Some days, being “mama” isn’t all-too easy. It can be far easier to see the bad behavior rather than the amazing gift standing before us. So, what do we do when the amazing seems hidden? How do we call out our children to be who God has designed and declared them to be?
Today, I’m over at Next Level Mama talking about this very thing…and how God gave me new names for my each member of my family (even me!) These new names come straight from His heart and have the power to instill life and destiny in dark and frustrating places. Come join the discussion HERE!
So we left off from “The Pressure Cooker – Part 1,” with the thought that we need to know our design. God made us in an intimate way, knowing us before we were formed , “For you [God] formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:13-14 ESV
I find it awesome that our God and Creator of the universe took His time and effort to personally know us, to personally or Godally (yes I know is not a word, but it should be) “knit” the fabric of our being. Because He created us, I believe He knows what we are created for and what type of environment we are going to flourish in. To tie it all together, He knows the heat setting that’s best for us.
How much heat can we take? You may have heard the label of someone with a type A personality, that refers to someone who is highly driven or “successful”. And although these people may thrive in tough situations and may be able to get stuff done, that surely doesn’t guarantee that they can handle the heat very well. In many situations they are actually just plain stressed out and the “successful” and driven side is very often is a coverup, a sort of manifestation of a protective mechanism that this person is using to not deal with his or her past. They may truly be results driven, but many times there is unhealthy stress and pressure that needs to be removed.
Keep in mind this isn’t a dig at type A personalities, many have said that I am type A. But either way we all have our issues no matter our personality type of traits, “for [we] all have sinned, [are imperfect] and fall short of the glory of God” and need to be “justified [and set free] by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 ESV (emphasis added). So no matter the personality type you may have been told that you are, God’s diagnosis and prognosis is much greater, much better.
So, we should figure out a way to remove the pressure. Don’t get me wrong sometimes pressure cookers are great thing, even in our Christian lives, because the heat and pressure can break down really difficult challenges and help us get through tough obstacles, BUT the heat must be removed sometimes for some time. Did you catch that “sometimes for SOME TIME.” this isn’t just 15 minutes a day, although if that is all you can get at the beginning do it. Lets bring back our pressure cooker, if it is cooking away and that rocker is a rockin’ you can take it off for a short amount of time and the rocker will stop, but you can put it back on the burner and it almost immediately picks up where it left off. Why? Although the heat was taken away and the pressure dropped enough to keep the rocker form rocking there is still a massive amount of pressure built up in side. Typically the safety valve is still up even. Are you getting the analogy? The safety valve is telling everyone to stay away do not open up, because bad things will happen. The second you add that heat back it is on again and you truly haven’t received a break, you truly haven’t received freedom from that build up.
This is probably why God told us to honor the Sabbath. I think it is cool that he made it one of the Ten Commandments to get some rest, to chill out, relax and take a load off. I think He may have known what He was doing, what His creation was going to be like, what pressures we would feel especially under the fallen world we are in. It is time to chill and reduce the pressure, to take some time for some time to balance that pressure again. We will examine some ways to do that in Part 3. To be continued….
So, life can be difficult sometimes…and a bit mysterious, right? And when I don’t have a clear vision for what I’m doing, it can get downright frustrating.
A few years ago, my hubby and I (finally) agreed that we would homeschool our kids. (By the way, this post is not about whether you should homeschool or not…so don’t stop reading there if you don’t!) I had about zero desire to teach our kids at home at first. I like my alone time…I won’t lie! As much as I love our kids, I’m a much better mom and human being overall if I get some time away. Yep, classic introvert.
But, then I started to pray about it and slowly God started to give me HIS vision for our family and kids’ education.
For kindergarten/pre-school, we’ve basically just “done life”: counting daddy’s vitamins, reading signs and sounding out letters while driving, doing some workbooks here and there, letting them play with magnet letters on the fridge while I cook…and so forth.
But now that we’re approaching the legal requirements of our state for our oldest to enter first grade, I started to panic…”what am I doing?”…”what if I screw it up?”…”what if I can’t figure out what to teach?”…”what if weeks go by and we don’t have a formal lesson?”…and so the hamster wheel of uncertainty and fear spun around.
I told Steve about my uncertainties and all-over-the-place worries. (I’m so thankful he just listened and didn’t reply at that moment! Thanks honey!)
