When God Asks you a Question

My kid was sick today.

I haaaaaattttteeeeeee when my kids are sick.

Since I suffer quite considerably from emetophobia, I try desperately to avoid all types of sickness. Fevers-yuck. Coughs-yuck. Sniffles-yuck. Sore throats-yuck. Vomit-double yuck.

20180625_195043Today was no different. Since my little one was suffering from a fever, I had a pretty serious case of the yucks. I didn’t realize until the sun was setting that I spent my entire day sulking about because my plans went on the fritz.

It’s summer. No one should be sick in the summer. Ever. This should really be written somewhere in the Bible. I seem to have spent last winter dealing with a sick kid at least every other week, so I firmly believe I should get to take the summer off.

On my way home from McDonald’s today (this is our go-to meal when mom’s day goes on the fritz) I am pretty sure I audibly heard God say, “Why aren’t you talking to me?”

And that’s when it hit me…

Despite my bad attitude, I had not spoken to God the entire day. In my weak defense, my little one was fussing all day long: It doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for in-depth Bible reading. However, talking to my Father about my frustrating day is the best antidote for a frustrating day, and yet, I avoided Him.

His question didn’t exactly melt away my bad mood:20180624_132711 (1)

“Gee God, I don’t know. Maybe I’m not talking to you because I got nothing done today, or I spent money I didn’t want to spend on fast food I don’t want to eat, or my little boy is hurting and there’s nothing I can do. Or maybe I’m simply not talking to you because you have allowed sickness into this world, and that is not cool.”

I wish I could say that an unexpected sickness puts me in a bad mood because I struggle to see my kids suffering. Although that is a huge part of it, that is not the main reason I sulked around today.

I really just cannot handle when I am not in control, when the day I had planned becomes the day God planned instead. It’s selfishness: nothing more.

Uffda. That is not easy to admit.

I also have dealt with sick children so often in my 3 years of motherhood that I have decided to grit my teeth and just get through it, instead of falling to my knees and asking God to walk with me.

When one of our boys spikes a fever, I often say something like this to my husband: “I just wish I knew how sick he was going to get and what kind of sickness it is and how long it is going to last.”

It is so much easier for me to turn to the Lord when I have some measure of what I am dealing with. It is when I am left in the dark with a day I do not want to face that I suffer from the temptation to deal with it on my own. I will turn to God when it’s all over and offer Him a polite “thank you” for carrying me through until the sickness was over.

20180620_143347I don’t see this kind of weak faith very often in other areas of my life. When our finances explode and I end up shuffling money so we can eat, I have no trouble turning to the Lord. When I am at a loss for how to help my child overcome his fear and anxiety at swimming lessons, I seek help and guidance from God. It is only when sickness hits my house that I decide to muddle it out on my own.

Tonight I am humbled because I serve a God who fiercely loves me–a God who will chase after me on a day like today, and reveal my sin so that I might be transformed by it. I am a sinner. He knows it; I know it. It is when I am faced with my most difficult challenge, like a sick child, that I can truly become eternally grateful for His grace and mercy.

So tonight, despite having a difficult day and being faced with an even tougher night with my feverish little boy, I get to go to bed in peace, because I know that God goes before me–even when I am trying to shove Him out of the way.

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All I Want

As I rush out the door, I don’t even notice the scowl that has formed harshly on my face. My diaper bag hangs haphazardly over my shoulder and my two boys are more interested in the ant hill by the car than actually getting into the car. Once again, the house I leave behind is in absolute chaos.

20180716_143811The day has not gone exactly as planned. My husband is late. Again. The lunch dishes are still piled in the sink, even though lunch was over hours ago; the living room looks like I run a daycare of fifty children; and my bed is still unmade: the knowledge of this is reason enough to crawl back into it and try again tomorrow.

The really shocking part about this particular day is that all I wanted when I woke up this morning was to get my house clean. That’s it. That’s the only real plan I had. Now, rushing out the door for the third time, I am painfully aware that I have failed, and I am fuming.

With my kids finally strapped in the back, I cry out to God as I head down the street, “God, all I wanted today was to get my house clean. Is that too much to ask? That’s all I wanted.”

