05 June 2018

Feasting on Wisdom

I feel like I’ve been feasting on wisdom lately. Like, I can’t seem to get enough. I am craving wisdom from women who have gone before me (and I need not say there have been a few mothers in the world before me going through the exact same journey that I am on now.). And due to my feasting, my stomach (aka brain) is exploding. Is this analogy even working? I don’t think so. Oh well, I’m just going to with it because I don’t want to slow down to try to find the perfect terms.

There is no time for ‘perfect’ these days if any of my many thoughts are ever going to come out the end of my fingertips. Where else can they go?

Once in a while a friend or my husband gets a big monologue about all the things I’ve been feasting on.

Sometimes my kids get a monologue… yeah that happens. Like in the car yesterday when we were listening to The Great Showman Soundtrack. Their favorite song is The Other Side. So after we heard it for the hundredth time, I talked on and on about how the Kingdom of God is like that! You’re either in or out. It’s that cut and dry. There are the easy and comfortable ways of the world… the path that most are taking. Or we can say ‘no’ to that and FLIP SIDES (not just scoot a little closer) to the other side… where we have to have faith and risk but we might find unparalleled freedom and joy!

That’s the Kingdom of God. You’re either in or you’re out.

No, I’m no theologian. Please don’t repeat anything I just said.

It’s just what was in my head swirling driving my kids to the store yesterday.

Sooooo, when I’m not lecturing my kids (who are my constant companions) all the rest of the times it’s just me, in my head.

And it seems to me that it’s getting crowded up there.

You see.

My kids finished school over a month ago. School ended early this year because of Ramadan. At the exact same time, I started meeting with a group of Moms. And in that Moms Group we are learning about God’s design for motherhood, and how to be a mother in the same way that God parents us.

Baaaaahahahahahaa

Oh the irony.

Practice what you preach, eh?

Approximately 16 hours a day I have endless opportunities to practice with my 4 little guinea pigs.

Besides the challenge of doing many new things as a family right now, and having four kids at home all day… it’s currently Ramadan, which means places are not open as usual and people are not available as usual.

AKA RECIPE FOR CRAZINESS.

I feel like I’m in a pressure cooker. A mothering-test-of-all-time.

I say that, but I know I still have many many luxuries that others don’t. And we are all healthy. And my husband isn’t in the army and deployed or anything.

But.

Um.

Mothering is HARD.

It’s just pretty much the hardest thing I think I might ever do.

It’s also pretty much the most important thing I think I will ever do.

And you know me. Well, I want to do it WELL.

So I’m working on it. Like, really working. Like reading and praying and studying and processing and asking for forgiveness again and again and again from my children. Whenever I can spare a moment… I am trying to grab a snack of wholesome mothering food. I feel like I can’t make it through the day without having eaten some goodness.  It literally feels like the sustenance that keeps me going these days.

I find that because my level of ‘pouring out’ is possibly higher than it has EVER BEEN, that I tend to do much better if I pay close attention to my mental diet. Know what I mean? I am constantly trying to ‘eat’ something that will help me in my long days of laying down my life. You are what you eat, eh? Putting good stuff in has benefits in the long run.

And it’s working, ever so slowly.

Are my circumstances changing?

Um, nope.

The kids, the laundry, the kitchen, the needs, etc. is all exactly the same.

But what is slowly, slowly changing is what is in my head and my heart.

Because the list is long and this rare blog post is also long, I’ll make a list. I would love for each of these thoughts to be it’s own post. But Mama ain’t got time for that today, so I’m gonna go for what I have time for today. I’m not going for perfect… I’m going for JUST POST ANYTHING SUZANNE BECAUSE BLOGGING BRINGS YOU LIFE AND HELPS YOU PROCESS.

Got it?

Okay, here is my

Wholesome Thoughts I’ve Been Eating List

1. Kids have needs. God designed them that way. So whyyyyyy am I annoyed and surprised when there is ANOTHER need? The kid didn’t do anything wrong to have a need. Whether the kids is 2, 5, 8,  or 10 (my kids ages), it’s okay! Kids were made to need help. Take a deep breath.

2. I was created to have what it takes to meet those needs. That is part of what God put in women when He designed us! To have a bent towards tenderness and care for children. To be able to multi-task.

3. If kids have needs and I have what it takes to meet these needs, then why the *&%$ am I pushing against this design?! Hello sister, I need to embrace it! Don’t we always say that we need to find our identity in Christ and in who He designed us to be in order to live the fullest life?! I am a lot of things BESIDES a mother… (that is not my entire identity)… but this is one of my callings and my role and I WAS BUILT FOR THIS! Not just for the carrying and birthing of babies, but also for the many years of ‘need meeting’ that follows.

