Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My internal battle

On Sunday afternoon I walked across the alley behind our house to my neighbor’s home to check on Samuel (they have two boys close to Samuel’s age and the three of them play together every week). As I opened their gate and walked up their sidewalk, the afternoon sun warmed my face. I stopped and looked around their backyard…and thought it would be a perfect day to sit in the sun and read.

I brushed away that thought and walked into my neighbor’s home where they were watching the Viking’s game on television. I checked on Samuel, chatted with my neighbor and then returned home to sort coupons, make my grocery list, and check out the sales items for the week at various stores. After 60 minutes of meal planning and list-making, I rested on the couch thinking a Sunday afternoon nap sounded good. But I couldn’t sleep (even though I love naps) so off I went to the store.

And while I'm driving in my car, my internal battle
the one I struggle with dailycomes to light.

Why don’t I sit in the sun on a lazy Sunday afternoon while one kid naps, one kid plays at a friend’s house and one husband snoozes while watching football? I do things for myself: I go to craft night once a month. I meet with girlfriends for after bedtime chats every once in a while and occasionally I even eat in a restaurant with a friend. Saturday I spent 7 hours celebrating a friend who turned 40 this month. I attend events with friends, but I rarely enjoy unscheduled things for pleasure.

Why?

Because I schedule my fun. And when fun isn't scheduled, there is work to be done.

Seriously...who does that?!

A friend asked me not too long ago about whether or not I take Sabbath days. And I don’t. I often use the days I have at home to get all the stuff done I can’t do on the days I am in the office. And when I don’t accomplish tasks, I feel very far behind.

I am a doer. Even when I go to a friend’s home or meet someone for coffee, I am doing. I am celebrating a friend. I am being social. I am accomplishing an activity.

I read plenty of parenting articles about letting it all go and just sitting on the floor and playing with the kids. In two days last week….two entire days…I’m not sure I sat on the floor once and played a game or made a puzzle or read a book with my kids (other than the usual bed time reading). We did make play dough together – but that was still me completing a task. Because you know, making play dough was on my to-do list and I was happy to cross it off. I certainly didn't sit at the table and play with my kids. I cleaned up the kitchen while they played.

I have a little secret: I am obsessed with doing.

I make to-do lists almost daily. I text myself things to do. I email myself things to do. I write notes to remind myself what to do. I even wrote a blog post for work awhile back about this phrase: Do less. Be more. I am preaching to the choir friends. And the choir is made up of one person: me.

I want to be more and do less. And yet….I don’t live that way. I’m so busy doing that I’m missing the days and moments and hours of just being. Being seems so appealing. I love bubble baths. I love snuggling on the couch under a blanket and reading. I enjoy being creative and yet, unless it’s on the calendar, I don’t do it. I let the cooking and laundry and meal planning and picking up around the house and preparing for tomorrow fill my minutes, hours and days.

In my brain, there is always something I should be doing. The word bored has never been part of my vocabulary. And the times I’m too lazy to actually get up and do what needs to be done, I often times feel a heavy burden and sense of guilt.

When Ryan and I watch a movie I’m usually multi-tasking so I don’t feel like I wasted that time. Why in the world do I think relaxing and watching a movie with my husband is wasting time?

I’m constantly living by my to-do list and my list is never done.

I’m also constantly living for future state. Future state 1: Ryan is employed and our life looks different. Future state 2: we have more income. Future state 3: the kids are older and more independent and require less supervision (and yet the thought of this is enough to put me in tears because I love the little arms that wrap around my neck and the small hands that hold mine). Future state 4: my home is organized. Yes, please laugh with me because that future state is far, far, far away.

Living in any future state, leaves me missing out on Sunday afternoon reading time with a cup of hot tea and sweet moments to read or rock with my kids. Living by my to-do list holds me bondage to a dirty bathtub, a fridge that hasn’t been cleaned out in months, recycling that needs to be taken out, a closet that needs serious help, toys that need to be sorted and back steps that have cob webs growing on them.

