Has something ever stolen your joy?
A few weeks ago I woke up unable to move my shoulder. Actually I could move it, but when I did, an electrical current shot through my toes. So I decided not to move it.
I guess it means I’m not as young as I once was when I sleep wrong and separate my shoulder! Literally. That’s what happened.
For two weeks I couldn’t put deodorant on, turn on the light switch, sleep, put my socks on, hug my kids, push a grocery cart or type at the computer unless I had a hundred pillows bunched up in a certain way.
Ok maybe not 100 pillows. But it was honestly one of the most painful things I’ve ever gone through – above having 3 C-sections.
I wanted to put my arm in a sling to keep it still all day, but the chiropractor who adjusted my shoulder back in place told me I had to keep it moving. He said Don’t keep it still! All the muscles and tendons were in protection mode and basically signaling to my brain Nobody move! I had to override that impulse and stretch those muscles and tendons out.
I see metaphors everywhere. Kinda like the movie The 6th sense, but instead of seeing dead people, I see metaphors.
The latest one I’ve been pondering on came from the water park. My kids and I were going to ride one more slide before calling it a day. We walked over to grab a tube, my feet burning on the hot concrete, and my daughter said, “Can we each get our own this time?” “Sure!” I said, happy to go alone and just carry a single tube up the endless stairs.
As we walked to the slide, I watched my kids run ahead of me, each carrying their own tube. On the way up I passed a kid maybe 13 years old hauling a two-man raft for his little sister. “Do you need any help?” I asked, drawing closer, because I actually had an extra hand… “No thank you. I’m fine.” He answered.
I never thought of motherhood like carrying tubes at a water park, but there are some parallels.
Birth through 2 years is full of feedings, diaper changes, naps and hold me mommy. As moms, we carry the tube. All day. And we appreciate it when other people ask to help.
Over the sound of running water and clanking dishes in the kitchen, I could hear my children discussing something as they cleaned up dinner. Their tone told me something was being debated.
My husband and I paused the conversation we were having in the other room to listen in and decide whether we needed to intervene or let them work it out.
We didn’t know the specifics of what they were arguing about but the tone told us most of the story. Our youngest had started to explain something, but he didn’t tell the details exactly right. So his sister helped him be a little more accurate. But that still didn’t suffice for the oldest brother, who then edited the story again to his specifications. Well, that in turn left Zach, who started the whole thing, feeling frustrated and deflated. It was like he needed to defend himself, his story and his right to tell his story his way.
All this from a tone.
Through my son and this situation, I recognized a fear I can struggle with.
It’s the fear of not being heard. Or of being heard but misunderstood.
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The shower water was already running when I realized I forgot to grab my clothes. Opening the dresser, I reached towards the pile where my night shirts are stacked, looking for a particular shirt. The room was dark, and at first glance I didn’t see it.
I squinted my eyes and fingered though the stack again, but still couldn’t find it. Next I pulled the stack of shirts out, thinking somehow it got shoved in the corner. Still didn’t see it. Frustrated now because I’m wasting hot water, I walked to the light switch and flicked on the lights. Lo and behold, there was my shirt hiding in plain sight.
Good grief I thought to myself. Why didn’t I do that in the first place?
Well, because I thought I knew where it was and didn’t think I needed the light!
Trying to laugh, I hollered to my husband in the other room “Hey, just a piece of advice: when you’re looking for something, it helps to turn on the light!”
The other day we were late to leave the house and my husband could not find his truck keys. He knew he had seen them, even had them in his hand that very morning. We checked everywhere, every cabinet, drawer, basket, dirty pair of pants, his usual pocket….and…nothing!
After going back through all of those areas again, he decided to check his truck. One pull on the handle told him it was locked. Hoping he didn’t lock the keys in the truck, he cupped his hands to peer through the window at the ignition. No keys there.
Pondering what to do next, he instinctively stuck his hands in his pockets. That’s when he felt it. In his left pocket was a familiar metallic, key-shaped object pressing against his hand. Embarrassed, he pulled it out and yep, it was his truck key!
