I Don’t Always Like My Kids

I am about to confess something that mothers are never supposed to admit: I don’t always like my kids. To be even more blunt, I am tired of women guilt-tripping each other into plastering on a fake smile and lying about how perfect their relationship is with Junior. It is simply untrue. There is no perfect relationship whether it be with your spouse, your children, your neighbors or your hairdresser.

I find it tremendously frustrating that we offer up disapproving sideways glances toward the women who are honest enough to say that they have days, sometimes weeks, occasionally months, where they do not adore their offspring. Let’s face it: kids are not always a bundle of joy. They argue, rebel, interrupt, make huge messes, are unreasonably demanding, and frequently epitomize ingratitude.

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Photo Credit: Edith Dixon

Worse yet are those who are constantly telling me to “embrace” this season. Yes, I understand that potty training doesn’t last forever, but I am not wrong for wishing it wasn’t so labored nor that I happily anticipate the day when I’m not needed in that capacity. I know that puberty passes and they will be grown and gone before long, but that doesn’t change the fact that eyes being rolled at me makes my blood boil. I recognize that older generations can become a little nostalgic and chastise me for being annoyed with the constant stream of dishes, cooking, laundry, repeat. But telling me that I am going to miss this someday does not help me deal with it today.

I suppose I don’t understand the value in telling a mother acquiescence is key as if these times should never, ever ruffle her feathers. It is seriously damaging to refuse to acknowledge negative emotions. Whether it is intended or not, the message that is being sent in telling a mom to “embrace” whatever challenging time she is going through is that she should just suck it up with a smile because that is what a good mother does.

No! A good mother can assess her own emotions and recognize that suffering in silence is the worst thing she can do for herself and her family. Allowing the trite rhetoric to bully us into silence only perpetuates the problem. Now I not only feel guilt for those times when I don’t like my kids, but I am also shamed for admitting it.

Enough. Don’t be afraid to say that you are struggling. Don’t be afraid to ask for a break. And definitely don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself. It is only then that you can begin facing these feelings, seeking out their root, and start repairing areas where dislike seeps in. Embrace that. Because, while unconditional love should be ever-present, you don’t always have to like your kids.

On a final note, there are many passages in Scripture that discuss controlling one’s emotions. Please don’t confuse those verses with denying the existence of those emotions. Denial does not equal control.

Abide in His Grace,

Heather

This post was shared with Time-Warp Wife and Wise Woman Linkup.

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Refusing to Forgive

What does your refusal to forgive look like? Does it look like 2:19a.m and a spoon rapidly diving into an ice cream container, hoping nobody wakes? Does it look like a needle delivering the killer and the cure? How about the contents of a prescription bottle being washed down by the contents of a bottle with a faux-etched goose? Perhaps it looks like waking up to yet another stranger after a night of can’t remember? Maybe your refusal to forgive masquerades as something else: 60 hours a week at the job, the furious scrubbing of a house that absolutely must look perfect, the insomnia that plagues for years, or the never-ending quest to maintain perfect hair, nails, teeth, and tan.

My own ugly refusal to forgive has taken a few forms; vicodin and vodka, painful relationships destined for demise, rage, physical ailments, and a strained-to-the-point-of-nearly-ending marriage. Like I said, ugly. Now, you would think that this was all before I came to Christ, right? Wrong. It is amazing to me how ridiculously bull-headed I have been. Why insist on doing things the hard way? Why insist on causing more strife? Why insist on holding a grudge? I know all of the verses that speak against it, so what’s wrong with me?

An unyielding heart.

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Photo Credit: Edith Dixon

See, we can sing “I Surrender All” until our lips are blue, but when that statement isn’t genuinely coming from the heart; it boils down to lip service. It is useless, unfruitful, and worst of all, untrue. Surrender, yield – words I despised because they showed weakness. I was tough, I was always right, and no one was in control of me except, well, me. What I have come to discover is that the more I tried to control everything in my life, the more chaotic things became. The more chaotic it became, the more I tried to control everything. Such a vicious cycle.

