The Referee

Why would anyone want to be a referee? The entire job consists of constantly waiting for someone to do something wrong, so you can correct them. I dunno, maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to be a horrid job, if you ask me. There’s lots of whistle-blowing, arms waving, running around, and breaking up fights. Plus, the outfit is super ugly.

Plus, the outfit is super ugly.

Well, that’s what I felt like today—a referee. Lots of correcting, running around, and breaking up fights. My outfit (which consisted of black leggings, a tank top and my “Run Detroit” sweatshirt) was, indeed, ugly. I didn’t even comb my hair. I think I brushed my teeth? Yes, question mark. The field I was in charge of today was my home. The players, my children. “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM’,” kids,” I patiently reminded my little ballers. This seemed not matter. One second Michaela was screaming about an unseen owie, the next Boaz was peeing on the floor (we are potty-training). One minute we move the ball to the 50 yard line—a fun time during an art project—the next we have an interception and the ball run into the end zone of the other team when Boaz starts walloping his sister on the head. Before I could blow my whistle, allow a time out for one offense, we were off to the next. Exhausting and disappointing are the two descriptives I have for this scenario.

Days like this make me want to give up. Throw in the towel. Turn tail and run. Now that I work part-time, I really look forward to the days I have at home with my babies. Maybe the three days at work somehow magically make me forget the actual chaos that awaits me. But, whatever the case, when Thursday arrives, it brings with it excitement and hope of a blessed time with my babes. This lasts for exactly 22.3 seconds, at which time I am reminded I live with little sinners that I have the task of teaching how to live in the civilized world. Maybe those three days away I build up my expectations way too high. But is it too much to hope for a sweet time together? Is it wrong to expect to get through one meal without someone crying, throwing up or having to go poop? Shouldn’t I look forward to actually playing a whole game with the Littles and everyone enjoying it? I don’t know, I really don’t think those are high expectations. But I just don’t want to live in the realm of Exhausted and Disappointed any more.

Is it wrong to expect to get through one meal without someone crying, throwing up or having to go poop?

What kept me going today, what made me not throw in the towel (other than the fact I’m the one in charge of keeping them alive until I can tag-team Dan at 5:30) was the little itty-bitty bit of preaching I did to myself. Now, it was pretty hard to muster, cuz I was all settled in to be mopey and bad-attitudey, but I managed to pull off a few niglets of “c’mon girl, remember who you are.” Somewhere in the recesses of my mommy brain I remembered reading somewhere that God doesn’t ask us to be “successful” (whatever that means). He asks us to be faithful. Be a faithful mom, Amanda. Just keep loving these little hooligans as much as you can. Maybe what that looks like is giving MYSELF a time out so I don’t explode on the babes. Maybe that looks like me going through the motions silently, but with kisses on the tops of their heads. Maybe it means we let go of the hope of a blissful afternoon and just have an afternoon.

God doesn’t ask us to be successful, He asks us to be faithful

What faithfulness ended up looking like tonight was a really great conversation with my daughter. I had decided to throw myself into something I know I’m good at and can complete—cleaning my house. I had just finished scrubbing out the refrigerator and had started to prep the floors to be mopped when I heard the pitter patter of little feet up from nap. It was Michaela, and she asked what she could do to help. I put her on dusting duty and away she went. As I watched my little girl work by my side, I started to see that today isn’t a failure. My grandma used to say, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!” And how I think this correlates is to say, don’t assume the whole entire day is a wash just because there’s a few (or a million) trying moments. Keep on keeping on. So, I turned to my babe and said, “Michaela, I’m sorry for yelling earlier. I just want so much for us to be happy when we are all together. It makes mommy feel so sad when you act like you are not happy with whatever mommy has planned for us to have fun doing.” And then, my four-year-old looked at me and replied, “Mommy, I just love being with you. Just because I ask to do another special thing all together after we have just done one, doesn’t mean I didn’t love the first special thing we just did. Maybe we should pray for each other right now?”

THIS. This was said from my FOUR-YEAR-OLD. So, we prayed for each other, hugged, and went back to cleaning. I am a blessed woman. My girl is getting it. Somehow, somewhere between the battles I break up and the pee I mop up and the owies I kiss and bandage, my babies are somehow seeing Jesus. I’m pretty sure it has zero to do with my dazzling skills and all to do with His grace and glory. But they’re getting it. Praise GOD.

