They lose control, I lose control too.
"Get control of yourself," I holler.
"You've been complaining all days long!"
I've been complaining about your complaining.
I have lost peace,
I have lost joy,
They can't find it either.
"Go to your rooms."
Mom, you are the heart,
I am the heart,
We are the heartbeat of our homes.
The heart pump, pumping.
Nutrients through the body:
The body of the home.
When you are off,
They are off,
He is off,
The family is off.
It doesn't always start with you or me,
But it must get back to right-
"More TV, Screen-time, Snacks..."
We're tired, so we cave,
to what they crave,
But what they need is You.
You... can end this downward spin,
You... can end this downward fall,
Reverse the slowing circulation
With a renewed Pump Pump Pump.
So pull away,
dive back in,
pick up the last scripture you read
Before the sun came up this morning.
Where were you,
Before they woke up?
Take your heart back there
Drop the rope
You play tug of war with
And pick back up the Word.
Drop the rope and pick it up!
The Word is life and peace.
The rope is death and war.
Drop death and pick up life
Right there in the heart of your home.
The imagery of the Tug of War rope in parenting is vivid. Some days there are battles for control, battles for power, battles because they are tired and we are tired, and battles simply because we've grown so accustomed to the fight. But an amazing thing happens when we drop our side of the rope.
The fight falls down, falls out, falls over. There's no one else to fight with, push and pull and flex your muscles against. And the giving in to peace, at the end of a battle, often brings tears. Yours, theirs, mine; as the heart begins to Pump Pump Pump life-giving, love-giving nutrients through your body again.
Drop the rope.
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. (Psalm 34:14)
One of my children has been going through a real challenging time lately. But that's his story, and not my own, so I am learning to not share details. Yet I am keenly aware, as I relinquish the story of his life to him, that these early chapters are producing in him faith, endurance, and maturity.
Consider it pure joy, my brethren,
when you encounter various trials,
For you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And may perseverance have it's perfect result,
That you may be perfect and complete,
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial
Because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life
That the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:2-4, & 12
It's taken me 30 years of grappling to learn this lesson, but already I see The Refiner producing beautiful things in my boy's life with fire.
It is true, God uses the hard to turn our hearts to Him. The trials, tests and the tribulation are lovingly balanced in the same Holy hand that generously disperses blessings and unmerited grace. It is from the hand of a loving God, a kind and caring Father, that anointed trials come to us. Not by accident.
I had the immeasurable pleasure of speaking to a dynamic Women's group yesterday, sharing much of my own journey to understanding these truths... that God is kind, sovereign, purposeful and good, even in the darkest of trials. Today, as I honor my son by keeping his own journey private, I recognize that God is kind, and sovereign, and purposeful, and good, even in the darkest of my boy's trials as well. How marvelous. How wonderful. How confident I can be in the plans that God has for him!
"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord,
"Plans to prosper you, not to harm you,
Plans to give you hope and a future."
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally
finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6
I've heard other mothers of young children say, "I pray that God will spare my children suffering. I want them to have very boring testimonies." Personally, I don't pray that anymore. Suffering is the way to the cross. Suffering and trials are the refining tools of maturity. And I want that (maturity) for us all!
Hearts that cling to Him, are cultivated in lives that are painfully aware of how desperately we need Him. Theologically, we all can agree we need Him for salvation, but the life that clings, that passionately holds on and abides with tenacity, is developed via "various trials". Yes, the life that tucks in and stays close to the Light... has come fleeing the darkest of nights.
I don't know how the "tone" of this post is transmitting, though I hope you sense my faith, trust, and even joy. I trust God with my sons.
For (you) are His workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand
so that (you will) walk in them.
I am honored God gave all three of my sons to me, to nurture and admonish, ever pointing us all to Jesus along the way. As for my story, I've had to trust God more than ever before, and that's produced in me perseverance. Amazing to me, the same author is telling a similar story in the lives of my sons.
"Do you trust Me?"
"Yes", was my answer. And I did and I do. I trust the Lord with my 8 year old son, Brody, as he makes his way from my homeschooling side into a traditional classroom five days a week. But getting to that trusting place was a journey, one you may have sojourned with me here. I was happy to share the journey because I wanted to testify to the One who is so worthy of our trust. And as I shared, my heart filled with praise as I recounted the work God did in my heart. "Yes, I trusted Him with my Brody."
