Mothering When There Are Obstacles

Do you feel as if you can’t get around or over the obstacles in motherhood?

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Do you  feel as if your God-sized dream of Motherhood is similar to running a gauntlet? You’re not alone. There are obstacles in pursuing any God-sized dream. Obstacles don’t mean you are on the wrong path, it often means you are on the right path. The devil doesn’t mind if you start something, as long as you don’t finish it. Often, our attitudes are the obstacles. OUCH. Yep. A huge door of opportunity is open for us and with it mushrooming opposition (I Cor. 16: 9). We don’t have it all together. The Whole House CANNOT give you a five step program of how to clear the opposition. What we at The Whole House can do is say “me too”. We are down in trenches together. Join us on The Whole House Podcast and be encouraged and listen to Kathleen tell about five plates of spaghetti hitting the floor in one dinner.

The Whole House Podcast Episode 6- Mothering When There Are Obstacles.

iTunes link here.

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Don’t Rain on My Eclipse

Welcome guest poster, LeeAnn Stewart, a dear friend who recently started a blog!

My children and I were standing outside staring expectantly at the sky. On our eyes were the eclipse glasses I had preemptively ordered weeks in advance, after much research on which ones were NASA approved. We had attached them to plates to block out any rays that may try to creep in and harm curious eyes.  We had science notebooks ready for careful observations. For days we had been experiencing dry, blaring heat and that morning was no different. As we stood on the porch staring at the sun in expectation, at exactly 1:10, the moment the eclipse was to begin, we were greeted with – clouds.

That’s right – a humongous cloud had parked itself right in front of the sun. We got peeks of the giant star as the black disc gradually rolled in front of it, but it didn’t take long for the clouds to roll back across. Then the clouds turned black. My son insisted it was going to rain; I told him that the forecast was not calling for rain and we would be fine.

Then it rained. Hard. We were probably the only neighborhood in our town, possibly within the entire line of the eclipse that had rain. I literally felt like Eeeyore in the picture with the rain cloud right over his head. Then there were tears – mine. Okay, it was more than tears. Usually I go with the flow in situations that cannot be helped, but I was angry. Really angry, a feeling that seemed out of place and extreme in relation to the situation. Even while I was experiencing it I knew it was an inappropriate response, but at the moment, I just couldn’t seem to control my emotions.

I told God that it wasn’t fair, that He was displaying His creation for all to see, but, like Lucy, he pulled away the football and said, “Not today, Charlie Brown. This show is for everyone but you. Thanks for playing.” I saw everyone else around me grabbing that ball and running while I was left with my head down, feeling let down, again.

After months of struggling to get my feet back under me after some unexpected circumstances,  I had felt like I was finally a fun mom again. I had planned something special for my kids. They were excited, I was excited, and we had spent time preparing. When the rain came, I felt like God had let me down, and I was hurt. After I had some quiet time with Him I realized that this frustration was really just the symptom of a bigger problem that had been brewing in me.

In the midst of my growing faith, I was feeling the ache of deferred hope. I felt the bucket of all of my hopes and dreams dumped on top of my head once again. All of the dreams that are now put on hold. The desires that I have that are on the back burner when they were just within my reach. Every time the football was pulled away from me flashed before me like one of those old filmstrips.

I thought about David. The same David who stood before Goliath with just a slingshot, the same David who was anointed by God to be a king, found himself on the run, afraid for his life. He hid in caves. He pretended to be insane. He spent so many years away from his family and the peace and comfort of home. All of this was due to circumstances outside of his control.

The book of Psalms is full of the songs of David. Many of them begin with David expressing his fears, his anguish, and his loneliness. I wonder sometimes if he questioned his calling when he was lying in quiet in the darkness. “I didn’t choose this God. You did. Is it worth it? Are you sure you picked the right person? Did you forget?” As strong as David was, he was holding onto a promise that God had given him, a promise that was deferred in its delivery. There were times that he questioned God and asked Him when he would be delivered from the weight of the life around him.

Did God forget about David? Did he choose the wrong person after all (“Oh, you’re David, with the RUDDY complexion. I was looking for David with the MUDDY complexion. Awkward.”)? Of course not, because we know that that is not in the character of God, and we also know the end result of God’s promise to David. Through him came Christ, and through Christ comes our redemption.

While David was real with God, he never wavered in his devotion. He always ended his laments with an acknowledgment of who God was. He reminded God of His promises. Even though he was in a place where his dreams were on hold, he knew that God would bring him through.

