When being a mother isn’t as you imagined it would be

 

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I dreamed that as a mother…

  • I would have children that loved vegetables
  • They would wear adorable vintage clothing that I made by hand
  • I dreamed that I would churn my own butter and cook every meal from scratch
  • I’d keep a spotless house and have a massive garden with some hens
  • I would do elaborate crafts every day with the kids (that would go just as planned) and write my own homeschool curriculum
  • They would go to bed at an early hour and sleep through the night
  • Everyone would be joyful and happy all the time.

So fast forward several years later…

  • I have a brilliant, three-and-a-half-years-old daughter who refuses to touch a vegetable (Aspergers + sensory issues)  and is terrified of the potty. I have a two years old daughter who thinks its ok to try to scale the rock fireplace and is so enthusiastic about life that she tends to make massive amounts of mess with … well… everything she does.
  • Their clothes are well loved and used and are by no means anything that I have made by hand.
  • Food …. well … I do try to make it all from scratch, but frankly most days we grab something quick from the freezer or Taco Bell.
  • My house is barely in the tidy category. Our grass gets in pitiful condition before it ever gets mowed, much less a garden planted or a place for hens created.
  • Crafts are rather infrequent and never go as planned. The girls are just now liking me to read to them so we are not getting very far with homeschooling preschool
  • My husband and I are co-sleeping with the babies in separate beds because its the only thing that works for us at the moment, therefore no one goes to bed at a decent time or sleeps through the night.
  • I am just now coming out of a 3-year Chronic Post Partum Depression battle. So between a wife of a seminary student, a mother, a family member, a church member, a writer, an artist etc – stress is pretty high, so “happy all the time” is rather laughable

But we ARE joyful. We are so immensely grateful and blessed. My little family by no means resemble the Von Trapp family, all smiling, and lined up in a row – but we can say that this is God’s best for us. This is His perfect plan to help us grow in holiness and for His glory.

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I have had the opportunity to discuss this very topic with a group of 650 women. And astonishingly enough, everyone had virtually the same story: motherhood is ridiculously difficult. Nothing prepared me for how physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting it is. The vast majority of the group said that they struggle with feeling like a failure, that they are going through a serious struggle with guilt, and shame.

According to this Gallup Poll,  Stay at Home Moms are slightly more likely than moms employed outside the home to feel negative emotions on a daily basis and to have been diagnosed with clinical depression.

The discussion with the group of women continued on for some time. Everyone was asking “Why? Why is this so common? Why is staying at the home to raise up children for the Lord so closely connected with failure, guilt, and shame? Why is such a noble and honorable calling bringing so many women into clinical depression?”

Shame and Guilt are not from God. They are the result of sin. We first see these emotions in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve sinned, they did not trust God is who He says He is. And in doing so, were filled with shame and guilt and tried to hide from God. Guilt and Shame drive us away from God. It makes us want to hide. When we as believers sin, God loves us enough to discipline us – which makes us feel Convicted. Conviction drives us TOWARDS him in repentance, not away from Him to hide.

Maybe, we get focused on what we think is best, instead of trusting God to give us His best.  We want a life that is easy and comfortable. But God wants us to become more like Christ, which most likely won’t be easy or comfortable – but it will be more beautiful than any scenario we can dream up. All because we will be able to see and reflect the beauty of Christ.

Maybe, we think that we have to do good in order to be loved instead of trusting God and obeying as a response to His love. We can never be good enough. One tiny sin against the All-Holy, Creator of Everything deserves eternity in Hell. We cannot do penance enough to pay for the price of even ONE sin.

Perhaps, we forget that we are not the Holy Spirit. How easy it is to want to bring conviction to our children – instead of trusting God with their souls. How quickly we get angry when they sin. How often do we worry about what they are turning out to be – when in fact, we are not responsible for their choices. We will be held accountable for training them, not for the choices they make.

 

We can trust God with the souls of our children. We do not have to mold our kids into what God wants them to be – He will do that. God knows exactly what He has created these children to be, and what their futures will hold. He knows every hair on their head. He will arrange everything to be exactly like it needs to be for their sanctification too. We don’t have to worry about creating the Fruit of the Spirit in their hearts – that’s the role of the Holy Spirit.

This mindset of having to work-work-work will lead to unbearable guilt and fear. How many times have we as mothers laid awake at night, going over every tiny mistake we made, and being absolutely obsessed over own every failure? Worrying that we are scaring our children for life? How quickly we fail to trust God’s Faithfulness!

Maybe, it’s because we have forgotten the Gospel. I am a wretched sinner, who deserves Hell, but God in His Grace and Mercy paid the penalty for my sins on the cross so that I might repent and believe in Him and be reconciled to Him.

