Posted in Everyday Life, Overwhelmed

When Under-Achieving Happens

 

roadWhen an over-achiever (that would be me) falls prey to a season of under-achieving (that’s where I’ve found myself too often lately), it is very easy to feel like a failure.  A failure in so many areas we work so hard to perfect.

For me that equates to failure as a wife, as a mother, as a homeschool teacher, even as a ministry assistant to my husband, and in so many other ways as well (does diet and exercise ring a bell?).

I’m always second guessing myself over rash decisions I’ve made.  Mentally beating myself up because I forgot to pay the electric bill, or to defrost the chicken needed for dinner, or to wash my husband’s work clothes (and it’s now 7:00 a.m. and the poor guy has no clean pants for work).  Talk about making a girl feel like a lousy wife… ughhhh!

And then there’s that Christmas tree, over a month post-Christmas, still perfectly perched in a corner of my living room, fully decorated, screaming for me to please stop long enough to pack it up and put it away.  Oh the shame!

These things are only the first to enter my thoughts.  I could go on and on about what I should be doing right now, yet I know in my heart I am doing exactly what I am meant to be doing at this moment.  I’m taking time out of the busyness around me to write this blog post because it somehow helps me sort through the boggled feelings surfacing in my mind. I pray that maybe, just maybe, it will help you to know you are not alone in your struggles either.

As nice as it is to think about taking a break from my hectic schedule, the reality is I will continue to be busy for a long while.  Yes, as long as I have a family to care for, and a home to keep up, and school to teach, and church to attend, and a blog to write, I will not escape busyness.  But there are some things I can implement to help me through this season of busyness, and to alleviate these feelings of failure and disappointment pointed toward myself.

I must continually remind myself that although I may not be running every single race at full potential, I am not a failure.  I am still moving forward, one tiny step after another.  My progress may be slow. It may seem non-existent at times.  But I am still in the race.  I have not given up.

Friends, if you’re not accomplishing what you know you should; if those important things are not getting done, pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Rethink your strategies. Give yourself some much needed grace. And most importantly, pray for strength and wisdom (we’ve talked before about the importance of sitting at the feet of Jesus).

Oh, and it never hurts to throw in a good cup of coffee with a trusted friend.

Smiles and hugs to each of you today.  Never give up!

Posted in Friendship, Mail on Mondays

Mail.on.Mondays: Dear Friends, My Sisters

woman with wildflowers

Dear Friends-Who-Have-Been-Like-Sisters-To-Me:

How I love each of you.

You, precious girlfriends, have left your mark of friendship, of sisterhood, on my heart.

Some of you I haven’t seen in years.  Some I’ve lost touch with completely. Some are in and out of my life like a gentle breeze that comes and goes. And some of you are a very real presence still today. Regardless of where you are or how little or how much I see you, you are often in my thoughts and prayers.

For you are the sisters I never had.

You see, I’ve received many blessings in my lifetime, but having a real-life, blood sister is not one of them. Growing up with two younger brothers, I played the role of big sister well. However, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to have a sister of my own.

That, dear friends, is where you came in.

God placed each of you in my life at different times, in different seasons.  And you’ve all done your jobs well.  I know this because despite the passing of time, your names abide on my lips, your smiles are etched on my heart, and your beautiful laughter rings in my ears.

Because of you, I have been blessed with the joy of sisterhood. I am forever grateful.

Grateful to a God who knew I would need special friends, and the exact time I would need them.  A God who loved me enough to make it happen.

Grateful to you, my sweet sisters, for loving me unconditionally and for truly hearing me, even when my words were few and my choices were poor.  For accepting me as is, yet encouraging me to become even more. For allowing me to share my deepest feelings, my greatest fears, and all my less-than-perfect ideas and solutions with you. And most of all, for opening your hearts to me as well.

I hope you will one day read this and know, without a doubt, that I am speaking of you.  Yes, you, my dear friend who has been like a sister to me…

Oh, how I love you, my cherished friend, my sister.

