All Alone

twins 1
A loud cry of distress came from the bedroom where our daughter had just put her twin sons, aged three, to bed. They were staying with us for the weekend and the boys were pretty worn out from playing outside.

She opened the door, quietly entered the bedroom and realized that, in spite of some significantly loud crying, one twin was already asleep.

“What is wrong?” she asked between his sobs.

“I’m all alone!” he wailed.

“No, you are not. Amos is right here in bed with you,” his mom replied.

“He’s all alone, too!” came the answer.

Needless to say, we laughed about this situation and the irony of the little guy feeling alone with his brother next to him in the same bed.

Yet aren’t we guilty of the same response at times? We may be facing a difficult time in our marriage, with our children, or in the congregation where we fellowship. People are all around us, even in the same room, yet we feel all alone.

Mothers of new babies often feel this sense of isolation. This can be especially true if the new mom is staying home with the baby after having a job where there was social interaction on a daily basis.

I remember moving to Kentucky so that Phil could start seminary when our first child was just 3 months old. I was alone in a new community where I didn’t know anyone – with a baby who didn’t communicate verbally. Three months earlier I had been teaching kindergarten with 23 students who loved me and often told me so.

Now I was all alone

…with a baby.

I remember thinking about the best time to go to the laundrymat. When would I have the greatest chance to meet other moms of young children?

I was so lonely.

I wasn’t alone, though. My Heavenly Father was with me. I was so focused on my feelings of isolation that I did not recognize His presence. Just as Tyler did not feel the comfort of his brother’s presence, I did not sense that God was right with me in that new location.

Psalm 16:10-11 (NIV)

10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

God’s promise to us in Psalm 16 is that God will not abandon us – leave us alone. Verse 11 assures us that in God’s presense is FULLNESS of JOY!

When I feel alone, isolated, or think that I am “the only one who….” I must recognize that God is with me – I am NOT alone.

Our challenge as daughters of our Heavenly Father is to recognize God’s presence even when we don’t feel it. When we open ourselves to sensing that God is with us every moment of every day – that will become our reality.

God has not moved.

He is still on the throne.

He will never leave us all alone.

Stand Strong

Wood Girls - spring 2012

“The most dangerous attitude a person can have is ‘That will never happen to me.’ It is dangerous because your guard is down and you are vulnerable to attack.”
This sentiment was a warning in a book written in 1984 by J. Allen Petersen called The Myth of the Greener Grass.

The point of this book was to warn pastors of the dangers of sexual sin for those in pastoral ministry. If a pastor thinks he is immune to the temptations of affairs or sexual encounters, Dr. Petersen warns that pastor is setting himself up for disaster.

As a parent, if I think I would NEVER
* hit my child in anger
* slap my child if they talk back
* respond with hurtful words when I have been hurt
* ignore my child when they sincerely need my attention
then I need to read the following Scripture…

I Corinthinas 10:12-13
12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

As a mother, I need to heed this warning. I can remember thinking…I will NEVER do that!… after seeing a parent treat a child harshly. Emotions can be so volatile. It can be a weak moment when I am tired, I may not be feeling well, I may even be worried or afraid. These are the very times I need God’s strength to stand against the temptation to react to my children in unloving ways.

All our grandchildren who were old enough attended Bible School this summer, some in Washington State and some in North Carolina. They all had the same theme – Stand Strong. They learned that God’s love, family and friends, prayer, and God’s Word all help us stand strong in our faith.

I love hearing our grandchildren singing about standing strong as Christians. I need to apply those same principles to my life. The challange for me is to not grow complacent or think I am above “falling”.

What a joy it is to stand strong together in our families!

BORING!!!

I hope to set you free from one of the myths of mothering – it is not your responsibility as a mother to entertain your child!  So… now you are free from that burden.  Not to say that there aren’t times when it is fun to sing loudly with silly faces and make your child laugh. (remember, girls?)  But that should be FUN, and only done when you are so moved. You are not duty bound to make sure that every waking moment of your child’s life is fun or entertaining!

My father taught high school biology for 40 years and for several years was a naturalist in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On days off, our family would pile in the car and drive through the park or on the Blue Ridge Parkway looking for the flora and fauna of the Smoky Mountains. This was before in-car-videos, cassette- tape players, and even the radio was ineffective because there were not radio signals on most of those remote roads. We were a captive audience. We would drive until Dad spotted a specimen, and then he would stop the car and we would wait until the light was just right for a picture.

I admit there were times I was bored. I know I complained. But eventually something began to happen. I started to see the world around me through my father’s eyes! I began to notice bee balm and orange fringed orchids blooming by the roadside.  I started to spot butterflies in damp puddles left by rain, or the fiddle heads of unfolding ferns. I was no longer bored! The world around me began to unfold as an infinite source of wonder and beauty. My father’s awe of God’s creation gradually became my own and is now the inspiration for my art work.

My father was not concerned about whether or not my brothers and I were having “fun”. He wanted to share with us something that he enjoyed and it was up to us to “take it or leave it”. I hate to think what would have happened if my parents had given in to my complaints and not exposed me to the wonders of my favorite place on earth – the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

As mothers we are bound the hear those whiny words, “Mommy, I’m bored.” At that moment we must be strong and not get sucked into thinking it is our fault and we must “fix it” so our child is happy again. It is our children’s choice to be bored – it is also their choice to be happy. These are feelings humans have and they are based on our reactions to circumstances more than the circumstances themselves. One quick remedy to boredom is a job – something to do. When our children said they were bored, their dad gave them a job to do. It didn’t take long for them to figure out that they either needed not to tell us they were bored, or better yet, figure out something they wanted to do. It was not our responsibility as parents to find something that they wanted to do.

James Bryan Smith in his book The Good and Beautiful God says that boredom is a symptom and the solution is being present where you are. I love that! I found that to be true on trips with my parents as a little girl. Taking in the beauty around me was engaging. It also began a life long habit of looking at plant and animal life. (to this day, my family and friends do not like to ride  with me when I am driving because I like to look around me!)

Some people become people watchers, some are music lovers, there are so many ways to be present where we are. This is an important skill to impart to our children. One of our children would count things. Ceiling tiles in church, panes in windows, rows of columns, she would occupy herself counting things which may have led to her proficiency in math. Our world is full of fascinating people, places and things. Helping our children appreciate the world around them will be a gift they can enjoy throughout their lives.

Psalm 19:1-2

 1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
   the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech,                                                                                                                   and night after night shows forth knowledge.

 

The result – freedom from boredom!