The "Committed" Mom?

I am blessed to be the mom of three wonderfully amazing children I call Brent, Lottie and Kenzie. But honestly, there are days when I am committed and days when I need to be committed! So here's where this little blog comes refuge- my opportunity to share with all who care, the joys of being a "Committed" Mom!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Never Stop Praying or You Might Get Hit with Dog Poo

Ive alluded to the fact in recent blog post that I have been struggling, that my family has been struggling.  Struggling with depression, struggling with finding joy and laughter again, struggling with my sin issues and struggling with my son's sin issues. I know I've mentioned it before, but all three of my children were adopted and all three are blessings from the Lord.  I don't doubt for a single second that He took great time, great care and hand picked these children to be in our hearts and lives forever.  Though not of our blood, these three kiddos couldn't be any more like us than if they had been. (Good and bad)
As an adoptive parent there have been several conversations my husband and I have had (and some in my head) over being qualified for this task He has given us.  Things like "Really God? I've got no skill training in this area- I've never owned a 3 and 1/2 year old before (I saw owned jokingly) how does this work? How do we do this? How do we handle that? But we understand none of them, not even the ones born through us, come with instruction books.  So on this front, we share the battle lines with ALL PARENTS in general.
But being an adoptive parent also brings its own special conversations, that biological parents can relate with but it's got a slightly different twist.  Conversations about failing our kids. We think things like "God if these kids were of my blood, would this be different? Would they be different?  Would this struggle be happening if they weren't adopted? Is it Nature or is it Nurture, meaning are they this way because of the way we raised them (screwed them up) or is this because of their DNA and how they are wired? (Screwed up on their own with history)
Don't get me wrong, I know we are all screwed up and none of us even come close to perfection in the parenting department, but sometimes I feel like I am really making a big mess of things.  I feel like these poor kids might have had a better life chance, if they were with other more spiritually mature parents. Parents who always know the right things to say and how to say it- not like a screaming, cursing fool that I can sometimes be.  Parents who are way more grounded in scripture and can whip it out whenever it's needed to encourage and build up. I am not saying this is right thinking by any means, but I am being honest here and these are the thoughts I've (we've) had.  Never in a million years did I have a thought that parenting would be easy, but I can also say honestly, I never thought in a million years that it would be this hard either.  Nothing prepares you for the big things,  when Satan throws those life crushing blows. There is often no warning of when he drops a giant bag of dog poo on you and lately my family has had an awful lot of poo dumped on us.
Here is what I understand with all of this so far, here is what God has been teaching me.
God is a good Father. (Matthew 7:11)
He is the creator of all living things. (Gen 1)
He loves all of His creation (regardless of how we feel about certain things- like mosquitos and murderers). (Gen 1)
He is the Alpha and Omega. (Rev 1:8)
He loved the world so much that He gave His only Son (Jesus), that whosoever shall believe in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
God loved us so much, in that while we were still sinners-He loved us and died for us! (Rom 5:8) All of us.! He didn't wait for us to get clean and make things right by ourselves- He took us dirty, wretched, and sin filled.
God doesn't want perfection from us, He is perfection for us.
He was the ONE and only PERFECT parent- and boy did His kids really screw up! (Gen 3)
So if God was perfect and His kids were screwed up, than why do I think my parenting should be perfect when I am so far from perfection?  Why am I so hard on myself in my ability to parent, when I am only able to parent out of what I have learned along the way and who He has wired me to be?  If I proclaim that I am not a fit parent for my kids, am I not blaspheming God and telling Him He was wrong to pick me for this job?  See this is where He gets me every time....Wait for it.....If I am trying to be God, why do they need to know Him? If I am trying to be everything to them and fix it all, why would they go to God?  If I am my kids savior, why do they need a Savior?
Basically- I need to get out of the way and let God do what God does. I need to allow God to work through me without trying to take over and be in control and believe me, I love to be in control (well the illusion of it anyway)!
