Parenting

Strugglebus

Peace and Blessings for all who read these words. They come from a place of deep love and obedience to my Savior Jesus Christ. I pray that God use my life experiences, testimony to give others encouragement and hope. May your ears be able to hear, and your heart willing to receive. 

I’m not sure where to begin. I know I am not alone in what I am currently witnessing and living through with the world, our country, state, and community during the Coronavirus aka COVID-19 quarantine. Each of us has a story. My heart breaks for the people who have lost a loved one, and I have heard that a whole family of 4 succumbed to the deadly virus. Mine is by no means the worst case scenario. I know this simple truth with every fiber of my being, but I am experiencing loss.

This is nothing as I had imagined my life would look right now. Nothing is going in the direction of the plans I had planned, looked forward to, and even paid-for. My youngest child is a senior in high school this year. We moved several hours away from a close-knit small town feel suburb of a large Texas city.  From pre-K through 10th grade my son was part of a school district of only 21 square miles where the students from Jr. High and High school merge and stay together as a class until graduation.

Are you familiar with “Bacon’s Law?”  I am not referring to the pork industry’s delicacy either. Bacon’s Law is the idea that everyone (or movie) is separated by 6 degrees (Kevin Bacon). Anyway, this place where we raised up our kids was at the maximum only 2 degrees of separation, most of the time 1 degree separated each resident. This in and of itself isn’t always the grandest, but it does have its advantages. You know people. People know people and can give you the 411 in a moments notice.

In one month my family of 4 moved in a hurried rush for my husband’s job to a school district that was so very different than the life my son had known. By comparison this new school district is 589 square miles. It is made up of 10 communities and one of the fastest growing school districts of its size. It is easy not to know anyone, we live on acreage and using the high school as the center moving outward students can live 20+ minutes away from school in all directions. Meaning a friend you meet could live 45 minutes away from you and that is traveling on roads where 60mph is the speed limit.

Junior year for my youngest was a whole new way of life, the school made up of very different demographics. It was to say the least a crazy roller coaster of a ride with some incredible highs, and really terrible lows that we have never experienced before and I would say or since, but its worth noting again, we are on shut-down due to Coronavirus. Once we lived through Jr. year, and a decent summer we were all looking forward to settling in and had a positive outlook that his senior year was going to be grand, right?

So much potential was just waiting for the 2019-2020 school year. He was settling in, made a few friends, was being invited to do some things. He had goals, and started crushing them one by one within the first few months! He finally had people over to hang out, watch movies, play guitar and the other various instruments in our house. All seemed swell, then without telling his story, he started making choices that were not good decisions. It started out with some rebellion, and procrastination, and missing deadlines for college applications. I felt like things weren’t quite right, I had suspicions and confronted him on more than one occasion. Right before Christmas break, he wound up in a ton of trouble. I was crushed. I went through so many emotions: grief, anger, sadness, loss. I do not want to give all the details about my son, because I have learned over the years that unless it is my story to tell; don’t tell it.

What I can tell you is that as a mom, I was immediately met with lies from the enemy. I started beating myself up. How did I fail him? What did I do wrong? Why was this happening now? Wasn’t my son destined for great things? Meanwhile, my husband would second guess the move, and verbalize that perhaps we should have stayed and not taken him away from the life and friends he had known for all those years. I could quickly tell my husband not to think like that, and that “the move” wan’t the issue. I knew the blame landed squarely on my son’s shoulders. He owned his choices. At the same time, I was reeling emotionally. In all honesty, if I wasn’t allergic to alcohol or dairy I think I would have drowned my sorrows in either vodka, Blue Bell, or both! I sought professional help through a counselor. I cried my eyeballs out y’all. I was a hot mess on steroids. I have tears now just thinking about how devastated I was during this time. Oh who am I kidding, we are still living with the natural consequences of his actions and it still hurts. We allowed him to fall and suffer the consequences and punishment that was given to him. We did not step in to rescue him in any way. Y’all he fell far, and lost a lot on the way down, that landing was hard and gut wrenching.