20180622_140112As soon as these words are out, I remember the last moment I spoke like this. It was the night before and they were directed at my husband. As I stood in front of my closet, frustration building, I was trying desperately to find something to wear at a church picnic. Being eight months pregnant in the heat of the summer doesn’t exactly make a girl feel glamorous.

“All I want is to feel human again. I want to wear something that will make me feel more human and less whale. That’s all I want,” I whined to my husband.

Now, as I hit every red light and shuffle through these frustrations, I am completely overlooking what is happening in my backseat. Hair ruffled by the open windows, oblivious to their mom’s bad mood, my boys are wildly singing along to a country song: my son calls it “jamming.” If you have never witnessed two toddlers “jam”, it can melt away a bad mood quicker than a bowl of ice cream.

In that small, seemingly unimportant moment, God let me see my unmanageable day through His eyes instead of my own. His grace seamlessly found its way into my hardened perspective, and with that, I hear Him whisper, “My child, you have all you ever wanted.”

I have no clothes that make me look good this summer because I have been wildly blessed by the Father to carry another one of His children.20180702_164129

My husband often misjudges when he will get home because he is busy blessing others with the business God led us to start, a business that has been an answer to many of our prayers.

My house is never clean because I have two boys whose zest for life has renewed my own.

Stopping at yet another red light, barely able to think because my oldest has asked me to crank up the radio for a third time, I smile at all this chaos. For because of the Lord’s guidance, this maddening life is all I ever wanted.

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The Dreaded Mom Motto

Every mom experiences it: One minute she is living the high life as a cool, hip and happening, young mom, and the next minute, her own mother tumbles right out of her mouth.

Three years into motherhood, I wish I could say that this experience just happened to me, but alas, I have been sounding more and more like my mother with each passing day since Week 1 of motherhood.20180706_215053

I am not talking about those endearing qualities in my mom. I am referring to those mom cliches that I grew up hearing, and yet had no response to whatsoever because I heard the same cliches 67 times a week.

Allow me to demonstrate:

The other day my son was ignoring my 900th request for him to pick up his cars. Now, since I am raising two boys and zero girls, our car situation has become sort of dire in our living room. Of course I have a box, devoted entirely to vehicles of all kinds (Hotwheels, monster trucks, wood cars, dump trucks, tractors, pick-ups, jeeps, and on….and on… and on…). Despite my efforts to keep each one of these vehicles safely entrapped in the box, I still end up finding them in every nook and cranny of my home: behind the toilet, tied up in a curtain, shoved in the couch cushions, in a flower pot, and in my own bed. To date, keeping the vehicles organized is my most exhausting motherhood chore.

So, as I asked my son for the 901st time to pick up his cars, my mom came out:

“Young man, I am not going to ask you again. Pick up your cars.”

Oh my… did I actually just say, “I’m not going to ask you again”?

(This is not entirely pertinent to my story, but I did finally get my son–who suffers from a chronic case of selective hearing–to put all his wheelie things into the wheelie thing box).

20180704_205222I call them mom mottos: these fantastically frequent sayings that can be heard coming from any mother in any situation at any time. Most of them don’t really mean anything, and it doesn’t take our kids long to figure that out. If I pull out a mom motto, my children are guaranteed not to react.

My most used mom mottos include:

  1. “We’ll see.” As a kid, I wondered if my mom knew “we’ll see” is really not an answer to a question. Now as a mom, I know what it means. It means “no” but it is a soft “no” in an attempt to avoid an immediate tantrum. Much of the time, it works for my three-year-old, although I doubt it will have the same effect with my future teenagers.
  2. “If you keep crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.” This must be the single emptiest threat a mom can dole out to her children. I am quite certain that even my 18-month old is confident I’m not going to wallop him in order to give him a reason to cry. It is impossible to follow through with this mom motto, and yet, I say it.
  3. “Because I said so.” I never understood this one as a child either, however, when my three-year-old will not stop asking the question “why”–even if the house were on fire he would continue to ask “why”–my only other option is to throw this mom motto out there, in desperate fashion.
  4. “We do not live in a barn.” When I found myself yelling this one out the garage door toward children who were already out of sight, it broke my heart. I cannot believe I actually say this. Even though I have heard this one from other moms, I am pretty certain my mom wrote it herself.
  5. “I am at my wit’s end.” As if my very small, very self-absorbed toddlers care where my wit is and how far away I am from getting to the end, I still attempt to earn myself the slightest bit of compassion by feeding them this line. Guess what? It never works. In fact, one time my toddler asked me, “Mom, what’s a wit?” That’s when I realized I may as well be trying to get compassion from my plants.

