Category Archives: Crises

How to Maintain Sanity in the Midst of Motherhood

Standard
How to Maintain Sanity in the Midst of Motherhood

Disclaimer:
I am far from perfect. I mean, I can barely keep myself from pilfering my kid’s chocolate stashes, and even then, a piece or two goes missing on my most stressful days. Anything I write here is first written because I NEEDED to find out how scripture addresses my shortcomings. So here is a glimpse of my dirty laundry.  This isn’t a matter of me peering into your junk closet, so much as it is an airing out of mine.

Photo credit: Leann Sacks

Photo credit: Leann Sacks

So before I even begin listing ways to keep yourself from going batty, I have to say the number one way to maintain sanity in the midst of Motherhood is to get in God’s Word.
I often think if I can just talk to someone over 3 ft. tall, I could have a little sanity rub off on me. Or if I could just get a run in, I could regain some sanity.Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. More often than not I am disappointed. I need something to talk about with another grown up, and frankly, they’re not all that into how many diapers I can change one handed while pouring milk and solving a math problem. Running does me no good if I have nothing to think about. A blank mind drives me even more crazy! First and foremost, sanity begins with wisdom, and wisdom comes by hearing the Word of God. So before you try any of these *tricks* Get a little time to read, listen to, or reflect on God’s Word. It is the one way I often forget, but most need to get some sanity when I’m ready to lose a marble, or 12.

  1. Clean something. Half the time the reason I’m unhinged is because the mess without is contributing to the mess within. Start at your feet, as my Mom says, you will be surprised how quickly a determined attitude, a large trash bag, and a tote of clorox wipes can make it a LOT better!
  2. Take the kids for a walk. A little sunshine never hurt anybody, and this is a free, and easy way to get out of your house, and your head! Plus it is a good relationship builder if your kids are driving you NUTS.
  3. Lower your expectations. Being a perfectionist doesn’t make you more perfect, only more stressed. Check your expectations first with scripture, then with reality. Ex: My children are overly energetic, and I’m tired and headachey. Scriptural expectation: obedience. My expectation: absolute quiet. So where should I fall on this? Perhaps giving them an instruction that allows for quieter activities, and expects obedience. I can’t expect them to sit, hands folded, absolutely still until I’m satisfied. I’ll get a bigger headache just trying to maintain an impossible standard of behavior. I *can* expect them to eat a snack together, read or color, and find a quiet activity if those don’t suit them.
  4. Work first, play later. I know, the last thing you want to do when you are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and insane, is work. But I think better, feel better, AM better when I’ve got my work done. Sitting down and selfishly goofing off while obsessing about all the work I HAVE to do only stresses me out more. Don’t procrastinate. DO. You’ll cherish your free time much more!
  5. Pamper yourself, just a smidge. This is not a blank check for selfishness, just a reminder that a little bit of niceness goes a long way. When I want to pamper myself, I plug in my fragrance plug. The sweet spicy scents that I like help me to focus, calm down, and move on. Doesn’t hurt either when my house smells awful, like children gone wild.
  6. Ambiance.  Make your home a HOME. Pop something easy, sweet, warm and spicy in the oven, and something warm and savory in the crock pot. My favorites are Beef Stew and Apple Crisp. Both are easy, and take 10 minutes prep, tops. Beyond that, put on some soothing music, and have a cup of tea.
  7. Manage your emotions, Mama! Angry? I used to play music to suit my mood, but I found that angry music only feeds my selfish anger.  “A soft answer turns away wrath.” If you are angry, don’t sin in your anger. Take a moment, why are you angry? Is it because the kids forgot to flush the toilet AGAIN? Count to ten, breathe, quote a Proverb, (Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.) and then call a family meeting to address the issue. There. Done. Manage your emotions. Don’t let them control you, because by giving them free rein, you are allowing yourself to be deceived. “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.” This only leads to more sin, which will, naturally, destroy peace and joy in your home.
  8. BREATHE! “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”  Take a minute before you act in anger, frustration, or whatever else. Don’t plod on into a bad situation you know is only going to get worse. Ex: I was tempted to lose it when I found out the girls slathered glue all over the playroom in the five minutes it took me to put Isaiah down for a nap. I looked, confiscated the rest of the glue, and walked away. I took the girls up to the bathroom, calmly cleaned them up, and went back to washing dishes, as I had been prior to nap. Once I was cool, calm, and collected, I peeled the dry glue off of the plastic surfaces, and told the girls the new glue rules. I didn’t tell them the new glue hiding place though. That is my secret to keep! There. Unpleasant frustration sidestepped. Breathe Mama!
  9. Be Busy/Get Bored. Whatever you have too much of, balance it! We’ve found a nice happy medium (until the next crisis comes along.) We have a few ministries we’re involved in that suit our family budget, schedule, and schooling goals. We also leave days where we can chill, explore books, backyard, garden, and just BE. Just say no if you are overstretched. Nobody is going to think you are SuperMom if you do everything. And nobody is going to think you are SuperMom if you don’t do everything. Your responsibility isn’t to impress the world, but to love your husband, love your children, keep your home. (Titus 2) DO that, and nothing more, and nothing less. If it doesn’t fit into that ministry (and really, that is a LOT of leeway!) don’t do it.
    Example: We’ve found meals ministry to be easy, fun, and helpful. The children enjoy making the meal for another family in need. We’ve also found a local ministry that we count as a school day, it involves a morning outside in the sun, harvesting food, enjoying nature, and then a park/play time afterward with the other homeschooling families we’ve met there while ministering.
  10. Last but not least: PRAY. Pray without ceasing. Rejoice Evermore. Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

There you have it! May you remain sane through all the spaghetti flinging, broken china, tough spelling lessons, transitionary moments, sibling rivalries, and remember that our strength is in the Lord, maker of Heaven and Earth.

Advertisements

“What you do for the Least of These, You do for Me.”

Standard

Motherhoodcalling

As I have been watching events unfold in Texas regarding the 20 week abortion ban, I am yet again convicted about my role in the abortion debate. My own story has led me to a passionate response to this atrocity our nation allows day in and day out. While I rejoice in the thousands of babies who may be saved by the legislation just passed in Texas, our work is far from over. There are many more babies heading to be killed, and many more Mothers who are in a moment of desperation, and fear.

I have spoken with my husband at length about my burning desire to be of use, to do more than post my testimony on my blog. To be a tangible blessing to another Mom. Even if it is just one. I want to HELP. I want to do more than talk about abolishing human abortion. I want to be an active part in living my life in such a way that my actions are a direct result of scripture. Of Christ’s work. So I talked to my husband about the options, and he had some valuable insights and suggestions. After speaking with him, and a few other trusted advisors in my life, I found some practical ways in which I can serve, and I ask you to help me.

