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How to live Well-Watered

 

 

For weeks, its been dry around here.

The sunflowers all withered up to a brown crisp and the crepe myrtle holding her blossoms tight, like un-opened gifts. It’s just too dry to be giving blessings.

The lack of water carries a cost and all of us groan it, waiting for waters to nourish and restore.

6:02 am and I lay in bed unable to move. Several consecutive nights up with sick children have left me spent… A husband miles away tending to his own father…And when was the last time I sat down with my bible for a really good drink?

I’m oh, so thirsty. I don’t know how I’m going to make the demands of another day. Really.

Just like our bodies are scripted to respond to thirst… Parched mouths and weak bodies send signals to our brains that say, “Your survival is at stake! Find water immediately!”… so we have emotional scripts that trigger those distress signals.

We are programmed with alerts that sound when we are in danger of getting in over our heads. It’s the part memory plays, because even for memories we can’t consciously “remember,” our limbic system knows when danger lurks. It never forgets the past, adoption has taught me that.

My signal is screaming now, telling me I’ve got to find relief and fast.

Red alert. Danger. You’re going to be overwhelmed and you know you can’t handle this. You are on empty and in peril.

Like many, my script was written in childhood. That’s when I experienced a drought so dark and severe that it seared a message deep in my memory, the message that says to avoid similar situations at all costs. When the demands begin and the resources are few, the script is replayed and I respond. I bark at the children. I’m short with my husband. I don’t give my best. I fight or I withdraw. I operate like my reserves are low and back up isn’t coming. I’m in survival mode.

I lay there in bed, listening to my scripts. The clock steadily ticks, moving away from 6:02 and bringing the day on, ready or not. “You can’t do this,” the messages relay. “You are too tired.” “You need rest, a good quiet time, help with the kids, community with others…”

And with each message, I’m pummeled against the pillows, dead weight body.

“Help me, Jesus.” I don’t speak the words, hardly even believe them, but they reside deep within and He does too and He responds.

“I will multiply your seed for sowing,” He says.

I laugh. I laugh because yesterday He and I talked at length about the widow in I Kings 17, the one whose oil jar never ran dry and whose flour bag never went empty. And I knew then He wanted me to hold onto that, that my provisions will never run out.

Except this time, today, it isn’t flour He’s giving, but seed. He wants me to toil, to work, to plant, to invest in these little ones knocking at my bedroom door. He wants me to sow seed.

And I’ve been up all night!

At first, I don’t want to listen to it. It means that I’ve got to give up my hopes, my desires for rest and reprieve. It means I’ve got to accept no provision but His grace and believe that His grace is sufficient.

But really, there is no choice but grace. This isn’t a fairy tale world I’m living in…but is grace really better?

“You will multiply my seed for sowing,” I pray back and know in this moment is where a lifestyle is formed. Here is where a woman is made and here is where a single choice makes all the difference of a lifetime.

I swing my legs over the side of the bed and I latch on like a dry, hungry infant who’s belly needs filling and doesn’t a baby learn that milk fills, satisfies, nourishes? And can’t I take in the word like milk, find it sufficient to fill all my dry places?

The clock reads 6:42. I don’t feel ready for this. But faith isn’t a feeling. It’s an action. So I stand on hardwood floor and I rewrite the script of my life, from “I can’t” to “He will.”

“He will multiply my seed…He will multiply…He will.”

Like dryness, living well watered can become a lifestyle. It happens one drink at a time, one baby step after another, one choice at a time,  rejecting the old script and replacing it with the new.

In the kitchen, I notice it rained outside during the night. The skies are still gray with moisture. Finally.

And the crepe myrtle has opened her gifts overnight. I steal a peek and see white blossoms against dark sky.

Related Scripture: Psalm 78:20-22 Remember, God speads a table in the wilderness!

Patchwork Motherhood

I probably should have known better, but when I put the stuffed dog in the wash I really didn’t think there’d be a problem.

That evening when littlest asked for his doggy, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I had busted him in the washing machine and he remained in there, torn apart, stuffing all over the place.

Schedules pushed and bedtimes called and poor doggy lay in the washer all night while little boy slept with a stand in. Come morning, I had already forgotten about the busted open…until I tried to do the two daily loads of laundry.

I called little boy. “Here’s your doggy,” I told him. “He’s busted open.”

“Doggy has a boo-boo?” His little voice squeaked as he watched me pull him from the washer.

“Yes,” I told him. “But mommy is going to fix him.”

I grabbed the sewing kit I picked up at Dollar Tree and my reading glasses too, because there’s no way I can thread a needle without them…and sat down at the kitchen table.

Little boy comes and tugs at my arm. “I wanna sit you, momma,” he told me.

He climbed into my chair and we re-stuffed the doggy and he took each roll of thread from the bag and broke the scissors and poked himself with the needle. And I get the thread tangled somehow and end up using green on a black and white dog and little boy’s friend carries a ragged repair job, but little boy and I are so happy doggy is fixed.

And I think about how mommas help heal boo-boos…how we help ease hurts….how we fix broken things.

Or try.

Because I get threads tangled and make a mess of repair jobs. And I use wrong colors for the child-scheme I’m working with and the best I ever seem to do is still a ragged-edged mess.

When the doggy is done, Little Boy hops down and the spools of thread are all scattered. He reaches down and eats a peanut off the floor as he grabs a spool and I think of how this kitchen needs a good cleaning and the laundry still needs starting and meat needs thawing for dinner.

But in my hands is a ragged-edged repaired doggy for my little boy.

I kneel down in front of him. “Here, buddy,” I tell him softly. “Here’s your doggy.”

He takes the doggy with a joyful laugh and I look deep into his eyes. “I love you so much,” I tell him as I touch his face.

I feel crumbs on my knees.

Chances are, he will never remember momma fixing his doggy while spilled snack crunches under our feet. He will probably never remember green thread on the white underbelly of a dog.

Our children may never know the small ways we pour out, the little sacrifices that amount to the best of one’s life.

But they are gifts anyway.

Even when the edges are ragged and the color is wrong and the needle pricks and the threads are tangled. Even when it looks we’ll never be able to fix and repair the busted.

Give it anyway, your imperfect patchwork of love.

Nourished

 

 

 

It’s been 5 weeks since she stopped cold turkey.

The doctor says the nicotine is flushed out of her body by now, and not a minute too soon~ it was killing her. But still.

Still, she gets the cravings and they are harsh. Still, when she reaches that point in the road on her drive to work, she starts shaking. She’s jittery and she’s a wreck and she doesn’t want to die but it’s not just a chemical dependency she’s been fighting~ it’s a mental and emotional one too.

Shame, like a cigarette, is addictive. Rejection and anger and hatred and self-loathing are like Egypt’s strong onions, garlic, leek, and fish. The Israelites craved strong when they made their exodus.

Their bodies shook and their minds twisted and their mouths watered for that which was best left behind. We can be addicted to death.

Yet there’s a way through the wilderness. There’s a substitute for leeks and garlic. There’s manna from heaven.

And like the Israelites, I gather daily, just enough for each day; and I gather early, before the sun comes up and the opportunity is gone.

I eat words and words are my bread.

They gathered a day’s portion and stored it perhaps in a jar. I place my portion on index cards and carry them with me. When the pangs come and the cravings come and I feel I’ll die if I don’t have Egypt’s strong drink, I pull out those cards.

“The Lord is my Shepherd,” I read aloud and inhale the words, taste them. “I shall not want.”

Bread from heaven becomes my daily bread.

It seems neither palatable nor powerful in the moment…after the intense and dramatic meat pots I’ve eaten from. Yet with every mouthful, I am nourished in ways I can’t see and I’m one more meal removed from Egypt’s death pots.

We learn to let go of Egypt by replacing toxic enticements with the simple and pure Bread of Life…

…not discounting it because it carries no odor.

…not despising it because it seems boring.

…not pushing it away because it is foreign and we don’t understand it.

The instruction of the Lord is to gather it daily, let it become your new food.

We eat Words and Words become flesh, our new self. Word is how God takes form and dwells among us.

It’s been that way since the beginning, the Word speaking into existence new life, form from void. And doesn’t He promise that His Word will always go forth and accomplish what He intends? It will never return empty, never be without shape. God-Word always takes on form, becomes flesh, creates new life, manifests Divine dimensions.

So we eat Word manna and it works power inside us, shaping and forming Christ Himself within. Dare I overlook this simple faith act of eating words? Do I relegate it to only a duty or obligation? Or can I eat in faith, trusting for a nourishment and sustainment beyond my imagination?

Yes!

I tuck my portion into my pocket and feast all day long. What words are you eating today?        

{This post inspired by Exodus 16}

i will trust

Oldest was late to school today. The car battery was dead when we finally piled in the car and I turned the ignition.

Nothing but a clickclickclick.

Was it just yesterday that I had an incident with Little Bit? She was outside crying and I asked her what was wrong and she said she wanted to come inside.

“What do you do when you need something?” I prompted her, knowing she needed help and felt trapped.

“You ask,” she said.

“That’s right. You ask. You don’t cry and hope someone will hear, right?”

“Right,” she says, and we go back outside and practice doing it the right way, using our words, trusting that someone who loves us will listen.

Little Bit and I have learned some things the hard way: when you are left alone ~ neglected~ you learn not to trust. You don’t believe anyone will help when you need something. You think you’ll just be overlooked and marginalized.

So you learn to self rely. Self-protect. Control. And if you get in over your head, you cry. It’s all you can do.

 It sounds silly, but if you are “stuck” in this outlook on life, it is a very scary place to be. You don’t trust. You don’t believe. You don’t hope. You don’t reach out. You neither give nor receive. And you’re a perpetual victim of your circumstances, even if it is only on the inside of you.

So yesterday we practiced what to do when we need help. We used our words and we knocked on the door and we asked.

So  when the car battery died this morning, there was only one thing to do: ask for help.

“Stay put,” I told the kids. “I’m going to knock on the neighbor’s door.”

At first the neighbors didn’t come. Both of them had the day off and it was not even 8am. But then their garage door opened and I asked for a jump and a little while later, Jim had his pick up pulled up to the front of our van and I turned the key and we were running.

We thanked the kind neighbors and pulled out of the driveway and got down the road a few miles when I heard Little Bit say, “When we need help, we ask.”

I almost screeched to a halt. I swivelled in the driver’s seat and beamed back at her. “Yes!” I said, “That’s right!”

She got it!  She saw momma need something. She saw momma ask. And she saw momma’s need met.

I thanked God for the battery that ran out of juice and the awkwardness of waking someone to ask for help.

Oldest was late and it was Oh, so worth it. My little girl got to see asking and receiving in action. For all my needs today…just today…I’m striving to practice my asking.

“Momma, What’s a Messiah?”

 

 

It’s after we take Communion (we’re from the south. We call it the Lord’s Supper~ smile) that the questions start. “Why are you eating that? Can little kids eat it too?”

We explain the body broken, the blood poured out, and I snag wonderfully on that phrase “which is for you” written in red.

After lunch, I tuck little ones into bed for a nap. “Momma, what’s a Messiah?” youngest daughter asks.

Momma is standing ~ still in her church clothes ~ by the bed and she can’t help but dramatize for two pair of eyes what a Messiah is. I stretch out my arms and swoop down to gather air, like I’m saving someone. “A Messiah is a Savior, a Rescuer, Someone who helps us when no one else can.” I begin.

“You see, sin tells us that we will be happy if we obey it…so we do.” I creep up close to the bed and eyes are watching me, alert. ”Then sin tells us, “HA, ha, ha! You are mine now and you can’t ever get away from me!” Against my will, my hands are tied behind my back and I’m locked up and I struggle but I can’t get freed.

“And sin takes us and locks us up and puts us in prison and we can’t get out and we look for help, but no one can help us.”

“But Jesus saves us, right Momma?” Little voice asks.

“Yes! And then Jesus…the Messiah…He steps up strong and says, “I’ll help. I can do it and I will do it,” and He comes to earth and conquers the prison gates and enters your cell~ yours!~ and sets you free and breaks the chains and leads you out and rescues you. Forever.”

“That’s a Messiah.”

Sweet girl is lying in bed smiling, rejoicing, with her hands covering her face to try to contain the joy, and I exclaim, “That’s why we sing, “Hallelujah! What a Savior!”

Who can help but not burst out with joyous clapping and isn’t this the most glorious news you have ever heard?! We have a Savior! We have a Messiah!

When we are done clapping and praising, she says, “Momma, when I wake up, I want to talk about this again.”

“So do I,” I tell her. So do I.

This Labor Day, we are celebrating our Wonderful Savior, the One who makes it possible to cease our labors and rest in His redemptive work. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Having “THE Talk”

By request, I am posting this on my blog. Please read with discretion and grace… and pray for the parents who have to address such difficult and sensitive issues. If you are parenting little ones, you are not alone! We don’t have to walk this territory by ourselves. Take my hand, and let’s go together, shall we?

A couple months ago, we had a very disturbing incident involving our eight year old son.

I was sitting in the garage, watching my husband re-feed the weed eater, when it happened: oldest jumped over the fence from the back yard and
came running around the house, white faced and stricken.

“What happened, son? Are you okay?” I knew something terrible had just transpired. I had no idea how horrible it actually was.

My eight year old stammered it out, how the neighbor boy he was playing cars with, a barely-seven year old, had suggested they “do” something to each other. I want to be very sensitive to the audience reading this, so I will not be detailed…but the gestures and talk by this boy were explicit and thorough, with nothing left out.

My son was visibly sick and my husband and I were shocked and nauseated.

Perhaps I’m naïve.

But honestly, although we are very open about biology in our home, I never thought I would have to discuss sexuality and homosexuality with my child at age eight.

I was completely unprepared.

I was sick.

I was traumatized and so was my son.

I consider my children well protected. I watch them like a hawk and am involved in their activities. I am very careful about with whom and where they play. Yet in a matter of minutes, while I was in the garage helping my husband get the weed eater, an inappropriate conversation took place in my own backyard.

Never in a million years did I dream that a seven year old boy would make homosexual advances towards my eight year old son.

I spoke with the boy later and he said that he’d snuck behind the couch while his parents watched porn films together.

I’ll be honest and say that I had to face some hard, unwanted facts:

  • What young children are exposed to is shocking.
    Sadly, it is also very common. More common than we might currently understand. With the internet and absent parents, cable tv, magazines and literature left lying around houses, in garbage cans, or under beds, with older siblings doing things in front of younger ones…children are getting sexualized earlier and earlier. Even if it isn’t happening to your child, it is happening to a neighbor child, a church child, a co-op child, someone your child knows…and children talk to children. Chances are high that your child knows more than you think she does.
  • Then there’s the heart breaking statistics on childhood sexual abuse.
  • We have a spiritual enemy who is doing everything he can to confuse and destroy our children when it comes to their
    sexuality. This is one of his biggest strategies currently employed in our culture.
  • We can’t protect our children every minute of every day.

 

BUT the good news is that WE CAN PREPARE THEM!

After the incident with our son, I knew I needed to be more proactive with my younger children. In fact, I needed to start talking with my four year old daughters (and even my two year old son). I don’t mean sitting my girls down and having “The Talk.” Rather, I mean laying a foundation of healthy knowledge and biblical wisdom regarding sexuality with my children naturally as they grow up.

As moms, we don’t want our children to be un-educated because we know they will learn the facts from someone. Personally, I want it to be me. We don’t want to present the information in stale, awkward terms, either. But how do we do it naturally without over-educating them?

I knew I needed some help and help was on its way!

Mary Flo Ridley has a resource entitled Simple Truths: A Simple, Natural Approach to Discussing Sex with Your Children

This guide walks parents through six (simple!) steps for talking to young children about sex. It lays a foundation for you as the parent – YOU! – to be your child’s source for sexual information and identity.

So…I’m going to ask a loving~ but hard~ question. What is your plan for preparing your child sexually? Are you winging it? Are you avoiding it? Do you know how to approach it? Are you being pro-active in educating them?

If you aren’t, someone else is. And they aren’t your friend.

Yes, I’ve learned the hard way…and I’ve decided to be proactive.

For a place to begin, Check out Simple Truths with Mary Flo Ridley . {Her book was also recently featured on Dennis Rainey’s program “Family Life Today.” You can go there to hear recent related programs.}

 

Sensitive is the Word

 

 

UPDATE: For those of you unable to access the post at RH, here is a link to the resource I recommended: Simple Truths with Mary Flo Ridley

One resource repeatedly mentioned in the comments was the “Learning about Sex” series which includes Where Do Babies Come From? (Learning about Sex)

I hope this information is helpful in devising a plan to educate your children. Thank you for grace and understanding as we try to assist one another regarding this difficult and sensitive subject.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A couple months ago we had a very disturbing experience involving our son. Today, I’m {very tentatively} sharing about it at Raising Homemakers. Discussing sex with our children can be awkward, sensitive, and downright difficult. Here are some thoughts on devising a plan…

 

Happy Labor Day Weekend, friends!    My little girl turns 4 today :)

Who Is Arabah?

 

 

Daughter throws up all over the living room floor and little brother runs over to smear and track it all over and phone rings and breakfast burns and oldest brother argues with middle daughter while getting ready for school….

And I’m about to lose it, I really am.

I feel like a puppet on a string and I am not cut out for this craziness, this jumping up running from thing to thing. I’m not up for these interruptions and stresses and constant driven-ness and being overwhelmed all. the. time.

I’ve lived in the corporate world and it was easier than this.

I’ve lived in full time ministry and it was easier than this.

I’ve done many things that were easier than this.

I need a new life. And maybe I have one.

The scripture comes to my mind, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…”

So I stop for a split second, literally,  and laugh. “Okay, Jesus,” I say. “This life isn’t mine but Yours; so I guess this mess isn’t mine but Yours. You’re gonna have to come through here.”

James MacDonald says it like this:

“As we set out for a new day and yet another new day, we sort of assess what’s in front of us and we come to some conclusions about how we’re going to live our life today. And if we look to ourselves and our meager fleshly resources and we calculate how we will get by…  That’s a very bad plan. Especially when Romans 8:8 says that those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Now I don’t know how it could be made any clearer. Living for Christ is not difficult. It’s impossible.”

From sermon series compiled in the book I Really Want to Change… So, Help Me God published by Moody Press

 

This Christian life was not meant to be lived in the flesh. It was not meant to be empowered by me. It is meant to be Christ using my body, mind, will, and emotions to live HIS life. It’s His life and it’s His power.

“But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit…” (Romans 8:8)

God’s Spirit is our power source when we are in Christ. Thank God, these responsibilities truly aren’t my problem. They are God’s opportunities to show His life and power.

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells within you.” Romans 8:11

I tune into Jesus and turn off the burning breakfast and chase down a dirty toddler and hustle sick daughter and toddler both to the tub and ask siblings to be kind and somehow, in the midst of it all, faith in Christ within me bouys me and strengthens me and I am kind and confident because He is living His life through me.

Later, I’m getting ready for bed and I realize this is why I’m Arabah. I’m Arabah because who I am doesn’t matter… Because the life I live is no longer lived in the flesh. I’m Arabah because in the flesh I’m a dry, barren desert, a life trying and struggling and failing. An exhausted mess. But I’m also Arabah because the Spirit has been poured out and the wilderness has become a fertile field and the the desert blossoms and rejoices. (Isaiah 32:15, 35:1-2)

So…

Hello, again. I’m Arabah. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

James MacDonald (quoted above) is one of my favorite pastors. If you live in the Memphis, TN area, come hear him tonight at Bellevue Baptist Church. The husband volunteered to stay with the sick babes and let me go hear him tonight! PTL!

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