Littles Don’t Keep

It’s the night before 1st grade and the thought that keeps running through my mama head is…

Littles Don’t Keep. 

Wasn’t it just yesterday I was on bed rest, waiting for this little boy to arrive? Wasn’t I just crying on the recliner because I couldn’t figure out the whole breastfeeding thing? Wasn’t I just sitting in the doctor’s office, worried sick because he wasn’t gaining weight and wasn’t following the stupid “curve.” Wasn’t I just having a panic attack over his refusal to drink milk…like from a bottle or a boob? Wasn’t I just laying on the floor, coaxing him to roll over and sit up? Wasn’t I just filming his first steps? Wasn’t I just a basket case over having to leave him and go back to work part-time? Wasn’t I just pureeing squash and washing poop-stained onesies? Wasn’t I just following him all over the park, watching him waddle and stumble, climb and jump? Wasn’t I just elated-screaming over his first, spoken word? Wasn’t I just moving him from his crib to his “big boy bed?” Wasn’t I just teaching him his ABC’s and 123s? Wasn’t I just freaking out and googling things like, “Why doesn’t my baby want to cuddle?” Wasn’t I just playing “fireman,” running around the house and putting out fires? Wasn’t I just helping him navigate his frustrations over having to leave his “blankie” in his bed during the day? Wasn’t I just teaching him how to manage his emotions, rather than roaring like a wild beast or screaming “No way, no way, no way?!?!” Wasn’t I just soothing his tears over his bike riding fears? Wasn’t I just signing him up for his first preschool, soccer league? Wasn’t I just building train tracks and making Duplos buildings?

Wasn’t I just doing all of these things…like yesterday?

Seriously. Littles don’t keep. 

And as I have spent the past few days mulling over memories and thanking God for the past six years, the good and the hard, I had this overwhelming desire to write and encourage you, mama (whoever you might be).

Maybe you’re a mama who is in the trenches of sleepless nights, teething babies, and toddler tantrums.

Maybe you’re a mama who is fretting over weight gain, discipline issues, and the decision to wean or continue.

Maybe you’re a mama who is smack in the middle of eating battles, potty training accidents, and repeated cup spills?

Maybe you’re a mama who is feeling lonely, defeated, and overwhelmed with the routines, the day-in and the day-out.

Maybe you’re a mama who is baffled by the whole “schedule thing” or fed up with the whole “vaccination thing.”

Maybe you’re a mama who is battling guilt, dealing with postpartum depression, or raging with frustration over your little one’s refusal to sleep, eat, and obey.

Maybe you’re a mama who is prying scared hands off your legs and anxious fingers off your arms.

Maybe you’re a mama who is begging for patience, a break, a cup of coffee, and adult conversation.

Maybe you’re a mama who is questioning your abilities, your discernment, and your role as mama.

Maybe you’re a mama who wonders and worries if this season you’re in will last forever.

Mama, I don’t know what you’re facing today and fearing tomorrow, but I do know this…

Littles don’t keep. 

So, mama, whatever age you’re in and whatever stage you’re walking right now, I pray you’ll remember that even if tomorrow holds the same, the next years probably won’t. And though you are absolutely entitled to have the feelings you have today (this mama won’t tell you how to feel; I blogged about that one time), I pray you’ll find beauty within the hard and lovely in the midst of your difficult. I pray you’ll hold fast to these fleeting moments and make memories in the midst of it all (good, bad, and ugly alike). I pray you’ll cherish the precious, pray over the hard, and praise Him for these sweet, ever-changing moments. And I pray you will hold those precious souls tight, and maybe even a little longer than necessary, because mama…

Littles don’t keep. 

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While I’m Thinking of Them: 7ish Things

Caden and Evie,

There are a bunch of thoughts doing somersaults in my heart and cartwheels in my soul right now and before I forget them, I decided to jot you a future note. I know your little hearts can’t grasp all these sentiments right now, but I don’t want to forget or neglect to share these things with you–to teach you these things–so I’m adding them here for safe-keeping and easy-remembering! And maybe just maybe, some others will be encouraged along the way.

