Lord, I Am Just Worn!

I’m tired and worn. My heart is heavy. -Tenth Avenue North

I have shared before how much I may seem to thrive off this crazy ability to manage an insanely busy schedule. This is something many believe I can make look easy. Juggling the hats labeled mom, taxi driver, student, assistant, pastor, mentor, wife, and counselor, I often get asked the question, “How in the world do you manage it all?”

Let me assure you….I don’t.

Sometimes the need to manage it all drives me plum crazy. Until all the hats begin to manage me.

I get tired. I get worn. I get irritated. I get angry. And, I scream. At God.

And I know that you can give me rest. So I cry out with all that I have left.

That cry came just the other day as I was getting ready for an appointment. I had the pleasure of spending a much needed weekend away with my husband. A time away with no plans, no crazy demands, and rest. And, since God seems to have my sarcastic sense of humor, I have since paid for this time of rest upon my return.

On this particular morning, as I prepared to take my son who had broken his wrist for yet another round of X-rays, I discovered I had once again (yes, that’s right-again!) lost his insurance card. In a frantic search for this missing piece of vital information…I lost it.

As I looked up towards the heavens, I screamed. God! Give.Me.A.Break! I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t handle all these things you keep throwing at me! Enough! Got it?

I.Can’t.Do.It.Anymore!

I’m tired. I’m worn. Life just won’t let up.

“Your son may need surgery.” This in the midst of some ongoing critiscm. This before some even sadder news for my family.

So, I find myself once again for the second time in two days looking up and yelling. I’m tired here! I need a break! Can’t you see I am worn out? I am tired of dealing with these things, Lord.

Until God reminds me of something.

As I tell a friend about how my spirit is struggling to deal with it all, her answer reminds me of why He is allowing these things to be thrown at me.

“You’re getting an opportunity to write a “trust check” to God. Now you get to spend some of that trust.”

Um, could I spend it on a spa vacation, please? Well, no. Because as good as that would feel for a few days, those struggles would still be thrown at me. Until I finally start to realize my “trust payment” comes in the midst of all these messes.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

And, I was certainly asking for rest as I frantically searched for that insurance card. While laying on the couch suffering from a migraine. After hearing bad news. After being the target of yet one more critical remark.

Worn. Tired. Desperate. The only time I seem to plead and come to Him lately. Not daily, or on those days when things are actually good.

Trials are going to come. They are just waiting around the corner, and sometimes they come one after the other. But, God doesn’t want us to only reach for Him when we are in the middle of trials. When we are worn down. Tore up. Broken. He wants us to do this all the time.

When we go to Him, he lets us know our struggles will soon end.

When we go to Him, he mends all the places that are torn, tattered, and just plain worn out.

He gives us rest on our good days, and peace on our bad.

Even when we are worn.

My Go To Therapist

This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. Psalm 91:2

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There is something therapeutic about spending time in the salon. If the completely selfish date with oneself is not enough to make you feel better, than certainly the head massage that magically soothes a migraine, the silky feeling of a blowout, or how fabulous you look when you first walk out the front door can add to the appeal of a day spent getting pampered for a bit. Add to this a few minutes of talking to your “head” therapist about life, kids, and your daily gripes, a few hours in the salon chair can be a much needed escape from an otherwise crazy reality.

Besides the fact that I was in desperate need of a cut and root touch-up this past weekend, the few hours I spent in a chair, or under a dryer were definitely a reprieve from the dark mood that had taken over my spirit that very morning. I needed to get out of the public for a while, and chat up the stylist, or my “head” shrink for the day.

And, it sure is a good thing I had decided to leave Facebook alone for a while, because on this particular morning, or the entire day for that matter, I certainly wanted to let everyone know what kind of morning I had. I left my wallet AND phone at home, and discovered this after I had pulled into the gas station, on empty, mind you. I was now 15 minutes late, behind a log truck, stuck in horrendous traffic thanks to the arrival of students and parents, and by 9:15, I was fed up with anything and anyone who happened to cross my path.

Once I pulled up in front of the place responsible for my once a month “me” sessions, I could not wait to tell someone about my crummy morning. 

And for about 3 hours I chatted to my stylist about my life, my kids, and my gripes.

Then I thought about something.

I had not once chatted with God about what I was feeling. And, I have certainly never chatted with him for 3 hours!

I cry out to God: yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was deep in trouble, I searched for the Lord. Psalm 77:1-2

While, there is nothing wrong with a little beauty shop therapy, God wants me to communicate and share my struggles with him with the same intimacy and intentionality with which I share them with my stylist. He already knows what my struggles are. He already knows my gripes. He already knows about my kids, my life, and my circumstances.

And, he also wants to be my therapist. He wants to be the first person I seek when I need a few selfish “me” moments to share gripes, praises, and requests. 

He wants me to seek Him when I want to blow-up in traffic. He wants me to seek Him when I want to scream in the car on the way back home for my missing wallet. He wants me to lean on Him when I just can’t handle one more thing. He is just as selfish about His time with me, as I am about my “me” time under the dryer. 