We are creatures of habit. Adam’s habit is to put his keys in his right pant pocket. When it wasn’t there, he panicked and didn’t know where they could be! He checked his right pocket a dozen times. But because he is such a strong creature of habit it didn’t dawn on him to simply check the other pocket.
I laughed at my husband’s lost keys but I so easily do this in my walk with Christ.
While hiking side by side with my husband along a trail in Arkansas, the sight of this tree caused me to stop.
Do you see the rock in the middle of the tree? Do you see how the tree has grown around the rock?
I imagine that tree spent many days praying for God to remove that rock. “It’s in my way,” it whined. “I was here first!” It pleaded. “Please tell it to leave so I can grow.”
But God said No. He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Taking the Lord’s answer, the tree decided to stop sulking and instead keep growing, despite the rock in its way. And now years later, this is the result: A firmly planted and mature tree with a rock in the center.
I have many rocks in my life – burdens I’ve prayed for God to remove. Financial stress, relational strain, homeschool woes, fears and shameful memories. Some of these He has removed – to the glory and praise of His Great Name!
But others, He has left.
Last week I wrote a story about my husband apologizing to our son. Apologies are good and as the story shared, help restore relationships. But I started thinking, that sometimes we apologize for things we shouldn’t.
On Easter weekend, my husband and I rented a cabin in the woods, just the two of us. One morning we walked the trails nearby and passed a family hiking the opposite way. As we got closer we overheard the mom say to her daughter, “Only say you’re sorry when you’ve done something wrong and really need to apologize for it. You don’t have to say I’m sorry to everything.”
Then, seconds later as our paths literally crossed she said to us, “Oh I’m sorry, let us scoot out of your way.” Adam and I chuckled. I wonder where the little girl learned to say I’m sorry so often!
It’s easier to say I’m sorry when you accidentally bump into someone in a crowded store than it is when you’ve done something hurtful and need to apologize to restore the relationship. But at the same time, parenting and relationships are hard, and we often, like the mom said apologize for the wrong things.
So in honor of those who make too many apologies (me included!), here are 2 situations we should never apologize for.
“Son, shut up!”
The words flew like a knife out of my mouth, cutting my 14 year old son before I could sheath them. He had pushed the issue one too many times. I had firmly told him he couldn’t do something, but rather than accept my answer he chose to be creative in his approach and ask from a different angle, hoping I wouldn’t notice. Hoping I’d change my mind.
But I caught on. I said no again and warned him to stop pushing and accept my answer. Obviously he wasn’t finished because a few minutes later, he asked me one more time. And I lost it.
I’d never told him to shut up before. He stood, stunned at my words, then tucked his tail like a whipped puppy and left the room.
I could tell my words stung as they cut. He looked wounded. He’d never seen me come at him like that before. It wasn’t just the words, but the fire behind them as well.
This May marks 9 years of homeschooling for me. Nine years! After that much time, I really thought I would have more figured out than I do. I think what I’ve figured out the most are my weaknesses and knowing better how to navigate around them. One problem with homeschooling is you don’t teach the same grade each year. Our job morphs as our children grow. So just about the time you figure one thing out, they’re moving on to the next!
One morning over Christmas break, I was journaling some of my struggles and questions, and I felt the Spirit encourage me: You can do this, but it’s not going to look like someone else.
Isn’t that a great word?
It challenged me to look around and see if I’m trying to implement how someone else is schooling their kids instead of looking to the Lord and asking Him to guide us. Isn’t it crazy how we can admire how one mom “does school” and we try and do it just like she does?
“Our limitation is God’s opportunity.”
~ Denver Hall, Same Kind of Different as Me
It’s Sunday morning. Everyone’s up and bustling around pouring milk into cereal bowls, digging in the dryer to find matching socks and the tee-shirt without holes or stains on it.
But for Adam and I, it’s not working. We are running late, can’t find anything to wear, and frankly don’t have a good attitude about the day. We keep going through the motions though, hoping our want to will get the message and catch up. When I’m still in my pajamas with 15 minutes before time to leave, we decide to call it.
“Kids, we’re not going to make it to church today.”
Of course, this was the one week they were ready early, so our statement met with disappointed faces. The week had been too full and Adam and I couldn’t go. Any. More.
Have you ever been there?