Monday, July 27, 2009

"Thank you, Mommy"

"Mom, why didn't you and dad vote for Obama?" my nine-year-old son, Logan, asked.

I sighed heavily in response because I was tired and we had just exited Walmart. It was late in the afternoon and I had other pressing matters to think about, like dinner, for instance. I tried to formulate a simple answer while navigating the parking lot.

"Well, we didn't agree with some of his ideas on economics and stuff. Oh yeah, and we oppose abortion and he supports it. That was our main reason for not voting for him." I figured that would be the end of the conversation.

I figured wrong.

"What's abortion?" was his next question.

I prayed silently and asked God for guidance. How do you describe abortion to young people? Did I want him to know what it was yet? Did I want his younger brothers and sister to know? I decided I should probably be the one to tell him since I brought it up. Besides, I didn't want him to get another nine-year-old's opinion of what it was.

"Abortion is when a doctor goes in and takes a baby out before it’s ready to be born so it will die."

Logan gasped. He sounded like he had the air knocked out of him. "You mean they just kill it?"

"Yes," I said, cringing at my own words and the mental images that flashed through my mind from pictures that I had seen in the past.

"What kind of woman would do something like that?" he asked.

"Women that don’t know any better and take the doctor’s word that it’s not really anything but a blob, not a human being. They are scared and choose to believe this lie."
I thought about these women who choose this avenue, my heart aching for the ones who honestly believed the lies told to them. But I also knew that there were those who knew exactly what they were doing and chose to do it anyway. "Others are just selfish and don’t want the baby."

Logan was angry at the thought of babies being murdered. In his young heart he knew that this was horribly wrong. Amazing sometimes how the young can see things more clearly then adults who ought to know better.

I let him stew as we continued the last few minutes of our drive. My mind had already shifted to getting dinner on the table. We pulled in front of our garage and the kids started to pile out. I gathered my stuff too and started to climb out when a small voice spoke up and stopped me dead in my tracks.

"Mom," said my six-year-old son, Trevor, "Thank you for not doing that to us."

I looked into his big green eyes that mirrored his soul. Swallowing past the lump lodged in my throat, I said, "You're welcome, babe." He gave me a dimpled grin and then scooted out of his car seat, and scampered into the house. I sat back into my seat and thought about his words.

When I was pregnant with Trevor I went through a horrible depression. Darkness cast a shadow over every thought that came into my mind. Medication I had been on for a long time was altered and it threw me into a rapidly descending tailspin. It was scary to not be able to trust my own mind and emotions. I had my husband, Josh, and two little boys depending on me to get meals on table and do laundry. Now I had another one on the way, which I prayed would be a girl. I thought that would change everything. It had to.

I wouldn't have hurt my two older boys and being pregnant prevented me from harming myself. I didn't want to be held accountable for killing my child, but my mind was reeling and I could hardly function under such a dark cloud of depression. I often cried myself to sleep when I took naps with my boys. Thankfully, Logan doesn't remember these times. He would often lay next to me, stroke my arm and in his three-year-old voice say, "It's okay mommy." Eventually we would both fall asleep. Other times I would be crying in the kitchen, sitting on the floor and leaning against the refrigerator. Both Logan and Garrett would crawl in and lay their heads on my lap. I'd listen to my dad's voice consoling me over the phone and I run my fingers through my boys' hair. After a while the Lord would calm me down so I could get dinner on the table.

I was so convinced I was having a girl that when the doctor announced it was a boy in that delivery room I emotionally turned off. I held him and kissed his little forehead, Josh told the family what his name was and everyone congratulated me. But I lay in bed, mesmerized, broken hearted, scared to be a mommy when I didn't think I had it in me. I wanted to cry but I had no more tears. There was nothing left...or so I thought.

A week later I got terribly sick with endometritis, an infection of the lining in the uterus. Josh took me and baby Trevor back to the hospital. I could hardly walk because of the blinding pain in my body. It felt like daggers stabbing me over and over again. The nurses pumped me with three bags of saline because I was so dehydrated. They asked me if I was eating or drinking water. I nodded yes, but my husband said no I hadn't been. I honestly couldn't remember. The nurses fussed over my little boy as I lay on that hard bed in a back room of the ER.

Around 3 am the hospital released me to go home with a prescription for antibiotic and more pain meds. When I look back on that night I see it as when I started to come back to life. The following week I had 24 hour care which was good for my body and heart to heal. My mis-diagnosis and medication was finally corrected. And best of all I formed a bond with my little baby boy that I couldn't have imagined before.

My point in telling this story was to share what I went through and what I would have missed had I bailed out by aborting my little boy. Yes, the entire pregnancy was tumultuous. Yes, my family suffered along with me. Yes, the physical and emotional pain was intensely difficult.

