Blessed be Your Name

exhausted-mom

A few days ago at church we sang “you give and take away, my heart will choose to say, blessed be your name.”

I’m realizing that God gives me days with no energy. Days where it is difficult to praise. Days where I feel I can’t do anything.

And in those days, I can’t be bitter at God that I am not having a good day, that for some unknown reason I am mysteriously lacking in motivation and energy. To me, those circumstances equal a bad day. But is that true?

The truth is, I am still able to praise God and walk in obedience when I have no energy. I can still speak kindly to my kids when I am too exhausted to do a small load of laundry or fix anything other than sandwiches and cereal.

The truth is, God does not tempt me to sin, but he allows difficult circumstances to teach me all about my inabilities and his faithfulness. He is taking away my energy and abilities for my good and his glory. When I ask, “why can’t I even deal with the every day?!” I have my answer.

Because he gives, and he withholds. Blessed be Your name.

Upcoming Labor & Delivery

This pregnancy has been a struggle. An incredibly difficult struggle with anxiety, with trust, with belief. There are SO many unknowns, so many factors outside my control. I have never felt more overwhelmed and weighed down by my future than I have these past few months. I am not normally a worrier, which does not mean that I am good at handling fear. It actually means I am bad at it, because I rarely struggle with it. Trusting God has always come relatively easy to me.

Not this pregnancy. Not this season. Not this birth.

I have a lot to share about this, and hope to share more later, but it will take a long time, and a lot of (uninterrupted) thought, and a lot of words. So we’ll save that for another post.

The one thing I can say is that God has remained steadfast. His promises are true. Never have I needed to believe that more than in this season of my life. And it is true. He has continually, daily, sometimes hourly, taught my heart to know him more. I have learned SO many lessons and have journaled a lot, trying to savor the beauty of his grace to me. Last night, he revealed something else to my heart.

Keep in mind, this speaks directly to where I am coming from. I was trained as a homebirth midwife, and with that comes a whole set of ideals and idols that I had no idea were even in my heart. I have always been open to other people disagreeing with me, it’s not that I think everyone HAS to have a natural birth and that it’s a sin otherwise! Not that at all. It’s idols like: I want a natural birth for myself MORE than I want God’s will for my life (that was a rough lesson! lots of tears shed that day). And like he’s been dealing with me recently: I think that in labor the world should revolve around me. I’m doing this great work of birthing a baby, and I should be catered to. People in the natural birth community go further and say that birthing mothers are like goddesses, they are full of power and strength and should be revered! Of course I don’t hold to that view, I consider that blasphemy and would never say that.

 

However, what does it say about us when we expect to be served? When we expect people to cater to our every whim? Why do we expect that? Because we are in pain? Because we are working really hard? Having a baby is roughly the caloric equivalent of swimming the English Channel. And yes, swimmers in those situations surround themselves with a team that will support them and yes, the swimmer is the “star of the show”.

But the problem is with my attitude. To be brutally honest, I have realized that my thinking goes something like this: “finally! one thing in the whole world that is all about ME”. Finally, a situation where I don’t have to feel guilty for asking for (sometimes demanding!) whatever I want, putting myself at the center of my life.

So all of a sudden, in labor, these verses don’t apply?

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Phil 2:3)

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience… (Col 3:12)

Philippians goes on to say this:

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Here’s what it comes down to. It is not all about me, no matter what difficulty I am walking through. I don’t have to try and force the people around me (my husband, my care providers, etc) to give me the “perfect natural birth experience”. I just need to walk in obedience to what God has commanded, and trust absolutely in his faithfulness and power.

I don’t know why this is so hard for me. I just know that I need a major heart change. I need the Holy Spirit to come and change me. I see that need, and I pray desperately for it. And I trust that he will do this work in me.

