The Mother God Made You

Much of my motherhood

Hangs on high notes

Stressed by comparison

Pictures of competency,

not me.

No one screams to me insufficiency,

Except myself.

 

Professional doctor,

Administrative organizer,

Eloquent tongue,

Organic chef,

Wise teacher,

Edgy artist,

Playful child,

Home designer.

 

Called to be all things,

To three people.

Wife & Mother.

My days cannot contain these high notes.

My ears and heart fracture by the squeal.

 

I sit in the corner and cry out.

How?

The Spirit speaks: be you.

 

Be me?

But I am not most of these,

How will my children know you?

How will they learn to read?

How will they heal from disease?

How will they enjoy their home?

How will they be healthy?

How will they learn creativity?

 

QUIET

Pray.

I know all these things.

I know all they truly need.

I know your needs too.

I have given them you. You.

Not someone you are not.

My plans for their lives include who you are,

Not who you are not.

I picked you as their mother,

So be the you I made.

I form my creation in many ways.

 

Kids? But I want to serve God in big ways.

“I don’t know if I want kids. I want to do great things for the Lord. I am afraid kids will limit me.”

Words from a dear friend a couple weeks ago continue to mull around my mind.  Are children a blessing? Can we serve God in “big ways” and still be moms? These questions seem to haunt not only my friend, but myself… and I am sure others. Here is what I have learned in response to these questions the past five years as a mama:

1. Our lives are eternal. Something so small today, turns into huge impact down the road–like the example Jesus uses of a mustard seed of faith that turns into a large tree where the birds nest in its branches.

How we love well in the middle of the night and in the moments of teenagers rolling their eyes during the day… are seeds sown into the hearts of future grown men and women who will impact a generation we won’t even be around to see. Then they will have children… and they will have children… and they will have children… until the Lord returns. The multiplication of Christ-centered parenting in the view of eternity outweighs that of a few thousand people you may speak to on a stage or the portfolio you might build in your estate. Life on life ministry, especially to little ones living in our homes… has mighty, long, and lasting eternal impact.

2. Obedience is the “big” thing. I too want to do “big things” for the Lord. I dream of a best-selling Christian book that God uses to change lives. I dream of businesses launched to fund ministry and missions. I dream of serving alongside my pastor husband and having a speaking circuit encouraging others. I dream big. But, unless my dreams are tempered in yielding to the One who made me, they are rooted in pride.

God may choose to use me to be faithful in the seemingly “small” things in life—for the rest of my life. I must learn (I am still learning) that in the grand scheme of eternity, it is obedience to my part as he assigns that matters most. Not how many people read this blog post or if I am invited to some large platform to speak someday. Obedience is the big thing and the reward in heaven is bountiful for those who remain faithful, regardless of how the world (even the church world) sees our “success.”

3. Children are a blessing. We hear this and see this saying drawn on nursery decoration, but do we believe it? When the tantrums burst or the curfew is ignored, do we remember?

Nowhere… I repeat, nowhere in the Bible are children called a curse. They are called blessings and arrows among other things—and Jesus even uses them as an example of how we should approach our Father in heaven. So, whether you need to plaster every wall in your home with scripture decoration or post something on your rearview mirror… remember this: Children are a blessing from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children on ones’ youth. (see Psalm 127:3-4)

One of Satan’s best strategies of keeping Christian homes distracted is the lie that children are just a part of our family.  Children are the world tomorrow and the years in the home set the course of their decades on their own.

4. You have a legacy without kids. Children are a part of the legacy for those who are blessed with them. But whether or not someone has progeny, does not change if they have a legacy. A legacy is what you leave behind to those who remain when you depart. What will your legacy be?  If you have kids… that is where we start.

What do you think about impacting this world for Jesus and raising kids?  Please leave a comment.

People are More Important Than Things: A Tantrum Lesson

A while back son #1, Kavin, entertained a grand mal tantrum when I told him he could not have a balloon.  Crying, screaming, kicking, begging, accusing words, hitting… this display of disapproval included it all, and then some.  We stood in the middle of a birthday party for our 3-year-old neighbor with full repertoire of emotion.  Although I was mortified inside,  I smiled, informed Kavin we were going home when the party just started, and then said goodbye to our host and exited the room.  Man, wish I caught that on tape.  Would love to replay that dramatic scene for him someday.

