End of Year Lessons

 

There once was a teacher. Handing a small stone to his student he asked “Is this stone heavy?”

“No the boy replied.”

The teacher smiled and then said “Now boy hold it out at arms length until I tell you to do otherwise.” 

Within minutes the boy understood the lesson. 

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The Teacher

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I hate the five o’clock hour. I call it meltdown hour in my house because everyone loses their pea-pickin’ minds. We’ve eaten some sort of food every night for, at least, the last nine and a half years. Still I have not developed a good family dinner routine. Tonight was no different. Complete and total chaos.

Like any decent housewife I tried to turn the chaos into a fight with my husband.  Looking out over the wreckage that was the dinner table I laid out my concerns regarding our evening eating habits. “You can keep those expectations if you want but it means trying to pull six other people up to them and five of those  people are still very small.”

This may or may not have come on the heels of my oldest tearfully confiding, “Mom, sometimes I just feel like nothing I do is good enough.” (I had just given him a death glare) Ouch! Message received. Well, message received now… Now that I’m in mommy timeout and not ready to throw an entire pan of taco meat at someone.

Ugh! I know this! Unrealistic expectations kill relationships. That is bad. Don’t do it. But it’s hard to let go of expectation. And it’s even harder to keep letting go. It’s not enough to do it once. I have to do it again, and again, and again.

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I have dreams. And since middle of the road really isn’t compatible with my personality type most of them are big verging on grandiose. In my defense, God is a big God, the universe is a big place and there are opportunities everywhere you look. So why not? Why not dream big? Some of my dreams I’ve been carrying for decades now. Others for years. Some of them are clearly given words I’ve received. Others are stubborn hopes that I maintain.

But the dreams have had to lie dormant. It is not the season for them yet. And sometimes it starts to feel like it never will be. Like I’m being duped my a mirage that’s ever on the horizon. Maybe I just made it all up anyway. Maybe I should just let it go. Then faith rises up. No! There are some things you know in your gut. Some things you can taste. So I dust off my dreams and recommit myself to the work that has to be done in the meantime. I pray and I hold on.

But doubt is a persistent suitor and the challenge isn’t holding on. It’s holding on again, and again, and again.

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Dreams for Another Season

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This hasn’t been my favorite year. There have been some good things but there has been a lot of conflict. And a lot of wrong responses to conflict. Which inevitably means a lot of pain. Some of it I’ve caused and some of it I haven’t. Some of it was avoidable and some of it was not. At the end of the day it all hurt. Really hurt. And to get unhurt means going to the Healer.

The only problem is to come to the Healer is to come to His cross. It means being willing to trade the pride of pain for the humility of healing. To be still when my heart is raging. To listen when I want to speak. To choose understanding over justification. To forgive when I’d rather forsake.

It is one thing to surrender your soul once. But victory is found in embracing that cross again and again and again. 

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There is a strength of soul; a fortitude of spirit, which is not formed in surpassing one great trial. But rather in enduring the the small ones for a very long time.

 

 

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No Gift To Bring

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Tis The Season

I don’t think in all my life I’ve ever been so tired I passed out mid-conversation while I still had guests. I can no longer say that. The ladies were talking and the men were playing and then… there was no one but the baby I was nursing (sorry friends I love you dearly).

I know Christmas isn’t for one more day but in my house we’ve been celebrating for nearly a week. Family and friends have poured through the door, bread has been broken and gifts exchanged. It’s been great. I love feeding people and I love giving gifts. It feels good.

But what about when I don’t have something to give. 

What if someone walks in with a gigantic box because your hand-me-down microwave hasn’t worked right since you got it and they saved up their monthly allowance to replace it. Or what if a fixed-income auntie stops by on her birthday because the LORD told her to buy your children personalized books that were not in your Christmas budget.

Or what if your friends drive in from out of state to spend the day with you and you’re so tired you fall asleep. But only after unwrapping the very thoughtful gift they brought. Oh! And the gift your other out of state friend sent with them.

Ah! I love gifts but this hurts. Receiving is hard!

