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Beautiful War

Biblical encouragement for women on the homefront

Who you were

endoftheday

For all the overwhelmed moms out there, crumbling under the weight of your to-do lists… I hope this little nugget will be as much of a relief for you as it was for me.

Let this one sink in for a minute:

What you GOT DONE today, will never be as important as WHO YOU WERE.  

It is sinking in?

This is the greatest gift you can give your children.  At the end of the day, this is what matters… at the end of their childhood, this is what they will remember.  The laundry can get backed up, the dishes can wait, the bills aren’t going anywhere, and the rest of the world will just have to CHILL whether you’re on time or not.  Yes, we have a million things to do as moms, and nobody except God ever really sees just how much… but if we are not careful, our desire to conquer that to-do list once and for all can swallow up what really matters to our kids, our spouses, and ourselves if we stop to think about it.  Never mind what you didn’t get done today.  Who WERE you?  Were you peaceful? Were you gentle?  Were you encouraging? Did your kids know today, without you ever having to tell them, that you love being their mom?

Nobody has reached perfection yet, so even when we do have the right perspective and priorities, we all fail at these things some days (or every day, in my case right now:/).  So don’t beat yourself up.  I know – Gee thanks, add all that peaceful stuff to the grand list of all the things I never get done! 

Like I said, none of us has reached perfection yet… we’re all right there with ya!  But we press on… and better to press on to a perfectly loving heart, than a perfectly running schedule.  Right?

Being a mom takes sooooo much energy. Don’t waste it all on things that fade away.

Happy Mothering ❤

Your Strength is Too Small

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So, I’ve had a lot to catch you up on… just not enough time to do so. 🙂  Those of you fellow mommas with young children can use your imaginations!

This is a bit of my story.

I struggled a lot with postpartum emotions after Hannah was born.  The first 2 months were a lot more miserable than I cared to admit to anyone (denial! I do it well).   I finally started to freak out a little when I realized I couldn’t make it a single day (sometimes not even an hour) without breaking down in tears and intense frustration.  I couldn’t understand why everything was SOOOO HARD!!  I mean come ON… I’ve handled classrooms of 20-30 kids with poise and finesse.  I’ve worked in clinical day treatment schools, responding with God’s unending, supernatural love and grace to all sorts of physical and emotional hostility.  I’ve worked 14 hour days before.  I’ve worked on 1 hour of sleep before, many times.  SO WHY CAN’T I HANDLE A QUIET HOUSE AND JUST 2 SMALL CHILDREN?!?!?!?

It was maddening.

I prayed.  Constantly.  I drank herbal tea.  I thought happy thoughts.  I ate chocolate.  I ate ice cream.  I ate green things.  I “got out.”  All those things helped a little, or even a lot, for the moment.  But nothing was really working.  Nothing was changing.  I wasn’t changing.

Then one day, while numbly and randomly flipping through my Bible, trying to find some gem of a lifeline to pull me out of my muck, I came across Proverbs 24:10, “If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.”

Well!  I flipped the book shut in annoyance.  I might as just throw in the towel, because clearly, I suck at life.  THANKS, SOLOMON. I DIDN’T ALREADY KNOW.

But, like all quiet nudges from the Holy Spirit, this one stuck with me.

Then a few days later, I was walking out a local store, and I saw a demon in the parking lot.

Not joking.

I know a few of you may check me off your list for that comment, but bear with me… I’ve never seen something like that before.  I know they exist (see: Bible), but I really don’t know (or care to know, admittedly) much about them at all.  But this thing freaked me out.

It looked kinda like a human being… but it was not.  That’s all I will say. Except for the one thing that matters right now, in this context: it smiled at me.

Taunting. Gloating.  As if it knew how much of a failure I was feeling like.

And my heart sunk.  I know as Christians we say all the time, “the battle is already won,” but it’s not entirely true… the WAR is already won, but we are still fighting every day… and at that moment, my heart had to face the truth: I am not winning right now.