It’s unavoidable. Sooner or later, we all morph into a stereotype. And becoming a stereotypical parent means becoming those cliche throwing, don’t-make-me-come-back-there saying humans who raised you.

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Jesus and my Toddler

My suburban is always parked in my driveway. It usually has too many bug guts splattered on the windshield and too little gas in the tank. The #momlife sticker on the back window suggests to all other drivers how I spend most of my time and where my priorities lie. It also may explain why I am so distracted when I’m on the road, often driving with one hand reached in the backseat doesn’t make for a lot of awareness.

20180624_132711I am not a great car owner. Whenever my husband mentions that we should take it to the shop, my first reaction is to question whether that’s necessary and then procrastinate on making the appointment. I depend upon my car everyday, multiple times a day, but I don’t like to fill it with gas, spend money on it, or care for it in any way. In fact, I really only recognize my immense need for my car when it breaks down, usually due to my own procrastination to take care of it in the first place.

God commands us to have childlike faith, and since I have been a Christian all my life, this can be hard to achieve. My dependence on God often looks more like the way I depend upon my car, only appreciating His constant presence in my life when something breaks down.

After my car spends time in the shop, I usually go through a period of gratefulness that it is still in my driveway and hyper-sensitivity to all of its needs. But a few months down the road, I go back to taking it for granted and neglecting the blinking light by my speedometer. My walk with God often looks a lot like this. Whenever He sees me through a major change in my life, I praise Him and pray to Him constantly, fervently living to serve Him. When a few months have passed, I go back to weak prayers, obligatory Bible reading, and overlooking His many blessings.

Since entering motherhood, my inconsistent and noncommittal walk with God has changed. Someday, when my hair is gray and my son is grown, I am going to thank him for the many ways he taught me about authentic faith in Christ.20180611_191035

At three-years-old, his honest love for Jesus convicts me nearly every day, and motivates me to grow still closer to Him. His fascination with the most simplistic aspects of God’s creation convicts me that no matter how many times I see a bird in flight, it should still cause me to recognize God’s true character–a God of abundant love, sovereign over every detail.

His innocent questions about where Jesus lives convict me that perhaps my knowledge of the Lord has grown weary, and I no longer see Him as a constant companion. His profound connection and concern for a hurting acquaintance convicts me that I too should have compassion for all God’s people, following Jesus’ own example. 

His childlike faith has allowed me to see God through the eyes of a child–the way I used to see Him when I slept on princess sheets under a white-lace canopy.

My son weakly walked up to me last week and said, “Mommy, my tummy hurts.”

Since I’ve learned not to put a lot of stock into my toddler’s complaints, I aloofly said, “What do you want to do about that, bud?”

Completely unaware that I was about to experience one of those lasting moments, a moment I will look back on when he is well grown, he surprised me when he whispered, “I want to ask Jesus to come help me.”

And with that, he began to pray.

“Do you feel better now, bud?” I asked after he’d said amen.

With a grin, he looked at me and shouted, “I feel great!” and ran off to play with his brother.

20180701_131620It occurred to me in this intimate moment with my son that as an adult, my knowledge that the very presence of Jesus will not only diminish my pain but completely cancel it out has grown weak. I often find myself praying fervently to Him, yet feeling no change whatsoever after I say amen. This absence of answered prayer is not from a lack of God’s presence, but from a lack of childlike faith.

When I bow my head to pray, I must believe with as much passion as my toddler, that Jesus is ready, willing, and waiting to give me all that I desire.

This is authentic faith.

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A World of Hurt

When those around you experience pain and heartache, it can challenge your faith in Christ just as much as if you were experiencing this pain firsthand.

Recently, I have been surrounded by pain–excruciating, life-altering pain.

Those closest to me have been forced to face events in their lives that could usurp even the strongest individual.