Love,

Me

Do you have a friend who has become more like your sister? If so, take a moment to let her know what her friendship means to you.

Posted in Faith, Family

Today I Found Peace

mountaintop

Today I found peace.  Which is a big deal for me.  Especially since that peace came as I prayed my grandson through a medical procedure.  The fact that this peace centered around him and his heart condition is even more amazing to me.

You see, in case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I tend to worry. Specifically when the well-being of my children (or that sweet grandbaby of mine) is threatened.  I’ve been known to panic when I think one of them may be, or is about to be, seriously injured.  My husband and kids can attest to this, and it’s not a pretty site.

The good thing about my panic mode is that it calls me to action, forgetting all else except saving that child.  Comically, I’ve pulled off some rather amazing feats in response to those incidents that could have ended badly throughout the years.

Like the time I miraculously slid across the floor, on both knees, grabbing hold of my toddler just before he took a steep fall out the front door.  Somewhere between dismounting from the bar stool and saving my toddler, I launched my full plate of food (which was sitting in my lap) straight at my unsuspecting brother.  At the end of the fiasco, not only was he quite impressed with my mad ninja skills, but he was most certainly surprised to find himself wearing my dinner.  Thankfully, he was a good sport about it.

The crummy thing about my panic mode is that it almost always leaves me in a state of tears, feeling emotionally spent.  Even if my crazy antics (and no doubt, God’s beautiful grace) bring us to an acceptable outcome, I can’t help but consider what may have happened.  Those lingering what-ifs wreak havoc on this momma’s heart.

Yes, there are times I am able to take my thoughts captive and push those what-ifs out of my mind.  But at other times, they are a bit more stubborn and I’m a bit weaker, and I find myself back in that familiar place of worry and panic. A place that is anything but pleasant.  It destroys my joy.  It closes off the peace my heart so desperately needs.

As a woman of faith there is no doubt I love God, and there is certainly no question as to His great love for me, my children, and my grandchild.  As much as I love Him, I still worry at times.  And I hate that.  But even though I worry, He remains faithful, patiently teaching me that He can, indeed, be trusted.

So do you know what I’m doing, my friend?  I am learning to trust.  To surrender these difficult situations to Him, even when — especially when — I’m scared they may not turn out as I think they should.

No, it’s not easy; but little by little, I am learning to trust. Guess how I know?

Because today, I found peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

 

Posted in Fear

Being You is Okay

water drop on leaf.jpg

I’ve never been much of a talker, always more of the quiet type.  As a child and young adult, I was extremely timid and shy.  I would sit in a classroom tormented because I knew the answer to a question posed by the teacher, but lacked confidence and courage to lift my hand and let my voice be heard. 

In social settings, I labored to find my voice when I knew something should be said.  Many times when I would muster up the courage to speak, I would regret having done so.  Either I had chosen the wrong words or spoken them at an inappropriate time, somehow making a fool of myself.  Once again confirming it was best for me to remain quiet.  And so it went ….

And then along came the boy God had chosen for me (later to be called my husband).  We couldn’t have been more different:  he had absolutely no problem talking.  He could talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere.  He was a magnet.  People were drawn to him.  He had a way of making others feel comfortable – even complete strangers. He would often leave them with a bigger smile and a better perspective than when he had found them.  Oh, how I longed to be more like that.

Yet here I am, years later, still not much of a talker, still more of the quiet type.  And believe it or not, I’m finally starting to realize it’s okay.  After all these years, I’m beginning to like who I am and how God made me.  I’m accepting that He actually has a purpose in creating me exactly as He did.  I’m learning to be more thankful for who I am. 

Yes, I’ll admit that sometimes I still wish this whole getting-to-know-people-better thing was simpler for me.  That my ability to engage others in meaningful conversations didn’t feel so awkward; and that reaching out to others face-to-face wasn’t such a struggle. 