Titus Family Outreach

Some time ago, unable to fathom the idea of *only* serving in my home, I jumped at the chance to try and found the Titus Family Outreach in my church. I meant it to be a homeschoolers group that encouraged Mamas to homeschool, and not to be scared off by pressure from friends, family members, and anyone else who thought homeschooling was one giant crock. Due to lack of interest, the group lost steam, and I was left with a plane that barely left the ground. Oh yeah, and an empty FB page with 4 likes. Fail. So much for my plans. God had other ideas. I still don’t know what they are… but I do know what I’ve got in hand.

So, tonight, as I purposed to follow my husband’s advice, and set up a *new* facebook page to suit these purposes, I was reminded by facebook about my abandoned page. Whoops. Wait a minute…. this is empty anyway! And I am looking to help families… Ok. USING!

So it has a new purpose.

What is the plan?

Those in the Pro Life community know about the concept of sidewalk counseling. You stand outside of a clinic, pray with those who enter, and then pray that they are convicted of the value of the life they carry. You hope against hope that they do not abort. You may direct them to a nearby Crisis Pregnancy Center, which may or may not be an option for them at that very moment, or ever.
I recently read about this ministry I found to be inspiring, and a direct response to Christ’s command to care for “The Least of these.” It is called Save The Storks. In this ministry they park a van that is equipped with the tools needed to do a sonogram, and to deliver the gospel to hurting women. They park this bus near abortion clinics and bring help TO these women, as opposed to directing them to help that may or may not be nearby, or immediately available. This ministry makes themselves available at the place of greatest need. I am not a sonogram technician, I am just a Mama of 4 who wants to help, but doesn’t have the talent or the ability to go it alone. I was inspired though by another Mom who wrote a beautiful post (which I can’t find, sadly!) about how she and her children handed out flowers the week of Mother’s day, with scripture and encouragement, all near an abortion clinic. Her courage, and her conviction was a balm to my soul.

I would like to invite you to join me. I would like to ask you to join a community of women, who are able, and willing, to offer help to those who may consider an abortion, but who have needs that must be met. I want to live out what I know is true. Speaking is not enough, we have to be doers of the word. (James 1)
Christ spoke during his ministry about the importance of serving others.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:35-40

James 1:27 says:

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

How will we do this?
By creating a community of able women and families, we can work together to provide tangible help to women in need. I will do the legwork in my city, visiting the local Planned Parenthood on the days they perform abortions, and offering women help. I will ask them what their needs are, and share their testimonies, and needs on the Titus Family Outreach page on facebook. This will be a Pro life craigslist, if you will. We will be a physical resource to women in our community, offering our talents, our abilities, and also importantly, our blessings to share with those in need. We have so much to share, to give, and so many ways to serve.
For example, if I had met 18 year old pregnant me at an abortion clinic, I would find that I needed items for the baby, help meeting baby’s specific needs (nutritional needs, and housing needs.) and emotional and spiritual support. I will be the hands and feet, and you will be the source. I will publish the needs, and as a community, we will try to meet them. I know I have the resources and abilities to be of assistance, I have no shortage of baby clothing, baby items, and a willing heart, and ear, ready to listen, and ready to comfort. What do you have that you can contribute? Will you join me in being that tangible help outside the clinic doors? Will you join me in praying for these women before we meet them? And in being ready, and willing, to help meet their needs as they arise? So many people accuse those who are pro life of not caring for these babies once they are born, let us not be hearers of the word, but let us be doers, caring for the fatherless in their moment of need, and let us be his hands and feet, living out the gospel to those in need.

10 Secrets of Being a Homeschooling SAHM

Standard

It is easy to become discouraged by outside influences, as someone who has chosen to stay home, and raise my children. Like when I bump into people from high school who say things like “And what do you… ahem… DO?” Then being faced with an incredulous look when you cheerfully reply with: “I’m a Stay At Home Mom. I homeschool my 4 kids.”
The funny thing is, that given the same question even a year ago,and the response answer then:
“I teach Kindergarten at a local Christian school. They even allow me to bring all of my children along!”
Their response was somehow more positive: “Oh! That’s so great! I always knew you’d be a teacher!” As if teaching Kindergarten was any different than teaching my own children. (Hint: It isn’t, really, just one is more challenging, and fulfilling. Guess which one.)
Yes, I am a Stay At Home Mom, with all of the privileges and challenges that engenders, but I am also a teacher, and, as the cliche goes, a personal assistant, nurse, vet, head gardener, home manager, financial adviser, personal chauffeur, chef,art teacher, maid, stylist, manicurist, janitor, home handy-woman, guidance counselor, music teacher, nutritionist etc.  What I do IS my occupation. I AM a Stay At Home Mom. And I get promoted every time one of my children moves up a grade, achieves something new, or when I have a new baby. Each promotion is precious and unique, and with it brings a bevy of new responsibilities and tasks. I am paid in far more than kisses and hugs. I am paid in unique blessings that come every day in the form of surprises and newly met expectations. Each day has its own secrets, but some carry over from day to day, month to month, and hopefully, I will find, from year to year. Here are the ten I could whittle myself down to:

