Saturday, December 27, 2014

The 7 Hardest Parts About Being a Mom

Being a mom is tough and until you give birth, there are many things that you will discover along the way. Realistically, what you may imagine it to be will be different in ways than what is to come. Most parents will agree that the good things outweigh the difficult ones. Moreover, I created this list for all you mothers out there.

1.) As a parent, you will go to find an assortment of reading sources throughout the years. The reading sources can vary from books to magazines to online articles. If you were to pick up a copy of a parenting magazine, the cover will suggest "7 Tips to Handle a Tantrum," "4 Ways to Help Your Newborn Sleep Through the Night," or "6 Tricks to Conquer Talking Back." You want those things that you read to fix the problems. No one ever tells you that those different ways to try for each topic are not cures. They may work for a moment, but your newborn will cry again, your toddler will test the boundaries once more at the grocery store, your 4th grader will ask "why not?" another time, and your teenager will have another round of emotional distress.

But through all the stages of tears, there are break-through moments of being the one to hold your child, wipe away their tears, and even cry along with them. Even though it was hard to be on the receiving end of the crying spectrum, you are helping build character through each of those moments.

2.) Point blank, your food is almost always cold or you have to scarf it! Someone spills something, the doorbell rings with a neighbor child standing out front right when you sit down, or you have about 0.15 seconds to consume the meal before needing to be somewhere. It's a rarity to actually be able to eat and enjoy a meal.

But since the food is cold, by the time you eat it, it doesn't taste as good or look as appealing to you. Weight loss solution, anyone? Or you are too tired to eat it which means when you do actually get those seldom moments to eat a hot meal in peace, you enjoy it more and you do not take it for granted. Forks dig in, mama!

3.) As a parent, there are so many things to worry about: food allergies, autism, Down's Syndrome, heartache, bullying, child molestation, a broken bone, etc. There isn't a moment where you really don't think about how something is going to affect your child. You want to take the pains of life away from them with all of your heart. While you know that every person has something in life to go through, you are trusting God so hard with keeping your child safe from harm.

But God says, "Do not worry about tomorrow!" Easier said than done, I know. However, we really don't need to worry so much or we will worry ourselves to death. It's hard to not worry when your child is out past curfew or when you are in the hospital due to severe illness. You have to pray about it when you worry and ask God to help you allow Him to take control. You have to surrender to Him and have faith through the process. These are moments where we draw closer to Him.

4.) Expectations for various moments, events, or outcomes will change. Those picture perfect kids in Gymboree ads aren't real. We might try to dress our kids for a moment to take a picture and two seconds later they will get dirty in some way before the picture was taken. We may hope to wake up before the kids do to capture on camera their reactions on Christmas morning only to be woken up by a child who has already opened everything. We may want them to make a wise decision about something only to be saddened by the path they ended up taking. We may think that our child will heal from a disease only to be holding them in your arms as they pass away.

But through it all, we need to persevere. No matter how disappointed we are or how much life hurts us, we have to keep going. The other people in our lives depend on us, whether they are co-workers, family, or friends. We are all in this together and we can all lean together through the disappointments. So let those expectations and ideas of perfect parenting go. Instead, let's bond together past the differences and encourage one another.

5.) Loss of sleep is guaranteed unless you are away with your husband at a hotel and even then the two of you may have other plans. *wink, wink* That sleep you crave so bad is long gone the day you become a mom. No matter their age, you are up with them for one reason or another. If you have a baby, you are up feeding them. If you have a toddler, you are taking them to the bathroom. If you have an elementary aged child, you are up calming them down from their nightmares. If you have an adolescent child, you are up listening to them talk. Sleep is a thing of the past.

But that is why we as adults can have things like coffee or wine to help us get through. That is why we eventually become zombies and sleep is totally not within our grasp, but it's something you kind of get over after awhile. Sure you would love to take a nap or get a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, but it's not the most important thing that you think about anymore.

6.) You get to play the Good Cop/Bad Cop game. Sometimes you get to help them in good ways like when you saved the day by finding their favorite character inspired band-aids for their minor scrape. You get to be apart of the "Don't Mess With My Child" Club look when you see the kid who bullied them that one day. You get to share with them the things you got in trouble for as a child when they are having a moment and need to hear it.  Of course, then there are the days when you have to lay down the law with time-outs, spankings, groundings or whatever you do. You have to keep them home from an event because of something that they did. Unfortunately, since you were Bad Cop for a moment, they may not seem to like you very much.

But, all of those moments that require either Good Cop or Bad Cop are times you are building up a relationship with them or teaching them character. They are all for good reason and are all something that needs to be done. They will respect you for what you are teaching them. You are a role model for them and they will remember those things you are teaching them. Pretty cool, huh?

7.) Some days you wish you were in Australia (just like the boy from The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day book). Some days are tear-jerkers and some days you don't know how you even got through it all. It was tough and no good, all at the same time.

