Awe and Wonder

Today I will wake up to awe and wonder. To squeals of joy as my son opens the car track he’s been hinting at for months. There will be a lot of “WHOA!”, and “I always wanted a _______”, and “Thank you!!!”. I have spent the last couple of months carefully selecting special gifts in anticipation of this moment, and I will soak it all in.

I love these special Christmas mornings, but I confess I often get lost in all the giving and receiving. The morning exchange is only a small fraction of the awe and wonder of Christmas. There is so much more!

This year I’ve been trying to refocus. Trying to take time and really meditate on the true meaning of Christmas. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I know that’s not your typical Christmas verse, but in my opinion it sums up the basics of the true meaning of Christmas. As I read it, a new perspective stood out. He GAVE His one and only son, not only did He give Him, He lived as one of us. THIS IS A BIG DEAL!

Have you ever been going through a tough time and felt like nobody understood you? Friends would try and offer their support, but you knew they didn’t understand. How could they? They’ve never been through what your going through! Not Jesus! He gets it!

Lost a loved one? So did Jesus. Scared? Terrified? Jesus has been there. Being bullied? Jesus knows exactly what that’s like. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Jesus gets you! He understands, because God loves you so much that He sent His one and only son to be born in a manger on that special day that would change history.

Christmas is about so much more than our gift giving on Christmas morning. It’s about celebrating the birth of God’s son. A man who lived as one of us, and loves us. A man who understands us and has compassion for us. A man whose life represents hope for each one of us.

So today I’m filled with awe and wonder, because He lives!

Drowning in Defeat

I can’t tell if I’m the only one, or if everyone else is just better at covering it up, but sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in responsibilities. A messy house, a growing to do list, forever forgetting just about everything. Throw in procrastination and a lack of motivation, and I feel just plain defeated.

Sometimes life feels like a hamster wheel. Like your running and running and running all day long. Laundry, meltdowns, dishes, repeat! Over and over and over again, and yet nothing ever seems to be done, or stay done. Yesterday, I was like the energizer bunny working away all day long, but do I have anything to show for it? NOPE! Even my most productive days don’t seem to cut it. It’s never enough!

It’s hard on days like this to crawl out of the deep pit of defeat. My mountain of laundry seems insurmountable and when the kids yell “Mom! Mom!! MOM!!!”, my patience is low. For someone who battles feelings of inadequacy and failure. I feel like I’ve lost.

I spoke to someone today about our mutual struggle with procrastination, and she mentioned how she stalls on the big tasks with mopping, doing dishes, and folding laundry. *Sigh* What I wouldn’t give to have her kind of procrastination “skills”. To be a productive procrastinator. Unfortunately I’m the, “Not today, I choose Netflix!”, procrastinator and that really puts a wrench in productivity of any sort.

I think a large part of my problem is that keeping up with everything seems like an impossible task. Maybe it is (mom of four here), but the more I think about it, the problem may be my expectations. I have this gold standard in my head of mothers who get the job done. You know Leave It to Beaver style, keeping a spotless home, greeting her kids after school with freshly baked low sugar organic cookies. The mom who always knows what to say, and never looses her cool. The mom who is always organized and put together and never ever late for the bus stop. In my head, thats the other moms on the block. They’ve got their act together. They’ve got, “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place”, and I’ve got piles of school papers and one too many junk drawers. I envision the other moms with pristine houses, organized toy bins, and Pinterest worthy meals on the table every night. I want so badly to be that mom thats got it all together, but sadly I’m not. Who knows, maybe the truth is that mom doesn’t exist.

My mother-in-law has a sign in her house that says, “This house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy”. I’ve read it for years and just never let in sink in. I think a large part of why I am so overwhelmed is my expectations are so unattainable. Frankly, I’m not even sure they’re healthy. I tried to be the “that mom” once and I was exhausted. The floors were spotless, the laundry bins empty, and the food was always from scratch, but our family suffered for it. See though the house was immaculate, I was cranky, high strung, and barely spent any time with my kids. It wasn’t good for anyone!

Somewhere along the way,  we women have learned to determine our worth and how good of a mother we are, by the state of our homes. Don’t get me wrong, we have a responsibility to take care of our homes and kids, but we’re not measured by it. 

My kids aren’t going to grow up and reminisce about how mom was so tidy, and who cares if Karen down the street has a cleaner house than mine? Not me! Well, maybe a little bit, but I’m working on it.

So, maybe the new standard should go something like this. The mom whose house is lived in, but not too chaotic. The mom who always loves on her kids more than she yells at them, and the mom who has it mostly together, and is sometimes still late for the bus stop. I think that’s doable, and maybe just one more, the woman who isn’t too hard on herself and not only sees her losses, but celebrates her wins.

When Jealousy Comes Easier Than Joy

Lately I’ve been noticing a growing unrest in myself. A longing for something more and it’s taking it’s toll on me. See I’m not talking about ambition, I’m talking about jealousy.

This year has been tough! Despite our budgeting and saving, finances are tight. We’re emotionally and physically exhausted, and twenty nineteen has been filled with injuries and multiple frantic trips to the ER because one my kids couldn’t breathe. It has been hard and at times I find myself jealous and resentful even at others seemingly simple lives. I find myself questioning when our hardships will end. Overall I find myself growing in frustration as life seems to throw hurdle after hurdle at us.

Lately though, God has been speaking to me in the gentle way He often does, and it all boils down to one word. Grateful. Confusing I know. Twenty nineteen has been one for the books, BUT there has been so much good! Things that up until now, I have chosen to ignore in favour of self pity. 

