Sunday, February 22, 2009

Joys and Sorrows

The joy of being a mother is so very closely linked with the sorrow of being a mother. It is holy ground. ~ Staci Eldredge’s “You Are Captivating – Celebrating a Mother’s Heart”

I think every mom can attest to the fact that being a mother is both joyful and sorrowful. We have moments, days, and seasons that we experience either or both of these emotions. There may be some days, some seasons in which we are especially feeling joyful and other days and seasons in which it seems all we have are sorrow.

The joy of being a mom is found in sometimes those small moments, a baby who finally falls asleep, a child’s grade going up, or the accomplishment of playing an instrument. Other joys are found in more monumental events such as graduating or winning some grand award. Mixed in you may encounter other moments that bring true joy to your heart.

I mentioned recently how I had celebrated my 40th birthday. I have two sons and one daughter. My daughter was the only one really interested in buying me a gift. She had an upcoming babysitting job, so she asked my husband to take her to pick out a gift for me and she would pay him back. The boys…well, if I had not reminded them that morning it was my birthday, it would have come and gone without any acknowledgment. My daughter, on the other hand, wanted to make it special. She picked out a beautiful candle display and even hid it, having me go through a treasure hunt before I was led to her very thoughtful gift and card. That brought me joy.

I used to always bemoan the fact that my boys didn’t seem to really care if it was my birthday. My youngest will make a card for me. However, my 14 year old son, he needed a little help. So instead of expecting him to think of something to do for my birthday and instead of feeling sorry for myself that he isn’t more thoughtful, I handed him a pack of construction paper and some pencils and said, “Make me a card.” He said, “What do I write?” I said, “Write what’s in your heart.” I was expecting his card to say “Happy Birthday Mom, Love Daniel.” Instead, this is what it said: “I love you and thank you for being there for me. Your support has helped me to get through my life. Without your help I would be nowhere. Life has been fun because of you mom.” Wow! That really hit me to the core of my heart. I had no idea those feelings were inside him. Truly, this brought me great joy (and some tears).

I wish that motherhood was always filled with these moments. Unfortunately, though, it is also filled with very sorrowful moments. I think probably the greatest sorrow a mom can experience is when their child does something very wrong, when they stray from the Lord, when they make decisions that are very hurtful or tragic. Some sorrows are unexpected, an illness of a child. But other sorrows are brought on by that child and it cuts us to the very core.

Recently my husband and I have been having “issues” with our youngest. They have caused me sorrow. They have caused me to feel hurt inside. Yes, being a mom can truly be sorrowful. Think of the times that your child has brought you to tears. Think of the times that your child has broken your heart. Think of the times your child has disappointed you. Think of the times your child has gone the wrong way. These are all painful mom moments. My blog, “Mom Moments” is just about that…moments we experience as moms. I would like to say that everything we will ever experience will be great but it’s not true. Being a mom is hard and sometimes we wonder where the joy in it really is.

This blog was based upon something I read in Staci Eldgredge’s book, “You Are Captivating – Celebrating a Mother’s Heart.” I quoted it above. However, I cannot fail to address the second part of what I quoted, where she says “It is holy ground.” That caught me a bit off guard. Being a mom is joyful and sorrowful, yes, but how in the world is it holy ground?

I had to really think about that. The ground we walk as a mother really is holy. We experience so many divine moments, that it can’t be anything other than holy ground. When we stand on holy ground, which is before God, we stand before Him not only with the good but with the bad. We are who we are. Being a mother is what it is. Our children are what they are. Every moment in life that we experience comes back to holiness because it’s all about Him. If we forget God in the midst of those joys and sorrows, we have forgotten the divine purpose and glory of being a mom.

Being a mom is not just something we do; it truly is who we are. We are so often defined by the mother that we are. We are defined by the way we respond to situations in our children’s lives. We are defined by the way we respond to those joys and sorrows.

You may be on the mountaintop right now as a mom. Everything is good. You got your little ducks in a row, all is well. It could be easy to look down upon others, to cluck your tongue and think, “What has she done wrong?” Believe me…we will all experience painful moments. No one is exempt from the sorrows of being a mom. If you are in a joyful place, yes, be thankful but at the same time, remember those moms who are not.

