Our Family

Our Family
Our Family: Pops, Me, The Teenager, The Boy, The Freckle Faced Ninja, Miss Priss, Miss Sassy Pants, Madi-Lou-Who, & Dora the Explorer

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Giving Thanks

I watched with interest the people who were posting 30 days of gratitude on Face book around Thanksgiving.  I had a friend loan me the book 1,000 Blessings by Ann Voskamp.  In addition to making me want to quit writing because I could never write as beautifully as she does and I desire to, it stirred me to think of my blessings.  It's made me listen in wonder as my children pray, "God thank you for our food.  Please help us to have a great day."  What if we don't?  What if the day is crummy?  Are we no longer thankful that we, at least, had the day? 

"This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."  Psalm 118:24 

Doesn't say anything about the day being good, does it?  It's made me reflect on the State of the Union and consider gathering the troops in the GonzoNation to listen to my State of the Union Address (Tony and I are co-dictator's so they really have no choice!).  We've been having lots challenges with negative attitudes, complaining, grumbling, groaning, etc at our house recently.  And that's just me!  You should hear what the kids are doing!  Just kidding (not really!).

In all seriousness, human beings seem to yearn so much for pleasure that we cannot see all that we are blessed with.  Heck, we in the States, even need a holiday to remind ourselves to be thankful!!  

I know that when I'm desiring more money, better clothes, children who behave 24/7, 30 lbs to magically disappear from my stomach, thighs and butt, I don't usually follow it up with, "but at least I have a great husband, kids who are healthy, clothes to wear, a working car, the ability to stay at home and home school..."

It's funny.  Or maybe it's sad.  Being a stay at home mom and getting to home-school my children has always been a desire.  A big family has always been a desire.  A working car that fits all of us comfortably has always been a desire.  Yet I find myself at time resenting those blessings.  The kids are interfering with my agenda today to get the house cleaned.  I love my van yet I covet the Mercedes van one of Gabby's classmate's family has (seats 11...whoa mama!).   

Why cannot I not get a desire, and find contentment in that desire? Are you like me?  Do you always desire the newest iphone even when the previous one still works just fine?  Do you get a new ___ (fill in the blank) then turn green with envy when you see someone with a nicer one?  

And if I'm so greedy, how in the world can I teach my children to be happy with the blessings they have?  I mean, I usually give my self the biggest piece of pizza and fuss at them if they complain that their sibling got a bigger piece!  

How will I ever teach them to focus on their hearts and on others rather than their material possessions if I am not content with my clothes (granted they are completely out of fashion and some date back to my college days!)?  

And how often do I, in my self-absorbed life, forget to tell a person that I am thankful for them in my life?  

Sorry I have to take a break and go repent now because until I typed this, I thought I was mildly selfish.  Now I'm realizing that I'm greedy, self-serving, selfish, self-centered...gosh...I'm just like my kids!  I wonder how God keeps His patience with me!

I read about a man who chose to begin writing a thank you note each day.  Just one a day.  As a result of his thank you notes, relationships were mended, new friends made, laughter, love, and joy resulted.  Now that seems a small effort but I'm pretty sure I still owe some people thank you notes from our wedding almost 17 years ago so not thinking that will work for me.
Instead I've decided to see how many blessing I can think of and list in the next few minutes. Just so you know, if you are reading this, I consider you a blessing.  God certainly does too. :)  

 Disclaimer: Before anyone gets his/her panties in a twist, these are NOT in order of preference or importance other than #1!!!  

