Trading Chaos for Hope

As I have mentioned previously, my older kids didn’t come home this summer, making it very quiet. Too quiet for this mom who has always been used to the bustle and noise that four kids are capable of making. Yet, in a fairly short time; four became three, three became two, and now there is but one little (or perhaps, not so little) bird left in my nest. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy for them and all that they are doing. They are stepping out into the world, trusting God and following the path He has laid before them.

I just miss the chaos.

I learned a long time ago that I am one of those people who tends to be more productive when things are a little on the crazy side. I prefer a busy day at work, over one that is quiet with less tasks to do. I like to be moving and doing, making some noise… I tend to not do quiet very well at all.

When all four kids were younger, we were extremely busy–we were always on the go. In the early years it was soccer games in the spring/fall, softball and baseball in the summer. As my older children entered middle school, we added band and chorus, as well as more sporting events. Then we became more involved in our church, with Awana and other forms of fellowship. It was there within the walls of our church that something unexpected happened, my extended family began to grow. The relationships that I formed there, that my children did as well, gave us the family we so desperately needed.

But the walls stood high.

As a single parent, perhaps more so because of the broken person I was… I struggled for years to let people in. Somehow, in this new environment I was finally able to let down my walls and started letting people in. I was shown unconditional love over and over again. My children saw firsthand what compassion looks like and how to be more like Jesus themselves. I have always said that it takes a village to raise a child (especially for the single parent), I am so very blessed that the majority of my village was within the walls of our little church. With my children, I learned what “normal” looked like, how families interacted minus the hurt and dysfunction. It was the beginning of our healing process as a family, of my healing process as a parent and a child of God.

Thank God for Hope.

Hope

So I am back to dealing with the moments when I feel sad and alone, and the darkness closes in. I wish I could say that one day it will just “poof” vanish and I will always feel happy and content. I don’t think that is possible for any of us as mere humans who walk this earth, less possible for those of us who have experienced more darkness than we sometimes care to admit. Yet, in the darkness, He is there. As I woke this morning, I set down at the table with my coffee and opened my Jesus Calling devotional.

     HOPE is a golden cord connecting you to heaven… I never leave your side, and I never let go of your hand… without the cord of hope, your head may slump and your feet may shuffle as you journey uphill with Me. Hope lifts your perspective… You are reminded that the road we’re traveling together is ultimately a highway to heaven… the roughness or smoothness of the road ahead becomes much less significant. I am training you to hold in your heart a dual focus: My continual Presence and the hope of heaven.

These were exactly the words I needed to read, that He needed for me to read. It seems so ironic that it always works that way. I may miss a day, or study something differently; but no matter what I read or where I read it from; He has me reading comforting and encouraging words from some sort of a devotional; ultimately directing me to His word through scripture.

Romans 12:12  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

1 Thessalonians 5:8  But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

Hebrews 6:18-19a  God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace

Then His words direct me further, to song. Thus allowing me to sing and praise Him for all he has done in my life. He is always with me, has always been… even in the darkest moments, the saddest moments, the moments when I feel the most alone.

When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.

footprints

He carries us… He never leaves our side. We are never alone.

So even as my children fly away, out into a world that I have hopefully properly prepared them for. I am not alone, my God is with me, He loves me and He gives me just what I need… when I need it the most.

Until the next moment,

 

 

 

 

 

Fighting the Darkness with His Light

I have been silent again these past few weeks, not intentionally; it has once again been more often than not, nearly impossible to beat the dark pull that keeps me nearly motionless on those days that I don’t have to walk out the door for work. It’s hard to explain, this odd battle I still have with depression. How the darkness can surround me and act like an anchor, leaving me immovable. It has been like this for as long as I can remember. As long as I am busy with work or activities, I can move and function. But when I have nothing to do, or let me rephrase… nothing outside of my home to do; I just don’t. I don’t do a single thing. I make these grand plans, create projects; but it is rare that I am able to follow through.