Such is the life of a Christian who has not fully received forgiveness from God. How embarrassing. I made the confession of faith that I had been forgiven more than a decade ago. Lip. Service. Well, not totally. I had just enough faith to believe that I was forgiven enough to not end up in Hell. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand the magnitude of my own sin and how tremendous is the gift of forgiveness in Christ.

This is where we get tripped up. We think that we have to earn our forgiveness and therefore, others in our lives, including ourselves, need to earn our forgiveness. Start with receiving forgiveness through Christ. Don’t move on until you know that you know that you are forgiven. Pray – and be blunt! Tell Him that you need a real understanding of the preciousness of His forgiveness. Don’t ease up. Keep at it until you get it, because until you do, everything else that you strive for in this walk with Christ is worthless.

Once you understand how much he loves you and how much you have been forgiven, you can forgive yourself. Once you start the ball rolling, it doesn’t end unless you choose to harden your heart against forgiving others. When you examine your own shortcomings and the fact that you have been forgiven for how wretched you have been to God, you understand that you have absolutely no right whatsoever to withhold forgiveness from others, regardless of their offense.

I know this is a tough pill to swallow, especially when you have been hurt severely. But Christ made no exceptions.

Abide in His Grace,

Heather

This post has been shared with Time-Warp Wife and Wise Woman Linkup.

This Isn’t the Life I Planned

The mirror doesn’t lie. I studied my face after my shower. My skin isn’t as smooth anymore and the wrinkles are no longer being held at bay. My eyes moved to the damp mop on my head. The grays are popping out all over the place and I’m shaggy from going months without a haircut. What happened to me? I pondered as I dried and dressed. The girl who never left the house without hair and makeup done morphed into a mom/wife who rarely did either.

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Photo credit: Edith Dixon

And I had such big plans. (Ok, maybe more like moderate plans.) I used to dream of being a writer; tied to my keyboard, ever-present cup of Joe at my side. I figured I would want a family at some point, but didn’t really schedule it in the five year plan. I had it all figured out. Didn’t we all when we were young? But a few bad relationships and an unplanned baby sent those ambitions packing. Survival mode kicked in and set the stage for the better part of a decade.

I finally married and had another child which lead me here – being a stay at home homeschooling mom. I have been domesticated. My high school friends would be hysterical to see how much of a housewife I have actually become. I mean, I can actually sort of cook now. Shocking.

No, none of this was part of the plan. I didn’t plan on having kids ten years apart. I didn’t plan on not getting married until I was past 30. I didn’t plan on the trials, tribulations and tears.

But as I smoothed face cream over crow’s feet that mocked every stroke, my spirits lifted. No, this life has not gone according to plan and there is nothing about the life I have that I would trade in order to gain a part of the original plan. Years ago, I opened my heart wide and told God to take hold of my life since I was making a train wreck of it anyway.

Amazingly, through a serious amount of humbling, he gave me more life and more love than I could have ever given myself. Though it isn’t perfect, it is filled to overflowing. This is my abundant life. Yielded to Christ. Completely unplanned.

Is your life not going according to plan? I encourage you to take a deep breath and surrender it Christ. He knows how to direct your steps much better than you do.

Abide in His Grace,

Heather

This post was shared with Time-Warp Wife and Wise Woman Linkup.

Sparrows In The Storm

It was one of those mornings. I hadn’t slept much the night before, but this internal clock that craves quiet time is always certain to wake me before the rest of my clan. I was distracted. My thoughts were bouncing around like a million pinballs in my head. I brewed a cup of coffee and settled into my favorite chair for some face time with God. These mornings are hard to pray through. I spoke to God in fragments at best with invasive reminders to self about thawing pork chops for dinner and to not forget about that quick trip to the store and wait, wasn’t there a fourth item I needed to pick up? God is always so patient with me. But these mornings, when things are weighing heavy, are also the mornings when I can’t find the words to eloquently tell my Father what’s on my heart.