But take note that as often as those days seem to be there, you are apart of something incredible. As they grow up, tender moments of holding them close, when you smile together, bonding over this or that are moments that are irreplaceable. They are moments worth more than all the hardest parts of parenting combined. We tend to want to look ahead. But don't look too far or you will miss it all. We will soon be old, lonely, and belong in a retirement home with Betty who has Alzheimer's Disease. We will look back on our life and wonder why we wished it to be on fast forward. I know the old saying of "Cherish Each Moment" that you hear at baby showers seem redundant. It also speaks volumes. One of my favorite quotes says it all:

Cleaning and scrubbing will wait 'till tomorrow, 
but children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow. 
So quiet down cobwebs! Dust go to sleep! 
I'm rocking my baby. Babies don't keep. -Ruth Hamilton

So cherish each moment that you have and know that those hard moments will pass. The hard parts are worth it. Keep up the great work, mama!

Friday, December 26, 2014

When You Want To Persevere

Dear Grief,

You entered into my heart with a vengeance. It seemed as though you arrived without being invited. The door of my heart was knocked down and before I knew it, I was overwhelmed by your presence. My eyes began to flood with tears as I fell to my knees. I didn't want this to happen. I wanted to be joyful, no less. So why are you showing up now?

Not only do I feel the sadness of what I am going through, but for an instance, I also feel the sadness of others things. I feel sadness for friends and family. I feel sadness over all the surroundings of pain in this world. I want to shut down and hide.

Is this a glimpse of the pain our Heavenly Father feels for the world? Our freewill so carelessly sins against God without any remorse for most of it. We continue to hurt others at the stake of our own selfishness. We do things without considering the consequences beforehand. And yet, God still loves us. He loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son for our sake.

As I suffer through the pain I am going through, I can only imagine how God must feel. He whispers words in my heart to remind me that I am not alone. Grief, can you hear me? I am not alone. I will not loose hope. I will cling to my God and not give in to your defeating ways.

You may have arrived unannounced. You may have dreamed of staying for long. But it won't happen. Not as long as I push through and trust in the One who came to bring me light in this dark world. He came to bring peace and joy. He came to give eternal life. He came to satisfy our deepest thirst. And He came to seek and save those like me, who feel lost.

So I will cling to hope that only comes from Him. I will be sad for a time but I will rejoice in knowing the Truth. I will press on. Just like visions of castles in air, I will press on towards the promise of everlasting life. I will believe in things to come. I will continue His purpose for me here on Earth. Because He did give me purpose and I will persevere.

His Daughter,

***Are you a blogger? Do you like to write? Come join in on the party of Five Minute Fridays over at . This blog entry today was part of a writing exercise to write a letter to grief.  God Bless!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

When All Else Fails

 If you know me, you know I am a woman of order. I like things to be organized. I like to have a schedule. I like to know what lies ahead with plans. Spur of the moment drop-ins by random people at my door puts me in an immediate paralyzed state as my first thought is, "my house isn't ready yet." When I make plans for an event and it doesn't work out the way I thought, I go into worrisome mode. If the house starts to get cluttered, which happens frequently with six children, I get panicky and start to fret. I have the need to feel prepared for everything.

But what if life isn't supposed to go that way? What if I remember that life is dynamic and cannot always go as planned?  What if I start to let loose and have a contingency plan? When all else fails, I should remember that God's got this in His plan. It's His timing and His order of events, not mine.

Sometimes things don't go as planned and that is okay. I used to be much worse when plans changed and I wasn't always okay with it. My super organized self would go into "Panicky Carrie Rhythm." It wasn't pretty, people! You can ask my husband. He'd take a duck and cover.

"What? Change of plans? Methinks that is impossible." Breathe. Breathe. State of panic. "Uhhhhhhh! This isn't happening!!!"

Over the past couple of years, this is an area I've been working on. During the Christmas season, it's easy to get bent out of shape when we have certain expectations on how we should celebrate or the way things should be. Family members can upset us over Christmas dinner. You've realized you've spent too much on gifts. Or maybe you got carried away in the receiving end of things. Perhaps the weather changed and isn't what you expected. Or you got delayed at the airport and now you are later than you wanted to be. It happens! That's what we have to remember. Things happen, plans change, and people will say things we may not want to hear. Yet, that's not a reason for a person to go haywire. No matter how prepared we are for something, it isn't always in our control. But what if  we let go of those expectations and go with the flow of it all.

As I teach my children to prepare their hearts for Christmas, we talk about forgiveness, redemption, and the attitudes we portray. I've learned to share with my little ones the kind of attitude I've had over being stubborn as things have changed. I am trying to teach them to let go of these expectations and be opened to new options. More than anything, I am trying to teach them that sometimes God allows these changes for a reason. Perhaps He is protecting us from something. Or maybe He is teaching us patience. Maybe the people coming to our home at random times is a moment for us to work on our hospitality. There are reasons for everything and we may not always understand.

Let me encourage you to let loose a bit when you celebrate this season. Go in with an attitude of "that's okay" versus "I must be in control." Prepare yourself to remember that anything can happen. And try to find the bright side of the situation versus the negative side. Instead of preparing for a moment of perfection, prepare for glitches along the way. You'll be all the better for it and so will the people around you. God Bless and Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Removing Toxins

2 Kings 4:38-41 Elisha returned to Gilgal and there was a famine in that region. While the company   of the prophets was meeting with him, he said to his servant , "Put  on the large pot and cook some stew for these men." 