I realize part of this is my personality. And part of this is a sickness created by our culture that idealizes doing, doing and doing some more. But I also take responsibility that I am a grown adult and just as I tell my kids they have a choice, I have choices every day in how I choose to spend my time.

Yes dishes need to be washed, lunches need to be packed and my family needs clean clothes to wear. But my obsession with doing and my fear of being will only succeed in robbing me of the abundant life that is mine for the taking.

It's a daily battle. My flesh works hard to stay busy doing. It fights the Spirit who is calling me to a life of being

I'm continually learning that rather than try harder, I just need to stand in awe of what was already done and allow the One who created me, teach me how to be still in Him.  

**Side note: I will be the first to admit that I am totally delusional about future state 3. From what I read and observe and hear from friends who are further along in parenting, I’m currently experiencing a very ideal time in parenting. At ages 3 and 4 I no longer deal with teething and sleepless nights or endless crying that leaves me confused and exhausted. And I’m not yet into classroom volunteering, sports, other extra-curricular activities, fundraisers, homework or many of the other commitments that come with school-age children. So future Stacy, please tell present-day Stacy to soak up these days. They are sweet. And fun. And full of opportunities to play at the park, do puzzles for hours on end and create terrific play dough sculptures out of warm, fresh dough.   

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How do you define life?

Excerpt from the soon-to-be released, highly anticipated One Year Praying the Promises of God by Jennifer Kennedy Dean:

In the middle of a story about Jesus feeding a crowd with a few fish and a little bread, is tucked a sentence that encompasses what Jesus wants to reveal about Himself . He takes “not enough” and makes it “more than enough.” Not only does He meet our needs, but He fills us to overflowing, so we can reach out to others in need. 

Is there a situation in your life that you have been defining in terms of what you have instead of in terms of who He is? 

You’ve already inventoried what you lack. Start again. Now take what you have—little, inadequate, and not enough—and ask Him to multiply it. Step out in obedience just as you would if you knew you were fully supplied, because you are. Matthew 14:20


**I can't stop thinking about the question "Is there a situation in your life that you have been defining in terms of what you have instead of in terms of who He is?" How does that speak to you today? What situation can you apply it to? I hope it offers you encouragement and hope as you face whatever lies before you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The truth about adoption one year later...

...from Jen Hatmaker (author, blogger, speaker and parent).

Read it:

http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2012/08/21/the-truth-about-adoption-one-year-later

It's funny and authentic and so valuable for those walking the road of international adoption...or really just walking through anything because of valuable nuggets of truth like this:

Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting through, and adoption is one of them. 

and

You don't have to be a miracle worker; that has always been God's territory. You just have to be the ordinary disciple who says yes. 


Lord willing, someday Ryan and I will hop on a plane and fly thousands of miles away....or just get in our car and drive a couple dozen miles....and we'll get to experience (again) the wonderful, beautiful, miraculous and sometimes excruciatingly hard journey of adoption. We have no doubt God is calling us to stand in the gap for orphans--whether they are across the ocean or in our own backyard--and become a family to the fatherless. 

Once you've read the article, share it with someone you know. Even if you aren't adopting, you probably know someone who is and we all need to know how to support friends who are growing their family through adoption.

And while you're at it, if you want to read another passionate post on waiting...and adoption...check out this one written prior to bringing her adoptive children home: 
http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2011/07/06/fighters

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dear Lauren,

Happy Birthday baby girl! I can't hardly believe how fast the days have gone by. The days…the months...the years. And now you’re three. Which is still so little…but yet so big! Here are a couple of my favorite photos of you from the past few months:






Almost every night when I check on you before I go to sleep for the night, I find that you have a Bible in your bed (that I always tuck under your bed and you always pull out). You love your Jesus books and your Jesus stories. I pray those pages and those people and those words and those stories soak into your heart…not just your head…and change you through and through. The Word of God is living and active Lauren and may it play a powerful, transformative role in your life in the years to come. I pray God births a passion in you for His Word that goes far beyond the simple Jesus stories we read today.

