Prepared for the Pandemic

I say I’m a pinball, and I’m glad the machine belongs to God. I can look back and see that when I started dreaming about things and feeling an urgency to take certain steps, it was God preparing me, gently nudging me into position for what was to come. I had no idea how COVID-19 would change our lives on the day we went to our favorite restaurant to celebrate our son’s grades. I did not yet understand how personally God had helped us to collect tools and materials with which we’d build systems to carry us through this present storm.

Our favorite waitress, Kim, was grateful and surprised when we hugged her, as we had done many visits before. “The craze going on in the world is making us hug our sanitizer instead of people!” she said. “People are buying water and toilet paper so they can sell what they’re hoarding online. I’m not worried about myself,” she told us, as she pulled herself away to pour a warm-up of coffee into cups at another table. Her fear was for older people living on fixed incomes, bravely gathering themselves for their weekly shopping trip, only to find the pandemonium of lines, basic staples out of stock, and rationing.

Now that restaurant is closed, except for curbside pickup—online orders that detail the make and model of the car in the “Catering” notes.

God knows the end from the beginning—not to say the pandemic is our end, but it did not surprise God. Well before the pandemic arrived, my heart and mind had been increasingly drawn to the idea of teaching our children at home. My husband did not share my desire. It had been a point of contention for months. I was ready to pull the kids from school and hit the homeschool thing with all my energy. My husband thought it was wiser to step into this possibility with a little more caution, and he pledged his support in gathering supplies and homeschooling on the weekends. Still, God was leading me to do one thing in all areas—prepare. He knew ahead of time how my desperate and seemingly futile homeschool agenda would weave perfectly into what I call “the craze.” While I was scheming to shift education from outside of our control to within it, fear of the virus and confirmed cases led to school closures and suddenly, homeschool was the only option. Oprah Winfrey once said, “Opportunity has to be met with preparation.” God called me to trust Him to hear and answer my prayers. I will not end up begging for bread, even if there isn’t a single roll of toilet paper for miles. I am established, and my path is being made straight; because I’ve committed homeschool, the craze fallout, and my family to Him in the name of Jesus.

I remember being on the phone with my husband in the kitchen having one of our tense micro-discussions—the kind where I needed to fit in a full day of feelings, thoughts, and questions into a few minutes. We had many things over which we needed to “come into agreement,” while his attention was divided between me and his computer screen, fielding pings, replies, updating code, and a meeting he just got out of and the one about to begin. I was heated, not just frustrated; I could feel it in my skin. Maybe my meetings never took place in real pants or conference rooms, but my bun and I fielded the emotional pings of kids bullied mercilessly at school. I needed to be ready with replies when my kids told me about the uncensored TV some of their teachers allowed them to watch and some of the language they were allowed to use. I felt a desperate sense of urgency to bring them home from that environment.

“Why do you trust the school and not me?” I asked him. “God knows I can do it. He has equipped me.” My friends kept saying this to me. It was hard to believe any of it when my own husband—the person God made to be one with me—was nervous about my ability to educate our children [READ THIS ESSAY IN ITS ENTIRETY on the Kindred Mom Blog.]

Finding My Thanksgiving

This year, I faced strange challenges in my role as mother and trainer of children. The whisper came back: Is another child of mine being mistreated because of the world’s unresolved issues with the meaning of skin color? I look around at the world in which the same people who decide for themselves (and tell us), It is not okay to kill an attacking bear…also say, It’s a “sacred” right to kill a baby in the waters of its mother’s womb. I’m troubled by a system whose “science” says there is no God – except the god that says, Human dignity demands that science bow to the preference of women to be called men and vice versa, ignoring DNA. There stood around me a gloom. In this fog, my problems and issues and challenges were magnified and threatened to blot out the goodness of God and snatch His praise from my lips.

I had a hard time saying what I was thankful for this year. At one of the Thanksgiving dinners I attended, I came up surprisingly short.

There’s something wrong with that; I’m a Christian.

Not being able to locate my gratitude means to me: My spirit is hungry. My spirit is the part of me that God the Father made truly alive – that is, through my faith in His Son and by His grace. And my lack of gratitude means my spirit isn’t the filter for my soul right now. Because the eternal part of me is always aware of God and His goodness. I want to come back to this idea later in the Book of the Psalms – after I tell you a story about an Anglican Bishop, Jwan Zhumbes of Bukuru, Nigeria.