About an hour after this Michaela made herself throw up at the dinner table because she did not want to eat the nutritious chicken soup I had spent hours making.

But, even this darker parenting moment was easier for me to glide through because I’d had a little fresh wind the hour before. I had seen God working, He had reminded me faithfulness is the goal, and so onward we went.

Then I fell asleep at 7:30pm. This refereeing stuff is hard.

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Lessons from a Hashimoto’s Disease Survivor

I have Hashimoto’s Disease. Mayo Clinic defines this as, “a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid.” My definition: It sucks. Literally. Hashimoto’s Disease is an energy vacuum, sucking the get-up-and-go right out of you. I was diagnosed with this about two years ago, about 6 months after my son was born. I’ve never been a super energetic person. I was the girl falling asleep at parties in high school. It’s a wonder I ever got invited to any. But, after Boaz was born, I really didn’t feel good. No matter how much sleep I got, it was an act of God to get me out of bed each morning to care for my two young children. Then, I started losing my hair. I actually got some bald spots. That’s when I knew something was definitely not normal. After advocating aggressively for myself, as my doctor wanted to blame most of my symptoms on post-partum nonsense, he agreed to test me. Yep, I was right. Something was wrong. My adrenal glands were basically kaput. My antibodies were waging an all out nuclear attack on my immune system. My blood all but lacked just a smidge of iron. I was certainly sick.

So, two years later, I’ve learned a few tips about how to survive this Sucker. And I’ve learned some life lessons along the way, too. Here’s what I’ve got:

  1. Run, Mandy, Run!

Before I was diagnosed, the only thing that made me feel sort of “normal” for about an hour each day was going for a run. It was all I could do to get to the gym and actually start the run, but once I got going, and for that blessed hour afterwards, I felt great! Something about the endorphins pumping through me that just plastered a smile on my face. So, now, that I’m getting along with this disease, I make it a permanent part of my routine to run at least three times a week. Recently, I ran a half marathon, ‘cuz I needed a goal to work towards in the midst of all this running. It felt great to cross that finish line, knowing that my body was doing it’s best.

  1. You are what you eat.

Along with being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I had the good fortune to ALSO be diagnosed with several food allergies. Once I got my doc to believe me when I said there was something wrong, he was all about helping me figure out how to get better. He said often there’s a food issue that inflames the immune system with autoimmune diseases (that’s what Hashimoto’s is, an autoimmune issue). So, begrudgingly I let him poke me and fill up 13 vials of blood to send out to California. Couple weeks later, BOOM! I was handed the good news of being severely allergic to milk and milk products, eggs, and the news I should “probably stay away from gluten.” My first thought was, “there goes my life.” However, once getting the hang of avoiding these allergens, I can tell you the change was remarkable. Especially getting rid of that nasty old gluten. Giving it up was so worth the return of some level of energy.

  1. Take your vitamins.

I take Synthroid and a compounded T3. But along with that I take a slew of other vitamins. I mean A. Slew. But, I do it faithfully, because I have seen a marked difference in my health. Most notably is a daily injection of Lipo B. Not fun poking myself every day, but totally fun feeling great afterwards.

  1. Get your Zzzzz’s

It shouldn’t be any surprise that getting more than adequate sleep is essential. But what does make it difficult is the emotional feelings that sometimes come with it. By 8 o’clock, and sometimes before, I am totally done. Running around after my babies takes all I’ve got for the day, and by the time they’re in bed, I want to be too. However, this is real life. And there are people that want to spend time with me, responsibilities to my family, church and friends that I’d like to fulfill. Plus, there are some things I’d like to do, well, for me! Yet, being tired, and needing my sleep keeps me from it many, many times. It makes me feel bad. But, this is part of it.

  1. Take time to be still.

Quiet has very little value in our culture today. Sitting still on the porch, listening to the wind in the trees, the cicadas singing, a plane passing by. This is seen as wasting time these days. But, I say this is life-giving. Meditating on the Word of God, letting His Words be written on your heart, while soaking up some of His glorious creation? How could that be a waste of time? No, no, people have it all wrong. Quiet is essential to one’s spiritual health. I’ve found fighting for this time is a requirement of being a Hashimoto’s survivor.

