home, a book)..but THE PROCESS of each one seemed insurmountable.

I’ve received all three of these in three months. To say the last three months have been a whirlwind would be an understatement. But, God…

He will steady me.

I didn’t just want a husband, I wanted a faithful, loving, God-fearing one who lived here and loved me enough to commit and to wait. At fourty years old. And, I would have waited until eighty if I’d had to. I knew I’d only have peace with a man like I’d want for my own daughters one day…

I wanted a new house that gave us more room, but I wanted a very similar location. Just more room. We hoped to move this summer, but when we listed our house last month, we had an offer and signed contract in ten hours. Our pictures hadn’t even been uploaded yet! This was happening so much sooner than we’d planned. One month after getting married and we were packing up. Time to find the new place…

Done. And less than a mile away. I look around and still can’t believe it’s mine.

I was a single mom for seven years. My girls were one and five, too young to realize what was going on, too young to understand, too young to have a clue what was happening or how hurt I was by it all.

At the time, I thought how unfair that was on top of everything else. I didn’t want any of it. And, I sure didn’t want to share them, they were still literally my babies. One in diapers, the other in pull ups.

For five of those years, I bled all over my keyboard. As God would speak to my heart, I would write. I would hope the words would one day somehow touch others. I would wait for the next topic and look for His lessons in each and every heartache. In the midst of the pain and loneliness and stress and confusion and grief. I would listen and ask what I needed to know. And, still do.

I can’t clearly express the pain I’ve experienced, I’m sure there are many of you reading this who can’t either. Pain can’t be put into words, it’s felt in the heart. But, so is God.

Our words could never do Him justice, but still we write and praise and sing.

He may have spoken light and animals and plants into existence. But, He BREATHED us to life. So, with every breath, may I return my gratitude for His mercy, His faithfulness, His presence, His forgiveness, His desires in my heart.

With every breath, may I thank Him for not only what I have now, but for the past seven years of what felt like my desert. Because, it was in those seven years, that He was not only my Savior, but my husband, our provider, my sustainer. He is the giver of every single good gift that we have and there are many.

Even in pain, He gives. And, what I needed the most in my whole life was Him. He revealed Himself to me in that pain. So, I thank Him for it!

My husband with a heart for Him wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those seven years. This house wouldn’t be ours if He hadn’t sold ours when He did. My book wouldn’t be written, much less published if I hadn’t experienced that pain with Him. He called me to write long ago, but I didn’t have the content.

To Him be the glory of it all.

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.”
Joel 2:25-26 (NIV)

 

 

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I’m Just Your Mom..

This title keeps bouncing around in my mind. Time to write…

It came to me when I was driving my oldest daughter to school a couple weeks ago. It was cold and she was leaving on a class trip that morning. Coldest weekend so far this year and she was leaving for a class trip a few hours away.

All she wanted to take to fend off the cold was a sweatshirt. She told me over and over again that’s all she’d wear. Still, I insisted she bring a coat, my ski coat, because it was the warmest one in the house. I told her she’d be thankful for it, that she’d want it.

She didn’t agree.

So much so, I was pretty sure it would get left behind somewhere. In a car, at the hotel, at the school. She didn’t want it. It was cold, wet, and getting colder.

I could send the coat, but I couldn’t make her wear it. I couldn’t make her remember it. I couldn’t make her want it. As hard as it would be to force her to wear it even if I were physically with her, I wouldn’t be. So, I had no control over whether she would wear it or not. Just make it available and hope that she’d not only wear it, but actually bring it home.

Makes me think of how we, as moms, love our kids like no other. We have a lot of “power” when it comes to where we let our kids physically go when they are young. But, we can’t control everything and we can’t make all their choices for them. So much is out of our hands. We may “control” some of their activities, but we can’t control their hearts or minds. We only have so much. The love is infinite, but the control is minute.

As much as I hope she learns from my mistakes, forgives me for them, and chooses Jesus for herself, I can’t make her. Only pray and hope that she does and brings Him to her home one day.

All this from how little control I had over whether she wore the coat I sent or not.

Her life’s path is different from mine. God has a specific purpose in mind for her. My prayer is she follows IT. Him. And, that takes a lot of trust in her and Him from me.

We can take our kids to school and put friends in front of them, but we can’t make them choose them for themselves. We can allow a phones or not, but we can’t control their friends devices. We can take them to church or not, but we can’t control their desire for  God.  We can make them food, but we can’t pick their food when they are away from us or make them like certain things. So, much is theirs to control. So much more than I ever knew prior.

We can make them say they are sorry, but we can’t make them mean it or truly forgive. We can’t make them stay faithful or pick their spouse. We can’t control their spouses hearts or actions either.

I can send a coat, but I can’t make you wear it.

I can’t make you value yourself. Just hope and pray you do. I can’t put Jesus in your heart. Only pray you do.

I hope, as scary as this may sound to us moms, that it also helps us relieve the coat of all the pressure. There’s a lot we can do for our kids. But, so much that we can’t and is God’s job.