So here goes!

  1. I am not going to be a hovering, helicopter parent…rescuing you from all the hard and protecting you from all the hurt. Life is going to be hard and it’s going to hurt, so I’m going to make it my goal to help you learn how to maneuver the hard and how to process the hurt. I want to guide you to the ONE who can carry your hard and redeem your hurt. I want to give you tools for working through the hard and being honest about the hurting parts of life. But no, I am not going to try and rescue you from the hard. Which means…I’m not going to call the school and request a different teacher when you’re not with your BFF, and I’m not going to allow you to skip Sunday School just because it’s uncomfortable. I’m just not.
  2. I am not going to buy you something every time we walk into a store…even if it’s only a small pack of gum. I’m just not. Why? Because you don’t NEED something every time you walk into the store. I want you to know boundaries, self-control, and the value of the dollar and “special things.” I don’t want you to think you “deserve” or are “entitled” to something…to anything…even if it’s “not that much money.” I want you to be content with what you have and thankful for what you do have, and I don’t want you to believe that buying something or having something will increase your joy or bring you contentment. I don’t want you to “buy” into the lie that STUFF MAKES YOU HAPPY. Which means…I might say “no” to a pack of Skittles, or a bottle of cheap bubbles, or to that name-brand pair of shorts that everyone else is wearing. Why? Because money doesn’t grow on trees and even if it did, it wouldn’t bring long-lasting contentment.
  3. I am not going to lie to you in order to settle your emotions. What do I mean? I mean…I’m not going to tell you that there is “no more ice cream” because I don’t want to have a battle over you not having any. I’m not going to tell you that the small toy “got lost” because I can’t help you navigate how to get rid of old toys. I’m not going to pretend, fake, or lie about things in order to prevent you from feeling the weight of your feelings or of my “no” or my “not now.” Why? Because there is value in learning how to regulate your emotions even when you are presented with a roadblock or a flat-out “no.” Life will not be full of “yes’s,” so I want to prepare you with a healthy set of “no’s” before you start hearing them from outside our home.
  4. I am not going to tolerate “mean-talk.” What do I mean by “mean-talk?” I mean…I will not tolerate, diminish, excuse, justify, or overlook words that tear down, bully, criticize, generalize, stereotype, or demean another soul. Why? Because there are a million and one ways to healthily disagree with someone else’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without having to tear down their person, their race, their culture, their actions, and their beliefs. We use our words to build up; we use our words to encourage; and we use our words to breathe life and whisper hope. So when I take the words written in your passed notes, your texts, and spoken in your conversations seriously, please understand that my desire is for you to grow up aware and cognizant of the impact your words have on others. Your tongue is little, but it packs a powerful punch; let your punch be filled with honey.
  5. I am not going to do everything I can to make your life easy. Which means…I’m not going to clean your toys up for you just because it’s “easier and quicker” for me to do so. I’m not going to buy you a new pair of soccer socks because you misplaced yours. I’m not going to pay you for every chore you do; in fact, I’m not going to pay you for a lot of the chores you will be asked to do. I’m not going to go find your misplaced belonging without you making your own attempt at finding it first. I’m not going to clear your plates from the table every single time. Why? Because there is value in understanding that life requires work, effort, and perseverance. Jobs don’t just “get done;” responsibilities are not “suggestions;” and laziness is not applauded.
  6. I am not going to make it my life goal to make your lives fun. Though I love to be intentional in making memories with and for you, this is not my number one goal. I love you, and I truly desire to bless your souls (in all kinds of ways), but I am not your personal “fun-maker.” Which means…there is a time for fun and play, and there is a time for doing and working. Life can be filled with fun things like play dates and vacations, but there are a lot of things in life that are not fun; you are going to have to do some of those “not fun” things. I imagine, some day, your boss and maybe even your spouse, will readily agree…and maybe even thank me.
  7. I am not always going to agree with you and take your side. This does not mean that I won’t love, support, and encourage you; it just means that sometimes I’ll think you’re wrong, and I might even side with someone else. That means that I won’t step in and try to change the coach’s decision even if you don’t like it, and I might not disagree with the teacher’s evaluation of your performance/behavior even if you don’t think it’s fair. I will be your advocate and your cheerleader, but I will not fight your battles, nor demand “special treatment.” I believe you are wonderful and lovely kids, but I will never believe you’re perfect, and I won’t behave like you’re above the consequences and/or superior to the expectations.

