Acknowledging Fear

Bungee jump

Bungee jump

My heart fell a fraction of the distance his did when his body plunged off the platform of the bridge.  All I could hear was his voice calling out the further he fell, while the white snow covering the deep narrow valley enhanced my focus on him above the wide shallow riverbed below. I could hardly stand to watch as I clutched tightly to my prayer. Earlier that week when he told us he wanted to bungee jump, I felt sick from fear.  I wished in that moment, that my son didn’t want to do these crazy things.

This event was a defining moment for me; to give my fear, of my son’s desire, over to God.  In these times of fear I start praying, giving my concerns to God knowing that He will oversee everything according to His plan.  I remind myself that just because I have fear around bungee jumping doesn’t mean I need to shield my son from it.

In an earlier time of raising my children, my daughter and son were playing with toys until my son slapped a stuffed toy over his sister’s head.  I immediately took the toy and slapped it over his head telling him we don’t hit.  Fear struck me as my thoughts raced around about how hitting back doesn’t teach no hitting.  And when I heard the “thunk” on his head I was petrified and terrified that one of the hard plastic eyes had struck his head leaving a small bump.  The fear I felt overwhelmed me for what I had done.

I immediately called my dad at work and with tears flowing and hardly a breath to speak, I shared with him what I had done.  I was scared thinking the worst: “People that do these kinds of things go to jail.”  Devastated!  I couldn’t hardly breath I was so distraught by my actions.  I couldn’t even think clearly about what I should do.  He was only about two and a half.  My dad assured me that as parents, we all make mistakes we regret.  The pain I felt was overwhelming and I felt so ashamed.

Fear is overwhelming when we don’t know what to do with it.  In this case, I felt the need to tell someone what I had done wrong.  Confessing to my dad helped me get grounding.  Not only did my kids need consoling but I needed to get myself collected to continue my responsibility as a parent.  It was a teaching moment for all.  I needed to give grace to my son and myself saying mommy was wrong too. He needed to learn how to apologize by my actions of telling him I was sorry and that I love him.  I needed to have him understand truth that we treat each other nicely. He told his sister he was sorry and we all gave each other hugs.  In this moment I prayed to God for forgiveness and to help me control my actions.

Roche Harbor Restaurant

Roche Harbor Restaurant

Another time in my life my boss asked me what my worst fear was and I said, “Flying with you.”  He immediately responded and said, “What days do you have open on your calendar next week?” I knew where this was going.  That next week I was flying in a Cessna 150.  I definitely was afraid of this small plane and his piloting!  We flew up to the San Juan Islands and I wasn’t quite sure where we were going nor did I talk much.  I was scared and it seemed like he was too since he had just accomplished enough solo hours to fly having a passenger.

When I spotted the landing strip at the Roche Harbor Resort airport a sense of calm came over me.  I loved that place and I thought, “Oh good, I can get out of this plane.”  No sooner than I thought we were landing, we were taking off again.  Talk about a rush of fear!  I asked him with a bit of stress under my breath why he did that.  He told me it was a “touch and go.”  So what that means is a plane touches down on the landing strip and immediately takes flight again. Feeling extremely anxious by now, I wished he would have explained what he was doing.

We can’t say no to what we fear when we don’t have the right tools.  Whether you face this with children or not, if you don’t want to do something you have no interest in, then say no, even if it is your boss.  Take a leap of faith.  If your boss intimidates you, speak out your concerns.  Relying on God’s Word for guidance is a great way to learn about overcoming fear.

However fear strikes us, knowing what to do with the emotion attached to it, is what keeps us at peace.  ~ Susan Husa

Found you in my heart

Found you in my heart

Fearing God with reverence and trust in all that we do should lead our actions. Anytime we are outside of doing what God truly would guide us to do is sinful.  As sinners we can be thankful for the fear we have in disobedience as a follower of Christ.  This fear is like a compass which steers us in the right direction.  If we fear God, we acknowledge His commands to Love.  We accept his son Jesus and His sacrifice. We bow our heads and remember that this act of love is what has set us free from condemnation.  Christ in us enables us to transform as we practice what we learn, one step at a time.

We can’t control what other people want to do. We can’t control what other people do to others.  We can control what we do.  In all of these scenarios, if we acknowledge fear with reverence to God, it is He that will lead us by His Word to that place of peace as we bask in His Truths.  A great time to acknowledge The Lord’s Prayer.

No Longer Inferior


Great place to identify with lazy.

My parents divorced when I was in the sixth grade. I remember the day vividly when my dad left. My mom was standing at the mixer licking the dough off her finger while the two had exchanged a few words and out the door he walked carrying some of his clothes on hangers. It was awful, in a flash, my life had changed. Immediately I thought about my friend crying at school one day, about a month prior, saying that her parents were going to get divorced and I told my other friend that if my parents did that, I would kill myself. Those words wrecked havoc in my mind that day and night. Resolving that I wasn’t going to do that, the pain left in my heart haunted me for many years.

As a teen I had no identity to stand on. Other than a girl that comes from a divorced family, struggling to make ends meet. A dad that was admired in the community for his profession. And my mother that felt most of the women in town talked behind her back about what an awful house cleaner she was. (I would be too, frankly, if I was handling eight kids day and night.) My mother worked graveyard in a potato factory to make ends meet after the divorce. This was my identity.