  1. Money isn’t everything. Yes, people have often said “It is impossible to have a one income home these days! Families simply MUST have both parents working!” No, no they don’t. And before someone speaks of my privilege and luxury, I have news for you, our family of 6 all live on my husband’s low paying day labor job at a local warehouse that carries an hourly wage.  He isn’t a manager, or even a supervisor. Yes, we have enough to eat, a home to live in, and a car to drive, one for me and one for him.  The key to this delicate financial balancing act? Nothing more than a can do attitude and a bit of elbow grease, oh yeah, and we’re kind of allergic to debt. We don’t do student loans, car payments, cell phones, or cable. We aren’t bored either. We save on food by gardening in the summer, freezing for the winter, and a LOT of from scratch home cookin’. Keeps us busy AND well fed! We also maintain a second home which we rent out for a little income. This was the product of yet MORE hard work, and it is my job to do the “property” management on this little gem.
  2. Being a Stay At Home Mom IS a full time job, a career path. Just like any other career, I am “promoted” (My latest promotion, Isaiah, was 3 months ago, and he is just learning to sit up!) And just like any other career, I am constantly honing my skills. It takes a lot of ingenuity and hard work to manage laundry for 6 people, in 3 bedrooms, with no closets. It also takes some more ingenuity to work within our limited budget, yet maintain a comfortable standard of living, and furthermore, to contribute what we should to others in need. What requires the most learning and skill development though, is school. I am constantly brushing up on my history, math, teaching phonics, etc. My oldest is going into second grade this year, and it challenges me daily to keep up with her reading progress. No, I am not required by law to take Act 38 credits, but I am required by me, to constantly learn more to better serve my students.
  3. I am paid. As per the Proverbs 31 model, I am a woman of many pursuits. Yes my children pay me in kisses, hugs, compliments, and unique drawings, and my husband pays me in praise and encouragement. Yet, I am also paid a monetary sum. I have my fingers and toes in a variety of money earning ventures. All that I can do while caring for my children, and putting the priority of my “day job” first. My home is my most important job, and part of maintaining that is earning a little here and there to pay for our trips to the museum, our forays into semi gourmet cooking experiments, and other fun activities and surprise needs.
  4. I am fulfilled. This is my dream job, and the only assault on my contentment and fulfillment are people who assume I should be doing something more, and tell me so with all of the smug condescension of royalty. Please, educate yourselves. I am doing what any teacher does in their classroom, what any daycare worker does in theirs. Add to that an intensity that comes with proximity to your students, and then I do what other professions cover as well. This IS my job. I am happy doing it, and I can’t imagine anything else. There was a point in my life where I pursued this exact same career path outside my home (worked in daycare, then a school.) but I found that no matter how hard I worked, how passionate I was, I just couldn’t compete with parents for the impact they had on their child’s life. So I realized my true calling was to become a “career” Mom.
  5. I have impact outside of my home. I know, the majority of my work is physically inside my home. The most inane argument against becoming a Stay At Home Mom I’ve ever heard is “But you won’t impact SOCIETY.” Really? Yes I will. I’m raising children to become a powerful force for good IN our society. I’m teaching them concepts that include civic duties, how worldviews affect our actions, how to care for the poor, the importance of volunteerism, loving others as yourself, and the beauty in our revolutionary founding Father’s ideas for government and society. I’m teaching them to help others, teach others, guide them, and educate them. I’m teaching them how to properly care for and manage resources, and how to avoid the rampant consumerism that impacts later generations. I’m teaching them to live in such a way that considers their neighbor, and treats others as they would wish to be treated, to honor God, and to love their neighbor.
  6. My kids aren’t weird misfits. At least, not any more than yours are. All children are awkward at this age, socially or not. Why? They are all still learning. Also, my kids, by having a strong home and family life, avoid the culture of bullying, exclusion, and peer pressure that other children encounter in a peer charged school environment. Our culture may accept, tolerate, or even glorify these habits in teenagers, thinking it makes them stronger, but since when have you heard the bullied child say: “I’m glad those kids in my school tormented me daily, it made me that much stronger.” Rarely does this kind of social dysfunction end well. My kids interact with people in a variety of age ranges, they know how to introduce themselves, converse intelligently, learn from someone older than them, and how to put the ipad away and focus on the people in the room. That doesn’t make them perfect, or even experts at socializing. It just means they now value the same things I do, and are socialized by a broader spectrum. Socialization isn’t by definition a peer led process, it is simply a process where a person learns their cultural expectations. Well, my kids know them just as well as other kids do, just my expectations differ a little.
  7. Being a Stay At Home Mom takes guts. Be prepared to receive a variety of challenges and statements regarding your choice to be a Stay At Home Mom. Anything from you are ruining your kids lives by confining them to home, to ruining yours. It takes guts to stand up to the social bullies at the grocery store.
  8. Being a Stay At Home Mom has supporters. From the lady at the post office, to the kind woman we met in the library, be prepared to have people encourage you too. Take those nuggets of gold, and tuck them away, you’ll need them later, like when Junior makes a mess with the baby powder and vaseline in the bathroom. It is then you’ll be saying “Thank God for Mrs. Weiss. She said I’m doing a good job. A good job, yes a good job…”
  9. Being Creative is your secret weapon. One time I saw a really cool recipe for making your own soda. Knowing I wanted a healthy option for my children, but unwilling, and unable, to shell out the big bucks for a storebought version. I went ahead and made the recipe. 10 days of fermenting later, we tried it… 
  10. A sense of humor is invaluable. And that home made soda was terrible. We were able to laugh over this misstep and swear off of it forevermore. Not every day is easy, not every day is hard, but every single day has SOMETHING we can laugh at, enjoy, and be thankful for.

With God, ALL Things Are Possible

Standard

Isaiahpost4I considered a long time ago whether or not to write this story on the blog, but there were a few impediments. Mostly my pride. I thought if this story was public, folks might think less of our decision to allow God to determine our family size. They might think we were foolish, and that in choosing to leave our future up to God, we’d asked for trouble. But after speaking to a friend today, that last vestige of pride was strongly assaulted. If we are to give glory to God, sometimes that means allowing others to see that despite our own shortcomings, he works, incredibly, and as Paul says in Ephesians 3:20, he works abundantly more than we ask, or think, and the glory is his.

This story begins long before it begins, after Ava was born, my husband and I felt that we should take God’s Word seriously in raising our children. We felt that the practical side of that was quitting my job, and staying home to homeschool them. But we didn’t know that we could financially swing that. My husband doesn’t have a job that is impressive, or earns a lot of money. He is a “laborer” of sorts, doing hard work in a warehouse. He isn’t a manager, or even a supervisor. He just works, and works hard. We were well off with both of us working, and had saved up some money. We weren’t rich, but we weren’t poor either. We were comfortable. But we knew, that we were living life on our own power, and that despite our convictions about how we felt God was leading our family, we just couldn’t see God providing for us so radically. But, with the encouragement of a friend, and constant reminders of how we were ignoring our convictions, we took the plunge. We had no clue God would provide, but we knew he would. Our mantra was: If we were in obedience to him, he would take care of meeting our needs. Little did we know how very much he would test our faith in that regard.

First day of school

First day of school.

Once I had quit my job, I went to my daughter’s school, where we had enrolled her for her kindergarten year, to pull her from enrollment. There was no way we could afford private school, even a Christian one. But amazingly, God had provided for us to transition to homeschooling as gently as possible. I walked in that office to pull her, and walked out with a ministry position. The Principal of the school needed a teacher, and I needed to be able to pay tuition. That year was wonderful. I ended up in the perfect job for our family, in the kindergarten room, teaching little ones. I could bring all three of my little girls, and earn enough money to keep our finances even. During that year God provided an opportunity for us to use our modest savings to purchase a house to rent, and earn income from, thinking it would help us to maintain our finances once I became a homeschooling Mom.

At the end of our wonderful year at the school, we choose to move forward with homeschooling. We had been further provided for, by a series of little jobs for me, helping out ladies who needed housecleaning.  Then, by the end of that summer, we found out I was pregnant! We were excited about this new chapter of our lives, and the excitement was doubled in finding out our newest family member, Isaiah, was a boy. This pregnancy, however, was a bit harder than the previous three. I was exhausted, and my body couldn’t keep up with all that I needed to accomplish. Going from three children to 4 was daunting, and the home we had bought to rent, ended up being a loss for the first 8 months. Between that, and my eventual inability to keep up with the house and cleaning jobs, it was a tough time financially. We had no clue how we would be able to get all of the things for our new baby, and our first boy. God provided the little stuff, a new car seat, many Moms who passed on boy’s clothing, and a few faithful friends who threw me a “sprinkle” (instead of a full blown baby shower) to help prep us for Isaiah’s needs. The one big purchase  that had us worried was a minivan.