But here’s the beauty in it … because it isn’t my natural tendency, and because I can’t easily pull it off on my own, I find myself talking to God quite a bit through my day.  “Lord, show me what to say to this friend who is discouraged; Father, give me words of wisdom for my husband as he deals with this situation; Dear God, give me courage to speak up and take a stand on this issue as you see fit.”  And so it goes ….

And so it can be for you too, my friend. 

Whether your problem is having too little to say, or saying too much, go to the One who made you.  He will teach you how to use your quietness, or your talkativeness, to point others to Him.  And in doing so, you’ll come to realize that being you – the you God created you to be – is more than okay.

Posted in Mail on Mondays, Motherhood

Mail.on.Mondays: Dear Child of Mine

 

 

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Dear Child of Mine:

I know you dislike me saying no to your ideas for fun and adventure. You see my “no” as an unwelcome interruption to your plans.  Especially when everyone else is going there, and doing that, and wearing such things as they do. Yes, I am keenly aware that when I say no, it hurts a bit.  And I’m so sorry.  The last thing I want is for you to be hurt, or to feel left out, or to miss out on the friendships that await you.  Yet when a “yes” is not best for you, I must stick with my “no”, however unpopular it may be.

I understand that other parents aren’t always bothered by the things that concern me.  Sometimes I may err on the side of caution more than others think I should.  Sometimes I must listen to that uneasy feeling that surfaces in my mind, in my heart, even though I cannot fully explain it.  Sometimes, my child, I simply need you to trust me.  To know that even though I will not always make the right decisions, every decision I make is made out of my deep love for you.  Can you trust that’s true, my child?  Oh, how I pray that you do.

I am confident that one day, when you are older and have children of your own, you will better grasp these matters.  In the meantime, I pray that you’ll begin to notice my yes’s a little more – and be grateful for them.  And may you learn to look at my no a little differently too.  Perhaps you will realize that maybe, just maybe, there is something good hidden beneath momma’s no, possibly even a blessing in disguise.  Wouldn’t that be awesome!

As I speak these words to you, my precious child, I can’t help but hear God speak them back to me.  You see, in God’s eyes, I am a child as well – His child.  And as His child, I am sometimes troubled when His answer to me is no. But through the years, I’ve come to realize that when He says no to my plans, He is placing me in the perfect position to experience something better.  A beautiful blessing I would have missed had He not said no earlier.

So I am learning to trust Him more, and I pray that you’ll do the same. That you’ll learn to trust this momma who loves you so very much.  And that you’ll learn to trust God who loves you even more than this momma of yours can. 

Oh, how I love you, sweet child of mine. 

Love, 

    Mom

Posted in Everyday Life

Who Am I?

 

birds

I am a wife.

  • A wife who was only a girl when she first fell in love with her high school sweetheart.
  • A wife who loves that boy now more than she ever could have then (although that seemed impossible at the time).
  • A wife who hopes to grow old by his side, still holding hands, still snagging a hug every chance she gets.

I am a mom.

  • A mom of five precious blessings ranging in age from twenty-three down to four (yes, you read that right).
  • A mom who views motherhood as one of the biggest challenges and greatest blessings in her life.
  • A mom who knows that, on her own, she can never be the mother her children need.  Oh, but God. He is the only way, the only hope, the only possibility of her ever pulling off a job well done when it comes to this monumental task called motherhood.  And this is her daily prayer.

I am a writer.

  • A writer who has kept her words silently tucked away for so many years, partly due to busyness and partly due to fear… fear of saying the wrong things or of having nothing to say at all.
  • A writer who desires to encourage and uplift other women as they walk this sometimes arduous journey called life.
  • A writer who prays over her words, hoping they will help someone.

I am a Christian.

  • One who knows that although this wasn’t the first thing on her “Who Am I” list, this is the very foundation, the very core, of who she truly is and of every role she plays.
  • One who wants so much to please Christ in all the little, mundane parts of her day. Enough so that even when she fails, she keeps on trying.
  • One who knows she doesn’t deserve to be called a child of the King, yet because of Christ and His great love, that is exactly who He considers her to be.

