Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Oh, The Joys of Motherhood

Today has been one of those especially trying days that comes with being a mom.

I got a paycheck today....which was then immediately spent on bills, food, etc. Christian was in day care for this process. I came home and got started on some things that absolutely needed to be done. It was a low-stress kind of day.

Then, the storm hit. Christian was home.

My house is now demolished. If you know me, you know I can't stand mess. He refused to eat dinner. He stomped at me. He spit at me....TWICE. He got a spanking and several time outs. During his bath, he splashed me and completely soaked my pants. It wasn't anything bad, but it was a lot of little annoyances that add up to a big frustration.

When Christian went to bed (and got up twice to "go stinky" - which he didn't need to do), I decided I needed some encouragement. I looked on Facebook and that sucked. I looked on Twitter. That was worse. I turned on 7th Heaven because I wanted to watch a mother really work hard taking care of her large family. That just made me feel worse because Annie Camden is almost perfect and rarely loses her temper with her children.

It finally clicked. If I need encouragement, where should I look first? The Bible. Duh!?

A quick Google search and this is what I found:

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."  (Proverbs 31:10-30)

This is under the heading: "Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character." You know what though? It is about so much more than a wife. It is about a mother. It is about a housewife. It is about a working woman. It is about women, period. I want to pick parts of this out and reflect on how they sparked something within me.

Proverbs 31:15: "She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants."

This is the story of my life. Leave out the female servants. I'm not getting into that. I am up at the weirdest hours doing crazy things for my son. Whether it's cooking, changing sheets because of an accident (which are rare these days, thankfully), or consoling after a bad dream. My sleep has been seriously altered over the past three years and I'm not sure it'll ever be the same. That's ok though; I'm working to raise a wonderful little boy who deserves the attention.

Proverbs 31:21: "When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet."

I know that I'm doing everything that I possibly can to take care of my son. I make and sell things. I work. I sell what I don't need. I help others to earn extra cash. I make sure his needs are provided before I even think of what I want or need. I have no worries about him and what he has.

Proverbs 31:24: "She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes."

I laughed when I read this part of this. I just started making a blanket for someone to purchase. I also have some other crocheted items I'm selling. It's just interesting that this was in this passage. Ha!

Proverbs 31:25-26: "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue."

This is a testament to all women who work to take care of a house and a family. We are strong. We are dignified. We have to endure so much as women without the pressure of children. Add in a child or two and the strength that we need to have increases exponentially. We raise our children and take care of the household while keeping our respect intact. That is impressive. Women are impressive. That is inspiring. The part that really made me giggle: "she can laugh at the days to come." God recognizes that we are going to have days that suck beyond the telling of it. We are strong enough to just laugh it off. These days are GOING TO HAPPEN. It's all about how we look at them when they are over. Hopefully, the last part is true about me in more than one way. I hope I am a good teacher to my son as well as my students. I pray that God inspires the teachings that I impart on my students and helps me to raise my child in the way that He intends for Christian to be raised.

Proverbs 31:28: "Her children arise and call her blessed..."

I sure hope Christian calls me blessed. Tonight, at the end of it all. After I had fussed and spanked, lectured and given time outs, he told me that I was beautiful and perfect. He said, "Tomorrow, Mommy, I want to be perfect like you." Now, I don't know if I really want my child to think I'm perfect...but it sure was nice to hear.

Proverbs 31:30: "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

Why, oh why, did I not just look at my Bible before I got so freaked out about how the last part of my day turned out? This is all I need to know. I need to fear the Lord. I need to turn to Him, especially when I'm annoyed. He loves me and will help me when I'm stuck or frustrated. I can be charming and wonderful, but that doesn't matter in the long run. What matters is that I love God and that I teach my son to do the same.

Man, I am ready for Church on Sunday. I'm needing some more time with Jesus. Days like this remind me of how happy I am when I leave Church. I love sitting there and being taught a lesson, reflecting on it later, and really letting it sink into my soul. I wish my pastor knew how wise his words are and how God has inspired him to teach things that really matter to me, specifically (and to others too). Come on, Sunday. (God, help me make it to Sunday!!!)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Flat Tires and Jesus

I'm a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. I'm not always sure what the reason is, but it eventually reveals itself.

Today, I went to lunch with a friend. I haven't been to hang out with this person ever really, but we've been friends since I was 14 or 15. Lunch was great. It was nice to catch up and talk about the past. It's always good to go and relax with a friend. 

