Monday, September 23, 2013

the least of these

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

I know the day is coming when my seven year old will be faced with the sad reality of bullying, cliques and the "popular" kids in school. For now he's in the blissful world of second grade where the seed of social tension has not yet blossomed. Part of me wishes I could shelter him from this but I know that's not practical or healthy. It's so hard for me to look at his precious face and know the days of his innocence are numbered.

I still remember what it felt like for me as a young girl when I first experienced the cruelty of my classmates. It broke my heart as I listened to the popular girls call me ugly. They thought it was funny to leave me a hateful note in my Valentine's box or to make fun of my hair and clothes in front of other students.

Although I've forgiven these girls, some of the memories still make my 32 year old heart heavy, proof that words are indeed powerful. Those girls had no idea what was going on in my home; no idea what I was facing in my personal life. They were completely unaware that they were adding new wounds on top of existing wounds as they tore me down to lift themselves up. I often tell my boys "You never know what's going on in someone's life". It's true.


     If someone is socially "different", then there's usually a good reason. And if the only reason they are "different" is because God made them that way, then that's all the more reason to love them, even if it's hard or out of our comfort zone. 

Last year, Isaac told me about a boy in his class who gets in trouble a lot. He told me that the boy had behaved so badly they had to call his dad. I could tell by his tone of voice that he was confused about this boy's behavior. He just didn't understand why a child would act in such a way. I then told him that not every child comes from a loving home and that some children are going through a lot in their lives that others can't see. I explained that these personal struggles can cause them to misbehave or act strange. I asked Isaac to imagine how hard that would be for a young boy. Isaac's face looked sad and compassionate. I then told him that he should find ways to love this "misbehaving" classmate of his.

A couple of weeks later Isaac told me he had learned that the boy was from a foster home (he knows what that means) and that his dad was actually a foster dad. Life had confirmed what his momma had taught him and I could see the light bulb had come on in his young heart. I then lovingly explained that it doesn't matter if a child at his school misbehaves, dresses strange, acts weird, talks funny or even smells bad, you don't EVER make fun of him or her. (I knew he hadn't teased this boy but this message needed to be said before the temptation ever arises.) I also taught him how to cope if he is ever teased or bullied and to stand up for himself without being violent. Then, I looked him in his beautiful brown eyes and told him what I wish someone had told me at his age:

...that his identity is completely found in Christ, his Creator, and that no one can touch that or take it away.

I could tell he understood what I was trying to say. In that moment I realized God was using my past hurt to slowly mold and shape this sweet young boy of mine into a godly man. It's one of my favorite things about God. He takes our pain and turns it into something beautiful.

Now it is up to Isaac to make a choice. Will he listen to the wisdom of his mom or will he succumb to the social pressures he's sure to face? I have confidence that he will do just fine and I can't wait to see what God does through this amazing child (and his equally amazing little brother!).

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"supermom" is a myth

One of the reasons I started this blog two years ago was because I wanted other moms to know they aren't the only ones who struggled with motherhood. I was going through a rough time with my youngest son and I felt frustrated and alone in the daily battles that I faced. It has been a privilege to stay at home with my boys and I am grateful for that blessing. But even blessings can sometimes come packaged in sacrifice and humility. Staying at home and serving the needs of another does not come natural for me. (Yes, that means I'm naturally selfish) When my second child came along I didn't expect him to have issues. So when he started exhibiting symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) I was blindsided. Before his diagnosis, I had no idea that his biting, kicking, spitting and constant fussing could be explained and corrected. And so I just kept believing it was all my fault. I must've done something wrong. My consistent disciplining was not working. Everything I tried with my first son was useless with my second child. Andrew's behavior was beyond just the "terrible twos" and I knew something had to be done. That's when I got on my knees and begged God for help; a prayer He faithfully answered. Thank God for Kidsource Therapy and the team of therapists that worked with Andrew. It was such an answer to prayer and he has come such a long way!

Even though I was getting help for Andrew, I was still feeling alone and friend-less. I can still remember it vividly, the looks from other moms at Andrew's Mother's Day Out. I was now the mother of the "biter". Not many moms want to have play dates with a kid who bites and his mom who can't get him under control. I often picked him up from school and left in tears. It was a dark time in my journey as a mom. Sometimes when you're in a dark season of life, it can start to seem as if everyone else has it all together. Deep down I knew not everyone "had it all together", but it sure seemed like I was inferior in my mothering abilities. I would look around at other women in my church, my kids' school, or even the grocery store and secretly wonder how they did it. How did they hold a full time job, raise three kids and on the side acquire a Master's Degree? I was barely holding it together and these "Supermoms" were flying around wearing a cape, holding a diploma in one hand and a diaper in the other. God bless these women. The world needs them! But there had to be other moms just like me and I felt it in my heart that something needed to be done to reach these women. Since that time, over the past two years, God has shown me that I am indeed NOT the only one who has had this struggle. I have heard many stories from other women about their struggles with motherhood and feelings of isolation and loneliness. Women are experiencing a lack of authentic friendships. There's a disconnect somewhere and it begins with a lack of authenticity. What are we accomplishing by being "perfect" in the eyes of others? How can we expect to really change lives if we're constantly maintaining our spotless self-image? I'm still working on this. Honestly, it's hard for me to even write these blog posts. It's no fun to bring all this back up and publish it for everyone to see. But I do it for the woman who's reading this with tears in her eyes and taking comfort in knowing there's someone out there who has walked a similar path.