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thess 5:24)

P.S. I know that this post won’t apply to a lot of people. I also know that some people may not understand at all where I’m coming from and think I’m crazy. I accept that. I am just grateful that the God who sees my heart is faithfully correcting the errors in me, and will continue to make me more holy, no matter what weird ideas I have. :)

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Naptime Lessons

Today we had a pretty typical nap time for George. As often happens on a Friday after church, we got home late for his nap. I brought him upstairs, and though he was in an overtired daze, as soon as he realized we were heading to his room he started fighting. He started kicking and crying.

George does not like sleep.

Today, I was calm. I knew he had to sleep for at least a short nap. So I quietly told him he had to stop throwing a fit or I couldn’t hold him (with my 32 week pregnant belly) and would have to put him in bed instead of sing and rock first. He was completely unreasonable (tired), and so into bed he went. When I put him down, I tried to reason with him again, asking “do you want to sing together?”. But to no avail. So I went out and let him be upset for a minute, then went back into his room to ask if he was ready to sing for naptime.

Normally this tactic works really well with George. I leave him throwing a fit for about 30 seconds, then go back in and he’s reset, ready to submit and be happy. But not today. Today I went in and out about 5 times, and every time I tried to talk to him he would just “scream/growl” at me like he does when he’s very angry.

By God’s grace, I was calm. By God’s grace I didn’t get frustrated with him or the situation, or my lack of “progress” in getting him to calm down. I hate seeing him upset, I want to hold him and sing and pray together, connect for a few precious moments as he goes to sleep. But he would not accept that it was nap time. He was angry with an unchangeable truth, and was letting me know about it!

As I was sitting down next to his crib, getting on his level and speaking calmly in the face of his anger, I realized how often I act like this towards God. He has ordained certain things for certain times in our lives, and so often I lash out at him (or the people around me) in anger and frustration because I just DON’T want it to be that way!! I don’t want to wait for the unknown! I don’t want to go through seasons of discomfort, or lack of sleep, or lack of wisdom, or failure! I want my life to be GOOD, by my definition of what is good. But God has a better plan. God has the BEST plan for my life, and will make it come to pass. This is his grace, and because of his love for his children!! He knows that “naptime” is the best thing for me, and he won’t budge, no matter what kind of a temper tantrum I throw.

So often when George is throwing a fit, I get focused on the situation and get overwhelmed and frustrated. I feel like a failure because my kid is throwing a fit and I can’t get them to stop. I look inward and feel helpless, and then feel selfish thinking that I’m SO tired and this is SO difficult and it will never get any better! And then I burst into tears. (can you see where Siena gets her dramatic tendencies?)

But today I had victory, and I trusted the Lord despite George screaming in my face, and I was encouraged by his Truth, being reminded that he always does things for my good.

And you know what? George calmed down. I didn’t have to “give in” to his demands, I lovingly did what was best for him. I was there for him the moment he relented and came to my arms. I was ready to receive him any time he would let go of his anger and come to my loving embrace. I wasn’t angry with him, I always wanted to give him what was best because I love him. We sang all his favorite songs together, hugged and rocked, prayed, and then he happily laid down in his bed.

Now he’s sleeping peacefully, for the moment, and I am meditating on the goodness of God. I’m grateful for naptimes like these.

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Filled Up

…and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

Yesterday was a hard day. I was having a hard time accepting something, and instead of truly surrendering it to God and trusting him to take care of me, I chose to hold onto it. I gave into what was easy, my flesh. I let myself get really upset over this small thing, and it ruined my day, and sadly, my family’s.

Sometimes lately when I am struggling through something, I seem to struggle hard. To the point where my stomach hurts and I feel physically unable to even climb the stairs. Blame it on pregnancy, or just deeply rooted sin that God is faithfully digging out, but it’s been rough. And last night spiraled into one of those nights.

In the evening after the kids were down, I took a shower and cried (more crying). Wishing I wasn’t so weak. Wishing I could just snap out of it. My sweet husband asked if he could get me anything, and was totally just there for me. I laid down on the couch and closed my eyes and listened randomly to Colossians on my head phones, several times through. I know that Truth changes things, changes me. And I was praying that God would speak to me, would remind me of who he is, and change my heart to be more like his.