God is always God. And He’s good. And He so loves me (The Gospel of John, Chapter 3, verse 16.) And I stand in His amazing grace through and by Jesus Christ, His Son (The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Chapter 5, verses 1 and 2.)

So, I said (when asked at one Thanksgiving dinner, What are you thankful for?): “This is too casual an environment to talk about that. I’ll have to write a letter about the deep things for which I’m grateful.”

I guess I’m writing that letter now.

I listened to the podcast about the Bishop from Nigeria. He came to America and was diagnosed with cancer. My husband has Nigerian roots, and this is significant for reasons I’ll get into soon.

One strange thing about the Bishop being treated for cancer is: His diagnosis and treatment in Birmingham, Alabama may be the most restful periods of the Bishop’s life.

Before he came to visit the United States with a Christian brother, the Bishop was facing persecution from Islamic extremists. He was losing members of his church regularly. He was performing funeral services for human beings who had been murdered for their faith in Jesus Christ and then piled up onto each other. He did this more than once.

My brown children also have Nigerian roots, because of their father, and they have challenges. But I can be thankful now in a new and profound way, because though they may be hated for their faith in God; they are not being forced into slavery. It’s not 1850, and that’s actually happening to South Sudanese Christians. My husband may have challenges at work, but it isn’t that he cannot get a raise based upon his faith. The place where he makes a living hasn’t been looted and burned down, because he has come to the Father for forgiveness of his sins through His saving faith in Christ.

The Bishop has seen these things and more – rape; disembowelment; mothers and daughters pushed off their ancestral lands and out of their homes after having had their husbands, fathers, and brothers killed in front of them; people being burned; the denial of the existence of indigenous Christians; girls forced into marriage and then coerced into religious conversion or, at least, the outward traditions and profession of a faith they have not chosen.

The church in Nigeria has been abandoned by the church of England (the Anglican Church, also known as the Episcopal church here in America), which first evangelized Nigerians to make Christians out of them, educated them, and gave them the foundation for who they are today. The issue is the church of Nigeria’s stand on the Biblical truth regarding sexuality. In the words of Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola (a Nigerian, a Christian, and an Anglican): “We in Nigeria believe very strongly in the priority of the Scripture. We want to see ourselves as a church that seeks to live in obedience to the dictates of the Scripture, regardless of whether that is convenient or inconvenient.”

While the strictness of the Nigerian church’s stand on the authority of the Bible may seem oppressive in the West, it is the truth of the Bible which was the basis for the outlawing of slavery here – the basis of freedom.

As I prayed about what I heard in this podcast, 2 things happened:

  1. God led me to The Book of Psalms, Chapter 40, to remind me that He remembers (The Book of Psalms, Chapter 40, verses 5 and 17) the persecuted church, sees their faithfulness (The Book of Psalms, Chapter 40, verses 9 and 10), and is their help (The Book of Psalms, Chapter 40, verse 17); and
  2. I began to look around myself and see that I am the rich, young ruler to whom Jesus said: Sell all you have and give it to the poor.

17And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it isb to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him,c “Then who can be saved?” 27Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

(The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10.) The LORD knew that the young man couldn’t see around all the things in front of him, which numbed him and blinded him to the presence and identity of God in his very midst. I look around at all I have and remember the moment I was asked about my own sense of gratitude… It was blocked, and I was numb.

But, what shook me out of my stupor is also my comfort, because though people may not befriend my kids, they aren’t killing them. And though my baby may be hungry at times; it isn’t that we don’t know when we’ll be able to feed her again as we make our way, homeless and husband-less. We just have to wait until Walgreens opens at 7.

I’m grateful for that – the convenience and comfort and privilege and my reward of children, for my family… But I’m also grateful that God has given me so much…that I can be generous in return – especially to my brothers and sisters in Christ, who are being persecuted. There is a global Holocaust of Christians, particularly in Africa that is being ignored like the fascist death camps of Nazi Germany.

Children of God, we aren’t powerless to do anything about it; we have prayer, the ability to give money, and the right to lobby and seek to influence our government officials on these desperate matters, plus whatever else God speaks into our hearts to do.

