The days

The thought of my husband working from home every day was good! No long drives into the office. I was excited that two hours of the day wouldn’t be spent on the road but could be spent with us. We frantically thought we’d clean his basement office so he could function well there. But, we soon found he preferred to be at the kitchen table in the middle of the happenings each day. It seemed he liked being in the middle of the food spot too. “What are you making? I’ll take a little. That looks good, I’ll try some.” I started feeling a little cramped working without freedom in my kitchen

At the end of the day, I didn’t have lots to share with him, because he’d been there all day. The excitement to climb in bed and unload all the cares of the day and all the time I miss him when he’s at work is clouded by the fact that he’s experiencing my day with me everyday.

After the first couple weeks of working from home, he was laid off. He was no longer bound by endless online meetings, conference calls and webinars. We dove right in and started our projects together. We laid a floor in our bedroom and painted the walls. We started drywalling a bedroom for one of the kids in the basement and fixing areas of the kitchen to ready them for new countertops and tile backsplash. I worked at sorting paperwork and endless “under the bed storage kind of junk”. Our garbage man got out of his truck and threw his hands up in despair because each week our piles have been so big. I want to feel bad for him, but I enjoyed the progress we were making.

It seems though in the last week, something was changing. I was starting to spend more time washing dishes and making meals and resenting it. I wasn’t hungry. Meal after meal, and no one really helping, and I’m not even hungry. It feels like all we do is eat. It’s not. But it feels like it. The kids seem to have slipped quietly off to their rooms more and zooming with friends makes their day. They ask every two hours, “what’s for lunch? What are we having to eat?“. How can anyone be hungry again so soon?

They ask each night, as they used to, so what are we doing tomorrow? And every night I tell them, the same thing we did today. Homework, cleaning, going outside if it’s nice. And they look at me with the same disappointment of nothing on the horizon. My second youngest said “I hate corona!”

They miss real interaction with friends. They miss being on the run. So much of what we always do, we do for others. And our lack of purpose is so strangely redefining our motivation. Everyone says focus on ourselves during this time. Focus on our family. But we are still a little lost, because we’ve spent a lifetime saying focus on others and the adrenaline of rushing out to provide a meal for someone or to help them fix something or just plain being needed is gone.

As a mom, I struggle with all that we have done in the past and all we do now and all we aren’t doing now. Which was right? Which is good? And why does it all feel so weird. Shouldn’t I love us all being together? Shouldn’t I love the extra homeschool time with no pressure to go anywhere or do anything? Shouldn’t I love sharing my whole day with my husband? Shouldn’t I enjoy my teens being stuck here with me instead of always wanting to be somewhere else? Shouldn’t cooking and cleaning like a regular stay at home mom be rewarding? Why, when there is so little to do, am I so weary and tired?

Perhaps there’s only so much down time a person can handle. Perhaps we weren’t made for it. Maybe we were made to work! But then, He says “Be still!” Which is it? Why am I not comfortable with either? I prefer the work…but in the middle of it, why do I complain? Yet in the rest, I am bored and weary.

I am anxious for life to be normal again…but should I be? Am I just antsy because someone told me I’m forbidden from doing things? How much time now is spent thinking and is that what has me uncomfortable in my own skin for the moment? For pity sake, I binge watched an entire season of something. I don’t even usually watch TV! And then I hate myself for that lack of motivation to have spent eight hours watching TV. (I did that while the kids were asleep…lest anyone think they were neglected!

Where does it end? Where does the second guessing and self-questioning end? When I was just “doing” it was easier than self-examining all day long.

Life may never be “normal” again, and am I ok with that? How will I find peace in any normal presented to me? As I came to a wall this week, I had to pull back and be reminded…it’s not about me, or even my family. The aligning of myself or finding my place in all this will not bring me a peace or a normal that even matters. And while I still have to feed the crew all the time, I can stop asking myself silly little questions while I’m doing it. It’s a much bigger picture than my AB-normal would have me think.

The questions I need to ask at the end of the day should be different than the ones I’m asking myself now. Instead of saying was our life before right? Or is it right currently?…Maybe I should be finding peace no matter what way life is. Maybe the question should be “are you at peace?”

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

Peace is hard for me, I’m such a thinker. And I’m not even sure I know the difference between His kind of peace and my kind of peace or how I meld mine into his. I’m truly not troubled or afraid, but my ever-analyzing heart and mind are not at peace. I’m always looking for the next way to make a difference. To matter. To make my life matter…that I forget about the peace part. “Not peace as the world gives me.” What on earth does that kind of peace look like?

