Posted in Anxiety, authenticity, comparison, discernment, learning boundaries, Uncategorized

Great Expectations: What to Expect?

I wish it were the novel…but it’s the list in my head.  So many expectations…in every area of my life.  Some are specific and some are inferred.  Some are imperative–feed, clothe, love, educate my child, cook dinner more frequently than not, laundry…make sure my house does not look like the atomic bomb exploded in it.  Most of these expectations are a part of the universe in my head–the dangerous place…

In the 9 months that I have been a mother, people ask me the same questions–“how’s it going?  Do you like being a mom?  How is your ministry going?”  I keep answering (though sometimes I do not believe me) “good, but I am still looking for balance.”  Seasoned moms laugh and say, “good luck with that!”  I have also said, “I wish I had a boss just to tell me what to do next.”

Jack is a precious, precious, precious boy, and I am really enjoying being his mom and seeing Greg engage as his daddy.  In my heart I trust he is doing well.  However, it’s hilarious the panic that ensues when I see other moms feeding different things to their babies or having a special toy, etc. I am like “wow, have I been content with this stage and missed something he needs to continue to flourish?!?!?”  It can be things as simple as a sippy cup or bits of food.  I think to myself….”boy have I gotta step up my game and be on the lookout to anticipate all his future needs.”  Then, I am trying to talk to him all the time like the doctor told me.  More than that, I want to continue talking to him about God and theology from now on…gotta keep that on the tip of my tongue with him teaching as we go.  Then I think, “do I simply sit and play with him enough? Is he catching the tv screen too much, will he get ADD?”  I hope you are laughing by now at the deluge of my thoughts.  Most of the time, I throw up my hands and hold on.  I have really not been anxious about motherhood–though it sounds as if I have been.  God has given me a peace from the time we even learned that we were going to be parents.

Where my thoughts can really get crazy is the expectations to be all I was before and more.  Ministry to young women.  The time to meet with young women has shrunk to two specific days a week.  There is more than just sitting down with them…there is prayer and study and what they share.  I am not enough for them–nor is that the point.  The point is to point them and bring them to Christ as their all sustaining one.  I feel as if I am doing some of the same things with them that I do with Jack…teaching them about who God is, his faithfulness and not fixing them but bearing with them and presenting them before God in prayer.  I told Greg the other day that there is a lot of heaviness in the lives around me right now (but there always is because of the nature of this life engulfed with sin)…heartache, transitions, struggle in marriage, eating disorders, loss, strife in relationships, unbelief…  My expectation problem spirals out of control when I try to be the fixer.  Fixing is much easier than walking alongside with heart work.  I get exhausted, and I feel completely ineffective.  I have expectations of myself to always be prepared, to anticipate needs, to be able to minister to more and more.  I also have them on my mind all the time praying…then I think “am I praying enough, am I praying in line with God’s word?”

The only problem…the space on my plate has gotten smaller because I have this life that I care for continually physically, emotionally, spiritually.  So, I have to learn the balance of what is realistic for me to expect.  I have drawn boundaries to others with my time–Tuesday/Thursday from 8:30-2:30 (when I have childcare), but I have greater expectations of myself on the inside.  And what happens when my expectations cannot match with my output?  I continually feel like I am failing.  Honestly, there are areas where I really am failing, but I remember to lean into my Savior.

I want to be more as a friend to friends who are struggling and hurting.  I want to be better at pursuing friends–I need to just have fun and share my heart.  I want to be purposeful as a wife in loving Greg well.  I want to be organized with cooking and lose this baby weight.  I want to serve the church well.  I want to be a helpful and loving family member.  I want to paint and write and create.  See why I am unbalanced:)?

This morning greeted me with many muscles in my body aching.  I shared this with my mom, and she said, “you are trying to do too much and always on the go.”  I responded with “but I am not doing that much–I’m not getting anything done!”  My reality and my expectations are not balanced.  It is helpful when someone can speak into that–especially when that someone is one that is on the go all the time, as well.  I grew up witnessing a mom that had a full-time teaching job, a part-time job as organist and a full-time job as my Dad’s ministry partner.  I remember her cooking, cleaning, ironing and talking to people every night and not sitting down until 10 pm.  I do not have the energy my mom had, but in my own way, I think I am trying to keep up.