 

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The First Gift of Christmas

 

Getting is not hard. Our flesh demands, stomps, storms, steals. We are ever in a civil war of self-preservation and our flesh man has no trouble at all demanding it’s own. But that’s not receiving. When someone offers a gift; a gift without expectation, a gift that touches the heart, a gift you can’t truly reciprocate… That is a much different thing. That takes humility and humility always stings just a little.

Sometimes, Christmas is lavish. Sometimes we’re surrounded by friends and family and there’s money to spare. Sometimes it’s not so lavish- we are grieving, or sick, or lonely. And sometimes we are just stressed because we burnt the sugar cookies and ruined the “moment”. In whatever situation I found this Christmas Eve reminder relevant..

This God thing isn’t a gift exchange. It’s not a white elephant, or a Secret Santa or anything of the like. It is the One, who should not be giving, giving all to the one who can never repay. Who can not reciprocate. Who can only receive…
And rejoice in the goodness of the Giver.

Deepest blessings to each of you and a very, very, Merry, Christmas.
(An on topic excuse for amazing Christmas music)

 

 

 

So Much Less Profound

So I found myself in the corner of a coffee shop and I wanted to just curl up into the fetal position and melt into the wall.

What’s wrong? Nothing. Absolutely Nothing. 

Sometimes when you are running to win, you run so hard you throw up. It’s true. I mean, let’s be honest, I’ve never run that hard. I usually try to avoid running all together but I’ve seen people do it. They push themselves and sometimes that’s a little hard on the body.

This week Facebook did me the favor of reminding me what was going on that day four years ago. It was a picture of my oldest son holding my newborn daughter. She was just a few days old and I had to laugh because I’ve had two more babies since then and the youngest is already seven months old! That’s a lot of babies.

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A Lot Of Babies

Raising multiple children under the age of four is the equivalent of running till you puke.

I mean seriously. It’s chaos. I get poop on me somewhere every single day. I don’t even flinch anymore. My Christmas tree is lopsided and despite being in my house for five days only has lights on it. The good news is I manically collect ornaments for a new Christmas theme every year so I have four plastic totes stacked up in my living room. You know because with five kids we have a lot of extra living room space.

I can’t even tell you what I do most days. I know it involves cheese sticks and Legos and a seriously unhealthy level of coffee. Oh and prayer! I pray a LOT! I’m not religious  just desperate. I need His perspective to navigate the day. So I have to stop and pray. Sometimes I hear Him… sometimes the toddler drops a jar of applesauce and I’m pretty sure I know what the next thing is we need to do that day.

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Truth Be Told

Isaiah 40:11 He gently leads those that are nursing.

Of all the things He put in His book! So often I spend my days straining at the oars and wondering why I’m spent by 10:00 a.m. It’s not the season for that. It’s a season to sit in the boat, nurse my young and let Him blow in the sail. And not feel bad for it!  It’s not just acknowledging that I have needs (sleep, showers, adult conversation) and lowering expectations (a clean house, matching socks, the ability to complete a sentence). It’s saying no to the guilt! It’s accepting that I’m on the last leg of a four year baby mania marathon and it’s okay that I am at the end of myself.

Instead of wondering why I can’t do more I’m going to celebrate that I’m giving this all I’ve got. Doing this well doesn’t mean it all has to get done, all the time. And doing it in God’s strength doesn’t mean that we don’t get angry, or frustrated or bored. It means that we keep going in spite of that. We reaffirm the value in it. And we have a safe place to hide when we need a break from it. So I’m going to be okay with curling up in the corner of the coffee shop and melting into the wall.

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A Sense of Humor

If you’re a young mom- a new mom- an experienced mom who decided to have a another round of babies please be kind to yourself. Accept that He’s probably being more gentle with you than you are with yourself. Keep track of your dreams, and your desires but plant them in the right season. It doesn’t all have to happen today when there’s a child on your lap… or in the high chair… or running around naked after the cat.

And if you find you have never been or are no longer in this crazy stage of running till you puke… please find someone who is and give them coffee. They could probably use a cup of coffee.