1.      God the creator of all things who sent Jesus Christ to die for my sins!!  Without that, all is lost.
2.      My husband, Tony, who puts up with me daily and tells me I'm beautiful EVERY day (in spite of the 30 lbs I need to lose!).  Now that's dedication!  Thank you for being an amazing father to our children and for having such a big heart for orphans.
3.      My mother who persevered through single parenthood for many years. Thanks for always being there to lift me up when I am sad and celebrating all of life's victories with me!
4.      My grandmother, Lillian.  She just turned 90 and is still an amazing story teller!  She was always there with unconditional love, hugs, and a tomato sandwich fresh from her tomato plants.  
5.      My grandfather, Big Driz.  He's the coolest tie-dye wearin' 89 year old I've ever met!  I'll never forget him taming a squirrel from his yard to eat from his hand.
6.      Aunt Mary signed all letters "Mary the Berry".  She became my mentor in teaching and a place to rest in times of turmoil.
7.      Uncle John who makes a better hand spider than anyone I know and always got me in trouble for laughing uncontrollably at the table at Thanksgiving.  
8.      Aunt Susan whose wisdom is deep and who shares herself unselfishly. Thanks for being there in times of crises and talking me through it!
9.      Uncle Bob who was my dining hall connection at UGA.  As food services manager, he opened a dining hall early Saturday morning just for the band so we could eat before games.  Thanks for all the waffles!  And GO DAWGS!
10.  My dad who taught me how to fish (not that I'm any good at it) and got me a fishing pole with a purple line!  Thanks for putting up with my griping on EVERY hike between the ages of 10 and 19!  Now some of my fondest childhood memories are of summers in Montana and Utah.  
11.  My stepmother, Dianne, who tried to pass on some of her amazing artistic and creative talents to me despite my lack of skills in those areas.  She is my Christmas decorating guru!  
12.  My Aunt Lynne who listened to me bare my soul on so many occasions and loved me anyway.  Who treated me like one of her own when I felt unowned. Who helped me understand things that were hard.  Thanks "Aint Lynne" (in my best southern accent).
13.  Aunt Patty who always let me join her brood of kids when I came for summer visits, let us climb her cherry tree and eat all we could, and put up with me mooning over a boy who lived around the block for like 5 summers!
14.  My Grandma Dunn, may she rest in peace.  She always kept her kitchen stocked with red licorice.  Not Twizzlers, but the giant bucket with one long rope!  She loved me no matter what, just like a Grandma should.
15.  My mother-in-law Joyce.  Thanks for treating me like one of your own from the very beginning.  And for always laughing at my stories.
16.  My children.  They are such huge blessings.  They all make us laugh and bring us such joy.  They show me how God loves me!
17.  Children in general!
18.  Starbucks Venti Breve Lattes.  Enough said.  
19.  Ferris Beulers Day Off
20.  Pachabel's Canon (or Paca Bell's Cannon if you're our child)
21.  Barking Spiders
22.  Cool breezes on a summer night
23.  Late night conversations with good friends
24.  Friends who stood in the gap while we labored over our adoption, prayed with us, loved us, gave us furniture, clothing, toys, dinner, hugs...
25.  Perimeter Church
26.  My D Group Ladies
27.  Our dog Winston.  Most days.  ;)
28.  All the cats who've let me love them and kept my lap warm on cold nights.
29.  Sweet Gideon
30.  Tricycles and side walk chalk.
31.  DVDs
32.  White boards and play dough (provided no children stick it up their nasal cavities!  Yes I speak from experience.  And no it was not a good one.)
33.  Fresh fruit at the farmers market
34.  Crock pots
35.  Vacuum cleaners that work
36.  Perimeter Christian School and community
37.  World's Softest Socks (Oh you have GOT to try these ladies with cold feet!)
38.  Stuffed animals
39.  The funny things my children say hourly
40.  Moments that take your breath away
41.  Lydia Grace pointing at the orange and pink clouds of a beautiful sunset and saying, "Look mommy, there's God!"
42.  My inadequacies keeping me humble
43.  Southern accents
44.  Georgia Bulldogs
45.  Mountains and pine trees
46.  Toilet paper :)
47.  My children telling me they love me
48.  Gabby's singing and how it lifts my spirits
49.  Hot dogs and frozen pizzas!!!
50.  You dear friend, where ever you are.

OK, now I KNOW I'm selfish, self-centered, self...whatever!  In just over 30 minutes I thought of 50 blessings that are in my life.  I know I could go on forever.  I doubt you are as self-centered as I am but I hope you will take time to thank God for the day, and find joy in it no matter what it holds.  And I pray that God will reveal to you the many blessings He has bestowed in your life! 

"This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."  Psalm 118:24 

This was not my idea!

Ever had God press something into you that scared the crap out of you? 

Last time that happened we went from 1 to 4 kids (and no, this is not an announcement that we're adopting again).  It's funny how just thinking of something can make me feel panicky, Like, "Seriously God?  You want me to do what?  That's not even on the same continent as my comfort zone!" 

Sometimes I forget that God can see the whole road, while I can only see to the next bend.  The road curves and I lose sight of my path. 