Jetta

Ye Olde Jetta in the background. Ye olde stick and popped tire in the front!

For the past 5 years we had been carting our little family around in my ’87 Volkswagon Jetta. A faithful car that serves its purpose well, we had grown from 1, to 2, then 3 children! All squeezed into that backseat! But 4 really wouldn’t work, and with our rental property being a loss, and our baby due in March, we planned to use any tax refunds to pay for the van. But when we went van shopping we found that everything was out of our price range, and that prices were due to shoot up in January. A grim prospect knowing how tight our budget was, and how much loss we had suffered over the winter with the rental property. We prayed for months. We cried over it, and eventually we found a cheap minivan at a local used car dealership. We prayed for the price to drop within our price range. But it never did. We honestly were at a loss. How could God provide for such a big need, when everything looked impossible?

Allenoverwhelmed

God is Good.

When I was (6 months) pregnant, we went to my a party for my Father In Law (Our rescuer when the tire popped on the Jetta after a particularly wild storm left some nasty branches in the road. The intrepid explorers and subsequent rescue pictured here–>) During this time my husband reconnected with some old friends. He had a wonderful time talking with them, and I spent most of the party taking care of our three children who were having a blast eating, socializing, coloring, and whatever else little girls do! I was present for some of the conversation, but not all of it. During a part of the conversation where Allen was explaining to them some of our recent preparations for Baby Isaiah, the subject of a van came up. Allen spoke about our wish to buy a minivan, and some of our struggles to do so. Somewhere during this conversation it came up that they had a minivan they currently had no use for. Then, later in the conversation, they indicated a leading from the Lord to GIVE the van to us! I was in shock, and assumed I heard them wrong. We parted with them with many typical goodbyes, and on the way home as we discussed what they had said, I was still in denial. I told my husband there was NO way anyone would just GIVE us a van! We dropped the subject, and went about our business. Church the next day, and on  Monday, business as usual.

Sarahdress

Sarah’s Dress

But on Monday, my Mother In Law called. She told me they really, REALLY wanted to GIVE us the van! I couldn’t believe it. I just burst into tears. Here we had been praying and praying, and I just couldn’t believe God would provide so completely, so amazingly. Over the next few weeks we sorted out the details, and before long, the beautiful minivan was ours.

Emmadress

Emma’s Dress

And This family had selflessly given this van to us, and to make things even more amazing, when we went to pick it up, inside of the van were beautiful new shoes and Christmas dresses, one for each of our daughters! We cried for joy at God’s amazing provision, and the girls happily wore those dresses at Christmas. I still can’t believe how God met our needs, and am thankful for this family, and their generous spirit, and willingness to be a part of that.
To make things even more amazing, not 2 weeks after we had been given this new van, Allen totalled his car, our Volkswagen Rabbit. Because we had the van, and we still had the Jetta, he did not even have to miss a day of work, and our tight finances did not have to stretch to buy him a new car. Now the Jetta is his car, and the van is for family outings.

Avadress

Ava’s Dress

This past winter was hard for many many reasons, but the bright spot, the moment that reminded us how much God can provide for ANY need was that Van. When we were in the bleakest moments, finding a new tenant, repairing the rental property, wondering how God would provide for our needs, financial and physical, that van was a HUGE reminder that God does provide.There were times when I wondered if we had done right, and if this season of want would last forever (it didn’t!) or if we had made the wrong choice to take a leap of faith (we know now, we hadn’t) There were times when I felt hopeless, and incapable of doing what we needed. Each of those times of weakness, and failure, God stepped in. There were families bringing meals, folks (in some cases, we don’t even know who) who dropped boxes of food at our door. When things seemed the darkest, and hope seemed impossible, God provided again. From food, to clothing, to a VAN, this past winter, he provided. Isaiah is born now, and I am back to finding ways to supplement our income, and there too, God has provided. Our new tenants are wonderful, and we are finally earning money from the rental property to help our family.

Without getting too heavy handed, I want to encourage other families like us, it may be scary, and at some times you may lie in bed at night, next to your spouse, not only wondering if you’ve done something crazy, and stupid, and even cried together about it, and yet, humilitypostmomandemmasnuggling humilitypostsarahemmaGod doesn’t allow his children to go hungry. He will provide. This testimony, as embarrassing as it seemed at the time. As much as to me, it screamed: I am a FAILURE!  It really doesn’t say that. What it says is, God will provide for his children. He will make a way. Don’t be discouraged if you see that it is impossible to do God’s will. It isn’t. It is never impossible for God, though it may seem impossible to us.

Our new Van!

Our new Van!

Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

 

Proverbs 10:3

The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

 

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

In Response- A Baby Story

Standard

I thought longBABYFEET ISAIAH and hard about this particular post, and was quite inspired by Life In A Shoe’s Q & A post today, and the digging I did through her linked posts, particularly her Quiverfull, and Quiverfull follow up posts. I thought she handled a controversial subject with class, and honesty. And since I have a similar subject on my heart and mind, I shall forge on, and attempt to write with a sensitive heart, to the thoughts and feelings of others, while expressing my own.

So, Yesterday I posted the following on Facebook:
empowerment

There is a story behind why this photo is so important to me, and why I felt the need to share it on my facebook page.

I have felt a renewed passion for the Pro Life Cause since the Gosnell Trial.  In this high stakes case, I was reminded of my past, and what it very easily could have been.
I was a teen pregnancy. My husband and I got pregnant, after our engagement. I will never forget the anxiety of anticipating the responses of my family and friends. I was 18 at the time. I was staring at a future with no job, no health insurance (My Dad’s had discontinued me, and I had the choice to buy a VERY expensive COBRA plan.) and single motherhood.I did go to a pregnancy center, because I was scared. What made things more difficult was the fact that I knew the woman who was counseling there, and she knew my Mother. I was terrified she would tell her. But, I had a negative pregnancy test, and after a stern talking to, and a reassurance that she would stick with their confidentiality rules, I left.
A week later, I had a positive home test at a friend’s house. We prepared to tell my parents the news. I was terrified. I will never forget their faces. My Dad’s jaw dropped. My Mother’s face went white. They couldn’t speak. I could see the anger brewing in my Dad, bubbling silently. We left as quickly as we could, knowing that my Dad had to leave for a weekend camping trip. Unbeknownst to all of us, God had a pretty awesome plan for all of us in this timing. My Father ended up meeting a friend of a friend who came along. And when he shared what had happened prior to leaving, this man shared about his past as an unexpected and inconvenient baby. He encouraged my Father to support me, and my then boyfriend, to do the right thing. He reminded my Dad of the blessing that was already present in the life of this child. He told my Dad that good CAN come of such a situation.
All of us knew at this point, from the very beginning, that abortion just wasn’t an option. All of the anxiety, the fear, the uncertainty, it didn’t matter, this baby had a right to life.

