A Little Privacy Please!

So I'm in the bathroom doing what people do in the bathroom.  My husband comes in to resolve  the unfinished disagreement we had earlier.  It had to be important to him because he's never come into the bathroom to finish a discussion. So we were talking and then... 

"Mom!  Guess what?  I found Jumanji," and in comes D, with the huge fake spider he thought he lost.  He sits down on the floor and starts reading the book he has in the other hand.  

What?!  No...this isn't happening.  End of discussion.

Can I get a little privacy?!

Crazy life.  

When Your Thoughts Go Crazy

Scot and D went camping last Friday.  This was D's second overnight camping trip with the Scouts. 

This made me think of last year...his first overnight camping trip.   Initially I wasn't nervous...He and Scot will be together, D wanted to go.  And it wasn't like it was deep in a forest somewhere with wild animals.  And it was only one night (there was a two night option but we thought one night would be good for D's first time).  I was surprisingly pretty relaxed about him going (considering he'd be outside in a tent all night...yikes!).  I might have been hesitant for a minute, but after talking to Scot, I was fine...

Until I told a friend.  She replied, "and you're letting him go?!"  She's a mom of two boys. If she's concerned I should be too.

But the truth is, she wasn't alarmed at D going camping, she was surprised that I wasn't freaking out about it (knowing me).  But her response triggered something in my mind, and my calm started to disappear.

Maybe he's not ready to go overnight camping. 

Maybe this...

Maybe that...

Ok, that's it, D's not going unless I go too (and I definitely didn't want to stay overnight in a tent).      

Isn't it amazing how that can happen?  You're doing great, then out of nowhere, someone says something, does something or something happens and everything changes...in your mind.  And of course, the mind affects everything.  If you're not careful, that one thought will take over,  become a run-away train picking up several more passengers (i.e. negative thoughts) and careens out of control, crashing and bursting into flames.  That's what happened to me...almost.  I nearly ruined my son's first overnight camping experience and a good time with his dad and the other Scouts with anxiety driven thoughts.

Fortunately, for everyone involved, I did not go camping with them and everything was great. (Moms were invited though and I think one mom went.)   Although I did go to the campsite to see what it was like, thinking that would ease my mind.  But I would have been better off not going.  The campsite was only steps away from the ocean and at night it was so dark you couldn't see the water...what if D accidentally walked into the water?...see what I mean by crazy thoughts?  I ended up texting Scot way too many times that night up until the time they were in the tent ready to go to sleep. 

Negative, fearful thoughts are always lurking, waiting to creep in.  But you have to recognize what's happening and say, "Nope, not today...you're not coming in."  And then invite the good thoughts in.  When you allow negative thoughts in they get comfortable and take over.  You have to stop them at the door.

I don't care how many Scriptures you know and how spiritual you are, there are times when those negative thoughts get in.    

When you see your behavior getting out of control you know the thoughts have taken over.  It's best not to allow things to get that far. 

Learn from me...don't do what I did and let it get too far. 

There's always a trigger.  For me it was when my friend made that comment.  My calm, laid back friend who's never worried about anything.  Somehow her making that comment told me I should worry because if calm Cindy (not her real name) was concerned, I should be too.  If I'd have thought more, I would have realized Cindy wasn't even worried...she was being facetious about me being so calm.    

Thankfully, this year's trip came without the anxious thoughts...I learned from last year.  I was thankful D and Scot could enjoy a good time together camping with the other Scouts, and I had a sweet time alone catching up on podcasts and discovering some new ones. (I did text Scot a couple of times though...a far cry less than last year.)

Your Troubles Can Comfort Others

Years ago, when I was still pretty new in my walk with Christ, on a women's retreat, we gathered into small groups to pray. I shared that God was doing an amazing work in me...that he was healing past emotional wounds of molestation that happened when I was seven years old.

After I shared, I looked up and a few women had tears flowing from their eyes.  I didn't understand it at the time.  Should I not have brought that up?    

It turned out that those women, too, had been molested as girls and had never dealt with it.  They spoke with me after the group time.  I didn't know the power of sharing my story then.  I didn't understand 2 Corinthians 1:4 at the time.

2Corinthians 1:4 says, "He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." 

No one is without troubles, hurts, pains.  Unfortunately some even try to hide their pain from God.  When you do that you only further hurt yourself.  God is a healer, waiting to heal.  And He wants to use your story to heal others.

We spend so much time as believers, trying to hide our stories, the things we are ashamed of, when God wants to take those things and not only heal us but use our healing to reach out and help others.  Others need to see and know that you...even you, church leader, are not perfect.  You didn't accept Christ and suddenly become a perfect human being.  They need to know that you have flaws and struggles. 

