For When You Lose it With Your Kids

IMG_2068Let me be honest, this is one blog post I don’t want to write. It’s embarrassing and shameful and full of regret over something I did this week.

If you had been at Michael’s this Wednesday around 11:30 am you might have seen a mom in aisle seven losing it with her kids…and I’m sad to say that mom was me.

I’ve written of this before, the ever-obvious fact that I am not a perfect mom. But this time…Yikes! This time I even surprised myself with how quickly I went from feeling fine and dandy to last-straw-losing it with my six-year-old.

The matter that caused my erupting anger to spew like wild lava wasn’t even her fault. I knew it wasn’t her fault. It was an accident. It was one of those annoying inconveniences that come with motherhood, with six-year-olds, with things that can’t be helped. (I’ll avoid details but I will say it was messy, time consuming, and soooo NOT what I needed at that moment.)

I knew all of this, but what did I do? Did I extend grace to the child? Did I treat the child the way I would want to be treated. No, not even close.

I yelled. I pushed. I shamed.

I spat out punishment. I seethed anger. I piled blame on innocence.

When I replay the situation in my mind and remember what I said, what I did, how I reacted, my heart breaks. It breaks for the broken mom I am, and it breaks for the broken child left standing in my wake.

The anger, I wonder? Why such anger? Because the anger, in the moment, is what feels good, feels right. It’s the release, the instant gratification, for feelings so hard to control.

But the anger, it’s the coward’s way. It’s for the weak, never the strong.

 The strong, the brave know that anger, apart from righteous anger, is never good and never right. And while it may yield instant release, it lingers forever in wounds that ache and rarely heal.

The strong, the brave, they know that though it may be hard, the feelings they can be controlled. They know we have helpers, they know we have allies. A Holy Spirit to help us see. A Savior to offer a different path. A Father always ready with grace for the moment, with mercy for the coward.

And this mama needs her allies. I need to see the miracle that is the child. To choose the path that turns toward love. To accept the grace and fill on mercy so grace and mercy overflow.

And my child? My child knows grace and mercy far better than I, for when my anger cooled and my heart ached to say I was wrong, to say “I’m sorry, dear girl. Can you ever forgive me?” her little arms hugged my neck. Her toothless smile spread wide. And her precious voice whispered, “Yes, mommy. I love you.”

There are no perfect moms. There are no perfect children. But there is perfect grace.

Perfect grace that helps the broken, cowardly mom come to her senses and ask for forgiveness.

Perfect grace that flows freely from the mouth of innocent babes.

Allied grace that performs a crimson stain clean-up on aisle seven.

And somehow lets this losing-it mama gain everything in return. 

 

Today Was A Fairy Tale

 

IMG_2116Once upon a time there was a princess and her King Papa…

 “One splendid sunshiny day, about an hour after noon, Irene, who was playing on a lawn in the garden, heard the distant blast of a bugle. She jumped up with a cry of joy, for she knew by that particular blast that her father was on his way to see her. This part of the garden lay on the slope of the hill and allowed a full view of the country below. So she shaded her eyes with her hand and looked far away to catch the first glimpse of shining armor. In a few moments a little troop came glittering round the shoulder of a hill. Spears and helmets were sparkling and gleaming, banners were flying, horses prancing, and again came the bugle-blast which was to her like the voice of her father calling across the distance: ‘Irene, I’m coming.’ On and on they came until she could clearly distinguish the king. He rode a white horse and was taller than any of the men with him. He wore a narrow circle of gold set with jewels around his helmet, and as he came still nearer Irene could discern the flashing of the stones in the sun. It was a long time since he had been to see her, and her little heart beat faster and faster as the shining troop approached, for she loved her king-papa very dearly and was nowhere so happy as in his arms. When they reached a certain point, after which she could see them no more from the garden, she ran to the gate, and there stood till up they came clanging and stamping with one more bright bugle-blast which said: ‘Irene, I am come.’

By this time the people of the house were all gathered at the gate, but Irene stood alone in front of them. When the horsemen pulled up she ran to the side of the white horse and held up he arms. The king stooped and took her hands. In an instant she was on the saddle and clasped in his great strong arms. I wish I could describe the king so that you could see him in your mind. He had gentle blue eyes, but a nose that made him look like an eagle. A long dark beard, streaked with silvery lines, flowed from his mouth almost to his waist, and as Irene sat on the saddle and hid her glad face upon his bosom it mingled with the golden hair which her mother had given her, and the two together were like a cloud with streaks of the sun woven through it. After he had held her to his heart for a minute he spoke to his white horse, and the great beautiful creature, walked as gently as a lady — for he knew he had a little lady on his back — through the gate and up to the door of the house. Then the king set her on the ground and, dismounting, took her hand and walked with her into the great hall, which was hardly ever entered except when he came to see his little princess.” (From The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald)

 

When I was a little girl my daddy traveled a lot for work. But when he came home, always with kisses, always with hugs, I felt a delight like none other. My king-papa had come.

