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When You Feel Like You’re Alone

When You Feel Like You’re Alone

You know that first appointment, when you’re almost sure  you’re pregnant, when you say this to the doctor and they test you and show you that yes, you are in fact pregnant. They let you listen to the heartbeat (it can’t be your heartbeat because it’s coming from your belly) and they show you a little peanut on a tiny screen (that’s not a peanut!)

At my very first “I think I’m pregnant” appointment, I was already nervous. I knew pregnancy was a possibility because my husband and I had stopped preventing it a few months earlier. Still, I was thrown into it. “How exciting!” people would say to me, but I didn’t understand. “I’m supposed to be excited?”

I was told I was eight weeks along. You’ve got to be kidding, I thought. There’s been a baby inside me for two months?

Well thankfully the initial shock wore off and I was pretty even-tempered until right after our co-ed baby shower, when our dining room was suddenly taken over by millions of bags and boxes filled with soft, plush, pastel-colored things. People are so generous. We are truly blessed to have received so much support.

But my husband had to leave in the middle of our baby shower for an out-of-state funeral, so I was left alone with all our new stuff and no baby yet to make it useful. My mom and my sister were visiting and were so helpful, but I still suddenly felt like shutting all the curtains and shouting, “OMG!” like I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t even get all my words out. Does every first-time mother feel like this? I mean, it’s scary right?

Carrying life? Are we allowed to do that?

Then this came the next day, spoken at church where all the best things are: “I will never leave you or forsake you says the Lord almighty.” It’s in Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, and Hebrews 13:5. That’s how you know it’s serious.

I will never leave you

I thought, “Oh yeah! I’m never alone. God will never leave me. He will never forsake me. Not ever! Not even while I’m alone in my house with a bunch of new baby things reminding me that I’m going to have a baby soon and I have no clue how to care for it.”

I went home and painted this and hung it in the nursery:


I love to paint but I am not very good at it. Still, this is the most treasured thing in my boys’ room; though they never ask me about it and only seem to notice it when they knock it off the wall and have to ask me to hang it back up. But it stays there, a reminder that God is always and forever. He will never leave.

Now, I’m five years into motherhood. It seems like I’ve been a mom forever. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. As mothers, we are with our children more than we’re not. We think about them every moment of every day. After five years of that, we feel like it’s been forever because we can’t remember another life.

After five years, we’ve lost count of all the diapers, all the tears, all the nights of interrupted sleep. We might sometimes get frazzled. We might sometimes lose our minds. We might forget about those words in Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Hebrews.

I know I do.

I realized the other day that I am a way better mom when my husband is home. I don’t react so quickly. I don’t get so frustrated or emotional. He carries the weight with me. He always does, even when he’s not at home, but something happens every time he leaves. When I’m the only one around, I feel alone. I feel like I’ve been left, like I have to carry all three children on my back while dragging buckets of water in case one of them (or more likely, I) gets thirsty.

But I am not alone. And the necessary fluctuation of my husband’s presence shouldn’t affect my ability to mother. My husband is only a man. He is a good man, the best man, more than I could have asked for or imagined in a husband. But he is still just a man, and he cannot be present at every moment.

You know who can?

God. The Almighty Lord. The Best Father. He is my designer and my creator and the designer and creator of my children, and he is always available. He will never leave me or forsake me.

When my husband and I drove our very first newborn home from the hospital, we were beyond nervous. We had pretty much settled the fact that we were parents. But then we were driving our baby around on busy, icy highways. What!?? We decided right there in our little VW Golf, to say, “God, this is your kid. Thank you for giving him to us. Now, we give him back to you. We dedicate him to you because we can’t possibly know how to raise him. We can’t possibly know what he needs, without your help.”

God is our author and our children’s author, the author of creation itself. So even today, when our minds turn frazzled and all we want to do is scream (and sometimes we do, then we regret it), let us remember that we are not doing this alone, and it’s our own fault if we feel like we are.

Because God never leaves.

Let’s look for Him. I bet, once we open our eyes, we’ll see that He’s right there and He has all the answers. I bet He even has all the buckets of water we could ever need. So I can probably put those down and free up my arms for loving.

Finding Truth in the Midst of Anger

Finding Truth in the Midst of Anger

Do you ever feel so angry that you do something you later regret? Yeah. Me too.