And on that note, I will conclude my list of 7ish things that I want to remember to teach you as you grow.

Goodnight and I love you.

Mom

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Books, Books, Books: An August Give-Away

Can you believe it, friends?!?! Summer is almost over and school is almost here! WOWZA! Not gonna lie, there are parts of me that are so sad to see summer go and other parts of me that are raising the “hallelujah-school-is-coming-again” banner! So many fun memories made this summer and so many exciting things ahead; this mama is swimming in a bag of mixed emotions!

SOOOOOO…to commemorate the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year (T-5 days for us), I am going to give away the book that I will be gifting our son on the eve of his 1st grade year!

So what book am I giving away? 

I am giving away TWO copies of I Will follow Jesus Bible Storybook by Judah and Chelsea Smith.

And why am I giving away this book?

Three reasons!

  1. This is the new Bible that Caden and I will be journeying through this school year! I think it will be a GREAT devotional for him.
  2. I love the illustrations–ESPECIALLY love that the illustrations include people of ALL color!
  3. I love that all of the stories focus on the importance of FOLLOWING Jesus–not just believing in Jesus, but FOLLOWING Him! Loving Him, trusting Him, and following Him!

So what are a few of my favorite line(s) from this book? 

I haven’t read a single line of the book–only glanced through the pages and read over the chapter titles, so I can’t even answer my own question!

But here’s what I do love:

I love that there are 60 different Bible Truth-stories. I love that the stories walk through the OT and NT. And I love that the stories are short and to the point–catching the heart and packing a powerful soul-punch with great application questions and thought-provoking challenges.

 

So how can you win a copy of this book? 

In the comment section below, share your favorite 2017 summer memory and on Sunday at 9PM (EST), I will select TWO winners!

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Roots, Fence Posts, and a Random Rock

I’m not even gonna lie. Love hurts.

In fact, I’ve had moments in the past few days where I’ve lamented through hot, messy tears that love “isn’t fair,” and it feels like a “gamble,” and like “a pile of no guarantees,” and like “a pit in the stomach and a punch in the gut.” And I’m sure I’ve uttered a few other overwhelmed, Eeyore kind of sentiments, but I can’t remember them all and probably shouldn’t.

To be perfectly honest, that drive from the agency to the metro park was a blur–a blur of tears and a blur of emotions.

I can’t share all of the details, and I have no desire to…but suffice to say: Yesterday morning, we were reminded again that we may not get to forever love the little soul we now hold in our arms.

I’m pretty sure the words sounded jumbled as they tumbled from our case worker’s mouth. It sounded like slow-mo, if you ask me.

“There is a possibility that a next of kin is interested in custody.”

I felt the breath leave me.

Sure, we always knew this was a possibility. And sure, we know we signed up for this. And yet…it still hurts. Why? Because the knowing doesn’t prevent the “ouch.”

We’ve loved this soul for exactly two months, and it’s been a fierce kind of love. The kind of love that leaves a hole when it’s removed; the kind of love that makes your heart ache and your arms heavy. The kind of love that can’t hug enough, hold enough, squeeze enough, or take enough pictures. The kind of love that day dreams and prays real long. It’s been that kind of love.

And yet…we always knew this was a possibility.

So as we meandered our way through bumpkin’ roads that resembled more of my Pennsylvania roots than that of the suburban Ohio roads we frequent, I asked God to meet us in the middle of our hurt. I didn’t utter the words out loud, and I didn’t close my eyes; I just prayed them in my heart.

As we got out of the car to hike a new metro park, two text messages popped up from two different friends on the face of my black screen.