My job as a parent is to guide, protect and pray for my kids. I don't know if you have seen the War Room, but that movie has inspired me in how I am now tackling parenthood. We are in war against the dark principalities out there. The evil that seeks to destroy and annihilate families.  The evil that wants to crush the hearts and lives of all who proclaim that Jesus is Lord.  But we have the power, God has defeated this enemy and in the end WE WIN with Christ.  The enemy can attack and he can cause some devastating pain- but God is always in control!!! It is our job to raise our voices and claim our families for the Lord. It is our job to pray against and rebuke the attacks of the enemy.
I have been in battle for my son's soul for almost 3 years now.  The enemy is a prowling lion (1 Peter 5:8), waiting to devour my son- using his weakness and his struggles to attack him spiritually, emotionally and mentally.  He thrives off knowing my son feels defeated and cannot get past his struggles.  My 12 year old son is ready to give up because he thinks, this is all there is.  He feels life will never get better and things will always be the way they are now. This son of mine, who was abused significantly the first 3 1/2years of his life, whose mother made a choice to give him up- but keep his brothers. This son of mine who was exposed to pornography at the tender age of 9 and who was introduced sexually to things he had no business being exposed to. The son who now struggles with some very adult issues that are causing a great deal of pain and problems in his life. His choices have lead to great heart ache and great sorrow on a level that I don't wish on any parent or family. But  I have a hope for my son and that Hope is Jesus!
I realized that after watching War Room, that I had a calling for 2016.  This year I am called to be a warrior for the Lord. Which is kind of cool for me because I always wanted to be a Charlie's Angel, but God's Warrior Chick is so much cooler! I am called to stand against this darkness and fight. (Eph 6:10-18) Some battles we pick, some we have no say in joining, regardless of that choice I need to put on His full armor and walk bravely into the war zone.  I am called to the battle lines and stand firm in my faith. I am called to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. (Micah 6:8)  I am to come boldly to the throne of Grace and ask God to help me (Heb 4:16), not attempt to do it in my own strength. Most importantly I need to be on my knees and never stop praying for anyone and everyone God brings to my mind (1 Thess 5:17).
 I realized tonight just how important that last statement is.  When things were bombarding my family- when the bags of poo were being flung without warning, I was on my knees, face down, prostrate before the Lord. I was crying out to Him regularly and battling daily. I was a woman on a mission, a woman who vowed not to give into the enemy and allow him to steal her family away. I was journaling, I was singing worship songs, I was growing a deeper faith with each challenge that came my way. I felt strong, I felt empowered, I felt there was nothing that God couldn't do! And then....
The bags of poo stopped, see the enemy knew I was prepared for them so, he came with a new attack a more subtle approach. I got prideful, I was like "Yea- take that Satan- you can't take me! As for me and my house we will serve the Lord- HA! How you like me now Satan? I can take it, cause I have the Lord-mmmm!" Peace began to emerge, things quieted down and my husband and I started to breath again.  I didn't feel like I was constantly looking over my shoulder for what was coming next. I began to relax, a little too much. I started noticing I wasn't on my knees as much. I wasn't in battle so I was good. Life is good God, I am good. But I could hear the whispers, day after day- "Nina, come back.  Sit here with me, I've got work for you." I would smile "Alright Lord, I'll be there in a minute- I've got to rest awhile. I've got to decompress. (Facebook, mindless brain numbing shows and games like Candy Crush Jelly)" I was good at decompressing, I liked it. I didn't have to think to much, or worry to much. God continued to call and I kept saying "I'll be right there Lord, tonight I will make time....(zzzzzzzzz)" Well God maybe tomorrow.  My prayer life didn't stop, it just got...lazy. I got lazy.
What happens when we get lazy? Sneak attacks!!  I should have seen him coming- but I was not on guard. I was not prepared. I was not fully awake at the post and he sucker punched me with dog poo again!  I won't lie, I did get angry, really, really angry. Angry that it happened again, angry that it happened on my watch, angry that I was the one who let the enemy in. I could blame no one but me. I let complacency set in and take over. Complacency was Satan's subtle approach-His crafty secret weapon.  Complacency was wrapped in comforts that I liked and I fell for it! But what Satan didn't know is that I have a new favorite saying "Not today Satan, not TOOOOO-DAY!" and rather than beat myself up over it and shame myself (which is how I used to deal with things) I saw what God's lesson was for me and I asked for His forgiveness and I went back to my post.  I didn't stay where I was or wish I had made a better choice and whine about my mistake, nope I cleaned myself off and  I realized that when I stop praying, no one is protected and the moral of the story is: Never stop praying or else you just might get hit with dog poo.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Joy, SONshine and Pain