When it gets really bad, when the darkness is most suffocating, I also loose my ability to spend those quiet moments with the Lord. On the days that I do… the days that I do spend time in His Word, spend time in conversation with Him; on those days the darkness looses its hold and my day is a whole lot more eventful. It’s a battle, a daily battle that I am afraid I don’t fight to win nearly as much as I should. I allow the darkness win and just fall deeper into the pit.

My years in recovery reminds me: One Day at a Time

So, this morning I opened my devotion notebook. I was deeply saddened that it had been two weeks since I had written in it, since I had opened my Jesus Calling devotion and studied the passages at the end of the page. Two weeks since I had spent more than 2-3 minutes in prayer that didn’t take place before my feet even hit the floor.

Last night I attended a Ladies Supper at our church with my daughter. We were blessed to hear from a young woman who grew up in our church and is now a missionary working in Africa. She has been home for a few months of furlough and was sharing with the woman of our church her life in the mission field. She will soon be returning to the mission field, to her little village; once again living among people who live in real darkness because they do not understand the Light of Jesus.

Choose to live in the Light

It made me think, made me remember the joy I find when I sit at my kitchen table and allow myself to get lost in the Word, allowing His love and light to fill my spirit and give me the strength to get through another day. Encouraging me, empowering me… making me a better me. Giving me the strength to be the best example I can be to me to my daughter, to all my children. To be a good mom, teaching her the simple things that are important in our lives. To do what needs to be done, and to do so with a loving and joyful spirit. Most importantly, getting my lazy self up off the couch and doing what needs to be done, even when I don’t want to do it.

But the silence is so loud…

I have to admit that this summer has been harder than any before. It has been much more quiet that previous summers…too quiet. My oldest and her husband are busy with work and school. For the first summer ever, my middle children stayed in their perspective college towns; my son taking some summer classes and working a bit. My daughter is working full time at a job she really loves. I miss them and the busyness that comes from having them home. The laughter and conversations. The late night movie marathons or binging on our fave TV show via Netflix. I am trying to adjust, to really get used to my nearly empty nest, but there are days when that is so much more difficult to do. Sometimes, I  wish they were all little again. Those days when I would be running around in circles trying to get it all done. Running from one event or activity to another. Piles (and piles) of laundry, tripping over toys, books, clothes… I miss those crazy moments of our lives. Yet, in the same instance I am so insanely proud of the adults they have become. The direction they are heading in their lives… the love and respect they have and show to others on a daily basis.

In less than six months it will mark the 20th year I have been a single mother. I think that is why this whole “empty nest” thing is so much harder. Because in roughly five years my nest really is going to be empty. Even now, as my youngest daughter is older and continues to become more involved in things that will take her out of the house to pursue her own dreams; I perceive the impending quiet, sense the void as it is slowly being created by the absence of the four people who have brought me the greatest joy in my life.

I have made many career changes in my life, never really knowing what I was meant to do, who I was meant to be in this world. Yet, after my initial doubts those early years in my adjusting to single motherhood… I know with all my heart and soul. I believe with every ounce of my being that I am meant to be a mother. Not just any mother, but the mother to the four children that God so graciously gave to me to care for on this earth, for this moment in time. These four amazing and inspiring children, who love me unconditionally even through all our struggles and failures. The four beautiful children He gave just to me. If I never accomplish anything else, I will have accomplished more than I could have dreamed; as I watch them grow and succeed on their own in this world. Stepping out in faith and trusting God to guide them along the way. Seeing this, knowing this, allows my mama heart to be full… no, it allows my heart to burst with joy!

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

The darkness will always be a part of my life, of all our lives.. because the darkness is real and surrounds us all. The difference will be, what am I going to do about it? Am I going to fall into the inviting and temporary warmth that darkness sometimes creates? Or will I turn to the light, His Light and allow the deepest parts of me to be surrounded by His love and warmth? Will I hear, listen for, his wee small voice and allow it to comfort me through the hard times, through those dark moments. As I was reading and writing this this morning, I felt that comfort; His comfort as my soul was refreshed with His light and the joy that it brings.

psalm63_1

I also found encouragement in Psalm 51

Let me hear joy and gladness, let the bones you have crushed rejoice. (vs8)    

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (vs12)

Until the next moment,

 

518,400 minutes

There are many of you out there who are familiar with the song “525,600 Minutes” reflecting on the minutes that make up 365 days, one year. 518,400 minutes is 360 days and as I was continuing to study the word #JOY in scripture this morning, I pondered what a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend I had, the joy I felt in the many wonderful moments shared with my two youngest daughters. This morning as I reflected, my thoughts went back to this time in my life just last year.

