Promises of God: Sleep

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. Psalm 4:8, NLT

I wrote my very first blog post in August of 2013. The last paragraph ending with this desire:

My transparency may not only be God’s way of helping me be honest with myself and others, but His way of letting someone else know that they are not alone. It could be His way of letting a weary, frazzled mother who thinks everyone else has it all together, be reminded: “See, my child, she is just like you.”

Our son, Hunter, had been diagnosed at 18 months old with high functioning autism. Prior to this diagnosis he was struggling to walk, struggling to talk, and struggling to function with his day to day emotions. To the outsider he looked “normal.” He rarely broke a rule. Threw a tantrum (against the rules), or did anything considered “atypical.” He saved all of that for home. And he rarely slept. He had a very LONG bedtime routine. And night terrors often woke him.

I started this blog as a way to get my thoughts together. About how I felt alone as a mom. About how I felt like no one believed me when I said he was autistic. Because they expected a “look.” Or because he was “fine for me.” Or because no one just got it, really.

I spent the hours at 3am writing. Instead of laying in bed thinking about things I couldn’t fix.

Hunter has always been a creature of sleep routines. From the time he was brought home he had unique and very intricate sleep patterns and routines. He would not sleep alone. Due to being laid with Mommy shortly after birth, he was a chest napping, and therefore a chest sleeping baby for about the first 3 weeks of life. My husband and I took turns on our couch, just ensuring he slept until his next feeding. And he slept. Soundly. As long as he was nestled heartbeat to heartbeat.

When he moved to his crib. Yep. Not easy. We had to purchase a special bear just so he would stay there. So used to the sound of heartbeats he had to go to sleep with this rhythm.

Until we discovered, he also had to hold onto something. This is where his beloved stuffed “puppy” comes in. He has not for one night, NOT slept without “puppy.” Let’s NOT even speak that into existence at this point. I don’t care if he IS a teen. Let him have that “puppy.”That “puppy” deserves to be bronzed. Well, not like an idol. If you know a “puppy” of this sort…you know what I mean.

Until sleep routines began to consist of back rubs until he fell asleep. That moved to figuring out math problems that left Hunter in fits of anxiety prior to bed. And his back rubs, consisted of whispered prayers that God would just fix this.

Until health scares turned to nights in the big bed to make sure everyone was ok. And more prayers. That He would just take these anxious thoughts away. Give Him peace. Some relief. Comfort. Someone to comfort Him while he was at school.

He still struggles with some anxiety, but I would not dare challenge that boy to a math contest. You are even more doomed if you dare to battle him at history. And He is often now the one who comforts. It took a lot of prayer, and yes…therapy; even a pandemic and extended time at home with no health scares for this to occur. But God works in mysterious ways.

His sleep problems seem to have ceased for now, though he still wakes when thunder booms. Now, mommy in her middle age struggles once again with the 3am wake-up call. This time it’s not because of that still small child. It’s likely my own anxious thoughts. Older age. God. Sometimes I answer, and I’ll still get up and write like I did when I started this journey way back when. But usually, I utter a simple prayer:

Lord, if you want me to get up; if there is something I need to talk out with you at this very moment you will let me know and I’ll get up. But, if this can wait until we have our time in the morning, please gently nudge me back to sleep.

And He tells me. Usually within 5 min I know. Sometimes I remember right away that I forgot to set my 5am alarm. My reminder I need to spend my morning quiet time with him, and I can get right back to sleep. Other times, I find myself still tossing and turning, and grabbing my 3am journal and heading down stairs.

Look, it may seem silly. But for 13 years we have been the keepers of “slumber.” I know He provides rest after a long day, and He promises that “You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly.” (Proverbs 3:24). And He has proven this to be the case so many times in these years.

Have there been nights when sleep has not come? Of course. Some of those nights were filled with trials, and some of those nights were filled with tossing and turning of my own making because I simply didn’t call on God.

Know on those sleepless nights filled with trials, He is there watching your back, too; keeping you safe and gently guiding you to peaceful slumber. You are not alone.