Putting forth a perfect image is a lie.  It is deceptive.  And it is dangerous...to other Christians, to yourself and to the growth of the church on a whole.

Image is about the external.  About how something looks.

Christians get confused and believe because the Scriptures say they are made perfect in Christ that this means they are to act perfect or make themselves look perfect to others.  That is called one thing - acting. 

It is true that we are made perfect in Christ, but that means that positionally, spiritually, when God looks at us He sees His perfect son Jesus Christ in us, and it's because of Jesus that we can have a relationship with God.  But it doesn't mean we are perfect in the flesh because we are still human beings.  And no human being is perfect.

When we pretend to be perfect we take away God's ability to show others His strength and power in our lives.  We take away his ability to use 2Corinthians 1:4 to help others.

I'm not saying we need to tell others everything we're going through.  No.  We aren't to do that.   But there are experiences you have gone through that God wants you to share with others so that God can use it to help them.

I don't know just how much my sharing helped those women that day, but it let them know that they weren't alone.  They weren't the only ones who had been molested. It let them know that God wants to heal them too.   And I hope those tears were just the beginning of their healing.

A spiritual and emotional healing often begins with us sharing our story and how God is working or has worked to heal us.  (Often, too, our sharing is further healing for us.) 

Is God calling you to be transparent about something you've been ashamed of?  If so, He is going to use it for His good when you stop hiding.

Sex Trafficking, Nehemiah & Prayer

Two weeks ago, I started reading the book of Nehemiah.  I started reading there because Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem's walls in just 52 days.  I'm working on a writing project and things are moving slowly...I had been praying for the project to be expedited...maybe I could learn something from Nehemiah.

It didn't take long for God to speak to my heart as I read Chapter One.  But it had nothing to do with my writing project.

Nehemiah lived about 800 miles from Jerusalem and worked for a king.  One day Nehemiah got news that Jerusalem's walls had been destroyed and the people were in crisis.  Nehemiah was deeply troubled hearing the news.  In verse 4, he said, "...I sat down and wept...for days I mourned, fasted and prayed to the God of heaven."

As I read this and felt Nehemiah's heart, sex trafficking victims came up in my spirit, and I remembered the compassion and concern I had for them when I first learned about sex trafficking and the sincere desire I had to want to do something to help. (You can read about that here: Painting for God's Girls and Update: Human Trafficking Workshop)

Like Nehemiah, I prayed. I prayed that God would show me how he wanted me to help, and I prayed for sex trafficking victims and survivors although I'd never met even one.  I stepped out as I believed God was calling me to.   

I read books to educate myself and attended workshops.  With other volunteers, I helped paint new offices at a drop in center. (A drop in center is a place that reaches out to girls on the streets.)  I signed up to volunteer at the drop-in center once a week to reach out to the girls...pray with, talk to, just be there...but there were no longer any girls to reach out to.  They had recently been "moved" to another location due to police presence.   At another non profit agency, I signed up to do a phone hotline training to reach out to sex trafficking victims, but it turned out they needed people eight hours during the day on the weekend and I was only available late evenings and nights.  Everything I stepped out to do did not pan out. 

I knew God put sex trafficking victims on my heart but as time went on, and I haven't been involved in any specific outreach, it has remained in my heart but not in the forefront of my mind.  Actually everytime I see something about sex trafficking now it is a reminder that I'm doing nothing about it.         

As I sat and pondered Nehemiah's words, I heard God speak in that still silent voice, "don't forget them...keep praying for them."

When I was actively involved with the drop-in center and attending workshops I prayed often for the girls but at some point my prayers for them slowly dwindled to a complete stop.  (I didn't even realize it until I was reading Nehemiah that day.)

I think we are more apt to pray for someone or something when it is a situation close to us...when you know them personally or they are a relative of a friend or if you serve in a particular ministry or outreach...when it seems more tangible in some way.  Also when something is as massive as sex trafficking you may not realize your prayers make a difference.

God used Nehemiah to remind me not to forget the girls and the importance of praying for them whether I'm involved in a local outreach or not.  Nehemiah lived 800 miles from Jerusalem and he continued to pray for the city and its people...he didn't forget them nor allow the situation to be removed from the forefront of his mind or heart.  Verse 6 (Chapter 1) says he prayed night and day for the people.  (Nehemiah's prayer(s) is powerful.  You can read it here: Nehemiah 1:4-11.)