My last blog I spoke about the darkness of depression. Even as I type this, I can feel it hovering around me on all sides. The darkness is just waiting for me to acknowledge it, it wants me to focus on it because when I do, I give it power. Do you understand what that feels like? Has there ever been a time when you could feel the weight of the darkness around you, waiting....waiting...waiting.
Before, if I looked at it, I would become paralyzed and not know what to do, how to feel or act. In the darkness, fear gripped me, my vision was stolen from me and I felt like I lost control. The air was always heavy and I noticed I would breath slower, not intentionally but rather instinctually, because in darkness sucker punches come from anywhere. That was before.
I see you darkness, I can recognize you and I understand what and who you are. Today, you are around me and I am able to see because of the Light. With Light there can be no darkness.
So I say it again, I see you. I see my enemy and I am choosing not to give you power. Today I am going to share how I choose to deal with my pain, today I am going to give God the power to use my words to give life to someone else. I do not give permission to the darkness to take this pain, I do not give it permission to overcome me or devour me. Today, I claim this feeling of darkness, this pain that is deep in my soul and I give it the Lord's plan and His purpose. Today I consider my trial, my pain, a gift and I rejoice in my suffering.

James 1: 2-4 (The Message)
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

James 1: 2-4 (NLT)
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

I did not always feel this way, because honestly, who in their right mind considers pain a gift? Is that something you would give to someone? Valentine's Day is today. How many of you are planning on going out and doing something that will cause pain to your loved one and then say "I love you babe, Happy Valentine's Day"? Insane right? America is sold on the idea of love and happiness and what it should look like. We say love shouldn't hurt, if someone makes you cry then toss them aside and find someone new. We want effortless relationships, we think this is natural right? Relationships aren't supposed to be hard, if they require effort they must not be worth it then right? Why do most people walk away from marriages- because they aren't happy.

Admit it, you have people on Facebook you have de-friended because they make you angry and they don't agree with your political or social thoughts and viewpoints. They say things that make you mad and make you shout obscenities at the screen (Props to the people who don't use swear words, God's still working on my heart with that one!) You shake your head and say, am I really friends with someone like this? I don't need this sort of stress in my life and within a matter of seconds-DELETE. Problem solved, back to being happy.

We as a nation, have this sense of entitlement, thanks to Disney, creative advertising and Social Media, we feel we are owed a fairy tale life with a happy ending. When it isn't easy, when there is hurt and pain, what is the easiest solution? Pack your bags and go where it's easy, go where you feel good, do what makes you happy. I say all because I am guilty of feeling this (Not towards my husband now, but definitely in past relationships). This is how I felt I was entitled to live my life. If I have a choice (And we all do) between living a life that is easy breezy or hard, I will naturally pick easy breezy every time. Is it because I am lazy and don't want to work for it? Sometimes. Sometimes it's easier to walk away from a friendship of 20 years if you don't like to argue and can't handle confrontation. We think- eh, I'll just find a new friend. We live in a very disposable society. People and things have no value to us if they don't make us happy. However, today I realized it's not just because I am lazy, it's because deep down inside I was created for that, and so were you.
In the beginning when God created the Heaven and the Earth (The Book of Genesis) and Man and Woman, He placed us in a Utopic environment. We had all our needs met, we lacked for nothing and we had relationship with our Heavenly Father. We had it all!!! Imagine walking along side of God everyday-physically being in His presence, in HIS PRESENCE!!! Face to face with the One who created you. The one who put the stars in the sky, the one who made something out of nothing with His breath! Adam and Eve had it, they didn't have to work for it, there was no stress, no heartache, there was no enmity between Adam and Eve. (Imagine always getting along with your loved one) They had easy breezy and then....they gave it all away! With one choice, one decision (SIN) we surrendered easy breezy and we've been trying to get back to it ever since. Intrinsically we all long for that because that was what we were created for. (The whole giving away our easy breezy/SIN is a blog topic I will save for another time- Focus Nina, Focus)

My point is, don't feel bad for wanting easy breezy, it's natural. But because we no longer have access to easy breezy, we feel the void in our lives. We ache for it, we know that something is missing, so we go about all sorts of ways to achieve the pursuit of happiness! Trying to find happiness with shopping, drugs, money, food,- whatever you try to fill the void with. Only it never is satisfied, the void is always there. If I feel bad, I eat, I take drugs, I shop..I(Fill in the blank). Why? Because we don't like to feel the void, we don't like the pain and darkness and we think other things will make us happy. 
One of the greatest lessons I have learned, and want to share today is: Quit chasing happy, embrace the pain, welcome the Joy and fill the void!

Statistics say that people actually THRIVE when they are in their most challenging situations, athletes get better at their sport when they are pushed and challenged, caterpillars struggle before becoming butterflies, trees grow taller and stronger because the winds blow and they endure various types of weather. Even the seed starts out in the dark ground, but as it is nourished and the light shines, eventually it grows through the darkness and into the sunlight. It is in the dark, like the seed, in our trials and struggles that we find out what we are really made of. Do we allow ourselves to grow or do we wither away?

Think about this for a moment, if bad never happens to us, if things are good all the time, then how can we appreciate and know what is good? Admit it, the same thing all the time, every day isn't ex
citing, it becomes blasé. If we had it perfect all the time, eventually we would find something to not like about it. We would take it for granted. Adam and Eve had it and took the good for granted, I guess nothing much has changed in a few thousand years. We simply can never exist with all happiness all the time, at least while we are here on Earth we can't.

So here is the million dollar question, if we know that life is going to have darkness and dark times (because it will) what attitude do we take? As I see it, we can approach it two ways:

1. Runaway and avoid, try at all cost to escape any type of pain or suffering in the pursuit of being eternally happy and live a life devoid of problems. Cut off relationships with people and avoid discomfort (well try to anyway).

