Monday, April 7, 2014

My Un-Day

I was having an un-day. Have you ever experienced one of those? Pick any positive word and put "un" before it. That's an un-day. I felt unattractive, unloved, unsecure, unworthy, unpopular, undisciplined, unsure, uninspiring, unaccepted ... and some made up "un" words as well (unfun, unskinny, untall, unfashionable, unsmooth, unyoung, etc.). There was absolutely nothing that I liked about myself on this day. I knew I was having a problem and God and I had talked about it at length in our morning time together. 

One of the things I absolutely adore about God is that He doesn't bang you over the head with something. He has faithfully let me know of His love, of His acceptance, regardless of my circumstances and how I feel about myself. And in those times when I am having an un-day (whether it's real or imagined), God GENTLY reminds me of my worth in Him. He doesn't condemn me for my feelings, but loves me in spite of them.

So, I was having an un-day. I was desperately trying to change my perspective so that I wouldn't dwell on my failings and shortcomings and make myself more miserable than I already was. Plus, I knew that intensely disliking myself wasn't pleasing to God and didn't particularly make me loveable to those people around me either. And since I'm in the middle of the Joy Dare (a year long program of focusing on everyday gifts in life to be thankful for), I already had some help in working towards changing that perspective. The assignment for today was to find three surprising gifts in unexpected places. Hmmmm. Seemed a tough assignment, especially when I was coming from such a negative place anyway. But I was going to look for the unexpected gifts.

And I found them ... in my husband's hug that seemed a little longer that morning ... in our dogs that sensed my mood and just wanted to cuddle with me. But it wasn't until I was on my afternoon walk that I found the last one -- the one that brought tears to my eyes and truly was a thank-you moment to God. I was walking along the walking trail in our park, and there in the middle of the rocky pathway was a big, fat, yellow dandelion. The dandelion didn't belong there. Dandelions don't grow in blacktop pathways. Someone had picked it and then dropped it. It had been put there specifically ... for me! Just like the days when my children would lovingly make me a huge dandelion bouquet and present their gift to me in their chubby little hands, so I instantly knew that God had placed this dandelion in this time, in this place, for me to find. And like my children always said "I love you" as they gave me their precious flowers, I heard God whisper to me, "I love you today and always".

My un-day quickly disappeared. It's amazing how focusing on God and His gifts can change our negative attitudes and thoughts. I don't think I'll ever be able to look at a dandelion in the same way again.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Security Addict

If you've read any of my blog posts, you know that my biggest "need" is security. For me, it's a little like oxygen or water -- it's an absolute necessity. And that's not a bad thing. In fact, security is a very, very, very good thing. The time that it DOES become bad, however, is when I put my security in things that are temporal or not lasting, in things that are fickle and changing, in things that falter and fail. When someone is a "security addict" like me, it becomes easy to put your security in all types of things -- relationships, health, bank accounts, government, insurance, jobs, looks, youth, etc. And why is that? Looking at that list ought to convince a semi-intelligent person that there is really nothing here on earth or within me that will fill the deep need for security. Every single one of the things on the above list changes. Relationships falter or fracture. People become sick. Bank accounts run dry. Governments change at elections. Insurance goes up and refuses to pay. Jobs may be cut off. Looks fade. Youth disappears in time. But I've tried to put my security in each one of these ... time and again.

In each and every instance of my life when I've put my security in something other than God Himself, I've come crashing down. My world is shattered. My hope is tarnished. My feeling of security is basically nothing. And, as I lay there among all of the broken dreams and my broken heart, God reaches down to me to pull me to my feet. He removes the imbedded glass from all that is shattered within me, cleans my wounds, and reminds me ONCE AGAIN that HE is unchanging. He never fails. He's not temporal. He doesn't falter. He is secure.

