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Monday, July 28, 2014

The Prayer When You Don't Know What To Say

Father,

Please hold my heart in Your hands. Please guide my thoughts to You. Please give me Your peace when all around me is a raging storm.

Father,

Please help me understand Your way will prevail in the end, even when I can't see it now. Please let me lay my burdens at Your feet. Please give me wisdom and perseverance to carry others' burdens so that they are not alone. 

Father,

Please let me see others like You do. Please soften my heart to them so that I can forgive and offer grace and mercy. Please don't let me look down on anyone with a false sense of being "better" than they are.

Father,

Please allow me patience to wait on You and to be sure of my next step before rushing in with good intentions. 

Father,

Please change me from the inside out and give me the discernment to know when I am truly on Your path and when I have veered off onto my own.

Father,

Thank You that every day is a new opportunity to seek You with everything in me and to become more of the person You always intended me to be. I am forever grateful for the privilege of being Your daughter.

In Jesus' name, 

Amen. 



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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

*****************

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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