Through the next hour of parenting, hubby and I hunkered down together. We prayed and tried to discern what was really going on in Kavin’s heart and thought this:  Kavin is more concerned with things and not people.  Because of his “things” obsession, he disrespected me in such disregard and selfishness.  I was shocked, I still am, to be honest.  He never was so brutal in his verbal and physical attacks towards me.  My heart hurt.  What happened to my son?  THINGS happened to him.

So, some will call me a crazy mama or we are being “too hard,” but we had a sit down with him and explained the “people are more important than things” week ahead of him… no toys… no toys, you read that right, BUT… time with mama doing things for others because people are more important than things.  Helping mama with a happy heart to show mama that she is more important than things.  Two days into this experiment, I was exhausted from engaging him all day long, but he thrived.

At the end of a long parenting day that week, I slipped into my seminary class and Dr. Yarbrough, the professor, took us on a descriptive journey through the book of Jonah.

This is where my blog post get’s juicy… Towards the end of the class we arrive to Jonah Chapter 4.  Jonah, the messenger of God, sits under a tree the Lord grew right then and there, as he waits and watches to see if God will smite the city of Nineveh with judgement. The prophet just traveled through the city to warn them of God’s impending judgement and they confessed and repented.  This peeved Jonah because he hated the Ninevites.  So, Jonah is sitting up on the hill, under the tree God provided waiting, and waiting, and waiting…  and hoping judgement ensued.  What is God going to do?  (drum roll…) Will the Holy God destroy this city or will he spare them?

The tree withers and Jonah starts complaining to the Lord about the tree.  The Lord basically says, “You show deep concern about your shelter (plant) and your comfort, but Nineveh is full of people and animals.”

But here is the kicker… the professor then said, “Jonah was more concerned with things than people.”

Um… God?  Is that You speaking?  The same message we taught Kavin that week the professor highlighted as one of the main points in the message.

And… it is a message for us all.  Do we value things or our pocketbook more than people?

I hope we don’t have to get our toys taken away or our trees to wither for us to realize real value.  Let us be more concerned with people than we are with things.  God cares about all people.  Do we?

The Great Exchange: Losing Dad, Gaining a Husband

On our first anniversary we dined at the Stinky Rose, a restaurant in Los Angeles specializing in an array of food selections somehow incorporating garlic. I cried. The understanding of my sadness lay beyond my ability to label. I shared a romantic dinner with the man of my dreams, celebrating one year as husband and wife, and I felt fractured. Maudlin. Depressed.

Looking back, from the frame of seven years, I can see that the summit of joy and grief confused my heart. The Great Exchange, I now refer to it; God’s plan of placing me in the care of His choicest husband as He took away His choicest father.

This week we celebrate 8 years of marriage… and my dad’s birthday. Dad left us 8 years ago; just weeks after we announced our engagement.

There is grace in the mess of grief and celebration, co-mingled in the heart of a newly wed. Grace to experience the grief of the loss of the dearest and kindest father I could ask for. The father who would have lassoed the moon and given it to me, if only I asked. The father who believed I could change the world… and that I would. The father who thought I am the most beautiful woman besides my mom. He would say, “You look more and more like your mother every day… more and more beautiful.” Or something like, “You are so smart. You are going to change the world.”

The prayer. I remember the prayer I begged God as I drove north on the 101 freeway, heading home to my roommate after a dinner date with dad where I lived as a single girl… with no man on pursuit.

“God! Please have the man You have for me in my life before You take my dad.” I knew then what I see now… My sense of earthly security built upon being loved, protected, and cared for. My father started my life as the man who believed in me and believed in the women I would become. I hoped that the man God already chose for my husband might somehow comfort my inevitable loss, like Issac being comforted by his new wife Rebecca, as he grieved the loss of his mother, Sarah (Gen. 24:67).