I was searching information for our local public school when the thought dawned on me: “Hey, maybe I should pray!” So, I did. And, I asked my girlfriends to pray too (thanks, you awesome warriors!) Within the hour, He swarmed me with peace. He gave me an answer…yes, His vision for us is to be a homeschooling family. And over the next few days, He gave me one more little step to take…just one at a time. Step 1: Yes, homeschool. Step 2: Use a curriculum. Step 3: Check that book I have been reading and love for suggestions. Step 4: Research options. Step 5: Discuss top option with the hubs and pray. Step 6: Manage to wait until the paycheck has cleared before I rush to order said curriculum and obsessively check the mail everyday until it arrives! And so on…
I am completely amazed that God has brought me from an attitude of complete dread and fear to a place of renewed excitement. And the way He got me there was to give me vision. He spoke into my little life…gave me an answer…and is providing the steps one-by-one. Vision…that’s what I needed.
Yes! That’s it! And I especially love how The Message version phrases this same verse…
I was stumbling all over my fear of lack and inadequacies…But when I paid attention to what God wanted to reveal to me, He gave me what I needed and I feel that blessing not just in my attitude, but especially in the path we are now walking.
What decisions are you facing in your life right now? It may have nothing to do with your child’s education…or it might. But whatever it is, stop and listen to what God has to say about it. Don’t get caught in the torrent of fear. Let Him speak into your situation and give you the next step to take.
Our family vacation last week was bookended with a 900-mile road trip tackled in a single day, both ways. I’ve never really loved being confined in a car for up to 18 hours, especially with little ones. But this trip was different. Yes, there were certain changes from trips we’ve taken before: having potty-trained kiddos now as opposed to nursing and diaper-requiring babies as well as better preparation on my part to have lots of activities to keep them happy and busy.
But overall, the one MAJOR difference was something less circumstantial and, instead, something more decisive: my attitude.
Now, Steve and I have traveled together over 20,000 miles in the past 10 years in a car…that’s around 350 hours we have spent in a moving vehicle…just counting road trips! We’ve driven with just the two of us, then with my very pregnant belly, with nursing infants, with not-quite-potty-trained toddlers and (yay) with fully potty-trained kiddos. Good thing we love each other…and that we like being together!
And in all that time confined in a car, we’ve adapted to our unique patterns, preferences and quirks. When Steve drives, it’s either conversation or talk-radio. I, on the other hand, MUST have music blaring and the more tired I get the more loudly I sing to stay awake and focused. When he’s in the passenger seat, he’s out cold in about ten minutes. When I’m there, my feet are on the dash and my mind is wandering all over, usually wishing I could read a book without getting carsick.
From flat, almost barren country-side to beautiful waterfronts to weaving through the mountains, the scenery is always changing. It may seem boring for a while, but then, out of nowhere, you’re picnicking by a volcano. Or you could be mesmerized by the majestic mountains and lush greenery and then with little preparation, you’re struggling to keep the car from swerving in the strong winds crossing the flat plain.
It’s HOW we deal with the shifts in the scenery and the challenges in our tight, committed space that determines greatly how the trip goes. If you want to see people tested on their attitude, stick them in a small, confined space for hours on end and see what happens!
Lessons I’ve learned from all this road-tripping:
- When traveling with kids, remember that what your GPS says will be a 12-hour trip will, in reality, be more like 18 hours. Just accept it now.
- Always, always have a bag full of surprises for your kids! From stickers, crayons and coloring books to glow sticks to paper bags for creating puppets to pipe cleaners and foil for interesting sculptures, always be prepared to have something new for them to do every hour or so.
- When you look down to find an ENORMOUS insect on your leg, it is totally acceptable to stick your entire leg out the window while going 80 mph and flick it off before it jumps on your face. (at least from the passenger seat…not that I’m speaking from experience or anything)
- Sometimes the mundane, ordinary moments are the sweetest…like sleeping babes in the back-seat or a chance to stand up and stretch or that beautiful sign that says “Rest Area-1 mile” when your potty-training child has declared an emergency.
- Listening to my daughter sing for 3 hours straight is one of the best things in the world…seriously!
- Have a plan and expect that it will change.
- Decide before you go that you will have a good time! Decide to be intentionally in a good mood!
My attitude can make or break the trip. My attitude can make or break my marriage. The time confined in a car can be a time of fond memories or a hellish remembrance. The time invested positively in this close-quartered covenant of marriage will directly determine how our journey will go and if we still like each other when we reach our destination.
Perhaps you can relate to this: waking up to the sound of monkey noises coming from the child who is both climbing on you and attempting to pull you out of bed simultaneously. The house is a wreck from the day before spent NOT doing any chores, the kitchen has no clean dishes, the children are claiming near-starvation, you need at least ten hours sleep more which apparently isn’t going to happen, and those monkey noises just will not stop! Maybe toss in a headache and a full to-do list and you can see how this sets the stage for a not-so-great morning with a less than stellar attitude.