If you are in a time of sorrow—if being a mom is simply breaking your heart, look up! Look up to the very One who grieves right along with you. He will not leave you, He will not forsake you. He loves that child more than you do. He wants better for that child. He sees the bigger picture while all we see are the fragments of a broken life or situation. Your child needs to be entrusted into the hands of the very One who created him/her. Know that as a mom, I am praying for each one of you and your children—that they would experience the awesome glory of walking in the path that God has laid out before them. If they are not, that they would return, that they would finally make that commitment to live their lives solely to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fabulous Forties!

My February Mom Moments blog was supposed to be about several things, one of them being a very special birthday that I was celebrating. Instead, I was led to share the testimony about my son and the high school stabbing and how God answers our prayers.

I didn't want to neglect, however, to mention my birthday. Don't get me wrong--I am not trying to draw attention to myself or guilt you into buying me a present or something. Instead, I didn't want to miss the opportunity to talk about how fabulous the 40's are! Granted, I am pretty new to all of this but things have started off well. First of all, I didn't get depressed...I clearly remember getting very down when I turned 30. There was something about the whole idea of entering a new decade that seemed to get to me. The 20's was such a carefree time. The 30's was a time of really learning what it means to be an adult--to pay bills, raise children, and the like. None of that has changed now that I'm in my 40's but you know what? I feel wiser. I feel like I am finally starting to really understand what life is about--the things that truly matter. This is a huge milestone in my eyes. I see things so differently. To think about the fact that I could potentially have lived already half my life now is a wake up call. I see things with new eyes and with new perspective.

I also feel like the best years are ahead. I don’t really know why. There is no specific reason for me to feel this way. I guess that's just the God of hope working inside me! I don’t FEEL 40 either. I don’t know how 40 is supposed to feel but all I know is that I feel pretty good. Sure, I need to lose a few pounds but my husband still tells me I look good, so I am content (smile).

I do, however, think that part of the reason for the excitement is that I am growing in Christ. I think back to the many years I spent without Him, without a relationship with Him and how differently my life could be right now. In all honesty, my husband and I would have probably been divorced. Our youngest would never have been born. Our children would not be raised in a church. I would have still been angry and bitter about issues from my childhood. I would probably not have a relationship of any kind with my parents. I would be living the party life. I would be living a life of destruction, really. To know that as I grow older, I will be growing IN Christ gives me such an excitement. It gives me a hopeful outlook for the future.

So as I venture into this next decade, I refuse to be a woman that does not disclose her age. I am quite proud to have made it this far. I trust in the plans that the Lord has for me and for my family. This is truly a month of celebration for me! I pray that each of us can feel this way about our lives…that we so love what God has done and has yet to do, that we will treasure every moment and never take our time on this earth for granted.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


I met with a friend this morning who is going through an incredibly difficult time with her wayward daughter. It is hard to know what to say--in fact, I have found that sometimes there is nothing you can say. You can only offer your support and prayers. It may not feel like enough but I can't help but wonder if someday I will need the same. This thought often gets me worried--I begin to assume that I will go through struggles because it seems everyone else is. Yet in the midst of those worries, God's peace comes over me. He doesn't want me to live in fear. He doesn't want me to assume the worse. In fact, a couple of days after the stabbing incident occurred at my son's high school, I received this daily encouraging word from K-Love:

I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!

~ Isaiah 65:24, NLT

It is an amazing thought to consider--that before we even utter a prayer, a need, a want...God is not only aware of it but He is ready to answer and deliver. I find that incredible. I find that comforting. In the midst of talking to God about your problem, He is already working on your behalf. Perhaps you are not seeing things happen the way you would like. You may find yourself worrying about situations in your life. God already knows. He is already working on your behalf. We may not know the outcome now...we may not see the answer we would prefer...we may not understand His ways...but He is working on your behalf! Trust!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

February Mom Moments - Testimony

This month’s blog was all typed up and almost ready to go, about two weeks ago. The finishing touches were going to be put on it. However, God had something else in mind. Now that has been put to the side and I am being directed to share something completely different.

I love how God uses the experiences in our lives to touch others. That is what I believe He wants to do through this. The word I have for this month’s Mom Moments is: NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF PRAYER! I am not talking about the kind of prayer where you see instantaneous results, as awesome as those experiences certainly are. I am not even talking about prayers that are eventually answered. I am talking about prayers that you may pray on a daily basis, that become almost rote…these are prayers that are sometimes answered in the unseen world, ways in which we never visibly see the hand of God.