So there we sat. At the end of year one. Jason ordered the quail, too many bones and gamey tasting. I ordered the garlic chicken. And I cried.

Grief and joy co-mingled in the heart of a newly wed. The grace of joy in the dearest, kindest husband a wife could hope for. A man so wise, with a heart of integrity and a passion for the Lord. My best friend. I cried in thankfulness. I cried more as I pulled inward to contain my cry. I cried in grief.

7 years later, as we dined tonight celebrating 8 adventurous years, I laughed. I laughed at the crazy things we try. I laughed at our inside jokes and silly kids. I laughed because God answered my prayer in more grand ways than I even imagined.

And for a few moments tears also fuzzed the lens of my eyes. I miss dad.

Through it all I learned God sustains me and will never leave me. Yet, in His love, he blessed me with the great gift of my husband, Jason.

Jason is now the one who cheers me on… he believes God can use me to change the world… and that He will. Jason says I get more beautiful every day even though the grey hairs are multiplied. I feel safest when I hug Jason, no matter what the world throws our way. If there is a looking glass in heaven for those who have gone before us, I know dad is looking down and is pleased with God’s choice of husband for me… and the timing of…

The Great Exchange.

Happy Anniversary, Jason (June 1). Happy Birthday, Dad (June 5).

4 Tips to Persevere When Life Gets Hard

How to Persevere when life gets hard_edited-1This week… it’s been hard.  Multiple challenges (chores piling up, sick kids, sick mom), then the sucker punch… going to the doctor yesterday for my son, Kavin, and getting even more “to dos” on top of the loaded care schedule already.  It just sent me into a spiral last night.  I cried and cried and cried.

It is still hard, but here are four things I put into practice to help me get over the hump and onto the track of productive joy.

1. Take the junk to the Lord.  God knows our hearts.  (Psalm 139:2).  I just grabbed my journal and a roll of tissue paper and let the tears and thoughts all come out before the Lord.  God can handle our frustrations, fears, doubts, and anything else we throw at him.  The important part is taking it to him and not allowing the hard stuff to put a wedge between us and him… that is the tactic of the enemy of our souls.

2. Renew Your Mind with Truth.  Honestly, when I am in a funk sometimes reading the Word feels plastic.  But, I do it anyway.  I especially hit up the Psalms when I am hurting.  The cries of David and the praises of David usually speak to my heart.  Especially reading it out loud if you have the ability ministers to my heart more powerfully.  Try it!  Even if it feels plastic to begin with, just asking God to minister to you through His word and being faithful to read it out loud… at some point the plastic feeling will dissipate and the power of God’s word will penetrate.  This helped me the most last night.

3. Pray.  Pray.  Pray.  Ephesians 6:10-24 talks about spiritual warfare and the section starts wrapping up with this scripture:  And pray at ALL times with ALL kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert, and ALWAYS keep on praying for ALL the saints.  When we are praying, we are inviting the Holy Spirit’s power into whatever we are praying about, whether what to cook for dinner (been there) or how to move through the brokenness of our hearts (there right now).  Prayer is the work.  The more I have been praying today, the more I am experiencing God’s comfort, strength, and even promptings to think of others and pray for them too!  Imagine that… prayer leads us to care for others not just ourselves :-).

4. Share the burden.  It is not mentally healthy to put on a smile face to everyone when you are hurting.  Now, you need to be wise about what you reveal and to whom, but allowing others to share your burden gives them an opportunity to pray for you (more prayer the better) and possibly give words of encouragement.  Back to Ephesians 6:10-24… we need to pray for ALL the saints and if you are a believer, that means you too :-).

What helps you persevere when life gets hard?  Please, leave a comment.

4 Professional Parenting Tips

Parenting Tips_edited-1Today Hubs and I attended a parenting conference. It was so helpful to be reminded of some things we are doing well and to be encouraged to revisit some things we can be doing better. All with the end in mind: to build up our children’s hearts to follow Jesus and live as mature adults some day (but not too soon!) :-).