Two days later, I sat at a little desk in my kitchen, looking out the window into my back yard.  The kids were actually sleeping at the same time, and the house was quiet… you could only hear the birds singing happily and the leaves swaying outside through my open windows.  It was lovely. I stared miserably out the window, thought for a minute, picked up a pen, and wrote this down:

“I have a kind, loving husband.  I have two healthy, adorable kids.  We are home, not in a hospital anymore.  I live in a lovely house, that we can afford only by God’s grace and our landlords’ kind generosity.  There are trees in the backyard.  I have plants, a bird feeder, a clothesline… the Lord knows I take delight in these things, and He made a way to give them to me.  We’ve been blessed with a 2nd car (miraculously); I can take the kids anywhere, whenever I want.  They sleep pretty well at night.  They often nap at the same time.  I have a cabinet full of good tea, a little white desk, pretty calendars and notebooks, and a Bible I am not in danger of loosing my life for owning and reading.  My husband cheerfully takes a shift with the kids now and then so I can get out for a bit.  So why do I feel like this?”

And the answer was whispered in my ear: “The battle is not outside me; it is within.”

Duh. I knew that.

But somehow, my heart hadn’t connected the dots till that moment.  Suddenly I understood: nothing outside of me was responsible for my misery.  It was all coming from inside me.

And thus began a month-long (and still going) therapy session with the Holy Spirit… for someone who has denied counseling for years. lol.

I feel like my heart has been through boot camp.  I feel freer than I have felt since very young childhood (when you feel free just because you are alive), and I have learned things about myself that I had NO IDEA existed.

I will share a few things I learned, but that’s for another day. 😉

For now, I encourage… nay, beg you to ask the Holy Spirit, “walk me through my heart.”  It a painful journey to be sure, and exhausting beyond measure.  The LORD is patient beyond belief with our stubborn souls, but He can also be breathlessly swift when we are ready to listen and learn.  Follow the lead of the only One who’s strength is big enough for the battle. The air is glorious out here, in the freedom His spirit offers… trust me, it is so more than worth the pain!!

I can truthfully say, I am tearfully thankful for the misery I experienced after my daughter was born.  Yes, I’m sure there were plenty of hormones involved, but a huge percentage was stemming from years of backlogged emotions and experiences I had not yet allowed the Holy Spirit to work through with me yet.  And since that day, about a month ago, looking out at the trees in my backyard and finally asking “WHY,” and really wanting Him to teach me the answer?  I have not gone back.  Sure, life is frustrating, and I’ve definitely been emotional (I think that’s just part of being a lady 😉 ), but the darkness I was feeling has completely left… because I am free.

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” ~ 2 Corinthians 3:17

Let Him walk you through your heart!

 

 

What It’s All About

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Joy.

It was a startling shaft of clarity, freeze-framing my morning of crying babies, clingy toddler (who has randomly taken up scratching me today… what’s up with that?), spit-up on favorite skirt, I’m-dropping-everything-and-it’s-so-annoying moments, and one of the most disastrous poopy diapers I’ve ever experienced (which wouldn’t be so bad, if it weren’t the 5th disastrous one in 48 hrs, and the fact that I JUST washed that baby seat cover… like, an hour ago).  All within the first 23 minutes of my day.

I invited some ladies over to pray tonight. I guess I should have expected that.

Have you ever finally planned something GOOD, and suddenly it seems like all hell explodes in your face?

I know that sounds awfully dramatic, but if you’ve ever experienced this, even Anne Shirley’s “the stars in their courses fly against me” does NOT feel like an overstatement.

I feel like that right now. I’m trying to laugh it off (because it IS kinda funny, on a level), but I know it’s only 8:14 in the morning. This could be a LONG haul.  I so desperately want to finish the day strong, but WOW I am weak and easily frustrated these days (years). Parenthood is humbling for sure.

Prayers appreciated!

Anyway. In the middle of the chaos, I muttered something about joy, and suddenly I understood. Joy.

That’s it. It’s all about joy.

It’s the one thing the opposition wants to steal, and (consequently), the hardest thing to maintain when you feel attacked by little invisible devils.

So how do you win?