But, it was all worth it for Trevor. I don't think it was a coincidence that Trevor was the one who thanked me for not killing him. When I look at my little green-eyed boy I can't imagine life without him. He has such a tender heart, a love for the Lord, a sweetness in his soul. He's all boy one minute, running around with a sword and playing "Pirates of the Caribbean." The next minute he'll stop to give me a hug for no reason at all. Just because. I can't imagine our lives without Trevor being in the middle of it all.

That's why I am saddened for the women who choose abortion as their alternative. Not only are they murdering their babies for whatever reason they give to appease their guilt, but they are also missing out on dimpled smiles, hugs for no reasons, and a little life that would bless those around them.

I don't know who reads my blogs. I don't know if you have had an abortion. If you have and you didn't realized what you were doing come before the Lord and accept His grace. He will forgive you and He holds that child in the safety of His realm. If you have never had an abortion but know those who have or are thinking about it please pray for them. Pray for this nation and for Obama.

There is hope for you, friend, if you have done this deed. Put your hope in Christ, He loves you and will forgive everything you've ever done. He will give you a new life and wipe your slate clean. Yes, you may have the natural consequences of this act but rest assured that His blood covers your sin. You can start out clean with the same Jesus that cares for your little one right now.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

On Wings of Eagles

Isaiah 40:28-31
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
The Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
And his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
And increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
And young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the Lord
Will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.

This was written for the Israelites while they were in exile but it is an encouragement for us as well. Like the Israelites we often get tired of where we are in life. Life is difficult, fraught with physical and emotional pain. Or it's just plain boring.

My life is less then exciting to report. I have to laugh when someone asks what I’ve been up to because there is really nothing new that I’ve done since I had my last child. I get up every morning, fix breakfast and clean the kitchen just in time for lunch to start, and make an attempt to finish the laundry. I spend half of my day worrying about bills and how to put food on the table and the other half asking God to forgive me and thank Him when he’s done it all. Who really cares to hear about the hum drums of life? I have another 15 years at least of days just like this one.

Just like the Israelites we live one day at a time, dealing with traumas, trying to find some kind of hope in a hopeless world. Sometimes we even wonder, in our darkest moments, if our Savior has been defeated because we can’t seem to see him working in our lives. I grow weary. I grow tired. I don’t want to keep walking when every day looks like the day before and tomorrow looks like today.

A couple of years ago Josh and I were in a bad job/financial crisis and what I hadn’t noticed was my walk with the Lord was in a crisis as well. I was questioning His trustworthiness in my life. Especially when I looked around and it seemed everybody was doing well but us. People were leaving for vacations we could never afford, buying toys for their kids we could only dream of and living in big homes with room to walk around in and not step on each other. I was so frustrated with the Lord. I was weary of looking to Him for the answer, tired of walking His path when it seemed it was getting us nowhere. I was the young man stumbling and falling. I was bitter, frustrated, and angry at the Lord and at our situation.

One night I came to the end of myself. After learning the fate of a famous celebrity the reality of Hell hit home for me. I could only imagine this woman burning for all of eternity and it sent a chill down my spine. It was then that I realized that God had saved me from eternal damnation. I don't know why after 20+ years of being a christian I would finally realize what Christ did for me but that's what happened. For the first time I grasped the fact that He didn’t save me because it would be nice for my Mom and Dad’s sake or because I was the Pastor's daughter. He saved me simply because He loved me. It was His will that I live with Him for eternity and it had nothing to do with what I could do for Him or who I was related to.

I dropped to my knees on my bedroom floor weeping over my sins and thanking Him for saving me. When I stood up that night I was exhausted from crying but renewed in my spirit. My hope was no longer in the world, the superficial happenings going on around me. My hope was in Christ. It stopped mattering to me who was making the money or buying a new house or traveling to Hawaii. I was blessed simply because I belonged to Christ.

This, I believe, is what it means to be renewed in our spirit. It comes at times when I'm weary and don’t think I can take one more step in the direction he’s leading me. That’s when He reaches down, takes my hand and gently leads me on. When my hope is in the Lord I have strength to press forward even when I didn’t feel like it before. After that night I did soar like an eagle. The weight on my shoulders fell away and I could breathe again. I could walk and run and not feel the weariness that once encumbered me. In fact, spiritual truths took on new light and I looked forward to seeing what the Lord would do for us instead of be frustrated at what He was doing for some one else.

The only way to get through this life is to be renewed in the spirit, by God. So how do we go about being refreshed in this exhausting world? I don’t have an exact answer. I really don’t. Every person is unique and the Lord connects with us in different ways that meet us where we’re at. For me, I had to keep doing what I was doing. I continued to go to church even when I didn’t want to. I continued to sing the songs even though my lips were the only thing moving, my heart wasn’t in it. I can’t tell you how many times I would show up for the outside services purposely late, keep my sunglasses on so as not to make eye contact with anyone. I even toyed with the idea of going to another church for a while. But I didn’t. Usually by the end of the service I was okay enough to talk to people and have a decent conversation but it took me the entire hour and a half of the sermon to get to that point. I did this for about six months at least.