Here are a few of my most helpful tips from today:

  1. Give kids choices. Instead of me saying, “Son, you need to do this.” Saying, “You have a choice. If you do this, then you will have time to do that. If you don’t do this, we will not have time to do that.” There are many things kids simply do not have a choice in, but when able and you are okay with either choice they make, giving them a choice makes them start to feel responsible and trusted.
  2. Speak in positive tones. I am bad at this one. I see the negative. Instead of always looking for the “no”, look and express the “yeses.” For example, instead of telling my son what he can’t play with, telling him what he can. Instead of highlighting limitations, highlight opportunities. This keeps our kids encouraged more than beating the discouragement of “nos” all the time. Also, when you need to say no (which is usually a lot anyway), the word has more weight.
  3. Be consistent in consequences. If yesterday my son disobeyed me and I took away a privilege or gave him another consequence, if he does it again another day, I need to again take away a privilege or give him another consequence. If I swish back and forth, giving him a consequence one time and letting him off the hook another, then he doesn’t know the boundary and it causes insecurity.  Both the parents and children are left frustrated.
  4. Model a relationship with Jesus. They will follow what you do more than what you say. Live in such a way that they want the Jesus you love.

What are some helpful parenting tips you have experienced with your own kids? Leave a comment!

My Kid Is Different: Lesson on Love

I peeked through the window slat of the door where Kavin, my four year old, and the rest of his classmates enjoyed their snacks. I expected to find him amongst his friends, laughing and playing, but I found him curled in the corner, up against the wall.

I surveyed the room. Kids stood in line ready to receive their bowl of fruit and held their chopsticks like instruments of play. Kavin watched. Stared. Sadness colored his face. Sadness pierced my heart.

“Kavin, sweetie. Why don’t you go and play with your friends? It is okay that they have different food, but you can still be with them,” I encouraged.

“I don’t want to,” he said softly under his breath. My son is not a soft-spoken boy. Usually he is the one making the ruckus and too loud for the teacher to talk.

I knew this healing diet would be hard on him, craving foods he usually enjoys, but I underestimated the emotional and social pain.

My kid is different. His body needs serious intervention that prevents him from “normal” kid activities right now… even eating an apple. As I sit on the couch reflecting and processing the pain in my mothering heart, I realize… we all are different.

We all are different. Sometimes the world spins around us, living-on apart from Christ, with their “chopstix and bowls of fruit”, indulging in activities that would wreck our spiritual health. And like Kavin, I feel excluded because of my faith.  Sometimes alone even.

It hurts to be different. I can mark distinct moments I chose to be alone rather than eat “bowls of fruit” that would hurt my spiritual health.  Like the time in high school when my friends were out using recreational drugs and I chose to stay home with Jesus alone, after I became a believer.  Or the other time my friend planned a bachelorette party and I chose to leave early because of the activities selected for the evening.  Driving home… alone.

How can we lessen the pain?  Kavin still can’t eat the fruit, but what if his friends were yelling, “come! Sit with me!” Instead of his mom saying, “go, sit with them?” What if we make effort to spend time listening to others different than us instead of clustering ourselves with others like us? What if we changed some of our social activities to include those in the margins of our social scene?  I think the world might see a greater love that surpasses our differences and see the grace we know as believers.

We don’t change who we are to be loved.  We are changed by love.  Kavin would have been changed by the love of his classmates today.  His sadness would have become joy if simply someone included him and his differences.  They could still eat their fruit.  He could still eat his soup.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

– 1 John 4:11-12

Loving others different than me is difficult. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know if I will hurt them by what I do or don’t do. Today, my lesson is this: sometimes love means just inviting someone to sit with you. Even if your different. Even if you live on two ends of town, or are healthy and sick… we all just want to be a part. My son could have used a friend today inviting him in by love.

Jesus balanced this beautifully, perfectly in fact. He ate with sinners and listened well, so well that they wanted to be with him. Yet he called out sinners into repentance. Love is both listening, including, and sharing truth. Now, if you learn how to do that well, please… let the world know! For me, my next step is increased sensitivity to the wallflowers because my son is one.

Have you ever experienced a wallflower moment? What can you learn about loving others with Christ’s love through that experience?