Even at 3am.

Giving me a “right” hand

We had put it off for a while. The dentist. The youngest needed a mouth full of work, and with anxiety and sensory needs that kept him from even liking to have his teeth cleaned…we had put it off for months. But we had prepared him for this day. Explained what would occur, how he would feel before. That he would sleep during. Wouldn’t feel a thing.

Of course, as a mom-I was the one having all the feels. As he received the first anesthetic that put him to sleep in the waiting room. As he laid his head onto my right shoulder, and uttered he felt “weird.” As he dozed off. As the dentist and anesthesiologist carried him off to the back, I sat with his mask and glasses beside me. Held them in my right hand and held back tears.

Wishing I could hold his hand in that room. Knowing I had to wait here, but there was someone else with him back there.

As I sat in that waiting room waiting for updates. To be given the OK to go back and be “mom” again, I thought about my own experience on his side. In rooms with anesthesia needles. Only doctors and nurses I didn’t know there to hold my hand.

I had recently had surgery of my own. Not my first experience like his, but an experience nonetheless. A fall on my wrist was the reason. Now, I am right-handed. And while I don’t know the suffering of losing a limb, I know the ordeal of having to learn to use your fingers, your grip, and your dominant hand in the way you once did. While I had a left hand to help do some of the things my dominant right hand couldn’t do, my left hand couldn’t write. It couldn’t type. It couldn’t do the things that had been so easy before. Like pick up anesthesia weary kids and carry them to waiting surgery beds. This right hand…it wasn’t the same.

I also hate feeling helpless, so needing help turning door knobs, or picking up a plate got old, and I was determined to get my strength back.

But…here’s the thing-He was with me just as He was with my wee one. In those rooms, and through that period of healing. Because He is the one who is always beside us giving His “right” hand.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

And again in Psalm 18:35, we are reminded again: Your right hand supports me;
your help has made me great
.

And what is the significance of being provided God’s “right” hand? There are over 130 references in the Bible to the right hand, so surely there must be a significant reason for this. In many references are made to God’s strength. His help. His victory. Something I needed when I lost the use of my “right” hand. Something I often feel I have nothing left of when it comes to being a mom.

And I know I am not the only one. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. You will have seasons when things seem easy. And then a roadblock comes along and the road becomes long and hard again. You wonder if you have what it takes, or if you are just messing your kids up. Or maybe they are messing you up. You really can’t tell anymore.

Why the right hand? Why didn’t God choose the left? Think about it-the right hand of God? It denotes a location of honor, and according to Matthew Henry’s Commentary, when thinking about the reference to the “right hand” in the passage above, Isaiah 41:10-the Israelites were God’s honored people, His chosen. The reference to God’s right hand was meant to provide encouragement to them. That they would not be abandoned, be left discouraged. That he would strengthen them, help them, not allow them to break, and prevent them from falling too hard.

You know who else is honored? Moms. Anyone who is “like a mom.” Or who cares for others.

And so He will do the same for you.

Give you his “right” hand.

So that when your wee one, reaches for yours when he is fresh out of anesthesia and flipping out, you are there to give it-oh so gently, while you rub his soft, long curls with your left one.

When you get home, look down at that hand, the one with little strength to pick up anything, you scoop that wee one up into your arms anyway, because he is yours. Like you are His. Knowing you won’t leave him, like He hasn’t left you. You will stay by his side through this fight that he doesn’t get, just like He stayed by you.

Like He has so many times before. By your “right” side fighting for you. As you fought for him. For so many. You. You honored one. You. You chosen one. You who may be weak and broken. Fallen down for a time. Without the strength of your hand, but never without your constant “right” hand.

To be known

I walked in the room, knowing I needed to apologize. Dinner in our home is definitely a time of interesting, and fiery conversation. The fiery ones center mostly on the state of virtual school. On any given night, one parent ends up being the bad cop, the good cop, or we both end up just being lame. Tonight, it was me.