The very definition of happiness is: feeling or showing pleasure or contentment, having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with (a person, arrangement, or situation) and fortunate and convenient. (Google Dictionary)

So by this definition you will constantly be seeking pleasure or contentment in order to be truly happy. However, realizing what we already know above, eventually in everything we will stop being content, our sins, our vices do not fill the void, nor do they make us content. If you are not content or lose pleasure in what once made you happy- can you achieve total happiness? 
Unless a person is completely without flaws and perfect in all ways, (BTW...I only know One personally, message me and I will tell you all about Him) will you ever have full confidence or satisfaction in them? 
And lastly, if it's fortunate and convenient, then isn't happiness really a temporal feeling that leaves based on circumstances? Happiness is a state of mind and if you are never content, always seeking to avoid issues and problems, running away from relationships, never having secure confidence in a situation for knowing everyone has flaws- is happiness possible? Stick with me.


2. Embrace the period of darkness, recognize that it is there and it stinks! Realize we have no control of how, when and where the darkness will come from, we don't know how long it will last and therefor realize we have no control over any of it. Once you realize you really don't have control, it's shouldn't be that hard to surrender the facade of control. After all, God has been the One with all the control anyway, you are just acknowledging your position and releasing yourself to His hands, inviting Him who is light- into your darkness. Go on, wave that white flag and let that freaky flag fly!!!

Upon surrendering what happens next will amaze and astound you. It makes no sense to the outside world. God will nurture you by feeding you and refreshing you with His Word and Living Water (Aka The Bible). He will restore your soul, filling you with strength you never knew you could have, flooding you with a rock solid hope and peace in knowing that He has got this for you.  Your circumstances may not change, and often times get worse. You still won't know how, when, where or why about the darkness, but it won't matter because you've got the Light and suddenly you can see and the darkness isn't so scary. You will find peace in pain and a security unlike any other, with this peace you discover true joy! (And no happiness and joy are not the same)

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of your life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation. (Rick Warren)

Joy is possible in any circumstance because it isn't based on circumstance (like happiness) it's based on your confidence and hope in the Lord. But how do you trust Him? How can you not???? In case you didn't know this yet, we serve an active and living God. He doesn't just sit on the sidelines and cheer you on from Heaven "Hey good job down there, way to go!". He isn't up on His throne, playing wingman, telling you what to do "Boogie @ 3 o'clock, missiles aimed directly at you, go left!
" He isn't far away and removed, He is everywhere near you, always! He will be there walking behind you, giving you a shove when you are too scared to move forward. Some days you will be back to back, He will be covering you from behind so that the enemy can not sneak up on you. He may be standing in front of you, asking you to put your hands on His shoulder's and let Him lead you safely through. He could be arm and arm with you helping you take that next step after falling down or maybe you are having a day where you simply can't move at all, He won't desert the wounded, no my friend He carries them for as long as He needs too. So if He is everywhere near you, always- how can you not trust Him?

If He created you for His enjoyment and His pleasure to be in relationship with Him, why would He ever want to harm you? How can that not bring you peace and joy? He miraculously fills the void and suddenly you find you are not looking into the abyss of pain, you are looking up to the eyes of the Redeemer who rescues and saves. And overtime you acknowledge that God is the one who takes away the pain and gives Joy, you take the power from the enemy away. The enemy who comes to steal, kill and destroy. Every word of praise that focuses on the Light instead of the Darkness- diminishes the hold of the darkness over you. 
So today if you are in darkness, if you are constantly seeking happiness in all areas of your life, maybe it's time to re-evaluate. Maybe it's time to pick #2 instead of #1. Quit chasing happy, embrace the pain, welcome the Joy and fill the void!

The darkness is around us, but it doesn't have to be in us. May we give our hearts freely to you and receive the Light of your Truth in our hearts. May you help us to understand fully that happiness will never eliminate our pain, because happiness is only temporal. I pray that tonight hearts out there, would recognize the darkness  for what it really is and take away it's power by giving you full power and control. You are the Light of the World and only You can cause the darkness to flee, only You can turn mourning into dancing, only You can fill our hearts with joy in the midst of great sorrows.  So many of us are chasing the world's view of happiness and becoming more and more disillusioned and depressed. We are searching for the wrong answers to fix what is spiritually wrong.  I pray for the madness to stop and for eyes to be open, for ears to hear and for eyes to SEE Your Truth. Bring Your Light Lord and shine it brightly into the dark places in our lives, so that we may be fully exposed to you. Thank you for the gift of pain and the gift of joy. In Your precious and holy name- Amen

***BTW I want to give credit to Disney they did get something right, though not the fairy tale ending- better yet true reality! Inside/Out nailed it- Joy and Sadness need each other for growth!

Here are some encouraging scriptures about LIGHT

John 8:12Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
John 1:5
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it
Psalm 30:11
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy
Psalm 97:11
Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right.