All I can do is the best I can at all of the above with God’s help, pray some of it rubs off,  and that the bad stuff falls away by His grace alone.

I heard after the trip that she not only wore the coat, but was so thankful she had it. Made me smile and strengthened my resolve that I sent it regardless of her resistance. I high fived myself in my mind. Go, Mom!

I gave birth to you and carried you, but He formed you and gives you life to this day.

I can wear my coat and hope you do too. But, I can’t control your heart. Only keep turning it over.

After all, He’s your Savior. I’m just your mom.

Siblings

siblings

When I was pregnant with my youngest, I automatically assumed my girls would be immediate and consistent best friends. I have a brother and we weren’t overly close growing up. I thought it was more because he was a boy and I was a girl. Because of this, I wanted a sister so badly. A built in best friend. That’s what sisters are or must be, right? I didn’t know any different, so I assumed incorrectly.

Having the same mom and dad doesn’t automatically equal friendship. Just like being coworkers or neighbors doesn’t. I never knew. Just because I’m the type of person that wants to be friends with each and every person I meet, I naturally assume others feel the same way. Why not siblings?

My girls are very different. Five years apart, different interests, different body types, different temperaments, different personalities. As are my brother and I. Expecting them to be close is a set up for my own disappointment. They may be friends one day. And sometimes they appear to be. But, they will always be sisters. They can choose their friends, but they are bound by blood. If this is all they have in common, so be it. But, those rare moments when they act like they actually like each other, warm my heart and soul.

Never in a million years did I expect my girls to argue and annoy each other like they do. It’s pretty constant…..So much so, I’ll tell them my ears are bleeding from the incessant fighting. So, I pray. I pray for their hearts individually and towards each other. After all, that’s all I can do. I’ll separate and discipline them when necessary, but just like I can’t MAKE someone like me, I can’t MAKE them like each other.

I thought they would love to sleep together when they got old enough. Last night was the first time they voluntarily did. I was so thankful! In the past, one or the other always refused. Once my oldest finally agreed, the youngest decided she didn’t want to, probably out of spite. After that exchange, I was convinced it would never happen. Then, last night…I made sure they knew how much it meant to me this morning. My oldest said, “It’s not that big of a deal, Mom.” The kindness, the closeness, the mutual agreement on anything. When it is hard to come by, it’s a very big deal.

Brothers and sisters may not be best friends and that’s okay. If you have a brother or sister that is, wonderful!! Being a sibling happens at birth. Friendship is a choice. May your friends complement you and lift you up. May they encourage you when you’re down. May they make an effort to meet you where you are and remind you of how special you are when you forget. This is my prayer for my girls. They may or may not have that friendship with each other one day. Either way, may God fill their lives with friends that do. And, may they learn how to respect each others differences. May they love each other in spite of them. And, may they know how much I love them both. They don’t have to be friends, but they will always be sisters. And, that is irreplaceable too.

Raising kids is a whole new world. People can tell you, you can watch others, you can read books, you can take tips, but until you experience it, you just don’t know.

 

He Loves Me THAT Much?!?

mothers love

Something about becoming a mother opened my heart to the love of God like never before in my life. We are all told when we are contemplating or expecting our first babies that we won’t be able to imagine the love we’ll feel when we see our baby for the first time. It’s true and it’s also true when they tell you your love will multiply with the next one. Our love doesn’t split it half, it doubles. It’s hard to imagine that we are even capable of that kind of love. A mother’s love is true love, no doubt. I’ve also come to know, as the rest of you mommies have, that our love grows every day for our babies. How does it continue to increase? How can we love them more today than the day we first laid eyes on them? Once again, it’s true and it’s hard to explain. Just tonight, I felt like my heart might burst when I kissed them goodnight. It’s a crazy love.

I remember standing over Abby’s crib one night when she was just a baby with tears in my eyes trying to contemplate my love for her, just trying to understand it. In that tender moment, I heard God whisper “I love her more.” That brought more tears. How could that be? He loves my baby more than I do?? I was overwhelmed. Thank you, Lord, for loving her! Take care of Her, Lord! Why did you trust her to me? I don’t know how to do this, Lord! All these thoughts and questions came like waves and so did the tears. I was overwhelmed with the fact that He could possibly love her more than I love her. I was still just trying to process the love I had for her.

Over the next few days, He continued to speak to my heart by telling me “I love you that much too.” But, I would argue and dismiss it. No, Lord, it’s not possible. Just love my baby, that’s more than enough. All I could think about was His incomprehensible love for her and I was so grateful! Slowly but surely, He continued to pursue me…….the mommy. Could it be true? He kept telling me “I love you that much too.” We would go back and forth with each other. Lord, if You love her more than I love her, does that really mean You could love me that much too? Really?? Do You really love me THAT much?!? His answer was a resounding “YES.” That’s not just a game changer, that’s a life changer. I’d never felt that kind of love before. It is unexplainable, unconditional, and unfailing. It’s not a love that we can argue with or dismiss. It’s the love that we crave.