I wasn’t “bad.” I hadn’t yelled. We hadn’t had the dreaded school discussion that ends in stomping to rooms, but I hadn’t set a “good” example. Not one sprinkled with grace and acceptance.

I had mocked someone we knew at the dinner table. Judged a situation, and judged the person in the situation.

And any of you who haven’t committed this sin, be the first to cast a stone. I’ll wait.

While I wait…and wait, I’ll explain my apology. If I feel my example has not been one of Christlike-ness; or let’s just say, if I KNOW, because the Spirit tells me it hasn’t, I will apologize. This means I will also apologize to my kids.

Now, I know some don’t believe in this. But, the Bible is clear about how humble we must become to enter His kingdom:

Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:3, NLT

Like children. So I’m not above apologizing to a child. Especially if I know that one is watching and learning from me.

“I shouldn’t have said what I did tonight. Made fun of what happened. It was wrong. I am not going to justify my behavior. I should have explained my thoughts differently. It was wrong. I didn’t set an example, and it wasn’t kind.”

The apology opened up a conversation about authenticity and belonging.

See…I had left a space earlier that day feeling shunned and unwelcome. Like I was an intrusion. And I let it fester all day. To the point that I let the inauthentic response of another trigger me into anger, and a mean-spirited response.

When I should have explained at dinner the importance of making others feel comfortable in all spaces. Allow others to be free to be themselves, so they don’t have to constantly “shape-shift,” and be less than themselves. To be inclusive to all. To make others feel a little less self-conscious, but rather accepted, seen, loved, and known.

“I don’t want you to be 42 years old, and just figuring this out like I am.”

As I sat typing out the words to this post, I reached for my phone to locate a verse I needed and found this…a note I had typed out in my phone over a year ago. A short “letter” I had written to the younger me.

Dear Younger me,

Choose your circle wisely. You should be loved by your peeps for who you are, not for who you pretend to be. If you have to change who you were made to be to fit into a space, that isn’t your space.

And as I read it, I realized…though she thought it “cringy…” I had just said these exact same words, without my even knowing to a pretty spot-on, younger version of 13 year-old me.

And no…I didn’t want her to have to figure all this out in another 30 years.

And goodness, I am still trying to figure out many days who it is that God sees in me.

Because that is what I want her to see: who God sees. Not what anyone in any room she may walk into may see. Because more often than not…they may not see ALL that God has given her. ALL her talent. ALL her gifts. ALL that makes her so uniquely special, and set apart.

And it’s the same for you. There will be rooms you walk into where you may be known by name, but in which people still just don’t see you. You still don’t feel known. You will move in circles with people who don’t know who you really are, because you feel as if you have to cover up the real you. Play pretend. You may waste years and years trying to fit into spaces that will just never “fit” you, and who you are.

Know this. Embrace it today.

You are always seen and intimately known by God. He knows everything about you, and He still loves you. He has a place for you, and you never have to pretend, cover up; nor will you feel all alone.

He sees the real you. The broken you. The insecure you. The too loud you. The shy you. The you trying to fit into spaces that make you cringe.

He knows your name. He sees you. He loves you. He accepts you. You are known. You belong.

A friend to the lonely

“I don’t want to go to school! I.Dont.Want.To!”

This wasn’t a cry I hadn’t heard before from this child. In fact, it’s often uttered daily. He doesn’t want to get dressed. He mumbles and grumbles many days all the way through the morning routine.

But this cry was different.

It was a gut-wrenching cry that woke this little one from sleep.

“I can’t make it! I can’t do it all day. I can’t!”

And why couldn’t he? Because his friend on the bus was mean; and Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s were the only days he didn’t play alone at recess.

Daily I am the one folks come to for answers to these type of school woes. But today? I had nothing.

Nothing to calm his anxious spirit. Nothing to convince him to go to school. No solution for the loneliness he felt on that playground.