No, God can’t touch up my roots, but He can definitely touch up my mood. God can’t trim my dead ends, but he can groom the frazzled pieces of my heart. And, while my stylist may require an appointment for the three hours I spend in her chair, God never requires that I make an appointment with Him, just that I make Him my go to therapist. 

 

Press On Through the Ride

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18

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Roller coasters. I used to love them. The loopier and faster the better. There was nothing more exciting than the ride all night bracelets at the local carnival. Riding every spinning, dropping, and swinging contraption until the rides were shut down for the night. Nothing like standing in line on a dare to conquer fears on the scariest ride in the amusement park. Anticipating the thrill of what was to come.

Today, I don’t enjoy roller coasters. Yet, I still happen to ride them. These days the roller coasters I get on are of the emotional variety. Still with that same feeling in the pit of my stomach. Still going backwards, upside down, and spinning sideways.

I am a mess. I am a wrecking ball. I must confess that I still don’t get it all.

Yep. That’s me. A mess. A wrecking ball ruled by my emotions. The emotions that resemble a roller coaster ride in my head. And for the most part, I am able to get in line and ride, all while still smiling, and in anticipation of the moment when the ride will end. But, some days, painting on a smile is just too hard. My mood is dark. My emotions get the best of me, and I ride the roller coaster all the way to the bottom. Where I am a mess. Where I just want to cry. Where I find it hard to keep from screaming!

Crying for goodness knows what. And yes, screaming at God. For what he has done and hasn’t done. For not hearing me when I cry out for help. For not providing the answers when I desperately need them.

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? Psalm 13:1-2

Well, looks like I am in good company. If the Psalms of David are any indication, then it’s likely he was riding the same roller coaster of emotions on which I find myself. Yet, he was a chosen king, a man who as a young boy defeated the largest and toughest giant, a fearless warrior, and an ancestor of Jesus. He was also a man who was hated, who was the object of fierce jealousy. Abandoned. Lonely. Jealous enough in his own spirit to commit murder. An adulterer. A mess.

And still called a man after God’s heart. Despite his tendency to scream at God. Despite his tendency to find himself trapped on a roller coaster of emotions, he pressed on. Because he knew that God could handle every single one of his emotions. Which means He can also handle mine.

Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice. Psalm 55:17

Yes, God can handle my roller coaster emotions. He can handle my tears. He can handle my screaming fits. He can handle my uncertainty.

He can provide the strength to press on. Press on when I ride the highs and lows of my feelings. Press on  until I finally get off the ride, acknowledge my mess, admit I just don’t get it. He will give me strength to get off my knees, dry my tears, and turn my screams into praises.

He reached down from heaven and rescued me, he drew me out of deep waters. Psalm 18:16

Press on. When you want to cry. When you want to scream. When you just want to be alone. When you just don’t get it.

Press on. During the dark days. When the roller coaster takes a deep plunge. When you just don’t want to smile.

Press on. God can handle it. He will get you through the ride.

Feeding the “Monster”

Hunter Hungry

For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:9

Remember that monster I told you lived in my home? The one who is cranky, often mute, and frequently unable to express how he feels? Well, since this monster is our five-year old son, we also must take this monster with us on trips…which means he also must follow us to our vacation destination. Like this week long vacation destination. The one I so desperately needed to relax, reflect, recharge, and unwind, and maybe forget some of my own monsters for a while.

Now, restaurants with our little monster are not relaxing. Whether at home or on vacation. And this night has been no exception. See, our monster needs constant meals. After 20 minutes of eating, he is usually hungry again. While he is declaring his hunger, he is also rummaging in cabinets for snacks unseen, kicking kitchen chairs, grunting, screaming, and cowering on the floor in a ball of anger. Once again, tonight, we have failed to feed our monster at the appropriate times, and he is downright angry. We have waited too long to give him what he craves, and now he is beyond consolable, and unable to cope in this situation. He needs to eat NOW!

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

He isn’t the only monster in our home. The only monster that comes along on vacations. I can be a monster at times, too. Especially, when I have not been nourished as well. When I have not been feeding on the Word of God. I am doubtful when I don’t spend time asking God to calm my fears. I am quick to speak when I don’t take the time to ask God to guide my conversations. When I don’t spend times with him at the start of my day, praying and reading His Word, I can be a total monster for the rest of my day. And, when I don’t ask God for direction, I can also be found rummaging for something that isn’t there, kicking in frustration, grunting, screaming, and complaining.

All because I didn’t feed the monster.

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk, so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment. 1 Peter 2:2

To face the demands of or daily lives. To love others, fulfill our purpose, and navigate the circumstances that turn us into monsters, we have to feed our bodies. Not simply our physical bodies, or our stomachs, but we must be fed spiritually. This isn’t something we routinely indulge in at three times a day, but consistently and frequently. It means asking God to feed us with patience while we wait in traffic in the morning. It means seeking God when we are afraid of what’s next, so he can nourish us with reassurance and peace. It’s thanking God for all He has done even when all we want to do is complain, so he can fill us with praise in our hearts.