  1. Seasons of life, yo.

Above, I started to talk about the emotions I have to work through in dealing with this Sucker. Well, sleep isn’t the only aspect in which emotions are called into play. In just about every other way, I deal with guilt. Guilt for not being the mom that has a different Pinterest activity each day or a Park District group event we are signed up for. Guilt over not always being able to support my husband the way I’d want to if I had boundless energy. Guilt over not having the ability to say “yes” to everything I really, really want to. But, here’s the deal. Why battle guilt on top of everything else? Everyone goes through seasons of life. And right now, I am in a season where all God asks of me accomplish each day is caring for my kids, my home, my family and my church. I do these things the best I can, and know that that’s all God asks of me.

  1. You do you, and I’ll do me.

This is by far the biggest lesson I have learned from having Hashimoto’s Disease. Most autoimmune diseases leave their people looking fairly normal on the outside. I mean, I look well. I’m not confined to a wheelchair or hacking up a lung into a handkerchief. I walk around like you, buying groceries, singing songs, splashing with my kids in the pool. But, on the inside, I have a daily struggle to just get through the next 24 hours. The fatigue is often great. Plus, Hashimoto’s messes with your hormones big time. So, I have the added bonus of battling my mood from time to time. I don’t say this to gain pity points. I reveal this because, you never know what someone else is going through. There have been many times in life that I’ve been annoyed with someone for not doing something I thought they should do. But, you know what….I am not them. I do not know what emotional, physical, spiritual, financial, and whatever else kind of struggles they are facing. So, here’s the deal. How’s about you do you, and I’ll do me. Let’s trust that the other person is doing their best to live a life that brings glory to Jesus or at the very least brings happiness to their fellow man.

That’s what I have for now. My seven biggest lessons to date as a Hashimoto’s Survivor. Because Hashimoto’s is the most common cause for hypothyroidism in the United States, and because there are up to 3 million cases diagnosed in the US each year, I figured one or two of you may be struggling with this too. And maybe I could encourage you. So, drop me a line if you want to chat. Here’s to living our best life, best we can!

The Walking Dead vs. The Resurrection & Life

There used to be this show Dan watched called Deadliest Warrior. Maybe it’s still around. But what would happen on this television series is two warriors from time periods spanning forever ago until now would be paired up for a “fight.” Based on the history of how these warriors fought, the weapons they used, etc., a warrior would be proclaimed winner. I’m probably simplifying things, but that’s the gist. For example, I believe I remember an episode I was made to watch where a gangster battled a ninja. I don’t remember who emerged victorious, as I had trouble getting past the hypothetical-ness of things, or maybe just the why. But, now that I look back on it, I can kinda see the intrigue.

Currently, there’s a little show on TV called The Walking Dead. Not sure if anyone’s really heard of it, it’s kind of small time. (Sarcasm flowing from a fire hydrant on this one, in case you missed it). I’ve been thinking about why a television series about undead people overrunning the earth, hunting and eating alive people, from which there is seemingly no escape is one of the biggest, if not the biggest show on TV. (IMDb lists it as number one most popular right now, with Game of Thrones as a second). There’s an obvious joy, excitement, thrill that people take in fantasizing about the Zombie Apocalypse. Why is that? It kind of seems scary to me to think about. I know I wouldn’t want to be caught dead when the Zombie Apocalypse happens….oh, wait a minute….

Here’s the deal. I think people relate to the zombies.

Here’s the deal. I think people relate to the zombies. We are a people group that has turned ourselves into the undead in the name of efficiency, multi-tasking, more money, more power, more, more more….Let me ask a few questions to illustrate my point:

Tired mommy of little ones, do you feel all alone in your never-ending task of raising civilized human beings?

CEO of a Fortune 500 company, as you drive your Lambo to the next big power lunch, secretly inside do you wonder what’s the point of it all?

Frat boy/sorority gal, do you drink and drink and drink to numb and forget? Or maybe you do it to make you feel like SOMEONE, anyone?

Just like the zombies roaming around, sometimes with hundreds of others, we feel alone. We feel compelled for more. We want what we want, so we do what we do to get it.

Jesus said I am the resurrection and the life

There’s one pairing I never saw on Deadliest Warrior. The Walking Dead vs. The Resurrection & the Life. John 11:25 tells us, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” There are a ton of names for God in the Bible, but it wasn’t until this week that it was brought to my attention that the Resurrection and Life are His names. Sure, I’ve read that verse a million times, and I understood that He gives us eternal life. But, it’s bigger than that, folks! Jesus has the power to bring back to life what once was dead, right now. Not just in eternity. He can resuscitate the stone, cold dead and make it live this very moment! This is for real, here, friends! Not a TV show! So, you out there in a marriage that seems to be DOA. Think again. HE can breathe life into it here and now. Dad who just yelled at your kid for the ump-teenth time, and are sure your relationship is done for. I’ve got the Good News! It’s not. The Resurrection can raise it to life. I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Resurrection & Life would stomp the Dead on Deadliest Warrior because He does it already for every single person who believes. I don’t need a TV show to tell me that.

What’s more is that Jesus doesn’t offer a mediocre life. He doesn’t raise the dead just to let them keep stumbling about in agony. Nope, he says, “…I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly. “ He’s got good things for you and for me. Instead of mindlessly allowing your flesh to direct your path, why not step into the abundance that Christ offers? Abundant blessings, abundant love, abundant grace and mercy. Joy and peace. Abundant community and fellowship with Him. Whoa! Now, come on. Who would turn that down?

Jesus is the Life. While we may not be wandering around with vastly decomposed flesh, we are in fact, the walking dead apart from Christ. But there is hope. We can beat the mind-blowing numbness that we all feel at times. We can overcome the loneliness that’s eating us up inside. You and I can be free of the fear that enslaves us and keeps us from loving powerfully. His name’s the Resurrection. I’m putting my money on Him.

The badge of the Christian

What do you think I’m talking about? I can see you all in my mind’s eye, raising your hands, shouting out answers…

Faith! Gentleness! Love!

And you would all be wrong. It is forgiveness.

I am learning a lot about forgiveness lately. When I say lately, I mean over the past seven years. I remember a conversation back then that started to turn my thinking around. My husband and I were leaving a church service in Michigan, where we lived at the time. It had been about forgiveness, and the Huz asked me if there’s anyone I hadn’t forgiven. I quickly responded with the name of my old boss at a PR firm where I used to work. This guy had been mean with a capital M. I think he terrorized people just for the sheer joy and power it brought him. I often heard him yelling at people down the hall from my office, berating them for what any other sane person would call a job well done. I’d heard stories of him throwing staplers at people. Firing people on the spot. I had only had two run-ins with him personally. The first was about 10 or 11 months into my tenure there, and his sites had been set on me, the quiet one cowering in the corner, finally. He brought me into his office, and began screaming at me. For what, I do not remember. I sat there calmly listening to this five-foot-nothing of a man try to shake me. And then I looked him in the eye and told him he was to never speak to me that way again. I got up and left and went back to my office. Shortly after that I had my second run-in with him. It was to tell me that I was being “let go due to down-sizing.” This may sound like a very mild run-in to those seasoned folks out there. But to a twenty-something, fresh to the work world, this hurt. A lot.

So, back to that day walking out of church with the Huz. I responded, “No, I haven’t forgiven That Guy. And I never will. He doesn’t deserve it.” To my astonishment and chagrin, my dearly beloved then pulled up this verse:

For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Matthew 6: 14-15

In all my years as a Christian up to that point, I had somehow managed to never hear that verse. Or successfully avoided it. Or figured a way for it not to apply to me. Whatever the case, it lay on my shoulders a heavy weight. I was in a bit of a conundrum. How could I forgive That Guy for being such a jerk? Not just to me, but to every person he’d ever come into contact with?

Well, since then, there’s been many a situation that has arisen in which I’ve asked myself that question time and time again. And each time I have reminded myself that if I do not ask the Holy Spirit for His help to forgive, then I am setting myself up for a broken relationship with my Father. Staring that fact in the face, I start down the road (usually begrudgingly) of forgiveness.