Well, if I look to scripture, Jesus’ peace looks like sleeping in the middle of a storm. (Mark 4). Can I sleep in a storm? Probably not. In a storm I’m not fearful. I’m usually busy. I’m Martha in Luke 10. We live in an area of town with regularly intense storms. So when the weather shows one coming in, I’m battening down the hatches outdoors and filling water jugs indoors because we are so prone to power outages. I’m prepping. Not out of fear of the storm, in fact I enjoy watching storms. But out of preparedness for my family. I normally find peace in knowing I’m ready for it. That probably is the world’s kind of peace, thinking I’m prepared.

Jesus was ready for the storm right? He knew it was coming. But he didn’t prep anything. He was already sleeping when the storm came up. His peace was different than knowing everyone and thing was ready for a storm.

Well you say His peace was from knowing he would die later, not then. Uhmmm…what kind of peace would that be?

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

The kind of peace we need will guard our hearts. That’s not a peace that I can make happen. So what guards our hearts? I immediately think of the breastplate of righteous. The breastplate of righteous will protect our hearts from attack. And unlike many other areas of protection, when your heart or lungs are not protected in battle, it can cause instant death. Without protection in righteousness, we don’t die a long slow death, it kills a part of what is right and good immediately. How do we protect our hearts with righteousness?

“How blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times!” Psalm 106:3

We protect it by practicing righteousness. We must do what is right and good in the eyes of God to protect our heart. With a guarded heart, we can have the peace of God.

I don’t know about you but these days I need the peace of God. Because my kind of preparedness kind of peace is only good for bit. What I need is God’s kind of peace that is good for a lifetime. Quarantined, normal or new normal, peace and righteousness will truly carry me through these momma days that are unlike those I’ve had before. Peace will bring me hope and rest. Peace, only the kind God offers, is not limited. No one package per customer! It is abundant!

So take heart momma. Life is weird right now. But peace is available! Guard your heart with righteousness! And drink it in. God is good!

The dentist

Lexi: Mom, what day did the dentist schedule me to get my teeth pulled?

Me: May 4th, It’s a month away.

Lexie: Well that’s not gonna work. I’m busy that day.

Me: What do you have going on that day?

Lexie: I have homework all day. You know that.

Me: We can take off enough time to go to the dentist. It’ll only be in the morning.

Lexie: I can’t do morning that day.

Me: Why not?

Lexie: I have to wash my underwear that morning.

🤣🤣🤣🤣

Second Chances

People give other people second chances all the time. They argue, they make up. They betray each other, they forgive. They make bad decisions, they rectify the situation. They aren’t loving sometimes, they love again. They say things they don’t mean, and they apologize and try to do better. Why, when people are so fallible is it easy to give someone another chance?

And yet, when it comes to the creator of the universe, people struggle to let God have a restored place in their life. Without knowing the big picture in life they may feel He let them down because something bad happened. They may feel hurt or betrayed by their circumstances. Or maybe they just feel forgotten. And yet every morning when they wake up and take a breath and see the light in the sky, they still find it hard to believe again that God wants a restored relationship with them. But truth is, He, more than any fallible person, wants the restored relationship. So much so, that He offers grace, in advance, of every poor choice, every harsh word, every second of doubt. I would trust the creator of the universe far more than any mere human with my heart! Maybe He is who you need to give another chance to. Maybe someone you know is…

Recently I was contacted by a friend from middle and high school who asked for forgiveness from something done 30+ years ago. I didn’t even remember the offense. She so sweetly sought me out not knowing what my response would be. That’s how easy it is to restore a relationship with God himself. You only need to get in touch again on a personal level!

Praying today for people who need to restore the most important relationship of all.

Hope Springs

As I started the bi-annual slew of dental appointments for the family, it was a treat to step out in the beginning of March in Michigan and feel near 50 degree temps. Most people think of March as the beginning of spring, but here in the great north we are not fooled into thinking the snow and cold are done. Hope usually gives way quickly to the next freezing cold day or ice storm. Grey days still loom and dirty snow still sits in piles on the curbs. Our own road, high in elevation, remains ice and snow covered, an instant reminder that winter still has its grip on the frozen earth even though the air temperature might intermittently suggest otherwise.