Joy.  Hold fiercely to your joy!  We both know you need to call in the big guns for such an impossible feat… but perhaps He is eagerly waiting for you to do just that.  Think of it… Jesus is the ultimate lover of your soul… and a true lover takes delight in rescuing His beloved.  He’s just waiting to be asked.

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

Find joy in Him, and fight strong today, my sisters (and brothers)!  You are not alone.  Your joy is the most precious thing you have, and it is worth fighting for.

 

 

Slow Down

One of the sweetest, most powerful “shut up, stop complaining, and enjoy those BEAUTIFUL children” moments I have ever experienced.  Please watch.  This woman has a gift from God.

I hurry my children up, all the time… when if I stopped and thought about it, that is the last thing I want them to do.  Humbling tears.  Thank you Lord for the sweet reminder.

 

Reminders of War

World4free.in

This is ridiculous, I thought.

I had done everything right this morning… I was up early, I was prepared, I paid LOTS of attention to both children, I kept the house clean, I even did some cooking, the dishes were done, I did “school” (educational play) with the toddler, and carried the infant around in my new sling (so fun btw, and she loves it:)).  I timed their mornings PERFECTLY.

So: they should both take a lovely, long nap, right?

Hannah fell asleep right on time.  Then I got Christopher snuggled in to a much-needed nap.  He took about 2.5 minutes to fall asleep, curled up next to me in his monkey blanket. He’s adorable.

I could all but taste my quiet, all-by-myself lunch and mommy time. I barely got my rice in the microwave.

And then Hannah started crying.

WHAT.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

I hurried in to scoop her up, and kissed her pudgy little face. She was so happy to see me, and cooed in delight, nuzzling my shoulder. Yeah, my heart melted. I love my little girl.  But I confess, part of me was SOOOO irritated.  Not at her, just… ya know… whoever was responsible for allowing my perfectly timed day to… well… not be perfectly timed!!!

As I tried to nurse her back to sleep, I faced my irritation. Dead on. I really should be used to this by now… I mean, what arrogance, to assume I can control this kind of stuff.  But COME ON.  I just want to eat some lunch!  And read… and relax… and be alone.

Yes? Anyone else?

I can’t accept the face that this just “doesn’t happen” in mommy-land.

(And I know some of you are thinking “Girl, you’ve got NO idea… trying going YEARS without more than 3 minutes to yourself!”  I know I’m being whiny.  Props to moms with greater challenges that mine!)

I sighed, and watched her cute little self… so happy and snuggled up against her mommy. I thought, what an amazing thing, that I get to be her one and only source of comfort. What an incredible, breath-taking privilege.

But I still want her to go to sleep. Please, Lord.

And then two things came to mind, simultaneously: 1) Oh, right. Beautiful War. I still find myself wanting life to be perfect, when I need to accept that this life is not perfect, and I can’t make it so. If I remember that life is a battle, and arm myself to accept the curve balls with peace and grace, things turn out a lot smoother.  It’s when I subconsciously expect perfection that I let down my guard… and get hit.  2) I had about 3 minutes before Hannah woke up, and what did I do?  Keep rushing around. I didn’t stop at all to breathe, relax, and thank God for those 3 minutes while I was living them.  I just rushed right through, greedily eager to maximize the time… not realizing how short it would be.

Because really, I think most moms know, that just 3 minutes can be enough to get you through… if it has to… and if you live those 3 minutes RIGHT.

I lay there next to Hannah, realizing that if I had taken those precious moments to just breathe, look at the leaves swooshing peacefully out my kitchen window, and thanked God for my babies… this house… this peace… this day?  Then I probably wouldn’t be feeling the way I felt right then.

I sighed. Looked at my little girl, slowly drifting off to sleep. I thanked the Lord for the reminders, and asked Him to please let my babies sleep peacefully… and to give me the grace and peace to love them well if they did not.

Hannah slept. She is sleeping still. And now that I have shared this little lesson of mine with you all, I am going to spend some more time with the One who gave me these little angels, so I can hold on to my joy and gratitude for the rest of this lovely day!