In recent months my loved ones have faced sick children, infant loss, disastrous legal accusations, death, and serious medical issues. It has become so frequent that I receive a text asking for prayer for an extremely painful situation that I have come to almost expect it. I wait for the next shoe to drop, for the next person to be added to my prayer list–a prayer list that I can barely keep up with as it is.

love-699480_1280My life, on the other hand, has been going quite smoothly. My family is healthy, our jobs are secure, my marriage is thriving, and my children are happy, despite their near constant attempts to achieve an injury that would warrant a hospital visit.

Since so many that are so dear to me have been hurting so badly, I have gone through a series of emotions. Besides simply mourning alongside them, I have been tempted to feel guilty, because there is little that I can do for them. In addition to resisting guilt, I have found myself feeling afraid–very afraid. In the moments where I have allowed myself to drift from the Lord, I have begun to doubt that my own happiness is really secure. As I watch lives around me fall apart, I wonder when it will be my turn to lose one of my own blessings.

In the light of day, I realize this thought is pretty absurd, and also downright depressing, but when I crawl into bed at night having just finished a conversation with one of my many hurting friends, I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before I too am broken and hurting.

I realize quickly when I have thoughts like this that it is time to get down on my knees and invite God back into my incredibly hectic life and my even more distracted mind. These thoughts are from Satan, whose greatest desire seems to be for me to live in a constant state of fear.

For many, Satan achieves this in us. When we hear our friends have lost their child, we immediately whisk to our own children’s’ bedrooms to check their breathing. When we hear our friends have been diagnosed with cancer, we immediately call the doctor to schedule a much neglected check-up. When Satan cannot achieve fear, he works hard to achieve guilt. When we hear our friends have a sick child, we feel guilt for the three healthy children we have, as if our guilt can somehow diminish their pain.alone-3433137_1280

This is not the way God calls us to live. He certainly does not want His blessings to be shadowed by others’ or our own pain. He calls us to live in complete and total communion with Him. He calls us to revel in the good seasons of life and cling to Him in the painful seasons. God will see us through each season, and whether we are being showered with blessings or showered with troubles, He is to be our shelter.

Trusting God in the midst of so much pain is easier said than done. We want to question His presence and sovereignty in the vicious destruction of a Christian family or the sudden death of one of our children. However, when we are in line with His will, we realize that He is so much more powerful than our questions and our doubts. He is weaving these extraordinarily painful circumstances into something simply extraordinary.

In our pain, he creates a firm community of believers who demonstrate to the world what it looks like to fight firmly in the faith. Even while being tempted to turn our backs on Him for allowing such pain, a true believer knows, without doubt, that God reigns over it all and is deserving of our praise.

This pain that we will all inevitably experience in one way or another is a worldly pain, while God gives us a supernatural means to survive even the worst seasons of life.

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Humility is a slippery little thing.

I guess I’m like a lot of people. Most of us struggle with pride. We love praise and we want people to know how important we are.

I haven’t quite conquered the humility portion of life yet. Although, I pray that God will help me as He says in Proverbs 3:34, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

I want His grace, and I sure as heck do not want Him opposing me.

20180618_100121As a stay-at-home mom, 99.9999 percent of what I do is done in the privacy of my home or the aisle of a grocery store. Because of this, I have been able to realize just how prideful I really am–just how badly I want the world to notice how well-behaved my kids are, or how delicious my baked goods are, or how clean my home is, or how down-right fantastic my canned salsa is–but no one ever notices. Frankly, no one really cares.

My husband used to notice and comment on my mad homemaking skills, but even he has grown used to the things I do.

When I attended my 10-year reunion last week (yes, I am a whopping 28-years-old and have quite the pile of gray hair atop my head, much to my dismay), I noticed how little people asked me about my life. Once the brief discussion about how many children and their names was covered, discussion naturally fell to career. Where are you working now? Do you like it? How long have you been there?

To the world, I am a dangerously unsuccessful person. I had an English degree and was a career woman who was going somewhere, now I stay home, day after day, cooking, cleaning, and teaching. That’s what I do. That’s where it ends.20180612_161243

Surrounded by the people I grew up with, I was desperate for them to know what I actually do with my time. I wanted them to know that each day I focus on the needs of my family by baking, cleaning, teaching, crafting, reading, scrubbing, sweeping, soaking, concocting, juggling, sprucing, inventing, driving, soothing….. And the list goes on….

