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Sunday, July 20, 2014

When You Fall Apart

Welcome! If you are finding me here through The Better Mom, I am so glad you're here. My post on The Better Mom is a much more eloquent, pretty version of the type of scenario I present below. But here at Suburban Stereotype, I aim to keep things real. I hope you'll stay a while and we can get to know each other...

~Mandy

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I just freaked out on my kids. 

I totally bottomed out - hit rock bottom. as they say. 

In the middle of cleaning up spilled sauce from lunch, my daughter came to me to announce that there were books and flash cards all over the floor of the closet in the playroom. 

When I investigated, I found she was indeed right. 

I took exactly 2 seconds and one Hulk-sized breath before reaching out my arm and clearing the shelf of the remaining books. 

They sprayed around the walk-in closet and fell with their relatives on the floor. I ranted. I raved. And then I fell to my knees and cried.

I sat there, with my back to my kids, for minutes trying to collect my wildly beating heart and control the tears running down my face. My thoughts were racing and I had such an inner battle that I thought I would explode. 

Most days I feel loved. I feel blessed. I feel secure.

Most days.

Today...and the day before and the day before that...I feel like a maid. 

I feel like a chef and a butler, and a chauffer, and a referee. 

I feel small. I feel inadequate. I feel unappreciated. 

I feel unseen.

The part of me that knows I'm blessed and lucky to be home with my kids who are healthy and beautiful fights with the part of me that is at the end of my rope. 

The woman who writes about Jesus and God and mercy and forgiveness is conflicted with the fleshly part of her that wants a break; who wants a moment when she can do something she enjoys and not something that simply needs done...again and again and again. 

The girl who knows she should die to self stands in stark contrast with the girl who wants what she wants. 

The Godly wife who wants to respect and support her husband gets tired of having to keep her mouth shut even when she "knows a thing or two" that could save heartache, time, and energy for everyone. 

This is messy reality. If I pretend to be anything other than this I am lying. 

I hesitate to hit "publish" on this, but if I only publish those posts where things in life are going well, I'm only telling part of the story. 

I need a Savior. 

I quite obviously can't do this on my own. If given any opportunity, I'm afraid I will choose me over anyone else. 

Right now I am in a huge battle with myself.

My family is not a burden and most definitely should not be looked at as one, nor should they ever feel like one. 

But the monotony of everyday...of constant messes left without a second thought...of standing back and waiting waiting waiting...is wearing thin. 

The "light" so-to-speak at the end of the tunnel is that I know this feeling will pass. The freaking-out, out-of-control feeling will pass and I can rationally deal with my feelings.

And that's key.

Dealing with them...not allowing them to lay dormant until the next time something sets me off and I lose it again.  

And I will--deal with them.

But for now...I'm going to clean up the books and flash cards in the play room. 

Again. 

I'll wipe off chairs and counters and tables that have been wiped so often the finish is showing wear. 

I'll sweep and vacuum floors that have been swept and vacuumed a million times and will be swept and vacuumed a million more. 

And I know that even though I'm not feeling it right now, that peace will find its way into my heart again. If I ask for it. 

And I'll apologize to my kids for losing my you-know-what in their presence. 

And we'll move on. 



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hey, Ma, I'm Famous! {Sort Of}



This was a big week. 

On Monday, I was featured at Time-Warp Wife writing for the Courtney Joseph's Women Living Well Summer Book Club. I wrote about How To Be a Mother of Influence. Spoiler: It's NOT about how to be the perfect wife, doting mother, and award-winning homemaker. 

Then (as if being on Time-Warp Wife's blog wasn't enough!) I also had a post on Fruitful Families. There I wrote about Teaching Our Children to Be Living Examples: Addressing Conflict. I don't know about you, but I have had it up to here with refereeing my kids' squabbles with their friends. I'm learning when to stick my nose in and when to butt out and help from the sidelines. 

And I also posted at Deliberate Women. I shared my heart about not passing up any opportunity to serve God simply because it feels "too small." In God's view, any service we offer Him is "Big" in Even Small Service = "Big" Results in God's Economy.

This has all been very exciting! I love to share God's Word and what He is teaching me. 

And for the rest of this week, I will be singing and dancing with about 100 of the best kids in the world at our church's Vacation Bible School (VBS). If you haven't ever considered volunteering in your church on Sundays or for VBS, please do! Our kids NEED us to be serving in church. If we want to reach out to the community and ensure the leaders of tomorrow are Godly, sold-out believers, we need to start with the "least of these." 

My friend Ginny wrote a beautiful and passionate post about this subject HERE at her blog Joy from Grace

Have a great rest of your week! Next week I'll tell you about some other exciting things for Suburban Stereotype! 
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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

In The Darkest Corners-God Was Always There

It was this past past Sunday, during singing in church, that a thought slipped into my head. I can't even remember what the song was, but I do remember very clearly that I was welled up with emotion. 

It was while we sang our hearts out about God's faithfulness that I realized something that has always been at the back of my mind, tucked into a corner of my deepest thoughts: God was always there. 

My childhood was a little off from ideal. There were struggles and challenges that most middle-class families don't face. My childhood challenges morphed into teen angst made worse by a troubled relationship that started out right and ended up off-the-grid wrong. 

The normal teenage crises were multiplied by adult-sized problems and neither the intellect nor the emotional maturity to deal properly with them.