Sure. I could provide the reassurance that God was most certainly with him at recess, but he knew this already. And while it is nice to know that God sits with us, it is also no secret that a 10 year old, 5th grade boy also desires that someone else will sit with him in his lonely places. To invite him to play. To help him not feel left out or different. Especially when he can’t play basketball or football.

All my little guy wanted was someone to play tag with him. To understand that his clumsy, little legs…they just couldn’t do sports.

And it’s what I wanted for him, too.

Today? If your heart is breaking for your lonely child? It’s what I want for you and yours, also.

Today, I pray that God is not only with your lonely and hurting child, but that He sends someone.

He sends someone who sees their own brother or sister sitting alone, and invites them to be their “friend” for the day (Proverbs 18:24). That someone will go outside their circle, show hospitality, and make yours feel like an “insider” (Hebrews 13).

Ask a lonely soul to play.

Tell them, “It’s ok. I’ll teach you.”

Or drop the football, and simply stop to play tag.

I pray your little one is sent a friend to the lonely.

Pray. Believe.

One of the toughest jobs I have ever had has been being a parent. While wildly rewarding, it can also be the most heartbreaking of tasks. I question my influence as a parent and a caretaker of many other kids daily. Some times multiple times a day. I question if they even listen. If the direction I provide will lead them down paths of wise choices. Whether my infusion of kindness will inspire them to be the same. Whether they will recover when life begins to twist and turn in unexpected ways.

And because I don’t have all the answers , I seek to lean on the One who does.

While it has not supplied me with peace at all times, and there are some days the choices my kids (or the ones who feel like my kids) still break my heart. And there are days I pray and pray, and want to give up, because I don’t see Him at work; I continue to pray and believe that He will work things all out for good as He promised.

And so I pray….

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13– I pray that He gives them strength each day to do what is required-physically, mentally, and spiritually.

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9– I pray they will be brave enough to stand up against injustice and hold tight to what they believe in.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.Philippians 4:6-7– I pray that God calms their hearts, their bodies, and their minds; and when they feel anxious he fills them with overwhelming peace.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches. Phil 4:19– I pray they come to understand that the world and people cannot give them what they need. That only God can.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.Proverbs 3:5-6
– I pray the Lord will lead them along the right paths daily. And that he will place people in their lives whom they trust. Those who when I am not around, can steer them in the right direction.

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. Psalm 91:2– I pray that He will keep them safe and secure; and cover them with protection daily in a world intent on causing harm.

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. Psalm 16:11– I pray they are filled with joy. Not because they have an abundance of stuff, but because they are rich in the blessings only He can give. Love. Safety. Protection. Peace.

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Isaiah 1:17– I pray when they see another being hurt, or see someone fall; they will have the courage to speak up. To be an advocate. To cry along with the heartbroken. To lift up.

Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. Proverbs 19:20– I pray they come to know that wisdom does not come from books, getting good grades, or the best test scores; but from learning and speaking the truth.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6- I pray they will be kind. Patient. That they will be humble, and obey when they are asked to obey. I pray they don’t wallow in anger, and they seek honesty in all their interactions. I pray they love and forgive others the way they are loved and forgiven.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3– And I pray they know that as they walk out the door. If they walk the halls of school feeling lonely and misunderstood. Once they grow old and start walking in their own way-they know without any doubt that they are loved with a love that never ends. That He (and I) are always there.

This is how I pray.

And some days it doesn’t seem to work. Some days I have to say them more than once.

Some days those kids still break my heart.

Some days I can’t see the fruit at all.

But just as He cares about them, even more than I do. He cares about what is on my heart, too

My prayers won’t be in vain. They may not walk in it now, but I have faith one day they will walk in the truth, and that day will be a day of rejoicing, and not heartbreak.

This I pray. This I believe.

The memory keeper

There is this mythical parenting truth when it comes to pictures. It has often been said that when your first born comes along, you snap away. Not wanting to miss a single moment. With others that follow. Not so much.

I have scrapbook upon scrapbook of my oldest. Sports scrapbooks. Scrapbooks filled with field trip memories. School memories. Summer vacation memories.