One read: May today be yet another fence post moment of your story and your trust in Him.

Another read: Praying you will continue to live your lives rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6 

More tears pooled in my eyes as I thanked the Lord for dear friends who encourage with the Truth.

And then I moved on.

Walking the wooded paths, lined with wild, pink lilies, scared deer, and a babbling stream streaked with morning sun, I found myself calmed. Surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation, I had this recurring thought: If I can trust that He made all of THIS, then I can trust that He knows all of THAT. 

Plodding on, through what felt like a Secret Garden of sorts, we stumbled upon butterflies, moss-covered logs, stone overpasses, and this GIANT tree.

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As we drew closer to the tree, I found the following sign:

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Growing since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Over 241 years old. WOW.

I started to think about all the tree had endured in its lifetime.

Obviously, it endured a flood (as noted on the sign post) but what about storms? Lightning strikes? Excavation opportunities? Changes in soil? Bug infestations? Too much sun? Not enough water? Kids obsessed with peeling bark?

As I pondered, I marveled.

ROOTS. 

What incredible roots this tree must have!

And as I looked to very top, where the sun was shining, I was overcome with the way the Creator had provided for this creation over the course of its many, long years.

And just as quickly as that thought came, the content of one of those texts stumbled into my mind.

Praying you will continue to live your lives rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, overflowing with thankfulness.

Rooted. In what? In Him.

Strengthened. How? Though faith.

Overflowing. With what? With thankfulness.

Because we are rooted in Him, we can be strengthened through these faith-building moments. These moments of unknowns, gambles, and no guarantees–these moments that don’t feel fair and certainly not fun. We can be rooted in His character–steadfast, immovable, and faithful to His promises–because He is a good, good Father who cares for His creation through all weathers and all wearying moments. And when we find ourselves rooted in Him and strengthened through faith, we can be thankful.

Thankful? Thankful for what?

Thankful He knows what’s best for this little one. Thankful He knows what’s good for our family. Thankful He knows what will grow us and change us the most. Thankful He knows the future, our fears, and our frustrations. Thankful He is faithful to His people and to His never-broken promises. Thankful for the hard.

Thankful.

And just as quickly as those reassuring thoughts were marinading, the content of the other text barraged my mind.

May today be yet another fence post moment of your story and your trust in Him.

FENCE POSTS. 

What are they for; what is their purpose?

To ground the fence.

They must be sturdy, steady, and straightened correctly. They must be set correctly and spaced appropriately.

Why?

Because if your posts aren’t set correctly, your fence will fall and your posts will rot. And when your posts rot and fall, your fence is not only susceptible to inclement weather, but it’s also vulnerable to all kinds of unwanted animals.

What did she say?

May today be yet another fence post moment of your story and your trust in Him.

And yesterday was.

Another moment and another part of our story–a story that God is writing and a fence that He is building for our good and His glory. A fence that will not fall and will not rot. A fence that can be TRUSTED; a fence that can weather the storms and stand the test of time.

Yes. He is THAT kind of Father.

We may not know what tomorrow holds, or if our arms will be wrapped around this little soul we hold today, but we can know this:

We follow a Father who ROOTS us–a Father who SECURES us–a Father we can TRUST through every event and through every storm. 

And if those text messages, and that tree, and that walk in the woods didn’t grab my soul in a tender, fast way, well…I don’t know what else would. Except this.

As we finished the last leg of our walk, I happened to look down. There, in the middle of a little cove of flowers, lay this rock. It was a painted rock from the “Ohio Rocks” movement–started in Northeast Ohio that has spread all over the state. What’s their purpose? To make people smile as they hide painted rocks for others to find.

Boy, did they fulfill their purpose!

Not sure how this rock got planted in Southwest Ohio or who hid it but looking down at that rock, it was as if Jesus planted it there Himself.

Live and love in the moment, Jessica…for however long or short that may be. Because love will never, ever be taken away. 

