Friday, September 26, 2008


A lot of people think we have children to lead them and teach them. We're very focused on what we can impart or pass down, but the longer I am a parent, the more I realize God uses my children to teach me far more than I will ever teach them.

I have three great kids. Each of them has their own giftings, the own strengths and their own weaknesses. I think I parent them each differently too, but that isn't always a good thing.

My daughter Victoria was my "promised child" who I waited a very long time for. She's the one I cuddle with, and it doesn't hurt our relationship that she thinks I set the moon. She's my only girl and there are sides to motherhood that can only be experienced with a daughter. My Ethan fascinates me. He's this incredible kid, he's funny, bright and often misunderstood. He has a heart of gold hidden inside the classic "rough and tumble" ALL-boy. These two children were born into my life when I was in my thirties, I was a little more settled, and a lot more seasoned in my parenting.

And then there is Jacob. I've joked before that he was my "practice kid." The truth is he has probably suffered a lot from my immaturity and ignorance as a parent. When he was little I was always pushing and demanding. Everything Jake did was a reflection on me as a parent (in my mind) and I was really hard on him, too hard on him. And even though I learned a lot about that before the other two came along, by the time my lessons were learned, bad habits were ingrained in my relationship with Jake. I am still too demanding and too hard on him. And yet, by some miracle, he is still this really incredible kid. He's smart and funny, he's engaging, he can hold himself with any adult and yet be completely tender and entertaining with children, toddlers and babies.

I look at Jake and see a lot of both myself and his dad in him. He has my sarcastic and wise-cracking sense of humor. I can't tell you how many times I would see something and as a comment came into my head, it came out of Jake's mouth. He also has my lazy streak, which would drive me nuts anyway, but more so because it's a reminder of what I don't like about me. And he's slow moving like his dad, combine that with the laziness, well, let's just say it challenges me. But he also has a lot of his dad's best qualities. He's a gentleman to the core, very kind in his ways, and he's never met anyone that he couldn't find something good about to focus on. He's a genuinely nice guy.

Right now is a hard time. Jake's in the thick of adolesence. It's a crazy mixed-up, emotional, hormone driven season in his life. We're really down to our last few years of having him in our home. And as he spends those day, he'll be busy becoming a man. I'm trying hard to redeem the time. There's a lot of damage and baggage to be overcome. I don't think it can be undone, in fact, I'm certain of it, but God can turn it for good, and I am praying that He will.

The truth of the matter is that it will have very little to do with Jake and all. God needs to do a life-changing work in me. I know He will, but I know it will be a process. I'm trying very hard to open myself up and allow God to do whatever work He desires to do. It may be painful at times, but I want to become the mom Jake deserves, and if a better mom to Ethan and Victoria too, then it will be all the better.

If you think of us, pray for Jake and I. Pray we both grow closer to the Lord and each other in the time that lies ahead.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Sigh. That sort of starts it off clearly, doesn't it?

I have confessed here before today that I have been struggling. Life has just felt like an uphill battle. My prayer life and my joy quota have suffered severely because of it. Of course, those are all so tightly knit. No prayer, no joy, more struggle; more struggle, less joy, less prayer; joy fades, struggle increases; no desire to pray.

A couple weeks ago, the Lord gave me this vision. Not some supernaturally strange experience where I left my body or anything, but I am a "word picture" kind of gal, even when I teach it's often with word pictures, and I know the Lord was trying to speak to me. He showed me this picture of a drowning man. I saw him in the water, panicking and struggling, and the more he fought the water to try to get above it, the more weary he became and the more perilous the situation. And I could see if the man would just stop and relax, he could float in the waves, but because he fought them he was sinking fast.


Tonight I decided to just go out and take a walk with the Lord. I've really been neglecting my time with Him, and I could practically feel Him tugging at my heart to just go for a stroll with Him in the quiet of the night after the kids went to bed. Quiet to listen is such a rare commodity in a house with any three kids, but with my three kids it's a miracle to find any quiet at all. (We are undoubtedly a LOUD family - we must get it from Neal ;).)

I started just walking, praying in the spirit, singing a little worship, telling the Lord I was there and I was listening. I walked a while, and then I asked Him what He wanted to say to me. And eventually, but very clearly I heard it, "Stop striving." Immediately I thought of the vision of the drowning man. "Stop striving, just float, ride the waves, it will be OK."

Today at church our pastor spoke on "The Secret of Joy and Contentment" from Philippians 4. It made me realize that was the word to describe how I have been feeling lately, highly discontent. Not in big things, I am very happily married, I adore my husband, I have three great kids, I am satisfied with our home (though I wish had more time to keep it clean.) But still, something in life has had me discontent.

The core of Pastor's message today was the 4 things we can/ should do to keep from becoming discontent.

#1 - Avoid comparisons.
#2 - Learn to adjust to change.
#3 - Learn to draw on Christ's power.
#4 - Learn to trust God to meet your needs.

#1 is definitely not my problem. Not only do I not try to "keep up" with the Joneses, but I'm not even all that aware of what they have. I've just never been a "stuff" person.

#4 isn't a huge stretch for me either. I have learned a lot in the last few years about trusting God to meet our needs. Emotionally and spiritually I think I have done so for a while, and in the last couple years it's grown into the realm of the physical and financial.

So there lies the key. #2 and #3 are where my struggles have come. Change. I HATE change. I mean I know nobody likes change, but for me, I can't stand it. I remember one time our pastor wanted to stretch us on this point and he made us get up and move to different seats in the sanctuary. I joked I was going to leave the church over it. It was the most miserable 45 minutes I've ever spent in the building! And our family has been going through so much change in so many ways this past year: new schools, not by my choice; Victoria's gym closing suddenly and unexpectedly; Jake's entrance into high school is a lot of change and adjustment; my hours at work; Neal's mom's passing; it's just a long list. And as for #3, well, I surely have not been relying on the Lord's strength to get me through.

"Stop striving." I had to look it up. To strive - to struggle in opposition. That's me, I've been opposing the change, all the circumstances that have caused it as well as those that have resulted from it. And yet to one end? It certainly has no power to change the circumstances, it only serves to wear me out and make me feel like I am that drowning man.

So I guess it's time to float. I'm going to try to choose to be content, even in unexpected or unpleasant change. I'm going to draw on the Lord's power, maybe take these quiet strolls more often, and I'm going to even try to work on #4 a little more and trust that God will take care of the waves, whether it be by calming the storm or leading me through it. I'm going to work on my float.