Saturday, May 31, 2014

Thankful and Content

It's been a great few days!  After spending an evening with a group of friends and acquaintances at a celebration and looking back over the past few days, I just smiled to myself.  It is often hard for me to trust people.  I think that might be true of many in ministry.  For me I think it is one of the ways that I try to maintain control and to prevent myself from getting let down by relationships.  Due to some recent hurts, I have been trying to figure out what to do with that because I have been feeling even more skeptical, and I truly don't want that.  I spent today with five of David's friends over playing and celebrating the start of summer while I baked and prepared for a party for a friend tonight.  At the party I sat and enjoyed the company of other friends and my family.  I looked around at one point and just realized how blessed I am.  It's a blessing that someone needed me to help throw a party and trusted me enough to pull it off.  It's a blessing that I had a friend who was willing to jump in and help me do it because I'm not sure I'm trustworthy enough to pull it off by myself.  It's a blessing that I was able to sit down and just enjoy the presence of others.

Then I got home and I was looking at Facebook.  I somehow missed an amazing post that James put up a couple days ago, or at least I didn't read it when I was not distracted because tonight it had a huge impact on me.  It's interesting how God is working on similar things in James's life as He is in mine.  Because of that James posted the following, something I desperately need to hear and remember:

"A huge struggle lately has been getting caught up in the responsibilities and difficulties of life in Haiti. Everything has seemed to leave me entirely spent lately. But God has been hammering me with 2 reminders over the past two days to lift me up. 1) I've got to lean into Him! I'm not pulling off anything good on my own, His will is perfect I only need to allow him to use me and trust him! and 2) I'm extremely blessed, I have a great life, I'm surrounded by great people, the extent of my job is sharing smiles with amazing kids and the God of the universe gave me the greatest gift ever! Focusing on the trials is ungrateful, selfish and frankly exhausting. My God is great and He pours out endless blessings when my eyes are fixed on that fact and my heart has faith in what He is doing no trial can even earn a second glance. Love my Lord and where he has me in life!"

My issue of trying to control things is a problem.  I know that.  I can't tell you that I am going to be able to change that, but I need to continue leaning into God and remembering that I am His tool and nothing more.  And I need to remember that I am abundantly blessed.  I am surrounded by great people!!!  And to top it off, I have an incredible husband and pretty amazing kids as well.  I cannot thank God enough for the many blessings He has bestowed on me!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fighting Discontentment!

A while back I posted about a lack of contentment, which continues to be a struggle for me at this point.  I have taken some significant steps to try to overcome it, but it continues to bring me down.  I am not one to spot a demon behind every issue, but lately I have felt that this is in many ways a spiritual issue, probably brought on a lot by being incredibly tired physically and emotionally, but a spiritual one none the less.

I know the truth that "The joy of the Lord is my strength" (Nehemiah 8:10), and yet I remain in this struggle.  The knowledge is not translating to the heart.  I have contemplated how in the world to make this right thinking seep down and create right feeling.  I don't know what the answer is, but almost a year ago, I felt really convicted to take time to blog about the things in my life for which I should be so grateful.  I posted five blog posts about it, determined to post one every day, but as with other things in life, this fizzled, and I did not remain committed to the endeavor.  I also noticed about that time that I really started struggling more with being frustrated with the circumstances of life (mostly with regard to not having the time and flexibility in my schedule that I want).  This was partly why I thought the blog posts were so important.  After I started posting, though, things began to seemingly get worse, almost as if there was some sort of attack, and it has continued to be a difficult season for me.

With that said, I am very aware that while things are not always perfect and great, God has blessed me immensely, and I want to continue with this idea of posting things for which I am grateful.  I am not going to set myself up for failure again by trying to do it daily, but I do want to write down the amazing blessings God has given to me.  I started a new blog for this purpose a year ago, and I think I will continue typing in that one.  If you are interested, the link is Counting My Blessings . . . And Making Them Count.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

One Size Does NOT Fit All

For anyone who has more than one child, you know what I am talking about.  I remember when Jason became a toddler and then preschooler and how confused I was . . . and the confusion with Jason does not even begin to compare to my shock with David.  James was a very easy toddler and preschooler.  He was fairly calm and compliant.  The word “no” generally heeded positive results.  He played nicely by himself.  He talked at a young age, so he was able to verbalize his wants and needs.  He was even potty trained by 2 ½ years old, which we thought was great for a boy.  It was all pretty simple, and Brent and I thought we were pretty good parents.

When Jason was born, he was an easy baby, sleeping through the night within a few weeks.  He was rarely fussy, and he took nice long naps during the day.  The only problem at that time was that he did not like a bottle, and I had to go back to work.  But when Jason got old enough to be told the word “no” or to be taught and trained various things, from walking to not touching breakable objects, we were in for something new.  And we were stumped!

The rest of their lives have been like this, plus we added David and Sarah, who each brought their own special personalities, both positive and negatives, that we have had to learn how to manage.  Brent once heard a pastor speak on the passage, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and in the end he will not part from it” (Proverbs 22:6).  It was different than what we had previously understood this verse to mean.  The pastor talked about raising each child according to the child’s natural bent.  Now, I’m just a mom blogging (yes, I’m a pastor’s wife, but I’m not blogging to analyze Scripture) and I’m sure there are plenty of smarter people out there who can argue the truth of this interpretation with me, but it’s not necessary.  Either interpretation is an excellent promise.  This idea of raising a child according to his gifts and talents and personality makes a lot of sense to me.  We have failed miserably at different times, and we have had to apologize for each of the times that our children have had to be guinea pigs as we try new parenting strategies on them, but we try.

While James was an easy toddler and preschooler, Jason has been the easiest teenager ever!!!!  It is very rare that we have to punish him.  When there is an issue, it is generally related to school, which is ultimately an issue of work ethic.  With James the issues were over his attitude and how much smarter he thought he was than us.  He would argue FOREVER!!!!  But his work ethic was incredible!  This is only one example of their differences.  It has taken a lot of work on our part to even come close to figuring out what works best with each of them in terms of guiding and directing them.  Sometimes it would be nice if a quick spanking fixed whatever problems with any of them . . . for us and for them . . . or if reading a book to them immediately created a connection with any of them, but they different.

We have to work to figure out both connecting and correcting opportunities that work for their uniqueness in order to effect the best change and the best relationship.  And though it is hard, it is also a fun adventure, and I would not give it up for anything in the world.