————————————————————————–

If asked to describe myself, these positions I hold as a Christian wife, mother, and writer would be the first to come to mind.  But I am so much more — and so are you.

We wear so many hats these days and fill so many shoes, it’s no wonder we become confused as to who we really are and what it is we should be doing.  Allow me to encourage you, sweet sister, to think about who you are today.

Are you who God created you to be, or have you become someone else?

Take a few moments to strip away all the extra baggage,  get real with God, and focus on what remains when all else is pushed aside.  Make adjustments as needed. And, by all means, begin again. One step after another until you find yourself doing what it is you were meant to do; being who it is you were meant to be.

I can’t wait to see you there!

Posted in Faith, Overwhelmed

Scattered Pieces

brick wall

Have you ever found yourself so busy you can’t seem to slow down long enough to get things done?  The important things, that is.  The more urgent matters tend to shove themselves to the top of the list, leaving the more important, meaningful obligations clinging to the bottom, often neglected or ignored all together.

I fear that is where many of us find ourselves today: much too busy.   Running here and there, putting out this fire, stroking another, never really doing anything completely well.  If truth were told, giving one hundred percent of yourself is difficult when you’re scattered about in too many pieces, trying to take care of everything and everybody all at once.

And when you’ve exerted all your energy only to discover a large deficit in the crucial areas of your life, discouragement tends to set in.  When you have given all you can give and it’s not enough, you risk growing tired and burdened, in desperate need of a reprieve.

This is where I found myself this past weekend.  As much as I longed to see my kids play ball on Saturday, I needed more to be home that day.  So I gave myself permission to do just that.  I fought off the guilt-bug that always tries to sting me into submission, and I stayed home all day. And I worked on the essential duties that so badly begged for my attention.

But before I dove into those responsibilities, I made a decision which proved to be the best one of the day … the decision to carve out some time with God.  To ask Him to share some of His great wisdom with me.  To help me gather my thoughts.  To pick up all the scattered pieces and help me make sense of them.  To give me clarity.  Peace.  Confidence. Guidance.  Oh, how I needed these things.  Oh, how I needed Him to meet me there.

And that’s exactly what He did.  He met me in that very spot, sitting alone at my dining room table.  Not only did He show up, but He blessed what little bit of effort I could muster, and He enabled me to accomplish more than I thought possible.

Wow! To think if I had rushed into my day, on my own, as I have done so many times before —  I am quite certain I would have grown frustrated and overwhelmed long before I completed my tasks.  I am so thankful this was not the case.  And I am so thankful that when we make time for Him despite our busy schedules, He is already there waiting for us.

Posted in Faith, Mail on Mondays

Mail.on.Mondays: Dear Weary Friend

 

man in church

Dear Weary Friend:

I know where you are today. 

You are worn out with responsibility.  Exhausted from the heaviness of your load.  Fatigued.  Fed up.  Spent.  Ready to drop. Or cry. Or scream. Or hide away, at least for a day or two.

I understand, my friend.  I’ve been there too.

I know you don’t want to be in this place, and you didn’t intend to end up here. But here you are, facing a weariness that you can’t seem to shake.  I would love to snap you out of it with a long warm hug, or a tasty cup of coffee, or a yummy piece of apple pie smothered in vanilla ice cream (low-fat, of course). And although all those things sound lovely to me, they are mere short term fixes in the big scheme of weariness.

What you need, my dear weary one, is a more lasting solution.  One which can actually replace your disappointed, dead-tired condition with something more. Something better.  A life-source to pull you out of the rigid waters of weariness and into calm, peaceful waters that pour liveliness, contentment, and satisfaction back into your very being.

Yes, my dear, you need more than I can give.  More than you can give yourself.  But the amazing thing is when you and I have no more to offer, there is still a way.  There is still One who can do what we cannot.  One who can fix each of us, if only we’ll ask. And listen. And follow His lead.  One who is more than capable to meet us –to meet you- exactly where you are today. 

