Saturday, June 27, 2009

Weak and Powerless

A couple of blogs ago, I revealed a meltdown moment I had. It was one of those, in-your-face, angry moments. Well this week I had another meltdown moment but this one was a little different. It was one of those crying, I-can’t-take-it-anymore kind of meltdown moments. It was after a night of 4 hours sleep…and not even 4 hours straight sleep because even that was broken up sleep. It was a combination of that lack of sleep, along with being emotionally worn down by the ups and downs of our foster care situation.

I just sat there and started to cry. I felt like I couldn’t take another whiny request from the almost 2 year old boy, or another protest of “NO!” in my face from the almost 3 year old girl. My whole summer “vacation” has been anything but that! In the midst of all this, I have been trying to do my work for an online class and working on my online writing job. There is also a lot of driving…getting my oldest to summer school four days a day, various days taking the little ones to daycare so they can go on their visits with mom…appointments to be fulfilled…it has all just been one huge challenge.

I finally said, “I can’t do it!” In my mind I declared that I was done. I was not going any further with this foster care situation; I was not going to see my life go down a road I never asked for. I wanted things back to the way they were.

I think I am not alone in this. My situation might be unique in that I have foster children involved but as moms we go through various seasons with our children. When they are very young, the biggest challenges seem to be lack of sleep, not getting out of the house, dealing with sickness, temper tantrums…you get the point. As they enter the elementary school years, it is homework, juggling all the after school activities, friends…so on. When they become preteens, hormones start to kick in. I know I don’t need to say anymore! Then the teen years arrive and well, let’s just say that’s a whole new set of challenges. I can only imagine that even when your children are out of the house, you have other issues—no longer are the children in your care—you are leaving them to figure things out on their own. I can imagine that must be difficult.

With the challenges of each season, it is easy to give in to those feelings of “I just can’t do it!” We get our meltdown moments when we cry and cry and feel completely unable. Well, God wants to meet us in those very trying moments. The next day, after a fairly good night of sleep, my perspective started to come back some. Then I read K-Love’s (Christian radio station) encouraging word for the day: He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless (Isaiah 40:29).

I knew that word was for me. Well, God’s Word is for everyone, however, we get those moments when He especially speaks to our heart. It pierced my heart. I felt weak and I definitely felt powerless…but He was there ready to do His thing—to empower and strengthen me. I had to let go of the situations…I had to let go of the stresses…the worries…the challenges…I knew I had nothing, absolutely nothing in me to do it. But He had all I needed.

What are you feeling weak about as a mom? Where are you feeling powerless? Have you had your meltdown moment? Don’t give in to that temptation to give up. A wise woman shared with me that it always feels like the worst strain right before the victory…it is darkest before the dawn. But…Psalm 30:5 gives us hope…Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
As a special bonus, when I started crying, my daughter was sitting next to me on the couch. I didn’t even state why I was crying, I just started crying. She didn’t need me to say why. She put her head on my shoulder and said, “Don’t worry…we will help you.” I felt like the love of God was working right through her. I think that’s why we need to make sure that we are not keeping these struggles inside. There are others around you who want to help you. Don’t keep these things to yourself. Allow God to work through others to help you, as well!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mom Moments

Life is full of lessons. They can be found in everyday life, if we would only be willing to see them. If we aren’t able to discover those lessons, life can easily become mundane. I can pretty confidently say that my life has not been boring or mundane! At the most, I might have a dull week but even that is very rare. Instead, I have found that along the way, God puts forth many lessons to be learned. Sometimes they are in the very simplest of things—taking care of a basic need for your child or they can be found in the very trials and troubles of life that can weigh you down.

Throughout the lessons we learn, as believers, we also recognize the need that we can’t make it through the lessons without a measure of faith. We are told in God’s Word that if we have faith as small as the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. I think that is very significant and worth really thinking about. Have you ever seen a mustard seed? I bought a container of them one time. I had been given a necklace that the children’s pastor’s wife had made for me and the focal point of the necklace was this tiny box that could hold a mustard seed.

