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It has been a busy season of life, to say the least. Between kiddos, husband, family, work, worship, church groups, songwriting, and trying to do all of that while keeping the house from looking like a disaster area, I am little tired. Okay, really tired.

I used to never take naps because I knew that if I napped, I wouldn’t sleep that night. The other day, I took two long naps and STILL slept like a baby that night. Now THAT is what I call a sabbath. It was bliss. But it showed me just how tired I really am.

In the midst of the busyness of life, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. I find myself a little shorter on patience, a little quicker to get upset, a little less “graceful” than I fancy myself to be. I was getting frustrated and upset at who I saw myself becoming. And of course, that little crack in the door meant the enemy came sneaking in with thoughts like this:

You’re not a very good mother.

You’re not cut out for all of this.

God is not honored by all of this.

God is disappointed in your choices.

He’s good at his job, that one. He knows exactly what to say to push my buttons and make me feel like a failure at something I’m already in the midst of accomplishing. He is really good at finding cracks and sticking his toes in them.

I’ve heard it said that “What the enemy cannot prevent, he perverts.”

Truth. He’s not preventing me from doing what the Lord has called me to, so he’s trying his best to pervert it.

Last night I was thinking and praying about all of this. I am only doing things I know the Lord has called me to do. But I’m still tired. I’ve prioritized. I’ve eliminated. I’ve trusted. I’ve obeyed. I’ve prayed. But I’m still tired. What can I do?

And, just like He always does, He led me right to exactly what I needed. I opened the most recent issue of Studio G (the women’s magazine by Gateway Church) and came across an article about mental health and how we need to not only do good things for our bodies, but most importantly our minds. It recommended choosing a few scriptures that speak specifically to things we’re struggling with or wanting to conquer, memorizing them, and focusing on them everyday.

So I did.

The two scriptures the Lord led me to are Psalm 91:9-10 and Psalm 103:1-2. I guess He led me to them because I love David so much. I relate to that guy – a genuine lover of the Lord who just keeps messing up; a guy who cries out to the Lord in genuine angst and always returns to trusting Him despite a lack of understanding. I get that.

So I’m memorizing these scriptures. I’m speaking them over myself. I’m reminding myself that the work of the Lord might be tiring or overwhelming at times, but it’s always worth it. And it’s not ever going to be too much if I’m doing it at His pace, in His Will, and with His guidance.

Onward, I march.

Let all that I am praise the lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. (Psalms 103:1, 2 NLT)

If you make the lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. (Psalms 91:9, 10 NLT)

boldhumility-01

Bold humility. Humble boldness. No matter how you word it, those two words don’t go together. They are counter-intuitive. One should cancel out the other.

To the world, that is.

But I’ve learned something pretty profound about God as I’ve walked with Him – He’s all about surprising us with opposite, counter-intuitive, seemingly impossible thinking.

When we say, “Stay. It’s not going to work,” He says, “Go. I’ve got this.”

When we think it’s crazy, He says it’s His plan.

When the world says, “Your life has to look a certain way,” God says, “Let me show you what real life (joy, peace, grace) looks like.”

I’ve learned this in little lessons all along the way, but never so big or so profound as I have lately. God is trying to get my attention. Scratch that. God IS getting my attention. He has been showing me that following Him, TRULY following Him, means laying aside droves of preconceived notions, false identities, and failed theories. It means having both boldness and humility at the same time. No, not boldness to trust myself – boldness to trust Him. And humility to know that He is worth trusting.

That’s what I’m learning right now. If faith is really going to be faith, it is going to require action – crazy action. It’s going to require defying pre-defined parameters the world has set for us. It’s going to mean getting kicked around by nay-sayers now and then. It’s going to mean questioning yourself. A LOT.