I’m reading a book right now called “Unpacking Forgiveness” by Chris Brauns. I started reading it because Dan and I (the aforementioned Huz) had recently found ourselves once again discussing forgiveness. This time it was not just I, but both of us, struggling to forgive. And not just forgive but to actually describe what forgiveness even means. There are SO MANY definitions of what forgiveness is. What it’s supposed to look like. It gets confusing.

I think Chris Brauns has nailed it. He says forgiveness is “a commitment by the offended to pardon graciously the repentant from moral liability and to be reconciled to that person, although not all consequences are necessarily eliminated.” He goes on to further explain that this definition of forgiveness is modeled after the kind of forgiveness that Christ offers us. This forgiveness includes the following elements:

1. God’s forgiveness is gracious but not free. While salvation is a gift, God bought it at an infinitely high price.
2. God’s forgiveness is conditional. Only those who repent and believe are saved. Even though the gift of salvation is offered to everyone, only those who open the gift through repentance and belief are saved.
3. God’s forgiveness is a commitment. It is His promise that He will never hold that sin against the forgiven party.
4. Forgiveness lays the groundwork for and begins the process of reconciliation. Salvation and new birth are inextricably connected to reconciliation. You can’t be forgiven by God without being reconciled to Him.
5. Forgiveness does not mean the elimination of all consequences. The outcomes of our sin will happen. There’s a ripple effect to our choices. However, these consequences are not punishment but how God trains and teaches.

I have not finished Brauns book, but I do believe he is taking me down the right path. It is certain that forgiveness is incredibly difficult. It is at a high price. It is for those who are repentant. It takes a conscious commitment. Forgiveness drives us toward reconciliation, but consequences also are part. I also see that forgiveness is the nature of God. His entire plan was just so He could offer forgiveness to us. If God is so big on forgiveness, how can I not be?

If God is so big on forgiveness, how can I not be?

I’ll leave you with this quote from Brauns book:
Christians should always have a disposition of grace toward those who offend them. This is what Jesus modeled on the cross when he prayed,”Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Even while he was dying an excruciating death, and before there was any repentance on the part of those who crucified him, he offered grace. We are to follow his example.

So, let’s pray for each other. I confess there are people right now that I am struggling to forgive. I fear making myself vulnerable in that way. I wonder if it’s really worth it to open myself up. Can I really trust that person again? But the beauty of forgiveness is that it does not hinge on the other person’s reactions or lack of them. Forgiveness is offered by me to them. And the effort is powered by none other than the Master of Forgiveness, Himself. “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

Who do you need to forgive today?

There is no perfect blog

Last night I sipped my Mint Majesty Starbucks Tea, chatting with a friend about our desires to blog. We talked about what our goals for blogging might be. Is it just catharsis? Or is it to gain an audience? Or is it to be published one day? Or maybe it is just to be helpful to someone out there? Maybe it’s all of these. All I know is that I have been terribly inconsistent. Why IS this??? I love to write. I like the outcome it has (warm, fuzzy feelings on the inside, a few comments by my mom and some friends, feeling like I accomplished something…), yet I still balk at sitting down and just doing it, already! So, why?

…yet I still balk at sitting down and just doing it, already! So, why?

Last night, my friend and I think we may have happened upon why it is we hesitate to push the publish button. We want to make sure whatever we put out there in cyberspace is to perfection. I want to make sure every word is perfectly placed. That I’m using good grammar. No misspellings. But, more than that, I want to make sure I’m conveying what I actually want to convey. I want to make sure I’m not just talking to talk, but that I have something valuable to say. It’s a lot to consider, and adds a heavy weight to whether or not to post.

But, then we kind of decided to just do it. I’m a mom of two, a wife of one. I support my husband as he pastors at a church, and try to hold our household together. I’m kind of busy. I have a finite amount of time to do this thing I love, and that’s it. When time’s up, time’s up. Small people do not understand, “Please wait to have your tushy wiped, mommy is blogging.” They also do not take well to, “Dinner will be a few hours late, I have to finish this post.” No way! When nap time’s over (if it ever begins), it’s done and it’s game on. So, that also means blogging time is over (or more frequently, lay comatose for an hour time has ended abruptly). Yet, if I want to do this, then I have to take what I can get.

Yet, if I want to do this, then I have to take what I can get.