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Hiding with Doritos in the Basement

A couple weeks ago, I found myself huddled in the basement, beside the dehumidifier (it’s cool and makes soothing, not-whining and not-yelling noises; don’t judge) with a snack-sized bag of Doritos.

Why?

Because I was hiding from my children.

No, really.

I was hiding from my children.

It was 4:15 (T-45 until Daddy dawned the porch steps) and Mommy needed a time-out. Mommy needed a breath of quiet air and a space of rest. No whining. No requests. No drama. No needs. No messes. No nothing. Mama was toast.

With a bag of cheese-dusted triangles and the humming of a dehumidifier, mama took a moment.

Because let’s be honest…parenting can be physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually grueling work.

There are those days weeks seasons when our backs are tired; our nerves are fried; our hearts are overwhelmed; and our souls are weary.

Teaching, admonishing, encouraging, and shepherding is hard, repetitive, sanctifiying work!

Yes, our children are a blessing and yes, our children are a gift. And…our children are also TIRING!!!

So when I read the words of Psalm 84:5 a few days ago, my mama heart resonated in a new and fresh way.

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” v.5

Did you catch that?

Not only are we to draw our strength from Him, but our hearts are to be set on a journey!

Mamas, friends, and everyone in between (because mamas don’t hold the corner on tough and hard and certainly aren’t elevated above the rest)…we are on a journey, a pilgrimage.

“As they pass through the Valley of Baka…” v. 6

What was the Valley of Baka? Simply put, it was a place without water. A place of dryness, a time of difficulty, a journey of hard, and a road that involved suffering.

I was so struck by the use of the word pilgrimage and the command to set our hearts toward pilgrimage (even in the valleys of dryness) that I started researching some information about “pilgrimage.”

Here is some of what I found, summarized in my own words.

  1. Pilgrimage in Psalm 84:5 is translated into the Hebrew word for “highways.” “Highways” were a thoroughfare, a viaduct, a staircase–a causeway, course, highway, path, or terrace.
  2. A person who makes a journey is called a pilgrim.
  3. In the OT times, travel was a major part of life.
  4. In the NT, travel narratives make up a large portion of the Gospels.
  5. A pilgrimage in Bible times could be dangerous–bandits, bears, and beastly lions.
  6. To make pilgrimage from Nazareth to Jerusalem via Jericho, it would take 97 miles of travel.
  7. It is estimated that Jesus walked over 15,000 miles in His earthly lifetime.
  8. A pilgrimage is a meaningful journey to a sacred place.

So what does all this mean for you? For me?

  1. There are many pilgrimages (highways, paths, courses) we will take and that God will use in our lives. What “highway” is God using in your life?
  2. We are pilgrims. What kind of pilgrim are you? Persevering? Faint-Hearted? Weary?
  3. Journeys are a part of our lives. What journey are you trying to avoid?
  4. It took a journey to spread the GOOD NEWS. How are you using your journey to share the GOOD NEWS?
  5. Pilgrimages are not guaranteed to be easy and/or safe. What are the obstacles in your journey–the places in your path that God is using to refine you?
  6. Journeys aren’t meant to be short and quick. What shortcuts are you trying to take on your pilgrimage?
  7. You are going to “walk” a lot of miles over the course of your lifetime. How are you walking yours?
  8. And lastly, journeys have an end destination. What’s yours? Who and what are you walking toward?

And as I’ve reflected on these questions and pondered over the beautiful and surprising Truth of Psalm 84:5-6, I’m reminded again of the importance of journeying with the ONE who provides the Strength.

Because as you read on in Psalm 85, you also read the following words:

“They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.” v. 7

Did you catch THAT? From strength to strength. Implying that God will not just supply strength for one part of the journey, but rather He will continuously provide strength after strength after strength for each and every part of our pilgrimage.

Till when?

“Till each appears before God in Zion.”

Zion–the place of worship, the temple, the place where God dwells, and the world to come.

Friends, I don’t know what pilgrimage or “highway” God is using to draw you to Himself; I don’t know what obstacles you’re facing, how many miles lay before you, how dry or barren your path may be, but I pray you will rest in knowing that His strength will accompany you every step of the journey…until you meet Him on His holy hill for the rest of eternity.