The trusted became the deceptive, right was made wrong, and my world was turned upside down. 

I was lost.

In a sea of teen-somethings looking for an identity, a refuge, a safe place, I was lost and wandering.

Locked away in my heart, fighting with the irrationality of all that I had experienced, and mixed with the incongruous thoughts of a not-quite-an-adult-but-no-longer-a-child was the emptiness.

At the time, I couldn't really see it, but 20+ years, 3 marriages, 2 divorces, some abuse, betrayal, lost loves, and thousands of heartaches later, standing in a church with my husband and children that the blindfold was lifted.

I was never alone. 

God was always there.

It was the Holy Spirit who slipped silently into my room at night while I lay crying in my bed, praying to fall asleep and never wake up again. It was God who caught every tear in His hand and shushed me asleep, calming my heart and my troubled mind enough for me to find a few moments of peace. 

It was Jesus who came to me when I fell to my knees, blinded by my own tears and praying to be rescued and made new who said, "By My wounds you are healed." 

So, if I were asked to prove that God exists, that Jesus is alive today, I could pull out books written by amazing authors far smarter than I. 

I could point to ancient documents by learned individuals, lauded as men of great intellect of their time.
I could launch into apologetics and quote scripture.

But when it comes down to it, I have a relationship with God that surpasses all of that. I know that it was Him who was there for me. It was Him who saved me from myself and from others who made poor decisions and were on misguided journeys they believed were right. 

God was always there. 

It's as simple and as complicated as that. 

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Will You Stand In The Gap?

The title is in honor of the sermon my pastor preached one Sunday. He covered Ezekiel 22:30. In it, God says:

"I looked for someone to stand up for me against all this, to repair the defenses of the city, to take a stand for me and stand in the gap to protect this land so I wouldn’t have to destroy it. I couldn’t find anyone. Not one. So I’ll empty out my wrath on them, burn them to a crisp with my hot anger, serve them with the consequences of all they’ve done. Decree of God, the Master."

Tell me that's not convicting! 

My head is so full right now. I wish we really were across from each other, sipping on coffee or drinking a Diet Coke (Chai Tea Latte?) and talking about this stuff. 

I am so absolutely convicted right now and I want to try to share this burning in my heart. 

Forgive me for being dramatic. I have a flair for the dramatic in some things, but seeing as how I spend most of my days wiping butts and cleaning boogery faces, I feel like my feet are usually firmly planted in the un-dramatic. 

Sometimes the Old Testament can be "boring" and bog us down. 

Sometimes it's hard to understand how things written thousands of years ago can pertain to us now in the 21st century. 

Sometimes we read the same things in the Bible so often that they lose their flavor, their salt.

But these verses in Ezekiel have rung a bell in me. 

I think that if I am going to believe in a God who created the earth and heavenlies, who created humans, animals, bugs, birds and reptiles in all their intricacies...

Who parted the red sea, raised people from the dead, and created the perfect sacrifice in Jesus...

He can certainly create Word that is living and active and speaks to us the same now (and years from now) and be pertinent for us just as it was back then. 

This post isn't for those who are comfortable with the status quo.

If you're humming along nicely and all feels good, this isn't for you.

But...

If you feel there is more.

If you feel there is more than this life with its creature comforts and the task of to-dos that we tack on the fridge or into our smartphones every day...

If you feel a burning to be more and do more...

If you think this place isn't our home and we're just passing through...

Then this post, is for you.

I feel it. I have been bothered with it for a while, but just recently I have felt a greater sense of urgency. 

An urgency beyond attending church on Sunday, singing songs and maybe even raising my hands.

An urgency beyond blogging and making videos.

An urgency beyond reading my Bible every day. 

It's an urgency to want nothing more than to plant myself and read this Book from cover to cover: to get to know Him as closely as I possibly can.

I feel this uncomfortable-ness when I start really believing that my time on earth is short and that this life is not all that there is. 

It's an agitation--a realization--that if I truly believe that--I am called on the carpet to make some changes.

If I really believe that my purpose, my calling on this planet is to teach others about the love of Jesus and prepare myself to serve Him for an eternity in Heaven, that changes some things. 

That changes everything.

Being a follower of Jesus is more than attending church, singing praise music, and putting money in the collection plate.

It goes beyond leading a ministry, attending or leading Bible studies, writing a blog, and even preaching.

It's deeper and longer and far more intimate.

It is ingrained, intertwined, and interwoven so deeply with the very center of who I am.

So deeply, in fact, that it becomes almost humanly impossible not to change.

And there I am, looking in the mirror and faced with some difficult decisions. 

Am I willing to look wide-eyed at the changes needed or will I continue to squint at myself?

I'm terrified to give myself an honest answer. Either way, I am acknowledging some heavy Truth and I must live with myself for my choice.

If I throw my head back, open my eyes wide and embrace the reality of who I am and who I should be, I have some work to do and a long road ahead of me. 

If I look away or peer at myself through the slits in my fingers, I will be living a lie. 

And worse? I don't know yet which path I'm taking. 

I know the path I should take and I know the path I want to take...

But do I have the courage to follow it through, to make the hard choices, and to really live a life worthy of the calling of Christ?

What about you?

Have you ever been at this cross-roads? Have you stood before the mirror and had to make a decision like this?

What did you do?



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