But I’m learning too that faith, following God blindly, at all costs, also means freedom! It also means joy! It also means reckless abandon! It means being liberated from fear. Fear of ourselves, fear of others, fear of failure, fear of fitting in. It means trusting, no KNOWING that God is who He says He is and everything else is just minutiae. It’s fun! I’m learning to love watching the reactions of those around me when I tell them about my life as of late. Some look at me with a blank stare. Others are quick to say, “Oh that’s great, yeah,” in a feeble attempt to hide their discomfort. Others stop and ponder, poising themselves to offer advice. Some of the advice is worth taking. Other advice goes right into the round file…

Whatever the case, I know this one thing for certain: I’m not trusting me anymore, I’m trusting God. I’m going to approach the throne of grace with a smile on my face and say, “God, whatever you want. Lead me. I’m yours.”

Not because I want to prove anything to anyone. Not because I want to fit into a Christian crowd of elites. Not because I think I’m better for doing so. No – because I know that on my own, I’ve tried and failed over and over again. On my own I’ve made up solution after solution for problem after problem – and they have each failed miserably. On my own, I’ve done nothing but make things worse. But with Him, all things are possible. With Him, I can see light again. With Him, I can rest, trust, breathe, for goodness sake!

So I’ll be bold. Bold to trust this God I claim to serve. And humble to kneel at His feet and say that He and He alone is the author and perfecter of my faith.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the lord ’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.
Hebrews 12:1-13

inthewilderness

When you can’t feel God, believe He’s there anyway.
When you can’t see God’s hand, believe it’s there anyway.
When you can’t understand God’s plan, trust it anyway.

That’s faith, friends. It’s easy to see a person of faith and assume they just walk on a bed of roses, perhaps blissfully unaware of the issues around them. It’s easy to look at someone else’s life and say, “Yeah, good for them, but they have no idea what real suffering is. They have no idea how hard my life or situation is.”

But they do.

How do I know? Because they’re human. And the human condition has always been the same. And whether we deal with unexpected illnesses, unexpected deaths, unexpected job losses, unexpected betrayals, or on and on, one thing is true: when it happens to us, it hurts worse than when it happens to someone else.

He may very well be keeping you somewhere you don’t want to be in order to protect you from somewhere else you don’t need to be.

Trust anyway.

That’s it. Trust God when you don’t want to. Read the Bible when you’re mad at Him for not answering you. Pray when you don’t think He’s listening. Do you know why? Because He is. And He cares deeply. And when you’re in a situation that seems impossible, or unredeemable, it’s not. And He may very well be keeping you somewhere you don’t want to be in order to protect you from somewhere else you don’t need to be. Or He may very well be letting you learn a few lessons before you destroy yourself and everyone around you. He knows now. He’ll tell you when you’re ready.

There have been more times than I care to admit that I’ve had to pray anyway, trust anyway, believe anyway. And it has always paid off. Want to know why?

Because I believe in the God who CREATED THE UNIVERSE. No big deal, just the UNIVERSE. And His eye is on the sparrow. How much more so on me?

Wow. God, give me the peace and grace to trust You despite me. That’s all I really need when I face the things that make no sense.

You can have the rest. Give me Jesus.

In Gethsemane the holiest of all petitioners prayed three times that a certain cup might pass from Him. It did not. After that the idea that prayer is recommended to us as a sort of infallible gimmick may be dismissed.” -C.S. Lewis

perception-reality
Before I had children, I knew exactly what kind of parent I was going to be. After my first child, I just knew I was mother of the year. After my second child, I questioned whether or not I should give my children up to be raised by wolves – perhaps they would do better than I.

After my second child, I questioned whether or not I should give my children up to be raised by wolves – perhaps they would do better than I.

I went to the hospital yesterday to visit a friend who just had her first baby. It was a beautiful baby girl and I saw the joy and sparkle of new parenthood in her mother’s eyes. But what I didn’t expect was a mirror image of myself three years ago. There she was, my friend, a new mom, laying in the hospital bed asking me the very same questions I asked myself, my mother, my sisters, my parent-friends when my first child was born.

“She’s nursing every hour but the nurse says she’s supposed to nurse every two to three hours. Is everything ok?”

“She cries all the time. I’m afraid something might be wrong.”

“She’s not latching well. I’m afraid we’re going to have to supplement and I don’t want to.”

