Faith · Perspective

Faith

Faith: Part 2 – Fatigue, Faith and a Flaming Yam

Growth is hard.

In my previous installment “Fatigue,” I wrote about how much fatigue slowed me down this summer. It basically ground the month of August to a halt in terms of activity for me. During this time period, I was also struggling with my faith. Not actually doubting that there is a God – I see and feel so many actual points of proof for His existence – but rather feeling alone.

Yesterday, I taught children’s church. This takes place during our normal Sunday service for 30 minutes and is open to kids ages 2-up. In a completely disorganized fashion, I hadn’t planned anything as of 9:50am. Church starts at 10am. As I dashed into the bathroom to apply mascara, I saw my children’s rubber bath tub spout cover. It’s a whale. On the way out the door, I grabbed a flashlight, the whale spout cover (story props), and my Bible.

action animal beach diving
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You guessed it. I taught a lesson about Jonah and the whale. The story is found in the book of Jonah in the Old Testament. Basically, Jonah knows what he should do. He’s been told what to do. He just doesn’t want to do it and heads the other way on a boat. God stirs up a huge tempest. Jonah admits he is disobeying God. The crew of the boat asks God for forgiveness for throwing Jonah over and then launches him off the side. The storm calms. The crew has a new-found faith in God. (He uses ALL things for His good.) Jonah is swallowed by a huge fish and survives IN THE DARKNESS and with PRAISE for three days and three nights before being deposited on the shore.

There’s a lot to take from this portion of the passage. This entry won’t touch a fraction of it.

Jonah and I have quite a bit in common here.

Growth is hard.

In August, I attended a women’s faith conference: “Boost! Bloom Where You Are Planted.” I donated an entrance fee essentially to cry the whole day. Tears streamed down my face during the fantastic speakers. Tears hit the floor during guided prayer. Tears salted my cheeks during the praise songs. It was a complete TURNING POINT.

I’d spent the summer keeping myself so busy that I was that ship headed in the opposite direction. I was blown about, cargo being thrown overboard to keep afloat, ignoring those peaceful words that I could only hear when I’d slow down: Be Still.

This seems to be a recurring message for me. I get all wound up with the happenings surrounding me and shirk my devotions, praises, and generally start disliking everything around me. My fuse gets short. Patience lacks. I want to be alone. My cup is empty.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here’s where the growth happened- light bulb moment: I’m not supposed to fill my cup. The Holy Spirit does that… unless I’m too busy holding my hand over the top of the cup.

I took my hand off the top of the cup. How? By being still. I am a volunteer by nature. I WANT to help. Saying “No” doesn’t come easy. Truthfully, it usually comes with a *sigh* and a couple of drafts of thoughtfully composed words before I can hit send on the email or text. There’s guilt in the those two little letters: N-O.

By stepping back from some activities, I can honestly say we’ve found joy, patience, and peace again at our house. I’m back to reading my devotions most mornings. The waters have started to calm.

Sometimes God isn’t asking you to do more, He is telling you to do less. He is asking you to re-focus like a good, loving, and caring Father does.

Back to Jonah – His story isn’t over after the boat ride and the fish. He made both good choices and bad after that. Although I’m hopeful I’ll only make good decisions, I’m human. Gloriously human. Thank goodness for grace and mercy!

Family · Perspective

Work.

For anyone new to this blog, a little background information. My husband and I own a small business with a couple of employees in rural America. We work together full-time in the office. Our job descriptions are complementary but separate. Technically, it’s his signature on the “President” line.

Today he walked over to my desk and picked up an invoice from one of our distributors that I had a question about. He starts in on “from now on…” about this invoice.

What he’s forgetting is that approximately a month ago, I asked him this exact question about the timing of this invoice. I was annoyed….

Because I like to keep things light and as positive as I can, here is how the rest of that conversation went in .gif fashion.

Me:
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Me:
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Him:
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People often wonder how we can work together full-time, live together, love each other, and still LIKE each other the majority of the time. It’s work. Marriage is work. Work is work. Respect and trust is work.