You have a delicate, tender heart. When you get in trouble you look at me and say “I love you” or you start rubbing my shoulder. How does one respond to that sweetness? It's hard to stay angry at that kind of gesture. What reveals your tender heart so much is when you are sad or in trouble or I yell at you and you burst into tears and sob, “That really hurts my heart.” I would think you were a master manipulator, except that you mean every single word of it. I pray God protects that tender heart and uses it for your good and His glory.

Your heart for music and singing is only increasing with age. You sing all the time. Just this week you asked for “De Thou My Vision.” You insisted it was De even after I tried to tell you it was Be. 
Dad broke his foot last week and when we were in the car you told him that the music would make his foot feel better. Even at a young age you can grasp the importance of worship and praising and dancing. You understand music can minister in its own unique ways. I pray God uses that gift in mighty ways. 

Tuesday the teachers at your school had to pull you off of me screaming and crying. My heart nearly broke and this mama fled in tears. Some days it’s really hard to be a working mom. I want to always be the one to comfort you and hold you and cuddle you. And yet the bigger you get, the less of you I will get. I’m still your favorite person in the whole word and that makes me happier than anything. The other day at Grandma Ruth’s you woke up from your nap and cried and cried. Grandma called daddy for help and he told her, "The only things she loves more than her mom is cheese.” It worked…grandma fed you some cheese and you didn't shed another tear. 
I pray God keeps our relationship open and honest and full of sweet mother-daughter moments. 

You are a girl through and through. At three you love painted toes and baby dolls and bracelets and dress up shoes and dresses. You love hide and seek, monsters chasing you, hiding from daddy under the blankets, roasting marshmallows under our sheets and doing puzzles (you are amazing at puzzles!). You color like a rockstar and love playdough and any crafts or projects. You can read Brown Bear Brown Bear all by yourself.

You, Samuel and I were leaving dad the other day to go to the chiropractor and you said, "Don’t forget to miss me dad.” How is there so much cuteness wrapped up in one little girl? Your heart is tender and sweet and loves deeply and freely and purely. I pray God grows all of that into a woman who loves Him dearly.

Baby girl you make me a better person. I love being your mom. Last night as I was putting you to bed I was overwhelmed by the fact that it was my last time putting my 2-year-old to sleep. I read to you and prayed with you and started singing our usual Amazing Grace and then I couldn't. I couldn't sing any more because the tears were running down my face and I was overcome. Overcome by how good our God is and how much I love you and how blessed I am to be your mom. So I sat by your bed and sobbed my eyes out...all because you're turning 3.

Maybe this is just something you should come to expect every year :)

Happy happy birthday little girl. Today and every day, you are my sunshine.

Off to Chutes-n-Ladders we go!

Love,
Mom

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It’s too hard: when you see yourself in your 4-year-old

“It’s too hard,” Samuel says whines.

“No it’s not too hard. You can do it. I know you can. Pick up the toys really fast and then we can eat a snack (go to the park, play outside....).”

“Noooooo, it’s too hard for me,” says my son lying across the porch floor in a dramatic flair of exhaustion.

“Samuel it will only take you one minute to pick up the toys. Ready, set, go!”

“Mom-mee, I can’t do it. It’s tooooooo hard!” he declares as he tries to convince everyone around him that the assigned task is much too difficult to complete on his own.

Conversations like these take place many times each week in our household when Samuel is asked to put away books, magnets, cars, or, most recently, a coat he has taken a liking to—his dad’s leather letterman jacket with a ‘94 on the arm that still vaguely smells of the heavenly cologne he wore during his high school years.

Ahem.

This frequent conversation between Samuel and I has an uncomfortable familiarity to it.

Me: “It’s too hard God. What you’re asking me to do. The road you’ve got me on. It’s too hard.”

