A Surrendered Mom

I follow a lot of exercise accounts. I love to exercise. I love moving. Exercise isn’t about making myself a “happy mom” or a “fit mom”, it’s a way of surrendering myself because I know that I am human.

While I do thoroughly enjoy exercise, that’s not why I prioritize it. I prioritize it because I know my body has limitations. I know exercising has health benefits that I want as I grow older.

Many of us want to say we make time for things (like exercise) so our kids will see a “happy mom”. I would argue what our kids need to see most is a surrendered mom.

The thing is, happiness comes and goes. Do we give our kids less of a mom in the moments we don’t feel happy? Do the children of the single moms or moms with no family around deserve a “less than” mom because she hasn’t found her time to make herself happy?

Don’t get me wrong. It is important to take care of yourself, even as a mom, maybe especially. But we can’t look for those weekends or hours to fill us enough to be a good mom.

A surrendered mom knows life will change daily, some times hourly. A surrendered mom can still find joy in a day, even though she ends that day in tears. A surrendered mom can give her kid 10 more minutes (even when it’s the last thing she wants to do) because she knows her kids won’t keep. These are characteristics kids need to see. They need to see a mom who can be long suffering, selfless, and dependable in middle of the hard days. They’ll have hard days, probably seasons, too.

If we are to “fill our cup” in order to “mom well” we must draw from a source that never runs dry.

We can mourn and be comforted like the Psalmist in Psalm 42 who said “Why are you cast down, oh my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation”.

Thorn Bearers

I think I’m a person who is pretty real with herself. In high school, a girl who didn’t like me tried telling everyone I had kankles.

A friend came up and told me, utterly appalled at the sentiment. I looked at her and said “but I do”. (Thanks family genes).

But y’all, I’m not here for this adult acne. I can’t even tell you the amount of products I’ve tried or the amount of complaints my significant other has had to listen to. (Sorry hubs)

This morning while helping the kids get ready for school, one child said “I’m not pretty”. I responded “what’s not pretty?” The child responded “my face.” (Now I know we all have our moments of insecurities so I know this isn’t abnormal).

While I was talking to my kid, I found me preaching to myself.
“Beauty is so much more than what’s on the outside.”
“You’re beautiful because God saw you just as you are and decided it was perfect.”
“YES, you ARE beautiful!” (I know you parents hear me).

While I was reading 2 Corinthians this morning, Paul was talking about his thorn in the flesh. How he was grateful for it because it caused him to depend on God more. The conversation with my little one this morning came back to me. My conversations with Tyler came back to me. We are all “thorn bearers” in one way or another.

We aren’t perfect and never will be. Some days we don’t feel beautiful. But we can still give thanks for these insecurities if they cause us to look towards God.

If everything were perfect at all times in our lives, we wouldn’t be looking towards Heaven. We wouldn’t be looking for anything outside this world. And it’s the outside source (God) that can sustain us through the hardships and insecurities. Some day, we may even count them as blessings.

Last week, I stumbled upon a printout from a church Ladies Ministry meeting. It was dated in the year 2016. I had only been doing the Ladies Ministry at church for a short period of time then.

I grew to be discouraged because we are now in the year 2021 and I don’t feel like I am any more adept at teaching the Bible that I was in 2016. Agreeing to do the Ladies Ministry in my church wasn’t an easy decision for me. I love to learn. I love to read. I love to grow in knowledge of God. I also feel a great pressure at relaying the word of God inaccurately. I used to have to sit down after the monthly meetings to catch my breath because my heart would be beating so intensely in my chest.

I did agree to do it (after much prayer), not because I felt overly qualified and not because I was suddenly comfortable with the idea. I agreed because I want to use my life to be spent for God. I think we make a mistake to think we are only called to situations by God if we experience “peace” or are comfortable in our calling.

I read back on some of the notes and lessons of the past and think “Man, that person sounds like she knows what she’s talking about”. Which is a huge conflict in my mind because I remember how inadequate I felt at that time. I also know how inadequate I felt last month as we began monthly lessons after a year off due to Covid.

I thought by 2021, I would feel less encumbered with the idea of leading a small group of women with God’s Word. I think discouragement was the wrong response because James 3:1 says “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness”.

Now I don’t think this is a statement aimed at discouraging the idea of wanting to spread the word of God. I do, however; believe this is a command to be careful what proceeds out of your mouth (or fingers) when you are in a position to give Godly wisdom to others. Advice without Godly wisdom can actually do more harm than good.

Upon further reflection, I think I am exactly where I’m supposed to be 5 years in. If I grow too confident in my own abilities, it will become easier for me to attempt to do life and teaching without God. I think my feels of inadequacy are my pathway to dependence on God. That’s exactly where he wants me.

James 4:6 reminds me that God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. May I always remember I need His grace and my weakness is actually my blessing.