One of the first pieces of scripture that I found worth meditating on and repeating on endless loop was, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The more I repeated it, and studied and was still before the Lord, the more I realized

train up a childI was obedient in raising up my son with truth from the moment he came home from the hospital. He has been taught and knows where to find truth. What I also had to realize is that there is typically a lot of life that happens between the child you train up, and when he is “old.” What happens during the in between time of life? I have concluded that we must each find our own way.  

Our Christmas was not one I will want to replay and remember. We hosted extended family and made the best of things, without uttering a word to the extent of our son’s circumstances. They did know he was in trouble, but that is all they knew. During the Christmas break, my boy got a job and it was a good thing. Since he was grounded, going to work and school was what he was allowed to do. He has great skills, is super smart, he was well admired on the job, and was recognized and given good feedback from employer, customers, and even his parents! Life started looking up, grades improved, he was allowed to start being social with his friends again. Trust was being formed slowly and surely. The end of school was going to be such an improvement from the first semester. The calendar was filled with all sorts of great exciting memory making events. He has never been to a school dance, and he and a group were planning prom. There was senior trip with the school to New York. We were looking forward to banquet, performances, on-location less formal senior pictures, graduation, parties, celebrations including a big cruise with a childhood friend.

Spring Break was going to be low-key and working to save up some money, but enjoyable because he didn’t have school. Who knew Friday, March 6th would be the last day on campus of his high school career? The last day he would be in class with other classmates for his senior year.  The reality is that seniors class of 2020 are not going back. They won’t get it back, EVER! No prom, no photos of all those milestones and special last performances and events. It isn’t a loss for them alone.  As a mom and certainly as a empath extraordinaire I am riding the struggle-bus right now.  In my efforts to make light of a difficult situation, I have suggested taking those funny pictures of cap and gown with mask and toilet paper. That is a hard, “NO” from my boy and it is absolutely not happening. He is refusing to take any photos at all. His hair is long (everything is closed remember) and, his 18 year old face sprouts hairs all over the place, he no longer has a job as he no longer felt comfortable being exposed, or perhaps part of the problem that could infect someone more vulnerable. Right now, if you were to ask him, he would say life is good. He is on his own sleep schedule, stays up all night playing video games, and has very little responsibility, and the work for a full week of studies can be crammed into a few hours of, “I do my best work under pressure.” These are really bad habits to be taking on before you go off to college.

Confession time: I am reminded as I write this that I used to laugh a bit at overly emotional mommas as their babies live through their last high school moments, or sobbing when they drop them off at college. I was like, “Woo-Hoo! Bring it on! I’m so excited!” Not anymore, I am right there with them, maybe for different reasons this year. I grieve the loss of the things my son misses, that I miss watching him get to experience. I will hoot and holler if and when he gets to move onto a college campus and be social again. I want this for him. Life is for the living.

I get a little side tracked, pardon me and lets circle back around. Live in the moment. I am reminded day after day to rely on God. I turn to Him. I trust Him. I know He alone is sovereign. I will continue to pray that whatever is happening during this time, whatever has happened to this point, or the challenges my son faces and the poor choices he will make along his journey will end in victory. Yes, I know he will continue to mess up because we are ALL human. He doesn’t have to conform to my ideology, but he will answer to God Almighty. Each of us will. I have turned him over in prayer to my Savior Jesus. I know what a mighty work the Lord has done in me and for my husband individually, and as a couple, that I have full hope that Jesus will be victorious in bringing about true salvation and a testimony through my son. Usher in Jeremiah 31:16, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded’ declares the LORD. ‘They will return from the land of the enemy.'” I am going to hold onto this scripture and pray expectantly that the JOY of my prodigal son returning will be so sweet. I may not even be alive to see it happen, but I do no good and I am of no use wallowing in sorrow and depression, especially for things I can not change. I will get up, and not let the enemy steal my joy from me. I will live my life as a living sacrifice, sweetly broken by allowing light to penetrate the darkness. In saying that I have had the Holy Spirit nudge me towards sharing my struggle as a mom by returning to blog my story.