When I stopped teaching school last May, I was trying to readjust. Breathe.  Two years of whirlwind stopped.  Adjust to having 4 kids.  Adjust to being at home (uh-oh, time to learn to cook).  Learn how to homeschool.  Be with my own children 24/7.  

It's taken more than 6 months.  I'm adjusted (notice I didn't say "well-adjusted!).  I've even gotten some routines going and SOME days we maintain a schedule.  Not that you could call it a schedule because it's not very regular.

So now I'm pondering.  Is this where I am to be?  Am I to find contentment as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom?  Or a stay-at-home, send my kids to school, be the room-mom, mom?  Believe me, I could easily be VERY happy with those roles, as is! 

But there is this underlying restlessness.  This sense that I have something to do.  As if God is telling me He has something more.  Apparently he's not seen the pile of laundry waiting for me! 

I'm reading Ann Voskamp's blog (http://www.aholyexperience.com/).  I would so love to meet her!  She has this poetic writing that makes me feel as if I'm breathing in God when I'm reading.  In a post I read recently, she's describing her nerves at speaking at a women's conference (she wrote the book One Thousand Gifts).  And I hear God whisper into my heart.  "You too."

"Oh, no, what?"  I actually looked around to see who God could be talking to!  I was alone. Thus began the argument.  "I haven't written a book!  What the heck would I say to a bunch of women?  God, I even forgot to do my bible study this week for my class.  I'm sure there's someone better!" 

"Oh no.  I mean you."  At this point my heart begins to pound and my palms get sweaty.  "Surely you jest."  I feel God's gentle smile.  It's like watching a baby fight sleep, knowing they will succumb soon.  You just smile and wait.  So God smiles at me.  And waits. 

So after a time, I share this with my husband.  I think God wants me to write a book and speak to women. 

"About what?"  he asks.

"No idea!"  I reply.  "Honestly, I think there's some mistake.  I have no idea what He thinks I have to tell anyone." 

"It's not from you.  It's from Him.  Speaking through you."

Ahhh.  Well that makes me feel better.  Hope He starts speaking through me soon.  I share with my discipleship group and they all are so encouraging I feel beholden to start writing this book that I don't know what will be about.  I sit and stare at the computer and end up on facebook. 

The scary thing is, I've thought about it before.  Talking to women.  About being a mom, wife, daughter.  Wish I knew what I was talking to them about!  I want specifics!  A script would be nice!

This is one of those defining moments.  And I know I'm flubbing it.  When people say they are writing a book, people always ask what it's about.  "No idea" isn't really a great answer. 

But isn't that how God works?  He gives us just enough then he lets us get used to it.  Then He begins to work.  And amazing things happen.  So I guess my flubbing won't really matter because it's all God's work anyway! 

Ever have something like that in your life?  Has God ever presented you with a plan for your life that you thought was out of your league?  For someone else who had it all together? 

But those all-together people?  They don't truly exist.  Just ask them.  They'll quickly tell you it's an illusion (or they're lying!).  They have piles too.  Maybe it's not laundry but piles of something.  Insecurities.  Fears.  Papers.  Bills.  Something piles up on us all and makes us think we can't.  We aren't capable.  We aren't meant to.  We aren't good enough. 

Amoung the piles of laundry and unfiled papers, I have other piles.  They whisper to me those words of inadequacy.  "Who are you to try to raise 4 kids?  Who are you to think you have something to offer?  Who are you to think you are a good wife, a good mother?  Who are you to think you can put pen to paper and have something worth reading?  Who are you to think you could ever fit into that size?"

Isn't that how we all feel?  Less.  Inadequate.  Damaged goods.  And we are.  Our hearts hurt from our failures.  From casual words that stung.  From childhood pain that we can recall as if it were yesterday. 

Funny how God makes sure we get it from all sides.  He communicates a vision.  Then someone makes an off hand comment.  About a week before that a woman in my discipleship group commented that she loved my blog and I'm a really good writer.  I thanked her but not much thought.  Then, not 24 hours after this argument with God that I had still not given in to, a friend commented casually, "Hey, I've been waiting for you to update your blog!"  I know she thought I was nuts when I stammered and stared at her before finally spitting out some answer.  No idea what I said. 