If sex trafficking has been on your heart and you don't know how to help...begin by praying for the girls trapped in that life.  Prayer is powerful and it is a privilege that we, imperfect women in Christ, can intercede in prayer to our Creator, for other imperfect girls and women who don't yet know Christ.

I thought being involved in something where I am serving these women face-to-face was where God wanted me, and who knows maybe it is down the road, but right now I'm to be praying for them.  I added them to my prayer door (some people have a prayer closet, I have a door where I tape my prayer lists...got the idea from the movie War Room).  

I started out reading Nehemiah for one reason and God had another reason...isn't He amazing!?

Worship Wednesday: Peace

This is Peace by Sherri Youngward, a YouTube video.

How ironic that this is the song I chose for today...Peace...when journalists and an interviewee were shot live on air.  "Where is the peace?" someone may ask.

Yes, it's hard to understand peace when what you see in the world around you is chaos.  

Jesus said in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  (read the entire chapter to get full context).

The peace that Jesus gives us is supernatural.  It is beyond human understanding (Philippians 4:7).  In this world there will be trouble (John 16:33)...murder, sickness, strife...BUT you can have a divine, supernatural peace within when you rely on Jesus Christ.

Acting, Singing, Dancing Debut

D has been asking to take a drama class for a while.  He finally got his chance.  He did a two week drama day camp. When he found out there was dancing involved he was a little hesitant, but he did it.  They performed on stage on the last day of camp (July 31st).

He did such a great job. 

I was so proud of him.  Even his Grandma came.  She broke her hip a couple of months ago and has been healing but she was able to see his debut.

So proud of you, D!

An Only Child

When D would tell me he wanted a little sister or brother I felt sad and guilty.  Sadness because my interpretation of D wanting a sibling meant he was lonely.  And guilt was saying, "You went into parenthood knowing he would be an only child. It's your fault he is missing something vital in his life."

It made me wonder "Lord, are we supposed to adopt another child?"  Is he missing out on something vital?    

He used to talk about it almost daily, now it's down to once or twice a week.  The other morning at breakfast D said, "Mom, I want us to be a family of five."  (It used to just be a sister, now he wants a brother and a sister and has names picked out for them.)

Knowing that we are a permanent family of three, and not wanting to get D's hopes up, I always remind him, "I don't think there's gonna be any more kids in our family D."  (Of course he always refutes that.)  

I asked him questions about being a big brother.

"I would teach them to read since I'm a such a good reader. And I'd help them do other things." 

"You would be such a great big brother."  

In the back of my mind the fix-it part of me analyzed his answers:  he wants to teach them to read, he wants to help them do things...it sounds like he wants to be a big brother so he can teach and help...hmmm I really need to find something he can do to help younger kids...like read stories to them...ok, I thought of that before why didn't it ever happen? I really need to pursue that.

But somewhere between my analysis and D finishing breakfast, my mind relaxed.  The analyzing stopped.  Sadness and guilt left.  I started to simply see the beauty in D's musings of being a big brother.  Stop explaining to D that there won't be more kids in our family, I thought.  Stop trying to fix it.  Nothing is broken.  We are a family of three.

Yes, D reading nursery rhymes to younger kids is a great idea for several reasons but I doubt it will satisfy the desire he has to be a big brother.  And that's okay. His wanting to be a big brother doesn't mean he's lonely. Nor is it a sign that we're to enlarge our family. 

We've always pretty much known that D would be the one and only. It was a surprise to me when he started talking about wanting a sister and brother (he gets so much attention from us...what are we doing wrong?).  Even though it made me question if we were to add to our family, I knew that wasn't a reason to start adoption proceedings for another child. 

I think the guilt for parents of an only child is common, but when you know and understand that your family with one child is a blessing and just the way God designed it, the guilt goes away.

That particular morning, God interrupted my thoughts to help me see what He sees.  I interpreted my son's desire to mean that something was missing or wrong because he wanted to be a big brother.  Well, God showed me to enjoy his thoughts about being a big brother rather than see them as something missing or wrong with his life.  Nothing is missing.  Nothing is wrong. We are a complete family of three. 

If you, too, know you are meant to be a mom of only one, but struggle with guilt, may you embrace the completeness of your family and see the simple beauty in your child wanting to be a big brother or sister rather than interpret it as something that needs fixing.

Only Broccoli

The other day we all went out to dinner.  When we got home D wanted a snack (cookies or chips).  He had already had a cookie and chips earlier, and he was just getting over stomach issues a couple of days prior. I didn't want any stomach problems that night (i.e. throwing up).    Sometimes he can break me down and I change my mind, but not this time.