Saturday, February 28, 2015

Failure to Submit


Just this afternoon, I was reading Finding Hope in the Mess, a blog by Brooke McGlothlin. She began: "Do you struggle to control your emotions? Ever feel like they're doing a better job of controlling you?" As a mom of boys, she spoke of how she just loses it sometimes when the circumstances (in other words: her sons) overwhelm her (in other words: make her mad as hell). She also wisely pointed out that like her, "there are millions of moms who need help submitting their emotions to God.  They're in an unforgiving cycle, and need to get out."

I was actually reading this while waiting for my Starbucks Skinny Grande Whatever-it's-called. I had just finished my hour long expedition through the grocery store and needed a little treat. How insightful this Brooke was. How wise. And how true. We've all been there. Once... or more.

And then I arrived home. Drained. With about fifteen bags of groceries. To a son who had been playing basketball and/or his xbox for most of the day. And "did not hear" me when I called out for his help to unload the SUV. But proceeded to complain and argue why he had to carry most of the bags. Because he was too tired. And he had to make three trips. And these bags are horrible. And there are too many bags. And why wasn't I helping him?

And right then and there, I FAILED to submit my emotions to God. Instead, I owned them and exploited them. I yelled. I screamed. I said quite a few choice words. I got in my thirteen-year-old's face. And then made him go somewhere else in the house because I couldn't even be in the same room with him.

I thought I would have felt so empowered. So much better. So vindicated.

But I didn't. 

For although my anger was justified, I was disheartened by how I reacted. I had been consumed with unrighteous anger, not righteous. I was not using my anger to teach, train and reprimand my son. I was using it in a scathing, vindictive and sarcastic manner. 

My son came in about twenty minutes later. He apologized for what he said and did and talked about how he knows how much I do for the family. It was from the heart and of course I accepted it.

I wish I could say I also apologized. But I didn't. (I still had just enough pride and stubbornness to tell me that I had every right to have been angry.) I will - both to my son and God.  Because I have been given the gift and privilege of being a mother.  And moreover, I am called to be a Godly mother. One who submits those hurtful and caustic emotions to One who is bigger... so much bigger. And both my sons deserve that.

"God, help me when I am so frustrated and overwhelmed with my emotions. Convict me to release and submit my UNRIGHTEOUS anger. Instead, fill me with Your Holy Spirit and place on my heart a calmness and gentleness that is only from You. Amen"


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Power On

When my husband and I were building our house, we were not yet married and I was living a little over an hour away. I would travel every weekend with anticipation to see what had been accomplished the past seven days.  At the beginning, it was quite eventful. First, the foundation...then, studs... next, subflooring... roof... brick. Wow! What progress! How exciting! This was going to be our dream house! Yippee!

And then I arrived one week to NOTHING. Damn. The next week we saw a little electrical wiring, but all in all, NOTHING. Damn, again. The next week, just a little more wiring. And Damn to the third power. What happened? What is going on? We were still paying them. Had they lost their momentum? We were still communicating with them. I want some results... NOW.

Fast forward to today. Most of you know of my Renewing Myself weight loss plan. I am really working the Weight Watchers program. And boy, have I seen results! Until today. Here is what I posted on Facebook this morning.


WTH? I was committed to this. I was empowered. I was woman, hear me roar! So... WTH? I really am a bit depressed about it. Part of me wants to eat the chocolate chip cookie dough that is in the fridge. The other part just wants to starve myself. Yeah, I know, such healthy talk.

But I've just received a comment from a high school friend I haven't seen in over twenty years. In many ways, Hilary and I were as different as night and day - but were so extremely close. And then life happens, and people drift apart to the places and events that will shape who they will become. Her wise words spoke to me in the sweet, lyrical voice that was quintessential Hilary:

"...your greatest push over the plateau is your BRAIN - believe in the image you are moving to and your brain will make it so. Spend time thinking about the shape you are making so your brain knows what shape to make. Also you're gorgeous and deeply loving, so this is just extra perfection :)"

Isn't that neat and empowering? I just love what she wrote. I can believe in that. And because the image I see is much healthier, happier, and prettier, it must take time. It's also the same image God has for me too. He promises "...I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

So thank you Hilary - and God. I'm ready to power on...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day a Year Later


I was wondering what Valentine's Day would be like this year. I wondered how I would feel. I wondered how the day would be spent. I wondered... Because one year ago, Aiken had the disastrous ice storm that crippled our town for weeks. And one year ago, I could have lost my husband, my knight in shining armor.