You know, scrapbooks filled with pictures that often had to be printed from a roll of film.

I have maybe three of my middle. A total of one for my youngest. Barely completing that one’s baby scrapbook.

I didn’t stop capturing memories behind a lens. But as the kids grew, the lens changed. The media changed, and the method of storage did as well. Pictures that once filled creative albums now take up space on a digital album. Often on some phone app I rarely look at.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16

I may take those scrapbooks off the shelf once in a blue moon (meaning not often at all). I may see an old digital memory on my Facebook highlights one morning that brings back some nostalgia.

But those pictures are not the memories. The days in our book are.

And while I will still take pictures, and I do believe that they will tell a story long after we are gone…I don’t believe they are the memory keepers.

The memory keepers are those moments that are never captured on your iPhone camera roll, but that you still talk about over breakfast.

They are the things for which we have no negative, but we can still remember in vivid detail.

Like watching babies sleep. Being hugged super tight. Rocking chairs on front porches. The book long after it is read. Recounting funny moments with friends over and over. The moment of your child’s birth. The moment you saw those lines. The moment they said, “Mommy.” “Daddy.” “Granpop.” “Grandma.”

These are the moments Kodak, Facebook, Instagram, or the iPhone can’t come close to retelling. These are the moments that don’t make the scrapbooks, but that live on even still. That are written down on the tablets of our hearts and minds to be shared for years to come.

Dear Weary Mama…

 

Dear Weary Mama,

I know the kind of day you have had. Today was one of those “nice” days. One of those days when the chill of winter was finally gone from the air. There was not a cloud in the sky. The sun was shining, and the temperature just right. After a season of long, wet, cold nights, you want nothing better than to enjoy all this day has to offer.

I know what you do next. You seize the day. Plan an outing for your kids. A long nature walk. A trip to the park. Maybe a stroll through the neighborhood, and a pit stop at the local pond. You and your family need to slow down a bit. Enjoy this day. You think of how great this day will be.

Until it isn’t, Mama. Until it causes your kids to moan and groan. Complain about a walk being too long. The park too boring, and the beach spot by the pond…just too sandy!

And you, dear Mama. You become a little emotional.

So you lose it. Because all your best laid plans failed. You feel useless. Unappreciated. Disrespected. You know you need a walk, and some fresh air; but who is going to go with you? Who is making sure you are OK?

So you lose it.

And after…you instantly feel guilty. I know you feel like you failed, because maybe in your disappointment you yelled. You feel alone, dear Mama, because you worry that you are the only one who ever feels this way. That you must be the only one whose kids don’t see beyond their own needs, desires, and likes.

As a mother comforts her child, so I’ll comfort you. Isaiah 66:13

I know you feel like no one sees you. Notices the 30 times this week you have emptied and reloaded the dishwasher. Driven to pick a friend up. Made a donut trip. Picked up another stray wrapper or sock. Mopped slime and glitter from the floor. Cooked a meal no one wanted to eat, and then cleaned it up, too.

Maybe you were silent, but you really wanted to scream. Maybe you did scream, Mama. Yelled a time, or two, or three.

I bet you feel unnoticed. Unappreciated. Used. Like you will never measure up to that Proverbs 31 woman. The one whose children rise up and call her blessed.

Dear weary one-you are blessed. God sees you.

He has given you this holy calling. This all important, and yes…all encompassing task of raising tiny humans.

Who think they know better. Who at times you don’t really like. Who at other times you wonder whose family tree they sprouted from, because they don’t resemble you in spirit at all.

God sees you, Mama.

He sees you. He loves you. He calls you blessed.

He sees you in your times of happy, and your times of despair. He sees you when you feel like a parenting success, and even when you are a parenting fail.

Dear weary Mama…He sees you.

So that no one walks alone

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“I’m bored.”

“She’s an idiot. Why does she want to go to the pool so much.”