And thus began the journey of 2 years, where my husband and I fought for a blessing. My parents, my friends, my family, all fought for one too. People in my Parent’s church barred my Dad from leadership because of my sin.

Wedding

Sarah, Allen, and I at our wedding.

I will never forget the hurt in my best friend’s voice when I called her. But she stood beside me through it all, despite the loss of a future we’d dreamed of. All of the normal dreams of college age girls with their lives before them. She lost that to the reality of my early Motherhood. I lost that normal young adult beginning, and jumped right into tough adulthood. So did my husband.

Initially I fought for a job that could provide something more than the COBRA I managed to get initially, and at a lower cost. My husband was in college, and to finish his degree we delayed our wedding, and lived with our parents for 2 more years. I will be ever grateful for their sacrifice on our behalf, and for our daughter. Without their support, we would have been homeless. It wasn’t easy for anyone.
2 years after we told our parents we were pregnant, we were able to get married, and to secure an apartment. Then we dealt with the baggage of having began our relationship as husband and wife with all of this past trailing behind.

The point I’m making is that in no way was it ever easy. But we knew that because of the choices we made, we had to give this precious little girl a chance at life. However hard the beginning was. And yes, we STILL have baggage from all of this. This kind of sin DOES cause lifelong changes. Even for our daughter. I still don’t know how we will handle the day when she asks us, as a teenager, why we didn’t wait.

Was it hard? Yep. Do I regret one moment of our journey onward? Absolutely not. I know that we made the right choice, difficult as it was. Does it define me?weddingbandw To a point. What defines me more is the fact that we chose what we did because of Christ’s influence on our lives, however faint it was then, in our estimation. He was working in ways we did not know. But I do know this. I COULD have had an abortion. There, but for the Grace of God, go I. The only reason I didn’t? God’s divine mercy and grace. The only thing that kept me from that was him. Not me. God. By his sovereign will, it did not occur. I do know women who have had abortions, and I do know that they have told me of the forgiveness and mercy they receive despite their choices. God hasn’t rejected them entirely. After all, didn’t he use Moses after he murdered the Egyptian? Or Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul, the biggest apologist of the New Testament, and missionary who spread the gospel to Europe? Paul knew that it wasn’t him, but Christ in him, who accomplished those things. God can redeem us from our past, and use us for his Glory, and he can forgive us in the process. His Word speaks so awesomely of how he forgives, and I know he has forgiven me of my past.

Ava and Mommy

Ava and Mommy, roughly 2 years ago.

So why all of this? And why the title: In Response? Because after I posted that picture, I think that a relative of mine was hurt, and angry, by what I had said. To her I say, I love you, and I am sorry if I hurt you.
This story is why I posted that photo. And do not think I think less of you for disagreeing with what I put on my facebook wall. I love you anyway.
I post what I do on there, and on here, because it is part of who I am. It is part of my journey of sanctification. God has done amazing things in my life, and how CAN I stand silent? I just can’t. I don’t wish to hurt people, but sometimes, when we speak out loud about what we feel most passionate about, it can strike a chord in someone’s heart, and yes, it can hurt.

I post what I do to encourage, not to hurt. To say, No matter what your choices past, God has a future. I resisted that future for years. I ran away from it. Told him to buzz off. And the more I ran away from it, the more discontent, angry, hurt, and awful I felt.

Saraheemaawards

Sarah and Emma with their AWANA awards

Especially when someone told me God’s Word. Boy did it rub me the wrong way! I can’t convince anyone of his power, his grace, his mercy, and for all I know, this will anger some folks even further. But it isn’t my job to change the transparency of what God is doing here in my heart, my home. It is my job to keep living, aligning every area of life with his Word. The rest is up to him. How he uses it. As a result of our past, my husband and I felt convicted by God’s Word. EVERY child is a blessing, and we will take each one given to us, and we will love them, and nurture them, and teach them his word. And we know this will, and has, offended some. Pictures on facebook notwithstanding. Our lives have, by their very nature, become a declaration of God’s work in them.

twodudesISAIAH

The two Dudes, Allen and Isaiah.

Now, that does NOT mean we are perfect, or that we speak for God in any way. We still sin, we still make wrong choices, and have not arrived in any way. Not until we go to Heaven will we have “arrived” And even then, that will be by God’s Grace. I am sorry if my sin has hurt you.

I also have come to realize that the more God works, the more others will respond to what he does. Some with wonder, with anger, with hate, with love, or with a searching heart. I can’t control their response. I can point them one way. To God. Read his word, see what he says, and discuss your heart with him, anger, searching, whatever is on it.

With Love,
Liz

Confessions of a “SuperMom”

Standard

Since Isaiah has been born, I have struggled more than I thought with adding child no. 4. In fact, I have struggled so much, that I momentarily wondered if there might not be *some* kind of out for our procreational commitment to allow God to determine the size of our family, and the number of our blessings. Not that I didn’t think every child was a blessing, but that it became increasingly harder to smile sincerely and respond kindly when folks at the grocery store smirked and said “Boy, your hands are FULL!” while I walked past with my 4 children, Isaiah (6 weeks) screeching that newborn wail, Emma (4) whining for a drink, Sarah (6) making silly faces at Ava, and Ava (2) having a full on tantrum on the grocery store floor. Somehow, human nature allows these failures to leave a more lasting mark than the 5 successful trips for every 1 failure. During these moments, my policy has always been to leave immediately, but unfortunately, this does not curtail the smirking strangers.

OurNewNormalwithIsaiah

Our new normal

One example of a recent “failure moment” happened just yesterday. While taking Sarah to her tooth extraction at the Oral surgeon, my Mother graciously agreed to take my two middle children (6am not being a friendly time of day to leave the house with 4 kids under 6 AND retain my sanity.) and I went there with Isaiah strapped to my front snugly, and waited impatiently in the waiting room for my oldest to complete her first “surgery” and wake up from anesthesia.
Upon finding out I had four children total, during my nervous blatherings., one of the receptionists shook her head at me, smiling, and said “You must be SuperMom.” Here, I had a potential ego boost that I had to put in perspective. Just a few short months ago, with three impeccably behaved children, I would have responded to this situating with feigned humility while patting myself on the back privately. Funny how your pride becomes all too apparent after you’ve fallen on your rear enough times.
This time, I felt immediately inadequate to answer her, a little ashamed, in fact. Mostly, because, this “SuperMom” didn’t even change her 6 year old out of her Pjs for the surgery, OR her newborn baby out of his (Don’t worry I DID change his diaper! Haha!)  In fact, I barely slapped on some sweatpants, a t-shirt, sneakers, and stuffed my Lilla Rose Flexi Clip and Lipgloss  in my pocket for easy elegance that could be completed in the space of one stoplight.  Isaiah had also, in fact, had a blow out in his diaper while Sarah was being medicated, and I forgot to bring a change of shirt. So I was also covered in baby poo. I felt like anything BUT a SuperMom. I even felt a momentary twinge of sadness that the only thing needed for “Super Mom” status in this case, was the number of children I have.  I wanted to feel justified in being called “Super Mom, ” and as proud of that title as I had felt when I had three children, but considering the past 6 weeks, and how very hard it has been to get back to being just a Mom and a Wife, I had nothing good to reply with. So I lamely mumbled that I didn’t feel like SuperMom, and then gratefully rushed off when the nurse called out “Is Sarah’s Mom in here? She is awake!”