My marriage is probably the best it’s been in 11 years, we’ve finally got our budgeting and savings on track, and I have four healthy children. Really that last one is huge for me. My kids have asthma, severe food allergies, and my daughter had sepsis when she was one. Each of them have nearly died, BUT they are here, and for the most part, they’re healthy. I have been fortunate enough to always leave the hospital with my child. God has blessed me beyond measure.

This week I have been reminded of the commandment to “not covet” and how important it is. When I was a kid we were often taught about the Ten Commandments and I remember thinking that one was weird. I mean the others make sense. Don’t kill, don’t worship other Gods, don’t cheat, those are givens, but coveting? What’s that and what’s the big deal with it anyway? 

As a little kid coveting was explained to me as the desire to have what someone else has. I can’t say I really understood the significance when I was little, but as I got older coveting has become a really big struggle. 

See at the surface this commandment seems really insignificant, but I think it may actually be at the root of a lot of our troubles. I think that most of us struggle with coveting on a daily basis, because what coveting truly is, is jealousy and dissatisfaction. It’s a dangerous blend of envy and ungratefulness. Often it’s what causes people to lie, cheat, and steal. You may be thinking “Phewf, not me! I’m in the clear on this one”, but if your like me, coveting is a daily issue, just in a more subtle way.

Now, coveting isn’t a commandment because God is gonna smite us for being jealous of our neighbour and wanting what others have. No! This commandment is for our own good. Jealousy has a sneaky way of stealing our joy. It makes us resentful and angry at God and man, instead of being grateful for all that we have been given. It paints our worldview with sadness, frustration and anger and causes us to be dissatisfied with life. It seems minor, but coveting has a domino effect. 

Truthfully I think I struggle with it almost every day. I covet my friends homes. I covet all the pretty things I see on Instagram. I even covet the success of others. This seemingly innocent act ends up having a big impact on my life. The more I covet, the less satisfied I am with life, and the more frustrated I become with God. I begin to feel like I’ve been gipped.

One of the things I really struggle with coveting is talent. Over the years I’ve questioned on more than one occasion why I couldn’t be talented like __________. I would talk to God and say, “Why didn’t you give me that? Why couldn’t I have that talent? How come they get to have all the gifts, and I have none.” In His gentle way, He would reply, “But I gave you talents Sarah. I just gave you different ones”.

He’s right. He has given me talents. He’s given me a voice to sing and words to write, and yet I have been so ungrateful. I have been greedy for more, I have been jealous of others blessings, and sometimes I’ve even resented them for it.

 I don’t want to live that way anymore, so I’m choosing to be grateful and ask God to give me contentment in all seasons. Some days it won’t be easy, but I think that even in the worst of times, we can all find something to be grateful for. To start, I’m thankful for a God who changes my perspective.

So though coveting seems like such a minor thing, I encourage you to look for it. Search your heart, because though it starts small and seems innocent, coveting is huge. It steals your joy, it distracts you, and it can make you greedy for things that were never intended to be yours. Coveting is a trap you can’t see until your already stuck in its clutches. God wants more for us. He wants us to live in gratitude and contentment. He wants us to see our lives as abundantly blessed and to use what He has given us instead of longing for what He has given to others. So, may we learn to claim our joy, instead of trading it for jealousy.

Life Takes a Village

People say it takes a village to raise a child, but our society doesn’t seem to work that way. Don’t get me wrong, we support each other in little ways, but there also seems to be another side. Over my nearly nine years of parenting I’ve noticed a lot of comparison and competition. Under the surface though I see something else entirely. Beneath it all I hear, “I don’t have a village, so neither should you”.

I’ve heard it disguised in conversations more times than I can count, and it makes me sad. I know that I often want and need a village. Maybe you didn’t have one, or maybe at this moment you’re all on your own, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our very best to be a village for each other now.

In Luke 6:31 Jesus says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (NIV). When I think of this verse I think of a village. I know I could really use one. See a village isn’t just for the child, it’s for the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of each of us. So maybe it should be, “Life takes a village”. It takes a community of support and care. It takes people reaching out to each other to encourage them and walk with them through their darkest days.

The enemy wants us to live for ourselves, and try to do life alone. He lies to us and says, “Life is a competition. Show no weakness. You can do it on your own. Better yet, show them you can do it even better!” I’ve fallen for it before. Trying to paint a picture of the mom of four who makes it look easy. I’ve tried to earn my status in life by powering through, because that’s how it’s done. Truth be told though, on the inside I was drowning. I was trying to prove I could do it on my own, but really I was dying for a helping hand, and yet I felt so ashamed for it.

As I’ve listened to these conversations around me, touting independence and strength, I can’t help but wonder how many people are just playing the game too? How many are like me? Playing a role, and yet wishing someone would see through the act? Somehow over the years independence has become the definition of strength. Like the holy grail of life achievements is proving you can do it by yourself. Sometimes though, I can’t help but wonder if true strength is in admitting you are weak and you can’t do it on your own. Maybe strength is actually found in seeking community, for wisdom, encouragement, and support for when it’s too difficult to stand on your own two feet.

If you were treated how you wanted to be treated would you have a village? What would it look like?

I’d like to build a village. Not just to raise my kids, but to raise me up in hard times. I’d like to build a village where I can do the same for my people. I’d like to build a village where we don’t have to pretend like we know what we’re doing or we have it under control. Beyond that I’d like to go further, because talk is easy, I want to build a village where we go the extra step, to give each other just what we’ve needed to get through those tough days or weeks or years.

I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s what Jesus had in mind all along. The problem is the enemy tells us we can’t do it. We’ve got too much of our own to add in the needs of other people. He tells us that this world is everyone for themselves, but I’m tired of living that way.

So let’s drop the lone wolf act; leaving our comparison, competitions, and pride in independence behind. We can build a village, and together we can raise each other up!