I heard my mother’s words in my head: “He’s three days old! Give him a chance to figure it out!” I looked at my friend with a smile and said, “Everything is ok. There’s nothing wrong. You’re both just figuring things out.”

That’s it. We’re all just figuring things out.

I have the privilege of leading a life group for moms at my church. There are new mothers of months-old babies, mothers of teenagers, and everything in between in our group. I love hearing from each of them the joys and challenges they face at every phase of parenthood. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from being around them on a weekly basis, it’s that in every phase, whether young or old, we, as parents, are just figuring things out. There is no handbook. There is no club. I never knew how lonely that could feel until I became a mother myself.

Before I was a mother, I had this idea that all parents are in some sort of unspoken club, the kind where once you’re in, you’re told all the secrets, learn the secret handshake, and get winks and nods from other parents wherever you go. Kind of like the Masons.

Much to my chagrin, there is no such club.

No, in fact it’s quite the opposite. That doctor hands you the baby and then expects you to figure it out. Jerk. No handbook. Not even a pamphlet. Just a smile and a weak, “Congratulations!” He should have said, “Congratulations. You’re about to realize everything you thought you knew means nothing at all. Have fun!”

I will never forget that first day my husband went back to work after our son was born. My parents had been staying with us for a few days, cooking meals, cleaning up, helping us get used to the baby. But, like all good things in life, that came to an abrupt end and there I was, sitting on the couch with a brand new baby in my arms, watching my husband walk out the door and thinking to myself, “What now?”

We’re all just blindly walking around a giant room with our hands out, feeling for the next thing to grab on to that we call our “parenting philosophy.”

I had never felt so alone or scared in my life.

But this particular blog is not to discourage you. This is no, “Welcome to Club Hell. There is no escape.” In fact, this is to let you know that despite how it feels, there really is a club of parents. Despite what it seems, we’re all in the same boat, no matter what age our children are. We’re all just blindly walking around a giant room with our hands out, feeling for the next thing to grab on to that we call our “parenting philosophy.” It’s not always easy. It’s often quite frustrating. But I can assure you, you will figure this phase out. And as soon as you do, the next one will start. My sweet sister even had to remind me of this fact at Thanksgiving. My little “Princess and the Pea” wouldn’t sleep to save her life during the entire holiday. By Thanksgiving night I was ready to run away and tell God I died. I know for sure I gained a few more gray hairs that weekend. I saw them this morning. But as I was sitting outside alone in the cold wondering how I had become such a terrible mother, my sister came out to remind me in a way only she could that it’s ok. None of us has it all figured out. And that doesn’t mean we’re inept parents. It means we’re human. And, as my mother would say, “this too, shall pass.”

So sweet friends with brand new babies, I want to send you my love, my warmest wishes, and my sincerest prayers and tell you that it’s going to be okay. I know, even if you’ve only been a parent for a few days, that you’ve probably already felt overwhelmed and wondered what you’ve gotten yourself into. It’s ok. We’ve all been there. And we’ll all be there again from time to time.

But the blessings of being a parent – the sweet first smiles from your three-month old, the laughs at peek-a-boo, the silly games you play in the car, the first time your toddler tells you he loves you – those are the moments that will fill you up to overflowing. Those are the moments that will get you through the days when your infant screams when you hold her, screams when you put her down, screams when you feed her, screams when you don’t feed her. Those are the moments that will keep you from killing your son when he screams, “I CAN’T WANT THAT!!!” at you for the thousandth time that day. Those are the moments that will never, ever leave your heart and will remind you why God graced you with parenthood to begin with.

So hang in there. Take all the advice you get, put it together and form your own conclusions. Do what works best for you and your babies, not what Dr. Phil says. Or Oprah. Or your favorite parenting blog. So what if you have Disney Junior on longer than the recommended 30 minutes per day? (Thirty minutes? Give me a break!!) So what if you co-sleep? So what if your kid drinks cow’s milk at 9 months old? So what if you don’t immunize? So what if you do? It’s your kid and God gave you something precious that ONLY YOU have for your children – intuition. Use it. Trust Him. And have a glass of wine.

Everything is going to be okay!