Baby, It’s Cold Outside

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:37-40

During a recent cold snap, I started down the stairs early one morning for my usual quiet time.  When I was about halfway down the stairs, I realized that something was wrong.  Really wrong.

It kept getting colder…and colder…and colder.

“Something is wrong!” I said out loud to no one, and hurried down the stairs to flip the light on.

I discovered that my back door was…standing…open.

Whoever had let the dogs in the night before had not closed it well, and it wiggled open.  The temperature in the house was 48 degrees.

Right away, I had several praises:

  • thanks, God, for a relatively new heating system
  • thanks, God, for two systems in the house, one of which kept the upstairs to the usual 67 degrees despite the influx of super cold air from downstairs
  • thanks, God, for no one/nothing coming in my wide open door

A bit later I could say:  “Thanks, God, that the system was efficient enough to return the temperature to 67 degrees in just four hours (which I thought was pretty good for a 19 degree jump).

But there was another blessing in store for me…an unexpected one:  the conversation at our breakfast table.

I am blessed with sweet, empathetic children, but the empathy they developed by our one cold morning in the house brought out new levels of empathy in them.

They decided that we had an abundance of blankets in our home, and that we should share them with a local homeless ministry.

They also started making bracelets in order to raise money for the same ministry to use to take care of the street people in our area.

It was beautiful to see, even though it was an expensive lesson monetarily.

Father, thank You for the way you teach us, even when it is difficult for us.  Thank You in this case that the lesson was fairly easy to learn.  I pray that it has a long-lasting affect on all of us.  I pray, also, for the homeless forced to be out in this extreme cold.  Help them, Lord, to find a warm place to spend this winter.

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PM

4:19 a.m.

In my dream, I hear a coach’s whistle.

I open my eyes to the reality.   

Chirp!

Smoke detector low battery indicator.

Why don’t these things ever happen during the daytime?!

I find the offending detector, and even more amazing, a replacement 9V battery.  Without raiding a remote control airplane or the like.

I wake up my teenager (of course, it is one of the detectors on the 9 foot ceiling, beyond this momma’s reach), and he stumbles down to replace it, not grumbling too much.

4:26 a.m.  Done.

Crisis averted.  No alarms will start going off, waking the house and perhaps the neighborhood.  (Been there, done that, don’t want to do that again…but that’s another story).

Some days, I feel like all I ever do is put out fires (no pun intended…well, maybe there was).  Something is breaking, something necessary has run out, someone hurts themselves.  I feel like I should buy stock in Calgon, because those “take me away” moments happen so frequently.

As the frustration mounts, some days I boil over.  I let loose the frustration at all the little things color my world, affecting the big things…like my kids.

It is wrong; it is sin.

Right after Keith died, one of the dear men he worked with came over and changed all my smoke detector batteries.  That was the way he wanted to honor his friend and our family.  It was very sweet.

He told me at the time to mark the day on the calendar so that next year I would know what day to replace the batteries.  I gave him lip service, saying I would…but I did not.

Since then, I have had to replace most of the batteries in the same way as described above…waiting for the chirping, then rushing around finding a battery just in time to avert the entire electrically-tied system going off.

Preventative maintenance.  PM, my Marine husband called it.  Necessary in my house.

And necessary for my soul.

When I get to the explosion point over dirty socks, dirty dishes, dirty dogs, the problem is not with them…it is with me.

Have I read my Bible enough?  Have I spent enough quiet time with the Lord?  Have I counted my blessings?

These troubles are going to come.  My life is still going to be my life, filled with many bumps in the road, many distractions, much to do.

It is my attitude toward it that can…and must…change.

And, with the Lord’s help, and plenty of PM, it will.

[Jesus said,] “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Teetering Through Life

Sometimes I sin against my children.  Big, glaring sins.

I’m not proud of it.  I’m not trying to glorify it.  But it happens.

And it’s not because I’m a single mom.  At least, not directly.

A dear friend had me over to tea this past Saturday to have the “are you taking on too much?” talk.  Praise God for friends who will listen to God and call me on stuff!

I don’t think I am taking on too much.  But I’m teetering on the edge.

