Lately I’ve been going through some challenges. You know, growing older, raising children, constantly questioning my decisions, etc. I understand that trials will be part of this life and that through those trials You teach us valuable lessons. But sometimes I have small doubts about Your timing. Sometimes, in my humble human brain I can’t piece together the exact reasoning You have about some of the things that happen in my life.
You’ve definitely proven to me over and over again that I am not in control of this life.
I always thought that I would have a career that fulfilled me, and You brought me together with a man with very different ideas. I always thought I’d stay home with my kids until they went to school and then I’d find a job. Then You brought me into homeschooling. I had decided that three children were plenty, and now You’ve gifted me a fourth. It is quite obvious that You are in control.
As I’ve grown older and grown in the word, I’ve slowly but surely been able to release my grasp on control; not for Your good but for my own. As I’ve let go, I’ve gained such a feeling of contentment. As I’ve let go, I’ve gained a freedom that I’ve never known before. As I’ve let go, I’ve made time for other things that actually are my responsibility.
However, Lord, You still find ways to remind me to trust You.
You find ways to send me messages like, “Your day will go smoother if you’d start it with Me,” or “Take care of your children, your husband, AND yourself.” The latter seems like a long hard road that we’re now traveling down. Years of neglecting myself has finally caught up with me and I have been physically forced to slow down.
However, Your goodness and love never fails me.
You placed people in my life to support me during this time: friends to bring meals and clean my kitchen, grandparents to watch the kids, and an amazingly compassionate husband to understand. And through the rest, You revealed to me just how much I’d been neglecting myself.
I can’t help but wonder though, if You’re really sure You know what You’re doing?
I mean, through the pain and discussion of back surgery You brought into my womb a beautiful new life. How wonderful! But why now? Why, when I was on a dangerous medication? Why, when my baby was just barely 10 months old? Why, when our house is already nearly stretched to its limit?
Please don’t misunderstand.
I am incredibly grateful for this beautiful blessing. I’ve seen the pain of a barren womb and I thank You for this miracle inside of me. But Lord, was this really the best time? Proverbs 3:5-6 says:
Obviously, I haven’t given up as much control as I thought.
If I had, I wouldn’t be questioning Your perfect timing. I remember in those first days when I was in such pain that there was no sleep, no rest for my mind, body, or soul. In those days I remember asking You fervently to reveal the lesson that You had for me in this trial. As the pain lessened and I found my new normal, that plea slowly faded away.
I know that You aren’t done with me yet, and for that I’m grateful.
Perhaps You intend to teach me patience. Perhaps it’s more about putting my faith in You and not in the hands of any surgeon. Perhaps it’s about bringing glory to You in my time of weakness. I have yet to discover Your perfect plan through all of this Lord, but I know that I can trust in You. Through my struggles and my failures, You’ve always been by my side. Please forgive me for questioning Your perfect plan and open my eyes to the many lessons I have yet to learn. Thank you for Your goodness and Your love.
Your humbled doubter
I’m a mom.
That right there should explain the title of this post. I’ve recently become more of a mom, or a mom to more, or something like that. We just had baby #4. That means that when we came home from the hospital with a tiny, wiggly, tooting machine, there wasn’t a honeymoon period. Now don’t get me wrong, there have still been plenty of sweet and adorable baby moments. But it’s different when a whole slew of children are running into and through those moments. You see, babies don’t change. This precious bundle does the same things that my others did. He eats, he sleeps, he poops (all the time!), and he makes those incredibly adorable little noises and faces while he’s dreaming. No, this baby is still a baby.
But what about me?
Well, I have certainly have changed. Gone are the days of endless snuggles with my firstborn. Now I have to battle myself over whether I’ve given each child enough individual attention. Gone are the days of watching a sweet baby sleep. Now I have to make the agonizing choice to lay my sweet snuggly bundle down to go break up an argument in the bedroom. Yes, those bittersweet days are gone and now it’s all toots, tantrums, and the terrible twos.
