Autumn background

28 September 2011

The Real Me

Well – I think it's clear I have two personalities. There is the me that keeps the house running, gets the kids to school, then comes home to exercise, read my Bible, and write down my thoughts to share with others (the one with the easy-going routine). Then there is the other me. The me that works outside the home and can't handle it.

The longest length of time I've ever taken off without working since graduating from college is about three months (summertime). But, there has always been the school year in plain view just a few weeks away. When C (my oldest) was a year and a half, I made a decision to stay home permanently to be homemaker and stay-at-home mom. I still did some work on the side though. Then, I had R. I continued to do some side work (not much, but some). When R. was just over one, I couldn't do it anymore (it being stay at home every day which I really hadn't done anyway). I went back to work part-time and still managed to do some work on the side. Thus, some weeks I was really a full-time inside-outside-the-home worker (confused yet?).

This year I decided to take some time off to see what I really want to be and where God might want to place me in the future. (Ha). So – I quit my part-time job. Um – then I agreed to substitute, and still do some side work (still couldn't do just the stay-at-home-only thing).

There were about three and a half months where there was no work outside the home and no school year in plain view. It took three months for me to come to terms with the idea of not reporting to a job and to embrace it. I thoroughly enjoyed the two weeks after I got into a routine and began writing. The "nice" me took over. My home was kept –not to perfection, but kept. My kids and husband were happy, because mommy was happy and pleasant. My PMS wasn't as bad; my mood swings weren't as noticeable. I felt right with God and things were going well.

Then I started substituting -three days in a row one week. Three days this week. Guess who reared her head over the weekend? The other me – the one who works outside the home and can't handle it.

Let me stop here and get something straight lest I upset someone unintentionally. I do not think that working moms have it harder or easier; I do not think that stay-at-home moms have it harder or easier. I am not making a statement on which one works harder or is Biblical. I'm not going there – believe me! I know we all have too much to do these days which ever we choose. I'm just sharing my experience. (And, no I'm not minimalizing the seriousness of mental health disorders either.)

I guess cannot accept myself as a stay-at-home mom. I feel compelled to work outside the home. I don't know why – I think it has something to do with earning a paycheck. Somehow I link a paycheck to my worth – and believe me I know that is far from the truth. (Yes, I have seen all the email forwards describing the worth of a stay-at-home mom). I also know I am ugly when I am too busy. I am ugly when I feel too much pressure in the schedule. I was more pleasant when I did not have an employer to report to – when there was no paycheck. This is my problem. God will work to clean me up, I am certain.

I'm not sure where to go with this, other than to confess that I haven't followed my own advice this weekend – much less God's commandments. I was constantly losing my temper, acting foolish, complaining, and displaying many other selfish behaviors. There is a clear discrepancy between who I want to be and what I know I can be, and what I am when I am working outside the home. I know Paul expounds on this in Romans chapter 7.

"I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway." Romans 7:19

It goes to show me that real life interferes with the ideal. It's the reason we can't do it alone; we must give each day to the Lord and ask Him to walk us through. We must constantly return to him throughout the day and receive His guidance as we walk – whether that be throughout our house or throughout an office or school.

It's also the reason I long for heaven. I feel that we will have responsibilities in heaven, but I know that we will also be in the constant presence of Jesus. I know that somehow we will be restored and rid of this transitory body and mind with all of its flaws.

"Dear friends, now we are children of God and what we will be has not yet been made known.

But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him." 1 John 3:2

Until then – I must travel this journey called life to the best of my ability – always asking forgiveness of those I hurt in the meantime – always asking forgiveness from my Father whom I have taken up the calling to represent – always seeking to place His will before my own. It's easier said than done.

And one day – probably not until I'm on the other side of life, my two personalities will sync – and I'll be the nice (Godly) me all the time.

So – if you feel compelled – say a prayer for both of me (haha) and for the family who has to deal with both of me. J

The two-sided writer







19 September 2011

Slivers of Dust

Looking around my bathroom as I blow dry my hair, I see slivers of dust that I missed when I cleaned the bathroom yesterday. You know, the beveled edge of the door engravings, the crack where the door closes, one corner of the chair rail by the linen closet. These are places that are not noticeable – and really, who sees them except for me and my husband – no one else comes into our bathroom – but to a perfectionist with an eye for detail, these minor remnants remind me that this room isn’t as clean as I think it is. Now my paranoid mind begins to ponder where else dirt and grime may be that I can’t see. In the end, I remind myself that I never claimed to be a great house cleaner, and probably could not win an award for housecleaning in most contests, even if I tried.

Does this relate to my spiritual life? I think so. To be frank, I have been plagued lately with some indications that I haven’t been as sensitive to some groups as the Lord would have me to be. I hope I don’t step on any toes, because this doesn’t mean I don’t love these individuals, or that I don’t want to be more sensitive to them – it just indicates that there are slivers of dust in my heart that I have been previously unaware of.