Impossible

Impossible

“Ignorant” is actually the appropriate denotation – the definition of the idea that No One gave us all the things we have. That Nobody made all the things we see… But the word I prefer to use is, “Impossible” (Matthew 19:26.) When I look at the reward – the children – that God gave us to foster in the present darkness of our time, I know that only God could have given such unmerited gifts (SEE, Psalm 127:3.) Only God could have made these people. If I had been asked what I wanted them to look like and be like before they came, they would be a little less wonderful than God made them.

My son asked me yesterday: “Is it bad if I don’t believe there is a God?”

I was dead (Ephesians 2:1.) Grace gave me the opportunity to be alive. Sin (disbelieving God and the subsequent disobedience) severed my connection to God, who is the source of real life – spiritual life. When Adam believed the devil over God and then disobeyed God’s warning – that death would come from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – he fell from grace (SEE, Genesis 2:17.) All of creation fell with him, including me. But God had a plan for that; He has a plan for everything (Ephesians 3:1-10.)

His plan was to send the part of Him whose job it is to communicate wisdom with us. So, the Word (Jesus) came in a body like mine, because the Father in heaven wanted us to “see” Him (Romans 8:2-4; John 1:13-14.) God the Father wanted us to hear about how to be free from my former slave master, sin (John 14:7-9; John 12:49-50.)

It was the grace of love that brought Jesus to us, so that His sacrifice could pay the debt of unbelief and disobedience into which, the devil encouraged Adam to enter. The broken flesh of Jesus is the answer to the consequences of sin in fallen bodies – sickness, weakness, dying young. And the blood of Jesus is the way by which God forgives transgression (deciding to disobey) and sin (the act of disobedience.) The blood of Jesus washes us clean, so God no longer even remembers the sin that broke our bond with Him.

Jesus coming, suffering and dying on my behalf, before being resurrected and being witnessed alive, is the grace of God – the opportunity to be forgiven (healed, freed, and made alive.) But the way to accept God’s offering is faith (SEE, Ephesians 2:8.) My belief in the truth of the message preached about Jesus made me alive, gave me God the Holy Spirit to advise, teach, and comfort me, and made me a child of God (John 1:12; Romans 8:14; John 14:16, 26; I John 2:27.)

So, my son’s question was blow. A big blow with a big bat…

It was a gut punch, because: Not believing in God is more than bad. Without faith, we are still orphans, outside the refuge of the only One who truly loves us. God is the only One who loves us, knowingly: knowing how we’ve secretly blown it; knowing our bad habits; knowing our evil thoughts; knowing what we will do wrong, how we’ll blow it again, and that we’ll continue in some bad habits. Knowing all that, only God truly loves us and remains close. God is the only One who will never leave us, even when many or all others turn their backs (Matthew 28:20.)

This is why it’s so important for my son to know: Yes, there is a God. Everything good that you have was given to you by Him. Nature generates awe within us when we can quiet the distractions and absorb it. And everything science reveals and takes note of in its Journal of Discoveries was ordered and set in motion by the wisdom that He created (Proverbs 8: 22-23; SEE, Genesis 1-2.)

I think we all have to confront the question: Is God real? Is God good? Why am I here?

The itch inside to have answers to those questions is more than natural, but also spiritual. And there is no lasting joy or hope without knowing that the answers are: Yes (God is real.) and Yes (God is good.)

Amen.

I Have Feelings, Momma

“I Have Feelings, Momma…”


I honestly forget who I am sometimes. I think I’m a writer. But writing’s ✍🏽 something I can do. I think of myself as “Mom,” especially because my people call me that – “Mom,” “Momma,” “Mommy,” like it’s my name; but that’s a role I play.

My true identity as a child of God is tied up His purpose in sending Jesus Christ to sacrifice Himself as the Holy Lamb of God, thereby healing me of the consequences of sin 👉🏾death. My identity, an unmerited gift of God’s grace and evidence of His inexplicable love, means a lot of things.

Inside my identity as a saved person – one adopted or, baptized into grace through faith, lives this truth: My source is always, always, always God. LORD Jesus is my lifeline, the Friend I should phone…like when my son comes home and tells me that the kids in his classroom group are calling him “a freak” or that, “no one in my [entire] class spoke to me [for 2 days straight.]”

I had to explain to my son, whose heart was breaking afresh: “We will make it through. Because we’re going over to the other side with Jesus” (SEE, Mark 4:35-5:1.) 

