Spring cleaning! It’s that time of year! Doesn’t it feel so good to purge and get rid of all that stuff you thought you had to have? I know it does for me. It always amazes me how I can accumulate so much STUFF! I’ve been getting rid of things in waves because, for some reason, it’s hard for me to let go of some things even though I haven’t used or worn them in who knows how long! I think to myself, “I MIGHT want to wear that again” or “This COULD be useful at SOME point”. It feels really good when I finally come to the realization that it’s time to part ways and that someone else could get much better use out of this or that.
As I’ve been cleaning out closets, I’ve realized I’ve let some “junk” take up residence in my mind and heart that needs to be cleaned out and purged. It’s been extra challenging lately as I have been sleep deprived more than normal and longer than normal. I don’t know what “normal” is because sleep isn’t the same once you have kids, but lately it’s been more than my “regular” sleep-deprivedness. I have found myself in a bit of a hazy funk lately. This morning my daughter called my name 3 times before it processed that “Oh, she is trying to tell me something…whoops, I just spaced out for a minute”.
So in this “funk”, I’ve let a short temper, negativity, impatience, pride, and regret visit and stay way too long. It’s those times when you know you are making the wrong decision or reacting poorly but continue on anyway. Thank goodness, Jesus meets me in my weary downward spiral.
I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!” The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. Psalm 116:3b-7
My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:20-23
Yes! It’s time for spring cleaning for my soul! It’s time to rid my mind of all the negativity and replace it with these spiritual truths of God’s Word. When I put my hope in Him, He is faithful to carry me through. In my quiet time with Him, I bring Him my heavy load and repent where sin has occurred. I feel refreshed and rest in His mercy, grace, and peace. Praise Jesus for making my soul well.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Psalm 62:5
Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:3-4
Isn’t the pure sweet innocence of a child so beautiful? Lately I have been overcome with emotion at the beautiful innocence of my children. The Lord is reminding me what a treasure that is in young children: Their wonder and eagerness to learn…Their humble and lowly position…Their dependence and submission to their parents.
I want that.
There are so many things we must learn and grow out of as we grow from child to adult. So many ways to mature, but this is something to keep. Sometimes when I am busy multi-tasking- cooking dinner, bouncing Libby on a hip, making sure Weston is in sight not destroying anything, and I realize I am not sure where Caroline is…I’ll call out “CAROLINE”, and she’ll say “Here I am, Mommy”. I don’t know why, but that is such a sweet thing to hear. It’s so much better than an annoyed, “WHAT?!” (Which happens too sometimes…) To me it sounds like, “Don’t worry Mommy. I’m right here. What can I do for you?”
I think it would be nice for the Lord to hear this when He is calling us to Him. It is so humbling to realize that out of His love and mercy, He is in pursuit of us. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
It is so easy to get sucked in to the world around us–the busyness with worry, stress, pride, envy… I like to grab the reins and sit in the driver’s seat. I quickly become a mess when I try to be the boss, instead of surrendering to Him. A way to keep the right perspective is making time to just “be” with the Lord. Not just in morning quiet time, but other times throughout the day. Our time to “be still” with the Lord can easily be shoved to the back of the line and get lost or hang just barely out of reach. When this happens, I lose my perspective. I’m in a phase of life where it is so hard to get a minute! I’ve been known to “have to go to the bathroom” for a really long time for a moment of peace! Being intentional and making it a priority to rest with the Lord is the only way it gets done. It’s crazy to think sometimes that we have to be intentional to rest.
But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Psalm 131:2
Wow, I am amazed at the patience of our heavenly Father. I have learned what an incredibly slow learner I am. He has shown me how weak I am in being patient, when I actually thought patience was something I was pretty good at…(that darn arrogant pride). How is the Lord showing me this? -Through the efforts of teaching our kids obedience. Simple tasks become enormously difficult and stressful! You just want to scream, “JUST DO WHAT I ASKED!!” I mean really, “JUST DO IT!”
I am reminded of what high importance obedience is to the Lord.
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22.
Saul lost his place as king over Israel because of disobedience to God.
“Noah did everything that the Lord commanded him” Genesis 7:5. “By faith Noah, after he was warned about things that had never happened before and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Hebrews 11:7.
So by obeying the Lord, Noah became an heir of righteousness which blessed his descendants and many generations to come. Noah blessed his future generations with his obedience to the Lord, while Saul hurt his family with his disobedience. His son lost his chance to become king because of his father’s disobedience. I want to bless my family with obedience to the Lord!
In teaching my kids obedience (without complaining!), I’m convicted to examine my own heart and life with the question, “Am I living obediently to the Lord?” I can think of many times I reason in my head to convince myself that I am doing “the right thing”, but am I really doing what I have been asked to do?
Another thing brought to my attention through the exercise of teaching the importance of obedience is our real struggle with sin/flesh and the compassion our Father pours out on us. When I see one of my kids melt down at the request of a simple task, it breaks my heart. MELT DOWN: collapsing to the floor, thrashing about with arms and legs, whining, crying, or yelling. It’s a scary sight! But we’ve all been there, right? Sure, it is incredibly frustrating, but I look again and see that struggle, that fight against ourselves, our own flesh robbing us of joy and peace, separating us from our Creator.
But oh that wonderful HOPE! We have a Savior ready to HELP us. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17. That is such GOOD news I want my kids to hear! A lot of times, I know the correct response to things and I try by my own might to “behave” correctly and to my surprise, it just doesn’t work out. I mean, again, I am such a slow learner! Trying by my own might ends up a big fail. Choosing to ask for the Holy Spirit to help me in those times is not always easy but is so worth it.