Then I see a friend carrying Ann Voskamps book.  We spent a weekend together and that book stared at me for 3 days. 

Recently we've starting reading and discussing the book of Exodus with our kids.  We get into chapters 3 and 4 and we're talking about how Moses sees the burning bush and meets God.  God gives him instructions to go back to Egypt to bring out the Israelites.  We go through all of Moses objections and disbelief as well as God's answers.  I don't think twice about it. 

UNTIL...Exodus 4:10-13 pops up in my bible study this past week. Moses has already protested that no one will believe him, TWICE.  So God's getting a bit exasperated I think. 

Now Moses pleads with him, "Oh my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue."  Ex 4:10  Look God, I stutter, I'm clumsy, they hate me there, send someone else.  There must be someone better, more capable, someone not wanted for murder! 

God's answer?  "Who has made man's mouth?  Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind?  Is it not I, the LORD?  Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak."  Ex 4:11  I gave you that stutter, boy.  You just have to go, it's my words they will hear!  God made Moses with a speech impediment so all would know it was God's power, not Moses'.  So God would get the glory!  OK so that got my attention.  God's words.  Not mine. 

If you continue to read, just like me, just like my teenager, Moses KEEPS ON ARGUING!!  But he (Moses) said, "Oh my Lord, please send someone else."  Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses."  Ex 4:13

Seriously Moses?  This is God!  I feel like a kid watching another kid argue with the principal and thinking, "he is gonna die!"  But isn't that what I am doing?  Letting my fear overwhelm me so that I kick and struggle against my Saviour like a drowning person fights against the one who has dived into save them? 

OK so now I'm seeing my childishness.  But I'm also see how much glory God will get if I follow this path.  I began this post with the words "scared the crap out of me" but beyond that didn't know what I was going to say.  Yet here I am, many words later.  I find that when I finish a post, I often read back and wonder where the words came from.  And I see God's hand at work.  He dictated and I just held the pen.

So any of you who tell me you cry and laugh (a friend today told me it made her "craugh"!) when you read my posts, just know that God reached out to touch your heart as you read.  He had something to say and you were on His heart.  So, from this inadequate, surrounded by piles of laundry and insecurity, mom...I hope you hear and know, they are words from one who loves you.  I am just the typist.  :)


     I met a man the other day.  He sat down at the Lego table in the dentist office holding his child.  She struggled to sit up on her own.  "She likes to look at the children." he explained, nodding toward my chattering kids.  "She is my grand-daughter.  She has cerebral palsy.  She doesn't talk yet." he tells me as he wipes her chin with a bib around her neck.  "Her name is Abby.  Abigail." 
     "Hello Abby"  I say.  Her smile lights up the room as her eyes search for who called her name.  "What a beautiful smile."  I search for words to say that are normal rather than clumsy.  Not pity but kindness.  How do you extend that to a stranger who is clearly in some pain?
     "My daughter, she pushed too long in labor.  She did not live and Abby, we all take care of her."  His dark eyes reflect his sadness and love at the same time.  "My other daughters, the other grandparents, we all help.  They say her mind is good."  I listen, struggling to put in to words the emotions I feel at him having shared his pain.  "My daughter, she was so smart.  She went to Georgia Tech.  She had so many job offers.  So smart!" 
     "HOW OLD IS SHE?"  Madi yells.  "Three, just like you"  I tell her.  "Why can't she talk?" Lydia asks.  "She is learning.  She will one day."  I respond.  "She wants to watch you play." he tells the girls.  "HI ABBY!"  Madi yells at her, like she yells everything.  "Abby smiles and giggles."  It is a beautiful sound. 
     I wonder how he does it.  Tells a stranger about his daughter without breaking down.  I don't know if I could be that strong.  Even after 3 years.  "Oh God, please hold this family in your arms." I whisper as I walk out of the office.

     A friend is married to a man for life.  She loves him.  The act of loving, not just the feeling.  He is not a Christian.  She is.  She prays, begs God to bring him to Him.  Prays and begs for God to use the pain to remake her in his image.  What does it all mean?  Why did God put her there? 

     A beautiful young girl of 14 is disfigured by her husband.  She is shunned and eventually hidden.  If you look past the marks he left on her, you see eyes that are deep pools of pain.  Shame.  She spends her time covering the face that God loves.   