So, here’s to imperfection. <Insert clinking sippy cups here>

How about you? What have you been putting off because it needs to be “perfect”? Will you do it today?

The Good News is…I Just Got Fired!

Technically, I got laid off yesterday. You know the drill. Enrollment is down, budget cuts happen. “She gone,” in the words of Pappy Robertson.

I’m feeling pretty raw and emotional about this. I loved this job more than I ever expected to. In fact, everything about the job was unexpected. One day, a year ago, I unexpectedly got a call out of the blue from the school offering me a full time job, in which I could design my own hours and come into the office on days I could swing it. Six months later, due to restructuring, I was moved out of that role and into a different one—unexpectedly. Now, six months after that, another surprise. No job.

I didn’t expect to learn new things about myself. I learned how to see deep into the heart of extremely hurting people. Very wealthy people send their kids to the school I worked at, and most of them tended to be pretty miserable. But, God gave me His power to somehow, miraculously, bring a smile to these people’s faces. Some of them I even became friends with, and over the front desk I got to share Jesus Christ with them. Just two days ago, I had a parent (who is notorious for being very difficult to work with) ask me why I was always so happy. I told her it was because of God. She replied,

“I know a lot of people who believe in God, and they’re all miserable.”

To which I replied, “My power is from Jesus Christ. He is who makes me want to smile.”

She nodded, and then told me she preferred to believe I had magical powers since she’s Jewish and Jesus doesn’t jive with her beliefs. But hey, I told her Truth.

I didn’t expect to have women share with me their devastation over being cheated on by their husbands or hurt by gossip or the vast amounts of loneliness they deal with. I didn’t expect that at all.

What is expected, though, is the heartache I feel right now. And honestly, I’ve never been one to look on the bright side. I think rose-colored glasses are dumb. It’s obvious to me that the stupid glass is definitely half empty…um, hello, you just DRANK half of it! Therefore you are now half way to being empty. It’s just the way my brain is wired. Some people call this pessimism, I call it realism. That being clearly stated, I am learning as I grow older and wiser, to teach myself how to add a very important aspect to my realism. It’s called being thankful. (Fitting for this time of year, don’t you think?) I think it’s totally okay to be a realist, as long as you are also a thankful-ist.

Psalm 50:14-15 says, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and pay your vows to the Most High; call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”

The most interesting part of this verse is that God asks for something unique—a “sacrifice of thanksgiving.” Those two words don’t seem to go together. For me, the word sacrifice implies something of great hardship. To lose something or give something of great importance. There’s definitely an element of difficulty involved in sacrifice. But then when I think of the word thanksgiving, I see pilgrims and Native Americans, pumpkins and gourds, songs and cheery faces, neighbors being neighborly, love and joy. But that’s not what’s going on in these verses.

Giving thanks is SO EASY to do when times are great. When you’ve got groceries in the cupboards and gas in your tank and new clothes in the closet, it’s easy-peasy-slice-of-cheesy to say, “Thanks, God!” But it is desperately hard to do when you’ve just lost your job, or your health is failing, or a loved one has passed away, or the church has let you down, or a friend has hurt you, or your spouse has cheated, or your child won’t go to sleep…these aspects of life make it feel like giving thanks is an impossibility. Yet, that’s just what God asks for. THAT’S why it’s a sacrifice. It’s really hard. But, oh, does it smell so sweet to the Most High when the aroma of this sacrifice reaches the nostrils of our God. He then reaches down, and promises us right here and now that He will rescue us. Then we will turn right around and honor Him for being a-freaking-mazing!!!

So, yes, the good news is, I lost my job. There’s a million reasons to be thankful right now. So here are just a few of those million. Here is my sacrifice of thanksgiving:

Father,
Thank You for using me as a witness to lost and hurting people. Thank you that I now get to stay home again with my two beautiful babes. Thank you for a husband who has sat with me while I cried, hugged me while I left snot marks on his shirt and dabbed away tears after leaving mascara blobs on his collar. Thank you for friends who have called, texted, emailed and driven by to say they love me. Thank you for giving me another opportunity to trust You. I do not know how bills will be paid or how we will pay for any fun “extras”, but I am thankful I have You to guide me. Without You, I’d feel this mountain insurmountable. With You, I am able to look at this as the beginning of another exciting adventure. Thank you for Your great love for me, and thank You for my daughter who reminded me last night while I cried that “Jesus will wipe away all my tears. Don‘t be sad mommy.” Thank you for sweet words out of the mouths of babes. Thank you for Jesus, Your Son, who saves.