Love Thy Neighbor

I’ve been cleaning stuff out today and stumbled upon the only picture I kept of our daughter’s sister (whom we affectionately refer to as Magnolia). For months after meeting her, I kept everything as it was and didn’t touch anything. Then once that time had passed (much to my now regret), I got rid of every picture and item except for this picture.

I was up until about 2 in the morning a couple nights ago, listening to sermons and crying over the division in the world, and Christians alike, over the racial problems that still exist in the world today. My eyes (and heart) were opened when we spent those couple weeks in Wisconsin. Much of our time was spent in the black and brown neighborhoods up there. I saw differences like I have never seen in my small town Kansas.

I still sometimes question why we went through what we did with Magnolia. And when I was up late that night, it came to me that maybe it’s because that experience shaped something in me that’s irreversible. It makes me sad because I feel this situation is a great opportunity to love others and have conversations. I also feel that a good discerner of a Christian heart is how much they love. “God is love, and all who live in love live in God”, after all. (I didn’t make that up, it’s from the Bible).

Then this morning I was thinking about the story of The Good Samaritan in Luke. The priest walked by a person who had been beaten and left on the road. (If you didn’t know, if someone helped a person like that in those times they would be considered unclean by cultural standards). The priest lacked compassion for this neighbor of his, even though he had all the theological training to be a priest. Then a Levite walked by, and did the same. But a Samaritan (you could say Half breed), walked by and helped him. He didn’t question what he did to get himself in that position. He didn’t pepper him with questions about his life, he just helped.

It doesn’t help the person on the road (or in the sketchy parts of town) to love them at arms length. Or to yell some Bible verses as you pass by. It’s going to get messy. It’s going to be costly.

But, according to Jesus, this was the answer when asked “who is my neighbor”. So I’m going to do the messy work…gladly. Because there’s a girl I loved the moment I saw her and while she didn’t end up being my physical child, she’s my neighbor.

Can Sickness Be A Blessing?

My youngest daughter, who is now 6, has struggled with asthma her entire life. We’ve been to several specialists. She has been tested for so many things. We don’t have any certain answers for what triggers it, or how to keep it from coming, but we do know how to kick up which medicines when her asthma flares up.

The last couple of days she has been coughing a lot (which is usually the first sign it’s about to start bothering her). So we have began our additional medicines on top of her daily ones and doing breathing treatments until her breathing seems better.

Now that she is older she vocalizes how tired she is of being sick, how annoyed she is that she has to stop whatever she is doing every few hours to sit and do a 30 minute breathing treatment. Thirty minutes is an eternity to a 6 year old. As soon as she woke up this morning, I got her machine ready and told her she could lay in bed while she did it.

Once her treatment was completed, she came out to the living room and stated “WHEN I’M IN HEAVEN I WON’T EVER BE SICK ANYMORE!” This declaration stopped me in my tracks.

The last couple of days have been stressful in our home: lack of time, cars breaking down, a million things needing done, etc. But there will come a day where we don’t have to be stressed any more. There will come a day we won’t experience sickness anymore. (It never was God’s original plan for us to experience it any way). This is all temporary.

Knowing this is all temporary leads to hope. Hope gives us joy. Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer”.

We’re All A Little Different

“There’s not very many black people in the world”. I was sitting out in the back yard with my youngest daughter, who is black. I looked over at her, taken aback, and said “there may not be in this town, but there are a lot of black people in the world”. We live in a small town in the Midwest. It’s safe to say it’s not very diverse.

This is something I have always been conscious of. I knew when we adopted her it was going to take a lot of intentionality to make sure she felt well represented and not separate from other people around her. One of her brothers is adopted as well and is a different race from us also, which does help some.

We read every night before bed, and last night we read a book that was based in Africa. At the end of the book, it showed real pictures of African kids and families together. Guess what? One white person was in those pictures. I told my daughter that if we went and visited there I would be the one who stood out.

My husband and I also told her how we all more than likely came from some other country in our family history. That it just depends on which part of the world you’re in, as to what race the people will be.

I hate that she has moments of questioning her value. I can’t tell you the nights I’ve spent awake worrying about this. But I also know, her skin color isn’t her entire story. I will always do everything in my power to gain knowledge to help with the racial differences , I will show her unconditional love, and she will know in this family she always belongs.

But more than where she is now, I care where she’s going to be for eternity. This is the basis on which we live. We all feel like we don’t belong sometimes in this world. While my daughter’s are more visual, which causes more direct conversation about it, every one deals with it some times.

Her struggles won’t look the same as my struggles throughout life, but she belongs in this family. Because the family we will end up in eternally will be filled to the brim with different races, yet we will all be one family. For eternity, we will see and celebrate the differences in each other. I can’t wait for the day.

Keckley’s History Lesson

I have always been intrigued by the Civil War, slavery, and the fight for freedom. In Elementary School even, I was indignant when I learned some persons had to fight for a right that was given by God. It has always been an area of history that has captivated me.