When I opened the container of mustard seeds, it became very real to me, how very little faith we actually need in order to see God do big things. Sometimes I think we get it all mixed up. We think that in order for God to really move, we need to first muster up a huge amount of faith. But it really doesn’t require much which shows me that first of all, God really is gracious and second, if He can do that much with just a little bit of faith…I can only imagine what He can do when our faith is even bigger!

Faith has been central to our latest journey through the foster care system. I have heard many stories, from those who have been on the end of being in the system, to those who have become foster parents and even from a caseworker. It is a system filled with holes…but God is the hole-filler. He can do wonders and if my faith…small as a mustard seed…can see Him work miracles, then most certainly you can see the same thing in your life and in your situations.

One evening I was doing some journaling in a book called Streams in the Desert and this thought was put into my heart that I wish to share with you: Prayer is the means of sending a message but faith is the substance of the message. May your faith, small as it may be, see those mountains be moved!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lion and the Lamb

Things are calm…I am sitting out on my deck as the sun is beginning to set. It feels good to sit and relax. It has been a good day but it has also been a long week. At times I have felt much like Peter. Our guest preacher said it best this morning at church…that Peter was one of those people that said what others were afraid to say. Sometimes that got Peter into trouble. Believe me; I know what Peter feels like!

I have always been one that cannot hide how I feel. That can take some people aback. It probably has offended a few. There are others that seem to appreciate my genuineness. But sometimes I just feel like I need to be a voice. Lately I have been the voice for the foster children we are desperately trying to get. We were so close…supposed to have them in our guardianship this weekend. Then one phone call put a damper on everything. Never mind the fact that these children will be in a safe, loving, and nurturing home. Never mind that we have invested time, money and relationships with them. Never mind that these children know us and love us. Suddenly little details like square footage in a bedroom and what constitutes a bedroom are putting a halt on things.

It’s a broken system, I have heard it said. Not until our family became intertwined in it did we realize how very true that is. It’s a broken system with broken people…broken children and some of them just don’t have a voice. Well, I am willing to be that voice. You know, sometimes that is exactly what we need to be—a voice to those who don’t have one or who aren’t able to use theirs. We need to have that gentle spirit but we also need to have that passion for the right causes. Remember, Jesus was called a Lion and a Lamb.

I think most of us can safely say we have been both as a mom. We have been a lion when courage and toughness was required. Yet we have been a lamb when gentleness and softness were needed. I think we can also say that sometimes it is hard to know when to be which one. We can’t allow moments to lead us. We have to allow the Spirit to lead us.

Through all of this, I have found one incredibly amazing thing. I have been constantly in awe of my children and their love. They have loved and been willing to sacrifice. They have given up their space, time, and hearts to love on these children. We have been very open about everything—the story behind the children, what we are going through, what obstacles we need to overcome. I think this has been a great way to see their faith strengthened…to see them learn how to trust and lean on hard on the Lord. We have seen that there is no other choice.

My children have also seen that I am not willing to give up. I will not allow brokenness to take away. I will speak up and I will speak loudly if need be. I won’t be overbearing, tyrannical and insane—I will be passionate, confident and in control (of my emotions, hopefully!). It would be easy to back out. It would be easy to let the fight go. It would be easy to say, “Well I tried.” But I know that some battles require a bit more fight than usual. Jacob wrestled with an angel. It was a battle that took a long time. He didn’t give up. God does not call us to give up when we know what’s right.

Is there something you are fighting for? Maybe it’s for your marriage, the salvation of family or friends, a backslidden child, a dream you have yet to see fulfilled, or a career change…it could be anything. Is this maybe the time to put away the lamb and bring out the lion? Don’t let obstacles; don’t let trials and troubles hold you back. Don’t allow them to keep you from fighting the good fight. And remember…the battle is not yours! The battle belongs to the Lord!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Meltdown Moments

Meltdowns…ask any mom and she will tell you how familiar she is with them. Ask especially any mom of a 2 or 3 year old, and she can probably tell you about a very recent experience. You could even ask any mom of a teenager and she could give you a blow-by-blow description of one that has happened at some point.

