Understanding.

I think Ivan says this a lot, and I know I have heard it elsewhere too.  How sometimes we go through certain things so we can understand the plight of others.

Like when I have sprained an ankle or bruised a hand and can barely do anything, but I know it is only temporary and someone out in the world lives with a disability far worse daily for all their life.  Or when we’re sick, or have a bad week with money, and so forth and realize how it must be like for someone who will have to live with that forever (on earth).

This past week, a real burden has been put on my heart for single parents.  Please do not think I am in any way comparing myself to one.  Currently I am working two jobs (which feels really weird to write) and so, after being home for a year-and-a-half where I had too much time on my hands, I am out of the house Monday through Friday.  We often have activities after school and even if we don’t there’s homework to be done, dinner to be made (which I have been a complete #FAIL with), and a running to do list that I think I may be finished with five years after I’m dead.  Things I could easily accomplish in the past in the few hours Goob was in school, now have to be done in the few sporadic intervals of time I can grasp at throughout the week.  Laundry never ends, dishes always need to be washed, etc. etc.

And the thing is I have a husband who helps me greatly.  Plus, I am only have one child who is very self-sufficient and it still feels like it’s never-ending.  So my heart truly felt great sadness for anyone who has to do these kinds of things daily on their own.  I can’t imagine it.

I have always understood but now truly feel agreement emotionally (? can’t think of the right way to explain it) why God instituted marriage the way He did.  Especially when it comes to child-rearing.  No one was meant to do parenting alone.

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks here as we adjust to a new normal.  In May though, I’ll cut out one job and that will help tremendously.  But in addition to truly being in prayer for single parents, I have thanked God for allowing me to feel this way so I could step out of my woe is me attitude and be grateful that I have a partner to support me through it.

I am glad to serve a God that allows us to experience things to give us a better understanding on how to intercede on the behalf of others.

Single parents, I salute you.

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I give up.

Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that our home is pretty much always in top shape.

Even having an active little boy didn’t stop me from trying to achieve the Martha-Stewart-cleanliness of homes.

Even when Goob was a baby/toddler, every few hours, I’d stack (and re-stack) books, stuffed animals, and toys.  Tucked away in a neat little corner; looking as if they hadn’t been played with just minutes before.

Truth is as nice as it looked, it was a compulsion.  I couldn’t bear a mess.  It didn’t help that I grew up in a near-perfect home.  (Aesthetically speaking, of course).  It’s the bliss and the horror of growing up with a stay-at-home-mom (and eventually becoming one, for periods of time, myself).  I constantly saw her cleaning; I constantly heard the oohs and ahhs when people entered the threshold of the door; I nary saw a shoe out of place and most certainly knew better than to sit on a freshly-made bed.

It was hard to let go of perfection.  I’ve never given much thought to how I look, what kind of job I’ve had, and the like.  But my home–that was the one thing I had control over.

Originally, as I mulled over this post in my head, the title of it was going to be Letting go.  Because that’s just what I had to do.  Let go of all the notions of what I thought was right that I had built up for so long.

Essentially, I’ve given up.

I give up on trying to keep our home dust free.  Because you dust, and the next day it doesn’t look like you have dusted at all.

I give up on trying to constantly sweep up every lint or crumb because the second I put the broom down, surely there will be more lint on the floor.

And the biggest area I’ve given up on, the hardest, is my son’s room.

It never looked like a spread from The Pottery Barn or anything, but every single item was meticulously placed in a designated location.  And don’t you dare not put it back in said location.

But you know what?  That’s my dream.  That’s my level of importance.  Not his.  It’s his room; his place to be free.  Not mine.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I will still have limits.  Like for the love of cheese, Goob, please do not leave your uniform crumpled on your chair because mommy-can’t-wash-the-same-shirt-every-day-and-I’m-not-your-Nana-who-thinks-you-should-have-five-shirts-one-for-each-day-of-the-week.  And underwear?  They TOTALLY GO IN THE HAMPER NOT ON YOUR FLOOR AND YOUR FUTURE WIFE ISN’T GO TO PICK UP AFTER YOU LIKE I DO.  (Boys!)

But his room needs to be lived in.  And the way it looks should reflect that.  So nightly, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve walked out of a room that I would love to pick up the scraps of paper that lay idly on the carpet or pick up the books that are longing to be placed back in their rightful spot on the bookshelf.  Sure, I need to teach him responsibility but there has to be a compromise.  Is it killing me?  Is it hurting him?  No, it’s not.  It’s the room of an eight-year-old boy who cares more about teaching his pretend class, takes notes from his Bible on his dry erase board; still plays trains and cars on the floor, etc.