     Another friend tells of her struggles to maintain life in the face of her husband's health challenges.  She is living for both of them.  Doing it all.  She is strong until we ask how we can help her.  And she crumbles in tears.  She does not see her strength.  She says through it all she is pressed but not crushed.  I picture a beautiful flower pressed between the pages of her heart.  Pressed to God. 

     A dear friend has a daughter.  She struggles.  Their relationship reached a breaking point.  The pain of sending your baby away for a season.  I cannot  fathom the pain.  Yet she gets on her knees and thanks God for that baby.  Thanks God for a safe place for her daughter to go.  Asks for God to teach her through these trials. 

     She glows.  There is a certain woman who just glows.  Her smile is beautiful and her laughter makes me smile.  My children barely know her but they are drawn to her as moths to a flame.  How does she find the strength?  For a decade her body has been fighting illness.  I would be so tired.  How does she not give up?  Yet she prays for others.  Her words soothe my soul.  She serves those around her. 

     A fading marriage.  Life-long friendships suddenly ended.  Estranged children.  Strained relationships with parents.  Divorces.  Illnesses.  Death.  My own children's pain of broken bonds, fear of abandonment. 

     I have always felt that God "allowed" things to happen.  Or maybe he just didn't prevent them.  And then he'd use them to make us stronger or whatever.  But I was just making something up to keep myself from thinking God could be bad.  My own theology.  Hmmm.  I think the bible says something about a person who counsels himself.  A fool, I'm pretty sure it's called. 

     But I recently had my thoughts changed for me.  If I believe God is all-knowing, benevolent, in control, how can I think he'd just benignly watch bad things happen?  I mean, this is the God that caused the flood.  He wiped out all of man-kind except for a chosen few.  This is the God that parted the red sea then let it go and drowned the Egyptians in the way.  Egyptians who were His creation.  That He loved.  If God has numbered the hairs on my head, and knows the exact moment of my birth and death, I'm pretty sure He doesn't sit idly by and watch the world go by. 

     I never liked the thought of those disasters.  "The God of the Old Testament" was a phrase we used.  Like He had a personality change somewhere around the time of Jesus birth or something! 

     So I'm studying suffering with a group of ladies (now there's a fun topic!).  And I was ready with my, "He allows but doesn't cause" belief.  Then I read Isaiah 45:1-7.  Apparently I'd been trivializing God.  God the Father.  Creator.  I was viewing Him as a benign old man watching events unfold and seeing how he could put a good spin on them. 

     "I create the light and make the darkness.  I send good times and the bad times.  I, the Lord, am the one who does these things."  Isaiah 34:7 NLT

     In the ESV is says, "I make well-being and create calamity."  Calamity?  Disaster?  He doesn't allow, watch, or wait.  He makes it happen.  Now two thoughts instantaneously go through my head.  "Really?  Really God?  You purposely took Alyssa from us?  You let her drown?  You purposely made my friend sick?  Watch marriages fail?  Cause tornadoes?"  The second thought?  "OLD TESTAMENT GOD!"  Not that I voiced these in our discussion! 

     So our discussion continues...In John 9:1-4.  The disciples asked Jesus, "Why is the man blind, because of his sin or his parents sins?"  Jesus response?  “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him,..."  So God made him blind?  So that God's work would be show to the world.  They would see His glory in the man.

     At first that confounded me.  Why God?  Why would you cause pain deliberately?  Then I began to listen to the stories around me.  Stories of pain so intense that the person runs to God because there are no other options.  Times of confusion that force turning to our creator the clear our thoughts.  And God clears our thoughts and His glory shines through.  The pain does not evaporate.  But it becomes a way for God to show His glory. 

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18

     Then I realized, pain and suffering was what drove me to realize my desperate need for my savior.  Pain of inadequacy.  Fear of another layoff.  I recall vividly, walking around our small house for hours, hyperventilating and crying, not knowing how we were going to pay our bills.  Phone or power cut off again.  Our parents desperately trying to help us not lose our house to the bank. Desperate for affirmation from a husband who was struggling to survive the emotions of being out of work.  Losing Alyssa.  Losing my temper over trivialities.  Striving for recognition at work.  Loss from a miscarriage and buried desires to bear a child.  Shame that I was jealous of others who could get pregnant, who were prettier, richer, more courageous.  Fearful of others seeing my heart.  Seeing the inadequate person I really was.  Wanting to seem perfect.  Wanting a God sized hole in my heart filled by a man, a job, a child. 