And of course, he did.

There are so many beautiful reminders in Colossians. Like these,

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved son, in whom we have redemption, forgiveness of sins.

May you be strengthened with all power and might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father

He is the image of the invisible God…. In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each otheras the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

And finally, this one. And this one gave me an idea.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

As I laid there on the couch trying to process my horrible attitude and figure out where to go from here, the phrase “you have been filled in him” leapt out at me. I immediately thought of what I felt full of. What did I spend most of my day filling my head with? I can answer that in one word.

Facebook. (please note, this is absolutely not an anti-facebook post)

But I know what I do in my spare time. I know what app I flip to when I have a few spare minutes while I’m feeding the kids. While I’m drinking my tea. When I take a moment to get off my feet.

I realized I don’t feel full on Christ, I feel full of social media. Of distraction. Of other people’s lives. Of projects I want to make. Of pictures I want to post. Of recipes I want to try. I am so full of it, and there is no room left for Christ.

No wonder I feel like I’m drowning.

So for me this means I’m spending less time on facebook. I am trying to spend more time in the Word than I do on facebook, check my notifications and messages, but not spend hours just scrolling and scrolling through my new feed like an addict, going back to it at every spare moment like a nervous tick.

This is not a legalistic thing. It’s born out of a desire to be FULL of what really matters, what truly sustains me. I feel so drained, so needy. I need to be filled.

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“Mama, ah woll up?”

your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him. 

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Every day after breakfast I get my two year old dressed (that little ham on the far right). It’s the same routine, every day. I grab new clothes, change his diaper, put the new clothes on him, and invariably he asks me the same question. 

“Mama, ah woll up?”

He has this thing, and if his pants go under the bottoms of his feet, he Freaks Out. I’m talking, emotional break down like he’s being wounded. When he first started doing it I kept thinking he was hurt, being tormented by siblings, or had had an appendage slammed in a door. But no. It was his pants. Under his feet. Every time. 

So now, I do it automatically. But he still asks. And it’s adorable. 

For me, there was a learning curve to figure out what it was that he wanted. But now that I know, I meet that need, usually as he’s asking me I am already in the process of rolling up his pants. 

God knows what we need. And not just the petty, selfish, little things we ask him for. But what we really need. Needing more of Jesus. Needing more holiness. Needing humility, and gratefulness, and the Holy Spirit. He is there, meeting our needs before we even know to ask him for what we truly need. So often, I think that I need a bigger fridge, fewer bugs in my kitchen, less stress in my life, I WANT MY PANT LEGS ROLLED UP!!! But God knows what I really need. To be refined, to be changed, to grow in holiness and affection for God. And he is continually working to meet those needs WAY before I even ask.

I’m so grateful he meets all my needs.

(text Matthew 6:8)

Seeing myself in my kids

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Lately I have been taking a lot of time to analyze the situations I get into with my kids. For lots of reasons that I will go into in another post, I have been doing a lot of reflection. And I’ve noticed something: I see myself in my kids ALL the time. 

I see myself in Siena when she frets and worries about what the day will bring. She’s a planner. I’m not. And she has such a hard time letting go! She asks me again and again, “what are we doing today, mom?”. Or when that doesn’t produce the desired result, she starts trying to plan it for me. “Well, I was thinking we could go out to the store. What do you think about that?” She finds it so incredibly difficult to rest in my “I don’t know, we’ll see what the day brings”. 

I see myself in Augie, who is a sensitive little guy, and quite often will completely overreact to the smallest affront. All will be well, kids playing happily when all of a sudden Augie is bouncing and wailing and throwing his head back, quickly ending up in a writhing pile on the ground before I can even figure out what went wrong. I tell him again and again, “Augie, I will help you, just tell me what’s wrong! Don’t throw a fit. Talk to me. I’m here for you.”. But it’s not enough, in the moment of his thwarted will the only option he sees is panic and despair. 