So, what happened when our little monster was fed? He certainly didn’t resemble the raging and screaming ball of fury that results when his poor little soul gets hungry. He was happier, more at peace, a little less anxious, and much more willing to try something new.

And, God wants us to feel the same way-nourished by His Word, at peace with what he promises to provide, or what he already has, and full of a happy, joyful, and thankful spirit.

Nourishment that can soften and ease even the toughest of monsters!

To-Do: Be a Little Boy’s Mommy

 Make the most of every living and breathing moment, because these are evil times. So understand and be confident in God’s will, and don’t live thoughtlessly. Ephesians 5:15-17

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It has been one of those extra long days. Another day when the snow has completely wreaked havoc on our routines once again. I still have counters to wipe, floors to sweep, checks to write, and a heaping mound of homework. It’s 9pm, and I still haven’t worked out, and now my little one wants me to lay with him until he falls asleep?

“Hunter, I have read two stories. I’ve sang to you and I’ve rubbed your back. I’ve got to leave the room now. Mommy has stuff to do.”

And then…the look. The one moms everywhere know. The one that makes your heart melt, and makes you feel like the worst mom ever all at the same time.

“But, I’m scared.” Which in 5 year old speak, really means, I want you to lay here with me until I fall asleep. Which also means, that no matter how quietly, and stealth-like you try to leave his room, he wakes up. Still scared. Still wanting you to lay with him. Still with that look that lets you know He needs you, and makes you feel like the worst mom ever because all you can think of are all the things you have to do.

Your life is like the morning fog-it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. James 4:14

So, while the checks that need to be written can’t really wait another day, all these other things can.

While I’d like to get a little exercise in tonight, it may have to wait, too.

But my son, can’t wait.

Because, he will remember my rush to get bedtime finished to get all that other stuff done.

Because he will remember not being my priority on busy nights like these.

Or, he can remember that Mommy put all those things aside so she could rub the head and back of a tired little boy to sleep. He can remember that I put aside all of the demands of the outside world, to spend a little time in his.

We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. Each of us is but a breath.                 Psalm 39:6,11

Life is far too hurried. We are all overstretched, overbooked, overworked, and living our lives completely out of balance. Never fully making any one thing our priority. Merely getting by with our way too long to-do lists.

But, before I know it, this little boy will not want me to lay in his bed any longer.

He will be hurrying to school, brushing away the hand that reaches out to stroke his hair.

He will one day be too busy to put aside the demands of his world to spend a few moments in mine.

So, tonight, maybe I didn’t get to work out. Maybe I started my homework a little late. Maybe I didn’t get that sweeping done. But, I won’t remember any of that.

I’ll remember calming the fears of a scared little boy. I’ll remember singing “Jesus Loves Me” for the tenth time, while I rub that same little boys back. I’ll remember this moment. The one where that little boy lays in the arms of his Mommy. I’ll remember his sleeping breaths. I’ll remember there is nothing sweeter than these moments.

The moments that an overdue to-do list could never replace.

The tender moments of being this little boy’s Mommy.

Just Say His Name

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

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There’s one invention that has confused me for years-the hospital gown. It doesn’t matter how many times I have had to attempt to put one of these on, I usually spend way too much time contemplating exactly how this ill-fitting, and immodest garment actually goes on.

As I was forced to once again spend time navigating the holes and ties of this piece of fabric last week, I asked myself the same questions as I have in the past: Does this get tied in the front or the back? How exactly do they expect me to tie this myself? Does it wrap to the left of the right? Oh goodness, is anything showing?

Too many questions to ask about a hospital gown. Too many thoughts running through my head to drown out. So, in defeat, I just give up trying to find the answer. Deciding to do it my way.

Now, what does my struggle with hospital games have to do with anything?

Well, usually waiting on the other side of the door, the door behind which a gown is placed on one’s body, lies some uncertainty, fear, or anxiety.

And in these times of defeat and uncertainty, we often give up trying to wait for the answer, and do it our way.

When you don’t know what to say, just say Jesus. There’s still power in the name, the name of Jesus. If the words won’t come, and you don’t know what to say. Just say Jesus. 

And that’s what I did.

As I was laying in one of the loudest machines, as I was laying in a state of panic I had never felt before, with the unpleasant noises drowning out my soothing music, I did just that.

I laid there, I closed my eyes, and simply said: “Jesus, Jesus…help me get through this.”

While life is often like that awful gown, full of uncertainty and fear; that MRI machine is much like our relationship with God. Our ability to hear his voice in the midst of all the noise. Our resistance to call His name in our state of panic.

To just say Jesus.

Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you. Psalm 50:15

There have been many times in the past couple months when I have not known what to say. My thoughts have been so loud that I cannot hear what God is telling me to do.

When I haven’t been able to find the words to get through to my teenager.

When I’m waiting in another gown, behind another door of uncertainty.

When I don’t even know what to pray, what to ask for, what to say to God.

When I’m in a state of panic, and the noise of my thoughts has drowned Him out.

When life gets hard. When your not sure what else you can take. When you’ve laid awake too many nights to count, isn’t it comforting to know that it doesn’t matter how the words come out, all we have to do is say His name.

Just say Jesus.