It was first brought to my attention a few days ago when a friend invited me to a MOPS group. I thought to myself – now why in the world would I want to attend a Mothers of Preschooler’s group – when I no longer have a preschooler? Why would I want to subject myself to all that whining (the babies), and sleep- deprived talk (the mommies) about bottles, breastfeeding, diapers, and such? I’m past that phase – and right now, I have no interest in going back. And honestly, the more I thought about it – the more irritated I started to feel at the thought of toddlers interrupting my all-important conversations. At first, I just felt a little tap from God – like maybe that’s not the best reaction to have to such an invitation. But, as you and I know, when God wants to make us aware of something – He does. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my insensitivity to this group of moms is not right; in fact, it’s downright sinful. Yes, I have made it through that phase, but I’m just in another one that may annoy someone else when I complain and talk nonstop about discipline and other elementary problems. Perhaps I should stop to look back and determine what could have made that time more pleasurable and less dreaded for me. Then, maybe I’d know how I can minster to these individuals.

This is not the only sliver of dust on my “supposedly-cleaned-up heart.” What about the homeless? Oh – you don’t want to go there? Well, neither do I – but didn’t God say “the righteous care about justice for the poor” (Pro. 29:7)? The pan-handlers are everywhere in our town. I rarely stop at a corner where there isn’t someone holding a sign asking for money or food, or a job. My reaction – look away, don’t make eye contact, try to read the sign if possible without them knowing just out of curiosity, glance around the car to see if I have anything to give them, then pull away as soon as the cars ahead move on. The whole time, I’m rationalizing – thinking of excuses and the stories we’ve all heard. There are agencies who help them; some haven’t accepted a job when they were offered because they make more on the corner; many will buy booze (we can see that evidence for ourselves under the overpass); some have tossed away the food given when the car pulled away, and one robbed and stole from the very church that was inviting him in. But for all of these excuses –there have been some good stories too. The one that ran over to share his food with his friends; the lady who practically dove into the leftover salad my friend handed to her; the one who stole the car so he could get to his grandson because he was desperate to see him before it was too late. So, how do I figure out what to do with this information? How do I discern which ones to help and which ones to avoid at all cost? I don’t know. I do know that God wouldn’t allow me to see them on every corner and constantly convict my heart about them if there wasn’t something I could be doing to minster to them. In fact, when was the last time I gave to that ministry that exists to help them? When was the last time I tried to give them food? Not recently enough.

My point is what are your slivers of dust -those hidden dirty areas that no one really sees except for you and God? What are the issues that God keeps nudging you on that you know are keeping the room of your heart from being spotless? Let’s be honest with ourselves. Scripture says “there is no one righteous, not even one . . .” Romans 3:9. If you love the Lord and want to walk in His ways, then ask Him to examine your heart and show you the unclean areas. (Ps. 139:23-24). Then let’s pray that God would help us to look sharp in His ways.

After all – we are only fooling ourselves if we think we haven’t missed anything.

the dusty writer

13 September 2011

Driving Crazy

As a mom, I am constantly confronted with attitudes, behaviors, and speech that are not Godly (and no, I am not talking about my own this time – though I could . . . for a long time). Usually, I find these attitudes, behaviors, and speech to be annoying. This annoyance could indicate one of two things in me and one of two things in my children: my unGodliness , through my lack of patience; or just my misunderstanding; and my child’s unGodliness or just plain childishness).

God has assigned to me the responsibility of training my child in righteousness. So, when I come across these behaviors or attitudes, it is my job to discern the situation, correct the child if needed, and guide us all back on course. As with any correction, whether it be correcting a car, a spaceship, or a line; small corrections lead to large results. If I make a minute correction of the steering wheel, then it leads the car on a new path. In order to drive straight down the highway, I am constantly making small adjustments to the steering wheel. Making a major adjustment would send me off the road or out of control. When guiding my child, can I look at the situation the same manner?

An attitude is displayed, or a behavior is exhibited, then I go into crazy mom mode and punish, correct, lecture, worry, and/or stress over my child’s attitude or behavior. I fret, wondering if I have done the right thing, questioning how this child got this way, pondering what I should continue to do or what I should redo or change. This would be like that major correction of the steering wheel I mentioned – if I remain on this course I could be driving my child away from the Lord, or we are just plain out of control (which would also be away from the Lord). Instead, I should look at the situation and ask God to help me determine what small correction is needed.

Christ doesn’t try to teach me every truth from Scripture all at once. If he yanked the wheel every time I messed up, I would feel overwhelmed and certain that there would be no reason to try because I’d be unsuccessful anyway. He understands my immaturity and takes me, one little correction at a time, in the right direction.

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”

Ex. 34 6-7

This would be the reason I have been a Christian for almost twenty years and some days behave the same way I would have twenty years ago. Now, don’t get me wrong, overall  I feel that I have gained Christlikeness and matured in many areas. I now at least realize I am not a slave to sin; however, by no means am I just like Christ.