I see myself in George. He has been acting up SO much lately, displaying a rebellion I would not have thought possible in a not even 2.5 year old. Before, he would easily say “yes ma’am” when prompted, or at least after being reminded with a light switch. Now, I never know what will set him off. But when he gets in a mood, nothing will deter him. No matter the scenario, he is hell bent on having it his way, and letting you know how frustrated he is, and literally screaming at everyone around him to let us know IT IS NOT OKAY. He is angry with those trying to help him, trying to understand, trying to love him.

If there’s one thing God has been showing me the past few months, it is the sin in my heart. I’ve been convicted again and again, and even while frustrated with the kids (another manifestation of my sin) he has been using them to show me how my flesh rules me and I have so much refining to do! I have been grieved at how often I worry, how often I overreact to my present circumstances (instead of looking to the eternal), and how often I rebel against an amazingly good and holy God. Oh how little I trust him!! Oh how often I fail! 

Seeing these lovely expressions of humanity in my children can be frustrating, but God has been showing me a way that I can combat that frustration. It is by recognizing that the behavior I get tired of dealing with in them is a mirror of the sin that is in my own heart. Their attitudes are my attitudes.

When I start to get exasperated I can remember that my great God has patience and mercy on me, even when I act the same way they are acting. And why does he have mercy on me? Why does he not judge me for my sinful heart, when I am so deserving of that judgement? It’s because my sweet Savior gave everything so that I might be washed and made clean, and stand pure and spotless before the Father. I am justified and made alive, brought out of my sinful state and promised sanctification (someday I will be free from this sin that so easily entangles!!). So humbling, and such a cause for great joy!! 

Now I have to go help put my kiddos to bed, which always results in some manifestations of these character qualities previously mentioned. :) But by God’s grace I will walk in patience and love and hope, remembering these eternal truths that God has been so gracious to teach me. 

Well, is teaching me. It’s a continual process. :)

And in case you needed a visual……

For His Name’s Sake

Yet He saved them for his name’s sake.

Psalm 106:8

By way of exhortation to believers, O admire his goodness, admire his name. He knows all your sins against him and against his name, yet he shows mercy. Let sin against so good a God be abhorred; let his goodness lead you to repentance more and more. Praise him for his mercy, truth, faithfulness. Credit all mercy you meet with to his name, and do your best to meet reasons for God’s name to be more and more glorified, on his using his name for your help. For though sinners have a ground of hope that he may do for his name’s sake, yet saints have a ground of hope that he will do for his name’s sake. His name is pledged.

He has a name suiting every need. Do you need wonders to be wrought for you? His name is Wonderful; look to him so to do, for his name’s sake. Do you need counsel and direction? His name is the Counselor. Do you have mighty enemies to debate? His name is the mighty God; ask him to exert his power for his name’s sake. Do you need his fatherly pity? His name is the everlasting Father. Plead his pity, for his name’s sake. Do you need peace external, internal, or eternal? His name is the Prince of Peace; seek, for his name’s sake, that he may create peace. Do you need healing? His name is Jehovah-Rophi, the Lord the healer and physician. Do you need pardon? His name is Jehovah-Tsidkenu, the Lord our righteousness. Do you need defense and protection? His name is Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord your banner. Seek, for his name’s sake, that his banner of love and grace may be spread over you. Do you need provision in extreme want? His name is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide. Do you need his presence? His name is Jehovah-Shammah, the Lord is there; Immanuel, God with us. Do you need audience of prayer? His name is the Hearer of prayer. Do you need strength? His name is the Strength of Israel. Do you need comfort? His name is the Consolation of Israel. Do you need shelter? His name is the City of Refuge. Have you nothing and need all? His name is All in All. He has a name suitable for your supply; he has wisdom to guide you and power to keep you, mercy to pity you, truth to shield you, holiness to sanctify you, righteousness to justify you, grace to adorn you, and glory to crown you. Trust in his name, who saves for his name’s sake.

- Ralph Erskine (emphasis mine)