The Ups, the Downs, and Chocolate Ice Cream

500x_rollercoaster
I don’t like roller coasters.  The ups aren’t so bad, but the downs make me feel like the world is falling out from under me. When we were first married, Brett and I got on a roller coaster.  I got the surprise of my life when the thing went upside down. I was irritated because he didn’t warn me that it was going to go upside down. My irritation quickly subsided when I realized he had no idea either.  I made a choice that day to never get on a roller coaster ever again.
But the truth is that I often feel as if I’m on a roller coaster even though I’m not physically on one. Something as simple as leaving the house and going to a doctor’s appointment can turn into a roller coaster ride.  Things can start out fine and then all of a sudden I find myself upside down and trapped on a ride that I can’t to get off of.
It was the dreaded day of eye doctor appointments for our two turtles.  Will they be well-behaved? Will I have to make a hasty exit because one or both of them have a meltdown? Will they talk nonstop at full volume? Will everyone in the waiting room be staring at us?
The girls hardly talked during the 30 minute ride and they stood quietly while I was registering.  Filling out two sets of forms is always a good time. I was able to fill out the papers in record time even though Mikayla kept sneezing and I kept pulling kleenex out of my purse.  The girls did great with the doctor even though they had never met him.  They read every letter and he said they both had great eye sight. Wow!  This is really going smoothly.  I wonder if we’ll make it out to the parking lot without an incident.
We paid and they each got a piece of candy.  Just one more thing before we go.  I needed to have my glasses adjusted. The girls sat quietly the entire time that the lady was adjusting my glasses. Neither one of them said a word.  This is the most amazing day of my life!  We’re going to get out of here without making a scene. Unbelievable!
Our van floated the whole way home because I was on cloud nine.  I felt like a normal mom with a normal family.  It was a dream come true.  I was afraid we were going to spend the morning riding a roller coaster but instead we got to ride a cute little merry-go-round.
An hour after we got home,  I found myself suddenly riding a roller coaster.  Time to strap on my seat belt because I’ll be upside down before the day is over.  The girls both started talking and they talked nonstop at full volume all afternoon.  They started arguing and they argued all afternoon.  They were grouchy and demanding and they yelled the words Mommy and Daddy a thousand times. The roller coaster just kept going upside down over and over and over again and I ended up with a really bad headache.
Brett got to get off the roller coaster and go to work, but I had to keep riding it. My head continued to pound throughout the evening.  I decided that I was going to have to get off the roller coaster even though it wasn’t quite time for the amusement park to close.  My handsome husband had taken our taxes to town earlier in the day.  While he was in town he bought a gallon of chocolate ice cream.  Oh, how I love that man.  I got off the roller coaster, made myself a bowl of ice cream, and put myself in time out in our bedroom.  It’s always a good idea to eat some chocolate after riding a roller coaster for 7 hours. It’s good for the nerves.
At 8:30 p.m it was time to shut the roller coaster down and close the amusement park.  All riders must brush their teeth and get in their beds.  As I tucked them in and kissed them goodnight, they both said “I love you Mommy!” They were so stinking cute that I couldn’t help but smile.  I told them “I love you too!” and I kissed their sweet little heads.
I hoped that the next day would be filled with merry-go-round rides and I would get to take a break from the roller coaster. Unfortunately, I rode the roller coaster for 5 consecutive days and I had a headache for 5 consecutive days.  By bedtime of the 5th night, I was a mess.  I felt exhausted, shaky, irritable, and impatient.  I said some things that I shouldn’t have said.  I was so frustrated that I cried in front of them.
I went to my room, closed the door, and cried my eyes out.  I felt like the worst mom who has ever walked the planet.  I said a quick little short prayer that went something like “God, I don’t know where You are, but it would be really nice if You would show up soon.”  All of a sudden I heard a little knock on my door.  I said “Who is it?” and a little voice said “Mikayla”.  I opened the door and she looked up at me and said “I forgive you.  I love you!” and then she hugged me.  The tears suddenly left and I was laughing. I told her I was sorry even though she had already forgiven me.  We hugged again and went to bed.
I woke up the next morning and I still felt like the worst mom in the world.  It’s hard to understand why our victory at the eye doctor’s office would be followed by 5 days of defeat.  It seems like every time we think we’re making progress with the behavioral issues we end up having a major setback.  After this 5 day ordeal, I uttered the words “I can’t do this any more.”  I honestly didn’t think I could possibly face one more day.
As I was driving Brynna to dance class this week God showed up.  I was listening to a song called Good Shepherd.
You will lift my head above the mighty waves
You are able to keep me from stumbling
And in my weakness
you are the strength that comes from within
Good shepherd of my soul
Take my hand and lead me on
My eyes were on the waves and the waves kept knocking me down.  My eyes were on the behavioral problems, the arguing, and my failures as a mom.  As I listened to this song I realized that God wants to lift my head above the waves.  He wants me to look at Him instead of at the problems.  In my weakness He is the strength that comes from within.   I can continue to ride the roller coaster and I can be strong if I invite Him to ride along with me.  I stumbled and I really messed up with my girls that night. But God took my hand and He helped me back up. The reward at the end of every roller coaster ride is two little girls that say the words “I love you, Mommy.”  All the upside-down crazy rides that I’ve been on are worth it when I hear those words at the end of every day.
Oh….and the amusement park will be closed on Valentine’s Day.  My handsome man is taking me away for the day.  Say a prayer for grandma.  I hope she gets to ride the merry-go-round instead of the roller coaster.