“You are the worst brother ever. You don’t ever want to do anything”

“You are stupid. I am sick of sitting by this stupid, stupid pool, stupid head.”

When they are not fighting over who gets the hour of free time. They fight over whose turn it is to go first.

When I am not rock-paper-scissoring these fights, I am dragging one kicking and screaming out of said pool after he has smacked me in front of everyone for asking him to sit down, and not ask me one more time when it is time to leave the “dummy” pool with “dummy Hayley.”

When I am not battling fights at the pool, I am battling them at the cabin, in a tiny room over whether they will play Monopoly or Clue, or even play a game at all. Whether Hunter is “boring,” or Hayley is once again “dumb” for even liking board games.

We were only away two days, and if the kids were not entertained every second they did not know what to do. They fought like 2 rabid pit bulls. Mommy could not please both, because neither of them seem to like the same things, and if they do it’s definitely not at the same time. The schedule Mommy tried to impose to ensure both got ample time at each activity of their choice is not working. Mom is frantic, has lost her cool, and then some, and needs something to sustain her.

Coffee can only go so far. And, after I head back into the pool. After the curly-headed monster has screamed a couple “nos” at me, and slapped at me again. As he stands there kicking at the fence and grunting, I realize that as I sit back down, I may be surrounded by a ton of people, but I am utterly and helplessly alone.

I don’t have anyone here to help carry this load when I can’t split myself in two.

No one is reassuring me that my parenting decision was not one that will scar him for life.

That my daughter won’t resent all the time her younger brother takes from her.

Instead, this frantic mom wanted to find a corner, and kick at the fence herself. Or, at least find a small hole to crawl into. I was embarrassed, frustrated, feeling under appreciated, and then it happened. The tears I was trying so hard to fight, finally just fell.

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Until, one mom saw the tears falling as I sat on the side of that pool. As I sat trying to hide them neatly underneath the big hat I wore.

“What are your kids names? Are they coming back in a few weeks for camp?”

I explained that yes, the oldest one surely, but that curly-headed monster…more than likely-no. He had autism, and with it some issues that he just couldn’t get over that kept him from enjoying it.

“Oh, my oldest has Aspergers. I totally understand. It’s hard.”

There it was. Relief.

Someone who had seen my mommy moment. My “I want to melt right here and disappear” moment, and reached out.

And, even if this Mom didn’t understand what I was going through in that moment, she tried.

I know God is with me. I know in those moments when I feel alone, I can call on Him, and He will be there.  However, he has wired us for human connection.  And, there are times I desperately need that. And, I am pretty sure you do, too.

And with this connection comes His desire for us to share each other’s burdens. To walk with a mom who is having a hard time. So she isn’t sitting at the pool feeling so alone.

It will take us out of our comfort zones. This I know is true, but it will also breath life into some desperate soul wanting to give up. Hope into a weary parent who sees only their failings.

“I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” Matthew 25:43

In a world that appears to be hurting and hiding it well, reaching outside your comfort zone, provides light to someone who may feel all alone in their struggles. May give someone the ability to reach out next time they feel like giving up. Screaming. Or running for the hills. Most importantly, it shows them the love of our Savior.

We are called to be that light to others as a community of believers, but the question is- are we? Are we like that Mom at the pool, willing to see the tears that fall, and get a little messy with them? Or do we steer clear, not wanting to have anything to do with that? When we ask someone how they are doing, do we really stop and wait for their answer? Or, are we offering fly-by conversation out of obligation, an “I’m asking how you are because I have to’s” with no desire to really know? Jesus certainly never stopped to wonder if someone was worthy of his time when he saw others hurting, or marched on intent on getting to his next stop. Neither should we.

Let’s be a little more messy. Jump in, walk with someone a while, and leave people a little less alone. You could be just the friend someone needs that particular moment or day. You could be the hope that Mom needs to just keep going. The reason someone’s tears suddenly disappear. The reason someone doesn’t melt into a puddle at the pool. It may take some time. It may be uncomfortable, but it will ensure that no one ever walks through their mess alone.