Lord, please work in the hearts of my children as well as mine and Phil’s to be obedient to your will for our lives. Soften our hearts, that we may carry out your will with happy hearts full of thanksgiving. Increase our faith and help us know you more. Thank you for your surely goodness and loving-kindness. In Jesus name, Amen.
It was Friday. I had just finished feeding the kids dinner. My husband, Phil, was not home yet. Caroline, our 3 year old, was cleaned up and clearing her plate. Our youngest, Libby (4 weeks at the time), was in her bouncy seat, and I was finishing wiping Weston’s mouth (our 21 month old). As I started to lift him out of his high chair, it happened. EXTREME PAIN in my back that knocked me off my feet! I set Weston on the ground and caught myself on the high chair for support. I literally could not stand up. Hunched over, I fell into the closest kitchen chair. The pain was intense. There I was, unable to move, hollering in pain, watching Weston drag a stool over to the kitchen sink reaching to pick up a knife, simultaneously Libby begins screaming, and Caroline was asking me, “Mommy? What’s wrong?”…I begin screaming at Weston to “Put the knife down!”. He then starts crying…One minute later Phil walks in the door to Libby, Weston, and I crying and Caroline running up to him saying “Mommy is hurt!”. He didn’t know what he just walked in to! I am SO THANKFUL this happened at the time it did, because I don’t know what I would have done if he didn’t get home when he did.
What I went through over the next 48 hours was one of the most challenging experiences physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I was unable to walk for 24 hours. Turning in bed was torture. This is really EMBARRASSING, but I could not get up to walk to the bathroom. Phil had to help me pee in a bucket at my bedside. Mentally and emotionally I was struggling…I could not sit up to nurse Libby, so I had to lay in bed and pump and then feed her a bottle. I was asking God, “Why did this happen? Where is this coming from?”. I describe all this to show you how low I was feeling.
I’ve had mild back pain before…on and off since teen years from my gymnastics and cheerleading days. But, never had I experienced pain like this! This was new and totally unexpected! During this time, all I could do was pray. The bible tells us to pray without ceasing. I don’t know if I ever prayed so fervently and desperately for healing as I did then. As I was praying, what kept coming to mind, was how thankful I was at the timing of these circumstances. Besides the fact that Phil got home immediately after the scenario happened, it happened on a Friday when Phil would be home all weekend to help me. In the midst of this disabling event, the Lord was taking care of me. I felt His peace knowing that my family was praying for me. My sister and her husband brought us dinner the next evening which was such a helpful blessing. Then, for the first time in a LONG 24 hours, I began having significant progress when Phil helped me get to the shower. Standing under the hot water, allowed me to straighten up to fully stand without pain. My hope of healing was becoming real. Our God is healer, awesome in power! I won’t go in to all the details, but the Lord healed me! It truly is a miracle the progress I made over the next few days. I did go to the chiropractor one time for an adjustment and have not had to go back since. Apparently, pregnancy hormones can cause sacroiliac joint hyper-mobility which allows the pelvic area to be more expandable during childbirth. My sacroiliac joint had some hyper-mobility and had gotten out of whack to say the least.
Through this experience, I was reminded to be thankful in all circumstances. Even in those low valley, devastating times. Scripture says,
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
This verse has been on my bathroom mirror this week. It is a powerful reminder of God’s will for my life every day. When I question, “Am I living in God’s will?”, I can go back to this truth. How awesome!
God says, When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. . .For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. -Isaiah 43:2-3.
I sure don’t live the glamorous life. I am in a season of my life where I might go one too many days without a shower and have my daughter tell me, “Mommy, you need to get dressed!”. If you walk through my kitchen, you might trip on a toy or get a noodle or cheerio stuck to your foot. It is quite impossible to keep the floor clean for more than 30 minutes. But that is life when you have 3 kids, 3 and under. It’s loud and messy and exhausting! I know you other moms can relate…right?! SOMEtimes when I am nursing our almost 11 week old, the older two will play nicely in the playroom with their toys…BUT often times, I am listening and praying that nothing too important is getting destroyed or that nothing really bad is happening because it would be really difficult for me to get up and tend to that right now, ha!
Sometimes I catch myself in these crazy days, rushing through the moments. It reminds me of the lyrics in Alabama’s song, “I’m in a hurry to get things done. I rush and rush until life’s no fun. All I really gotta do is live and die, but I’m in a hurry and don’t know why”. I’m guilty of being in a hurry to check things off my list and on to the next task without stopping to smell the roses.
The Lord is reminding me the importance of slowing down. When we slow down, we have a chance to realize why we are doing what we are doing. When I am hurrying on to the next thing, I am not able to really love those around me. I’m not able to sit and really listen…I’m not able to serve someone else. I get too focused on ME and what I need to do and what I want to get done. Sadly it can be at the expense of rushing through what could be sweet moments with my little ones and precious time with my husband. I easily lose sight of God’s calling and purpose of living a life of servanthood and humility.
In the gospel of Mark Jesus teaches His disciples what it means to be great in His kingdom.
They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” Mark 9:33-37
Matthew 18:4 says, Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
My job as a mom may not be glamorous, but it teaches me and reminds me to be humble and serve others. I look up to my husband in this regard because he has the beautiful heart of a servant and is good at slowing down and enjoying every moment.
Tonight when I put my kids to bed, I think I will take the extra time to read that extra story and sing that extra song. I don’t want to rush these sweet moments. I want to take the time to love, listen, and serve. Lord, help me to do this each and every day :).