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As I was making dinner that night I turned on a podcast by Sarah Clarkson, the title of which was, “Overcoming Obstacles So You Can Own Your Life.” She talked about how we often throw adult-sized tantrums when we find ourselves in situations we can’t control that go against what we think we should have. We can choose to either wallow in our circumstances or embrace them and allow God to change us during that season. God provided me with what I needed to hear right when I needed to hear it. It was a reminder to me that He does see where I am. He doesn’t turn back on His promises, and He hasn’t gotten so busy knocking someone else’s socks off that He forgot about me. In fact, David was a better king because of the times he had to lean on God, and we can become stronger people when we go through dark times.

I apologized to my kids for my behavior, and went to bed in peace, telling God of his faithfulness, and thanking Him for removing the clouds so I could see the sun, which He did literally and figuratively. The clouds parted at the peak of the eclipse, right at the height of its glory. That’s exactly how it happens when we trust in God’s timing.

You can follow LeeAnn here!  

When Nurturing Your Children Doesn’t Come Naturally

Friend Patty was sporty, fit and planned to become an astronaut. Instead, she became a wife and mother. Patty didn’t feel as if she had a mothering instinct. Lovey-dovey stuff didn’t come easy to her. She worked hard to curb her military manner. Because she worked so hard, she became an excellent parent. One of the best I have had the privilege of knowing. She lived in the moment and believed her children are precious. Her children are grown now and thriving.

Patty was my first honest Mom friend. She told me the truth about how she felt about Mothering. She felt as if she had to overcome many personality obstacles to be nurturing. By the grace of God, she did. I’m thankful for her honesty. She inspired me to work against the grain of my flesh and be a purposeful parent.

Honestly, being loving and nurturing toward our children is hard work. Why? Because it requires true Biblical love and that is the hardest kind of love on the planet. It’s the kind of love that doesn’t fail, hardly notices when it has been wrong and this kind of love believes the best of everyone.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. (I Corinthians 13: 7b, The Message)

“Our culture depicts a “good mother” as an angel in the house who is naturally sweet, self-denying, and eternally loving. The media creation expectations that mother-love, like our culturally formed vision of romantic love, is something you fall into, a delightful sinkhole that leaves you so sated that you don’t want to climb out.”- Leslie Fields via Parenting is Your Highest Calling and 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt

While there may be sunny days when everything goes just right for five minutes and we have coffee, most days aren’t picture perfect. Although we love our children, some days we just don’t like them. They behave badly and we’re exhausted.  We dangle at the end of our rope. It’s in these moments, behind closed doors,that Biblical nurturing love is hardest to walk out. It’s in these moments that we woman can not do anything in our own strength. It’s in these moments that Christ’s suffering is close. He meets us there on the battlefield. He understands. It’s in those moments when our flesh is fierce.

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?- Galatians 5:17

We are naturally selfish beings. Our regenerated spirit wars with the flesh. What does that mean? We want our own way. We joylessly grab for whatever we think will make us happy at the moment, five more minutes sleep, one more chapter, a perfectly clean home, a late night movie. We develop a brutal temper when we don’t get what we want. When we do get what we want as a result of yelling or manipulation, we feel lonely, empty, depleted and a deep sense of shame. I know. Lived there in the pit myself. It’s muddy and stinky. There is no peace in the ‘me first’ land of motherhood.

So, what’s the answer? How do we nurture our children when we just want to be left alone? How do we become the nurturing, loving Mother we want to become. How do we fight our selfish nature? One moment at a time. One prayer at a time. One renewing our mind and our bodies at a time. One desperate prayer at a time. When we submit to God’s way, it doesn’t mean we will feel joyful at the time. We constantly have our own Garden of Gethsemane moments.

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.- Hebrews 12:4

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Motherhood may be the hardest work you”ll ever do. If you are having one of those days when you hit your nurture groove, enjoy it! If you are having a day when behaviors are straining every nerve, I hear you. I know. It’s hard. Keep praying. Keep asking. Don’t give up. Endeavors requiring the most selfless effort yield the most fruit. Obstacles don’t mean you have failed. They mean you are running the right course.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.- Galatians 5: 22-23

Nurturing occurs on a battlefield for hearts and minds. It is on the home front we are winning souls and making disciples. “Discipleship is the work of a lifetime, and it comes… sometimes slowly… in fits and starts….two steps forward, one step back…When we develop a long-range vision believe God’s promise that our work will not go unrewarded. Grace is the heart attitude that grants others the freedom to listen and learn so that they grow, they master the skill of cultivating long-term relationships.” (Sally Clarkson) The goal of nurturing is attachment. The goal of attachment is long term relationships. Relationships with our children transfer to relationships with God the Father.