Then, in the middle of the very next night, I woke with a start. My heart was constrained within my breast. The room was dark and my mind was consumed with fear... fear over my first born son. Caleb had gone to bed that night with tears. He relaxed as I stroked his bare back, confiding as he calmed. He wept and said, "I can't get my writing done in class. I just can't focus in class to write. I just can't! I'm behind in my autobiography, and now we're starting our history research paper, and then I'll be writing my biography on Davy Crocket. In class! All of them in class."
And now I lay in bed, hours after he finally succumbed to sleep, thinking, "what can I do to help him? What should I have done? His writing was so good when we home schooled. He had a quiet room, with drapes we would close specifically for times when he would write. I didn't label it ADHD at the time, because I've never been able to read a paragraph or write a cohesive thought if there was any noise around me. Even classical music for heaven's sake! So I got it, and I gave him an environment where he could thrive.
But now, in a classroom with 24 bodies, complete with movement and noise enticing his focus away, he feels lost. And so I gave into tears and fears of my own, lost as to how I might help him.
Then, somewhere around 3:30 that morning the familiar voice came again. "Do you trust me?" "Of course!" I cried, "remember yesterday? I trusted you completely with Brody, even when it's hard..."
The dialogue trailed off. "with Brody, even when it's hard..."
You've got to be kidding me! Not him too!!! I've got to trust God with Caleb too? Even when it's hard? Oh no, especially when it's hard. It doesn't take faith to trust God when it's smooth sailing. Faith is for the fiercest gail. And in that storm, on the weak boat of your own understanding, at night's darkest hour, faith takes sight of a Savior, walking across the water.
Yes, absolutely, Caleb too.
The next morning I awoke Caleb the same way I had sent him to sleep, with the gentle stroke of a mother's hand on a child's back. When he stirred and wiped the sleep from his eyes, I spoke these words.
"Caleb, I've been talking to God about your school work. And I want you to know what sort of conversation the Lord and I had about you, okay?"
"Okay," he said with his raspy morning voice.
"Caleb, I trust that God made you absolutely perfect the way you are. There isn't a mistake in your whole body. God doesn't make mistakes. The bible tells us that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and I believe it! So that means God made you with this difficulty focusing in class. And so I am just going to choose to trust Him when things are tough. Can you do that with me?" He nodded. "You have got to give every school day your absolute best. And when you bomb, and you sometimes will, you are going to do the same project over at home in your room, on the weekend. This is not punishment. It is our way of partnering with your teacher to make sure you're picking up what she's putting down. Get what I'm saying?" He nodded again.
As I type this new testimony, I know I should expect some issue with my youngest in the days ahead. Therefore, right here, right now I'm going to choose to surrender him too. Choosing to Trust God with Asher's life as well.
These last days have been eye opening for me. I didn't know how weak my faith was, but I am thankful that God used these present trials to grow me.
The boys have been learning James 1:2-4 at school this week; three verses I committed to memory when I was their age.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds; because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Of all the verses I hid in my heart as a child, these are the ones I have admitted most freely to not understanding. Until this week. I see now why we are to be joyful in affliction. Without the difficulties of life we would never be forced to trust Him, never need to persevere in faith, and therefore we would never mature and be complete in Christ. Yes, I am joyful today. Puffy eyed after a sleepless night, but joyful.
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
I sign off today with another pictorial tribute: This one goes out to Caleb's new teacher, and his new school, where the maturing process is underway, in the classroom, on the lacrosse field, during lunch, in chapel...
Sprouts Farmers Market, right here in North San Diego County. In the meat department. And there was Paul, behind the counter, serving up fresh fish, beef, and fowl.
It had been a tough day for me. A tough couple of days. A tough month or couple of months... the tough all sort of bled together. I would have worn my big, dark Jackie Kennedy sunglasses if I could have seen inside the store. But I didn't, and so my puffy eyes were laid bare. Exposed.
Over the scallops and tilapia Paul asked, "What can I get you?"
"Salmon. A nice pink one, please. Just enough for two adults, maybe a little more since I'm trying to convince my children they are eventually going to like fish too." He laughed. I smiled.
"How you doing today?" The question came casually, as it was small talk. I realized then that he hadn't looked at me - not really, for he would have seen my having-just-cried, red-rimmed eyes. And in that moment, the one where you think "Am I supposed to say 'fine, and you?' I decided to honestly answer his question.