I’ve resorted to the once a year rule.  Once a year, it will get the most thorough, purge all the toys you don’t want, organizational overhaul.  Of course, I’ll still dust and vacuum regularly.  But cars in their designated drawer?  Markers in a holder and not just placed on a desk?  That stuff isn’t super important.  He’ll know he has a voice and a say in how he leaves his things.  As long as he takes care of them.

I’ve seen many bloggers with these type of posts, so mine is certainly not some revolutionary concept.  I guess there comes a time in mommyhood where you really do start to realize what’s more important.

Don’t get me wrong.  Without me even realizing it, the year-and-a-half I recently spent at home formed good habits in which I always pick up before going to bed.  A place for everything and everything in its place is not a bad general rule of thumb.  And dishes not getting piled up is not so bad either.  I’ll still need most of my home to look a certain way.  I need to keep some of my sanity and peace of mind.

But I give up.  While things may be in their place, floors will never be scrubbed on any type of consistent basis.  And don’t dare look at my windows.  Or the inside of my stove.  Or our bathtub for that matter.  (Shudder.)

I’ll be too busy tickling a little boy on the floor of a messy but well-loved and well-lived in bedroom.

And I’m okay with that.

I am totally okay with that.

Resting in peace.

I don’t like the phrase resting in peace.

And while I make get flak for my opinion, and actually have already in conversations with people, I don’t like the phrase because I do not believe that everyone who dies is resting in peace.

I know we are not to judge other people’s hearts, there is biblical support for that, but we are allowed to judge the actions of a person; their fruit.  And when someone lives a life that is in total opposition to God, I’m not going to assume they are in heaven.  In that case, the Bible is very clear about the immense anguish and suffering one will endure for eternity in hell.  There is no peace in that.  (I don’t say this to scare you or offend you if someone you love fits in this category.  We can’t change the past.  We can only take account for ourselves.)

The good thing is that I don’t need to focus on what happens to someone after they die.  So I promise I’m not going all Pat Robertson on you.  There’s a point to this.

Because on the flip side, when someone who has professed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and has lived a life bearing much good fruit and was faithful in their faith daily, we can rejoice with certainty about where they will spend eternity.  On Tuesday evening, my best friend’s mother passed away after an aggressive two-year battle with cancer.  What compounded this tragedy was that two years prior to her mother’s diagnosis, my friend (and her two sisters) lost their father in a tragic construction accident.  So many people have survived much more than a 15-story fall.  Why didn’t God save my friend’s father?  So many women beat breast cancer.  Why didn’t Debbie?

Because that would not have brought God glory.

I know that’s a bitter pill for people who don’t believe to swallow.  But in my heart it’s true.  I was created for God’s glory–my life and everything that happens in and through it is to make the name of His Son known.  The good, the bad, the downright ugly and awful–what seems bad in our human, fleshly eyes is marvelous and glorious and meticulously planned in His.

We will never have all the answers on this side of heaven.  And honestly, I am glad for that.  Because I don’t think we could handle it if we did.

For the first time in my life, I have felt the weight of someone else’s sadness in a way that breaks me to the core.  Sobbing from the pit of my stomach, I am crying out for the Lord to heal my best friend, her sisters, and their children–that their pain could be softened.  Why God has chosen to place the many–often unbearable–obstacles in their way, I am not sure.  But I have long told my best friend, He is weaving the most beautiful story through her (and them).

The second I heard the song Already There from the new Casting Crowns album, I immediately thought of my best friend.

From where I’m standing
Lord, it’s so hard for me to see
Where this is going
And where You’re leading me
I wish I knew how
All my fears and all my questions
Are going to play out
In a world I can’t control

When I’m lost in the mystery
To You my future is a memory

‘Cause You’re already there
You’re already there
Standing at the end of my life
Waiting on the other side
And You’re already there
You’re already there

From where You’re standing
Lord, You see a grand design
That You imagined
When You breathed me into life
And all the chaos
Comes together in Your hands
Like a masterpiece
Of Your picture-perfect plan

One day I’ll stand before You
And look back on the life I’ve lived
I can’t wait to enjoy the view
And see how all the pieces fit

It is so hard to understand why God has orchestrated her life in the way He has.  But in the midst of all the questions she has, none of it is a surprise to our Lord.  He is already there.  He knows and He is waiting.  And one day, she will stand before him–and see how all the pieces fit.  Every hurt, every tragic event, every tear, every anguish–in one second, it will all make sense.  And that will be a beautiful moment.