Think of some of the prayers you may pray on a daily basis. “Bless his/her day,” “Give him/her a good day,” “Protect so-and-so.” These are some of the prayers that we may pray and never give much thought to. As a mom, praying for protection is a daily one…it is one of those prayers that you don’t expect to see anything specific result of it. You just expect your child to be safe and secure. It is these types of prayers that we can easily take for granted. I think I had done just that and God was going to show me how much He really does hear my prayers and answers them.

It will be very hard to forget this day…Thursday, January 29th. As I do every morning, I had prayed for my children. I prayed specifically for God to protect them. It is just one of those prayers that I pray every day without a whole lot of thought to it. We ended up running behind schedule that morning. One of my children was taking longer than necessary to get out the door and I was getting quite frustrated. I was harping on her and telling her how she was going to make me late for work.

We finally got into the car to go and I was feeling mad. I hate running behind schedule and feeling rushed. I had to drop my two younger children off at a friend’s house, take my friend’s oldest son and my oldest son to school and then get to work. I did it make it to work in time but still…it was a rushed, stressful morning.

Just before 8 am I receive a phone call from my husband. He tells me that our son Daniel’s high school is in lockdown, something about a stabbing. I immediately feel overcome with fear and panic. Instinctively I want to run to my son, to make sure he is okay. I try my best to keep listening to my husband, when all I really want to do is hang up and drive to the school. When our conversation ends, I begin making phone calls—to my son, to friends who have children that attend there—there are phone calls coming in regarding the situation and phone calls going out. It’s confusing and maddening. I am trying to make sense of it all. Since I work in South Milwaukee, the district this happened in, even at my preschool there is knowledge of what has happened….word travels fast! I am having a difficult time feeling at peace because I don’t know 100% that my son is okay. I know he is not the victim in the stabbing but a continued sense of dread overwhelms me.

At one point I get word that he is locked in a classroom with his friend, whose family we are good friends with (I am thankful for technology at times like this—and the wonder of texting). I feel better but still, that lingering sense of dread is over me. Suddenly the thought comes to my mind, “Please don’t let it be a friend of Daniel’s.” It seems a somewhat strange thought as he attends a huge high school and the chances are pretty small that it would be a friend, let alone even an acquaintance. A few minutes later I get a text from my son…he wants to come home and then I read the words, “My friend was stabbed.” My stomach dropped. Suddenly my worst fear (after knowing my own son was okay) is realized. I begin to cry, wanting nothing more than to be there with my son, imagining how scared and sad he must feel.

I only work five minutes away but it felt like it was taking forever to get to him. It was like a scene out of a movie as I drove into the school parking lot, the whole place surrounded by police, television news crews and a helicopter flying overhead. There were kids milling all over. Parents were backed up in a line at the office, trying to get their children out of school.

Thankfully it didn’t take long before I was able to get him. His face broke my heart. He looked so scared. As we walked out of the building, I asked him who it was and he said, “Mark.” At the sound of his name, my heart broke. Daniel talks about Mark a lot. Daniel was new to the South Milwaukee district last year in 8th grade and Mark was one of the first friends he made. I knew they hung out together before school started, during lunch and had a couple of classes together. He was in shock, unable to understand who had done it and why. But as he talked, and as I would later hear the news cast, I was able to piece together that in the midst of this tragic situation, God was in control.

The incident happened sometime between 7 am and 7:15 am in a pod area, at some tables just a few feet from my son’s locker. His friend Mark was sitting at a table, the same table Daniel sits at every morning. Only this morning, we were running a little late. Daniel should have been there when the incident happened. God knew we needed to get there late—so despite my frustration in the morning about the kids dragging their feet, God was in control.

Mark was talking to another student, a junior, who apparently my son knows from spending time in the morning with. According to the news story, for no apparent reason, the junior, who was the stabber, suddenly took out an 8 inch kitchen knife and stabbed him in the back. He dropped the knife and fled, but was later apprehended at his house. Mark managed to stand up and make it a short distance down the hallway, collapsing eventually.

The whole situation was shocking. Daniel kept expressing how the boy who stabbed Mark was friends with him, so it made no sense. It worked out that Daniel’s cousin was off school the next day, Friday, so we ended up driving him to my sister’s house Thursday night so he could spend a couple of days there. He said he wasn’t ready to return to school on Friday. My husband and I both felt that Daniel needed some time to get through this and it would help to take his mind off things if he was with his cousin.

