The God Who Sustains

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.- Psalm 3:5- New International Version

Are you an observant person? If you answered yes, then you are also probably a very wise person. The wisest people I have met are those who notice the world around them and find that God is in it all. From the smallest detail to the largest and most obvious. We just have to stop and see.

As I mentioned, sometimes it is in the smallest details, that God displays the greatest lessons for us. At least I have found that to be true for me. God is always teaching me more of His ways through what I see around me. He calls attention to the small things.

This happened to me recently, and although it was no small detail that He showed me, it was from the smallest and newest member of our family. It has been from my new little granddaughter. She is barely two days old, and I can already find a lesson from God for me from observing her.

And no it is not in the admiration for God’s beautiful and skillful workmanship, or from the amazement at her perfect little fingers and toes. No. It is from her temperament. Well, all newborns’ to be more clear. They cry, fuss and demand. They are not happy and want to shout it to the world around them. Sometimes they do not know what they want. Sometimes they want to just be held and comforted. Other times they are hungry. Other times they want to have their mess they made cleaned up. We wrap them up tightly, swaddling them, and they want to break free and not be wrapped up. They basically want their own way, when they want it.

After watching all this unfold these past few days and how my daughter and her husband are adjusting to this new boss in their lives, I have realized that is how we all act.

We are not sure what we want, but we do know we want someone to figure it out for us. We want God to fix whatever is broken and clean up messes we have gotten ourselves into. We are hungry for more, but we don’t always take what God provides; we fuss trying to get something other than God. We want God to comfort us, but we still want to be free to do our own thing. We want to be independent, yet dependent on Him. We complain to Him when He doesn’t give us what we want or when He takes too long.

We are all fussy children who continue to question God at times, but He is always sustaining us, just as the Psalmist wrote. We sleep and we wake for God sustains us. We don’t understand it all, but we can be secure, just as my granddaughter is, that she is loved and cared for. She will not be forgotten or overlooked. She fusses and cries. She demands, but she also is beginning to understand that she will be sustained. May we learn that for ourselves.- God Bless You -Nancy

When They’re Gone

Her children rise up and call her blessed – Proverbs 31:28

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about Mother’s Day this year. I am amazed how difficult this day is for me. Oh, I am very happy when my own adult children and my husband remember the day and share their love and appreciation towards me. But, after almost 8 years since my mom died; its still really sad for me. I wish she were here.

I wonder when and if it will ever be just another day for me. Will there be a time when I don’t find all of the advertisements bothersome? This year, I thought I was handling everything so well. I could walk past the Mother’s Day cards without feeling sad. I even searched through the cards looking for one for our daughter, who is expecting her first child. I was looking for a card for “moms to be”. And yes that is a thing, in case you are looking for a similar card and sentiment. To me, a mom becomes a mom, the moment she is pregnant. She nourishes and grows a child within her womb, who is completely dependent on her. This definitely qualifies as mom to me, not just when the child takes her first breath of air. Just ask my daughter and she will confirm this very much alive child who is already keeping my daughter awake with her gymnastics in the middle of the night, is her baby and she is her mother.

So, as I was looking for the right card to give my daughter this year, in the dollar tree store of all places, I was suddenly overcome with memories of my own mom. The words I could hear her speak, and the image of her face, began to flood my mind. I found the perfect card, though, but I was doing everything I could not to completely break down in a full blown ugly cry right there in the store.

My husband was with me, but had gotten off to some other part of the store, so I quickly walked away from the rack of Mother’s Day cards, to escape to another aisle. And also went on a mission to find my husband so we could check out and leave before the tears fell. In a moment of relief, my daughter texted me and told me a present had arrived from us and how much she and her husband loved it. It was perfect timing and brought me a moment of joy, but also quickly turned to sadness as I thought about my mom, not being able to be a part of her first great grandchild’s life. That made me sadder , and also a bit angry, feeling like both my mom and me had been robbed of this opportunity.

I know my mom is healed and happy, but it doesn’t mean that I still don’t wish she were here. She would love all the excitement around the new baby. She would probably make her a knitted blanket or sweater, or maybe even a quilt. She was amazing at handmade gifts. I still have many of the things she made for my own children when they were born. She would love the baby shower planning as well- she was amazing as a host and cook. She would make meals for anyone who stopped by her house at lunch or dinner without any stress or checking her schedule first. She simply served them and made it look so easy.

But, I have to admit, I did not always appreciate my mom and recognize the neat and generous ways she served others, including me. I thought the homemade clothes were simply just a way for her to save money, and I felt self- conscious at school around my classmates with store bought designer clothes. When I was married, she would send me past issues of magazines, old store coupons and school papers from my childhood. I thought she was just cleaning out her house and giving me what she didn’t want any longer. And at other times, we just didn’t agree on issues. I thought she was too old fashioned.

Sadly, it took me many years and her passing to realize just what a blessing I had. The old school papers she saved and sent, would have been lost and my kids would not have gotten to see my first grade class picture. The magazines were great for when my kids needed to cut up pictures for school projects. I used the coupons at the store. The homemade clothes gave me design and style sense, that taught me how to be creative, look for bargains instead of paying full price, and not conforming to cultural expectations- In other words, to think for myself. Her throwing meals together from simple ingredients, helped to learn hospitality.

And her difference of opinions, taught me how to listen to others, and to come up with counter arguments. However, the biggest part of my life that I appreciate the most is to provide an opportunity to hear the Gospel. It was her prompting to go to church, watching television church serves, and the gift of my first Bible that led me to my relationship with Christ. For this, I will always be thankful and praising God.

I just wish I had opened my eyes to appreciate her while I could have told her. I talked her while she was she was in her coma, but it just wasn’t the same. I hope she heard me.

But, if there is anything I would like to share with you as Mother’s Day is approaching- please, tell your mom you love her. Look for ways to show her. Look at the ways she has helped you become the person you are today. She may have made you angry, she might have made crazy requests, she might have been annoying at times, she might have not liked your choice of friends or politics, she might not talk with you, she might have disowned you or abandoned you, she might have hurt you. But, she is your mom and she gave you life.

If your mom is still alive, you have the opportunity to enjoy her now. But, I will have to wait until my mom and I are reunited in Heaven, but I can guarantee it will be amazing! It will be like the most amazing Mother’s Day ever. And will be able to thank her for my life and called her blessed. – God Bless You – Nancy

Role (ing)

I heard her before I saw her in the store. She had a distinct voice, not the usual tone for a woman, much lower and slightly booming. Apparently her child riding in the shopping cart ( a buggy for my southern friends) had done something for which she didn’t approve. Her yelling at her son caused me to look up and see who was making all the noise in the store.  She was  a youngish mom and was obviously not happy with what her son had done, but her yelling only made him continue. She continued to yell and shop, completely ignorant of the other customers around her.

As the mom of three,  I’ve been there done that- except for the yelling part. Believe me, I know how long summer vacation can be with kids, but I’ve got to confess, I actually did like having my kids home from school. I still do.

But….. I am a realist, there will be meltdowns when you have children, especially toddlers and teenagers, and it’s not the kids who are doing the melting down- it’s the parents. I have had my own share of meltdowns as a parent.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart, much like marriage it takes work- a whole lot of work and patience. Kids are not mini adults; they are growing and they will act like kids. Eventually they will be adults and as the Bible says you will reap what you sow  (Galatians 6:7).  Children really do model what they see their parents doing. It’s unavoidable, despite what we try to tell them to do, they learn by what they see us doing, and often mimic us. Oh they will hear some of what we say- the gossip about others- and at the most inappropriate time will repeat what they heard. It can be a real eye opener and embarrassing to us as parents.  However, it is what they watch us doing that stick with them the most.

My husband and I survived the ordeals and meltdowns of early parenthood and we made our share of mistakes in the process. But we have seen how the good habits we demonstrated in front of our kids have stuck with them.  Praying about everything and helping others are two of the good habits I see them doing now as adults.  We are our children’s greatest role model.  As we grow ourselves in our relationship with Christ, let our children see our faith in action. Yelling at children doesn’t bring about much good- it only models how to poorly handle frustration.  How are you role(ing) this summer? If it’s more than you can handle without losing your peace, reach out and ask for some help. Take a break for yourself so you can regroup, or if you can’t then take a deep breath and count to ten before you yell at your kids. Be patient they aren’t adults yet. Happy summer- Nancy