So whether you’re a tired pilgrim-mom hiding in your basement with a bag of Doritos by the hum-drum of your basement dehumidifier, or a fellow sojourner walking toward Zion on a different path, I pray you will rest in His strength and set your hearts toward pilgrimage. 

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Stuck Places, Growing Hearts

Our little boy has developed some new fears, and it’s been hard.

It’s hard to watch your kids struggle. It’s hard to watch fears take root in their little minds. It’s hard to watch the naivete leave and the difficulty of life settle in over their young hearts. It’s hard to watch them battle distorted strongholds and false lies.

It’s hard to watch them get stuck. 

We’ve been there over the past two months, and it’s been hard.

There’s no real value in sharing all of the nitty-gritty details of how we got here and what triggered this fearful-stuck place, but in a nut shell: Our little guy has started to fear failure.

I guess I always knew this day would come at some point (for at least one of our children), but I guess I didn’t know it would come so soon, and I certainly didn’t realize it would hurt this much.

Well, it’s here. Age 6. And it hurts. Lots.

Like I said, it’s not fun to watch your little loves struggle.

And in the past few weeks, we’ve had lots of bed-side chats and a whole lot of couch conversations. We’ve talked about his fears; we’ve challenged his fears; and we’ve worked on changing his fears. We’ve cried, and we’ve had our fair-share of frustrating moments. We’ve spoken truth; we’ve prayed prayers; and we’ve claimed the need for Jesus to take charge.

It’s been intense.

So last night, as my boy and I headed out for our nightly walk-ride (he rides ahead and I sweat to catch up), I was struck by the beauty of the image in front of me.

See, on August 18th, 2014, I blogged about our boy’s initial bike fears and on April 6th, 2015, I talked about his leftover “fear residue.” And until last night, I had kinda forgotten about those moments.

But as we were rounding the corner and hitting the last leg of our last mile, the Lord hit me square in the heart as I watched our boy pedal confidently ahead.

Jessica, you see your boy? You see how he’s riding with such confidence and bravery? Remember when he was scared  to pedal? Remember when he was terrified to try? Jessica, he’s not in the same place as he once was, and he won’t always be where he is now. And neither are you. 

I swallowed hard as I thanked the Lord for that timely truth.

And as I continued to walk, I thought through the fears and growth in my own life.

  • Recovering “people-pleaser”: used to be addicted to the approval of others
  • Recovering “boundary-less soul”: used to say “yes” to everything and “no” to nothing
  • Recovering “blood-pressure freak”: used to have a panic attack every time I had my blood pressure taken at the doctor’s office
  • Recovering “bang-wearer”: used to wear ginormous bangs to cover my chicken pox, scarred forehead
  • Recovering “scared blog writer”: used to fear that I would offend, isolate, alienate, or wound someone by my writing
  • Recovering “embarrassed skirt-wearer”: used to worry that others would think I was weird because I preferred skirts over pants
  • Recovering “symptom-checker hypochondriac”: used to google every single body sensation that felt weird, strange, or potentially scary
  • Recovering “parent explainer”: used to have to explain and justify to others why my children thought, felt, and acted in the ways they thought, felt, and acted
  • Recovering “legalist Jesus follower”: used to fear not pleasing Jesus enough

Honestly, I could probably add to the list if I took some more time to ponder the changes in my own heart and life.

The hard-fast reality is…

People grow, situations change; fears fade, courage builds; we aren’t in the same place forever. 

And though I guess I know that to be true, I needed to receive the truth again.

Why?

Because our boy’s fears might not always be his fears. And even if some fears remain the same, it doesn’t mean he’ll handle them tomorrow, how he’s handling them today.

 

As we parked our bikes in the garage, I reminded our little boy of his old fears, and I pointed out the growth in his life. I shared about his changes, and I celebrated his victories. And then I said the following:

“Buddy, I believe there’s a possibility that you won’t always be scared of what scares you today.” 

