Sunday, July 24, 2011

The God of Answers

All of my life, I have had a questioning mind. I suppose that this comes from a combination of genetics (my father is King of disbelief... just give him any legitimate, verifiable statistic and he'll still find a way to make you feel dumb for believing it!) and environment (see above)

I have always seen this as a strength of mine.  I am not easily swayed by others' opinions, I am a constant fact checker, I really want to learn "why" things are the way they are.  But I'm learning that there is a down side to this also. 

In my faith life, it means I am constantly questioning God.  I am always asking why things are the way they are, why the commandments are laid out the way they are, why he chooses to answer one thing and chooses not to answer another. When I first became a Christian, I obsessively researched apparent discrepencies in the bible... I thought if I could prove that some of the bible was untrue, what would the point be of living according to It? Now that I have come to the conclusion that it is in fact The Truth, you'd think I'd learn to trust a little more, and question a little less.

With our kids it's a little easier to see how it should work, or how God might sometimes wish it worked.  When we tell our children to obey us, we want them to listen to us because they trust us to be doing the very thing that is best for them. We give them rules and limits to protect them, teach them, to grow them, to show them we love them.  Not to steal an idea from Matthew (yes,  I mean THE Matthew)... but if we, who are evil, know how to set limits for our children, how much more does God love us, and know what is best for us? 

When my kids ask me "why" after I tell them to do something, I have to tell you... it doesn't bode well for them.  I usually get frustrated, sometimes I squeek out an appropriate answer, but generally it goes something like this... "because I said so"

But, God loves me and is so much more patient with me than I am with my own children.  He doesn't get mad at me, He hasn't given up on me. He doesn't slap me on the backside of my head and ask me how many times he's already answered this question, though certainly there are times I deserve it.

As I read through Genesis 14 & 15 this week, I realized that Abraham was often the same way! God tells Abraham he's going to have children, and though we all remember the part in the New Testament where Abraham believes God and it's credited to him as righteousness, I think we forget the original part where he says to God... "What, How?"  But, God is faithful, and answers him.  Then, right after that, God tells him that he will inherit all of the land he sees in front of him.  Does Abraham say "cool!"    um, no.  He doesn't.  In fact, he says... "What?  How will that happen?!"  And God is SO faithful.  He answers him again.  He actually tells Abraham how it's going to go down.  He doesn't say "because I said so"  though He certainly could have!

I am not advocating questioning God.  I am not saying it's better to wonder "how" or "why" then to just believe, but I have learned this week that when I pour my heart out to God, and come to Him seeking an answer with a genuine heart, He will always be faithful.

This week I am REALLY going to work on this with my own children.  I do want them to obey me. I do want them to trust me and know that I want what's best for them.  But, I always want to be graceful and deal with their heart.  I am discerning enough to know the difference when they are questioning me defiantly vs genuinly wondering why and seeking an aswer.  I am so grateful that my father in heaven can do the same.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Our Week

We've had a really great week!  I thought instead of just sharing my reflective dissatisfied, searching for contentment moments, I should also share my joyful, at peace moments.

I generally use writing as a type of therapy tool to work through my own thoughts, as well as hoping to share my conclusions and the insights God has shown me that week with others who might be struggling with similar issues. But, I don't want people thinking that I don't LOVE being a full time mom, because I really do!  My kids are the best (though I'm a bit biased I admit)

This week I'm grateful for:
1. Time on the boat, spent with family


2. Fresh yummy food from our garden, that I am able to pick whenever I want, eat whenever I want, guilt free!
(Kohlrabi)

3. Three kids who love spending time together


4. The time to spend sitting outside on our deck, teaching D about the different types of clouds.  He even made me come inside, get out the Magic School Bus book and show him different pictures so we could make sure that the type in the clouds were in fact "cirrus"  (they were!)

5. Dropping K off at summer school myself, picking her up myself, and seeing her smile when she saw me there.  She ran into my arms screaming "mommy, me missed you!!"  (it's three hours long ... kindergarten will be tough this fall!)

6. Having a husband who told me this week that he wouldn't change anything about me, and that he feels lucky to have married me (I know, you are all gagging yourselves!)

7. Having friends drop by, spur of the moment for fun play time and a nice walk

8. Picking fresh wild berries from the bushes in our backyard.  Watching K, D & C eat an entire bowl full of them and beg to go out and pick more.

