In the Midst of the Storm

A few years ago, when I was living with my daughter’s family in Maryland, I offered to babysit my grandsons and a neighbor’s son so the young moms could get away for the afternoon.  While the boys and I were hanging out on the front porch enjoying the pitter patter of rain, a strong gust of wind blew the outdoor trash containers over and sent us scurrying into the house. Within seconds, it began to downpour and the power went out. After staring at the wall of black clouds through the window I checked to make sure the storage area under the stairs was clear in case of imminent danger. Then I turned my attention to the screaming toddlers.

In the midst of the ruckus my daughter called confirming we were under a tornado warning.  As I attempted to detach the terrified trio from my appendages, I informed her of my plans in case the need arose. When the call was over I focused on calming the children by singing songs, reading books, and talking about how “cool” the rain and clouds were.  Although the storm outside continued to rage for a while longer, the storm inside quieted. After the wind and rain let up a bit, I took the kids back out on the porch, where to my astonishment, they began dancing.

Seventeen years ago I was in the midst of another storm; the storm of betrayal and  divorce. One night in order to escape the chaos, I checked into a hotel. As the winds of change blew and the rains of failure and rejection pummeled me, I turned on the Christian radio station.  In the midst of my raging storm the words to a song by Scott Krippayne “Sometimes He Calms the Storm” calmed my raging heart.

Sometimes the storms in our lives are preceded by warnings, but often they are not.  Whether it’s the doctor’s diagnosis, a financial crisis, the betrayal of a spouse or friend, a traumatic experience, or the late night phone call you wish you never received, the circumstances that rage around us can easily terrify us and overwhelm us. It’s awesome when the Lord speaks to the wind and waves and calms the storm, but, more often than not, He speaks to our hearts and calms us in the midst of our storms.

When I look back at my stormy seasons, I see God’s love and faithfulness as He held me, grew me, and taught me to dance. He might not have jumped in and immediately changed my circumstances, but He always changed me and deepened my relationship with Him in the midst of them.

If you are currently in the midst of a storm, know that God loves you and He is there for you. Let Him draw close to you and calm you. It might not seem like it right now, but there will come a day when, you too, will dance.

I pray the words to this song by Scott Kerpain would bring you comfort and peace as they did me many years ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BMIJHZSavo

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

 

Naptime

“No naaaap!!!!” The ordeal had begun. My daughter had put her then rambunctious two-year-old down for his daily nap. Since I had been staying in the next room, I had the privilege of experiencing the sorrowful symphony in its entirety. It began with wails from the brass section and progressed to the ear piercing high notes of the woodwinds and strings-not to mention the intermediate interjections of the percussion, represented by the pounding of toddler feet against the sheet rock.

As I sat on my bed with just a wall separating me from the drama, I thought to myself, “Come on, Rhett. It’s just a nap. You need to rest. Why are you fighting so hard.”

It was then I remembered the first time God had told me to lay down and be still for an hour. Since “It’s off to work we go” had been my Christian matra for so many years, rest and laziness were synonymous to me. Being still was for sick people, not for a busy home schooling single mother of four.

As I dutifully trudged to my room to lie down and quiet myself before the Lord, I didn’t wail, scream, and kick the wall, but I was internally screaming, “NO NAP!” as my mind, will, and emotions played an encore performance of protest.

My first attempts at being still and resting were more pathetic than productive. I was waiting for instructions or for the next prayer burden, but I heard nothing. After my allotted hour, I would get up feeling less rested and more frustrated.

On the third day, all that changed. I was begrudgingly lying on my bed, watching the clock waiting for “naptime” to be over, when I started to complain: “Lord, just tell me what I need to hear because I have a million things to do. This whole being still thing is a waste of my time!”

God is a good father. When He speaks to us He doesn’t condemn, but He does convict. What I heard him speak to my spirit convicted me to the core of my being. “If I brought you the man of your dreams, and you were lying next to him, just doing nothing, would it be a waste of your time.”

My entire marriage I had longed for my husband to connect with me emotionally. Being still was not about God wasting my valuable time. It was about Him valuing my heart. It was about Him drawing me out of my works mentality into a deeper relationship with Him. It was about emotional intimacy.