Right or wrong, something else hit me along the way of dealing with the huge setback and punishment/consequences of my son’s actions this school year. I was so glad I wasn’t back in the small town community. As much as I missed it for many many reasons, I don’t think I could have withstood the judgement of so many. Maybe I was just too fearful because I myself had previously been critical of others. The speck in the eye vs. log situation. see Matthew 7:1-5

What have I learned through all of this? God has revealed the judgment that I have incorrectly held when learning of the poor choices of someone elses child, or spouse, or whomever. Another person’s behavior is NOT the fault of anyone else other than the one who made the choice for themselves. I have asked God, “why did I turn out the way I did when I wasn’t brought up in a God fearing home?” My parents weren’t just lucky, as I don’t believe in luck. I don’t know if I have a real answer to that question, but here is what I do know. I know that I am chosen. I am forgiven. I am known, and can not be snatched from His hand. He knows my name. He will never forsake or abandon me. He knit me together in my mother’s womb. I am not a mistake. I am worthy. He calls me His.

Moreover, He is in control and I am not! Let me repeat that for the people in the back, God is in control, and I am not.

I also know all those things above are promises for my son. My son is known. He was knit together in my womb. God chose me to be his mother. He is a blessing, even when I feel like pulling all my hair out and the real reason it is turning gray. God will pursue my son. Jesus offers a free gift; one with great reward of forgiveness and freedom, but the gift must be opened to be received. I can’t rescue my son, only Jesus.

Finally, I know that the promises that I hold dear and often times must remind myself of, are also true for you! God knows you. He created you for a purpose. You are a blessing. He calls you to Himself.  He has made a way through his son Jesus and his perfect sacrifice on the cross. His blood washes you clean as snow. Don’t be fooled by the negative talk the enemy likes to whisper to you; things like “salvation isn’t for you”, “your sin is too great,” or “you are of no worth.” These negative thoughts are lies Satan loves to plague you with and are so far from the truth. Friend, believe me when I say there is no condemnation in Christ! Lean in and learn to trust our Heavenly Father, that loves us so much “He sent his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

Prayer

Finding My Voice (conclusion)

You can read Finding My Voice by clicking on the title link just provided. However, this post should be able to stand alone in its truth.

As I was preparing for what I was to share with the ladies of the first Be Still study, I went back to one of my earliest journals that I kept. My October 2, 2014 entry was written while at a 72 hour intensive women’s retreat. I read directly from it, and since it is a “prayer journal,” I asked the women gathered to please close their eyes as I read the words unedited from my journal. As I began, I asked these sweet sisters to listen carefully, and try to identify how God surely heard my words and has undoubtedly answered my requests.

Lord, Thank you for this time. I love spending time with you in silence, in the stillness. Despite my loud personality and at times non-stop mouth, my love, desire and need for time in the quiet with you and in prayer are what I yearn for the most. Better than glitz, glamor, and the like; You are my provider. You are the only thing that satisfies. You are the lover of my soul. I am Your precious child, and Your design.

How many times have I missed this? The business of busy-ness. I ask you now Lord to keep my focus on You. Drain myself of me! Instead, fill me with You, and You alone. Let me replace all my opinions of myself with the opinions, love, and adjectives You have for me. Surround me, embrace me with Your holiness, and righteousness.

For all the ladies here and for myself also, speak Your word and truth into our hearts. I no longer pray with my eyes closed, but rather with pen in hand. Let me be an instrument to be used by You Lord. Show me opportunities to share my love and faith in You.

I closed with this prepared prayer. “Oh Heavenly Father, thank you for letting me share and remember this prayer from over 4 years ago. Nothing is a surprise to You. You are here Lord, and you are in this place. Thank you for each woman here today. May each of them know they have been prayed for by many prayer warriors sitting in this room, and elsewhere. There is power in prayer! We have no doubt that You have hand selected this study for each one of us to be part of, and we are using this time of learning how to surrender all unto You. I pray each one of us can leave here encouraged to live out Psalm 46:10. May we humble ourselves, be deliberate and obedient to practice being still so that we can know the Great I AM. Take us deeper in our faith. Thank you for giving me a voice to make your name great. You deserve all our praise. You know everything about us, and love us STILL. You are our Mighty Counselor.”
In Jesus Name, Amen