Thinking on that moment later, I felt like it was a missed opportunity. I feel this burden on my shoulders, one that grows with each child God adds to our family. A burden to not only appear to be perfect, but in so doing, to prove the value in large family living. So many people in our lives, strangers, friends, some family, think we are certifiably NUTS not to take Birth Control. In fact, I recently had an exchange with my OB that went like this:
Dr: “So, what are you doing for birth control now.”
Me: “I don’t do birth control.”
Dr: “Yes, I know, you just had a baby, so what will you do now?”
Me: “I don’t believe in birth control.”
Dr. (incredulous.) “So what will you DO for birth control?!”
Me: Nothing.
Dr.: “Well what will you DO?!”
Me: “Be the next Duggars?”

The student observer standing behind me snickered at that moment, giving some much needed levity to the situation. But the point is clear. We must be CRAZY. These kinds of moments have led to putting this burden on me, and admittedly, my children every time we go into public. I feel like we must “represent” for large families. Be a shining example of how great they are. My own daughter challenged that thought just before her surgery when she said to me, “But why must WE convince everyone it is nice to be in a large family?” Ouch. Ok, I really don’t know the answer to that one. And, I had a sudden epiphany that perhaps in trying to be our “best” in public, I’m breeding a sort of nasty hypocrisy. We don’t need to be our “best” and always present only one side of large family life. We don’t need to be ashamed either when we don’t measure up to a “perfect” ideal on our own steam. With one approach, we alienate others by our artificial perfection and obvious pride in our own work. With the other, we publicly negate God’s work in our lives, by an exaggerated sense of humility, or shame.
We need to be real. We struggle. At least, I do. It is HARD work being a large family, and I don’t even think we qualify yet! I think that officially is reached at 5 or 6 kids… technically, anyway. Maybe rather than teaching my kids we need to be a walking commercial, I need to teach my children that we need to be a walking example of God’s grace. Tantrums do happen. And they happen in stores. They aren’t ok, and they aren’t good, and they are VERY annoying to other customers, but maybe the example of handling it Biblically, and gracefully, even under pressure, is far more powerful than being “perfect.”

So here is my “Super Mom” confession. I struggle too, and by God’s grace, THAT is how I am a Mom of a “large” family. I am not super, Christ works despite my failure to BE “Super Mom.”

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

(Galatians 2:20, ESV)

Motherhood is Humbling

Standard

There is nothing like the ahumilitypostavabandwrrival of a new baby to set your world spinning around and around until you are forced to realize: Motherhood is humbling.

My first jolt back to that reality was seeing my postpartum pictures. Cute kid, but who is that awful looking lady holding him?! Ack! THAT IS ME?! Yuck.

But there were more substantial reminders that while managing three kids had become a piece of cake for this Mama, God is NOT done with me yet! Sanctification continues.

I found the most humbling moments in these two experiences:
The other day one of my daughters had been especially exasperating in a new set of behavioral difficulties. I was frustrated, and at the end of my rope. Having a new baby is an adjustment for everyone, but adjustment or no, there was no excuse for her behavior! I was having a hard time reining her in. So I asked for advice from Moms I knew, My Mom, etc, and even some Mommybloggers. (Shout out to 4 Moms, 35+ Kids!) I still made no progress in helping her to curb her disrespectful behavior. I was getting rolling eyes, talking back, and exasperated rude responses. Then one day, this very child walks in while I was putting 2 of her younger siblings to sleep. She wanted to show me something she made. My immediate response was to roll my eyes and respond with “Well what is it? I’m putting your sister and brother down for a nap!”

Yikes.

It was me. How could I expect her to stop a behavior that I wasn’t even recognizing, let alone dealing with in myself? What a humbling moment. I felt awful instantly. I apologized to her and told her to please come back later.  It wasn’t a while until I was able to confess my full sins to her. It takes a lot to tell your child you’ve been wrong. I started half a dozen times only to put it off. Another sin of mine, pride, was staring me right in the face. Motherhood is truly humbling.

Then, yesterday, my husbaIsaiahnd called me on his lunch break, telling me “I forgot to pay some bills! And I never deposited that check… Could you handle it for me?” I was excited to show my husband I was getting back in my super prepped Mommy groove, and I could handle an emergency. Of COURSE I could handle it! “It” required a trip to the bank, and a trip to another bank to pay both bills. No problem, this was a piece of cake with 3 kids! Should be nothing with 4!
Wrong. Oh so wrong.

Instead: I grabbed some PB and J and…. uhm, what else is there? Carrots. Ok… whipped everyone into (semi decent) shape, and headed off into the sunset, wipes on hand for the inevitable peanut butter faces. We started the whole adventure off with an incident in the parking lot. Someone made a break for a puddle in a high traffic area, and I began the whole outing with a screech: “DON’T run there!”
There ended up being no cars in the parking lot, and the child in question responded instantly, and went back to her “spot”, never having been in any real danger,  and so all was fine, but I think this was the first indicator I was in over my head.  Before I had to juggle a toddler and an infant in exiting the car, she never would have even dreamed of making a move for that puddle.
Inside both banks the children ran around in circles or bounced nervously on the chairs while I signed papers. During the rest of our errands there was a lot of angst in the back seat, with everyone hitting the naptime wall, including me. We went home, nobody the worse for wear, but my pride having taken a few fatal blows, the whole drive home was dominated by Isaiah’s expressions of discomfort and disapproval after our long afternoon in the minivan hopping from place to place.

