Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Heart Divided

Is it possible to be in love with two people at the same time?

This is often something I have wondered, especially with shows like the Bachelor on TV. I mean you see these men and women get to the end of the show and admit they love both the finalists equally. I never really knew if that was possible. You know, I thought, surely there is SOMETHING that makes one of them stand out above the other.... surely they could just look inside themselves and determine who they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with!

Then I fell in love with two things....

According to the Bible, we must "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength and with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27

So, my first love is God. I can honestly say that is not a struggle for me. God is greater than anything in my life, husband, kids, family, work, hobbies.... God is greater.

So I have 3 incredibly beautiful children who I am blessed by every day. If you want to know the meaning of unconditional love look into the faces of these 3 kids who love me even when I fail at mommy-hood. I mean I screw it up big sometimes, yet I still get kisses and hugs and just forgiveness. I know we are to look at God as a Father and we can compare His love and grace to a parents' love, but you know I think to get a glimpse of grace I can simply look at my children and how they love me through all my imperfections. So, I have this life I love, who wouldn't! I truly love every minute I spend with these 3incredible people God has put in my life as part of my journey.

Yet, I have another love. Something I love equally as much. I never thought I would say that about anything, but I love serving and giving of myself to others. And at the moment that "others" is defined as the people of Sri Lanka. It perhaps could be expanded but for now that is what it is. I am in love with these people and this place. There is a sense of freedom,  of feeling so completely at home, and so joyful working as part of the English Program we lead. I can honestly say, I feel as thought I am living out God's plan for my life when I am there.

So how do I endure this impossible idea of loving two things so completely? How do I love one without cheating on the other? I have yet to find a solution. When in Sri Lanka, it is as if I put my family in a neat little box and don't allow myself to spend too much time thinking about them, because when I do the thought of not being with them makes me incredibly sad.... but yet when I am with my family I have to do the same thing with my love for the people in Sri Lanka. I have to tuck one or the other into a neat little box and make sure I don't spend too much time thinking of either one.

Then I begin to think, this can't be God's plan. I mean why would he allow my heart to be so torn and broken. But then I realize I am not God (thank goodness, wouldn't the world be a screwed up place then), and I realize it comes down to one thing. I HAVE TO TRUST GOD.

He created me. Look at Psalms 139, "O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!" The verses go on and on to say how well God knows me/us and in creating me, he knew what he was doing. He gave me the big heart that he gave me for a purpose and all I can do is live the life He has placed in front of me, this beautiful adventurous journey. I need to trust Him with my family, I need to trust Him with my friends in Sri Lanka, and I need to trust that He knows what he is doing because He knows everything about me and how I feel. I just need to work on living one day at a time, loving the people in my life so completely that they can't help but feel the presence of God. If I do that, regardless of if I am in America or Sri Lanka, I will be living out God's  plan for my life. I may feel as if my heart is living in two places completely around the world from each other, but if I am loving people as God would love them and TRUSTING that He is in control, I am doing exactly what He wants. I can't worry about loving one more or less than the other. I just have to love. It is the greatest commandment after all. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Reflections on Mommyhood

Today my oldest child turns 8. That is sort of hard to believe.

1. It means that I am old enough to have an 8 year old, and I have to admit there are so many times I still feel like a kid myself.

As I think about my life as a mom the last 8 years, I have spent some time contemplating how I feel about being a mom.


I used to babysit all the time when I was in high school and in college. I was in high demand as a babysitter, because I genuinely loved kids! I came with a bag of goodies and planned all sorts of fun things! It is kinda crazy that many of the kids I used to babysit are in college now some even married, and it will be even stranger when they have their own kids! So, I used to  look at the families I babysat for, and dream of one day having my own family and kids, and I thought of all the things I would do with my family. I sort of took all the good things from each of those families (leaving out any of the bad) and created my idea of my perfect little dream family/life.

Boy was I wrong! Being a mom has been so much different than I anticipated. Don't get me wrong I love it, and I find it really rewarding. But all those dreams I had, I don't think one of them has actually occurred!

I think the first time it hit me that life was not going to be what I imagined was when I realized this kid doesn't go home. This is her home. I mean when I babysat I would go and we would have a great time, and I even hung out with several of their families and it was always sunshine and rainbows. But then I had my own baby, and she never left, there was no going home. It took some adjusting to realize my husband and I were solely responsible for the care of this tiny little thing. And she was TINY! Once I adjusted to a new routine and a new "normal" I began to really love mommy hood. I was good at it, or so I thought. Then she started walking and talking, and a whole new can of worms was opened. I had to not just be a mommy, but I actually had to be a parent.

Thus, the second time it hit me that life was not going to be what I imagined was when I realized there is a lot more to being a mom than just feeding, clothing, and making sure this little kid slept. She would actually want to talk to me, and ask me things, and I would have to have at least SOME answers, and I needed to make sure I taught right and wrong because that doesn't just come hard wired. (I have to give credit to all the families that I babysat for, Yall did an amazing job raising your kids, because they sure were great, and I realize now, that took a lot of hard work on your part.) So, around the time my oldest turned 3 I realized things would be much harder than I anticipated. This is when I began to think "what have I gotten myself into!" and "I have no idea how to be a good mom!" Let's just say I started to pray in a whole new way. And I also began to view scriptures about being a parent, and God being our father in whole new way. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older he will not depart from it." This meant I would have to do the training! I felt so ill equipped to train up this little child! And then we had another baby! WOW! Talk about a curve ball!