One of  them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine. He gathered some of its gourds and filled the fold of  his cloak. When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew, though no one knew what they were. The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, "O man of God , there is death in the pot!" And they could not eat it. 

 Elisha said, "Get some flour." He put it into the pot and said, "Serve it to the people to eat." And there was nothing harmful in the pot.

Among Elisha's many miracles, one of them was the removal of the poison from the pot of stew so the people could continue to eat. Food was scarce and the people were hungry, no doubt. When it became difficult to find something to add to the stew, one person unknowingly gathered toxic gourds to add to the stew. Sure enough, the gourds were no good and Elisha removed the toxin from the stew.  The people were then able to enjoy their food.

When I think about things that are toxic in life, whether it be people, things, or emotions, we are often faced with either allowing the toxin to embrace our life or we must remove it. I think of things like relationships with difficult people, things that play on our emotions, or things that can cause us to stumble. For some it might be an addiction to something that has a stronghold on their life. For others, it might be a person who continues to bring them down. It could even be something that triggers the emotion of anger for a person. Or it could be consuming too much sugar in one's diet leading to the decline of the health and well-being of that person.

 If looked up in the Webster's Dictionary, the word toxic means, "Of or pertaining to poisonpoisonous." The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus says, "containing or contaminated with a substance capable of injuring or killing a living thing."   Other words for it are: "contagious, infectious, harmful, hurtful, unhealthful, deadly, corruptive, damaging."

Now think about the things that are currently toxic to your life at the moment. What comes to mind? Maybe it's something very obvious. Or maybe it's multiple things. These toxic things or people are enough to hurt us, damage us, and even become deadly. When thought of in those other terms, it's easy to see how these toxins can really be destructive in many ways, including our walk with God. They can be deadly and torment us beyond belief. They can suck the hope right out of a person.

When I think of what's toxic in my own life, I envision the slippery serpent in the Garden of Eden whispering into my ear in the most slithery way. It makes me shiver just thinking about how slimy and unfathomable those images can come to mind.

I think of that mother who thinks back on her day with thoughts of not being good enough because of what the world wants her to think is the only way to be... perfect. I think of the daughter who feels like she can never measure up. I think of the wife who wants to be better looking, a better cook, or a better mate. I think of the son who is seeking his father's approval. I think of the overweight person who can't stop consuming fried foods. I think of the husband who can't stop glancing at pornography behind his wife's back. I think of the person who can't stop gossiping about everyone else. I think of the one who continues to allow others to control their life without taking control for them-self. I think of the drunk who needs one more drink to take away the pain of the past. I think of all that we allow to control our thoughts, lives, emotions, fears, and much more.

As I travel through this life journey that God has given me, I have been in the process of trying to remove those things that are toxic to my life.  I watch the news less because much of it depresses me. I try to be careful with who I spend my time with as I focus on those who are going to lift me up, not tear me down. I turned off most social media sites so I could focus on what really matters. I don't bring beauty, entertainment, and most other magazines into my home as I know that a majority of the articles pertain to false ideas and images. And I also don't want to raise daughters (or sons) to think that many of those images are things we need to strive to be or that the articles having to do with certain issues are actually going to work. I don't watch many things on TV or at the movies as I know I will take offense to something vulgar or graphic. I take a careful approach to who I surround myself with, setting appropriate boundaries, and distancing myself from those who are toxic people.

Instead of embracing the things that cause damage, I try to focus on the beautiful things that lift me up, bring me hope, and lead me closer to God. I search my surroundings for things each day that are apart of God's Creation. I act silly with my little people like when we danced to Christmas music at the Amphitheater of a nearby park not caring what the spectators would pass by and think. I look for things to celebrate in all kinds of ways because life is worth celebrating. I do whatever I can to find ways to enjoy my day without the bad things or people so I can fulfill God's purpose for me here on Earth.

 Unfortunately, new toxins begin to come in and I start working on those as they arrive. It's kind of like a wave where I start to feel like I am sinking and drowning beneath the harmful and deadly things. As I remove them, I come back up for air and a sigh of relief. Yet, before long, I am starting to sink again.

But here's the catch! These toxins MUST be removed before it's too late. If Elisha hadn't removed the toxins from the stew, those people would have been dead. If we don't remove the toxins in our own life, we could very well be headed the same direction.

Now imagine a giant dustpan in front of you. It needs to be the biggest one you've ever seen. You are being handed a big broom, like one of those long outdoors ones you see at the hardware store. As you think about those toxins that are affecting your life at this moment, imagine them being swept right into that big dustpan ready to be thrown out. Come on! You can do this! Keep on sweeping until they are brushed away. Better yet, we might as well get that handheld blower. It'll remove them that much quicker.

 And breathe! Doesn't that feel much better? Now that they are gone, what will you do to keep them from coming back and taking over your life again? If you aren't sure where to start or what to do, give it all to God. He will show you the best way to remove them. Be blessed and know we are all on this journey together.