I had been at that place most of us go to when we’ve been “successful” in our christian walk. We begin to (erroneously) assume our hard work is paying off. But we forget
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
(Galatians 2:20, ESV)
We begin to trust in the law alone, and forget the all important work of the Holy Spirit in our heart, our home. Without God’s all consuming work in us, the law does nothing.  As I’ve heard said before (I think Rushdoony said it) ” The law does not justify, it sanctifies.” I had forgotten that truth, and began to feel as if I had conquered my sinful nature, and was fully capable of addressing my children’s shortcomings as well. But I’m not sufficient on my own. If anything, my knowledge of the law should inform me of how very deficient I am, and how much I need God’s righteousness. (Romans 7:7)

And so armed with this new dose of humility, I am reminded of many things. Firstly, without God’s Word, change is impossible, and without the Holy Spirit, lasting, sincere change is a lost cause. Time to get back to the Word of God with a humbled spirit.

humilitypostmomandemmasnuggling  To know wisdom and instruction,

to understand words of insight,

to receive instruction in wise dealing,

in righteousness, justice, and equity;

to give prudence to the simple,

knowledge and discretion to the youth—

Let the wise hear and increase in learning,

and the one who understands obtain guidance,

to understand a proverb and a saying,

the words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Proverbs 1:2-7, ESV)

I can’t make my chilhumilitypostsarahemmadren wise on my own, I can’t make my children well behaved on my own, and I can’t cause them to be their best, but I can introduce them to the God who sanctifies me daily, changes me as only he can, and provides me with the wisdom to meet many things head on. I can’t claim any of that goodness for myself, but I can lead them straight to the wisdom from God’s Word that does not return void. I can obey God’s command (Duet. 6) and teach them daily as I walk with Christ. And I can trust in his ability to bring lasting change to their hearts, minds, and lives. In the end, my failure riddled parenting isn’t enough for them, but the sufficiency of scripture in informing their wisdom and decisions, and the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and lives is something I can trust in to overcome my own sins and shortcomings.

Sibling Conflicts From Matthew 18 Weekly Goals: Part 2

Standard
Sibling Conflicts From Matthew 18 Weekly Goals: Part 2

So since I got a bit long winded yesterday, I turned this into a 2 parter to discuss this week’s goals. This past week, Raising Olives had a question and answer post. In this post she linked to another, older post of hers, on solving sibling squabbles. This is an issue that grows as they grow! And I was beginning to wonder, if like in many other areas of life, I’ve allowed bad habits to form. I have it much easier with Ava, and Isaiah, because with these two, we are starting from scratch. I don’t have to break a bad habit and replace it, I just start a good habit. This has been proven in Ava’s response to things which I found terribly difficult with Sarah. When you expect specific things from a young age, children have a way of rising to the occasion! When you expect it suddenly at an older age, they (as we adults sometimes do!) have a much harder time of making it a normal behavior. Change is HARD! But, in this case, change is necessary! Sibling squabbles can’t continue as they have, or things will deteriorate as more kids arrive into the Sacks Brood! Must. Get. A. Handle. On. This. NOW!

Now, second lesson I’ve learned is I never have a handle on ANYTHING! This is where God comes in. First thing to do? Get on my knees. I know the particular passage that Raising Olives mentioned in her post: Matthew 18. In fact, I’ve quoted it a lot myself in other quarrels with adults, and issues within my extended family. My husband and I have discussed it at length in solving issues with others when it comes to disagreements over life choices. (and believe me, we have PLENTY of those! Lately we’ve become quite a lightning rod for that. But that is another story!) I never, oddly, considered it as a principle to teach my young children. This is where I find I failed in the early years of mothering. Applying scripture correctly, on their level, and faithfully. But at that time in my life, scripture was only referenced when it was useful, and inspirational. Time to roll my sleeves up, and apply scripture liberally!

Image

So how can we apply Matthew 18 to our little girls, 6, 4, and 22 months?

Well. First we read it. A friend recommended ESV for little kids, the language is clear, concise, and doesn’t lose its weight in trying to be simple either.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Matthew 18:15-17

We break it down, often right when it is most applicable. I started this week, and am already noticing an uptick in peaceful negotiations! 🙂

It goes like this:

Sarah: BUT I WANT THAT TOY!

Emma: But I want it TOO!

We stop, separate, and often, I encourage some kind of positive physical contact with somebody. Me, or the other child. If it is especially heated, they are encouraged to hold hands with me. This might change as they get older, but when they are little, it has an instant calming effect. The toy in question is set in a neutral place until the argument is settled. It acts as a motivation to settle.

We start with confrontation. “What is your problem with your sister?” Each child takes a turn stating their issue. The other child is asked to consider it in terms of selflessness, not selfishness. If we’re still resisting, often we quote this scripture at this point: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

If there are other sin issues, a stolen toy for example, those are also dealt with immediately, the offending child is asked to state what the Biblical law is on that point. Should we hurt? Should we Steal? What does God say? Often, this reminder is enough to solve the issue on the spot. The offending child hands the toy over, apologizes, and they are encouraged to hug or otherwise comfort the other crying sibling.

We’ve also asked each child to apologize when sin is present. I have been told many times in my teaching days that forcing a child to apologize is wrong. But the Bible has a different standard than the world. In some cases of law, apology isn’t even enough! Restitution is needed. If a child repeats the offense of stealing, in some cases, they will be asked to provide restitution. (You took her toy, now you must give hers back, AND one of yours.”) If that doesn’t stop the stealing in its tracks, we take time alone together to address the heart issue, maybe it is envy, covetousness, and I try to be aware of what that child is doing constantly.

Part of the apology process is the healing. A quick hug, a word of forgiveness, and all is over, and everyone happily returns to play. If we still have some petulance on one side or another, it still isn’t resolved, and we move back to square one. Oddly enough, Although Ava needs constant prompts, and nudges to properly complete an argument, Sarah and Emma have caught on quickly, and do attempt to solve it themselves in some cases. 50% of the time I am not asked, and don’t need to intervene. If they can’t solve it on their own following these steps, they come and get me, and ask me. (Getting a third party, as per verse16) Usually then, before I go and intervene, the child who approaches me is confronted on her sin. “What happened?” The child may tell a tale of woe where the other child will not give her a desired toy. “Are you being selfish, and putting your wants before hers?” Sometimes, that even makes my intervention unnecessary. If the problem is really a heart issue with child no. 1, it can stop there, and they play on happily.

Although every situation, every argument is different, what really blows my mind is how scripture has a principle, a word of wisdom for each one of them. It reminds me of that moment in Matthew 22 where a young lawyer tries to trap Jesus into a disregard for some portion of the law, and fails:

“But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:34-40 ESV)

Everything depends on loving God first, and loving your neighbor as yourself, putting their needs on par with your own. Oddly enough, almost all (in fact, I might say all) of the arguments we confront in our home have to do with either selfishness or pride, or a combination.

(Mom, you might be laughing right now, because as I type this, I can hear you saying that to us as we all sit in the back of that big van, arms folded across our chests, rolling our eyeballs at your latest mention of selfishness and pride!)

Arguments are by no means gone, or as well handled as I’d like yet (after all, we’re only a week into applying Matthew 18! Although we’ve been using restitution as a consequence for a year now, and apologies have always been expected.) We aren’t perfect, and kids struggle, just as adults do, with selfishness and sin. But using this goal as a working point, and teaching the children to meet this standard is making a difference, and I am hoping with perseverance and hard work will become a life long habit.

Image

Coming Face to Face with God

Standard

Sometimes God just stretches you.