Image Credit: Kelly Stebor

Image Credit: Kelly Stebor

I sighed in frustration, Bible still closed on the side table next to my chair. Reading wasn’t working just then and neither was intelligent conversation with my Maker. I grabbed my cup and walked to the window to peek into the backyard. It was a challenge to see through the haze of early dawn. All was quiet except for a few birds that were hungrily chasing down breakfast. Sparrows, to be specific.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

Of course they had to be sparrows.

I hadn’t been able to muster much along the lines of prayers beyond, “Lord, I trust you.” Amazing how He hears my heart when I fumble for words. He knew I needed the reminder that I am worth more than many sparrows.

This is the God of the universe. How easily I forget that all things are in his care. He sees the ugliness of this world: the struggles, sorrows and sins. Yet, I keep finding myself losing sight of the fact that none of my circumstances are a surprise for him. He hasn’t missed anything that has transpired, and he hasn’t turned away. So why is it always easy to slide into this distracted mess of worry?

Simply put, worry is my default sin. It’s an old friend that I welcome back with ease. If I am fretting and fussing, then at least I am doing something about my circumstances, right? *sigh* I love that old saying about worry being like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but won’t get you anywhere. That’s been me. Rocking like a mad woman. Getting nowhere. Getting frustrated. I whip myself into a frenzy and then wonder why I can’t pray.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

Jesus instructed us not to worry because it takes our eyes off of God, who can actually handle our tomorrows, and focuses them on ourselves. We become little gods trying to fix our own little self-absorbed universes. Meanwhile, all of our worry doesn’t change the way the events are unfolding. It just wears us out, diminishes our ability to respond maturely to our circumstances, and prevents coherent conversation with the Creator.

How do we stop ourselves from worrying? Change what we are focusing on. Praise God for the blessings he brings. Thank him that he has everything well in hand. This does not mean that our circumstances won’t hurt; it means that we will allow God to be God as He helps us with our emotions and through our valleys.

It is upsetting that we are often lead to believe that unless we are walking around with a smile on our face, we are being disobedient. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus felt all sorts of negative emotions. He just didn’t worry, because worry is a blatant sign that you don’t trust God. So go ahead and send desperate prayers heavenward in the form of tears falling. Sometimes the only thing we are able to pray is, “I trust you, Lord.” So keep praying those short, often fragmented, prayers. He hears you. And he will send “sparrows” as a reminder.

Abide in His Grace,

Heather

This post has been shared with Time-Warp Wife and A Wise Woman Builds Her Home.

Start Mending Your Marriage

On Tuesday I encouraged you to stop destroying your marriage. Incessant complaining to and about your husband is bound to rip a marriage apart, no matter how justified you might feel in doing so. Laziness, inconsiderate moments and pet peeves do not give a woman a free pass to berate her man. Since we looked at the things we need to stop doing in our marriages, it is time to consider what we should be doing.

I have always hated that old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It’s a lie straight from the pit of Hell. Here, I’ll prove it. Think about the last nasty argument you had with your husband. How many times did you repeat the argument in your head and the words kept piercing your heart? Ahhh…. Yes, we’re on to something here.

Photo credit: Kelly Stebor

Photo credit: Kelly Stebor

Start mending your marriage by changing your words. “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24) He may not deserve your gracious words, but you didn’t deserve Christ’s graciousness either. Think about that the next time you want to lash out viciously. That’s just what grace is: undeserved favor. Plus, Paul was clear to us that we need to extend the same mercy as Christ. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

This means no more correcting him over insignificant matters, especially in front of other people. It means meeting his harshness with kindness. It means exchanging criticism for gratitude. (C’mon, he has to do something right for which you can express thanks.) It means no longer manipulating him with guilt or threats. It means no more “you” statements: “you always…” or “you never…” Because “you” is very accusatory. And chew on this – do you know whose very name means “The Accuser?” That’s right, Satan.¹

Ultimately, we want to live lives that honor Christ. The most important relationship in which we honor him is our marriage as it symbolizes our relationship with Jesus himself. This means the weight of our words take on a whole new meaning in light of Jesus’ warning in Matthew 12:36-37, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Begin changing the way you speak to and about your husband, and if you are persistent, you will be amazed at the change in your husband’s behavior. It does take some time to see the changes taking place, but don’t give up! Your marriage is priceless and worth the work. And the most interesting things are affected by our change in words: our thoughts about our husband, our intimacy with him, the ease with which we can forgive him, and our increased satisfaction with the man to whom we pledged forever.