I encouraged my son, saying: “All the mean things that people are doing and have done are not because of them, but because we have a spiritual enemy whose entire purpose in launching arrows by day and laying out snares by night is to convince you that you don’t belong, don’t have a place, and have no reason to hope for your future.” Take note: The Bible actually says, “terrors by night,” which matches my son better, unfortunately. However, I was right when I told him: “We have an enemy who’s trying to steal from, kill, and destroy us.”

I also told my son, “God is taking you I to open places. He’ll give you the ground wherever you step. Remember we’re planting ‘God seeds’ by speaking God’s word, so that ‘God things’ will come up?” I reminded him.

He said with tears in his big, beautiful eyes, “I said it, Momma. That’s what I kept saying.”

My first instinct had been to take pictures of my son’s state – his tears and expression, so I could have a foundation to stand on when I  spoke to someone about the going’s on…

But then I remembered who I am.

22“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23“But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

(Chapter 6 of The Gospel of Matthew, NASB.) The light is understanding (knowledge of the Holy One.) Darkness is anything you don’t know from the Bible about God or anything else – in other words, ignorance; and when we are attacked by principalities in heavenly places, it is only in the sphere of what we don’t know about Jesus and God’s word (and so, therefore, have no discernment or response – in the fashion of Jesus confronting the devil in Matthew 4:4.) (SEE also, Ephesians 3:10, 6:12.)

God is my foundation (SEE, Matthew 7:24-27; I Corinthians 3:11.) And I started asking God the Holy Spirit to show my son the truth of who he is and where God is in his circumstances. I started praying friends and divine connections out of the heavenly dimension. I asked for wisdom for his dad and me.

I told him to understand that the desire of lies is to take hold of your mind and faith. Corruption and death live in every place where there is no light of understanding – knowledge of Jesus Christ and His true will and identity toward you, His power and love for you.

I said, “Lies come to you as young as possible, so that you can be in bondage and anxiety and depression and self-doubt for as long as possible.” 

I told him that I’d been hobbled early and only now (in my early 40’s) really beginning to see how much I’ve been trapped in deception and insecurity and fear. I asked him if he knew who he was listening to when he didn’t tell us the truth about what’s going on at school…or, when he believes the bad, sad thoughts that come. He knew they were lies.

“Listen to God,” I told him. “Keep planting God things with your words. Don’t agree with the lies or the feelings. God will start showing you his good plan sooner, if you listen to Him.”

Because, Friends, LORD Jesus has no plans to harm us, only plans to prosper us and give us hope and a future. And no wisdom, no insight and no plan can succeed against the LORD (Proverbs 21:30.)

I told my son: “I’m hoping against hope, like Abraham when he believed what God said about him and Sarah having a baby into their hundreds and 90’s.” (SEE, Genesis 17:17.) His eyes got big.

“Do you know what hoping against hope means?” I asked, and he shook his head.

“Hoping against hope means you look and can’t see how it could change, but you trust God will do it anyway.” 

Another way of saying that is: Walk by faith, not by sight. And, Call things that be not as though they were.

“I tell them, but they don’t understand that I have feelings,” my son said, tearfully, on another occasion. I don’t ask, Why is there no empathy for a child’s feelings? No. My question is: Will you pray? For hard hearts to be softened, so that no child has to wonder why there is no one around to celebrate a victory (catching his first fish 🎣in my son’s case – a bass) or, to care when they cry 🙏🏾 

God Loves What Drives You Nuts

God Loves

What Drives You Nuts

God loves the people that annoy me. Do you know that God loves the people who annoy you?

There was this lady I used to see – h e a r…talking…about fitness (in this and that class or, this or that diet or, specialty food she’d had delivered to support the diet…) As my oldest is too, too fond of saying, UGH! right?! 

Totally! Especially, because I wasn’t (and still am not) at my ideal weight and fitness level… 

So that was all part of it – that is, my perception of this woman. To me, she was not only my nemesis because she talked non-stop in the close quarters of a gymnasium for the hour that we had to wait for our girls to finish their lesson; it was WHAT she was talking about. It was how perfect she looked while she was doing it – a judgment I was making and using to bash myself with, all the while resenting her.

I admit: I went out of my way not to speak to her, a violation of The Code for Mommies with Children in Extracurricular Things. However, I remember that when we were forced by circumstances to interact, she was super nice. I still didn’t care for her.

Anyway, fast forward to Taekwondo 🥋. The woman who had annoyed me so deeply during the gymnastics experiment was there at Taekwondo, too. But no bells went off to remind me.