     As I surveyed each of those painful moments, I came to see how God was using them to pull me ever closer.  To show me how He, and only He, can fill the void.  How He can soothe.  And even produce bounty out of tragedy.  How many times has he held me together that I did not even see.  If we had not gone through what we saw as the tragedy of losing Alyssa, would we now have such broken hearts for orphans?  If I had gotten pregnant, I would not have any of the children we have now.  That thought rocks me.  Shocks me even.  My children's painful beginning has a purpose both for me and for them.  Being in our family now was part of God's purpose. 

     Each challenge made me turn, and lean, on the only one who could truly hold me up.  And knowing that God is always purposeful, while sometimes I still want to say, "Really God?  Why?  Why me?"  Now I am beginning to think, "I don't like this but God how will you use this to teach me?  Form me?"  I have comfort knowing that nothing happens randomly.  God planned for my life.  And His glory will be revealed in it.  Now that's something! 

     I read and wrote about once how someone felt adoption was a distant plan B for children.  And I thought that Jesus somehow was God's plan B.  But I'm pretty sure the creator of the universe never had a plan B.  That this is all part of God's design.  There are those who will argue against predestination.  I'll let my much smarter husband and 13 year old respond to your arguments (I had to say "Predesti-what?" when she asked me if I believed in it!). 

I just know that God already knew Adam and Eve were gonna mess up.  He knew you and I weren't gonna be able to pull off the, "I'm perfect" image for long.  And He knows just where to press us so we'll lean into him.  And if you'll lean into Him in those "why God" moments, He will hold you until His glory shines through.

     Praying that you will all be "pressed but not crushed" as he turns your face to Him.  Love you.

Pressed but not crushed

"We lived in my dad's car for a while.  We ate out of trash cans sometimes because we didn't have any food."

The words hung there in the air for a moment before they settled in my stomach like a lump of lead.  Don't react.  "Really?  Just you and your dad?"

"Yup.  My mom and everybody stayed at my Nanny's.  She had lots of money."

"How could you tell she had lots of money?"

"Because, they had TONS of food!" 

We continued talking about it while my mind raced, trying to comprehend what I'd known but not really KNOWN. 

"After a while we went to stay with my Nanny but we had to leave when she got divorced.  Then we went to stay with my aunt and uncle.  They got divorced too.  Then we stayed with my big brother."

Startled, I ask "Who?"   "I have a big brother out there somewhere."  Shrugs. 

I have heard of this big brother, maybe 10 years old.  Different mother.

"Then my Nanny came back to get us."

"I bet that was confusing!"  Shrugs. 

Another day, another conversation.  We're in the car, "I still love my old mom and dad.  Is that OK?"  A calm demeanor hides the depth of the question. 

Her brother reassures while I explain how God makes our hearts to expand to hold love for many, "He ran from the cops once.  He hid in some woods."

"What did you do?"

"I went with the cops.  I was there when they found him.  I had to go to the jail.  My mom came too.  It was when he threw a rock through the windshield."  So matter of fact. 

"I still miss them.  I hope they aren't in jail now. I hope they are safe."

"This is making my eyes water."  Suddenly there is sobbing.  I am in the front seat.  They are in the back.  It feels like miles.  As soon as we pull in the drive way, I have arms full of crying child.  Sobbing as if their heart will break.  Yet it is already broken.  The depths of sorrow I have no comprehension for.  I hold and sway like I would a precious infant, this child whose feet dangle down by my knees. 

When the anguish is calming, we walk up to the house.  I know the storm has passed when I hear, "Hey look, a lightening bug!"  The smile lights up my heart as much as the tears bring me sorrow. 

How does one help that wounded, broken heart to heal?  How do I, who fall short in so many ways, who falls to temptation more times than I like to admit, help that heart find contentment amidst the shattered pieces of lost innocence?  I cannot.  I cannot glue the pieces back together anymore than I could stop rain from falling. 

"He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds."  Psalm 147:3

It reminds me of what my friend recently said.  "God presses me to turn to him.  I am pressed but not crushed."  It's in those moments that I too am pressed.  I cannot heal my children of their wounds.  I cannot make them go away.  I whisper a prayer of desperation in those moments.  "Please God, please."  Nothing else will come.  But He knows. 

