Thursday, February 25, 2016

When Mommy Is Sick

Community is imperative. The sista-friends and relatives who are local can rush to fill in the numerous gaps filled by an absent mommy.
My children were five, three and one at the time. The flu struck out of nowhere. Fast. My husband worked 90 hours per week at two jobs and his own carpet cleaning business. I remember lying over my bed, unable to move thinking I can’t even stand up to make dinner. I tried. We all try. I crawled to the kitchen and tried to stand but waves of nausea and an outbreak of chills defeated my inner lioness.

My friend and prayer partner had two children at the time but still, she came over, made dinner and took care of my kids for at least a couple of hours.
This was just the flu. I’ve dealt with bedrest during pregnancies, hernia repairs, and another bout of the flu about ten years later and when my husband couldn’t help, friends stepped in.
I have a friend who died from cancer last August. She was at her sickest in the hospital, but friends stepped in to hold her hand, lotion her feet and pray at bedside to relieve her husband for at least a couple of hours a day.
I have another friend who is frequently making a 3 hour drive to take care of five nieces and nephews whose father, her brother, is hospitalized.
Both the ordinary bout of flu and the extraordinary ordeal of disease reveal the importance of the scripture: Psalm 68:6a God sets the solitary in families. We are never meant to suffer alone. Whether it’s our blood family, church family or family of friendships, we need others to fill in the gaps that we leave when we are knocked off course.
“I need help” can be difficult words for anyone to say.
However, these are beautiful words to the one that hears them. The opportunity to be a gap-filler is an opportunity to show love and compassion without conditions. So fellow mommys, and to the daddys who are reading this, when your strength runs out, contact a friend and say

“I need help.”

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Do Our Kids See our Past or our Present?

         An excerpt from my work in progress: Ages and Stages: The Book

I learned that we always need healing from something. Whether it’s the dog that chased me down the street when I was five or whether I perceived that I was being rejected by a loved one, I need to regularly do an inventory of my heart. If I don’t, my family is bound to be affected by my wounded soul.

All of us reflect the environments and cultures in which we grew up and the relationships that made impressions on us. As children, we are blank mounds of clay shaped by other people. Every human being is like a chisel, intentionally or unintentionally making impressions into the souls of those around us. The Bible calls God the Potter, and as a Father, His desire is for all of us to be initially shaped by parents who reflect His character. But there is no person on earth that perfectly reflects God’s character. Even adults who had great childhoods are indented with impressions left by people or situations from their past.

We inherit talents as well as predispositions to specific thought patterns and behaviors. I didn’t grow up in a touchy-feely home and I always admired families that I saw that were affectionate. As a result, I made a conscious decision to be affectionate with my children as long as they would let me, which usually ended up being until the age of seven. The downside of this was that because affection wasn’t my natural inclination, except for the nightly kiss goodnight, my kids went without much human touch from age seven until eighteen or older. I found out later that as teenagers, they wondered why we weren’t an affectionate family. They missed it but were unable to ask for it!
This is where I’ve realized that as a parent I needed to learn more about how human beings are made by God to function. I needed to read books about child development as well as adolescence. I needed to remember the yearnings that I had as a teenager and realize that those yearnings were not individual to me, but normal for all people. Everybody wants a hug at some point, even the teenage male who thinks he has it all together.

One way that we can grow in our aptitude to give and receive love is by tackling the issues that put a stopper in our love wells. It takes courage, patience and trust in God to deal with the soul wounds of our past. In 1996 our marriage hit rough waters. Doug aptly described this time as "individual hurricanes colliding to form one massive storm". It wasn’t fun.

But it was a needed season of learning. Although as young Christians we read a lot of Christian books and recognized a few areas in our personal lives that needed healing, we had no idea that our souls were icebergs. All of us can be blind to the deep issues within.

In order to work on our marriage, we needed to address many of the unseen areas of our lives. This meant doing inventories of the rooms in our soul. Consider the soul the realm of the emotions, the mind: memories and thought processes, and the will. Faithful ministers in our local church and a wonderful ministry called Freedom in Christ, founded by Neil Anderson helped us through this stage of our marriage.

That same year we also had our third child. If we hadn't seized the courage to "go deep" within ourselves, be humble, receive counsel, and change by God's transforming power, we would have lived a miserable life together and our children would have suffered greatly. 

I write this twenty years later and every now and then I ask myself, "Do my kids see my past or my present?"  While too much introspection can be harmful, this question causes me to keep my ears open to the whispers of my heavenly Father who knows me unashamedly, sees me completely and loves me unconditionally.  Philippians 1:6b says: He who begun a good work in you will complete it...Yay! 

Oh, what would we do without our faithful God! He is our loving Potter! His hands are gentle and his ways are gracious. We do not have to ever fear going to him with our issues. Because of His cleansing blood, we can carry no shame, no weight, and no condemnation. What we don't see, he shows us when we ask. He'll carry us through the pain of bad memories and difficult seasons. He'll set us down at his throne of healing and restoration. He is a faithful parent who loves his kids!

A few books that were instrumental in not only helping me model our heavenly Father's parenting but also helped me overcome my own obstacles that were robbing my children of a emotionally healed mother were: Seven Longings of the Human Heart by Mike Bickle, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, Victory Over the Darkness by Neil AndersonThe Root of Rejection by Joyce Meyer. A wonderful book I've recently discovered about the power of memories and thoughts is Switch On Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf

Thank you for taking the time to read. 

Lord Jesus, help us to be convinced of your love for us. We love you because 
you first loved us. You extend love to us even when we sin. Your love covers our sins. Your faithful love reaches down and helps us when we don't know how to help ourselves. Give us courage to see and remove the stoppers in our love wells. Our desire as parents and caregivers is to love well. Thank you God.