As women, I think we are caught in this endless banter in our head.  We each have different expectations, and many times, we compare ourselves to many people who excel in different things.  At that rate, we are ALWAYS behind and always feeling less than.  My prayer is that I listen to the One who directs and has called me…and listen to what He wants.  I pray He give me the wisdom to have realistic goals and expectations of myself and to serve excellently by depending on Him in those areas.  I had an irregular adulthood in that I had time before kids to develop in ways creatively and and use my time ministerially and personally that most people do not experience until empty nest.  I now am having to readjust expectations to balance well now.  Please pray that I can…I want my heart to be at peace for the long haul.

Hopefully you do not want to commit me after this post…just wanted to be vulnerable to hopefully encourage anyone out there on the expectation treadmill!

 

Posted in Diet Coke, discipline, infertility, learning boundaries

I’m on a diet…

     So, I feel at times that I am such a drama queen with angst filled posts.  On a day where I feel particularly weak and melancholy, I am going to post about something not so deep–Diet Coke. 

       I do not remember when my love affair with Diet Coke began.  I, like many of the masses, began my foray into the diet cola world through Diet Dr. Pepper.  I, then, fell down into the hole of “no return” to hard core Diet Coke. 

         I know in my journey of infertility that I have ramped up my habit.  When the stress pours on, I think “I deserve a treat.”   It became more like an IV line.  Let’s just say, I became a junkie.  It is one of those things that you know is happening, but you turn a blind eye to it.  When you have something “wrong” goign on, you begin to think…”awe, what’s one more bad thing to add to my body when it tastes so good?” 

           A few weeks ago, as I was thinking of going toward tward one more fertility treatment, I realized–I got a big problem.  When I went through a 24 pack in record time, it was time to take control.  So, I quit.  When that pack was gone, I did not restock.  In ten days, I have had two diet cokes–I gave in a couple of times.  One for a movie.  The miraculous thing about it–I did not finish either of them.  Another miraculous thing–I have had more energy.  Funny, the thing I drank to give me more energy actually sapped it.  

          My body has not consumed this much water in several years.  There have been moments I have really been jonesing for a DC, as we call them in our house.  I realize that driving more then 30 minutes somewhere makes me think of grabbing a diet coke.  However, on those times, I have withstood the temptation.  And, actually, when I did have them, they were not so delicious. 

           Addiction on any level is quite embarrassing.  I came clean–there you go.  I was, or rather am, an addict.  Funny, after I made my closet decision to quit, my friend, Elisa, shared with me about a book she was reading about artificial coloring and sweetener.  I am really lucky that I did not grow a third arm or eye from all my consumption.

           So, I am on a diet from diet coke.  Will I never have another one again?  I do not make definitive statements–because the moment I do–you will see me chugging straight from the fountain at Weigels.  Let’s just say that moderation is moving into my life.  One diet coke every few weeks beats 4 a day anytime!

Posted in authenticity, healing, infertility, learning boundaries, rest

What do I entitle this?

It has been a while since I have written. There’s so much to tell yet so little. Part of me wants to pull back all the way from blogging because I have put a vulnerable part of myself out there, and I have found myself feeling responsible to walk this infertility journey out perfectly. Performance…it still plagues me. This year, I have learned so much more about the depths of the gospel and grace, and yet, in the most intimate area of my life, I still seek to perform for God and others. Wow. This again shows my need to rest in Christ’s righteousness.
Nothing has changed on the fertility front except for the shutdown of all emotions and then the eruption of anger. I long to grieve, yet I am afraid of it. I do not want to be a whiny person who talks about it all the time and feasts on her tears. But I need to cry with tears–lots of them that have not come. So, we are taking a break from even talking about the future of children. I cannot make one more decision right now about the whole process–period. So, after wise counsel, we are taking several months of reprieve. The whole process of infertility is exhausting and messy and uncontrollable. It is a beast that I have sought to respond in the best way to, but I am exhausted. After some more wise counsel, I have pulled back from some of my public responsibilities in order to create space to process and grieve (curbing the performance). This life is a marathon and infertility can cause you to run sprint after sprint after sprint to where all your reserves are gone. So, I am taking some time to regroup in training for the marathon.
On my pantry (which is covered in chalk board paint), I have a reminder for this season.

“He does not grow faint or weary; His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who WAIT for the LORD shall renew their strength…” Isaiah 40:28-31

I do not know what this journey will look like. Truthfully, I do not want to have to experience it. I would rather be numb and busy myself up! But, that is not the way of the Father. He has distinct purposes in this time…in this season. I do not necessarily understand them, but He is immortal invisible God only wise and I’m not. Margin has been created to experience the grief, and I am hopeful for restoration in Him. If I do not deal now, well, much more damage will be done. My father’s sickness and death, Greg’s rheumatoid arthritis and the change that has come with that, the ringer of infertility, starting and running a non-profit ministry–all of those within the last five years (mostly the last two). God is showing me I am not superhuman. I am in need, weak and His beloved daughter. May He be glorified in my weakness. I pray He be glorified in yours, too.