One year ago, we spent Valentine's Day at the doctor's office because of stomach cramping that had grown until it was unbearable - and then to the hospital for blood work. And the next day, February 15, he was rushed to the emergency room in Columbia for a stay that lasted 24 days. His gallbladder had ruptured so violently that the doctors couldn't tell exactly what happened from the CT scans - his body was septic.

I actually woke up thinking about last year. I looked at my husband sleeping beside me and thought of what it would have been like not to have him with me. What if God's plan was to take him home? (And not the one we shared with our boys.) Right now I can literally feel my heart racing and my breathing more labored. I am overwhelmed thinking about where we were last year. How our lives stopped. How scared and confused I felt, yet how strong and calm I had to be. One year ago, my husband was telling me that he didn't want an open casket. That he was worried that I didn't know how to take care of taxes and other things. That he was scared. All while we held each other's hand... and I silently prayed and pleaded with God.

But we ARE here. Now. Together. (Almost) back to the way he was. Able to talk about it and both use such wonderful words as "last year" and "remember when" and "oh, how I loved you in that hospital room". Remembering how God blessed us with His healing so that we could share more Valentine's Days.

...And we DID share cards and breakfast TOGETHER IN OUR HOME this Valentine's Day 2015.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

One Month Checkup

It's been exactly one month since my 2015 The Best is Yet to Come post. And (until I don't feel motivated to do it anymore - or just plain forget) I thought I would give you an update every month. If only to keep myself accountable. When you present you weaknesses to the world once why stop there?

Renewing Myself
I'm pretty happy with the way this is progressing. Yea me! I've lost 15 pounds, thanks to Weight Watchers Online. I am addicted to the app and don't feel the need to attend any meetings. In fact, I loathe those things. I weigh every morning and have seen an ever so slight change in my face and hips. I'm even staring to like what I see in the mirror. I also have a goal date and weight of the first week in April. Our Disney Cruise! We went two years ago and I can't wait to compare the pictures from this vacation to that one.


Rededication to My Family
After writing, I shared my thoughts about this with my husband. I'm not sure he quite gets what I'm talking about. I told him that just being there is not enough. Going to Jackson's basketball games is not enough. Being in the same room is not enough. And although this is the age where it is very common, the boys think we need to be around other people to have fun. That's one reason for the above mentioned cruise. We are not traveling with any other family. It's just us.

And... Refocusing on My Passion
Well I thought this would be the hardest, but maybe it's not. So far, this is what I figured out:


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Being Brave and Saying "No"... It's OK


Sometimes the hardest and bravest thing you can do is say "no". Especially when it is something you feel will serve and honor God. Especially when you feel it is something you've been called to do. We all feel that when we are called to serve Him - we must not say no. 

I have dear friend in my "Prayer Ninjas" group. She is an absolute superwoman who not only has a husband and four children to manage, but a part-time job at her church as the Mother's Morning Out Director. Last week, she texted the other five of us the following:

"I need some ninja guidance. I have been offered a full time  job as Program Director for Children's Ministries at church -- Sunday school, baptisms, Nurturing Center, children's chapels, vacation bible school, some retreat coordination and who knows what else. I'd be working Sunday mornings, clearly and then four weekdays. I'm struggling. Idk if I can handle all that AND run my house. But it would be really helpful financially and I love working at the church. I worry about the Sunday gig interfering with visiting "oldest daughter" in college and other weekend stuff. I'd have to give up tennis (which is on its way out the door anyway from work this year). But it is an outlet for me. Anywho, too much for a text, but WWPND???"

Each one of us offered words of encouragement and prayed for discernment. We suggested she make lists of pros and cons. Was there a Godly woman she could talk with? Would she feel passion with this new position? A purpose? A peace?

Today she let us know that she has decided not to accept the position. She said "no". And I'm so proud of her. Some other extended family issues have arisen and she realizes that she is needed there. That being said, she still feels some guilt that she's not able to "do it all."

How hard that must have been. I had a similar situation last year where, after vacillating back and forth, I had to defer and not accept a call to serve. Although I had initially not felt a peace or surety about the position, I still felt that I let God down. I felt that I was not walking the Christian walk. I felt I was not glorifying God and His kingdom. I felt selfish. 

But I learned that there was a reason I was not even aware of at the time: my husband was going to be admitted to the hospital and then have a very long recuperation. In some ways, he's still not (and may never be) where he was before. There was no way I could have served God and His kingdom the way I should have. And like my friend, I still felt a little guilty.