On the way home, we got a flat tire. Never, in my life, have I ever gotten a flat tire, been riding with someone who had a flat tire, or anything related to getting a flat tire. I've never seen a tire changed or anything. I've never seen a jack used. This was a totally new experience.

I may not feel comfortable doing it by myself, but I'm a visual learner. Watching Ozzy change that tire made me feel a lot less fear about what I'd do in the same situation. Now, I have a spare tire, of course, but I don't have a jack or anything. I'd still have to call someone...but now that I've experienced it, I'll be a lot calmer, I think.

The Jesus part of the post is directly related to the flat tire. It's been pretty hot outside today. The entire time we were stuck on the side of the road, it was comfortable. The sun ducked behind a thin cloud and it kept it a lot cooler outside than what it had been so far today. There was even a slight breeze that kept me cool. Ozzy was hot, I'm sure, from working so hard...but it had to have been a lot better than working in 95 degree heat with no breeze!

I maintain that it was Jesus. He knew that we'd be stuck. He knew that there would have to be some manual labor today. He kept the breeze blowing and the sun tucked away behind the cloud for us. 

I know it's a small victory to write a post about, but it's important to be so thankful for the little things - like keeping the weather a little cooler when we were stuck trying to change a tire. Like having me stuck with someone who was knowledgeable enough to try to fix the situation and to teach me how to handle it if I had to do it on my own. Like having my sister return a phone call to come and pick me up off the side of the road (when she's had a delayed response in returning phone calls and texts here lately). Having us get a flat on a road my sister knows instead of having it happen somewhere unfamiliar.

This situation could have gone a lot differently, and I, for one, am thankful that God is always in control. He is always looking out for His children...and aren't we blessed!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The God of Second Chances

Today's sermon in Church was amazing.

We have been going through the book of Jonah all summer. We finally got to Chapter 3 today. Focusing on Jonah 3:1-4, my preacher taught us all how God is patient, merciful, and generous.

I loved hearing all of the ways that people in the Bible have screwed up. I know, I know, that sounds crazy, but it makes them all seem more real to me. Yes, I know they are real people and they had real experiences...but to hear that they screwed up in one way or another really makes me feel better.

--Jonah ignored God and went to Tarshis instead of going to Nineveh to preach.
--Abraham lied to everyone and said that Sarah was his sister instead of being honest and saying she is his wife.
--Elijah ran away from God and ended up having to deal with Jezebel.
--David saw Bathsheba, Uriah's wife, bathing and ended up committing adultery with her (even though he knew it was a sin). She ended up getting pregnant.

And on and on and on.

The Bible is very honest in showing the good times and the bad times that the people were faced with. It just makes me feel better to know that these men really screwed up big time and were still forgiven. As long as we are repentant, we will be forgiven as well. We just have to trust and surrender to the Lord and we will be saved, period.

Another good point that was made today is that God uses preaching as His main form of communication - using preachers like mine, Ronnie McLean, as his instruments to guide and teach his children. During this segment of the sermon, Pastor McLean said that any time you feel like the sermon was tailored to you and what you need at that point, don't thank the preacher. Thank God. He uses ministers to speak to his children and address their needs.

This spoke to me specifically. This is why I'm in Church again now. I went back to Church last February (2013). It was the first time I had been in about a year. Before that, I was going on and off. I was in a bad place in my personal relationship and I was searching for something to fill a void that had formed in my heart. When I was sitting there, Pastor McLean spoke about making decisions that reflect what God wants for you. He said that we have to make hard choices, choices that may hurt, but choices that make us happy - choices that make God happy. I'm sure those aren't the exact words (as a matter of fact, I have almost that whole sermon written down in my journal that I take to Church)...but they resonated in my soul. I ended my broken relationship about two weeks later and my life has been up and down since.

In this period, the biggest constant and the biggest joy I've had is Church. Freedom Baptist has been a place where I feel at home. The people who attend there are friendly and welcoming. It just feels like a family. This is the place where I belong. That's why today, 7/27/14, I finally joined the Church as a member. It feels wonderful to finally call Freedom my Church home. Now, I want to get plugged in and really become a good member of the Church! I can't wait for CWS to start and I get my 3-4 year olds (if they're still going to let me lead the group!!!!!) :)

If you can't tell, I was really inspired after Church this morning. This is the kind of post I want to write. This is what I feel called to do. Of course, not everything can be a reflection of a sermon I hear...but man, it feels so good to get it all down on paper (or online, haha). Hopefully, I'll keep up my momentum and continue to post regularly.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

I'm back (for the millionth time)

There has been so much that has changed since the last time I wrote a legitimate post (other than the ones for graduate school....those count, but who wants to read that ;) lol).