God: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Me: “Noooooo, it’s too hard.”

God: “Nothing is impossible with me.”

Me: “I can’t dooooooo it.”

God: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”

That’s usually when I realize: I just don’t want to do it. I don’t want to do things that seem too hard. And that’s when I say whine to God, “It’s toooooo hard.”

And in a dramatic flair, I pout and cry and whine and beg. I’ve got 32 years on my son and yet one can find me whining on a regular basis using words and sporting an attitude that’s quite similar to that of my 4-year-old son. I look at him lying on the floor, and I am filled with compassion because I see myself in him. And I realize I can respond in the ways God responds to me:

  • God allows me to pout and cry and whine about how I don’t want to do what He’s asking me to do. And when I’m finished, He whispers softly, “Are you all done?” I nod my head, dry my tears and get on with the task before me.
  • God shuts me up with truth from His Word about who HE is and who I am and what He has ALREADY done. And as a result, how it is, in fact, not too hard. This approach is direct and involves a swift kick in the pants approach which I am certainly in need of some days.
  • God comes beside me and helps me each step of the way. He does not abandon me to accomplish the task on my own, but He gives me strength to fulfill it according to His plan, His ways, His timing. He affirms me. He encourages me. He reminds me that my identity is in Him.
Next time Samuel throws himself on the floor, clearly indicating he is overwhelmed and lacking motivation to follow-through, there's a good chance this mama might just get down on her knees and cuddle up right beside him until he's done with the wailing and whining. And, it's even possible I might just join in. Then, together, we can work on the task before us knowing that we're not alone and it's not too hard after all. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I hold her hand

We walk into her hospital room carrying a bouquet of red roses from our garden.

She’s sitting in a chair, the afternoon sun warming her.

I reached out to hold her hand and I notice her skin is nearly translucent. Ninety-six years of life have left their mark on her body: breast cancer. A back that aches and legs that go numb. One eye that no longer works and ears that strive to hear. A heart that is struggling.

But her mind. Oh her mind. It’s sharp. 96 years have hardly dulled her mind. She knows me and my husband (her grandson) and my two little ones. She smiles. She converses. She laughs and hugs and questions.

She’s our last living grandparent and she’s one of the kindest, godliest women I know. She celebrates milestones with us: weddings, birthdays, graduations, jobs, babies. For the last few years we’ve walked the grass at the cemetery together to honor the life of her husband. She knows Scripture. And she prays. Oh that woman can pray.

I hold her hand and rub her back and see my husband in her blue, Swedish eyes. And I think back to a shared meal at her place when the love of her life had passed on and the little loves in my life were yet to come. She grieved for the one who died and I grieved for a dream that was yet to be fulfilled. Together we loved one another. We ate lunch and she talked. I listened. And I learned. I heard about a woman who waited on God… for her family too. She waited for 5 years for God to bless her with children.

And then God brought a little girl into their family through adoption. And then three more biological children.

 Back then she looked into my eyes and saw my pain. She felt my longing and she understood my hurt.

We talked about grandpa and how we missed him. And we talked about adoption. And we talked about God and His ways and His plans. And that was years ago because now I sit in the hospital holding her hand and I see my son…my SON…who is just shy of four and realize I didn’t know what was to come when I sat at her table and we grieved together.

Her days are numbered and they are few. But really, aren’t all our days numbered?

She looks at the roses and comments on their beauty. And when she looks me in the eye and asks me to pray for her, I see a woman who has been trusting God for so many decades, still trusting. Struggling as we all do, with not knowing exactly what the future holds, but trying to place her cares in the hands of the Almighty.

She is facing the end and she wants to do so with dignity and grace. But she’s never walked this road and she’s not sure what to expect. And neither do we.

And all I know is this: few lives have touched me like this life has. She adores my husband and loves my kids. She treats me as her own. She teaches me by how she lives and how she loves.

I hold her hand and squeeze it tight. And tell her I will pray.