Posted in discipline, God's sovereignty and goodness, infertility, learning boundaries, thankfulness

A blur

This past week has brought a lot of surprises. Our friends, Jacob and Beth Winn, went to the hospital last Monday, had to have an emergency C-section, and had their twins 11 weeks early. It was a scary time for them, and it was a joy to be with them and pray and support. Lilly Claire and Davis are both in the NICU and have wonderful care there. Beth and Jacob are already showing the beauty of Christ through their parenting (however excrutiatingly far they may feel from the sweet ones). Knowing their journey of infertility and now preemies, I know God is doing something bigger than just the circumstance. But, in all of their stress, they need prayer from all of us.
It was not an accident that my last blog post talked about my morning with God last Monday. Only an hour after spending intense time in the word and prayer for my eyes to look beyond myself to his purposes and to serving others, I got the call from Greg that Jacob and Beth were headed to the hospital. Then, soon after, we were there awaiting the twins’ arrival. God certainly provided me an opportunity for the love and care of his people last week. I am thankful that the verses of rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances stuck to my heart that day. If I stayed in the land of me, I would have missed the joy and the pain of others in the day. I would have missed the opportunity to walk in the good works that God had prepared for me.
I now sit in a cloud of thoughts. I have had a hard week emotionally on hormones for infertility (I believe this is the fourth month in a row that I have been on them–and a month before that I was on them). It takes double work to rest in his truth when my mind is in a cloud of thoughts that drag me down. I long to trust Him. I have made a decision to take a month off of hormones next month. I am weary and need a break–a break to simply rest in Him and not count days, take tests and have to deal with the intense mood swings and hot flashes and depressive thoughts. I want to live life today….rejoice, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances. My body and mind need a rest from the hormones to regroup and be refreshed in him. It is hard not to be defined by something such as infertility when the meds you have to take from it so throw a huge challenge to your thinking and emotions. I ask for prayer for my thoughts and my attitudes, etc as I walk out the effect of the rest of this month.
So, I look to this week. I long to trust Him each day taking steps to keep up with life, appointments, cleaning, shopping. I need to clean my tub, do laundry, write letters for WDC, serve my friends, love my husband well, meet with my girls. Life goes on, and God is good and faithful and an ever present help in time of trouble.

Posted in discipline, fasting, learning boundaries

A rest from technology

This is a challenging article about our lives and various forms of technology that we live “in.” I began last year at some point to try to take a break from the computer over the weekends. That has moved more into just on Sundays, now. But, I cannot tell you how freeing it is. Our hearts are so crowded with useless mess that creates anxiety that we do not know the joy of simply being with others and God. This is an area that I want to grow in so much. Our hearts were not created to live in this vacuum that technology brings, and we are the only ones that make the decision as to how we spend our time and energies. Think about it.

Posted in Anxiety, discipline, idols, learning boundaries, trusting God

The financial crunch

Finances. Ugh. They are on the forefront of our collective mind as a nation. Fingers point. People panic. This crisis shows the reality of our hearts. We are constantly trying to get something to fill us up. That something may be a new house, a certain car, miracle make-up, crafty projects, eating out, the newest recipe, new fashions, decorator items. Name the vice and we have tried it.

It is impossible to remain untouched by greed. We think we deserve certain luxuries. We know that just one more ______ will fill us and solve our problems (or at least make us feel better for the moment). Watching TLC or HGTV on certain days can create in me the equivalent of pornography–a lust for more. I can think that I am less than because of the house I live in…or the way I look. Ever use shopping as a way to make yourself feel better? A house or clothing or food is not bad in itself, but paired with the lust in our hearts to fill ourselves with something other than God, they become bad for us. In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us not to worry about those things–we are to seek him first and all will be added to you. Where our treasure is is where our heart is.