I don't really know where to begin with what's changed, so instead, I'll tell you what's going on with me right now. BTW: These items are not ranked in order of importance, but in order of what comes into my head at the time:

1) Exercise: I'm combining two of my really favorite things when I exercise now: PiYo and Hula Hooping. So fun! I do a hoop workout 5 days a week and PiYo is done 6 days a week. Today's workout: Lower Body Ballet (hoop) and Sweat (PiYo). All together, that's about one hour of working out for today...which isn't terrible AT ALL.

2) Work: I will be at Hamlet Middle School again this year. There was some question of where I would be, but I think that God has me right where he wants me - 7th grade ELA.

I'm really, REALLY excited about the changes in curriculum that have been made for the coming year. I'm even more excited about the fact that instead of six 6-week grading period, we now have four 9-week periods. In 7th grade, we're pairing one major text - a novel or play - with each 9-week period. That makes so much more sense to me. I'm ready to get in there and start planning, although, I'm not about to wish my summer away either.

3) Church: Where do I start with this? I've had mixed feelings about going to Church in my hometown. Do I want to go to Church with people I know in the community? Would I rather have a Church community that is completely separate from what I do outside of Church (obviously, that would not be good)? Should I make sure that the Church that I go to is one that my family attends? Should the Church I attend have friends for Christian? Should it be people he already knows? And on and on and on....

I realized that it doesn't really matter where I go as long as I GO and take my little boy. He needs to be in Church, as do I. I know people at the Church where I am joining. I have friends who go there and the children that are Christian's age are wonderful, well raised children. He goes to day care with some of them (his "girlfriend" is at this Church and his day He loves it there and begs to go back each week! That's a good sign for me.

I feel at home at Freedom. I feel like there are millions of opportunities for me to get involved - whether that is by attending a small group or teaching Campus Worship Series to 3 and 4 year old children. Either way, I know that it is a way for me to stay focused on God throughout all that I do.

4) Spirituality: I have this fire in my soul, a burning in my gut, something inside me that is yearning for closeness with God. It's not always the thing that I am focused on most, but it's always there, gnawing away at me. It's like someone whispering at all times, "Shouldn't you go read your Bible?" "Shouldn't you pray and ask God about this?" "What would God want for you?" "Are you sure that skipping Church is smart? Won't you feel better if you go?" etc. This yearning is extending to the books that I'm reading, the songs that I'm singing, the shows that I'm's into everything I do - which yes, I know it's good, but it can be annoying and overbearing too - and I'm shocking myself by the things that I'm saying or doing. It's good!

My favorite Christian author, Beth Moore, is a wonderful, brilliant woman. I want to be her when I grow up. Not too long ago, there was a deal on Amazon where you could get all of her books, almost, for free on your Kindle Fire. I jumped on that instantly. I want to start reading one of them, but I can't decide which one to start.

My iTunes/iPhone/Mac/CD in the car is constantly set to either a Fireflight mix, a We As Human mix, or it's on my Jeremy Camp Pandora station. It depends on my mood...but I can pretty much hit all of my moods with those three. I have them on rotation for the most part. Now, I still listen to my other music, of course...but that's what I've been listening to the most.

I've been watching 7th Heaven on Hulu Plus. I watched this show religiously (pardon the pun) when it was originally airing on TV, and I have been so excited to watch it again as an older, hopefully wiser, woman. I thought it was just a good TV show...but now I'm seeing the value in each episodes - the lessons we were supposed to learn from watching the Reverend Camden interact with his family and the members in the community. It's just an inspiring series, and it makes me want to be a better person.

But do you see what I mean? Everything I do seems to come back to God. Now, what I really REALLY want is a devotional that is also a journaling assignment. Suggestions? I'll even take one that starts January 1, 2015...but I want something that forces me to write my own thoughts on it.

5) School: I just want it to start back. I want to get back in class and have work to do. It makes me feel like I'm really accomplishing something for myself. I know that, once it starts back, I'll be ready for it to be over again. However, right now, I miss it. When school, work, and life in general are all going on at the same time, I'm sure I'll regret saying all of that.

Well, that's pretty much where I am at the moment. I want to do better posting on here...but I want the posts to mean something and not just be random thoughts, like this one.

I'm off to watch Pirate Fairy with my son. He loves Tinker Bell right now.