Remember those little birds of glass, complete with red hat and red liquid inside?  You watch and watch the swaying and eventually that swaying turns to tipping.

And my children get caught in the fallout.

When taking on a new project, I sometimes use the justification that I have no husband to care for, so I have additional ministry time.  That is a true statement.

What I sometimes fail to remember in my equation of time is that I wear both hats in my family, and when I start swaying close to the tipping point, I have no one to pass off the excess to, no one to step in and even temporarily take something off my plate. The swaying of this constant balancing act of managing my life becomes top-heavy and I tip.

My stress level manifests itself as intolerance with my children.  I am mad at me, but I take it out on them.

More fallout.

And I feel broken and like a horrible mother and a horrible witness.

This happens more than I would care to admit.

When it does, it is time for a deep breath, a cup of coffee, some praise music, and lots of prayer.  It is time to have a day of chucking the schedule and just enjoy being a family, watching funny movies and staying in our pajamas all day.  It is time for thanking God for His grace and the fact that I have truly grace-filled children who cut me slack.

I am sure I will get to the tipping point again.  Life is like that.  I only pray that when I do, I will handle it with more grace myself, and not create so much fallout for my family.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9



Couples Time

Okay, so I have been incredibly busy.  You may have guessed that by the lack of posts.

Things have been crazy here, and, often, so have my responses.  It seems the volume of our house has changed and everything occurs at a new volume in the last few weeks — and that volume is not softer.  Just so we are clear.

What is the problem?  I have wondered.  What is going on with them, with me?

Then it dawned on me.

I remember being married to Keith and in some seasons I was with him, but not with him.  We were near each other and working toward a common goal, but did not have the time or the energy to just be together.  Too often, due to the busy-ness of life, we had what my sister calls task talk only, and not lover talk (that  intimate talk that was not about the words but about the blending of spirits, the openness between us).  I have to admit, mostly it meant that I dropped my agenda and listened to him instead of just pushing on.

Now, in this life I lead, God is my Husband (and so much more, but that will be for another post).

Unfortunately, I am guilty of the same thing in this relationship — doing mostly good, God-honoring stuff, pushing along to what I see as His goals for me and for the family — but not spending that intimate time with the Lover of my soul.  Oh, sure, I am reading my Bible and doing my Bible study work, but I see that as becoming more like task talk than lover talk.  

I am an overworked mom (can anyone relate?) who spends more time dealing with broken feet and dog throw up and dirty socks and grading papers than I do basking in the love of my Savior!

Revelation made.  Now how to solve.

Cheap quote from The Princess Bride:  “I am waiting for you Vizzini! You told me to go back to the beginning, so I have. This is where I am, and this is where I’ll stay. I will not be moved.” – Inigo Montoya

That really is the answer, though.  Go back to the beginning.  When do I feel closest to God?  When do I listen best to Him?  Probably for me, the answer is in writing and prayer — which often occurs simultaneously.

So, that is the goal.  To be still more to know that He is God, and to rest in His arms, having lover talk with Him whenever, however possible.  It is crucial to my life, as the last few weeks have indicated.

Watch and pray with me that I can find quiet time in Him, and thereby find peace in me.

You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.  Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.  Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. — Revelation 2:3-5a

Insight into the Why

There is something special about sharing the burden of my sisters in Christ.

I have the privilege of crying with two dear sisters at church over the past weekend, holding them while the pain and hurt engulfed them, letting it engulf me too so that in some way I could share it.

I’ve been there.  Different pain, perhaps, but I have been there.

When Keith died, friends would come over or call just to cry with me.  They came with open arms, prepared to help me carry the burden for a bit.  They knew they could not ultimately take away what was mine to carry, but they wanted to ease the burden for a time, bearing part of the weight, supporting me so I could breathe for half a minute.

It was hard, but it was joyous as we grew closer together through that sharing.  It helped everything make sense for a moment, and that moment was enough to help me have strength to face the next moment.

Fast forward to today.  I am better attuned to my sisters in Christ.  I am more able to be that worker who shows up, knowing I have a load to lift, a soul to lighten, if only by catching cathartic tears.

And for that, for my friends, for that privilege of burden-bearing, I am forever grateful.

Thank You, God, for that insight into why my life looks the way it does!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4