What are some other ways that we can begin healing our marriage? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Abide in His Grace,

Heather

This post was shared with A Look At The Book and A Wise Woman Builds Her Home.

Stop Destroying Your Marriage

The other day a local radio station went to social media with the “top complaints from unhappy wives” and proceeded to issue a top-3 kind of list. They then turned it around to the readers and asked what their top complaints were about their husbands. This made me sick to my stomach. Why would someone want to inspire disrespecting your husband?

It’s a sick and twisted game we play; we spend our entire youth seeking out that one perfect man who will love us forever and then we spend the rest of our lives telling everybody how much we hate him. If you play this game, I have two words for you: Grow. Up. All through Ephesians 4, Paul is pressing us to continue growing in spiritual maturity and closes with an admonition to, “get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”

Not to mention that humiliating and degrading someone, especially the one you vowed to love, honor and cherish, is the worst way to foster positive growth. Imagine putting yourself in your husband’s shoes. Why would he want to treat you like a queen if you treat him like a jester? It defies logic.

But it is so easy to get sucked in when we treat husband-bashing like an Olympic sport. We compete over who has the laziest / stupidest / most selfish husband as if it is something to brag about.

Image Credit: Kelly Stebor

Image Credit: Kelly Stebor

Enough.

We cannot continue to use our tongue as a weapon because it’s not only hypocritical, but it can cause lasting damage. “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” (James 3:9-10) Let’s think about who is listening to such hypocrisy: your parents, your siblings, your children? I know a woman who spent so much time complaining about her husband that her entire family ended up hating him. Then she decided to forgive him and couldn’t understand why her family was overtly hostile toward him. Once you poison the well, how do you undo the damage?

Since relationships are not one-sided, no matter how much the finger gets pointed at your spouse, the words always point back to you: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” (Matthew 12:34-35) What is festering inside of you that causes such bitterness and spite to spew forth? Are you harboring unforgiveness? Do you have unrealistic expectations for your husband? 

Do you nag him and pick fights with him in addition to complaining liberally to others? Proverbs 19:13 tells us that, “a quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping.” In other words, you grate his nerves. The Bible goes on to say in Proverbs 21:9 that, “it’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.” Ouch.

I was a “quarrelsome wife” myself. I nagged and whined to my husband all the time. I often lead the husband-bashing competitions with my family, friends and coworkers. But the reality is that my cattiness was driving a huge wedge between me and my husband. The more I was disrespectful to him, the less he cared about how his actions impacted me, which meant I became more disrespectful to get even.

It’s a vicious cycle, so I am challenging each of you to go first in breaking it. I had to go first. I had to see how my sarcastic, biting comments were ripping apart the one relationship that I made a promise before God that I would maintain. I am responsible for me. Not him. Just me. It takes some serious maturity to hold your tongue, but it is doable, even when your flesh is screaming for retaliation. Even when all the other ladies are carrying on about how awful their man is.

Will you join me in prayerfully repenting for the relentless husband belittling that is so common these days? Come back on Thursday and we will look at some ways to start turning that relationship around. For now, just stop doing more damage. I am praying for you.

Abide in His Grace,

Heather

This post was shared with Time-Warp Wife, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, A Look At The Book and Salt & Light.

Life After Losing A Spouse

Nobody wants to think about life after the death of a spouse. Yet, when we said our vows we promised each other, “until death do us part.” At the very outset of our marriage we are prompted to consider the end. Oh, that’s just morbid. I don’t need to consider it now; we’re so young! Wrong. You need to think about it, talk with your spouse about it, and plan for it now. You can’t know how long you will have together and the chances of you leaving this world simultaneously are incredibly slim.