Trusting God quietens our fears and places our focus on Him instead of at our own selves. Trusting God brings peace, joy, and hope. It is only when we trust God that we can do our children any good at all. God is doing more good than I could ever imagine (Eph. 3:20. God has promised to exalt the humble (Jam. 4:10) and to reward our faithfulness (Col. 3:23-24.).

 

God has chosen ME to be the mother of my children. I can trust that He is doing good TO ME, passionately, actively – He wants to sanctify me (Heb. 12:10.) And though I don’t understand it all – I have to trust that I am the best choice for them, and they are the best choice for me.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13”

We are commanded to “Train up our children in the way they should go…” (Prov. 22:6.) Which is living out part of the Great Commission in our very homes. There is not a more significant calling than to pass on the legacy of our faith to the next generation! So even when things are chaotic and not at all the way we imagined it would be – we can cling to joy, and hope, knowing with full assurance of God’s sovereign goodness.

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When I Stopped Writing… Lessons learned in the shadows

I have always dreamed of being a writer.

When I was four, I wrote my first book – complete with construction paper cover and illustrations. I was an avid reader before entering Kindergarten. The more I read, the more I felt compelled to write. I filled journals cover to cover with my thoughts, ramblings, heart-pourings, and poems. By the time I was ten, I wrote a short novel, but I couldn’t bring myself to finish the last chapter (knowing the fate my hero would face was too painful.) And here I am now – 32 years old, and the burning desire to write is stronger than ever.

Several years ago, I stopped writing for a time. Here is why and what I have learned.

Since childhood, writing has been cathartic – even therapeutic.  I use it as a method of putting my thoughts in order. It was a tool to help me learn to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5b) by taking inspiration from Davids style of writing.

Many of the Psalms written by David follow a pattern. He uses writing to pour out his heart and find expression of the pain, frustration, fear, and depression he is facing. And then he focuses his thoughts – and pen – towards God: His character and statutes. By doing so, he is able to find solace and emotional healing in resting in God’s Sovereignty.

But even good things can be marred and tainted because of sin… even something as seemingly innocent as writing in a journal. 

During a particularly dark period of my adult life, my writing became increasingly self-focused. I poured my heart out on paper, each line dripping with the intense sorrow that comes from a deep depression. It felt good to empty out the emotional torment. I thought I would burst if I didn’t.  I trusted that feeling and relied on my emotions to determine the truth of my situation, believing the lie my sinful heart spoke.

“The heart is more deceitful than all else, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”  (Jer. 17:9)

In doing so, I allowed my focus to be inward instead of focusing on Christ. It was hard – it is such a discipline to stay focused. Our sin nature constantly is driving us to focus on our self – driving us towards self-idolatry.  Focusing inward made the darkness of depression all the more unbearable. Which turned into a vicious cycle – of needing to write all the more and being driven deeper and deeper inward. I was spiraling out of control.

The Lord placed several things in my life then that drove my writing to a screeching halt. I bucked against it – I was even bitter about it. But various circumstances would arise to keep me from sitting down and writing.

I was so focused on my pain that I couldn’t see God’s mercy in the moment.

God is safe to trust but I didn’t believe it was true for me. So I wallowed in the muck and mire of self-idolatry. The Lord was so merciful and patient with me. I wanted to hold on to my pain and find comfort in the shadows of depression – but God wanted me to find comfort, rest, and solace in Him. He wanted me to understand that the suffering was for my good, my very sanctification, and for His glory.  Even though I don’t always understand why, I can trust Him.

So five years ago I started writing again. Writing is still a balm to my soul. And now I write so that I can help others know Him more – because that is all that matters anyway.

Do You Really Believe God?

My notes from Bro. Gary’s sermon on Sunday morning 3-25-2012

John 16:16-33

“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and,‘because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you,whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.  I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”  His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

  • Christians are called Believers
  • But you, Oh Christian, do you REALLY believe?
  • The Disciples are faced with crisis: Jesus was going to the cross. Right there in their crisis, He asked them if they believed
  • Does your life feel like a roller coaster? Does your spirit life feel like a roller coaster? (Up, down, and all over the place)
  • It only takes the turn of events or one short moment to change everything
  • Disciples walked and talked with Jesus, and they still experienced doubts
  • We will all experience moments of doubt while we are on this earth
  • But when we get to heaven we won’t have any more doubts!
  • The disciples saw miracles of all kinds and then suddenly Jesus was telling them that CHANGE is coming – that in just a little while He would leave: Death & Ascension
  • Jesus felt the need to prepare them for the Change – and for the emotional roller coaster
  • Jesus started asking them questions – Do they really believe Jesus
  • Do we really believe God?