When God Doesn’t Heal

THE DIAGNOSIS

This week I took Kavin, my 4-year-old, to his “complex intake” appointment at his new pediatrician, who utilizes integrated medicine. He opened up computer documents with chemical compounds, colors, and lines difficult to understand.

“There is a problem. Kavin’s nutritional panel looks like he is a starving child. Most of the essential nutrients are way below normal,” The doctor said.

I looked at the “X’s” marked on the scale. Most of them were on the far right, showing the severity of lack of nutrients in his blood. In addition, several other things appeared severely imbalanced.  He suggested a couple changes for the next month.

“Let’s do that first. I think you will find a significant improvement. Then, in about 4 weeks, I want you to put him on the G.A.P.S. diet, minus the eggs. After another 4 weeks once his stomach is healing from the new diet, we will send in a prescription for a personalized nutrient compound supplement to get his body back to where it needs to be. See you in two months.”

He might as well have said, “I want you to fly to the moon, minus the rocket.” I heard about the G.A.P.S. diet. Eating bone broth and fermented foods… how will I ever know how to make this all and how will I coerce a 4-year-old to eat it?

I am thankful the doctor didn’t say, “cancer, surgery, or incurable disease,” but it still feels like entering an unknown land where God will need to show me where to go.  I much rather have the exact map and directions.

MISPLACED EXPECATIONS

People have prayed for Kavin his whole life. From the moment he was born and struggled to survive his hole in his diaphragm… and to his intense skin issues… I think he is one of the most prayed-for people I know.

The morning of his surgery at 10 days old Jason and I demanded one more x-ray. We believed God healed him. The hole still visible, his intestines still in his lung cavity, we walked our infant down to surgery and prayed he would survive.

I expected the x-ray to show a miracle. I also expected the doctor this week to say, “oh. No big deal. Just take this natural pill and Kavin will be all better.”

Kavin needed to go through the intense surgery. God led us through the wilderness of unknown possible complications and uncertain length of time. Now he needs to go through an intense diet. As his mother, and the one responsible for feeding the family with a lack of kitchen skills, I feel as incompetent and (honestly) intimidated that the place my son will find healing is the place I least want to live my life… the kitchen.

THE SACRIFICE

The Holy Spirit nudges the inside of my heart and speaks, “the least place I wanted to be is the cross. The least competent moment I felt was when I became sin for all sin. But God the Father raised me from the grave three days later. Sorrow lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Psalm 28:7

A DIFFERENT PATH

Sometimes, although we pray and believe God is able, He chooses a different path of healing for us: the path of cancer treatments; the path of diet changes; the path of therapy; the path of perseverance.  

I think through the Gospels. Jesus could have healed the same way each time he healed. Sometimes he spit on dirt and rubbed the eyes of the blind. Another time the bleeding woman simply needed to just touch his cloak. Yet other times His words brought wholeness. In many different ways He chose to heal.

I cannot understand why He chooses this path rather than a pill, potion, or miraculous power to heal Kavin. I much rather live in the living room playing with the boys than in the kitchen making food. But instead of shoving in my heals and resisting the Father, I accept His assignment in complete dependence on Him.

Apart from Him, I cannot do this. Apart from Jesus, I don’t know how to be a keeper of the home, to raise my children in the wisdom and instruction of God, to love my husband well, to write the assignments He gives, to take seminary classes, to be a good friend and love my neighbors… and most pressing… to learn a new way of cooking and living to bring healing to Kavin’s body.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5

We may not understand all the reasons He chooses to allow any of us to go through tough seasons, sometimes lifetimes, of sickness or other disabilities. Yet we can trust He is right here. He upholds us, shapes us, and uses all our breaths for His renown and glory. The unbelieving world looks on and tastes the hope we have in Him. This is how our lives may be salt and light to the world.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how [a]can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

Matthew 5:13-15

To Him be all the glory, and honor, and praise.

Is there a time God did not answer your prayer for healing in the way you expected? How did you see Him move in that season of your life? What would you have missed if you never went through the journey?

 Please leave a comment to share your story and encourage others.