My children on the other hand have been expected to produce every fruit God mentions. It’s almost as if I expect that because I’m teaching them young, because they are being brought up from birth bathed in the Word of God, they will just naturally walk in the ways of God. Not true. God says that we are all under the curse of Adam (Eph. 5:1). Believe it or not, even that sweet baby who looks so innocent has a heart that is bent towards wrong; he just hasn’t had the opportunity to act on it. God says we are all born with a sinful human nature.

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Ps. 51

I know my sinful unrealistic expectations of my children are doing them harm, but how do I stop? How do I stop expecting them to live perfect Christian lives, to be naturally bent towards God – when I know the truth is that none of us are.

(Indulge me a moment) I need to make a "u-turn" on the road of parenting. I need to begin to look at these behaviors as normal human nature. And when the occasions arise, as they will every day, many times, I need to trust God to guide me in making small corrections. One attitude today isn’t going to predict my child’s adulthood. Now, left on that path, it certainly may. (Of course then we could get into trusting the Lord to detour the child, or place another car in the way – agghhh – this could go on forever). But, what I think the Lord is teaching me today is to relax – not catastrophize every behavior, word, or attitude my child has. He is human, after all; he got it from me and great grandfather Adam. :)

“Help me Lord, today – to accept my children for who they are, the natural born sinners. Help me to guide them gently on your path, not “drive” them crazy as an attempt to direct their course. Give me the patience, the wisdom, and the knowledge through your Holy Spirit on this moment-by-moment parenting adventure. And above all, help me to love them unconditionally, as you have loved me and given yourself for me.”

the still immature writer

06 September 2011

Faith, In What?

I have a question for you today - just to get you thinking. Do you walk in faith in God or do you say that you believe, then walk in faith in something of this world?

I am a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, yet I tend to place more faith in the things of this world than I do in God. For example, do I trust my security system to keep me safe at night or my Father God who promises to love, protect, and never forsake me? (Joshua 1:5) I am not saying that setting my security system is wrong or against Scripture. What happens though when I have set it, and I hear a sound in the night? Do I immediately think I'm okay because the alarm will go off and scare the burglar, or do I think I'm okay because my God will take care of me? I have to admit, there have been many times that I have fallen asleep only because I was sure I had set the alarm.

Another example is my current leap of faith. I quit my "day" job to pursue other areas of passion and talents (skills).  But what have I found myself doing? First, I started doing crazy surveys to earn fifty cents here and a dollar there. Second, I stooped even lower to opening junk emails to earn five cents or even a penny. What was I thinking? I'll tell you exactly what I was thinking - I've got to make things happen. I've been fretting and stressing over getting work so much that I have failed to enjoy this adventure with God. Do I trust him to make things happen? I say I do, then I walk in disbelief.

Moses and the Israelites were on the edge of the Red Sea, and the Egyptians were quickly approaching. Moses told the people that God would deliever. "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on'." What? Was Moses thinking, "The sea is in front of us, should we build a bridge, make some floats, what should we do to move on?" No, God said He would make a way if they just believed. He told Moses to raise his hands over the sea, and God parted the Red Sea.

This passage is not a reproach to spending time in prayer, but an encouragement to walk in faith. Moses spent much time with God. What I believe God is now saying is, "It is time to walk in it!" After visiting God in a matter, we don't have to fret over what He's directing us to do, but walk forth as we are trusting Him to make a way when a way can't be seen.

What do I trust in really? Do I trust in what I can see and worry when that doesn't seem to be panning out? That's not faith. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see."  Hebrews 11:1

I hope you stop to consider your faith walk today; I'm trying,

the sometimes faithful writer

01 September 2011

I'm Back

I'm Back

Once again, I am revisiting my own blog. Amazing, right? There is so much to say - so much has happened and changed since I last wrote. I told you I would be entering a new phase of life, didn't I? Well - I'm here and I'm literally here! 

My goal is to post a short blog at least three times a week. Unlike some of you, my writing takes time. I might rewrite a sentence three to five times before returning to the original sentence, and still not be happy with it. That's just me.

Today I have a bit of a rant - humor me, please?

Are you familiar with the security box most websites now utilize to ensure that we are not robots? You know the ones that require you to enter the "letters you see above." Now, I don't know much about how the Internet works; in fact, it blows my mind to begin considering how much information is literally floating through the air we breathe . . . hey, maybe that's where my more frequent allergies are coming from . . . but really, can't they find a way to  make these letters readable to the normal person? Is my brain that much more advanced than a computer's that I am expected to translate their messy fonts? For years I have had to grade papers handwritten by America's (and other countries') high school students, and I still miraculously manage to see without glasses.

Anyway - several days this week I have encountered these torturous devices, and I have gotten stuck. I enter what I see, and the page reloads and says I have entered the letters incorrectly. So, I try again, and again, and again. Then I ask for new letters, and try again, and again. One day I tried three sets of letters before I could move along with my task. By the time I had finished that exercise,  my brain was spent and I had forgotten what it was I had intended to complete.

Whatever! Please forgive me. My first blog back and I'm confessing my ignorance. Hah -just like someone who wants to be taken seriously, right?

Well - until next time - it has been fun! Got a girl I got to go get! (My attempt at alliteration.)

the hopeful non-writer