For those of you readers old enough to remember Andy Rooney and his famous way of bringing us The rest of the story, I want to share with you a little God wink that the majority of those ladies were not aware of. The women’s director had let each one of us on the writing team have freedom in what and how we presented out little speech to address the women in attendance. She and another church staff would deliver the bigger teaching points for each week. We did not meet beforehand to discuss exactly what each of us were going to share to make a seamless flow. But you know what? God did! That week the ladies got to hear my testimony. I had talked about seeking help with a counselor, and later in the hour information was given on who to contact for counseling and other needs. It was like my testimony was a volleyball set for God to drive His point home about using the community of believers to help each other out along our journey. I don’t know if I adequately described how exciting and goose-bump giving this was for us; but it was not by coincidence, nor by chance. God orchestrated the timing and it was perfect. We knew at that moment along with many others along the way, we were operating in His will and obedient to His direction. We were serving as His vessels.

Today take time to ask the Lord to open your spiritual eyes, and be willing to go and do what He has planned for you. Remember, you are chosen, and you are His. You have been called out of the darkness, and into His glorious light! You have a voice. Carve out time to meet with Him to find what He wants you to share, and then don’t keep it to yourself. You matter to Him. You matter to others that need to hear your struggle and the victory you have found in Jesus. 

 

Armor of God

The Belt of Truth

You are on my mind today as I sit down to share my reflections on the second week of Shirer’s study The Armor of God. One of my favorite apps on my phone is the Webster’s dictionary. I have learned through the years not to gloss 30dayseph6day22truthover words. Shirer writes truth is God’s opinion on any matter, the ultimate standard. My app’s first definition is as follows: the real facts about something; the things that are true. However, the third definition offered is that truth is a statement or idea that is true or accepted as true. Read over that last definition again slowly. Do you see it? Those last words, an idea that is “accepted as true.” That is not good enough for God. I pray that you humbly submit yourself and give the Holy Spirit reign in your heart, mind, and soul. Father, shine Your light of truth and expose any dark places where we have accepted a lie as truth. I pray that those reading these words be reconciled to you, and for their hearts to be softened and ready to receive your training in righteousness.

I was raised in a non-Christian fairly liberal home, by divorced parents. Born in 1970 maybe it was the culture of the times, but I see the same attitudes and ideologies everywhere today. Have you spent any time contemplating and identifying cultural perceptions (beliefs that do not line up with scripture)? These ideas are so pervasive and so accepted, it requires diligence and a keen awareness to decipher at times. For example, I had just seen a cute little wood plaque for sale that had these words beautifully painted, “Follow your heart wherever it may lead.” Sounds great, right? I could almost hear my mom or dad giving me this advice for life. However, something stirred within me that caused me to pause. That something is the Holy Spirit. Here is what girding my loins with truth does inside my 3 pound finite brain. Shirer used the example of the TSA’s authenticating light, God’s word is the light of truth. His words that were quickly brought to my mind were, “the heart is deceitful” (Jeremiah 17:9). TRUTH – “The heart is deceitful” did not align with the thoughts displayed on the plaque. This idea stays on my mind, and I continue to wrestle with the validity of its words. So later I follow up with more truth by taking the time to look up scripture and find in Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” I don’t need to expand upon all the ways following your heart can lead to sin, and destruction. Finally, I surrender and submit myself to God’s lesson and praise him for not allowing me to buy the pretty to be displayed in my home.

O Brother or Sister in Christ, do not be quick to follow your feelings. They are fleeting, they change. If you are thinking the above example is insignificant, I’m here to tell you that is exactly what Satan wants. He has been working endlessly to desensitize your thinking, to paint a pretty little lie as a trap set just for you. Be on alert, bring everything to the throne. I pray that God becomes your filter and lens and you rely solely on real truth which is God’s standard, the Holy Scriptures. I pray that you gird your loins with a modern day Spanx; let it squeeze out the imperfections, smooth your thoughts to align with God. With your loins secure, may you walk more upright, become aware of your enemy, and ready to tuck in your tunic for action to maneuver and avoid the enemies pitfalls. I pray that you take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) I challenge you to make every effort to learn to inject God’s truth to your own daily prayer life. O Father, open their spiritual eyes and allow my brothers and sisters to see the importance of the belt of truth.