Let's be honest, "Supermom" is just a myth (although some of you moms come pretty close!!). She only exists in our imagination. She's a lofty expectation we strive to attain but she always evades us. Let us never forget that we're not called to be perfect, we're called to be authentic. "But [Jesus] said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 
(1 Corinthians 12:9)

If you don't get anything else out of my ramblings, please remember this: us moms need each other. Being a mom means being responsible for another human being's physical, mental, and spiritual well being. That's a lot of pressure! We weren't designed to do this alone. We were created to be in community with one another. We should be willing to carry one another's burdens. "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2


Monday, June 24, 2013

journey through the toil

It's summer time and everyday I fight the temptation to let my boys zone out in front of the computer or television. So, after a lot of coffee this morning I decided to get my boys outside and do a little gardening with them. And I do mean a little gardening. Is it really even gardening if your husband already did the prep work? But moving started off with me telling the boys about my plan for planting beans. I had envisioned them smiling and reacting with joyful enthusiasm. Okay, that might be a little optimistic, but my boys really do love to garden so I expected they'd be somewhat excited. Instead, my youngest wanted to run in circles in the living room and my oldest acted indifferent to the idea. Hmmm...

Already, this wasn't going how I pictured it would in my mind. I guess I had hoped we would gather around the garden together and laugh while we dig in the fresh dirt, all the while I would be sharing motherly wisdom about life. If only it actually ever worked out that way. I then decided that their indifference was okay. I would just head out with my gardening tools and hope they would follow. My oldest joined me as I figured he would. It was fun for maybe five minutes until the mosquitoes decided they were hungry for the Legate breakfast buffet that featured me and Isaac as the main course. On top of that there were gross white bugs that had infested the garden soil. Ugh.

As I watched my itchy little boy head for the house, I couldn't help but feel disappointed for him and for myself. This whole gardening thing had gone differently in my mind. I was frustrated that even the simple little things in life can easily turn to disappointment. Add the little disappointments to the big disappointments, and one can easily start to feel frustrated. I was determined to complete this planting fiasco, despite the gross white bugs in the soil and the itchy bites that now covered my legs. As I was left alone with the garden and the mosquitoes I began to think about how this world really is cursed. From the little things in life to the big things in life, so much can go wrong. I pulled at the relentless weeds coming up around the tomato plants; a reminder of the story of the fall of human kind in Genesis. To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat from it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life."

Clearly, this is not our home. Sometimes this fact is painfully obvious to us. There are times we feel like a foreigner in this land and we scream in our hearts, "Why is this so hard!?". Other times we feel too at home here, sheltered from the storms of life. Too often we forget that God gave us each other for a reason; to encourage one another through the "painful toil". Community is so important. There are real people in our community, families, and churches who are drowning in disappointments and sorrows, too afraid to show their true burdens. They walk around with the mask of perfection firmly fastened, pretending to be unaffected by the painful toil in this life. (I know this because I used to be one of them.) And who can blame them? The pain of rejection and fear of being judged has shut the mouths and hearts of hurting people. This will be something I mention in my next post because it's a real problem in the church today and something I'm passionate about.

Mosquitoes and weeds in my garden are the least of my trials in life. The weeds I fight the most are not in my garden but in my marriage, my family, and friendships. I toil in these "gardens" every single day. And my whole reason for this blog is to show you that you are not alone in your toil. I am not perfect. None of us are perfect. And we need to be okay with that; with being perfectly imperfect. Does this mean we should be okay with living a sinful lifestyle? Never. Because that's not what God wants for us. He wants us to strive for holiness. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship." (Romans 12:1) But we don't get there by pretending. We get there by taking off our masks and letting God use our stories of how we've journeyed through the painful toil.

"...for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." (1 John 5:4-5)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

giving our best

So it turns out I'm the worst "blogger" ever. I'm okay with that. I'm learning to be okay with all the things I'm not good at. It has been a long time since I posted on here; a seriously long time. Why is that? It's mostly because I'm a busy wife and mom. Honestly, I don't know how all the other blog moms do it with the regular blog posts and pictures to go along with it. I think you're amazing and I salute you! 

What have you been neglecting lately that you wish you could spend more time on? I think as a culture what we neglect the most is our family. Our spouses, children, parents, etc. are feeling busy but alone in a world of technology and over stimulation. I look around and see marriages dissolving and kids out of control. None of us have this life completely figured out and no one is perfect at parenting or family life, however, I have to ask one important question. Are we giving it our best? I mean REALLY giving it our all? I confess, I fail at this more than I'd like to admit.

I've made it a habit to check on my kids every night after they fall asleep. I use this time to pray for them, to reflect on what I've done right or wrong in my parenting that day, and to ask God to forgive me where I have failed. I ask Him to watch over these precious creations and to give me wisdom in my parenting. I confess that most days I am humbled by my failures and lack of effort. I end up asking God for forgiveness and grace to face the next day. In those moments I realize the battle we face as parents. Our families are a precious thing. I want you to reflect on that. Stop and really let that soak in. Family. It's powerful. When a mom and a dad are serving God and loving their children, so much good comes from that. We are able to overcome many things when the family is healthy and whole. Not only do we benefit, but our society benefits. Our children grow up with a solid foundation, an accurate picture of what a family looks like, and a sense of security just to name a few. And the hope is that this is passed on to future generations. We all want these things for our kids, but this doesn't just happen. We have to invest in our families much like we invest in our careers. If you're serious about your career, you're not just going to quit when it gets tough. No, you persevere and fight to climb the corporate ladder in hopes of a reward. What if we all fight with similar passion to keep our families together and healthy? Anything in life worth having requires hard work and sacrifice. It's no different with our children and family.

We'll never be perfect while on this earth but we can still give our best. Are you giving your best? I challenge you (and myself) to look to the Author of our days, Jesus Christ, for strength and guidance on how to love our families more. My prayer for you is that you would fight for them. Step into the battle every day and never ever give up. Grace and peace to you!

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9