Thursday night and into all of Friday, I would record every news cast, on every station, trying to piece together the why of what happened and how Daniel’s friend was. There were so many different stories going around. I didn’t know what to believe or think. At one point on Friday, I decided to give it a shot and leave a message with Mark’s parents at their house. I knew the situation was still under investigation and that they had so much going on, they would probably not return the phone call but wanted to at least let them know our family was thinking of them.

By Friday night all I knew was that he had possibly been pierced in the kidney and that the boy who stabbed him was getting charged with 2nd degree recklessly endangering safety with a weapon, with up to possibly 15 years in prison. The whole situation was weighing heavily on my heart. I couldn’t help but wonder if Daniel had been there any earlier, could he have been a victim? I hate to admit it, but I almost hoped to hear that Mark had been specifically targeted, that there was some specific reason to make sense of it all. By all accounts, the boy who stabbed Mark was a good kid who got good grades. Daniel described him as being very nice. It just didn’t make any sense at all.

Saturday morning I was in prayer, praying intensely for the situation. I was praying for Mark and his healing, his family, along with praying for the family of the boy who stabbed him. I cannot imagine being the parent in either one of these families. I literally just finish praying and my cell phone rings. It was Mark’s mom. Inside I was rejoicing—God had answered my prayers! She went on to explain how she was picking and choosing which calls to answer, trying to avoid the media. I don’t want to get into a lot of detail here, as this is still an ongoing investigation and she did feel comfortable enough to carry on a lengthy conversation with me, but all I can say is again: NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF PRAYER!

Apparently, the boy who stabbed Mark says that a dark veil came over him and he snapped. Obviously he intended on stabbing someone, as he chose to bring this knife to school—the only question that was remaining was who he would stab. In his words, he “snapped.” It became quite clear to me that if we had not been running behind that morning, my son may very well have been a victim. There are other boys who also gather at this table in the morning before school who also were not there—God was in control! In fact, this very afternoon I was able to take Daniel over to Mark’s house to spend some time with him and Mark shared with me how the boy who stabbed him was making him uncomfortable, talking about religion and sin. The boy then said, “I am about to commit a sin,” pulled out the knife and Mark tried to get away, which is when he was stabbed in the back.

Why it had to be Mark, I don’t know. All I can do is trust that God is going to use this situation. A door has been opened with Mark’s family. It has spoken to me how God is truly answering my prayers, even those that I don’t put much thought into. I also believe it is going to speak into my son’s heart, how REAL God truly is. I have been talking to him about the Lord’s hand of protection and how that can never be taken for granted and how God can use Daniel in Mark’s life. I see so many possibilities with this situation. I don’t know what is going to come in the days ahead, what God will do, but I do believe that He has something much bigger in store than I could even imagine.

I am happy to report that considering the damage done to Mark, he is physically doing well. His mom expressed concern about his emotions, as this was his friend who did it—a friend who was suddenly overcome by evil. The world of darkness is out there ladies. It wants to encroach upon the lives of our children, so our prayers for protection can never be underestimated! I have always known that I can trust God for my family. I home schooled Daniel for half of his school years, kindergarten through 4th grade. When we decided to put Daniel into school in the 5th grade, we did so according to the Lord’s will. Everything we do with our children, we pray about and seek the Lord’s direction. Yes, Daniel has had to deal with a very scary and tragic situation. But I see God’s hand in this and how it can all be turned around for good. God knew that Daniel could be a potential victim in this situation—He made sure we ran late that morning so he wasn’t. But I also believe that God knows what can be done through Daniel’s life to reach a friend who doesn’t know the Lord. I know Daniel is where he is for a reason—that helps me to feel okay about taking him back to school Monday. Will it be easy? Not necessarily. I admit it will be a little difficult dropping him off Monday morning—now seeing all the more clearly how you never know what life will bring you. At the same time, I know that everything is filtered through the hands of God. I also know that it will probably be difficult for Daniel. You don’t expect to go to school and experience a stabbing. You expect to be safe. It is going to be hard to be there and to have Mark absent from their morning get together, their lunch table and the seat empty in the classes they have together. It will probably be even more difficult to see the area where it happened. If God can protect his very life, I can trust that God will see him through the emotions of all of this.

I have so much more faith, so much more confidence in the power of prayer. I hope that this testimony will encourage you. This may not be my usual style of sharing “Mom Moments” but this is clearly a moment in my life that cannot be kept from others—God’s goodness must be shared and the word He has for me He also has for you-- NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF PRAYER!