Now make no mistake: I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, maybe I would. I might take away teething, diarrhea, and sleep regression from my eighteen month old. I might shave off a bit of my four year old’s emotional sensitivity and I would definitely add on a mind reader so I can figure out exactly what my six year old was thinking when he made some questionable choice. But you know that’s just not how God designed things. And who am I to be making suggestions to God? I mean, it sounds good, but He just didn’t intend for eighteen month olds to be reasoned with. No, if God has shown me anything through this surprise blessing #4, it’s that His plans are so much greater than mine.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
God’s Plans are Greater than Mine
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve planned something only to later see God’s purpose to be more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. My plans were to marry the boy I was engaged to in high school. That plan had already brought me more heartache than any other plans I’d made. God’s plan was to break my heart and mend it and mold it for another…a godly mate who has cared for me like no other.
My plans were to go to college and launch myself into an exciting and fulfilling career. God’s plans were to show me the joy and love that only children can bring, and to lead me into a life of diapers, play dates, and home school.
My plans were to have three children and boldly state that my quiver was quite full. God’s plan was to bring a beautiful baby boy to be our fourth miracle–a blessing beyond any that I could have ever dreamed up.
Parenthood is definitely not an easy road, but I thank God for revealing his beautiful, more perfect plan. Some days I want to just break down and cry out that this gig is too hard. Other days I’ve got tears of pride running down my face at the beauty of my children. Some days are filled with poor choices and lots of discipline and molding of their hearts, while other days are filled with giggles and games and unspeakable joy. How much greater His plans have been than anything I could have even fathomed! I cannot wait until He comes in and wrecks my next set of plans.
Have you ever made a plan only to see God’s more perfect plan shine through?
How do you encourage others who are in the trenches of parenthood?
God is in Control, Right?
Does the title of this post spark the memory of a song for you like it does for me? It brings me back to my childhood, listening to my mother croon the words Twila Paris made so popular: “God is in control. We believe that His children will not be forsaken. God is in control. We will choose to remember and never be shaken.”
Too bad I can’t seem to take these words to heart when I’m in the middle of a lack-of-control freak out. Once upon a time I never would have described myself as a control freak. I mean, I’ve got a typical Type A personality and am true to my birth order description, but I’m also generally pretty laid back. Aside from my teen years and the random drama of junior high and high school, I have always tried to stay neutral through the ups and downs of life (at least that’s how I remember it).
To Everything There is a Season
Friends, I am here to tell you how the tides have changed. Whether it is just that I’m getting older and losing that notion of invincibility, or the fact that I now am charged with the care and sustenance of four other lives, I don’t know. Maybe it’s too many consecutive years of stress, or perhaps a culmination of all of the above that sparked my intense need for control. Yet at thirty-one years old, I found myself winding through the mental and physical implications of panic attacks. I used to puzzle at the idea of fainting. I knew people who fainted for various reasons, but I never quite understood how a person could get to that place. Now I fully understand it. While I’ve never officially fainted, I’ve felt that feeling of “losing control” over my body enough times in the past year to last me a lifetime.
Finding the Pieces of the Puzzle, and Trying to Put Them Together
The most difficult part of this past year’s struggle has been figuring out what issues are actually related to a bodily problem and which issues are a result of the panic that has bubbled up inside of me. For me, my panic is set off by the fear of physical trouble. I’ve spent a fair amount of time analyzing my issues, and that alone has given me the ability to calm down most of the time.
However, I do have days where I can’t seem to kick the panic. It’s ever-present and sometimes encompassing. It tricks me into thinking that I’m having a heart problem, or a blood pressure problem, or that I might have a stroke. This alone makes me feel like I’m going crazy. This didn’t used to happen, why does it happen now? In reality I know the answer. A scary birth, my newborn being hospitalized, and the loss of a dear friend who also had young children seems to have triggered a type of control issues all its own.
Who Is in Control?
How can I control what’s going on inside my body? How can I ensure that my valves open and close at the right times? Or that my heart continues to beat to the right rhythm? Or that I don’t have a stroke at home in the middle of the day, leaving my children to fend for themselves? I can’t. Obviously, I absolutely have no control of those things. I can eat right, exercise, and get fresh air, but none of that guarantees I will carry on to see another day. Here, in this setting, God is truly the only one in control.