In the season of Taekwondo I got to know Fitness Talker as one of the bravest, most inspiring, and, kind of heart-wrenching characters I’ve had the pleasure to know.

She’s currently chauffeuring 3 girls to various activities, including gymnastics, dance lessons, and golf. She had one daughter in private Taekwondo lessons, hoping she would develop a comfort-level that would allow her to practice in a class with her belt level, eventually. But after a pretty traumatic belt testing experience and sitting through a few classes on the sidelines (mom and daughter), they quit together.

That belt testing day is where I learned how brave was the woman I’d tagged annoying. That day, the Taekwondo master and grand master went out of their way to give Fitness Talker’s shy daughter a chance to participate during the allotted testing time. And, in an attempt to make her more comfortable, they forced her parents to do e v e r y t h i n g she was supposed to do – from demonstrating form, to board-breaking.

Fitness Mom had to get on stage in front of a crowded dojang. She had to maintain her composure as instructors repeatedly tried to encourage and compel her daughter to test. She spoke with her daughter inside and outside of the dojang. And she withstood all the eyes (mine included) with amazing grace.

So it was sad to see a lady obviously throwing in the towel with her girls. And as she stood up from the sidelines and headed for the door, leaving a weeknight practice with her daughter in her Taekwondo uniform, I got up to encourage her.

IT WAS AT THAT VERY MOMENT that God reminded me that Brave Taekwondo Mom was Annoying Fitness Mom 🤯

“Did our girls used to have gymnastics lessons at the same time?” was the question I was able to approach her with, because of God the Holy Spirit’s timely reminder.

And she was so nice that I’d be ashamed – if I believed in shame.

God gave me the opportunity to be a part of encouraging someone I’d judged and forgotten. Because God loves the people who annoy you and me.

“You didn’t give up on her,” I got to encourage her, and she pounced on that wording, turning to her daughter to repeat the words God gave me.

“You’re planting a seed – many seeds,” I got to tell her. “And seeds take time. A harvest will come when you’re not expecting it.”

And she said, “I gotta pray that’s true!” I got to “Amen” that – “So be it.”

God encouraged her, and He taught me how He loves: Even when I don’t deserve to be rehabilitated from a judgmental meanie to an encouraging light in the life of another precious mom…He let me.

And God taught me: I am the people who annoy me – a human being, who could be judged during the snapshot of an experience with me. I am a person like any other, with annoying traits…and my brave side. 

God let me see that, because He wants me to know: He loves us all.

He is love (I John 4:8,16.)

From Living to Loving

God, thank you for Joyce Meyer’s ministry. Her book, “Living a Life You Love: Embracing the Adventure of Being Led by the Holy Spirit,” made me know immediately that several things needed to change – not only in my mentality/belief system (from feeling it’s okay to live life, to knowing that you mean for us to love life.) Your word says you came, Jesus, to give us abundant life, joy to the full – in this part of life, on this side of heaven.

I’d just had my hair washed and blow dried. I was sitting in the hair salon 💇🏽with my hair pinned up, waiting for my hair to be flat ironed when I started reading.

I wasn’t far in before I came across an analogy that I’ve been using since I read it: An $84,000 deposit into my checking account that zeroes our at the end of the day, wiping out of existence any balance of that amount left unspent… Joyce Meyer compared that to 84,000 seconds God gives us every single day, in order to make readers think about how they are s p e n d i n g something even MORE precious than money – time.

I knew I needed to book more trips with my family and step out on my educational journey (maybe with Todd White’s online school.) I need to volunteer to hold the babies in the hospital that need holding.

The book also helped me confirm that this trip is exactly what needed to happen next. Because it’s something I always thought would never happen – COULD never happen.

This post is worship – considering your identity and ways, God. It is praise. Because you have revealed to me, God the Holy Spirit: I am delivered by Christ’s broken flesh, truly. I am healed. I am loved. I am seen and led and created with purpose. Your power is for me – always, which gives me influence. And I have love – your love for people, for your purpose and plan and salvation of your lost possession.

I experienced it on this trip I thought could never happen. As my children (your reward to us) have been saying: I can’t believe I’m actually here. We’re not just watching on TV or reading in books about it – in other words, sitting on the sidelines of life, just living. We are in the game and living life, being transformed. By your Spirit, going from victory to victory and growing in the knowledge of LORD Jesus… Humility. Wisdom. PATIENCE. Trusting you. Praying about everything. Speaking life. And when we fall into the pit, allowing you to pull us out, repenting (changing our mind about our attitudes and behavior), so we can see you – moment by moment, resurrecting our days for new beginnings.