1) Do we as Christians believe that Jesus came out of the sorrow of life

  • John 16:20-22 =  20 “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
  • Jesus said something will happen that
  • we will be very sorrowful
  • We will ALL face time of great sorrow and trial
  • There will be a time of great trial and the world will be rejoicing  – people will oppose us: we will face time of persecution
  • Sorrow can be turned into JOY (example about a mother giving birth – pain/joy)
  • Great tragedy happens to everyone yet God works it for our good = Romans 8:28 ” And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.”
  • We don’t always understand WHY the bad things happen – but we can KNOW that He will turn the sorrow into Joy
  • We all have times were we face difficulties and are faced with imminent threat of trial and difficulties
  • Sorrow and difficulties do NOT always equal an absence of Joy
  • Do you just believe God when things are going well?
  • Do you still have Joy in your heart, resting in the trusting the Lord when things are going badly?
  • We have to believe that “weeping may endure for the moment, but Joy comes in the morning” Psalm 30:5
  • Joy CAN come of sorrow!
  • We need to be reminded of the totality of life but know that this life is but a fraction of all eternity

2) Do you believe that the Lord CAN and DOES answer prayer?

  • John 16:22-24 = 22 “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you,whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
  • Notice the petition to the Father
  • We are to pray to the Father in Jesus Name
  • Ask so your joy may be full!!!
  • This isn’t a way of rubbing the genie lamp to have your wish granted – this is communion with God, this is building a relationship with him: You are bringing your petitions to the Lord and laying them down at His feet, trusting Him, entrusting your deepest heart felt petitions into His care. Trusting God brings Joy.
  • There will be times when we feel we are being bombarded with attacks from the enemy – we have to retaliate by bombarding heaven with prayers
  • Praying in Jesus Name is powerful! It is our warfare against the enemy!
  • It is not just a phrase, but it is the Authority and Character of Jesus
  • We need to pray in harmony with the character and objectives of Jesus – which is to do the will of the Father
  • We must pray with the will to submit to Jesus’s agenda for our life!!
  • Don’t use prayer as a form of procrastination
  • Is your will aligned with Gods will?
  • We go to church, pray, wing and go on with our day – but is our will aligned with God’s will? Are we REALLY willing to YIELD our ENTIRE being/desires/goals/dreams/agenda to His will?
  • Prayer isn’t for us to do our thing but for us to say “Yes Lord” and to surrender to what God calls us to do
  • Is your life surrendered to Gods will for your life?
  • If God makes interruptions in your life – we say “Yes Lord” and to whatever He commands and make whatever changes He directs
  • We have to be broken before God will use us – I am a wretched sinner, totally incapable of being truly good.
  • When you pray, surrender and obey – then prayers get answered and we are filled with Joy. The prayer may not get answered in the way we would prefer, but we can still have Joy knowing that He is in charge and is taking care of things. Anticipate answered prayers!!
  • LACK OF JOY – a sign that we have to get back to the basics and SURRENDER OURSELVES INTO THE LORDS CARE

3) Do you really believe that God loves you?

  • John 16:26-28 = 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
  • This is a declaration of LOVE is given by Jesus – He is saying that GOD LOVES US!
  • Jesus won’t lie!
  • Jesus knew that we would experience doubts about this – that is why He said “the Lord loves you!”
  • The greatest demonstration of Love – Jesus died for us. We who are so undeserving.
  • How deep, bountiful is the Love of God!
  • If you have ANY question about if God loves you – LOOK AT THE CROSS!
  • In the last section here, the disciples said that Jesus was not speaking in parables and they were getting it. Jesus said “Do you believe? … I have overcome the world!”
  • Jesus has DOMINION over the whole world and we are more than conquerors!!! (Romans 8:37  “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”)
  1. Do you believe that Joy can come out of Sorrow?
  2. Do you believe that God CAN and DOES answer prayer?
  3. Do you believe that Jesus and God loves you?
  • Charles Spurgeon fell into depression
  • No one is exempt form sorrow
  • R. A. Torrey (teacher/preacher at Moody Institute) had a 12 year old girl who died of dyptheria. It was a rainey day funeral. His wife said that she was glad that their child wasn’t in that box on such a dreary day but was with the Lord. Torrey felt a brief moment of joy. The next day his depression really hit hard. He cried out to his daughter. Then the Lord hit him with a sudden rush of Joy – and he wrote: “springing up, always springing up  into everlasting life.”
  • Can you trust God in the midst of sorrow to find Joy?
  • Can you trust God to answer your prayer?
  • Can you trust that God loves you?
  • Do we really believe?
  • Even though we may not FEEL that God loves us, we can trust that He does because He said so!!

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