When first I read this passage from The Princess and the Goblin these childhood memories came to mind, but what also came to mind was a picture of the father-daughter relationship I share with God.

I know Father’s Day can be hard. As I type this post I can think of three close friends who have recently lost their dads. I also know friends who grew up without a dad and those who struggle beneath the burden of a strained and broken relationship with a dad who was supposed to love them, a dad who was supposed to be so much more.

My heart breaks for the hearts that break whenever Father’s Day rolls around, and while I can’t relate from a level of personal experience, perhaps I can offer some hope.

We all, like Princess Irene, have a King-Papa who longs to pull us close, who longs to come for us, who longs to fill and heal the gap left by death, destruction, and broken relationships.

As the princess delighted in her papa, so we can delight in Him. Because He loves us. Oh, how He loves us.

Brave Prince, Lovely Princess, may you wake up this day to the fairytale found in God, your King-Papa. In the pain and brokenness of this world’s relationships may you know His fatherly love and find yourself clasped in His great strong arms.

For the Weak, the Weary, the Fragile

Frustrated FourI wrote a blog this week. It was full of hope and reminders of God’s faithful promises. I wrote it from a place of strength and confidence at the start of what I knew was sure to be a tough week. 

But the week that was harder than I imagined, and now my heart feels anything but strong and confident. Rather, I feel weak and vulnerable and incredibly fragile. 

I’m in a pit. A deep, dark pit. No one knows. My family, I’m sure, can sense that I’m not myself, that something’s not quite right, but they have no idea how much I’m struggling.

On the outside the struggle is simple. My mom is recovering from surgery and the care of the household is riding on my shoulders. I’m struggling with dishes, and laundry, and meals for the seven people that fill up this house. I’m struggling to keep up with homeschooling and writing, while being a gentle and patient mom and wife.

But there’s also this inward struggle. I’m desperate for time to write. For time to tap out more than a blog on my phone while nursing Belle.

I keep going to God. I pray, I read, I pray I read, searching for comfort, searching for help but He seems far away and mad at me.

He knows I’m a horrible daughter.

He knows I’m neglecting my kids, my husband, and Him.

He knows if I’d just get up earlier or go to bed later I’d have the time I need to write.

Why do I keep coming to Him with these failings and excuses? With these out of control emotions when the answers are so simple? 

He knows I should be thankful, aware of all He’s giving.

But this isn’t Him, this isn’t His voice. It’s the voice that’s out to get me. Out to keep me in the pit.

Life is hard right now. It’s far from ideal, and as John Eldredge writes in his book, Desire, “I must have life. I cannot arrange for it.”

Circumstances have created a challenge, a hurdle, and if I’m not careful, if I’m not vigilant in this fight for joy, this battle for my heart, I will get taken out. 

Throughout this awful week I’ve been under attack and I didn’t even realize it, I didn’t know. The enemy disguised his voice and tricked me so well. I thought it was me, I thought it was God.

Sometimes it’s not the storm but the spiritual battle within the storm that lands us in the pit. And sometimes realizing you’re in a battle is the weapon you need to stand up and fight.

The life I desire, the life I need, can only be given by God. At times like these, as I wait on Him, I have to understand how vulnerable I am, how much I need His protection. 

Why wouldn’t the enemy capitalize on the situation I’m in? On the vulnerable place in my heart? It’s the perfect set up for victory. His arrows almost got me but I see them for what they are.

I’m not crazy.

I’m not a bad daughter.

I do need sleep.

I’m doing what I can to turn to my Savior, to find time in my day to write.

I’m trying my best to be thankful.

At the end of my week, at the end of my rope, God gave me clarity, He gave me strength. He met me in my heart and gave me what I needed to live outside the pit. 

I have no idea when I’ll be able to write but God knows what I need, He knows my heart, and I know He’ll make a way.

With joy and peace and His magnificent armor around me I’ll be okay. I’ll be more than okay. I’ll be protected, provided for, loved.

My God is the God of Angel Armies. He has my back.

And I have Him.