God stretched many people in the Bible, to places where things just seemed impossible.

Moses, Job, Joseph, Ruth, Esther, Abraham and Sarah, and the list goes on and on.

I am slowly learning that sometimes God puts us at a point where things seem so impossible for us, that when they fall into place, there is no way to credit anyone BUT him! We are in such a place right now. This is a time to praise the Lord for his goodness, and mercy, and humbly come before in in prayer.

Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, and we are so so thankful that we are all safe, we have electricity back, plenty to eat (our food kept well.) During the storm, I couldn’t sleep. My husband and I both sat there, awake, listening to things banging on the side of the house. It was nerve wracking. We were terrified of the tree in our front yard (which is somewhat rotten in the trunk,) falling on the house, and that it would hit our children’s bedroom. We trooped everybody into our room, which was probably the safest room in the house, and the kids bunked out on the floor, all snuggled together in a pile of cuteness.

At one point I said (with anxiety and urgency, I’m sure) “Oh no! What about the cat?!” I had tried to get her to come inside, but when I had called, she was nowhere to be found. Hearing that wind blow, and things bang against the house, I was truly worried for her safety. We had even made a small shelter on the back of the porch, away from the rain, but she wasn’t using it. I was REALLY worried. A little voice piped up in the dark. “It’s ok Mom! God is controlling the storm! He’ll take care of Kitty! I just know he will!” Oh the faith of a child. It was a precious moment, and a truly humbling one.

We sat awake long after the children, in all their childlike faith, went to sleep. They slept through the whole thing, unafraid, and trusting that God would care for them. My husband and I got very little sleep, as we sat up and weathered the storm. The winds were blowing very hard, and trees were shaking like little rag dolls. Oddly, despite all the cloud cover, and lack of lightning, we could see everything perfectly. At one point I went on the back porch to call the cat again. The force of the wind scared me back inside before I even cleared the door. As we sat there, unnerved and scared, we remembered a children’s sermon spoken at our church, based on Psalm 29:

In the psalm, the psalmist describes a storm, controlled by God, terrifying in its power, so powerful that it shakes the famous cedar trees of Lebanon (shaking of the trees seemed rather appropriate at this time.) He speaks of the majesty of God’s voice. and he concludes the Psalm with a description of how Israel faces this mighty storm. Not as an uncontrolled terror, ready to gobble them up, but as a carrier for God’s Glory.

“and in his temple, ALL cry GLORY!”

These are not a people crippled in fear by this storm, these are a people who have gathered to worship the God in control of his storm. To glorify his power and majesty.

We felt a peace after discussing this, and then went to sleep until the morning.

When we awoke in the morning it was with the attitude of children on a snow day. We found that during the night we had lost power, but we had expected, and prepared for that. We enjoyed time as a family, playing cards, teaching the girls how to keep score, and group “families” in Rummy. I even taught the kids how to play War. We discovered the bathroom roof was leaking, but it was a bit worse than usual, as the roof had leaked before in a bad storm.  We whipped out the buckets and towels, and went about our business, content with the thought that with proper water damage management, it would only take a leak repair once the rain had stopped. We knew that:

Philippians 4:19
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

We were secure in the thought, that whatever had occurred in this storm was not beyond his power to provide for. But what we did not know is how far our faith in his provision would be stretched.

When the rain *had* stopped, my husband went outside to asses the roof. We thought it must be leaking so profusely because a puddle or something had formed over the leak. We did not know what he would find. He went out over the 2nd floor balcony, set up the ladder on the first floor roof, and climbed on up, only to find that about a third of the roof over the bathroom, and our bedroom, was ripped off like the top of a tin can. The corner was pulled upward, exposing the beams and insulation below. First thought? How are we ever going to pay for this? We don’t even have the money on hand to buy the minivan we so sorely need before March when Isaiah makes his appearance, so how will we pay the thousands of dollars for a new roof, new insulation, and repairs to the very badly water damaged ceiling in the bathroom?

This is that impossible moment where the  math doesn’t add up. There is not, and cannot be enough money, on our own power, to pay for this roof and a minivan before March. Even with the Insurance claim going through, they will not replace the roof, they will only pay for the portion that was damaged, despite the fact that now the whole roof must be replaced.  We also have a bit of a hitch in the giddy-up, in that the roofer showed up and nailed the roof back down *before* we could get pictures of the storm damage as it was. We are hoping his statement alone is enough for the insurance co. The damage is still there, and still evident. And this fix was only enough to stop the leaking temporarily, and keep the roof from blowing off any further. We have yet to make a decision regarding permanent repairs, until we hear more from our insurance co.

We know at this point that ONLY God can make this happen. And let me tell you, prayers are flying up from this house with frequency and urgency. This is one of those moments where doubt just doesn’t enter in. God will provide.

Psalm 34:7-9
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.

We have one thing we are immeasurably thankful for, that it wasn’t worse. Looking at the pictures from New Jersey and New York, we are in awe of what this storm has done to many folks. We pray for them all, as they face clean up, repairs, and putting their lives back together. We also pray for the families of those who have died in Hurricane Sandy. Please pray with us for the many lives affected by this storm, and that despite the many who are in a tough spot right now, that we will all recognize God’s glory in the wake of this large and destructive storm. We know he can work anywhere, in any way he chooses, and we pray for those who are recognizing his power for the first time, or seeing it in action again.

On the Subject of Struggles- The Proverbs 31 Woman

Standard

Last night was the culmination of a few months of stress. In order to make it financially, and still be able to homeschool, we’ve had to get creative in earning money.  Taking a cue from the Proverbs 31 woman, I’ve tried to structure that around Spiritual needs (Family devotions, discipleship, nurturing, and raising children to put God as a priority in their life. Teaching them the meaning of Biblical Character.) Marital needs, Family needs (keeping our home, maintaining ministries to others, making academic requirements, and learning necessary skills.) and Church/Community needs (being active in our body of believers, encouraging other Moms in the same boat etc.)  I trust God to provide, and so far he has, but lately we’ve been stretched quite thin in trying to be flexible. Call it growing pains, call it the natural side effect of flexing those muscles, but the past two months have been a literal stretch. And last night, something snapped a bit.  Exhausted, in pain, and trying to cope with all the issues, I had me a pretty long prayer session. I think that this past week, I have stepped over the line, and placed our financial needs first, and stretched a little too far. In seeking God’s face, I had to go back to square one, his Word. As I grow, mature, I realize that the Proverbs 31 woman wasn’t superhuman. She was experienced, and as it says “She fears the Lord.” She looked to him first to inform her choices. My question to you readers is, how do you read this scripture? What strikes you? What do you take from it? How do you handle your burdens, and keep all of those balls in the air? What do you do when you struggle with any, or all of these?

Proverbs 31:10-31 (ESV)

The Woman Who Fears the Lord

10 An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25  Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30  Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.