Let me tell you a little story about two of my neighbors. One I will call Mara and the other Naomi. (In the book of Ruth, Naomi, or pleasant, was crushed by the loss of her husband and son and so she told everyone to stop calling her Naomi and begin referring to her as Mara, or bitter. See Ruth 1:20-21) We’ve lived in this neighborhood for four years, and on several occasions, we’ve tried to make friends with Mara. She actually turns her back and pretends she can’t hear us. Still, we try to help her out in small ways without being too intrusive, like plowing out her driveway in the winter. Despite our many attempts to connect with her, she is not interested. We recently discovered that she has been a widow for seven years. She stopped going to church, stopped interacting with the friends that she and her late husband had made, and stopped engaging in life.

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Photo credit: Kelly Stebor

Mara confided all of this to our neighbor, Naomi. Naomi and Mara are both in their sixties and both women are widows. Naomi was devastated when Mara quietly confessed that she was terrified because her son and his family went on vacation for a week. Mara explained that they are all she has and she wouldn’t know what to do if something happened to her. She has no friends, no other family, and no connections to her neighbors.

Naomi couldn’t be more different. She’s full of energy and spunk. She’s the kind of woman you like as soon as you meet her. And a few weekends ago, my family attended Naomi’s wedding. What a beautiful, glowing bride!

I sat down with Naomi over the weekend and asked her about her late husband. She spoke fondly of him and told me how much she still loved him. He was her world for 38 years. She smiled when she told me about him and loved sharing stories of their life together. I asked her what was the most difficult part of being a widow. Her answer: being alone. She told me about how she spent many nights sobbing in prayer mourning the loss of her husband and how she sought out Scripture for comfort. Naomi went on to explain that she decided she needed to connect with new people and start living again. She had no desire to remarry, but was open to whatever God brought her. It just so happened that God brought her a new love. Not someone to replace her lost love, but a whole new person and a whole new beginning.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about these two women;  how different they are and the ways that their approach to widowhood have changed the trajectory of their lives. There are important lessons to learn from Mara and Naomi:

Mourn but not indefinitely. Some people take longer than others, but at some point it is necessary to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and choose to start living again.

Let God comfort you. Pray, even if the prayers are silent, hot tears. Pour over Scripture, especially Psalms. He promises to comfort us, but we also have to accept that comfort instead of closing ourselves off and becoming bitter.

Engage with people.  Become active in your church, volunteer in your community, get to know your neighbors, and allow old relationships to continue blooming while nurturing new ones.

Be open to the next chapter. We can’t possibly know what God has planned for us after such a loss. Perhaps we are to comfort others going through a similar struggle, pursue a new calling on our lives, or maybe, just maybe, we should be open to the opportunity for God to bring us new love.

We will get to choose how we will handle losing a spouse. We aren’t victims of the loss, but victims of our attitudes toward the loss. These two women have fostered a much-need conversation between me and my husband. We needed to discuss what we expect of the other in the likely event that one of us passes first and give each other our blessings to move forward with life.

My message to my husband is this: miss me, remember me, but continue to live and to love.

Abide in His Grace,

Heather

This post was shared with the Salt & Light Link up, Time-Warp Wife. A Wise Woman Builds Her Home and Women of Worship.

Learning From My Son’s Disobedience

My son drives me crazy. Maybe it’s because he’s 3. Or because he is male and we are wired differently. I’m not too sure. Some days he runs non-stop from one thing to the next doing all of things he knows he isn’t supposed to do. Can someone please explain the appeal of running across a room to throw oneself head first into a love seat? No? OK, how about explaining the irresistability of repeatedly opening doors and drawers just to slam them shut? Sometimes I wonder if this child is a Heaven-sent gift to challenge my sanity.

The last couple of months trying to parent my son have been challenging. It’s hard to “embrace” these days when I wake at 6:00 to, “Mommy, want some peanut butter in my mouth!” and the demands keep coming all. day. long. And I understand that he is in the process of learning how to verbalize his emotions, but must he default to crying to express frustration/confusion/annoyance/pain/hunger/sleepiness?

