See The Battle

A few weeks ago, we sang in church about our weapon being a melody, and fighting our battles with prayer. This was super convicting to me- getting ready for church had NOT gone well. Maybe you know what I mean. We overslept, the whole crew needed baths and showers, nothing got put away the night before since we had gotten home late, we were out of milk, etc. And of course our oldest had worship practice earlier, so that adds an element of chaos getting him out. Everyone bickered and sniped, we couldn’t find the littlest one’s shoes (she takes them off constantly) and we just tornadoed our way down the highway. Yuck.

Dusing worship time, I realized that these moments, the ones that are SUPER HARD and CHAOTIC *are* my battles. It seems ridiculous, but it’s true.

I know some mamas walking through the shadow of death; some who have just lost their husbands; some who deal with health issues of their children or themselves; and the list goes on. Some women face incredibly hard, all-encompassing struggles that last for months or years. I pray that God gives them an extra measure of grace and peace.

What is a struggle? Or a battle, worthy of the promises that come with it? I think it can mean a much broader spectrum.

I think a battle can be any time we are losing our self control to the issue at hand. When our anxiety skyrockets, our blood starts pumping, our voice takes an edge, our patience wears thin, and our joy wavers. This is the battle- in the everyday trials of life in this place.

This all flooded over me during worship. I bawled while I sang- and prayed that He would help me recognize the battle, while I was in it. What a beautiful thing it is to struggle- because then we can access the promises from God! Here are a couple of my favs:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Unfortunately, I got to test it and see if my new lens held up. Our precious, wonderful, fabulous feline, Emily, snuck into the van that night when we were unloading. Of course, we didn’t notice until the following day. Well, I had a PILE of errands that outnumbered my afternoon, and I was planning to take my mom along, who is housebound, to get her out for a bit. Of course, we got out the door later than I hoped. And the smell. I’ll let you imagine it. I found the location of the bulk of the mess. Since kids aren’t supposed to wear their coats in carseats (a really fun new rule!), and since it was warm when we got home, all their coats were left in a pile on the seat. Apparently, that made a nice nest for dear Emily. All their coats needed a few washes (I think it only hit the top one, but I was still undone.) Did I mention that my washing machine was broken, and the repairman couldn’t come until Thursday?

Instead of losing my salvation, I simply hummed. “This is how I fight my battles.” Something changed: I could feel it. I didn’t laugh; I didn’t see the “good” in it. But I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t frustrated. I didn’t speak sharply to the kids, and I didn’t carry it in my neck and shoulders, or for the rest of the afternoon. It was over. Something changed.

I got it cleaned up pretty quickly, and we were on our way. This may not seem like a big deal, but honestly, things like this seem to happen a lot, and they just break me! I do alright with patience when it comes to humans- but silly, annoying circumstances make me crazy. It’s always made me so frustrated and angry with myself. Finally, I feel hopeful that by identifying these little, tiny moments of struggle, I can use them to be closer to my Father.

How about you? What are the things that just “undo” you? What triggers you to lose your self-control? How have you seen breakthrough in your struggles? I would love to hear about them.

Soaring Up the Stairs

Drip, drip., drip.

You know how annoying water dripping from a faucet is? I feel like that is my life right now. I am so blessed. I am married to an incredibly good-looking man who treats me so good. I have four healthy, beautiful children. I am a part of a church family that loves me no matter how much I mess up. I live in a home that is big enough for our needs, the cupboards are full, two vehicles are working. I have a few close friends whom I trust. What more could I ask for?

But I am getting so TIRED. The counters are always cluttered, no matter how many times I clean them off. The hampers are always full, even though I do laundry every day. There are always innocent-looking toys shaped like jagged glass on the floor. I will clean them up, but new ones fall from the ceiling before I finish. I spend days cleaning up. What is the point? It’s just going to get messy again.

After numerous meltdowns and crying on my Handsome Hubby’s shoulder, I realized I needed a break. But I don’t have anywhere to go, and where is he going to take all the kids for the few hours I need? I left the whole thing with him, and he came up with a God-inspired solution: I would stay home from church, and he would take the kids with him. Absolutely beautiful. Let me tell you, those kids were ready a little early this morning. I was on a mission.

I started scrapbooking our homeschool year, and got a few pictures cut out before our beautiful New One had a diaper malfunction on me. So I changed her, and started again. Well, now she needed to burp and go down for a nap. When it was all said and done, I think the 2 glorious hours I looked forward to evaporated into a broken up 30 minutes of frenzied cutting and pasting, until I ran out of photo tape. Fun, fun, fun!

The page I ended with turned out to be Valentine’s Day. We had a great day: fractions and math while making pancakes, hand/eye skills with cutting out hearts, creative writing while describing the things we love about each other. We also read 1 Corinthians 13 together, so I wrote that out on the page. Even if you are not an avid Bible reader, I know you’ve heard “Love is patient, love is kind. . . ” While reading, I put my name in the place of “love.” See, I have heard that this is a good idea to determine if you are living the way the God wants, seeing as how HE IS the God, and the Maker, of love. You know, 

I am patient, I am kind. I do not envy, I do not boast. I am not proud. I do not dishonour others, I am not self-seeking, I am not easily angered, I keep no record of wrongs. . .

PERFECT! I feel so much better now! Ugh. I suck, I suck. Lord, what is the POINT?

I always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere.

It is so easy to say those words. Hope. Persevere. What do they actually mean?

Hope: to desire with expectation of obtainment

Persevere: To persist in or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in the face of obstacles or discouragement.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The clean counters won’t remain. My house will not stay clean. I may not get the daily requirements of fruits and vegetables into these little mouths. The children will not always act and live the way that we are training them to. It is very easy to say that there is no point.

But I will have faith in this: God made me. Jesus loves me. The Holy Spirit is in me. 

I will have hope in this:  God has a plan for my life. He has a plan for the lives of our children. I may not know what the “point” is, and I may never know. I still don’t know how to fold all the towels exactly the same, or why it bothers me so much in the first place. But I believe that I am where I’m meant to be.

And I will love these children. I will love my husband. I will love my home. Even when I am so annoyed, impatient, tired.

Faith, Hope and Love will remain, even after this crazy month is over, after my bad attitudes fizzle, even after the kids grow up, even after I die. 

“Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:28-31

Oh, Lord, help me to soar, even when I’m too annoyed to walk up the stairs AGAIN.Image,