Ever with your kids? Yeah. Me too.

Actually, most people who know me probably don’t think I ever get angry. That’s because if I’m ever angry I’m probably the only adult around. I’m probably standing right over my kids wondering why they are still fighting, still yelling at each other, still pinching and pushing and taking things from each other. It makes me angry when my kids are mean and when they’re disobedient. I know they need correction, but sometimes I feel like they should already know they need to be nice and they need to follow directions. But that doesn’t matter. For me, anger is often a result of impatience.

Training kids takes patience. And patience isn’t always just about waiting an extra ten minutes in line at the grocery store. Patience sometimes means getting up every morning for several years before a bad attitude stops and a “yes mom” is spoken without reminder.

Anger and impatience are daily battles for me. Battles that begin in my spirit and that I have not been able to shake off.

When we allow anger, it takes over.  It’s easy to allow anger in because we want to be heard. We want to be right. We want to be the boss. Anger makes us feel like we’re the boss, but really we’re out of control. When anger is allowed in, it only breeds confusion.

But I feel anger rise when my kids wake up whiny. When they tell me for the fifth time, “I don’t like (whatever amazing, delicious thing we’re eating that day).” When they throw an attitude because I asked them to please put on their shoes, we’re going to the children’s museum.

Who throws a fit about going to the children’s museum? It’s the most amazing place in the world, where you can touch and climb and build and explore everything. But sometimes I think my kids just want to be contrary. I could offer a bowl of ice cream topped with a whole bottle of chocolate fudge and they’d say, “I wanted a popsicle.”

In her book Loving the Little Years, Rachel Jankovic offers the idea of “Cranksters and Thanksters.” She says that she asks her kids, “Do you want to be a thankster or a crankster?” I tried this with my kids and they didn’t get it. They just kind of laughed at the silly words. But the idea is great: look at what you do have, not what you don’t. What can you be thankful for right now?

Maybe it’s that my children are in their own worlds. They are small. They don’t see things the way I do.

Or do I not see things the way they do?

When I am standing, I see everything. I see the inside of the toaster. I see the pile of papers stacked on top of a shelf. I see the dust that has settled on the fan blades. I see that I am bigger than my running, jumping children.

But they see something too. They see something to be excited about. Why else would they be running and jumping and loud-laughing? When I sit down, the room gets bigger. What would I do if I couldn’t reach the top of the fridge? I would have to climb.

Sometimes our kids need to be corrected. Bad attitudes are unacceptable. Yelling and throwing fits need to be monitored. It’s not okay when one of my children hurts another. Selfishness is not permitted.

But sometimes, I think, I need to slow down and look at the world from a small point of view because my selfishness is not permitted either. Sometimes my children are angry because they are actually sad. They don’t want to stop playing with their cars. They only see what is right now. They don’t understand what is coming.

But let’s talk about King Nebuchadnezzar, who commanded that everyone bow down and worship a gold statue and when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn’t, he got angry.And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in.

“Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments. And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in.” DANIEL 3:19-22

So basically, King Nebuchadnezzar was so angry that he was distorted. He was overcome with rage. He let his rage shield him from truth. He didn’t even take the time to understand why Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t want to bow down to a pile of gold. Maybe if he had stopped and listened. Maybe if he had been seeking truth above obedience. Maybe if he had had the interest of his people in mind rather than the interest of his own thoughts and pride. Maybe if he had taken a deep breath instead of allowing his emotions to kill his soldiers.

The soldiers were on his side. They were willing to do his work. But he killed them while the men he hated lived on. But it’s not about hate and it’s not about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It’s about the truth they lived for. It’s about what they saw.

My kids always see the fun in things, whereas I usually see the work in things.

My kids want to go outside and ride their bikes and scooters, but I see that I will have to monitor their impulses to ride too far. My kids want to play checkers, but I see that their little sister will want to grab and throw all the pieces and everyone will start crying.

Truth is that parenting is work. But it’s also fun. If I only see the work, then truth is not upheld. If I only see the fun, truth is not upheld either. Training children to be functional adults requires both work and fun. Requiring that my children bow down to statues that I have built from pride and blindness is not the answer. Getting down on the floor and trying to see what my children see is probably the only way I will be able to help them in their own battles against selfishness and impatience and anger. And it’s probably also the only way to conquer my own battles against the very same things.