Will I learn? I'd like to think so. Although it might not be until I leave this earth and see Him face to face before I actually quit having a security problem. Even though I'm sometimes shattered by security issues, I'd like to believe that it's a part of God's grace. He sees me wandering off and putting my security in all the wrong places. He allows for me to experience the hurt of misplaced security because He knows His child. He knows I'll see where my error was (again!) and will come running back to my Place of safety and refuge, my one and only true Security. And the best part? He welcomes me each time, knowing my tendencies to bag up my security issues and hand them off to someone (or something) else. Because He patiently teaches, continuously reminds, and unconditionally loves me as His child. And that, my dear friends, is true security!
                    
Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
Malachi 3:6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed."

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Letters To My Children

For the last several years, I've been writing letters to my children. That seems kind of odd considering that I see my children fairly regularly and talk to them quite a bit. There's soooooo much more that I want to share with them though. More stuff than how OSU messed up their last football/basketball game ... more than how Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory reminds us of someone we know, but we never can figure out who ... more than how the dogs we own have taken over our lives. We do a lot of surface talking. Don't get me wrong! I'll take it! In fact, any time I can get any of my children to talk, I'll sit and listen for hours! But it seems that I don't get the "quality" time to really sit and visit with them, to find out what's going on in their lives, to delve in to feelings (which is pretty much downright torture for my sons to have to do anyway), and to share all of the wisdom that I have bottled up inside of me. (Yes, that was meant as a joke. My children will tell you that I never hesitate to share my "wisdom".)

So, because I really and seriously don't get that opportunity, I write letters to my children. Sometimes I write letters daily. Sometimes months might go by before I write to them. Most of the letters are fairly short, although a few ramble on for what will seem like forever. Unfortunately, my letters to my children are kind of like my blog posts -- erratic and who knows what they'll be like?!? But the heart and intent are there.

Topics in the letters might be: what God is teaching me, areas in my child's life where he's struggled but I've seen growth, gifts and talents of our children, praying for them, difficulties and struggles they're currently going through and seeing God's fingerprints in the midst of them, how much I love them and all of the reasons why I do, and so on. Many times I sit and laugh as I write because I'm so dang funny and my children will be reading these letters after I'm dead and gone. Maybe they'll appreciate my humor and wisdom then? I kinda doubt it, but a mom can dream, right? But even more often, I cry as I write. Why? Because there has really been no other area in my life like being a mom. It was my greatest challenge, the area where I felt my biggest defeats, my hardest struggles ... but at the same time, it was my biggest blessing, the largest arena of learning, and I'd love to still be in the midst of it.

I remember days wondering if my child would ever "get it". Will he ever learn to pick up his clothes and put them in the clothes hamper? Will she remember to look both ways before crossing the street? Will they hear God's voice telling them which path to choose? Will they look back on their childhood days fondly and want to repeat the same things with their own children? Will they remember a mom who had time for them, who listened to them, who loved them with a crazy and pursuing love? Or will they remember the mom who was impatient, demanding, and insecure in her own skin?

Even though my children have moved out of my home and have started families or homes of their own -- even though my children have jobs and are independent of me, God's showed me that my days as a mom are never over. Though I'm not tucking them in anymore, or listening for their car to drive in the driveway at curfew, or rocking them to sleep, I'm still praying over them, loving them, and writing them letters that are full of my heart. I expect them to read them after my funeral. Of course, I have several children who don't like to read, so it would be nice if someone would read the letters to them. 

And I'm grateful to their father -- the man who made all this possible. He was the one who encouraged me to stay home when our first child was born. I'll never forget when he told me that if we needed to eat beans every day for the rest of our lives, if that was the only way we could afford for me to stay home, then we'd do it. He was the one who told me he was 100% confident that I could homeschool our children and they wouldn't turn out to be social misfits or total idiots. He was the one who taught me that we need to pick our battles with our children. Having a spotless room did not qualify as a battle worth "dying on a hill" for. He taught me to relax, to laugh, to chill, to be less critical, and to be more patient (I didn't say that I mastered those lessons, but he definitely was a great teacher).

My job isn't done. I still pray over my children. I still tell them of my love. I still teach them. But this go-around, it's in letters ...