Memories I want to leave behind

I had a really long drive home last night.  And I got to do it all by myself.  I got to rest in blessing-full music from Fernando Ortega, and just process my day.

What kind of memories do you hope you leave for your children?  I hope that I leave a home where they remember fondly when “mom used to say (insert profound thought here)”.  I hope they catch me praying on a regular basis, and know that I trusted God in the little things as well as the big.  I hope that they saw real love between their father and I, and realized that marriage is beautiful.   I hope they fully understood the meaning of grace; that I wrapped it around them and showed them God’s grace daily.

And last night, I thought about the mom-threats I used 15 minutes after they got out of bed.  You know the tone of voice you use when the bickering has started already today?  That wasn’t very grace-full.  Their father is gone away right now on Navy duty, and so it was just me.  I had no profound thoughts, except a desperate wondering “how many hours until school starts?”.

Then Fernando Ortega reminded me, in a quiet song, that “Whatever is true, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is excellent and worthy of praise, think on these things.”  I did help my children get ready for Farmer’s market last night, and I did tell each of them I loved them at least a few times yesterday.  I made them breakfast and lunch, and did their laundry for the umpteenth time this summer. 

There’s so much more I wanted to do.  We get so caught up in the busy-ness of “today” that we run over the needs of us, our children, our family.  I cram the gaps in my day with more than I thought I could even handle, and then wonder when I can just sit and rest.  Leaving some of those gaps should be intentional–that’s where the memories are designed to be left.

Father, please help me to mother for You today.  Help me to show them who You are in my words and actions.  Give me Your words at the right moments to teach them about Your love.  And, give me the patience to extend grace even when the house is littered with toys and colored pencils, the counter is covered with dirty dishes, and all they want is me.

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Where the anxiety starts

“Be anxious for nothing.  In everything, by prayer and petition, with thankgsgiving, present your requests to God . . .”

At a different stage of life, I would have heard this verse differently.  Today, I hear a whisper from God Himself.  Telling me to remember that He is in control, and is waiting for me to catch up.

I have been fighting a building anxiety for the past several months.  Over something so small, so silly, I’m almost embarrassed to admit it.  It’s all about my kids getting sick.  Not just sick.  Flu-stomach-vomiting-sick.  Every single time someone says “I don’t feel well,” or “My tummy hurts,” I have begun the next episode of anxiety. 

It starts with me thinking about whether they could really be sick.  Then I move onto when they’ll get sick.  From there, my thoughts take a steady progression all the way to how long we’ll all be going through this and what order the kids will get it in.  This can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours before it’s all I can think about.  And not just wondering about it.  I obsess.

I know better.  The logical side of me understands that kids simply feel icky sometimes because they ate too much, or they got too hot.  Whatever.  I’m a very logical person as far as all that goes.  It’s funny how your mind can think without your permission, though.

So, now I find myself turning to God with a plea for help each time these thoughts come.  And, I am surprised how often each day I have to do this; how often these thoughts come unbidden in the midst of our daily chaos.  It started with me begging Him to remove the thoughts entirely.  Hoping that I would be completely released from the tightening of my chest, the short breaths, and fearful waiting.  I know God’s ways are not mine.  I forgot the second part of this verse though–“by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” 

How do you thank Him for a challenge that seems so overwhelming?  I thank Him for His presence; for His call to me through the anxiety.  He uses the unexpected to get our attention.  So, while I was busy volunteering for yet another PTO event, and taking kids to the orthodontist, while I took control of our daily life, He quietly allowed anxiety to control me in a way I didn’t see coming. 

And my need for Him shouts itself through my soul each and every time I turn to Him.  My quieting of heart comes with the reminder to be thankful for what He has given, and petitioning Him for peace when my thoughts spiral out of control.

Philippians 4:6 is a powerful verse for me these days, and it is followed by an important promise:  Phil. 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  He’s waiting for me every time.  The battle isn’t even close to over. 

I don’t know how long I’ll work with and through my anxiety issues.  I do know that Im’ turning to God more than I have in a long time, though.

When you really do get your way . . .

It’s the little arguments that chip away at life.  The things I swore I would never do, but somehow hear coming out of my mouth.  Like, “Did you really need to be that hard on her?” while she can still hear us.  Oops.  I just broke THE most important parenting rule–always back each other up in front of the kids–diasgree later.  And, set off another round of silence between us after kiddos went to bed.

I believe in the rule, and I want our children to see us united.  I get it.  I really do.  Despite this, I have the hardest time just saying “I’m sorry,” and then letting it go.  Hence, the little argument mentioned above.

My husband, on the other hand, says “I’m sorry,” this morning and it’s over for him.  My real problem is that I had to wait until the morning.  I wanted it to be my way–solve the argument immediately.  And, if I let it, that little “chip” on my shoulder over not getting my way will continue to add to the invisible wall that builds in a marriage without words. 

I’m pretty sure I do the same thing to my heavenly Father, too.  I want it to be MY way, not His.  And, when it’s not my way, I offer silence on my end.  As in pray less, spend time in His word less, if any.  Maybe it’s for a day, or maybe it’s for a little longer.  And, that invisible wall I feel in our marriage?  I’m doing the same thing to my relationship with God.  I didn’t see it starting, but I can feel it now; that barrier I’ve put up all by myself.

The difference is, He won’t hold it against me when I come back to say, “I’m sorry,” and pick up my Bible again.  He’s waiting to hear from me when I am ready to talk.