Amen

Be the Constant

The screaming reached a pitch only recognizable to neighborhood dogs. Any moment, I was sure a DCFS worker would come pounding on my door. A strange banging noise rang out from my daughter’s room. What had sent my three-year-old into this rage? I no longer remember the particular thing that did it this time, however I can tell you it was probably something as simple as telling her to get ready for nap time. Or go brush her teeth. Or just a little two-letter word—NO. Anything that was contrary to her plan for the moment could have done it. To make matters worse, Daddy was away on Air Force Chaplaincy orders for the summer, so that meant her usual expectations for life had been disrupted. A dear friend of mine had come over that morning for a walk, get me out of the house for a breath of fresh air, when this tantrum took place. I sent my little urchin to her room to think about having a happy heart when the screaming and banging commenced. It did not sound like hearts were getting happy. All of a sudden a certain panic overcame the screaming, and a little, “Help me!” came from her room. My friend was first on her feet and in my daughter’s room to find Michaela had pulled a dresser over and was holding it up by her feet.
A few thoughts went through my mind at that moment simultaneously: Wow, my daughter is unbelievably strong. Wow, thank you God for not letting it crush her. BAH, I KNEW WE SHOULD HAVE ANCHORED THAT DRESSER TO THE WALL!! I yanked the dresser up, and grabbed Michaela to give her lots of snuggles and hugs. My shaky breath began to return to normal. Uh, is this what everyone’s three-year-old tantrums look like?
I wish I could tell you after that the rest of the summer was a breeze. That she had gotten out her uglies, and we finished Operation Survive Without Daddy just fine. However, that would be a lie. Some days were lovely. Sometimes Michaela was so well-behaved it made me doubt that the tantrums had ever happened. Then, the Rage Monster came for another visit. In these moments, I looked at myself for fault. What in the world was I doing wrong? Why couldn’t I get my daughter’s behavior under control? How come other moms seem to have an eternal supply house of patience and love when I feel like any minute MY Rage Monster would explode on her? I started to beat myself up pretty badly.
Then I was reminded of algebra. Now, you should know I vehemently hate math. (Ironically enough, I was nominated class treasurer in high school. It’s a wonder we made it to our senior trip with a dollar to our name). So, there I was sitting there beating myself up about my daughter’s poor behavior when high school algebra was brought to mind. I don’t remember much of what Mr. Walker taught us, however I do remember this:
A constant is a fixed number or value. It is a number that you are sure of.
A variable is a symbol for a number we don’t know yet.
I heard a Still, Small Voice whisper to me, “Amanda, be the constant.” In this real life equation I am the constant. My daughter is the variable. I am the fixed value. She is what we don’t know yet, what’s still in motion, still becoming who she’s made to be.
The dictionary describes variable as being “inconstant, fickle, or having much variation or diversity.” One other time in my life God has brought the constant and variable to mind. I was on a train. Listening to some praise and worship music, pouring my heart out to God in my prayer journal. It was not that long after I’d had my miscarriage, and I was struggling. I felt like God had left me all alone. I was begging Him to please just talk to me! Please, let me know You haven’t forgotten me! And then, He said it to me. “Amanda, I Am the constant. You are the variable, my child. I do not change. Never have, never will. I am some One you may be sure of. It is you, my daughter, that has been the variable. While I have stayed the same, dear, you have wandered from my voice. Come back into communion with me.” And with that, I rested in the arms of my Jesus once again.
Pastor Ritch Boerckel of Bethany Baptist Church in Edwards, Illinois, reminded parents one Sunday morning that we are often a child’s first picture, first example of Jesus. Think about that for a second. Our little ones’ first impressions of Jesus come from how we portray Him. That’s why I encourage you to be the constant. Be the faithful one in the equation between you and your child. Even when your kid is acting completely horrid, remain firm and steady, unchanging. This is how they will come to know you and what to expect from you. Trust is developed. And ultimately, this is how we can point their hearts to Jesus.
How have you been the constant in your child’s life?