This winter, in particular, has been surprisingly mild. So while we wait for the other shoe to drop, it’s nice not to need to bundle up from head to toe to stay warm. How is it though that each year, time and time again, no matter how long winter holds on, even to the end of April, every warm up brings renewed hope that the cold death grip of winter is over? We know better. We understand it’s not likely to end soon. And yet, year after year, hope springs forth with each slight rise on the thermometer or a single ray of sunshine.

What inside of us causes us to hope amid renewed disappointment? I recall hearing awful yet truthful stories of prisoners of war or holocaust survivors who continue to hope after months or years of captivity. Such dire circumstances and still hope springs eternal. Wives whose marriages are in trouble, who have been dealt blow after blow of betrayal, and still they love and hope. Parents, whose child has grown astray from all that is right and good and is racing toward a path of destruction, stay up and pray and hope for a miracle change in direction. Where does hope come from?

I’ll always believe God instilled hope inside the human soul at the time he blew that first breath of life into a pile of dust and called us human. Hope is God-willed and meant to be eternal. He assures is in I Corinthians 13:13 that hope is meant to remain forever! After giving us an entire chapter on love, and telling us in verse 7 that love requires Hope always, he reminds us what is truly important and what is eternal. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Hope is necessary to the completion of journey!

I’ve always been given to hope. It’s just a bit of who I am. It doesn’t come easy among disappointments though. But like every ray of sun just before the spring, grab on to it and hold tight! When eternity meets you, and you are looking at the face of Jesus, you’ll know that hope was meant to be for a lifetime, not just a moment.

Toxicity

How do you handle toxic people? If someone has to tear you down, or deceive you, or betray you to make themselves feel better, they don’t have your best interest at heart. In fact, your heart probably doesn’t matter to them at all. Some relationships are just toxic and it’s best to know when to let those relationships be the one’s where the love of Jesus shines in you simply by having boundaries and not allowing yourself to engage with them. Reminding ourselves that we can’t change peoples hearts, only God can, relieves us of the need to fix everyone. Pray daily for them and that their hearts become soft to the truth that a true friend will love you at all times.

In our study last night, I was reminded, when someone tears you down, ask yourself truth questions. If someone says something negative about you, ask yourself who told you that? And is it who God says you are?

Does that mean everything a good friend tells us is always positive and encouraging? No, sometimes a friend has to plumb you up a little and hold you accountable. But it will NEVER be in contrast with who God says you are. You are loved, you are capable, you were worth Him dying for, you are Redeemed and blameless through his grace and mercy. God personally knit you together and nothing about you is a surprise to Him. He empowers you with His spirit to guide you and shore you up with strength when you struggle. His armor protects you and YOU ARE LOVED! Don’t ever trade that truth of who you are in Christ for the truth of who someone else claims you are.

The Page Number

A while back we decided to install a second showerhead in our master bathroom. With so many kids who need showers in the morning, we really needed to make the best use of our hot water on high output mornings. Sunday mornings are usually one of those mornings where everyone wants a shower. By putting two showerheads in our shower, my hubby and I both get done in the same amount of time in the same amount of water. It’s a large space, so it was very accommodating. And now that everyone over 10 has figured out that a 20 minute shower feels great, it seems like there’s less hot water available all the time! Last Saturday we both jumped into the shower at the same time, and I thought this is a great time for us to chat just with each other. And so I looked up at my husband and in the sweetest most serious way I could, I said “honey, This year, I would love it if we are on the same page together all year long.” I felt like I was truly have a introspective moment with the man I love. He looked back at me and he said, “it’s kind of boring if we stay on the same page all year, can’t we move ahead together in the book?” Well I kind of stomped my feet a little bit because I really thought I was having a moment here, I wasn’t being funny even though he always is. However, I realized he’s actually very right. I don’t ever want to stay stagnant together, I really want to move forward together to whatever God has next for us.

Later in the day I said to him why don’t we take the kids to the movies? We never really take them to do spontaneous fun things. He was in the middle of a big job on the car, and he looked at me with kind of a grumble and gave me a shrug. I chalked it up to it’s probably not going to happen today. About an hour went by and he came in the house and he walked up to me and hugged me and said “why don’t you get the kids together to leave for the movies.” Without questioning, I gathered the kids together, we quick jumped in the car and we made it just before the movie started. As soon as everybody was settled in their seats with their popcorn and their drinks and the movie started he leaned over and whispered in my ear “same page.” I almost cried realizing he had actually heard my heart and how much that meant to me.