Now in my 30s, we have visited many sights of the Civil War. I have read too many books to count (fiction and nonfiction) whose subject is that of slavery and/or the fight for freedom. I have watched numerous documentaries on it.

One thing that’s become more certain to me, is the more I learn, the more I have to unlearn. I think knowledge of History is essential in order to not repeat the same mistakes made in the past. However; I don’t think we study historical events in depth enough to consider ourselves always well-informed of historical events in their entirety. (That’s not easy for us to do in a time where we believe Google can make us all knowing on most any subject).

I have been reading “Behind The Scenes” by Elizabeth Keckley. She was a former slave who bought her freedom from her and her son. She made a name for herself by becoming the seamstress for Mrs. Jefferson Davis and Mrs. Lincoln. Yes, the former Confederate leader’s wife and President Lincoln’s wife as well. I will note that she did work for Mrs. Davis prior to Jefferson Davis becoming the leader of the Confederate Party.

Mrs. Keckley wrote this book in the latter part of her life, so she knew what came to be of the Davis’s. Yet, she spoke fondly of Mrs. Davis. One thing that strikes me most about this book (and others I have read referring to Mrs. Keckley) is that The North wasn’t necessarily accepting, with wide open arms, of those who became freed from the South.

In an excerpt from her book, she says: “The bright dreams were too rudely dispelled; you were not prepared for the new life that opened before you, and the great masses of the North learned to look upon your helplessness with indifference- learned to speak of you as an idle, dependent race”. Now I’m not sure about you, but I didn’t often give thought to the idea that freedman weren’t compassionately welcomed up North.

Often when we think of Slavery, we limit the problems to the South. Obviously there were issues in the South, but maybe they weren’t only in the South. This reiterates, that now, more than ever, we need to learn to be people of discernment.

Yes! Learn from history! Research it. Gain all knowledge you can. But don’t assume to know it in it’s entirety. Use the knowledge you gain and stories you read to try to do better for the future. In a time of everyone assuming to be knowledgeable on everything, realize we often don’t. It’s okay to sit on the uncomfortableness of it-that’s often where growth occurs.

Thoughts Running

Tonight’s run was therapy and it did it’s job. It’s funny that I love my body more now (even though it’s not what it once was) than I did when I was younger. I exercise because I am (was) an athlete. I don’t feel good when I’m not moving. It’s no longer a punishment, I’m not stressing to fit in a certain amount of exercises into a week, no longer checking my abs in the mirror every time I finish a workout. (Stop judging me, okay?)

I think this mindset has changed because I’ve learned to hold more loosely to things in this world: including my body/body image. Matthew 6:19-21 discusses laying up treasures where they can’t be destroyed (heaven). Because where your treasure is, there your heart will be.

We generally read that and think money or material items, but God is not something we are supposed to compartmentalize. His truths and wisdom effect every area of our lives. I want to steward my body well, while knowing that it doesn’t guarantee I won’t ever face any health crisis or that my body won’t change. (Gravity, y’all).

We need to stop expecting of our bodies what they were never made to do: remain ageless.

I’m a Christian and I am Happy in 2021

There is a place for Christian mourning with the state of affairs in the US today. It is sad to see the hypocrisy, hatred, and lack of looking to something outside ourselves. We, rightly, should mourn the moments of heartbreak we may feel day to day.

What a Christian should not do, is worry about the situation. When we question the times we are living in, we question the sovereignty of God. We know that only He knows what tomorrow holds. That was true 100 years ago, and that is true now. The hymn comes to mind “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand”. Only God controls tomorrow, even in 2021. He is not shrieking in surprise every time something happens. None of it surprises him.

We should not be full of worry or pessimism because we know this isn’t where our story ends! This world was never what we were living for any way. Absolutely every thing in this world will cease to exist some day. “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live”. –Romans 8:13

God’s Word is relevant today. There is no situation in life, even today, that His Word is not applicable to. We must also be careful to not romanticize the past. From the beginning, there has been sin. I always joke that I think the world is horrible, then I read the Old Testament. We need to not shrink back in fear, but stand firm because we are the ones that have an unchanging, joyful future promised to us.

“…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us”. Romans 8: 37

Winter Light

Today I was outside with my family building a snowman. I looked at the sky and saw faint light from the sun peeking through the cloudy sky. I know many people (myself occasionally) who struggle with seasonal depression. When they don’t get adequate amounts of sunlight they begin to feel depressed.

There’s an even more important light in this world. In John 8:12, Jesus says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life”. Darkness is depressing. We feel it physically when we go too long without light from the sun during winter time.

But there is a darkness that is even more severe and consuming. Eternal darkness is darkness that will never end. God gives us light as followers of Him because he is light. I believe God is the undercurrent of every aspect in life. Everything that we see can point us to Him, even the sun peeking through a clouded winter sky.