And then, if they are still sleeping, I am going to look up Christmasy things.  Because I’m weird that way. 😉

Happy Monday!  May you find the joy in it. ❤

Wake up Fresh

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This morning, my sweet girl woke to nurse just before 4 am.  When she drifted back into the cuteness of baby sleep, I was then faced with the eternal choice: get up now, kinda tired, and start my day before they all wake up?  Or curl up under the covers for 2 more hours, and wake up groggy, already feeling behind?

I chose to get up.  Not because I felt like it… but because I REALLY dislike feeling groggy and behind.  I was mostly afraid to fall back asleep, lol.

I have to say though, I have never regretted getting up early.  That’s hard to remember when you’re faced with the same decision the next day, though.  😉

It stormed fiercely outside, while I played my George Winston and gathered my bearings for the day.  Yesterday was made me weary of heart… but today is new.

Here’s hoping you are also able to sigh, smile, let go and wake up fresh. 🙂  Happy Tuesday!

Hot Water

hotwater

I think I first saw this in Lisa Ryan’s book, For Such a Time as This: Your Identity, Purpose and Passion, years ago… and it’s stuck with me ever since.  (Great book, by the way.)

 

It made me laugh, and it’s true for all of us, not just women.  Trials expose weakness, but they also build endurance and reveal strength.

And it’s good to remember that we are not just saturated by the ‘hot water’ around us… with God’s grace, we can change the flavor itself!

I think I’d like to turn my ‘hot water’ into some kickin’ Raspberry Tea…

What about you? 😉

Someone You Raise

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“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.”

~Andy Stanley

Women at War

 

trail running

My anniversary is coming up.

Not my wedding anniversary, per say.  It’s the anniversary of the day that it all started (“the Wednesday,” as my husband and I refer to it).  It was a Wednesday in July, when I found the courage to tell my long-time friend that I was head over heels in love with him.  He proposed six weeks later.  That was three years ago.

Whew.

I feel like I’ve been running an emotional marathon since that day… and that just in the last few weeks, I have launched myself over a finish line of sorts, gasping for air, aware of little else but the fact that I can’t feel my legs.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I am still desperately in love with my husband, and he is still my best friend.  I absolutely love being a mother – it is my dream job.  Marriage and motherhood have blessed me with heavenly bliss.  But they’ve also earned me a good healthy dose of oppositional hell, from the unseen powers that be (Ephesians 6:12).  If I’ve learned anything at all in these three short years, it’s been that marriage and motherhood is WAR.

If you are a married woman or a mother, or just a fellow human being, you may have come to the same conclusion… particularly if you have spent much time studying a certain beloved book of instructions and warnings about life from the One who created it.  Such provides a certain clarity to our otherwise crazy and senseless lives.

But take heart, fellow soldier… light always wins. ❤

This is an ugly war we wage, but it is also a beautiful war.  It is fought in the exhausting midnight hours when no one notices your pain and sacrifice… when you’ve given every ounce of sleep-deprived energy you have, and more is still required… when you are knocked off your feet by the intense and frightening depths of sadness, impatience, rage you had no idea you could be capable of… when you lose sight of the shore and feel like you’re going to drown… this is where the war is fought.

It is fought in a rocking chair, by a hospital bed, at the kitchen sink, and in front of the clothes dryer.  It is felt in the inquisition of doctors and teachers, the disapproving looks of friends, the accusations of the authorities that be.  It is spent in desperate prayers, angry fists, nagging doubts, and vicious fears.  And it is won… by surrender.

Ironic 😉

If you have experienced childbirth, apply the metaphor… what happened when you fought the pain?  You held that baby back, and hurt yourself more in the process.  And what happened when you surrendered, and worked with the pain, allowing your body do what it was made to do?  You brought forth life!

And that, is beautiful.

So whether you feel like a war hero right now, or like the saddest mess that ever tucked a college degree in her back pocket… to you I say: well done, warrior maiden. ❤

I wrote this in the front cover of my bible 7 years ago… it is still one of my favorite verses. I hope it is some encouragement for you today.

“Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!”  Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!”  The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw than the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.  ~ 2 Kings 6:16 & 17

 

Be of good cheer, my lovely sisters… fight bravely on your sacred home front, wherever that may be… we are not alone! ❤

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