I hear you saying through these experiences and that book: If you will trust me and take another step, I will give you victory and growth. It’s prepared in advance for you. All you have to do is walk around the corner. Many victories have been written in your book, Child; and you will see as many as you have the faith to take – by continuing to walk. Continuing to step out of the comfort zone of your own wisdom…to hear the wisdom that is as high from your wisdom as the heavens are from the earth – that is, the wisdom which you created to walk beside me in the creation; even your creation, child, before I laid the foundations of the earth (See, Proverbs 8:21-23.)

There. Is. More. For the children of God, who will believe that God will give them all the territory they will take.

Thank you, God, for everything. Amen 🙏🏾

Every Mom is Running with Glass

Imagine yourself running through life with a glass vase as you carry everything else it’s your job to carry… You’re eventually going to drop that vase, you know?

And it will crack like an iPhone screen, even if it doesn’t shatter.

Your child. Your children. They are the glass vase in my visual.

All that to say: When we think of the moms out there who do things we find unforgivable – who are negligent or reckless or cruel with their children in ways we think even G O D should not forgive… Or, when moms just fail to meet our own, religious and rigorous, sometimes unspoken Mom Standards – the ones that will get you talked about behind your back when you miss it…

☝🏾I’m saying, We should be grateful God forgives those moms…and follow His example of forgiveness and mercy and empathy.

I’m saying, Maybe we need to realize that even cracks created by our “little” misses – losing our temper and shouting, asking a child, What’s w r o n g??? with them when they do something mind 🤯bogglingly gross or hard to clean up 🧼🧹or, laughing at their “petty” issues and concerns… 👈🏾Those misses can cause cracks that burn First Truths into our children…about their value, about their character, about their potential, about what they deserve from other people, about who they are and can be.

And the Law of First Truth makes it hard to shake what was first burned into your soul by your parents (or anyone influential over your body, mind, and soul development when you’re very young), whether the “truth” is true or not. You may have heard the term stronghold; this would be one way a stronghold is born into your soul.

THEREFORE 👆🏾It’s possible that the unforgivable negligence and recklessness and cruelty that we usually read about or hear about on the news regarding some “other” mom…could be as damaging as our own “little” misses.

It’s worth considering, tuning in to our children, and giving them what we ourselves want from every interaction and connection from which we feed and nourish our souls.

👍🏾I recommend giving Dr. Caroline Leaf’s podcast, “Cleaning up the Mental Mess with Dr. Caroline Leaf” a good listen 👂🏽

Re-commitment Revelations Found in the Wilderness of Distractions

So many things have happened since I last blogged about my unique take on friendship and, being a mom and wife in Christ… No writing has been happening, but I have cleared my office of a lot of completed yet unsuitable manuscripts that had been gathering dust. And, I’ve spent about 10 months not sleeping at night, along with my husband. And, finally, I’ve asked God the Holy Spirit to clean house inside of me. Look, be a w a r e that when you ask for something like healing or growth in any area: You’re actually asking to see the dank basement areas inside of you – the places with the cobwebs… The places that loved darkness more than the light…

You’re gonna need the grace of God to reveal Himself as Christ then – if you’re going to be able to handle the Pandora’s Box that prayers like that open up before us. You’re going to need God’s hand on you (His power). You’re going to need His love.

When I started praying for patience and inner healing and searching for places to feed my starving Spirit (Wo)man the Word of God, I came across lots of podcasts and social media posts that made the hairs on my arms stand up.