But in the midst of my searching for what I felt I should do, I now realize God was saying, "Its ok. Trust me. Take care of yourself and those you love right now. Today, in those private, precious moments, that is where you can serve and glorify Me. Don't feel that you have to do everything for Me. I'll be fine. For I am sovereign. I am mighty. I am powerful. I am your Father who loves you and always will."

And it's ok to say no...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Just Because We Can, Does That Mean We Should?



It's a question we can all remember asking ourselves at one time or another in our lives. When I was first out of college, I was an assistant teacher at a local private school. I had agreed to work a year-long contract. However, when summer approached, I realized that the school had made a gross error and that the contract was only through May (much to my delight). I could have legally refused my verbal agreement. I could have spent more time relaxing and also finding another job that was full-time. But I didn't. Just because I could didn't mean I should. 

I know this illustration is a stretch for the point I'm trying to make with what is going on in our world right now. But I've been very troubled by what people saying on both sides of the Atlantic. Now before everyone says that we shouldn't be pushed around by religious extremists, I completely agree. We have the freedom in our country to express ourselves however we feel called without the threat of harm or even death. We have that right. I also am not inviting anyone to call me a terrorist sympathizer. I'm not saying that the French journalists at Charlie Hebdo deserved the tragedy that befell them. What happened last week horrifies and terrifies me, and I feel deeply for their families and colleagues. I just don't believe that because we can, it means we should.

As a Christian, it pains and offends me greatly to see illustrations and portrayals of my Savior desecrated, caricatured, and mocked. The Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) is sacred to me. SACRED. For Muslims (and I'm talking about regular, everyday Muslims), it is Mohamed who is sacred. Why should we, as a civilized society, feel the need to deride that which is so precious to others? Pope Francis and I share the same concern. It's not like poking fun at an NFL team, our government, or someone's dietary choices.  So what's the reason except to point back at ourselves how clever or quick-witted - or even esoteric - we are?

Once more, I am a firm believer in the right of free speech and varying opinions. But I am also a firm believer that we can choose what we say and how we act based on what is right and moral and fair. Because again, just because we can, doesn't mean we should.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Golden

Thank you. Thank you and you and you. I've had comments here and on my Facebook page and in emails. And most of them have resonated the same theme. That YOU have felt the same way. That YOU could have written that particular post. Had I crawled inside YOUR heart or mind? 

I'm just writing what's on my heart. What inspires me, perplexes me - or what causes me to just curl up in a ball. As I've said before, I get most of my thinking and reflecting done in the early morning. It's when the house is quiet and I'm the only one awake. And... I'm in the shower.

It was there that I was thinking about my blog and its name: "It's a Golden Day". A dear friend remembers me in college walking up to all our friends and greeting them with those words. They still say it to me with affection. Should I change it?

Happy, favorable, promising, beautiful. These are words often associated with the word GOLDEN. But that's the finished product. That's when it's all shiny and polished and refined. What about before? Gold is mined from deep in the ground. It's hidden, and then chiseled out. It's covered with dirt and dust. It's rough. It's raw.

And that's where I feel I am sometimes: in the just mined stage. What I write is honest and real. Because I am honest and real. I don't have to be that final, shiny, buffed, perfect, photoshopped, perma-grinned, Pinterest-ified woman. I'm tired of that - aren't you? I want to celebrate the fact that my laundry room is not organized with chalk board labels on wicker baskets, but mountains of laundry. I want to not be ashamed that my family didn't eat organic, whole foods for supper tonight, but Zaxbys. I want shout it from the rooftops that the last few times I had to bring an appetizer, I didn't create something homemade, but brought blue chips and salsa. I want to own the fact that I had my "get though the day without punching something" meds prescription upped. And all these things are ok, damn it. 

But there are some other words that are also associated with GOLDEN, and those are the ones I want to claim. The first is wisdom. I love the fact that with age, comes wisdom. Hence, the term "the golden years". With forty-five years of experiences, from the truly wonderful to the deeply painful, I would hope that I am growing wiser!  The second is valuable. You may know this verse: "Lord, You are more precious than silver. Lord, You are more costly than gold. Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds, And nothing I desire compares to You." No doubt I agree completely with this. But I also know that God feels the same way about me. He values me in all of my weakness. In the state I am in daily: dirty, rough, and raw. I AM valuable. I AM golden.


So I think I will keep the name. It fits. And I like what "It's a Golden Day" symbolizes to me right now.