However, ask any mom if she has had one lately—yes, a meltdown. I think sometimes as moms we are afraid to talk about those moments when…well, we just would rather pretend they never happened, that they don’t exist. Mom Moments is meant to be a real blog, a place of connection. I truly believe that you can’t connect if you can’t relate and I also believe that you can’t relate if you can’t be real.

So here I get to be real and yes, sometimes that requires being honest about things I would rather not be honest about. But if Mom Moments is going to be real, it is going to address those moments that are less than admirable.

Very recently I had a meltdown moment. It was one of those moments where you say things you should never say, you act in a way that is very unbecoming and well, you are basically just like a 2 year old having a tantrum. There is always an unfortunate target and it happened to be my 12 year old daughter. Although I tried to convince myself and her that she was the cause of my anger, the truth is that she was just an easy target.

After my little explosion—okay, it was a big explosion—I deposited her at her friend’s house (yeah, I’m sure she had a grand old time). I cried the whole way home. It was a combination of still feeling sorry for myself and also feeling like a big schmuck! I was also a little worried that she was going to tell her friend, who would tell her mom, who would probably unsubscribe to Mom Moments—smile. Yet as I finally got over it and got my senses together, I realized it was the perfect opportunity. My insanity, my failure could be used to encourage others.

You see…moms do have those moments! Sometimes I think we are convinced that we are the only moms in the world who…fill in the blank. We are so quick to beat ourselves up, so quick to pile on the guilt and feel like failures. We can be our own worst enemies! I think it takes longer to forgive ourselves than it does to feel God’s forgiveness. We may have a harder time letting go of our failures and imperfections and letting God do His work in us.

I had to really think about the reason I had exploded. I wanted to pin it on my daughter’s selfishness. That was an easy answer. But it wasn’t the answer. I felt like I really needed to dig down deep and discover the root of my anger. I think God was showing me it was a combination of things. You see, meltdowns for moms are usually the result of built up frustrations or resentments. They build and build and build until finally we cannot take another brick on our load and we unleash.

I am so thankful these moments are few and far between for me. But I still hate that they happen. The fact that I could say the things I said, act the way I act and then also drive when I am angry—I throw that in there because I realized later on how dangerous that probably was—shows me how very much I cannot do this on my own. I cannot be a mom without some heavenly help. Yet at the same time, we also need help in the flesh. We need to be able to share with someone our struggles, admit our faults and ask for that prayer support. As soon as I am done writing this blog, I will be emailing my best friend and freely sharing with her how much I messed up. But I will be doing it because I know she will listen, she will understand and she will say a prayer for me. She will not condemn me or judge me. She has been there herself, I’m sure! 

After we have experienced a meltdown moment, we do need to be sure that we ask forgiveness to the unfortunate target. It wasn’t until a few hours later, when I picked her up from her friend’s house that we were able to discuss what had happened. I didn’t make excuses for my behavior, but I did let her know that I had allowed the pressures of life to build up and then released them in the wrong way. The truth is that we need to do whatever we can to keep that pressure from building up. Instead of letting the little things go, we need to deal with them immediately. Catch for us the little foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom (Song of Solomon 2:15).

Think about some of the things that happen in life that build up: lack of sleep, stress, difficulties in relationships, communication breakdown, worries, and the list could go on. We may be dealing with one small thing at a time but over time, they can create a huge burden that we are not meant to carry. Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens (Psalm 68:19). Are you giving your burdens to Him on a daily basis? If not, you are carrying a weight that you were never meant to carry.

Of course, part of my discussion with my daughter included asking forgiveness. May we never be too prideful to ask for it! It doesn’t matter who the person is, how old they are, what role they play—we need to be willing to humble ourselves and admit when we have messed up. The harder part, however, may be forgiving ourselves. It is sometimes difficult to let go of something we have said or done. We keep replaying it in our mind. Two things could happen if we do that. One, we could end up becoming angry again by thinking about the original reason we were upset in the first place or two, we become weighed down by guilt. That will create a whole new set of problems. So we need to be able to forgive ourselves and move on.

Life can be rough. Things come at us from all different directions. It sometimes can feel like all we are doing is deflecting arrows. Don’t let the battles of life bring you to a meltdown moment. Remember the battle belongs to Him!