These are the times that drive me to tears in the shower and on my knees in prayer.

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My three year old bundle of energy.

See, this is where God steps in with his unique sense of humor and gentle correction. Instead of showing me how to deal with my son’s behavior, He simply holds up a mirror. I can feel it reverberating through my soul: Do you not run from one thing to the next doing what you aren’t supposed to do? I don’t get frustrated with you, so why are you getting frustrated with him? Who is the one in charge here?

The questions stop me in my tracks. I thought I was praying for guidance on how to deal with my son’s obnoxiousness but instead I am shown my own faults and flaws. So I try again. Perhaps there is some mistake, Lord, I was asking you how to cope with my son’s disobedience. And the mirror is lifted again: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your [son]’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5)

Ah ha. Maybe my son drives me crazy because he reflects my own disobedience.

I once again find myself living out Paul’s words to the Romans in verse 15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” My prayers shift gears. I see, Lord. I set the standard. How can I expect him to be obedient to me when I am so rebellious toward you? The answer comes with such clarity that even a fool like me can see it: “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them… not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2-3) My son reflects the example I have been for him. I have shown anger, impatience and frustration. I have not been training him up the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6). Instead I have been reacting out of my own negative emotions and disobedience.

There is an amazing amount of accountability and responsibility in parenting. It can be a daunting task. But first and foremost, I have to work on my walk with Christ. As I allow Him to work in me, I become the example I want my kids to follow.

Because what I do speaks so much louder than what I say.

Abide in His Grace,

Heather

This post was shared with Hearts for Home Blog Hop, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Salt & Light and Women of Worship.

An Introvert in a Family of Extroverts

“Why are you bouncing your leg?” I asked though I knew the answer. We were some place quiet, peaceful. He was bored. We had the entire beach to ourselves. The kids were horsing around on the playground nearby, but the only sounds to really be heard were the gentle waves on the lake.

He sighed in response. “You don’t know what to do with yourself, do you?” I probed. He threw me a sideways glance and burst forth with a mini-rant about how I didn’t understand because he was pedal-to-the-metal from birth and he didn’t know how to just “sit there” doing nothing. He said even as a kid when his family would go camping, he wasn’t the one to fish quietly or hang out by the campfire, but rather was the one tearing it up with other boys. He said I just didn’t know how hard it was for him to not be on the move.

Our kids are just like him.

It was my turn to sigh. He grabbed my hand and asked carefully, “But you love this, don’t you?” I smiled. This moment of having the most popular lake in our area all to ourselves was unprecedented for us. It was intoxicating to me.

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I love solitude. I mean adore it. My family hates it. They want to be in the city playing putt-putt on Friday night with wall-to-wall people and who just touched me, why does it have to be so loud here all. the. time? Why couldn’t we just have the neighbors over for s’mores?

We drive each other crazy with the television is too loud, but someone just turned it down, are they deaf, maybe we should get closed-captioning. They are loud and excited. About everything. I am loud when I am angry. (I know, I know. I’m working on it.)

They thoroughly enjoy going to the county fair in the fall. I want to break out in hives at the mere thought of all those people; the small talk I don’t want to engage in that ultimately leads to nowhere.

I like discussing ideas, religion, political happenings, and social movements. My family likes chattering endlessly about movies and sports and what’s for dinner. I am not saying I am more intelligent or superior in some way, rather that our minds function differently. I thirst for in-depth conversations and my husband thinks I need to lighten up a bit. (He just might be right on that one, but I digress.) He has told me more than once that he loves my mind, but he just can’t keep up with it.

Obviously, this causes us conflict. I am usually the oddball out. After family functions, I am often quiet for hours. This spurs numerous questions about if I am upset about something or if I have some sort of ailment. The reality is that I need to recuperate.