Joshua 1:9 says:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
This is one of the verses that sustains me when I need to calm my mind and refocus on the Lord. Here’s another of my favorites.
It turns out that worry and anxiety is not a new thing.
Turns out that the good Lord knew what kind of trials we might face, even those within our minds. Alongside all of my introspection, I have also taken time to really consider the mental struggle Jesus must have endured during His last days on the earth. Knowing that He would ultimately have to face not just death alone, but the persecution and hatred of people around Him. Jesus often went off alone to be in prayer. I have to wonder if many of His prayers were for mental strength. How easily He could have been consumed by the fear of his upcoming crucifixion! Fear of the pain and torture, fear of the hatred. Spending time with the Father would have been the only comfort for Jesus, and the same is true for me.
Do you struggle with panic and anxiety? I’d love to hear what helps you through it!
Interested in reading more about control? Check out Toni’s post and Sara’s post.
I’ll never forget the first time my husband told me he didn’t believe in soulmates. I’ve always felt like the term itself was a little cheesy, but up until that point I suppose I had never really given the idea much thought. Still it seemed a little…unromantic. In our culture we’ve been inundated with movies and stories of finding true love. And what is true love if it isn’t one special person you’re destined to be with for all of eternity? That’s what the world would have us believe, and I admit, I did buy into the romance of that in my younger years.
In the Beginning
I suppose in many ways the way my husband and I started our dating relationship could be considered very romantic. It is definitely very similar to a barely believable Hallmark movie. The story goes that our mothers were best friends in high school. My mother was even maid of honor in his mother’s wedding. Then my mother moved away, got married and our mothers didn’t see one another again until they were both pregnant with us (insert collective “awww”).
After I was born, my mother enlisted in the Air Force. I spent the rest of my days exploring new states and countries every few years, while my husband spent his days exploring wheat fields, farm equipment, and the inside of engines in our small hometown. Fast forward to August 2005. I was visiting my great-grandmother who is very dear to me before I left for college. I was enrolled in a Christian college in Oklahoma City. At the church potluck a sweet older lady was chatting with my grandmother when I was beckoned over to meet a boy who was also OKC-bound.
Friendship Blossoms into Something More
Honestly, I didn’t give it much of a second thought. I was engaged to a boy from high school in a very toxic relationship. Our friendship slowly bloomed as he and I began to ride home together to visit our families. He was always kind and respectful, and I valued our friendship. When my engagement came crashing down around me, he was there with words of comfort and support. A couple of months later I was there to reciprocate when he and his college girlfriend broke up.
At this point I had never had a romantic feeling toward him. It would be another couple of months before our friendship began to blossom into something more. I remember when I first really realized how blue his eyes were, and suddenly I could hardly bear for him to look at me. That sounds so ridiculous, but it is so very true. After a chaste kiss to the hand I was sold, and the rest, they say, is history.
My Plans are not the Lord’s Plans
I promise you have endured that long story for a purpose! Jaded by my broken engagement and the betrayal that came with it, I told God I was done looking for a soulmate. My plan was to study, focus on school and my faith, and leave the rest up to Him. How funny it is to me now that I thought I actually had complete control of things in my life! Alas, I was young and needed to learn so very much more about the Lord and myself.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
I had no way of knowing that this man would challenge me in more ways that I ever knew possible. He showed me how to love without shame. I learned how to dream within boundaries and how to plan for an unpredictable future. He unleashed desires in my heart that I had fought against, desires that were God’s will hushed by my own plans and dreams.
So now comes the question:
If he was so good for me, so helpful in my walk with the Lord, wouldn’t that make him like an–I don’t know–soul mate? If you look in God’s word (and I have), there’s no mention of one perfect person to fulfill us, aside from God, of course. And it makes sense. God wants to hold that most special place in our hearts. He requires us to love him above all else and above ourselves. God very plainly wants to be first in our hearts. He does not build another human being to be perfect in our eyes. No, He reserves that place for himself.
Choosing to Love
So as flawed human beings, we are destined to choose love. We must choose to love one another in the hardest of times. In my experience, choosing love has been the single easiest way to resolve any conflict in our marriage. I don’t expect him to fill my needs, to perfectly anticipate my desires, or insure that our marriage stands strong against the enemy. And I would not measure up if he expected those things of me.