Episode 67 of The Love and Respect Podcast: Relationships | Marriage | Theology | Psychology, “Parenting God’s Way Part I,” told me that whenever (an older, nearly independent) child does the wrong thing (something with which we do not agree), our model as Christian parents is the father of the prodigal. That was big and new to me. Joel Osteen preaching about the effects of mental magnification – like holding up a quarter near our eye and how it would block the sun (appearing bigger than what is billions of times the quarter’s size) – made me think of Mary: “My soul magnifies the Lord…” (Luke 1:46.) Understanding that what we magnify distorts our perspective, gave me something to say when I got a call from someone who felt like a bad grade was threatening to blot out her hope for a career she’s  dreamed of… Joyce Meyer’s prayer journal, starting and ending your day devotionals, together with her advice about asking God who we can bless every day, led me to be a blessing and, to write prayers…and see them answered. Tony Evans’ Instagram prompt – to read Joshua 24 each day one week, was such a powerful reminder that we need to remember – that God is good…and the cause of every victory. Ron Carpenter, in the short time since I Holy-Spirit-stumbled into him preaching on the Hillsong Channel, has shown me in many ways: We really are only as delivered and victorious as we have been cleansed with the washing of the word, having our minds renewed, and having grown in knowledge… And then Stephanie Ike’s Instagram photo with Dr. Caroline Leaf made me stop and listen to her The Same Room podcast, which made me compulsively take notes 📝 for my family’s sake. And that podcast made me subscribe to Dr. Caroline Leaf’s podcast, and ☝🏾 O N E episode (“#64 How to help teenagers and young children deal with identity issues”) made me realize: I’m a bad parent. I’m literally doing everything (most of the time) exactly wrong! That’s a huge realization to swallow, but I’ve been praying. And in my prayer journal I asked to know these things – to be led by God the Holy Spirit into such understanding. So, that’s an answered prayer I can record, a token of His faithfulness.

And God gave me the grace to swallow and repent (changing direction); I’m already forgiven, and as Joseph Prince said in a sermon: Jesus didn’t say, “It’s almost done, now do your part!” from the Cross; He said, “It is finished!” so there is no more unforgiven sin, no breach between me and God for my works to cross. Therefore, as much as I can accept and take on the truth that I’m a bad mom is as much as I can be changed and healed. Paraphrasing DeeDee Freeman’s Instagram post, An excuse is an invitation to see the same issue again. Therefore, I feel good about recognizing where I am, accepting it with a big gulp, and turning c o m p l e t e l y in the other direction.

I almost forgot to credit God for using Ron Carpenter’s Game Changers series to help me see that being a servant and a living sacrifice – setting aside my own wisdom and my own dreams and my own isolated independence from other Christians in an organized setting – is the way to find out who I truly am in Christ. That is, the woman God crafted me to be – the me that is living according to His calling, purpose, and good plan… I have to be willing to set aside my own authority and selfishness to see that happen, and I’m renewing my mind to relieve the cognitive dissonance between that truth and the will of my soul.

Thank God for the revelation of His grace, which was a secret, riches stored in His Son and unearthed circa 2000 years ago. (TD Jakes posted Isaiah 45:3 on his Instagram, and God the Holy Spirit cross-referenced it for me in Ephesians 1:3-9.)

Soldier On, Mom

Maybe I’ve been watching too much of my favorite baking show, but I see now that parenting puts said parent on a floured counter to be kneaded and rolled. We get worked until the gluten of flexibility emerges. Life pours vinegar into our mixture until bubbles of strength come out in the fryer of reality. And if you plan to use artificial sugar… Well, you better know what you’re doing!

We need flexibility, like you wouldn’t believe and, strength, too. I hope you don’t mind me mixing a military metaphor into the batter, because parents are soldiers. Soldiers don’t get to choose their orders. They don’t get to decide whether they’ll be sent into this or that conflict. But the veterans deserve (in my opinion) honor for their service.

Getting in work, cleaning, or exercise with limited time is an ongoing battle – figuring out the balance. Waking up each morning and deciding out how the priorities will be ordered for that day… Under these conditions, it’s so brave to have goals. It takes God to maintain a positive attitude.

I have to believe even when I don’t. I have to answer questions when I don’t know the answers. I have to do it when I don’t know how. And I have to keep going when I’m finished. Exhausted… Discouraged…

I explained to my son what it means to be discouraged. I said: You know how people tell you it will all work out? When you’re discouraged, it means that you don’t feel like it will work out. Discouraged means you don’t believe it will work out. I also told him that we have to trust God when we feel like that.

I told my oldest 2 kids: You know now that you have both faced the same challenges. That there are universal challenges, right..? Well, there are more challenges coming. People doing sex (I said it this way, for some reason) and people doing drugs, right? Yes, it seems gross right now. But you might like it later or, have friends who do. You might want to do it or watch it on TV. Yes. And the things you said you’d never do..? You might want to do those things. But this is the thing: God already knows everything you’ll do that you said you’d never do. He knows all the good and bad things that are coming in your life. So, don’t hold onto what you do, okay? Don’t hold onto whether you’re good or bad. Trust God. Hold onto that. He’s going to take you through every challenge – the big ones and the little ones.