This has been the first year that I have been a stay at home homeschooling mom. I have been a huge bundle of nerves. I have prayed, cried, and had oh so ugly meltdowns. It has only been in the last couple of months that I have been able to recognize the source of my being overwhelmed and tense. I am rarely alone. When I say rarely, I mean that in a month’s time I had roughly 2 hours of alone time when the hubs took the kids to basketball with him. And it is my fault. I have allowed myself to be fully accessible every moment of the day without boundaries. Even Jesus needed some space. (See Luke 5:16 or Matthew 14:23) So I had to make some adjustments.

I usually get up with my husband when he gets ready for work (although sometimes he lets me sleep in without my permission) so that I have quiet time before the kids get up. I am learning to step out when I am starting to boil over and go for a walk or a drive. There is now a standing rule that my bedroom door will remain locked while I shower and should not be breached unless  there is a catastrophe requiring emergency medical personnel. Or I will grab a book and head for an empty room after the kids are in bed.

There is nothing wrong with having a different personality. It is just something that needs to be factored into the family equation. I don’t need copious amounts of alone time, but I do need it at least in small quantities each day. My quiet time is my time to think, pray, plan, work through personal issues and recharge. Because I am so different from the rest of my clan, I have to balance my time carefully. If I spend too much time giving and not enough time rejuvenating, I will have nothing left of myself to give my family in very short order.

Talk to me. Are you an introvert? What kinds of challenges has it caused in your marriage, family, or with friends? What steps have you taken to ensure you have the quiet time you need?

Abide in His Grace,

Heather

This post was shared with A Little R&R, Hearts for Home Blog Hop, Women of Worship, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Salt & Light and Time-Warp Wife.

Hard Winters and Spring Gratitude

The mid-March snow was swirling outside my window. The sight that soothed my soul just four months earlier was an unwanted reminder that winter wasn’t over yet. I sighed deeply and whispered a frustrated prayer inquiring about Spring’s inevitable arrival. I hated being so cold. Five months of snow was overwhelming for me.

I keenly recall being tossed on the waves of is this ever going to end and the hard winter will make spring that much sweeter. Frustration rumbled louder than the snow plows as friends and neighbors threatened to relocate to warmer climates. Several times I questioned my own sanity in moving so far north. While my friends back home were speaking of boating and getting sunburned, jealousy was rearing its ugly head as I pulled on snow boots, hat and gloves just to check the mail.

How had the one thing I reveled in during late fall become the bane of my existence by early spring?

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Too cold to swim but just right for my kids to get their feet wet.

There is no doubt: this winter was awful. Low temperature records were shattered, we nearly tied the snowfall record, we lost power on the coldest night documented to find our furnace broke down once the electricity was restored, and we shoveled more driveways more times than we ever imagined was possible. But worst of all, I had given up the fight to stay positive.

I joined in easily with the belly aching and lamenting. Sometimes I lead the discontented conversations. In retrospect, this behavior is disappointing. Look at what I modeled for my kids: when a painful season lasts longer than you’d like, it’s OK to throw a pity-party. Wretched.

In a world so filled with negativity, it can be difficult to continue fighting for joy, to be positive, to see the best in things, and to wait patiently for an unpleasant season to end. It is deliciously tempting to toss the gloves off and join hands with others singing that comforting refrain: “it sucks to be me.”

This winter has taught me that I am one of those people to whom joy does not come easily. I must engage in the fight with purposeful gratitude. I am spending time each day drinking in the delicate violet of the irises, the shy pink of the azaleas, and the lush carpet of green where I bury my toes. I breathe deep the intoxicating aroma of lilacs mingled with fresh-cut grass. I smile wide not only to see my garden growing again, but because the bed is covered with chalk drawings. The loud, happy romping of my kids fades to a quiet bird’s song at dusk.

I must tuck these treasured memories away where I can retrieve them when the days get short and cold. These are my weapons in my fight for acquiescence in the hard season of winter.

Because no season is indefinite.

Abide in His Grace,

Heather

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

This post was shared with Marriage, Motherhood, and Missions, Time-Warp Wife, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Salt & Light and A Little R&R.