"It's been a hard day..."
Paul looked up from the scale, as he finished wrapping up a smidgen over a pound of Salmon in brown butchers paper. He saw me then, and I smiled and said, "It's just another chance to trust God more."
That's what I said. "...just another chance to trust God more."
Paul nodded, looked down at the floor, and then back up to hand me the fish. "I needed to hear that today. That's every day, isn't it? That's what every hard day is for... Why God allows 'em, don't you think?" It was my turn to nod.
Now here I am, looking at the quick link on the right-hand side of this blog page, seeing the one that says "The Hard Days." Knowing that's the link that has the most posts listed under it. Also knowing that the blog posts listed there are the ones most people send me emails about. The hard days. Their hard days. And the encouragement they received as I tell my stories and show them how I'm forced to turn my face entirely to God when it's hard, and commit to trust Him more.
I don't feel the need to share what was so hard that day, though I think that I will eventually... but the reason for the hard isn't nearly as important as the fruit of the hard. What happens to us, what becomes of us, where we go and what our lives produce, having been tried, is the main thing. It is the thing that remains.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
The work is not done, I will continue to know trials of many kinds until my last day this side of Glory. But I see clearly today, the conclusion that Paul and I both arrived at in the cool air of the meat department that afternoon: "That's what every hard day is for... Why God allows 'em..."
The sleepless nights? Turn to Him. The hard-to-communicate-to-the-one-you-vowed-to-love-forever days? Turn to Him. The moments where you've lost your sense of what you were made for? Turn to Him. The long stretches of joylessness? Turn to Him. The "I don't know why I'm crying" hormonal swings postpartum? Turn to Him. The days you wanted to love, but couldn't muster it? Turn to Him. The nights you felt to weak to serve your newborn? Turn to Him.
Turn to Him... Turn to Him. And praise Him for the blessed opportunity to see your need for a Savior today. A rescuer. A champion. A faithful friend. Yes, Consider it pure joy... you get to see Him come in His strength when we are weak. Let the hard days, the turning to Him days, pick you up and carry you to maturity and completeness. Not lacking anything.
Turn to Him, Paul. Turn to Him, Kelli. Turn to Him, Candy Turn to Him, Flora. Turn to Him, Allyson. Turn to Him, Sherri. Turn to Him, Patti. Turn to Him, all you who are weary and heavy laden. Turn to Him with your burdens, in your trials, in your puking from chemo frailties, in your incompleteness... And Praise Him for another chance, another hard day, another red-eyed-recognition of His Great Love for you. Turn to Him with me...
It's been a long day... week... month... start of the school year... five years. Truly. Going to three boys (five years ago) sent me for a loop, a loop that's still left me whirling.
There's this thing now that feels like anger. Before I had children I don't remember ever being truly angry. O, wait, there was the once when I was about 7, and my brother told me to "shut-up". I got so angry I swatted at him like an uncoordinated schoolgirl, hitting him awkwardly in the mouth, and ripping open the flesh on my finger against his new braces. Then he laughed at me and I got even angrier. Other than that I only recall feeling sad when I was wronged. Never angry. Then I had children. But even now, as I write this, I'm not even sure I'm angry. When I look back to the top of this paragraph I see the phrase "feels like anger". It's more like frustration stacked upon weariness stacked on dry bones, stacked upon all those expectations. You know the ones, that child-rearing was simply easel painting and cookie making with sweet tuck-in's at the end of each laughter infused day. All those things stacked upon my mothering shoulders, and I'm done by three pm each day. My Long-Suffering, is short. My Patience, is not. My Love, is spent. My Joy, is simply a cousin who lives in Arizona.
I'm aware that my lack of quiet me time, not enough sleep, and inconsistent diet and exercise isn't helping, so I am trying to sanctify some quiet anchors to hold me down each day. To ground me, so that the storms of behavior, learning challenges, messes, brother-squabbles, and unmet expectations don't drag me to that "feels like anger" place.
Today I knew that there wasn't much time for me. 24 minutes was all I could squeeze in if I didn't take a shower. So I got on the elliptical machine in the garage, gave the boys a movie for their "P.E." (yeah, I know), and grabbed my Bible and my new book "Unglued," and hit it hard. After reading through my study and writing (in awkward chicken scratch — due to the funny lobbing up and down of the elliptacle), I finally broke into chapter one of "Unglued," by Lysa TerKeurst. Within the first two sentences I felt as though I had written the book. Me, but on the other side of the weariness, where hope lives.
I wanted to share with you my favorite line from today's (bumpy) reading. Already underlined by my sweet friend who is sharing this treasure of a book.
I thought of that stuff that "feels like anger," but is really so much more complicated. And I thought of the times I most assuredly respond in anger to my beloved boys, and I made this pledge: No More. But Lysa stopped me before I could start. She went on to say that women tend to want their transformation over night when they make a vow to change. But it doesn't. Miracle that it is. It's a process. One foot in front of the other, moment to moment process that she calls "Imperfect Progress." And so I am embarking on this, imperfect journey towards an increase fruit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NIV "Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NIV "And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power."
Isaiah 4-:31 NIV "But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
Romans 15:1, 2, 4-7 NIV "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God."
Accept your own shortcomings, friends; accept your lowly, weak, frame, and turn to the one who lifts and restores, redeems and resurrects to new life. And then walk in His strength into the lives of the weak darlings within your home, within your sphere of influence, within your reach, within your world.
Romans 15:13 NIV "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
It's been a couple if weeks since my last blog entry — ironically, my last post was focused on the generous encouragement I received from three lovely friends. For you see, I've been down lately. Too down to write through it. And this down hasn't been a recent falling, and scrapping of the knee. When I look over the last couple of years blogging here, I see many posts tagged away into a file called "The Hard Days." It's embarrassing how many of them there have been. But it's simply been hard.
You know my heart here at "LoveCovers..." is to point to Christ even in the hard: His power perfected in weakness, His redeeming love, His transforming ways. And I have. And I do. And I will. But one of my spiritual hiccups has been equating the hard troubles of life, in my case the lack of joy and peace, with something spiritually wrong with me. There are so many verses that I know, tucked away, ones that promise if I abide, then there will be this blessed fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. And so I tuck in deeper still, growing in my dependence and my faith that I am loved, and yet still... where is the joy?
A week ago I had some test results come back, three specific bullet points that shot to my core and made me cry ugly tears. 1) My adrenal test showed that my adrenal glands are shot; not producing enough cortesol for my body to deal with stress. 2) My Thyroid (Reverse T3) came back high — supporting that my body has not been able to deal with stress. And finally 3) when a homeopathic therapist tested me to find out which hormones are out of whack in little ole me, the result was shocking. He explained it to me in these simplistic terms, "When a woman is pregnant her normal hormones shift out, and a different medley fill her body as she grows the baby. After the baby is born, the normal hormones swing back into place. Or they should. During this time women can get 'the baby blues." When the healthy hormones don't balance out again we suffer from depression, post partum depression. You, my dear, haven't been very happy for about five years, have you?"
Only a week on some hormone therapies and natural adrenal support meds and I am slowly starting to feel something akin to happiness.
I may be over-sharing here, I try not to on this blog. But this at the core of all my thoughts these days.
I hope to be writing again soon. There are so many bright spots on difficult days. Today, for instance, my baby went off to kindergarten for his first class day. While we homeschool three days a week, this was a monumental big boy day! O, my heart!
But tonight I am not going to stay and encourage you with the lessons I am learning. Tonight I am going to take a hot bath after tucking my littles into bed. I'm going to spray some lavender on my pillow and relax into a good night's sleep. But if I had the time and the energy and the words, this is the post I would want to write.
Thank you, Ruth, over at...
I so much enjoyed seeing how Caleb has matured recently. I witnessed it in the “fire” of his fight with Brody last night. I am still not quite sure what caused the fight, but they starting throwing fists. Caleb took some blows before I could break it up, and I saw how Caleb restrained himself . . . even though he said, “I want to hit him really bad.” I know at that age, it is SO hard to use self control, but he did. He had great manners and just seems to have grown in being a gentleman.