4. Dishes get used, food gets eaten, clothes get dirtied, books get left out, screen doors get left open, etc. Why do I expect that to be different? Do I want my family to never use the dishes? Do I wish they didn’t eat food? Do I want them to stop reading and playing and running outside? No, I don’t. So why is my heart so ugly about these things? It’s silly to expect it be any other way.

5. If I want to see _(fill in the blank)_______ attribute/skill/character quality in my children, then I must MODEL IT. I must BE THAT _________ first! This is a big one. Let that one sink in. It has huge implications.

6. If I want my children to know what a living, active every-day, ups and downs relationship with God looks like… then I must find ways to make my relationship with God more outward and visible. Which in turn means more honest and vulnerable. But it’s REAL. That’s what they need.

7. I must lay down my life daily. This has never been more relevant to me than in my every-day in this current season. Give it up, girl. There is literally very little use in trying to grab ahold of my own personal expectations for any given day. Do I have goals and lists and dreams and ambitions? Yessirreee I sure do. But I must first LAY THEM DOWN, cause if I don’t, then they will soon enough be snatched out of my hands by a little person who had a blow-out diaper or wants to play water outside or who needs help sewing or who wants another slice of toast. Lay it down, Suzanne. God will give it back in the right time, whether that means the 27 minutes that the 5 year old listens to a podcast each afternoon, or whether that’s next year. Does no good to hold onto my life with a tight grip. If I want full life? First give it up. It’s God’s amazingly wonderful, upside-down way.

8. What is the spirit in which I am giving of my life? I can meet my family’s need in two ways. One way with the tender and gentle heart like my friend, Jesus. Or with a nasty, bitter heart like my friend, Suzanne. EITHER WAY I MUST MEET THE NEED. So what exactly is the benefit of doing it with an ugly heart? Uhhhhh the benefit is putting guilt on my children? Making them feel like they did something wrong for having a need? (See #1). Obviously, there is no benefit. I don’t even feel better after I’ve ‘expressed my frustration’. But meet the need patiently and hearts are filled and joy multiplied.

9. Jesus was a servant. And so I must be. Doesn’t mean I don’t expect anything from my children and that I do it all like some sort of domestic slave. It means I am striving to serve like my Jesus… and He’s a very hard one to follow. He had every right to demand appreciation from those He served. He was going to DIE FOR THEIR SINS. And yet He gave and gave and gave with a totally pure heart. His motivation? Love. And so I must love. And so I WANT to love. “There is no greater love, that one should lay down his life for his friends.”

10. Parenting is not about control. No one likes a leader who lords their power over those they are leading. And so it is with mothering! Leadership is about serving. (see #9) I can’t reach the hearts of my children by exercising my power of them. Can I train their behavior? Maybe. But can I REACH THEIR HEARTS? Likely not. Learning to let go of control over here. Must. Serve. Like. Jesus.

11. Key ingredient: TIME. If I schedule us up and keep us running around to activities that are meant to enrich my child, yet never have hours of free time at home, then these things that I want to see in our family’s lives don’t have time to be taught, caught, and nurtured. It takes TIME. Lots and lots of time.

12. “In the absence of Biblical conviction, we will go the way of culture” –Sally Clarkson. My virtual-mentor-who-I’ve-never-met-but-has-changed-my-life is right about that. If I’m not intentional, I’ll just lead our home and children the same way as the culture. And I need to think twice before doing that.

Okay yikes.

That was a quite a list.

I’m tempted to go back and edit it all to pieces and question myself and my thoughts and then maybe delete it. I’m out of time though!

People. I am SUCH a work in progress.  If I could apply all these daily, I’d be an incredible Mom. Am I a good Mom? Oh yes I know I am. But do I do all these things every day. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

What DO I do every day? I ask my children for forgiveness because I failed. Again.

That’s the only thing I can be counted on for each day… to mess up!

But you know the good thing even in that? That I am now asking them for forgiveness when I mess up. See #6. I am in a real relationship with God and am on my own learning-journey. My kids know that because Mommy started apologizing. It’s at least a first step.

But I see God changing my heart. Jesus is being ever so gentle and patient with me in this learning process.  And I’m ever-so-grateful.

So Mamas, let’s carry on. Let’s keep snacking on wholesome words and feasting on wisdom that keeps us fueled.

Let’s lay down our lives another day. Let’s do it for love.

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