The next morning when I got up and got rolling for the day, I was running behind. I thought I’d listen to the video for my Bible Study while I was in the shower and put the scripture on audio while I was driving. As soon as I got in the shower I heard God saying “me first.” And I realized he was speaking to me the same way I was speaking to my husband. He was longingly asking me to stop, be late, and be with him. He wanted me to be on the same page as Him from the start that morning. And the only way I could look at him later in the day and respond “same page” was if I would stop what I was doing and get on it now.

That sweet husband/wife relationship that I’ve enjoyed for 32 years is a great reminder of the necessity of continually being on the same page as my creator as well! It’s good to evaluate, near the end of the day and be able to say “same page”!

Get Behind Me Chaos

It’s a super busy time for me, as with most people, around Christmas. I just had five days of non-stop, fills-the-whole-day kind of events coming on the heels of a major event that takes me weeks to prepare. My 80+ year old mom had been getting kind of frantic that I’d been unable to help her much during that time to be ready for Christmas. I hated putting her off, but knew that shortly I’d have a moment to help her shop and get everything under control. Monday I set out early with my lists in hand so I could combine hers and mine. When I got to her home, I grabbed a cup of coffee, (always a pot on there) and she took me downstairs to see what she had. Her gifts were neatly organized by person, family and age. There was really nothing more to get.

Just two months ago she was diagnosed with diabetes. She had been sounding more frantic than her worrisome self is normally, and things just weren’t adding up. At first I thought anxiety was getting the best of her, but one day there, I decided to take her to the ER and get a couple things checked that were not right. Her right arm wasn’t coordinating and she was trying to stay on task, but just couldn’t. My mom is a pretty tough little lady who has been through quite a bit. Married to a man who left when I was three and my sister was six months old, he went on to be married six times. He left her in another state he had just moved her to, with no money and no transportation in a house he said he bought with their money, but had only rented. She survived a non-cancerous grapefruit-sized tumor in her head that took her hearing on one side and some of her facial muscles. Two years later a bout of meningitis almost killed her, but she bounced back from that as well. So she’s not without some strength and wear. She seized control of her life and made things happen with grit and hard work.

The trip to the ER showed out of control diabetes and she became insulin dependent on the spot. Slowly as her sugar became controlled, she has become once again, the organized woman we know. So to see her little piles of gifts all lined up and her dinner menu in order was a great sign. But with the diabetes incident fresh, she still felt frantic and unorganized. She couldn’t see that she herself can be confident in her abilities.

I noticed something similar in myself leading up to the big event I was preparing for. A couple weeks of feeling out of control and wondering if I could do it all would occasionally catch me off guard. I began making lists everywhere anytime a detail popped into my head. I’d sit down here and there and think “you’ve got it covered”. But as I got busy again, the chaos would wrankle away my confidence and I would worry a bit.

I can see how hard the devil works to make that happen. Being busy and physically tired in the process of accomplishing something is a great time for him to insert a feeling of chaos. In fact, I’m betting some may even quit in the middle of a God calling because the chaos and exhaustion of it all causes us to feel worn and out-of-control. I know I have wanted to quit many times when I was on a big project. These last few weeks have reminded me, there was no confusion or chaos, I only “felt” like there was. I was on a solid path. It’s a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other kind of path that is daunting when we look around us and become distracted by the many different situations happening at once. That is what the devil wants.

I’d like to offer a method to keep that feeling of confusion, the kind that makes you want to retreat and quit, at bay. First, keep your eyes on God only and the task at hand. In Luke 9, Jesus gives the disciples orders on moving forward and telling the world about him. He tasked them to not worry about those around them, to go and get ‘er done. After much teaching, one of the disciples says he needs to run back to say goodbye to his family. And while this is also a reminder that we sometimes sacrifice and need to follow Gods calling immediately, it’s also a reminder to me, that looking back, looking away from the job we are on, clouds our issues and changes our focus. Focus on the task at hand and the creator of your calling. Do not be clouded by what is around you.

Second, when you are feeling overwhelmed and confused and out of control, remember that is not from God. That is the devils attempt to thwart you from your mission. In 2 Timothy 1:7 the Bible clearly states “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” The way I learned it in the King James Version: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” That alone should embolden us for the ride. When confusion mounts, it’s time to sit back down and order your task, and your goal. Chaos is of the devil. It doesn’t necessarily mean we abandon the task, we abandon the chaos and use the good mind God have us to get our plans in order.

I have so much yet to do before Christmas. It can be overwhelming. But each day I make a new list, and am crossing it off as I go in order to stay on task. The sound mind God gave us will help to keep us on track if we keep our eyes ahead on the both the creator and the plans he has for us.