In our home, when the kids get to arguing or make a poor choice, we give them an opportunity for a “re-do”…to do-over the action that they just did incorrectly and have the chance to make a better choice next time. Taking this time to stop and restart is like a reboot to the day, turning a frazzled, frustrating moment into a hopeful one where wisdom has been gained and hopefully a lesson has been learned.
There are those days (like the one I mentioned above) where things just get off on the wrong foot. For whatever variant reasons, I just don’t have the best attitude and tend to be short and snappy in my dialogue with my husband and children. My flesh wants to just push through and figure it out on my own, to conquer my own bad attitude, from my own strength.
Anyone care to guess how THAT goes??
Yep, not so much in the success department on that one! So, I’ve found that, just like my kiddos, sometimes I need a do-over as well, a chance to reboot my attitude and start the day with a fresh perspective. Great…sounds nice…but HOW?
For me, my best re-do’s come when I pull out my guitar and have some time spent in active worship. It requires me to stop in my tracks and intentionally do something else. It’s pretty difficult to snap at my kids with a nasty attitude while I sing praises to God. (It IS possible…but difficult…and most certainly convicting if it does happen!)
In a matter of minutes, my focus shifts from my frustrations to God. There is no better attitude adjustment than that!
And, yes, there have been times where I have worshipped with a toddler-tantrum in progress, with kids begging me to stop and get them a snack, with my phone ringing and my to-do list tempting me to go on the attack. But, the way I see it, I’m a more compassionate mom and more capable woman if I take ten minutes to worship my God than if I don’t and try to tough it out.
Our kids have learned over time that when I say it’s “music-time in the Cohen house”, I mean it and no amount of whining or distractions will deter me. There’s no telling how many days have been saved so far! How many terrible words have I avoided speaking? How much negativity has been kept from spewing everywhere?
Maybe you don’t play guitar, but I’m pretty sure you can turn on some music and sing like a fool for Jesus in the living room. It’s absolutely okay, and often necessary to say to God, “I need a do-over today!”
In my mind, our camping trip, and our entire vacation was going to be a time for contemplation and reflection…to be purposeful in examining areas that I need to take back to God. And then reality of what “vacation” means while having preschoolers hit me!
One-bedroom hotel rooms, an enclosed vehicle, and a shared tent don’t exactly offer the opportunity for quiet, thoughtful time. And, quite honestly, there were some very difficult moments and, yes, tears on my part. But, looking back on it, and trying to jot down a few highlights from each day, I can see that even amidst the chaos and my periodic emotional breakdowns, there is a lot about myself that came to the surface.
My daily routines are so incredibly helpful in keeping balance…but routines often are flung out the window on vacation. So, this planner-girl had to go with the flow, which is not a natural bent of mine. Again, the issue of impatience rose to the surface…as well as fear (of those bears and other such mysteries in the woods)…and especially my desire to be in control of the situation. (What is it about wanting to be in control that deceives me to think that peace will come?)
I also was reminded again of the influence of my personal perspective.
Through one lens, one particular incident would look like this: I woke up freezing cold in our tent and couldn’t feel my toes…hungry and the campfire was taking forever to get going…with hyper kids who wouldn’t stop asking for “Mommy”…finally sitting alone in the van with the heat on my tootsies.
But, through a God-lens, here’s what that exact, same scenario looks like: I woke up to a chilly morning with the combined sounds of a bubbling brook and a joyful 5 year old. My amazing husband started the campfire and handled all the cooking that morning for me. The kids were having a blast throwing pebbles into the brook and wanted to share their joy and discovery with me. When I mentioned the “toe-situation” Steve gave me some of his thicker socks and encouraged me to get in the van to warm up. A few minutes later, he brought me a plate of food that I didn’t have to make and he made sure I was doing fine while he took care of the kids.
The first perspective sounds awful!! But the second sounds almost blissful.
I’m sad to say that I chose in that moment to live in the first perspective, looking through a tainted lens. But now that I’m home, with a few moments to finally think through that and other experiences, I can see the difference. And I pray that I actually learn from it and choose next time (as in a few hours from now when I’m trying to get excited kiddos down for a nap) to intently look through the God-lens…see the blessing of my children, be thankful for the time I’ve had to myself, be kind and gentle to help them get ready for bed and live in a state of joy rather than exasperation.
Living with a chronic issue has required that I consider the power of perspective. Discover the God who heals in my latest book, Chronic Healing. Order your copy today!