For right now, Debbie is having her moment.  We stand in full confidence that what we have prayed for two years has come to pass–she is fully healed.  She is dancing with her Savior; worshipping Him in the better life we as believers wish to have and in the place we wish to be.  Where there are no more hurts, tragic events, tears, nor anguish.  She is resting in peace.  Peace she received when she accepted that she was a sinner who needed a Savior.  And that a Savior who lived a perfect life, was murdered on a cross, and rose again made the way for her to have that peace.

It’s a peace we can have here on earth too.  It does not mean perfect days.  But it does mean when those tragedies come and we’re sobbing from the pits of our stomach, we know it will be okay.  We’re sad, but we feel content in knowing it was His plan.  His will.

I pray you choose to rest in His peace today.

And if you are the praying nature, please pray for my best friend and her family.  Their loss in overwhelming.  But we trust in a God that will show great mercy and compassion on them as they navigate this difficult road and walk the new normal they will have to create and adjust to.

Resting in Him alone,

Lis

Kind words.

While walking out of my parent’s house today, I noticed a car obviously having trouble starting.  By the time I put Goob in, our stuff, and was making my way to the car door, I could hear the frustration of a young lady inside through an open window.  I stood for a few moments debating in my head what to do; I leave just with enough time to pick up husby from the train station.  Surely I would be late if I tried to help.

My gaze fell to the rear window where I saw the handle of a baby carrier.  I saw a gentleman sitting in the back equally frustrated as indicated by the tone in his voice as he responded to the woman.  In that moment I knew that being the hands and feet of Jesus often pulls us out of the plans we have made, even if they include your husby having to stand on a corner waiting for you.  (At least it was a most lovely day.)

I went over to the driver’s side door, and through the cracked window asked if they needed help specifically perhaps a boost.  The gentleman responded he did not think that was the problem.  He got out to check on the car, as did the woman.  I peeked through the rear window and squealed at the cuteness that was the most perfect little baby girl in the backseat.  I told the mom how absolutely precious she was, and immediately her expression softened, the tone of her voice changed, and as she smiled, she said, “Thank you so much.”  I proceeded to chit chat asking “How many weeks the baby was?”, etc.

In that moment, my father just happened to be walking home and I called him over.  He had a look in the car and all it turned out to be–was a car that had just run out of gas.  Daddy went home; the gentleman was on the phone.  I asked if they were sure they would have someone that could come and help them and they said yes.  So I went on my way.

In the moments I stood debating what to do, I saw a young lady who was probably frustrated enough with the daunting task of being a mother to a newborn.  And your car breaking down in the middle of a street does nothing to soothe already fragile nerves.  I did not offer much; in fact, I could have and perhaps should have offered much more.  But in that moment, a kind word seemed to be a remedy that could diffuse a tense situation.  A stranger willing to walk over and ask if they needed any help drew the attention away from the obvious bickering that was about to take place.

I don’t write this post to brag.  In all my actions, thoughts, and deeds I want to remain humble.  I write this as an encouragement to you.  Sometimes just an offer of a helping hand or a comment on how cute someone’s baby is can help to soften a hard mood.  Walls come down.  It’s what I would want if I were sitting in the middle of a street in a car refusing to move with a crying seven-week-old baby in the backseat.

Kind words are like honey–
they cheer you up and make you feel strong.
Proverbs 16:24 CEV

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I am going to try to be better at updating and one of the things I am trying to do is draw inspiration from the various blogs I subscribe to and read daily through my email.

This was today’s favorite post: The Audacity of Hope.

Angie Smith’s post often resonate with me (As do her books; I am currently reading What Women Fear.).

In my life, hope has led me to pray. It has led me to believe Him. To have the boldness to say that I trust Him above the hurt. It has given me a reason to lift my head, to stake my claim, and to dismiss the shadows that whisper, “it will not be redeemed.” We do not know the ways of the Lord, of course. I’ve heard it said a thousand times and I agree. But there is more to say, isn’t there?

This statement could not be true.  Even in the midst of knowing I was losing our baby in late April of 2009, I prayed and hoped with all my might that the Lord would redeem the situation.  I did not get the ending I wanted and to this day I still do not have the things I want, but my trust is in Him alone.  And my hope is personified in the way I live out my life for Him–as messy as it sometimes looks and is.

Be well, folks.

~Lis