We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in depair. 2 Corinthians 4:8

My children too are pressed.  They remind me of a solitary flower growing up in the crack of a sidewalk.  They do not belong there.  And they are fighting for life.  They fight the press of feet that will step on them, press them down.  Will they turn to God in the pressing?  That is the question on my heart.  I can direct them, I can try to water their hearts with God's love.  Only he can heal their broken hearts.  Will they let him? 

That is my prayer.  My desperate plea.  I watch other brokenhearts.  They avoid God.  Could not understand the pressing.  They tried to heal it other ways.  I, too, have tried that.  It was almost my undoing.  Pleasure to combat the pain.  Alcohol to numb it.  Empty relationships to fill the void in my heart.  Those early days of adulthood were like a random sampling to see what would make me feel whole.  How to help my children not succumb to the world in the same way? 

But God says "He heals the brokenhearted,"  not me.  "He bandages up their wounds...He covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures...The Lord's delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love...For he has strengthened the bars of your gates and blessed your children within your walls."  Psalm 147:3, 8, 11, 13.

So I will continue to plead with Him to heal their hearts and to guide me.  I will trust that the one who provides rain for the plants, loves my children more than I can fathom.  His children.  And he will press them to Him. 

I pray he presses you to Him and you will allow him to heal your broken heart.

For Today

Warning: Fluff post!  :)

I'm wrung out the other day.  "I got nuthin' left!" was all I could think.  There had been tantrums, refusal to cooperate, attitudes that were revealing heart aromas that were a bit stinky, an overwhelmingly messy house, no milk for my coffee, and general unruliness.  I look at clips of the Duggar family and I wonder, how can they do this with 19 when I am being defeated today by 4?

I read about a woman who shops for the entire month in one blow and saves money and my sister-in-law tells of her couponing cut her grocery bill from $200 to $100 in one trip.  I can barely keep bread and toilet paper in the house.  Can I get an AMEN from my sisters in disorganization? 

Yesterday my son's counselor tells me how he shared with her that we're out of TP and using paper towels!  "Oh, don't flush those!  They'll clog up your line!"  Seriously?  Dying from embarrassment... "Oh yes, I know and it's only for today, on the way to the store from here!"  I tell her as I make a mental note to strangle the boy!  Actually it had been for like 4 days. 

I have friends who make menus of the month and grocery shop based on that.  My kids always ask me what's for dinner and I tell them they'll find out when I do!  I once said something about making a menu of meals and our son says, "You do, where is it?"  I pretended it was somewhere too high for him to see instead of reality...in my imagination!!! 

I have piles of laundry to do and to fold or hang and folded waiting to be put away.  My kids have drawers full of last year's clothes that are all too small. It takes 5 tries before they find pants or shorts that fit. 

So you can guess what my first New Year's Resolution is each year!  Well OK, the first was to lose 20 pounds and the second was to...wait let me see if I can find them.  I know I wrote them down.  I think I did.  Maybe in my calendar.  Wonder where my calendar is!  Have you seen it? 

OK, so I'm making light of the chaos of my life.  But sometimes there is no alternative.  I am not like the Duggar family who is almost 4 times our size and has an organizational system to rival the Army!  I am a mess.  I leave my shoes on the floor and I only know how to cook like 5 things (dinner is very predictable at our house). 

So I've decided that instead of New Year's Resolutions that I can't find or remember (I always resolve to get in shape/lose weight and get organized so those are no-brainers!) that I'm making "For Today" resolutions.  Then I stand at least a chance of feeling a sense of accomplishment and might, just might, find some order in my chaos! 

For today, I WILL drink a cup of warm tea and watch as my beautiful children play outside. 

For today, I will go for a walk and listen as the birds sing.  If this counts as exercise, all the better!

For today, I will have another cup of tea and attempt not to lose my temper as we work on math!

For today, I will laugh as much as I can and hopefully do a load of laundry.

For today, I will not strangle any of my children when they tell everyone we know we haven't had toilet paper for the past 3 days.

For today, I will think about working on the tax preparation I've been neglecting since February (it's all in the verbiage!). 

For today, I will pull my children close as we read a story and laugh as they giggle. 

What will you do just for today?