I wanted them to know I was still worth something.

Even though my boss never praises me, and my coworkers never commend me, and the only thing in my email is a reminder to sign my kid up for some day camp, I am still worth something.

Even though I’ve tossed out my high heels and never set my alarm and have no need for makeup, I am still worth something.

Even though the world does not see what I do like it used to when I stood before hundreds of kids, God sees it. He sees that all I do I do for Him. He sees my commitment to him, and even in the chaos of my thousandth load of laundry, I strive to do it with excellence because excellence is what He commands from His servants. This is not perfection, but excellence.

20180605_153222God asks us to perform the most mundane tasks for His glory alone. This means I don’t do it for my own glory, but only for Him. When I am tired of playing dinosaurs with my boys, I think of Him and how satisfied He is with the work I do. When I am dreading the thought of cooking yet another dinner that my kids won’t even eat, I cook for the Lord. When I have been cleaning all day and my house is still a catastrophe, I remember that I clean for the Lord. When I feel a little less important because I have no career, I remember that I live for the Lord.

Whether we are accountants, business owners, teachers, or just moms, we must always remember that we work for One, and the world will never appreciate how great we are.

It is when we finally recognize our own nothingness apart from the Father that we truly become extraordinary.

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Satan can Bite Me

My first thought when my feet reluctantly hit the floor is that my youngest child is up particularly early; on my way to his room I pass a heaping pile of dirty laundry sitting in the middle of my floor, the very laundry I had intended to get washed, dried, and folded the night before. Minutes later as my husband rushes out the door leaving me holding two crabby and exhausted toddlers, he yells, “By the way, I might be home late tonight.” I turn my attention to the pile of dishes in the sink that did not make it to the dishwasher. When I head to the pantry, my toddler is out of dinosaur oatmeal, the only breakfast he will humble himself to eat. A tantrum ensues while I get my youngest a banana.

When I consider the morning before me, it occurs to me that I may not have the energy to drag these two to the grocery store, and worse yet, I may not have any money once I get there. I receive a text from a friend, my intended lifeline for the afternoon; she is cancelling our scheduled playdate because of a sick kid. I attempt to think positively and thank God that my kids are healthy today, but I am interrupted by my 3-year old’s disastrous attempt to dress himself, realizing hours later that I never completed that essential moment of gratitude.IMG_20180419_081802_914

As I lean back on my toddler’s floor, listening to him wail as he makes a second attempt to get his pants on, I realize the powerful hold Satan already has on my day. By welcoming each negative thought, and ignoring the immense blessings involved in each of these moments, I have given Satan a foothold nearly before the real Creator I worship even crosses my mind.

Each morning when I wake, I have two options. I can allow these seemingly negative and sometimes impossible moments to take control and destroy the day before me, or I can wake with my Father, expectantly absorbing the day He has created for me. When my smallest startles me awake, earlier than I would have liked, I should first take notice of the gorgeous sunrise I would have otherwise missed. As my small miracles lose their patience waiting for their breakfasts, I can thank my Lord that we have food to eat. When my toddler has a tantrum trying to dress himself, I can thank my Lord that He is able to dress himself, and I have been given the opportunity to mold him into an independent young man. When my dread of the grocery store reveals itself, I can thank God my children love the grocery store and are thrilled each time they get a sucker for the ride home.

I am reminded of a quote from Charles Spurgeon taped to my fridge, “You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, and training them up in God’s fear, and minding the house, and making your household a church for God, as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts.”

IMG_20180314_164406_616Despite the countless moments on this particular morning that I have forgotten God, He still found a way to remind me, in the middle of my toddler’s floor, that my purpose is to do His work by molding his disciples. No matter where the day takes me, I am to be a woman who fears the Lord, and convey that to my children, even in the midst of an ill-fated morning. Because I am a woman who fears the Lord, Satan will fight to infiltrate my thoughts and prevent me from achieving any of God’s purposes each and every morning.

Satan did not win today, because today God gave me a second chance. So, I smile, quietly thank my Savior, help my toddler put his pants on, and begin again.

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