I am His

For we are God’s masterpiece…Ephesians 2:10

I am his

Once again…I have failed.

The dishes are unwashed in the sink. Nothing has been accomplished due to pain and sickness. The house is still a mess. There are still bits of the failed attempt at dinner on the floor.

After months of just trying to get through homework. Of leaving-yet again-an item needed at one of the kids schools at home. Of forgetting to sign permission slips. Study for tests. Losing study guides. Forgetting important events.

I’ve yelled too many times at the kids. Left one in tears. The other hiding under a blanket.

Apologized one too many times. Only to turn around and do it again.

And once again, a permission slip has been lost. Something else has been forgotten. Been let down.

I’ve failed. Again. The doubts and self-contempt start to seep through, and it happens. Those thoughts start to fill my head again.

Am I strong 
Beautiful
Am I good enough
Do I belong
After all
That I’ve said and done
Is it real
When I feel
I don’t measure up
Am I loved

Unworthy. Imperfect. Unloved. A failure. As a mom. As a wife. In life. In everything. With my hands and my mouth I have managed to wreck everything in my path.

It is He who made us, and we are His. Psalm 100:3

But, that isn’t what he says I am.

I am His. Even in my failure. I am loved by the King. I am called His daughter. I am called beautiful. Good enough. Magnificent. All because I belong to Him.

He doesn’t see my failures. He doesn’t count each time I was angry. Each time I misplaced something. Each time I let my kids down. He doesn’t care about the dirty dishes. He doesn’t care about the piles of laundry. He doesn’t count the times I skipped making dinner.

He does know every hair on my head. He knows my heart. He created my innermost personality and thoughts. He crafted me into the woman I am. With His hands, He made me His masterpiece. He knows I am only strong with Him. He loves me, even when I don’t love myself. Even when I think I have failed.

He reminds me…

I am strong
Beautiful
I am good enough
I belong
After all
‘Cause of what You’ve done
This is real
What I feel
No one made it up
I am loved

I am His.

Not a failure. Not a screw-up. Not a bad mom.

Of this I am sure….I am His.

Just a Bad Moment

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In my home we have something I often refer to as the “witching hour.” It is the not so glorious hours between the end of the school day and dinner preparation. It consists of homework battles, grunts of hunger, bad attitudes, and meltdowns.

The battle begins with a weary, emotional mom, and the attitude of her sassy daughter.

The battle continues with the screams, kicks, and punches of a kid who has managed to keep every cord of his brain and senses intact all day, but who has now become unraveled.

The battle ends with a battered and bruised mom who has done the same.

Until the cord breaks. The emotions come boiling over the pan we have managed to stuff them in. We do things we don’t like. We say things we don’t mean. We become someone we don’t know. We forget about the grace we are supposed to bestow on those around us. We yell. Scream. Cry tears of frustration. Anger. Shame. Grief.

We are then the mom we said we would never be. The monster we vowed they would never see again.

We had a bad moment. And let that moment define us as a bad mom.

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Calm down, sweet child. It’s OK. Calm down.”

As the emotions begin to fall neatly back in the pot. As you rub the back of a still screaming child. As you wipe the tears from the face of another, and the tears from your own, you become still for just a moment. Hear in those gentle whispers, a Father reminding you to do the same.

Calm down, my child. It’s OK. Calm down.

You are not a bad boy. You just had a bad day.

You are not a bad girl. You just made a bad choice.

You are not a bad mom. You are having a bad moment.

So you rest on these assurances. You find your peace again. Accept His grace. And in those bad moments, you start looking for the good ones.

The girl who the moment before was making silly faces in a new costume.

The boy who a few moments before was snuggling with this same mom on the couch.

The mom who has wiped tears, helped with homework, fed, built up, shared the kitchen, shared her snack. Had some good moments.

We just also had a few bad ones.

Not a bad boy. Not a bad girl. Not a bad mom. Dad. Parent. You just had a bad day. Made a bad choice. Simply had a bad moment.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10