So don’t give up, my soon-to-be NOT-weary friend.  Find yourself a quiet place, pull out your bible, read and pray, pray and listen.  Soak in His words. Pour out your heart, your troubles, your concerns. Ask Him for guidance, wisdom, and insight; for strength, and courage, and energy.  It is all there, waiting for you.  And He is there, sweet friend, eager to unleash his great blessings of rest and newness upon you. Enough for today, and then tomorrow, and then each day that follows. 

Trust me, my weary friend, I’ve been there. He will do for you what He has so faithfully done for me. 

Love, 

        your friend

 

Posted in Faith, Family

Being a Heart Mommy

image.jpegToday I share a post written by my daughter who is a heart mommy.   I was not familiar with this term until a few months ago when my grandson was born with a serious heart defect. Since then, I have come to love and respect this special group of people… these special heart mommies and daddies chosen by God to love on and care for precious children born with heart defects.

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Waking up to feed a baby can get old pretty fast. We crave sleep, and it being interrupted night after night is exhausting. But when I pick him up from his bed and lay him in mine to change his diaper, give meds and his bottle, and he gives me his big, precious, open mouth smile, all my “discomforts” melt away. This little boy holds apart of me that nobody else has ever held. When he finished eating I just laid there with him in my arms smothering him in kisses, which he has gotten very good at returning, and I couldn’t keep my mind away from the “what ifs”. With his second surgery probably not too far off, it’s getting hard to not worry about him. There have been so many babies pass recently because of a heart defect, and many had the same one Elijah has, it makes me fear for him, for his future. I hold him and think “what if I don’t have him to hold much longer” “what if his heart fails” “what if surgery goes wrong”  “what if, what if, what if”… What ifs suck.. So tonight I’m trying to remember the better what ifs. “What if I shut my brain up and remember to trust God?” What if I enjoy my special baby and all the joy he brings?” What if ‘I’ stop acting like I have any control over his life?” I breathe a lot easier then. Being a heart mom is so hard, harder than I ever admit.  But being a heart mom makes me realize just how precious his life is, and how fragile it is. So as long as he’s still here for me to wake up to feed, and to hold in my arms, I’m gonna remember to appreciate everything about him and leave the uncontrollable things to a God who is so much bigger than my son’s half a heart! A God who will never be shaken.  Jeremiah 29:11 says it all.”

Yes, heart moms, all moms- God does have a plan for us, for our children, for our families.  May we lean on Him – and on one another- as those plans are fulfilled.

God bless our sweet heart babies.

 

 

Posted in Faith, Friendship

Messiest of Messes

pebbles

I found myself cleaning up the messiest of messes the other day.  The type of dirtiness that requires rubber gloves and a pinched nose.  It wasn’t my mess.  In fact, I have no idea who made the mess, but someone did, and they left it for another somebody to clean up.  That “lucky” somebody happened to be me – Oh, joy.

I was irritated. More than disgusted.  Wondering who would do such a thing and how in the world I got stuck with clean up duty. Before long I began to realize I had, in fact, been chosen for that degrading task.  Yes, you heard me right… chosen.  God had a message for me and He used a stranger’s atrocity to draw my attention to it.

He reminded me that we’re all guilty of this from time to time. No, not the exact type of mess this person left behind.  But those sticky situation type of messes caused by careless words, angry remarks, or bad attitudes.  We spew them out and there they are, hanging in the air, waiting on someone else to wipe away their nastiness. Ouch.

And to think God may be as irritated and disgusted with my ugliness as I sometimes am with that of others.  Another ouch.

Yet He is swift to extend grace, forgiveness, and unconditional love. Am I as quick to do so?  Ouch again.

Friends, does this call to mind any debris you’ve left on the path behind you?  Do you need to retrace your steps and tidy up a few things along the way?

Or perhaps it’s chaos pushed onto you by another.  If so, it may be a good time to practice forgiveness and show love to that person — that unconditional kind of love God has shown to you.

Whatever the case may be, wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in such a way as to keep your messes to a minimum?  It would make life so much more peaceful, and clean up so much easier.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Romans 12:18