Both of us have had to eat our humble pie and accept that we are wrong sometimes. It happens.

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Eat the pie. Move on. Live life.

Happy Monday!

Love · Perspective · Uncategorized

Question of the Day – No. 81

What is one decision that changed your life?

**To respect myself enough to not be controlled by others.

I did that once in high school. It bordered on emotional and verbal abuse… honestly, it jumped the line… I wasn’t allowed to hang out with my female friends. I wasn’t allowed to have male friends. I was isolated, chastised and degraded. I was disrespectfully treated as an object.

When that relationship ended (thank goodness high school doesn’t last forever!) and I rose thru the fog I’d been living in, I remember telling myself I would never date someone who didn’t let me have friends, talk to other people, or live outside his control. My sisters and best friend from high school still can’t say his name without cursing. It’s been almost 20 years.

What I learned from that experience is too much to fit in a blog entry or even a series of entries. I also prefer most of the details to remain anonymous. I don’t need to relive that. My biggest takeaway though is this:

To forgive myself for my choices, I had to forgive too. To move past despising that section of my life, I had to let my hard feelings go. 

Pointless Overthinking

What decision you made changed your entire life?

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Faith · Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Tempo

Life here is slowly returning to a more normal pace. Lentando.

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Photo by Pixabay

The kids and I fell asleep on our couch last night. We read Llama Llama Red Pajama. That Llama sounds an awful lot like my 6yr old.

We prayed together. Each of us took turns praising for something we are thankful for and praying for someone who might be sick, sad, hungry or mad. May our eyes be opened and our hands ready to humbly serve those around us.

I woke an hour later and carried my children to their beds. I’m still able to lug my 75 pounder, but I’m not sure how much longer. I’ve got him by about 60 pounds and 12 inches. He’ll outgrow me in the coming 5 years.

Two hours later my husband walked in, finally home from a work trip. Sleepily I told him how nice it was to have him home. I don’t communicate exceptionally well at midnight.

Today will bring about the hustle and bustle of shuttling between swim lessons, basketball camp, a trip to the dentist and work responsibilities. Even this isn’t consistent with our lives 6 weeks ago, but we are getting closer.

Our cadence is slowing from affrettando. Too vigorous. Too chaotic. Like that flurry in the middle of a song, we are over the peak of summer.

We are falling into a new, more comfortable rhythm.

Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

He Grew

So many things to write, but before I squeeze in my run between devotions this morning and rousing kids for eye appointments…

He grew. My little boy isn’t so little anymore. He turned 8 this spring.

Last night we attended my niece’s softball game. As I sat in my lawn chair, my “little” boy climbed on my lap. All solid, long 75lbs of him. I couldn’t see over him. My forearms and legs from the knees down were all my family could see of me.

He grew. I swear it was just a short while ago he was snuggling all the way up and fitting against my chest.

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He grew.

My goodness that went fast! It’s as if he changes every single day. He still has the heart to climb up on my lap, but how much longer until he won’t fit?

My heart aches a bit. It’s beautiful and bittersweet to observe and be a parent. My, oh my, how fast they grow!

I need to go run my emotions out now. He won’t understand why I’m  teary-eyed at his eye exam.

Much love today — Jen

Faith · Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

What I’m Celebrating on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day 2018.

Many moms out there were being showered with lavish gifts. Quite a few, I imagine, received no recognition at all for the day. Others were somewhere in between.

I was an ‘in-between-er’ at the low end of the spectrum. No gifts, but they did make construction paper cards. It was another day where my kids bickered, my extremely tired 5yr old melted down and crashed for 3hrs (when is school done?!), and at one point I threatened to get out of the car and let my husband proceed with the kids to our destination without me.

So yeah, basically just another day of motherhood.

Isn’t that what the day is about though? Are we supposed to be put on a pedestal on Mother’s Day or should we move our focus to the little things that are to be appreciated?

I’m not one to worship my children. They aren’t always correct. They aren’t always even pleasant to be around. And yes, I’ve told them to leave me alone or  not talk.

However, I am thankful for these little people in my tribe. I love them unconditionally- always and everywhere. I learn new things about them and myself in abundance when we are together. At times, they swell my heart with gladness. While at others, they throw me into the pit and leave me questioning what I did to make this little monster.

At church, our pastor recognized the mothers and made that the focus of his message. He spoke of   the need to lift up and support all the moms- the young and old, married, single, widowed, biological, adoptive and foster, those who have lost, and the grandmothers raising their grandchildren.

It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. It’s effective in the little things- offering childcare for any length of time, helping load or unload bags of groceries, passing her your $10 when she’s checking out at the store, welcoming a family with children instead of frowning at their noise.

The church needs to acknowledge the shift of stay-at-home to working mothers. It’s a change that has been decades in the making. The faith community needs to embrace these weary, hard working women.

He spoke about Hagar in Genesis. She didn’t willingly become a mother. Mothers who weren’t excited to become moms need to be cared for. They are treading water. Don’t let them go under.

When Abraham (man) gave her limited water and sent her away, God (the Creator) showed her a well. Think on that comparison for a moment…

He specifically recognized all of us who have locked ourselves in a room and cried- overwhelmed by life and questioning if we are making the right choices.

Motherhood has deepened my faith exponentially. All the trials, tribulations, meltdowns and months years without solid sleep have given me a glimpse of what love without strings looks like. Love that can’t be earned. Love that just IS.

That love is what I’m celebrating on Mother’s Day.

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Family · Perspective · Uncategorized

Tornado

Last night was fairly eventful for our ‘neck of the woods.’

Tornado Footage

We knew it likely would be. While the spring has so far been quiet, the bulls-eye for severe weather was directly on us yesterday.

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The clouds fired up, as predicted, around 3pm. We scurried to get vehicles and lawn items put away and outdoor projects wrapped up. The bus dropped the kids off as the clouds began to darken.

We sporadically checked the weather radar to see where the most severe parts of the coming storm were located. What trajectory did the strongest part of the clouds have? Is it necessary to go to the basement?

To the north, there were 80mph winds and large hail.

To the south, wall clouds, tornadoes, heavy rain and hail.

Our wheat fields down by my parent’s house had enough hail to change the ground from green to white. An already delayed harvest due to the drought and cold was just stripped by hail…

Fortunately at our home, we had only a brief few minutes of pea-sized hail and a couple of inches of much needed rain. For as rough as the night was around us, our end result was positive due to the drought-ending moisture. 

My children observed all the weather with their faces glued to the south windows wearing only their pajamas and underwear. Obviously we weren’t too worked up about the direction the tornadic parts were moving. It was all at least 15 minutes- as the crow flies- from where we live. My 8yr old and I broke up the weather excitement by trading readings from Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends.

I wouldn’t say that I have a fear of severe storms anymore. As a child, I’d hyperventilate when we had to go to the cellar in the middle of the night. Now. Meh. I’ve seen tornadoes in person. They’ve been close. Mercifully and miraculously, most tornadoes on track to hit us have pulled back up into the clouds. Churning and twisting above us, we’ve never lost more than the chimney cap and some trees.

I have respect for Mother Nature and her fury.

When we are in the direct path, we take the proper precautions and hit the basement cement shelter, fully dressed, with a flashlight until the all clear is given. We don’t stand outside and watch when it’s go time. That’s just plain ridiculous. Homes were hit and destroyed, but I’m relieved to say that there were no injuries or fatalities due to these storms last night. Likely because they were ridden out in storm shelters and basements like they should be. (I’m looking at you crazy storm chaser tourist people! Yes, it’s a real thing.)

As for that, as a trained weather spotter was giving their news report from the safety of their vehicle, we watched a couple of stupid silly people standing out next to a road sign taking pictures of the storm. Not in their car. Not in a building. Out in the open. Basically wearing a sign that says “Strike me dead. I’m the tallest thing out here.” Take it from a person who’s lived in Tornado Alley her whole life: that’s a great way to get hit by lightning.

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One thing is for certain. We have broken the seal on severe weather season for 2018. Game on.