 

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Letting Go of the Red Dress

Do not remember the former things nor consider the things of old.

 See, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not be aware of it?

 I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

~ Isaiah 43:19 ~

dress

I always start my New Year by organizing and decluttering our house.  I started with our bedroom closet and I decided to be relentless.  I grabbed a garbage bag and tore into the closet.  If I hadn’t worn it in the last year, it went in the bag.  I got to the very back of the closet and found my favorite red dress.  Now this is embarrassing to admit, but here goes.  The red dress is 25 years old.  My mom & dad gave it to me for Christmas in 1989.  The only reason I remember the year is because it was the year that Brett and I were dating.  I loved the red dress.  I felt beautiful when I wore the red dress.  I weighed 114 lbs. when I wore the red dress.  I clean my closet twice a year and I have always kept the red dress.

As I pulled the red dress from the closet,  I couldn’t help but wonder why in the world I hadn’t been able to part with it. Why have I let it hang in my closet for 25 years?  Perhaps it reminded me of one of the happiest times in my life.  I wore that dress a lot when I was dating the man who I would one day marry.  Perhaps it was because it still looks  new and I thought that I would one day fit into it again. Reality check.  I’m no longer an 18-year-old who weighs 114 lbs.  I’ve given birth to 4 babies and I really like chocolate. Umm……chances are I’m not getting back into that dress again.   With a sigh I tossed the red dress into the bag.

While we were singing a song at church last night, I couldn’t help but think about my red dress.

You bring restoration,
You bring restoration,
You bring restoration, to my soul.

You’ve taken my pain
and You call me by a new name.
You’ve taken my shame
and in its place, you give me joy.

You take my mourning, turn it into dancing.
You take my weeping, turn it into laughing.
You take my mourning, turn it into dancing.
You take my sadness, turn it into joy.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, You make all things new,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, You make all things new,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, You make all things new,
all things new.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, You make all things new.  

God doesn’t want us to live in the past.  He wants to make all things new.  The red dress doesn’t fit anymore, but I have allowed it to take up room in my closet for 25 years.  Now that I decided to get rid of the dress, I have room for something new.   Are there other things that I have hung onto for years that I need to let go?

Do I have any bitterness towards anyone who has hurt me?  If I decide to let go of the bitterness there will be room for something new.  It’s called love.  I can learn to love that person who once hurt me.

Do I have any disappointments that I’m carrying around with me that I need to let go?  If I let go of the disappointments there will be room for hope.

Can I let go of the limits that others have put on our girls lives?  God has no limits.  He is able to do more in our girls lives than anyone can imagine.

I cried a lot of tears in 2014.  As we were singing  the words to the song last night, I felt like I needed to make an exchange.  I’m going to trade in my weeping from 2014 and believe that God will turn it into laughing in 2015.  He wants me to leave my sadness in 2014 and expect joy in 2015.  Weeping and sadness don’t fit me anymore.  I don’t want to find them in the back of my closet 25 years from now.  I need to get rid of them.

Today was the day that I let go of the red dress.  As I tossed the bag of clothes into the donation box, I chose to make a fresh start.  Today I let go of the weeping and sadness.  I’m believing that  2015 will be a year of joy and laughing.

Anchor

Anchor by Bethel Music

In every season, in every change
You are near
In every sorrow,
You are my strength
You are near

A peace in the storm
Your voice I will follow
In weakness I rise
Remembering You hold  my world

I’m holding on to hope
I’m holding on to grace
I’m fully letting go
I’m surrendered to Your ways

The anchor for my soul
Father You will never change

I love You, I love You

My great Redeemer,
My constant Friend
You are near
My faithful Father,
You took me in
You are near

A peace in the storm
Your voice I will follow
In weakness I rise
Remembering You hold my world

I’m holding on to hope
I’m holding on to grace
I’m fully letting go
I’m surrendered to Your ways

The anchor for my soul
Father You will never change

I love You, I love You

I will remember Your promise forever
My Strength, my Defender
I can count on You
You are my Savior, My Hope and my Shelter
Your love is forever
I can count on You

I used to look like a good Mom

Several years ago someone walked up to me and said “You used to look like a good mom…..until you had the twins”.  This person proceeded to laugh as if it was the funniest thing ever said.  We chatted a few minutes and then we parted ways.  I was stunned.  This person lives in Italy and has never been to Holland.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”  I don’t know who had the bright idea of coming up with that saying, but it’s a lie.  Words can cut, words can wound, and words can hurt someone so deeply that they never recover from it.  These words hurt me deeply, and I began to wonder if they might be true.   If the girls misbehaved in public I heard a voice in my head that said “You used to be a good mom….but now you’re not.”

The girls once both had a meltdown while we were in Kohls.  I walked past the returns department with my two little ducklings following closely behind me.  I decided to turn around and see if the people in line were staring.  Yep…sure enough four complete strangers were staring at us. And I thought I knew what they were thinking.  They were thinking that if I were a good mom, I would be able to control my children.

I started to hear the “you used to be a good mom” voice more frequently and it became louder and louder.  I heard it at church, I heard it at Walmart, and I heard it at family gatherings.  I was hearing it just about every time I went anywhere.   The voice began to torment me.  It made me not even want to leave our house.

perfect-mom

I went through a time of having an emotional breakdown every Wednesday night while we were at church.  I would drop the girls off at their class, the older girls would be in youth group, and I was alone where they couldn’t see me cry.  So I would cry every single Wednesday night.  I wondered why I couldn’t just have my cry at home in private where no one would see me.  The answer was simple.  God knew that I needed someone to hug me, to pray with me, and to love me.  You know the saying “You can’t hide from God”.  Well, I’ve also learned “You can’t hide from Mona”

Mona is a wonderful woman of God who I am privileged to attend church with.  One Wednesday night I was sitting and having my usual cry while I was waiting for church to start.  Mona was talking to someone a few rows in front of me and she glanced up and noticed I was upset.   She did not know me, but she came up to me and she started praying for me.  I felt a heavy burden lift from me as she prayed for me.

Then on another Wednesday night, the girls were misbehaving on the way to class and I was weary and frustrated. I sat through church not really hearing anything that was said.  Towards the end of the service, the tears started flowing once again.  Church dismissed and all I wanted to do was grab the girls and head straight to the van.  As I was walking to their class, Mona spotted me.  Yep….you can’t hide from Mona.

She began to pray for me.  She had no idea what I was going through.  As she was praying she said the words “God says you are a good mom.”  I began crying uncontrollably.   God wanted the “you’re not a good mom” lie to be broke off from my life.  I was healed that night.  Once the tears stopped I was a new person.

Yes, I used to be a mom who appeared to have it all together.  But the truth is that I never really had it all together even when it appeared that I did.  Appearances aren’t always reality.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where appearance takes top priority.  People see our faults and they like pointing them out to us. They seem to enjoy making us feel like we are less than we are.  And I believe that God is looking down from heaven with a tear in His eye and He’s longing for His children to just love each other.  He wants us to speak words of encouragement over each other instead of words that wound.

I also believe that God looks down from heaven and He smiles when His children choose to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  He smiled at Mona when she stopped her world to enter my world.  She accepted me in the middle of my mess and she loved me anyway.  She chose to say you are rather than tell me what I used to be.   She did all of these things because she knows Jesus.  Jesus does all of these things. He always wants to enter our world.  He accepts us in the middle of our mess.  He loves us no matter what.  He never reminds us of what we used to be.  He only tells us who we are and what we can become.

I occasionally still hear the “you’re not a good mom” voice but I choose to not listen to it.  I am all that God says I am.  And He says that I am a good mom.  He says you are a good mom.  He says you are a good dad. His opinion is the only one that will ever matter.

It Is Well

It Is Well 

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me

Far be it for me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see
And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of sea

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name

It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul