On the Days When Your Patience is Wrecked

everyday mundane

“It’s hotter than a microwave out there!” my seven-year-old exclaims as he runs back into the house. Despite my frustration, I can’t help but laugh. Where does he get his flare for the dramatic?

I put away dishes and my mind races to find something for my boys to do. Little brother sees Jay and wrestles him to the ground. After gasping for breath and stumbling off the floor, my oldest chases him through the house until little one crashes on the floor, screaming.

I wonder how it’s possible neither one of them has a concussion. I wonder why it’s so difficult to keep them from killing each other on these endless summer days.

“How about we put some more water in the kiddie pool?” I say, trying to muster some enthusiasm. I remember the previous day when my youngest bit through his tongue after falling off the side of the pool.

My nerves are so thin they’re transparent. When my toddler requests his 100th snack for the day I feel like spreading out the remains of our fridge on the floor and telling him to help himself.

Why is this so hard? How can these little pieces of me that bring me so much joy one moment send me clamoring for a piece of sanity the next?

In my silent pleas to God, I think he must be losing his patience with his overtired mama. I ask him for peace. I ask him for strength.

Yes, I ask him for patience too. And please don’t tell me asking for patience is asking for a trial to test my patience. I’ll keep on asking for it anyway.

In the middle of all my pleading and venting to a God I’m sure is chuckling at some of my kids’ antics, he gives me a hug. And it’s wrapped in the tiny package of my oldest son.

“I’ll never say ‘no’ to a hug,” my big boy says with a smile. He wraps himself around me tight and I can feel the tension in my body release.

In the middle my meltdowns and nerves over my kids, God often wrecks me with their grace.

They don’t hold it back. It flows out of them as naturally as water from a riverbed.

I see myself as the exhausted mama who can’t hold it together but to them I’m superwoman, dispensing an endless smorgasbord of snacks and kissing countless boo-boos.

God reaches down in the middle of all my ordinary, lingering summer days and says, “I’m here. Don’t give up. Don’t quit.”

Some of God’s greatest miracles are not in the thunder and the noise, but in the everyday mundane.

When we recognize those moments and allow them to linger just a little more, we catch glimpses of his glory. And as take it in, his glory reflects in us with new radiance.

 

*Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday. Come join us and be inspired.

5 Questions to Help You Conquer Mom Guilt Once and For All

mom guilt

“You do not have to clean like your mother.”

I held the wrapper before me and burst into laughter. As I savored the Dove chocolate and reflected on the promise inside, I realized how true it was. We do not have to be anyone other than ourselves, and yet so often our self-talk tells us we’re not enough.

We tell ourselves if we were better moms, our kids wouldn’t bicker over petty things. A whisper says if we managed our time better, we would stay on top of the endless pile of laundry.

Maybe my perfectionist nature makes me more prone to those feelings than most, but the longer I mother, the more I see that I’m not alone.

The mom guilt needs to stop.

The next time you want to enjoy a movie with your girlfriends or break the spine of a new book, the guilt may lie to you and keep you from enjoying it. And when it does, remember to ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is this coming from God? One sure way to test and approve whether something is of God is to look into scripture. The Holy Spirit may convict you, but he will never condemn you. If you’re feeling like you’re worthless or as though you can never get it together, those thoughts are not of God. You are his chosen child, and he loves you more than you can imagine.
  2. Am I harming my kids? Whether it be spiritually, emotionally, or physically, ask yourself if what you’re doing is endangering your kids in any way. I have met women who feel guilty for taking a night to themselves, but they are not harming their kids in any way by doing so. In fact, our kids are better off when they see that their parents lead balanced, healthy lives and know that they’re not the center of the universe.
  3. Is this helping my well-being? Women who nourish their own lives make better moms, period. It took me a long time to realize it, but when I take time for myself, I mother more effectively. When I am burnt out, tired, and depleted of any mental stimulation, my fuse becomes short. I yell more often, say things I regret, and apologize more than any mom should.
  4. What am I afraid of? Often, guilt is also mixed with fear. We are afraid of letting down those we love. We desperately want to please them and falsely believe that the slightest misstep will backfire into something ugly. Most of the time, these thoughts couldn’t be further from the truth. When we are loved, our family and friends want the very best for us and see past our faults to the person within.
  5. Do I see my kids as separate from myself? Sometimes every negative behavior we see from our kids elicits feelings of shame or guilt. We believe we are somehow responsible, and if we were better moms our kids would not be acting this way. Thinking this way is not only completely unrealistic, but detrimental to our emotional health. Our kids are separate human beings who will make their own decisions, which are sometimes good and other times bad. Correct the behavior and move forward.

Friend, if you’re struggling with mom shame or guilt today can I come alongside of you and tell you you’re not alone? And now, can we pledge to do something about it?

Jesus never intended us to carry the burden of constant guilt on our shoulders. He came to set us free. He came that we may have life to the full.

Let’s embrace the blessings we’ve been given and live in the victory that’s already ours.

 

*Linking up with Kelly Balarie and FriendsHolly Barrett, and Holley Gerth to encourage and be encouraged. Come join us.

From Shame to Rebirth {Renewal Through Christ Series}

renewal series

Today we are starting a new series here on the blog: From Glory to Glory: Renewal Through Christ. With spring finally in the air, I am anxious to discuss the renewal that is continuously taking place when we belong to Him. We will be talking about five different areas where we experience this: in ourselves, in our strength, in dreams and passions, in hope and in Spirit. I hope you will enjoy the next two weeks as I introduce you to some of my favorite writers who will be diving into these topics with us.