We had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend, three of my four kiddos were home. (My oldest called me and we had a nice visit). First, I got to sing with one of my daughters at church Sunday morning, followed by being taken out for lunch. We continued to have a fun afternoon, watching movies and just being silly. It was a day filled with much laughter and love. My youngest baked me a chocolate cake from scratch! The day ended at the movie theater, watching the newest action flick of the summer. I felt happy and blessed.

This Mother’s Day I had my youngest two at my side as we headed off for Sunday worship and once again I was blessed to be singing with my daughter, this time her younger sister would join us. As I thought about what to sing, I thought about all that this past year has entailed for me, for us as a family. So, even though we sang it last year; I chose to sing the song “Blessings” by Laura Story again with my girls. It just seemed very fitting, this last year has certainly brought more pain and tears if you only look at the earthly aspects of this thing we call our life. Yet, for me, for my family–we know the blessings that can come from the trials and pain that God allows to come our way. (Let us not forget about His faithful servant Job). He is most certainly our comfort in the storm. In this past year, we experienced one of the worst storms we have had to face as a family to date.

518,400 minutes ago, on this day my phone would ring and after an initial familiar voice would start the conversation, a stranger would give me the terrible news. There had been an accident, it should have been fatal, but my daughter was doing well. They had been able to remove her from the wreckage and were proceeding to take her to the nearest trauma center.

Conscious. Broken bones.

The words still seem so fresh, so real as if they are being spoke again, right now in this moment. My son was still home, which I am forever thankful for. I doubt he will ever really know how much his presence in those early hours, days meant to me… how much he helped hold me together. I called one of my “moms” from our church family, to fill her in on what had occurred and to start the mighty power of prayer. As we drove the hour to where they were taking my daughter, an officer would call with additional information.

Fatal accident. Miracle.

I could smile through my tears as he said the later. Yes, through my silent tears I could smile; because my God is in the business of miracles. In those earliest days, I would share with others that I believed without a doubt that God must have big plans for my girl.

We would arrive at the hospital literally just behind the surgeon. As I glanced past my daughter to the corner where the docs and nurses were looking at her Xray, even an untrained eye would know it was bad. She would have surgery that night and our journey would begin. 518,400 minutes ago I nearly lost of of my children. Yet God, had other plans for her, for us as a family and we look on this moment, so many minutes ago as a way to show others who He is and how He can not only heal, but protect in the most awful of situations.

This Mother’s Day morning as we prepared to sing, my mamma’s heart was smiling as we lifted our voices, right here in the kitchen, praising Him. Thanking Him for all He has done in our lives this past year. We headed off to church (still singing in the car) and the girls waited for me to be done rehearsing with Worship Team before we did a mic check and sang through our song one last time. Then came the time for the girls to join me at the front of the church. I had decided to not share any words with our congregation as I was worried I would get too emotional and then not be able to sing at all.

We started singing, and after the first time through the chorus, as my daughters were singing the second verse, I could hear Kayleigh’s voice trailing off. I glanced over and watched as she swept away a tear or two. Then as they continued a bit further, she was just overcome with the emotion of it all. I pulled her to me and as she wept on my shoulder I sang with my younger daughter… praising Him, thanking Him because I indeed had a daughter to hold. By the final chorus she had joined us once again and our voices filled the sanctuary of our church with our simple act of praise.

What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?

518,400 minutes ago we were allowed to experience this particular trial. It was in the midst of this storm, through every difficult moment, every hard night… we were also allowed to experience mercy, His Mercy, His Grace–His Presence in the midst of what seemed nearly impossible to bear. 518,400 minutes ago God gave us the opportunity to be His light, to share who He is. To be a living, breathing example of thankfulness and love.

rain-down__

Romans 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God is Good – All the Time.

Until the next moment-