Being still taught me to rest in His presence and to be refreshed by His love and care for me. Being still brought more restoration to my soul. And, in time, being still gave me much revelation.

Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still and know that I am God…”

We can learn much about God and experience Him through reading the Word, praying, worshiping, and serving others, but to “Know Him” (truly connect with His heart) I believe  we must also embrace “nap time” and be still in His presence.

The funny thing is that even though my grandson fought naptime, he would eventually be still and fall asleep, waking up renewed and refreshed to enjoy the rest of the day.

If God is drawing you to be still and experience more of Him, don’t fight it. As you release your will and rest in His love, you will be renewed and refreshed, allowing you to more fully enjoy Him and the life He has for you.

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

 

The Other Mother

Happy Mother’s Day!

Since Mother’s Day was yesterday, it might seem as though I am late in wishing all the Moms Happy Mother’s Day. But truth be told, motherhood should be celebrated every day.

The card I sent my daughter on Mother’s Day reminded me of this: The outside of the card was optimistic: It’s mothers day and you have earned a quiet, relaxing, unstressful day. The inside of the card was realistic: You may not get, it but you sure deserve it.

Being a mom is not easy, but it is rewarding. In the midst of dirty diapers, peanut butter and jelly smeared faces, and unwelcome Crayola art exhibits on the walls, are toothless smiles, lots of impromptu hugs and kisses, and wilted bouquets of floral weeds snatched from the ground-just for Mom.

As a young mom with four children under six years of age, I often remember feeling more like a mother duck trying to keep my ducklings in line than feeling like a woman with true needs and desires. Most days I celebrated my children. I taught them, played with them, sang with them and prayed with them. But then there were those days when I felt like the worst mother on the face of the earth. I wanted to run away. Those were the days when my last bit of patience was gone, and I had to force myself to be kind. Those were the days when I wanted to wring my children’s necks instead of hugging them.

I loved my children dearly. I still do. But when I was raising them I often found myself scolding them more than celebrating them.  Sometimes, when I was singing them to sleep, I would think about the times I had lost my temper and yelled at them, and feared that I was going to permanently damage them.  Instead of being the mother I so desperately wanted to be, I feared I was becoming other mother –the one I was afraid of exposing. The mother full of fear and frustration, who merely survived each day.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of hearing from my four amazing children.  I am happy to say that through the grace of God, in spite of all of my shortcomings, they all survived me and are doing quite well. I also had the privilege of reading some of my mother’s journals. I loved my Mom and am thankful for her. She taught us about Jesus, sang to us, and invested her time and talents in her family. She was a prayer warrior. She was an amazing woman, but like the rest of us, she was not perfect. I saw incredible strength in my mother. But I also saw fear, confusion, and enabling-all things to which she wouldn’t admit.

As I read mom’s journals, I got to know my mother through different lenses-not through the eyes of a child with lots of questions, but through the eyes of a fellow mother, who had traveled the road of raising children in the midst of difficult situations. Mom’s struggles, her fears, and her frustrations opened my eyes to the other mother I had not known. The mother whose spoken words often didn’t acknowledge what was going on in her heart. The woman whose faith and trust was challenged just like the rest of us. The woman who adored her children, but also was, at times, overwhelmed. The woman who in a lot of ways was just like me.

Reading Mom’s journals, brought back memories from my childhood. Her journals also gave me clarity and answered some questions I have had for many years. I realized that most, if not all mothers, have another side they don’t share with their children. For some, it may be the hurt little girl they are hiding. For others, it might be the person they are afraid of becoming. Being introduced to my mom’s other mother reminded me of my own journey.

If you sometimes feel like a failure at motherhood, realize that you are not alone. Being a mother is not easy. But it is rewarding. You have nothing to fear. God knows all your thoughts. He loves you! He sees the mother you are on the outside and He knows about all your fears, frustrations, and questions on the inside. And He understands both. Embrace the Lord and embrace motherhood. You don’t have to be perfect. Jesus is the only perfect one. Just keep your eyes on Jesus and walk with Him daily in the beautiful journey He has blessed you with. The journey of motherhood.

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie