Tuesday, May 19, 2015

For Those Who Are Praying

I have had many friends express their concern and love for our family throughout this year.  In fact, I have a stack of cards sitting on my desk right now to which I'd like to respond personally because each one came at a time when the love and words were desperately needed. I feel bad because I have not been able to do so.  Thus I am blogging in an attempt to answer my many friends who have been concerned about how I am doing.  

Emotionally, I have good moments and bad moments, good days and bad days,  good weeks and bad weeks.  At times I feel like I am doing well, and then I find myself struggling.  So I may tell you I am good, and I probably am in that moment.  However, I can be crying in the next moment.  Sometimes I can talk about it and even need to talk about it.  Sometimes it hurts too bad to talk.

My husband sent me to a counselor who ordered me to take care of myself.  She said I needed to refill my cup which has been drained so that I would have something to give to our children who all have a great many needs right now.  Writing is therapy for me.  It helps me sort out my thoughts and understand life around me.   So when I get my few hours of alone time a week, I find myself attempting to put into words the myriad of thoughts and emotions that I am dealing with.  It is helping.

Physically, I am working on recovering from exhaustion.  I still have a few nights a week when I struggle to sleep because my brain is trying to solve problems too big for me. I have fallen asleep while reading books or saying prayers with our little ones.  Some days I have a hard time functioning because of the fatigue, but it is improving.

Stress has taken its toll.  Sometimes I will suddenly feel anxious.  My stomach will feel upset, my chest feels tight, and it can be hard to breathe.  I have never experienced "anxiety attacks" before.  It is frightening because things feel out of control.  However, I am learning to deal with them.  I have to take deep slow breaths and talk to God.  I tell him that this all belongs to him, and I will trust him with it. These attacks never last more then a few minutes.

Spiritually, my faith is strong.  God has been with us each step of the way.  We feel His presence.  We see His work.  We do not feel alone.  I cannot imagine going through this type of heartache and struggle without God.  I can still say each day that "God is good."

Photo from freedigitalphotos.net

To all the prayer warriors out there, we know God is hearing your many prayers.  Michael is doing pretty good in the boarding school where he is at.  There have been no major problems, and he does seem to be happy.  Troy continues to struggle and we are facing some difficult decisions.  However, there appears to be hints of a softening going on in his heart.  Please keep praying.  There is an intense spiritual battle going on.  As for the rest of our family, pray for God's protection and love to surround them.

We love you all.  Thank you for all the love you have poured out on us!

God Bless,
Natasha

  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Confessions from a Mom about Mother's Day

I am going to be brutally honest here about Mother's Day.

I don't like it much.

Every year I have hopes and expectations.  They get crushed within moments of getting out of bed.  

As usual I was the first one up this past Sunday morning.  I showered early so there was plenty of time to get everyone up and ready for church.  As I came downstairs I noticed the breakfast table wasn't set.  At our house this is a regular chore.  It is to be done at bedtime each night by one of the children.  Mother's Day.  It was forgotten.  Not done.

My mind started its fuming.  I have to admit I had a temper tantrum.  I decided right then and there I would get myself ready, and we would see how everyone else managed on their own.

7:15 rolled around.  One child showed up.  I asked, "You up to make some breakfast?"  My hopes were squashed as she headed to the shower.

7:45.  Children rolled out of bed.  They wanted to know when breakfast was.  I told them I didn't know and continued getting ready.  My husband began setting the table and getting breakfast.  I felt a tad guilty now.  I didn't intend for him to fill in for my stubborn absence.

8:10.  A child asked if he could go ahead and eat because he needed to be at church early.  I grouchily told him to do whatever he wanted.

8:15  Children began sitting down at the breakfast table and waiting for breakfast to be served.  My blood was boiling now.  They were sitting there and waiting as their dad finished up breakfast preparations!  

8:20  Breakfast was served.  My husband asked the children if they had told their mother "Happy Mother's Day."  Children parroted back, "Happy Mother's Day, Mom!"  The words seemed empty. Something said out of obligation.

9:00  We were off to church.  I smiled and said "thank you" to everyone who wished me "Happy Mother's Day," but I was not feeling it.  I wanted my own children to make the day special.

During the afternoon I took Kaishawn and Avarie upstairs for nap time.  After reading them books and getting them settled in for a nap, I buried myself in my comforter and slept for awhile.  I tried to hide from my negative thoughts in a blanket of sleep.  However, I still was hoping that maybe I would be surprised when I awoke and would find the house cleaned up or a gift or something.

3:00.  I came downstairs.  My daughter, Amber, pulled me aside and showed me a power point presentation that she had made for me for Mother's Day.  It was sweet and was a drop of healing balm on my raw emotions.

3:15  I made the mistake of walking into the living room.  Kids were sprawled out around the room playing on game devices.  Newspapers and books were scattered across the floor.  Toys lay everywhere.  I decided to go on a walk.  As I left I suggested rather loudly, "Perhaps for Mother's Day someone could clean this place up."

4:15  I came in the house and found the living room has been vacuumed but otherwise things were still in disarray.  I snapped back into mother mode.  It was Mother's Day.  I should not have to live in this mess.  If my children couldn't see what needed done, I would help them.  Everyone was assigned several chores and within the hour the house was whipped back into shape.

Towards bedtime one of my boys asked me if I had a Happy Mother's Day.  I told him it was "ok," but I had been disappointed.  He said, "But I vacuumed the living room for you and cheerfully asked if there was anything else that needed done when you gave out chores."  I told him I appreciated that, but I guess I had hoped my children would have taken more initiative.  He walked off.  I could tell he felt bad.  I didn't mean to hurt him with my expectations.

Truly that is what it was.  My expectations and my focus was on "me" rather then on the blessings God has given me.  I saw pictures on social media of sweet things children had done for their mothers.  I expected my children to be like them.  Honestly though, those posts of sweet hand made cards and breakfast in bed and elaborate gifts were few and far between.  It could be that many mothers had days similar to mine.

I think I learned some important lessons this Mother's Day.  I hope I did.  I didn't enjoy my temper tantrum any more this year than in past years.  I want next year to be different.  

Mother's Day is not about ME.  I focused on "me" rather than on the blessings God has given me.  Next year I want to focus on my children and the gift each one of them is in my life.  I have known loss this year, and I know things can change quickly.  I should have been soaking up the moments with my children who are home rather then resenting their lack of appreciation for me.

Mother's Day is a day set aside to honor our mothers.  It is a Biblical ideal to honor our parents.  It is not Biblical to honor oneself.   I should have been focusing on my mother rather then on myself.

Mother's Day is just a day out of 365 days.  My children bless me many times over throughout the year with notes, special gifts, surprises, hugs, words of praise, and by volunteering for extra chores.  How much more meaningful should those times be to me then the day of the year when they may feel obligated to say and do things because the calendar says it is Mother's Day?

I went back to my hurt son.  I saw tears in his eyes.  It tore at my heart.  Reaching up I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and said, "You know what means more to me then anything you could have done for me on Mother's Day?  It is those times every single day that you come in and you say, "How are you, fantastic?  You are wonderful.  You are the best.  Mom, you are awesome.  You don't know how much those words build me up and make me feel good.  Thank you!"



From the heart of a mother about Mother's Day.  

Photo from freedigitalphotos.net


    


Monday, April 27, 2015

God's Faithfulness through Brokeness

The past four months have been the hardest in our lives.  A couple of our boys are going through what we hope and pray is only a season of rebellion and finding themselves.  I cannot share the depths of our pain or theirs, because I respect the privacy of our children.

However, I can testify to what God has done when our world has been broken and shattered.



God has walked beside me each step of the way.  I realize more fully what Christ has done for me. The agony of the cross became real.  Suffering because of sin brought me to my knees.  And I am grateful not to be alone.  I do not travel a path where he has not been.

God has shown me the way to find peace is through praising Him.  In the dark of the night, when sleep would not come I would read in the Psalms and cry out to the Lord along with David.  I noticed David often turned to praising God.  When I did the same quietly singing praise songs to God, peace would come to my soul and rest would follow.

God has provided for all our needs at just the right time.  He has been using his people to guide us, direct us, and financially sustain us.

  • A school guidance counselor offered solid advice and prayed with me right there in the public school office.   
  • A law enforcement officer did his job but also offered compassion and support. 
  • A college friend returned a phone call and gave some advice and options when it seemed we had hit a dead end.
  • A family friend who lives miles away sent us money because his wife told him to.
  • Another gift check was given to us by our church family. 