So, now I had this precious, incredibly bright 3 year old and a little baby, and I was trying to just figure out how to survive much less "train up in the way they should go!"As I said before, I firmly believe that God has a plan, and I believed in His plan then.... but man I had no clue what the plan was... and being the kind of person I am that drove me crazy! So each day I prayed I would know what to do with these 2 precious little girls, and I often felt less and less like a good mother.

Then, SURPRISE! baby number 3! I was like, "Hello! God??? What are you thinking!?!" But we embraced it and tried to get excited about the little boy who would be joining us (and can I say, WOW he is such a joy today, but sooooo scary then!) There were many nights when I was pregnant that the girls ate dinner at 4pm and were in bed by 4:45. When they would ask "Why are we going to bed when the sun is still up?" I would reply, "The sun is staying up late tonight..." Parenting was hard then, but it was still a time of feed, clothe, bathe, little bit of discipline, repeat. No major life stuff.

Our next big adventure was school. When my oldest started Kindergarten, I had to totally rethink how I viewed being a parent. Now I was also helping manage someones education! I was responsible for her learning stuff... I mean responsible for her becoming a contributing member of society! School also brought questions about friendships, obedience (she had to change her color more than once!), having a good work ethic, doing things to the best of your ability, and working with a cheerful heart. I realized I wanted her to learn to read and do math (thank goodness for her dad!), but more importantly I wanted her to learn values and learn how to pursue her dreams while never giving up.

So, each day I struggle with feeling inadequate as a mother. Each day, there is a new element to being a parent I did not expect. But I have to remind myself when I feel this way what it says in Hebrews 13:21, "may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever!" All I have to do is ask, and God will equip me. These three kids are His will for my life, He would not have given them to me if He did not think I was equipped or could be equipped to care for them. So each day when I am running out of patience, or reacting in anger, or hiding in my closet because I can't take one more minute of the chaos that is my children... God has and will equip me to handle this! Take a deep breath and face them with the grace that God has shown me.

Lastly, I guess, on this 8th birthday of my oldest child, I realize I am glad she is getting older. This is what being a parent is all about. It would be a real tragedy if she never grew, never changed. God has placed me in her life to teach her, train her, love her, and then set her free in the world. I am excited about the day she goes out and my hope is that she changes the world! I pray that she will be more, do more, and glorify God more than I ever did, and I truly can't wait to see what kind of World Changer she will be!

I pray she will "Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us[a] and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God." Ephesians 5:2

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ordinary after Extraordinary

I've just returned from doing some volunteer work in Sri Lanka. When I am there I feel as if I am doing exactly what God created me to do. I am in love with the place, the people, the work. It is like when you have an itch on your back and you finally reach it and then all is right with the world. Each time I come home I leave another little piece of my heart there. So in doing something so extraordinary and coming home to packing lunches, doing laundry, planning lessons, and just what seems to be the average, ordinary, ho hum life I lead seems like a bit of a let down.

It is as if I have had this out of body experience, something so amazingly incredible that it is almost like it didn't actually happen to me. Perhaps it was just a dream that lasted longer than one night.

Yet, it did happen and somehow I have to reconcile that the incredible experience I had is a part of my journey just as mush as laundry, cleaning, and all the other mom, wife, and teacher things are a part of my journey.

I view my experience in Sri Lanka as this incredibly extraordinary time, but each and every day could be extraordinary. It really is up to me to look at each day and say what will I do to make today extraordinary not just ordinary? It's kinda easy to say that, but living it is a whole different story. I sort of see coming home from Sri Lanka as reentering the atmosphere, and settling back on earth, but what if I continued to live an out of this world life even at home?

SO, that is the challenge, and I am far from mastering it, but I am setting my goal to stop viewing life as ordinary and make each day God gives me extraordinary. Time to stop wasting my life and live each day to the absolute fullest.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve." Colossians 3:23 - 24

"You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:14) I have to make every moment count, because life is merely a vapor.

Who I Am

You know this is sort of a funny question. It is usually answered by saying, "I have 3 kids, Makenzie, Clara, and Jude. I teach school part time, 6th grade history and 12th grade Government/Economics/Worldview. I do this.... I do that...." but then I think about it and realize I don't think I actually answered the question... who am I. Those are all things I do, and maybe even things that define me... but is it who I am at the core of who God made me?

So who am I?

I am redeemed and delivered, living in total freedom. I am sometimes confused and mixed up, occasionally crazy and fun. I am a person. A person who tries to live life to the fullest and enjoy all it has to offer. I am adventurous and exciting. I am joyful, happy, positive, and encouraging. I can be cranky but only when tired. I can be sarcastic but only when provoked. I can be angry but only once in a while. I am saved through Christ's death on the cross and I am going to heaven. Most of all I am a person with mistakes, imperfections, and problems, yet still loved by Christ. Christ who died for my sins so I could live. I am completely happy with who I am. The me inside. The joyful person willing to do whatever asked and willing to act strange even when people stare (and they do stare sometimes!). Dancing off beat, singing off key, living as if no one is watching when everyone is watching. Being completely crazy, weird, fun, exciting, positive, and adventurous.

This is simply going to be a blog where I share my crazy thoughts about life, being a wife, a mom, teacher, my adventures, and being a child of God. I don't have things figured out by any means, but I am going to be seeking God this year, and relying on him to lead me day by day.