I will be kicking things off with a post about the area of rebirth which essential to all of the others: the rebirth of self.

From Shame to Rebirth

When your child tells you he’s having difficulty breathing, panic immediately sets in.

Your mind calculates the miles to the nearest hospital. You visualize where the epi-pen is and estimate how quickly you can administer it.

Every sound your child makes sends you further down a trail of endless “what ifs.”

My son has food allergies. Three nights ago, he had a reaction to something we are still trying to identify. And the conjecture and guessing about what caused the episode are killing me.

As a mother and a recovering perfectionist, I defined my maternal roles a long time ago. The way I perceive it, one of my primary responsibilities is to protect my child. When I think that I’ve failed in doing so, I feel shame.

I’m taken back to the days following our release from the hospital. To the days when it seemed as though the crying would never stop.

I am not a woman who instantly felt that maternal instinct after my first child was born. For me, the process was slow, like breaking muscle. It was painful and tedious during the first months.

And because it didn’t feel right, shame was my constant companion. I reasoned that I’d made a mistake in my decision to become a mom. I thought perhaps my son would be better off with someone else.

It’s a dark place, isn’t it? Shame can take what should be some of the most joyful moments in our lives and turn them into something dreadful and ugly.

When we live in shame, we witness accidents which are completely beyond our ability to control, but believe that we are somehow responsible. We step outside of God’s grace, into the unknown, and are crushed when even our best efforts don’t seem to measure up.

We forget that if God intended us to be perfect, his death on the cross wouldn’t have been necessary. We forget that when we are in Christ, we are a new creation, free from the law of sin and death.

shame

Shame says that Christ’s perfect and complete death on the cross isn’t enough.

Jesus said, “It is finished.” Shame says, “Try harder.”

Do you know where trying harder takes you? Into an endless cycle of self-doubt, indecisiveness, and sleepless nights. It takes you further away from the loving embrace of a God who gave up everything to call you his own.

As I sat in the ER with my son that night following his allergic reaction, do you know what the doctor said to my husband and me?

“You two are very competent parents. Not everyone would have reacted as quickly as you did.”

He saw what I didn’t. He knew that things happen which are beyond our ability to control.

Like so many of the moms who helped me navigate the first years of my son’s life, that doctor helped me realize perfection was not only an impossible standard, but a burdensome one. It’s weight was bringing me to a place God never intended me to be.

If you have made Jesus Christ Lord of your life, you are a new creation. The old is gone; the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

You don’t have to keep running on the endless treadmill of striving for perfection. You don’t have to live in the continuous valley of shame when you realize that ideal is impossible.

For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Romans 10:11 ESV

All you have to do is accept the free gift that’s been given to you. When we live in his love, it permeates and radiates out through us. Instead of being caught in the slavery of legalism, we are governed by the beauty of grace.

Step off the treadmill and into grace today. Put on the victor’s clothes that have been waiting for you all along.

 

*Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday, Susan B. Mead’s #DanceWithJesus Linkup, and Barbie Swihart’s Weekend Brew. Come join us and be inspired.

When You Withhold Grace

extend grace

They turn on each other in a New York minute. One second they’re playing nicely together, sharing toys, and laughing. The next I hear screams of “Mama!” as my six-year-old chases his younger sibling through the room.

Part of me wants to just close the door and lock them in there. But I figure I should at least see if both kids are still alive.

After I kneel down on the floor and get the scoop on what happened, I tell both boys to apologize. I am struck by how quickly they forgive each other. There are no grudges held over what happened or didn’t happen. They simply return to their toys and pick up where they left off.

Later, as we’re winding down for the evening and saying the evening prayers with the boys, it hits me. I see the example of grace God is giving me through my children. He is always teaching me through these little vessels who stretch me in more ways than I can count.

While my kids freely extend grace, I often withhold it. Isn’t it interesting how the older we get, the more fiercely we hold onto something that Christ freely gave?

We act as though we are wiser and try to be anything but vulnerable. We protect our hearts from anything which threatens to wound or cause pain.

Often, we throw around the phrase, “You’re acting like a child” as an insult, but didn’t Jesus say for us to have the faith of a child? Didn’t he command us to let all the little children come to him, and not hinder them?

If we are honest, there are a lot of things we could learn from our children.

And if I take an honest look at my life, the times when I’ve withheld grace are too numerous for me to count. I see friends and family members freely forgive and reconcile with someone who hurt them, and I wonder how they could be so naive. I speculate about how long it will be until further damage is done.

I see my God extend grace upon grace to those I love, but often I would rather see him deliver judgment. After all, doesn’t judgment bring repentance?

As I open the pages of my Bible, I’m struck with the truth of his word,

“So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” Romans 2:3-4 NIV (emphasis mine)

The fact is, friends, that God’s grace illuminates my sin. And my sin makes me uncomfortable.

It is much easier to put a microscope on the faults of others than to put a mirror to my own.

However, in doing so, not only am I causing God to withhold grace, but I am ensuring his judgment. And the judgment will not be on the one I’m pointing my finger toward.

It will be against me. I am desperately aware of my need for forgiveness, and of the number of times I fall short every day.

There is only one person who belongs in the judgment seat, friends, and trust me, it is not a responsibility that you or I want. That task belongs to Jesus Christ alone.

When I extend grace, God’s favor is extended to me.

Let’s hand over the gavel to the One who can handle the weight that comes with it.

Let’s replace it with the grace that was given so freely to us.

 

*Linking up with Kelly Balarie & FriendsHolly BarrettMeredith Bernard, and Jennifer Dukes Lee to encourage and be encouraged. Come join us.