God has shown us what it means for God's people to "Bear one another's burdens."


  • A friend brought over meals when my brain couldn't even think straight to be able to put something together.  
  • My husband's family took our younger children for a few days while we sorted things out. 
  • A friend dropped everything to come during a moment of crisis.  
  • A family friend happened to be here at the right time when things were out of control, and I was scared.  
  • Several friends offered to and have watched our younger children for us.
  • My mom came over and helped with laundry, dishes, and children.  
  • Cards of encouragement came in the mail.
  • Notes of encouragement came through texts, e-mails, and facebook messages.  
  • Flowers were delivered to my doorstep.  
  • Our church family surrounded us and continues to surround us with hugs, prayers, love and encouragement.


God has shown me the power of prayer.  One day was particularly hard.  I remember sobbing that morning and telling my husband, "I can't do this.  I just can't do this."  He wrapped his arms around me and just started praying.  Somehow strength came when I had none to face the day.  As we went through that day together, we cried off and on.  We had asked our church family to surround us with prayers.  At one point my husband said, "I feel like every time someone stops praying to breathe, I start crying again."  His comment illustrates how we could feel the prayers of his saints sustaining us.

God has shown me what it means to truly grieve for the lost.  I cannot sing a song about God's salvation or deliverance without it becoming a prayer for my boys.  My heart aches.  The pain comes out in tears.  I cannot stop them.  I long for the Lord to come back, yet my heart begs God for time. "Lord, give us time to reach those who are still lost."

God cares enough to tell me something more then one time when he is trying to get my attention.  All our children have many needs right now.  It can be overwhelming to a mother.  They are hurting too.  Some are confused.  There is anger.  There is sadness.  Yet I find myself empty and having to withdraw.  I hide out in my room at times because I can't give another hug or have another conversation.  I need held too.  I need time to process it all.

My loving husband sent me to talk to a Christian counselor last week.  Her assignment for me was to take at least four consecutive hours a week for myself to start refilling my cup so I have something to give again.  I heard her, but I guess I didn't take it too seriously because how does one do that anyway?  It sounded like something else to add to my "to do" list.  Right afterwards I met with a sweet friend who has encountered similar circumstances.  She shared more of their story with me, and it further opened my eyes to the importance of resting and refilling.  Then another friend shared an article with me that got to the heart of the matter.  I need to have enough faith to rest.  I need to rest knowing God can handle this without me.  It all depends on him not me.  It has been humbling and yet comforting to know God cares enough to tell me, "Get some rest.  I can handle this."

God has given me hope.  I do not feel despair.  I will not give up.  I believe in our God who can rescue and save.  I think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  God did not spare them from the fire.  They had to go through it.  However, he was right there in the midst of the fire with them. In the end God brought them through the fire unharmed.  Only the ropes that had bound them were burned up.  I am confident God will bring us through, and in the end he will be glorified.  That is the way our God works.

God is faithful to us in our brokeness.  He is worthy to be praised!






Friday, March 27, 2015

Planting Flowers

In the midst of a storm
plants are bent low
flattened to the ground.

Petals on flowers 
strewn in the puddles
their beauty washed away.

Rain like tears 
gathers in pools
sometimes rushes in torrents.

Text message:
"You are on my heart.  Praying for you all day as I am planting flowers and thinking of all your children."

Light breaks through the clouds
Peace enters my heart
Tears cease falling.

I am reminded...

Storms will end
Plants will lift their heads
New flowers will bloom.

The storm
the rain
prunes the weak.

The storm 
the rain
brings new strength.

The storm 
the rain
nourishes the roots.

The storm
the rain
enables fresh beauty to burst forth.

Patiently I planted
watered and tended
seeds God has given me.

Others are transplants
special gifts
in need of tender care.

Plants have grown
and I have loved
nurturing them with pride.

Now I must trust Him
their Creator
with their pruning and their care.

The storms that come
will only add
fresh beauty to their lives.

Trusting God today
to make a most glorious bouquet
as a result of the storm.

Thank you, Lord, for a simple text to remind me of your truth.  Thank you for the storms that bring new life.  Thank you for peace that passes all understanding even in the midst of the storm.  Amen.