But my renewal didn’t come during a worship set, or specific group prayer time, or during a sermon. He spoke to my heart when I was alone, in my bedroom, with the background noise of the TV from the living room. The kids were sleeping and my bed had a pile of laundry on it as usual. I had no halo, in fact I don’t know if I had a shower that day. But that is where the Lord chose to meet me, reaching through the chaos of my life, to awaken my heart’s eyes to see exactly what gift he had given me. A gift of a life beyond this one, a hope for something more beautiful and magnificent then I could ever imagine having here on this earth. A hope that this wasn’t all there was to life, I actually had something to look forward to beyond the here and now.

I don’t know how or where the Lord will meet you; I only know for sure He will. He knows your heart, your inner person that he created and he knows how to intimately touch your soul and give you the strength to keep pressing forward. He may reach you during worship at church or in a small group Bible study. Your renewal may come on a tropical island or at a day retreat. Or it may come on a lonely night when you cry yourself to sleep.

But, my friend, be rest assured that it will come. On that weary path when we stumble and fall we must cling to the knowledge that his understanding goes farther than we can imagine and he never grows tired or weary of hearing our cries. He gives energy to the weary and power to the weak. He will reach down, lift our eyes up to Him and renew our strength. He will make us soar on wings like eagles, He will help us run and not grow weary, walk and not faint.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Little Humor Can Go A Long Way

Have you ever wondered what kids are thinking? Have you ever driven in a car with four children between the ages of 3-8? This is a real conversation we had in the car last summer:

Garrett (7yrs): Mom, did you know that dick is a bad word unless it’s a name?
Me: Yes, and since we both know that now we don’t need to repeat it.
Garrett: Okay.
Trevor (5) from the back seat: Jesus lives in my heart! Satan lives in my armpit! Jesus lives in my heart! Satan lives in my armpit!
Ellianna (3) yelling from the back seat: Stop yelling, Trevor! Everybody stop talking!
Logan (8) wasn’t saying anything, he was too busy ducking out of the way between Trevor’s arm movements and Elli’s elbows in the air because her fingers were in her ears.

If you ever see me driving and I look like I'm laughing hysterically I may be listening to another conversation like this one.

I find life is very serious most of the time and sometimes you have to find reasons to laugh, sometimes those reasons come to you in a car. I'm naturally bent towards a more pessimistic attitude and I find it extremely difficult to see a bright side of anything in life. This way of thinking throws me into a depressing funk and it's very difficult to 'turn my frown upside down'. Thankfully I married a man who is happy and when he sees me falling apart he tries to help me see life from another perspective, a more uplifting one.

Life really is hard and if you disagree then you are probably young, healthy and unmarried :) Just kidding. Seriously, though, life is difficult at times and the hardest thing you can do is find humor in anything you're doing. During those times I have found humor to be my best medicine. This is the reason Josh and I collected all ten seasons of Friends and now are working on Scrubs and The Office. Watching these shows together bonds us, actually, its the laughter that bonds us. Later when we are having a difficult day one of us will make a quote from a show and the other one will laugh. We know these shows are silly and definitely not family viewing, but sometimes when life seems more difficult then what we can handle we turn to something uplifting.

Growing up I had a friend with a large family. Their house was always in chaos and her mom had a different schedule then my family. When my sister and I would spend the night we would make 10:00pm trips to the store for groceries. Kelly and I had no idea anything was open past 8:00 since we were all tucked in and the house locked down for the night at that time. It was so much fun to make Cinnamon rolls or chocolate chip cookies at midnight if our little hearts desired it and it was okay to make a mess and then clean it up...the next day. But I have to say my favorite thing about this mom was her contagious laughter. It is my mental picture her laughing in hard times and fun ones that has stuck with me as I raise my children. There have been those days when I could either laugh or cry and I laugh instead, much to my children's relief.

Life is messy, chaotic, funny, monotonous, devastating, crushing, you fill in the blank. You will feel each of these things at some point of your life. But you can also find something that will make you laugh. Please don't think I'm contrived or pithy. My life has been especially hard this past year but God is good and I believe He knows our need for humor in life. He knows its important to laugh, it actually affects our minds and emotions and has the ability to relieve pent up stresses.

Laughter is a wonderful gift to us. So next time you're driving a vehicle with children in it turn off the radio and listen to their conversations, or sing with them at the top of your lungs to an upbeat song. Rent a silly movie or sitcom and laugh hysterically with your special someone. Get into a tickle fight or giggle just for the sake of giggling. Try to find humor somehow in your life. You need to do it. Besides, it's more fun then crying :)