9. Taking K shopping, just a girls morning, while Gibbs stayed home with the boys.

10. Having a husband who was able to come home in the middle of the day so I could take K to a doctor's appointment without it being too stressful.



I really do love my life (most of the time!)   :-)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Different Brand of Crazy

I've been blessed with great family growing up. Although I've rarely lived in close proximity to my cousins, I grew up looking forward to family gatherings. Playing with my cousins, staying the night with aunts and uncles, shopping with my grandma on weekends. It's a sense of belonging and love that I want my kids to grow up knowing.

But getting married doesn't only mean blending your life to fit with another person's, it also means blending your life to fit with another family.  It can sometimes lead to arguments, exhaustion, and tears. It takes time and patience to assimilate to an entirely new and different way of doing things. I lovingly refer to the differences between my family and my husband's family as different "brands of crazy"

It's not difficult to allow rifts to develop in close friendships, between siblings, between father and son. Growing up often brings along with it growing pains. Trying to establish your own household, trying to establish your own way of raising your children, especially if it's different than the one you were raised in, can bring a lot of conflict.

I've spent a lot of time considering what a normal healthy family life really means once you are grown up with children of your own.  I look back on my own childhood, and look at Gibbs' most cherished family memories, and realize that a lot of highlights of both of our childhoods included extended family.

Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to just hide out among your spouse and children, and not have to try so hard.  There are bound to be days when anyone who is married will think to themselves "my dad (or mom, or sister) would never say that!"  And children can keep you busy enough running from school to sports to lessons that you really could pull away from family and live an isolated life, if you wanted to.

But I strongly believe that a child raised in an environment where they are loved by many, cared for by many, shaped by different views, exposed to different ways of thinking, is much better off than one who is not. A child who grows up seeing their parents being an example of loving people who are different from themselves, being peace makers, being able to truly love and serve others... those are the children who will have a lifetime of memories left from their childhood to build on, grow and learn from.

God calls us to be peace makers.  He calls us to be in unity with one another. To love one another, even if we feel at odds with them. Love is an action and not a feeling. There are times that I don't always want to mend fences, sometimes it's sometimes hard to assimilate and change, but "Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful...Love bears all things....endures all things." (1 Cor. 13:5)

D with my brother in law

C enjoying some kissing from my sister in law :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Losing Yourself

As a mom, there's a certain part of me that I've had to let go of. The selfish, ambitious, part that could look to the future and think "anything is possible".. that part of me now needs to be more cautious, looking out for the best interests of my children and husband instead of only myself.

I know there are women out there who justify a lot of choices with the "if I'm happier, my family will be happy" mentality.  Divorce, just as one example, is often justified by parents quoting the above.  I had to take a few child psychology classes and have done more research since then (feel free to read this study if you are curious to more factual info: http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567(09)64550-0/abstract

and have come to a rather educated decision that mostly it's just a lot of bunk.  Guess what? The kids don't care if you're happy, not too much anyways.  Now, that being said, there are exceptions obviously. I'm speaking only the majority and not the exceptions. 

But even knowing sacrifice is a neccessity of child rearing, I do miss having passionate goals for the future. I miss the part of me that would get excited debating politics, thinking that maybe one day I'd be someone who could change something...

I'm still not sure what God is asking me to do in regards to a career, or being at home, but I do know that staying at home as a full time mom isn't what I thought I'd be doing at 26. I'd much rather have someone else I trust staying at home with them, and have a fulfilling career myself.  I'm not the type of woman who loves doing laundry, cleaning floors, making sure Gibbs has a healthy lunch for work today. But I do it anyways. I do it because I love my children, I love my husband, and they need me here.

Now for the little more complicated part, that I'm wondering if you struggle with also; how much of myself do I get rid of?  How much am I willing to sacrifice?  ALL of my time? 50%?  Can I keep any part of the "before" me, any of my passions or dreams?  Can I raise my kids in a secure loving Godly home, and have a successful career?  I'm not sure.

In Luke 9:23, Jesus says "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross"    I know that I don't want to hear this all of the time.  And I certainly don't want it to hear it when I don't want to obey my husband!  I know that my husband, for right now, wants me at home. And so do my children.  I guess I know the answer for now, but hope and pray that at some point it changes.

And I think that's ok. As long as I'm continually submitting my will to (H)his (little h: Gibbs and big H:God's) I don't think it's a sin to keep praying that God has something more exciting planned for me in the future. That at some point my dreams align with His for my life. And hopefully I can show myself to be a faithful servant during these short trials.