And sweet Brody . . . I know he feels emotion very deeply, and I could tell he was feeling a lot anger after his fight with his brother (which made him cry that he wanted to go home)!. Once he settled down, I told him I was sad that he wasn’t having fun at our slumber party. He announced that it wasn’t a real slumber party since we hadn’t had a pillow fight . . . so I whacked him with a pillow! After a few minutes of pillow fighting fun, Brody got in bed and turned into mister chatterbox (so funny). Anyway, after coming to tell me (a few times) that he was having trouble sleeping, he said, “God made my with lots of problems.” Before I could object, he caught himself and said, “But he also made me with lots of good things.” I loved that, because I knew those were words of truth that his momma spoke to him, and he is hearing them and believing them. In the morning, he also said, “Miss Angie, I’m sorry that I cried about going home.” That is so mature to apologize for something (and the next day too). And remorse shows sensitivity to wanting to do what is right. I know you are diligently directing him in what is right.
And Asher . . . what can I say? I ADORE him. He has the sweetest little heart and is so articulate for his age. I think your youngest will really bless you.
Anyway, just wanted to give you some words of encouragement, because you looked so discouraged when we met up. And since you asked for advice, here it is: keep up the good work, stand firm, and don’t grow weary … you WILL reap a harvest!
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
I looked up Gregg Harris' 21 Family Rules, printed them up, and thought I'd pass them on to you down below. Because we need one another. We need a Tamara to walk with, an Angie to remind us of the fruit that is being produced in our midst, and an Ashley to inspire fresh ideas for tomorrow.
I can't be the only one who wanders into the valley some seasons, and so I share. Here's hoping you are blessed.
The 21 Rules Of This House
by Gregg Harris
1. We obey God.
2. We love, honor and pray for one another.
3. We tell the truth.
4. We consider one another's interests ahead of our own.
5. We speak quietly and respectfully with one another.
6. We do not hurt one another with unkind words or deeds.
7. When someone needs correction, we correct him in love.
8. When someone is sorry, we forgive him.
9. When someone is sad, we comfort him.
10. When someone is happy, we rejoice with him.
11. When we have something nice to share, we share it.
12. When we have work to do, we do it without complaining.
13. We take good care of everything that God has given us.
14. We do not create unnecessary work for others.
15. When we open something, we close it.
16. When we take something out, we put it away.
17. When we turn something on, we turn it off.
18. When we make a mess, we clean it up.
19. When we do not know what to do, we ask.
20. When we go out, we act just as if we were in this house.
21. When we disobey or forget any of the 21 Rules of This House, we accept
the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Today at the beach you dug a cavernous hole, then asked your friends to bury you in it. The only thing sticking out was your handsome face. Looking back I think how well your sandy tomb must compare to being the oldest child in our house full of strong-willed boys.
Absolutely fed up at times. Up to your neck! I get it.
And the toughest part of all must be when I zero in on you, and your behavior, and your heart. I know it is is usually your brothers who are touching your things, messing up your room, pushing your buttons, and causing you to explode. Once again, I get it. But I want you to get this, sweet heart; our home is the perfect, God ordained, training ground for the rest of your life. All the skills you need to deal with people as a Christian man will be cultivated right here in our home.
I tell you often, "Caleb, there is only one man you are in control of. That's you. You can't control your brothers, your friends, or your bed time (most of the time), but you must be able to control your own man." My boy, when you go to College you will likely have a roommate who interrupts you and plays music you don't like. Will you be able to control your temper and be kind to him? You will be, if you can learn it here at home. You may have a boss one day who talks down to you; will you be able to keep your head lifted high, knowing who you are in Christ? You get to learn that here at home as well. And one day when your lovely wife has a list of projects she needs your help on, and three little sons all vying for your attention and affection, you will need to know how to love them in the business of life. And you will! If you commit to learning to love here and now, in our home.
On the dry erase board that hangs by our breakfast table in the kitchen nook I have writen these words:
A new commandment I give you, Love One Another;
as I have loved you so you must Love One Another.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples,
if you Love One Another. (John 13:34-35)
I sang this verse in church during my growing up years, and it stuck in my brain and my heart. It is my hope that as I sing it and live it in your presence, that you too will be inspired and encouraged to love others. For Christ loved you first, my son. That truth, that reality, that knowledge is where it must flow from. But we practice it, the loving that is, here and now at home.
I said before, I know that it's hard. I get it. But I am praying for you and cheering you on as you practice love, practice this hard thing of loving despite the unlovely actions of your brothers, and even fumbles your father and I often make. We are just sinners saved by grace, my son. All of us. So let's practice love together, that the world will know we are His disciples.
So proud of you. I'm your greatest fan!