The biggest challenge is: this life, which, like a rapper said, is all wilted roses and no leaves. I don’t know about that, but God will take you through the challenge of this life to heaven, if you believe in His Son.

The challenge you face today might be to do with nursing or getting in some sewing or exercise during a child’s nap. But it might be bullying on the bus or in Math class. It might a sassy teen or a teen who doesn’t know how to manage his rage. It might an older child who doesn’t want to live through social media attacks to see that facts on the ground change in life; the world is bigger; and death is too final.

The beautiful moments of parenting are real. Developmental Psychology says: The moments of joy in our lives are spiked way higher for parents and that the moments of distress are lower. So, there is stress, and the struggle is also real. But an accurate picture of parenting is one that recognizes how the times of pure joy make being a parent a worthwhile occupation. And I think: Parents who have God as their foundation have their hope in Jesus to carry them through it all.

In all cases…my advice is the same: Soldier on. Trust God.

Days of Our Lives

I nurse the baby for about an hour after convincing her daddy to : 1) pick her up from where she’s tossing, 2) unwrap her from her nearly obsolete swaddle, and 3) hand her to me. I strap her right wrist and fist into my nursing 🤱🏽 tank when I clip it back over her favorite side (the right). Then I eventually convince Daddy to re-swaddle and put her back down. I don’t blame either of us for the nightime grouchiness – not in the light of day. Neither one of us has slept, not really. Not since #4 was born… I think I’ve slept well once in these months after delivery by c-section.

There are 3 🧺 laundry baskets in our room at the moment (a triumph), and 😲 only 1 of them has unfolded (clean) clothes in it. But I’m concerned about the 😟 basket out in our hallway, in front of the closed doors to the master. There’s definitely poop to wash out there, and it can’t stay there forever…waiting for me…and my necessary Laundry Gloves 🧤 

I’m also worried about my son. He doesn’t want to go to school anymore. And I wonder: Can he be too bonded to me. 💭 Shouldn’t he identify more with his father? I think it might be a bad idea to tell Hubby that I wish he’d teach him more about hygiene – that they could both benefit from that interaction – Daddy teaching his son… But I feel so strongly that it’s needed 🙏🏾 

And why won’t my lovely girl 👧🏽 use toilet paper?

Why is she having such a time of it learning to wipe thoroughly when we keep trying to tell her? 👆🏾The expression on this dude’s face tells the story of the state of the kids’ bathrooms. It is really embarrassing to be in this situation.

We thought #3 had had a late breakthrough learning to tie her own shoelaces… But now I’ve just decided to buy her more Velcro ones in her favorite color 🤦🏽‍♀️ 

I have to write down the reasons that another child should be denied 🙅🏽 the next big thing she asks for (which I probably will not – deny her), because otherwise I’ll totally forget. Memory Wipe. Also known as: Mom Fog 🌫 …

It’s just past 3 am. Also known as the witching hour… That’s how many of my days begin now. The content of her day may vary, but one mom of young children understands the challenges and victories of another mom of young children.

One mom is using a wall of cardboard boxes as a fortress barricade for her 1 year old, so she can get her run in; another mom is sequestering her sick kids from the other Littles at the local library, so they can out into the winter world; and, I am hefting a car seat across streets and grassy medians. All I really needed was a measurement of my blood glucose for a wellness screening, but now I’m headed up what feels like a miles-long sidewalk for a physical.

The appointment starts after an hour of waiting and concludes with another wait for lab work in a tiny room filled with elderly people. All I can do is hope that all the things in my backpack and purse (nursing cover, pacifier, bottle, exactly 2 diapers, a new bag of wipes, 2 ziplock bags filled with clothes, a changing mat, and an infant nursery care kit, etc.) will be enough to face the potential storm of a baby waking up after a long nap in an unfamiliar place.

Writing this, I had to ask myself: What is the bottom line after considering how hard this role can be? Something a good friend said to me popped into my mind. She said: Everyday, regular life is sacred. You know what that means? Poopy Time, Discouraging Time, Silly Time, Annoying Time, Witching Hour Time, Embarrassing Time – every moment spent in this role of Parent of Little Littles is an honor. This sometimes invisible life is honorable.