And with the biggest smile ever, he nodded his head and simply said, “I think that’s good, Mommy.”

How about you, reader?

What fears have changed for you, and how have you grown?

What place are you no longer in, no longer walking?

What fear has you stuck today that might not have you stuck tomorrow?

Friend, I pray you will find hope (no matter the place, no matter the fear) in trusting the One who holds today’s fears and tomorrow’s change.

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All the Feelings

First, let me say the following five things:

  1. I am a therapist.
  2. I like feelings.
  3. I think feelings are a good thing.
  4. I think we need to be aware of our feelings.
  5. I think feelings can sometimes help, protect, teach, and even guide us.

And then let me say a sixth thing:

6. I think feelings can be dangerous when they get a hold of the steering wheel.

Though I believe feelings can be wonderful passengers and helpful navigators in our “life vehicles,” I believe they can be rather dangerous, very unhelpful, and incredibly misleading when they are in charge.

I don’t feel in love with her/him anymore. 

I don’t feel like forgiving them. 

I don’t feel like being honest. 

I don’t feel like dealing with this conflict. 

I don’t feel like providing for my family. 

I don’t feel like serving. 

I don’t feel like controlling my desires. 

I don’t feel like God loves me…like He’s here…like He sees. 

Let’s just shoot straight.

Sometimes we don’t feel like a whole lot of things.

Sometimes it feels like it would be a whole lot easier and whole lot better to give in, give up, and run away. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to let things slide, to avoid, and to deny. And the reality is, it probably would be.

And yet…

Is it the best? Is it the healthiest? Is it the most God-honoring?

When we let our feelings drive our choices, we can wind up in all kinds of places and in all kinds of positions we’d rather not be and really shouldn’t go.

Rewind to this past Wednesday…

We had pushed through some tears on Monday, and we had addressed some fears on Tuesday, but on Wednesday…our son had decided that he couldn’t and wouldn’t be going to his third day of Art Camp.

I was encouraging; I was challenging; and I was gently pushing. But when push came to shove, our Jr. Color Explorer would not be attending.

As we pulled out of the parking lot, I immediately heard a gush of sobs.

“I’m sorry, Mommy. I’m sorry.”

Taking a deep breath and trying to summon an extra measure of grace and patience for this very “new-to-us-experience” (a problem that caused issues at VBS last month and is now an issue every single Sunday when I drop him off to Sunday School class), I simply said, “Buddy, I’m not angry with you, and you have not sinned against me. You don’t need to apologize. Am I frustrated? Yes. I’m frustrated because I feel like you’re letting your feelings drive your car.” 

It was silent in the backseat.

“I’m frustrated for you, and I’m afraid you’re missing out on some really awesome things you love and enjoy because sometimes you have scared feelings. I’m worried that you’re letting your feelings dictate your choices.” 

Again, it was silent.

“Buddy, it’s okay to have moments when you miss me and times when you feel scared about new experiences, but I guess I’d like to see you push through those.”

It was quiet…again. Knowing our boy, I decided to let the challenge marinate and move on with the rest of our day.

When he brought it up again, five hours had passed.

“Mommy?”

“Yes?”

“I think I want to go back to Art Camp tomorrow.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I think I need to stop letting my feeling carry me away.”  

My eyes welled with tears. I absolutely LOVED the way he had taken my challenge and made it his own.

He was right; feelings can absolutely carry us away…to all kinds of distorted, broken, confused, wrong, and empty places.

“Buddy, I think that’s a great idea.”

And guess what?

Today, he went back to Art Camp.

And though he reported having one moment where the tears showed up (tears are perfectly acceptable), he was able to acknowledge them, push through them and enjoy his stained-glass art project.

Like I say to my clients and will continue to preach to my children (and myself)…

We don’t want to deny our feelings, but we certainly don’t want to give them permission to dictate our lives, destroy our joy, and determine our paths. 

Any feelings got the steering wheel of your life?

Friend, take the wheel back and put your hands on His!

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