Instead of expecting to fit like a hand in a glove, we expect the snags and grooves along the way. If one of us has a rough spot, we work to buff it out. If the other has a hang up, we find a way around it. There has yet to be a bridge that we cannot cross in love. When we are both overworked, overtired and over-stressed, it is much harder to choose love. However, it just gives us more opportunity to practice.
How do you choose love with those you care about?
Be encouraged by these posts as well!
It’s 3:30 P.M. and I am DONE with this day. How in the world will I make it until Dad gets home? The baby just won’t take an afternoon nap anymore, which of course means she will be incredibly cranky by 6:00, but that’s far too early for bedtime. The big kids are in quiet time, but somehow I can still hear every single thing they do or say. My quiet time is obviously nonexistent since the baby has decided not to nap. Instead I’ll have a snack that I have to share. Did I mention I am thirty weeks pregnant with my fourth child? Or that I home school, so I am solely responsible for the needs of all of my children all day long?
OK, the baby is playing and reading books happily, I’ll get something to drink and catch up on Facebook happenings and my email. Then I realize I’d better be sure I have everything I need to make dinner. Speaking of dinner, what time will Dad be home tonight? I’d better text him to find out.
Me: Hey, how’s your day going?
Me: I’m sorry. Working late?
Him: I won’t be early.
Great. Another late night. Another night that my duties just don’t end. It’s ok. Deep breath. Be thankful he has a good job that pays all the bills.
This is the moment my peace begins to crumble.
The big kids get done with quiet time and the battle to clean up their rooms begins. Everyone is bickering or distracted. Everyone is hungry and tired of each other. Here’s the thing: I know what to do in these situations, right? I mean, I have a degree in child development. I have an arsenal of clean-up songs and games and quick activities that can give us all a break. Except all of those things are lost in my pregnant brain…OK, prayer, right? I can say a prayer; read a verse; have a breath of fresh encouragement to pull from. Except who can say a prayer or read the scriptures when there’s a screaming
banshee baby attached to my legs?
I’ll stop there. As you can see this scenario is set up for defeat. Mom is over-tired, over-worked, under-encouraged, and too pregnant! Obviously not every day goes like this. Some days the baby will nap, or Dad does come home on time. Occasionally, everyone can manage to get along. Some days. But some days are just hard. And in that moment, a mother can really start to spiral downward. Especially when there is no one else there to provide back-up, relief, or just run interference for a while. Single moms. Moms of overworked husbands. Working moms! Any mom can find herself here.
But take heart, Momma! There is hope.
Here are some verses I have found helpful and will be referring back to during these particularly turbulent days.
I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.
This is step one! Call upon the Lord, He will hear you.
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
Step 2. Cast your cares upon him. There is nothing too small or too insignificant for God. He cares about YOU.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Oh my goodness, yes! Isn’t it funny how the children’s fighting and the baby’s crying and the mother’s exhaustion can be so symbolically perfect with this verse? It can so easily feel like the earth is giving way and the mountains are falling into the sea. This verse is a soothing balm to my soul because I know the Lord is my refuge during these times. He is a safe place for me to rest, if only for a moment!
More Verses of Encouragement
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Step 3. Do not fear. God will strengthen you and help you. He has not left you or forgotten you. You are important to Him!
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Step 4. You have peace. After approaching God and casting your cares on Him, He will give you strength and peace to endure. Praise the Lord for His promises!
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Step 5. Keep your eyes upon the Lord. I frequently struggle with this step. If I were able to keep a proper perspective in the beginning, I would not be so easily overwhelmed. However, we know that the flesh is weak but in God we can be made strong!
Encouragement on the Motherhood Journey
I hope that these verses can be an encouragement to you like they are to me. I find myself dealing with an easily overwhelmed spirit as I enter the end of a pregnancy and exhaustion creeps in. These verses are a great help to me in those times. I hope these can be a help in whatever trials you find yourself struggling through during your motherhood journey.
What are some ways that you find renewal during the particularly tough days of motherhood?
What encouraging words would you give to yourself or another struggling mother during the hard times?
Be encouraged by these posts as well!