Everything meant for good is tainted by sin. So, we have to examine our hearts in the light of our financial decisions.
1. Can you afford what you are buying?
By afford what you have I mean–can you pay all your bills and not have debt? The big problem we have is that we are buying things on credit that we cannot afford or can barely afford. Do not get caught in the trap of keeping up with the Jones’ when you cannot afford what they have. (Hint: You do not even know if they can afford what they have–it may be smoke and mirrors.)
Take time to examine what you are spending, and make decisions with wisdom. If you have not made decisions with wisdom, get some help. (By help, I do not mean a “bail-out.” I mean start budgeting and making cuts of your spending in order to pay down your debt. You do not have to stay in this cycle.)
2. When making a purchase, ask why you need it and why you are buying it. Is this from an emotional need? Have you prayed about it? Is this wise? Self-control and self-discipline are a practice, not a gift. There are some things that you may think you need and cannot afford. This is the place we learn what true needs are and who our provider of true needs is.
3. Do not let the world dictate your decisions.
Just because you “can” do it does not mean you should do it.
For example, the bank tells you you can get a loan of $300,000 for a house. That does not give you a license to spend $300,000 on a house. That is the absolute limit. Think about the future. Think about your goals. You may be making a better decision to buying a $150,000 house so that you may invest wisely and give more money away. Just because you “have” does not mean you spend it all.
We always think, if I just made this much more, then I would be okay. In reality, people who are in debt making $30,000 a year will be in debt making $150,000 a year because they do not practice living within their means. There will always be one more thing to buy to fill ourselves or to keep up with our neighbors if we do not look at our hearts in regard to money and consumerism. This goes back to the ten commandments–do not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, etc. We need to learn contentment in Christ and where he has us. We can learn a plethora about ourselves in regards to how we deal with our finances.
4. Ask, how does this glorify God? Who and what am I treasuring through my financial decisions?
It is not as simple as do this and you are good–do this and your are bad. What is your motive? Where is your treasure?
If your treasure is here on this earth, pile up things and debt. You must get the newest fashions and send your children to the best schools and keep up with the latest housing trends. I will tell you, it is all emptiness. These things will not fill you, but follow your way. Most of us are following it–wide is the path that leads to destruction.
If your treasure is in heaven. Think about investing in people for eternal purposes. Think about how to make the most of God in your finances. It will cost you some here–friends, popularity, momentary pleasures. You will make decisions differently. You will learn that just because you can does not mean you must or will. You will learn that in a moment of weakness you might feel less than–or your children might. You may actually do some crazy outside of the box things. You may not upsize your house every 10 years. We are put here to glorify God and make known the treasure that he is–he is a treasure. Narrow is the gate and the path that leads to life. This is not easy. In fact, it is a constant battle, but it is a battle that brings true peace to the heart. Use the lack or plenty that God gives you for his glory–learn to trust.

This crisis is an opportunity for you to examine the path that you are on and what that path says about your heart. May we learn to treasure the Almighty God through his son, Jesus Christ, more than ever in this time.

Posted in discipline, learning boundaries, prayer, rest, Rheumatoid Arthritis, trusting God

Margins

This past week has been really emotionally draining for me. It is one of those times where everything catches up with you. I realize that I forgot to remain in Him, and I decided somehow that I was in charge of coordinating life. No wonder I am exhausted. How do we so quickly forget?

Greg has really been struggling with the fatigue side of RA, and the doctor told him that this is the hardest part of the disease to accept. I think I have tried to make up for the strength that he has lost. I have been trying to figure out how to solve things and power up to make life run the way it is supposed to with both of us with full gun energy. My body and the Lord have told me that this is impossible. Sometimes I need tangible ways to learn these truths…and this week the tangibles are a smoking 3 month old lawnmower and a broken 6 month old carpet cleaner. The tools in which I can control things around me that look out of control (ie my lawn and muddy carpets–all from the much needed rain) are not working. I am reminded that in EVERYTHING God is in sovereign control. He is working all of these things for my good–the conformity to Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28 )

My emotional and spiritual and physical resources have been low–and for a reason. Even though it is hard, I thank Him so much that I know Him and am loved and cared for by my gracious Heavenly Father. There is no where to go but Him. It is at times like these that I do need Him to take my chin and lift my face toward Him reminding me of who He is and reminding me of His truth. This morning and this week I have been reminded that I need to make margins for health. Sometimes my page has got writing all over it–no margins. I allow myself to be pulled here and there, and I end up completely spent with not much to show for it. In forming this new ministry non-profit ( I have a name–Women’s Discipleship Concepts), caring for Greg and picking up slack at home, meeting with women and helping with camps this summer, I have to look at how to create some margins.
Please pray for me as I spend time with the Father. Pray that I remember to remain in Him. That the truth of the gospel be at all times in my heart and mind.