With a hundred dollars in my pocket and my first month’s rent paid,  I moved from a small farming community to a large city. I was in my early twenties, had a high school diploma and felt inferior to peers I met with a higher education. But I never stopped dreaming of being a professional of some sort. I knew that I wanted to do great things. I wasn’t sure what, but I had a desire.  I walked onto a college campus one day trembling with fear. I waited in line to speak to someone not even sure if I was in the right line. When my turn came tears flowed from my face as I explained that I wanted to go to college but didn’t know how to register. Shame fell over me like I had never felt but I wanted to somehow, some way change my life. She was kind and suggested I take a career decision-making class.  My identity: “Lost.”

Years later in my late twenties I landed a job I absolutely loved. I worked with a company that managed a University and I continued my education while working with them. I represented a group of consultants in management development as Sales and Marketing Director. The maturity, personal and professional growth I experienced was outstanding.  I participated in every aspect of starting up a company with them and thrived in my position.  With fear in my every move each day I conquered and prospered. My identity was defined by my performance.

Shortly after my career was established, I became a mom with a husband building his career and had two little ones. Life was great until a huge dark cloud loomed over me. I had accusations made against me and my truths, which triggered memories of days gone by and I didn’t feel equipped to deal with the memories of tragedies that I experienced or the relationships I had to endure. I shut down and as hard as I tried to stay positive; I couldn’t bear the struggle. There were too many memories and realities I was trying to make sense of. My identity as a mom was stricken. I didn’t have the right tools to deal with what I was experiencing in my heart and soul.  Identity: “Messed up.”

For now, at least fifteen years has passed since that time. I identify with being equal and without an inferiority complex. These are the days where I can rejoice and be thankful that I do respect and forgive the scenes of yesterday. As hard as that feels to write, I rejoice in those experiences as they are what lead me to the place I am today. I have shared what I have learned with my children and they have learned from them too.  Identity: “Loved.”

No longer inferior. I am beginning to understand what fear truly is. We can only live in this very moment.

Presense of Mind

Presence of mind

Presence of mind

Twenty years ago when I imagined what life would be like with children, I didn’t realize how many demands motherhood required.  Nor did I know that my influence would not always produce the outcomes I anticipated either.  One day in particular comes to mind when the kids were about five and three.  I was daydreaming about taking them out on an adventure and thought about all the things I needed to pack in order for us to get out the door.  I was actually really looking forward to finally getting out and doing something different.  In a split second, there was no way I was going to make it happen.

All I could think of was how I was supposed to move through the rest of the day with vitality and purpose when feeling so disappointed.

I was so excited to get out of the house and the idea of the kids experiencing something new excited me more.  Accepting that I had to switch gears and cancel our outing was so disappointing!  When I recognized my negative thoughts around my disappointment I knew I needed to make a conscious effort to stay positive but I really didn’t feel like thinking that way.  I just wanted to carry that bad attitude for a while!

I have read that practicing presence of mind helps one move in the direction of their desires. 

But that afternoon, I wasn’t practicing that! Well, at least in a positive light. I let the change of direction take hold of my attitude and indirectly my kids bared the brunt of that. When I had some time to reflect I did think of how I could react differently next time.  I also learned a big lesson through it all because I had already been experiencing quite a bit of this with the age of my kids.  But this time was different.  I noticed that I didn’t like how I was acting.  I was feeling so disengaged and I wanted to get out of the funk I was in.

The desires of my heart did not match my behavior.

At this point all I could think about was how I like the thoughts that excite and engage.  And I love meeting my children with presence of mind because it allows me to genuinely engage in conversation with meaning, purpose, love and intention.  The approach with eye-to-eye contact influences a much better outcome than one half-hearted or distracted .

I knew I needed to change my mind.

I also had to remember that shepherding children takes courage, selfless acts and a commitment to helping them grow and become what they were intended for. If I rest my eyes on the Lord our God and focus on His promises, listening to those precious details he only tells me, it helps me engage with confidence, courage and His lead. It was then that my thoughts had transformed and a powerful peace of mind overcame me.  In that moment, my presence of mind had changed.

Have you ever felt that way?  How did you overcome?

Silver Lining of Expectations

Shadows of doubt can hinder one's journey

Shadows of doubt can hinder one’s journey

Going about my merry way I witnessed a mom roll her eyes when she was asked about her son. She said she wishes that he was doing things differently in his life. I couldn’t help but wonder why she thinks he needs to be doing things differently and what at this point has inspired him? If he’s living with a parent that wishes he was doing things differently, unless of course it is something harmful, that parent is subconsciously exuding a negative attitude toward him thus creating underlying friction, ultimately wrecking havoc on the relationship. By acknowledging her son’s decisions, a conversation would take place for her to understand why he is making the decisions that he is. For example, let’s assume the son wants to take a gap year before going off to college. If she simply says, “Wow! I’m surprised to hear you say that. Tell me more about what you are thinking in terms of what you would like to do in the interim?” She now has the opportunity to discuss his view. 

Knowing this young man is a senior in high school, I found myself wondering what conversations may have taken place over time in the home to build trust? How did she handle conversations related to emotions? It seems that struggling with emotions without a grasp on how to label them would hinder one’s maturity. Was this going on in their home? Did her son feel he was violated or not fully accepted? Was he ever able to express his thoughts or have help labeling his emotions? Teens are bombarded with social aspects and hormones that contribute to their struggle and development. As a parent, it is our responsibility to help our children navigate these bumpy roads. Hoping our kids make different choices may actually hinder their progress as they discover their true identity.

It may seem like teens don’t want to engage in conversation but think twice! What they think is real and what we know, is that they need help sorting it all out. Who do you want leading them? Finding a time to be one-on-one in conversation is key to building trust and a place for them to reveal their thoughts. It has been said that if a teen is struggling, one of the best things you can do is go for a drive and drive for as long as you need to until they open up.

This poor mom, one might think, must feel unequipped. We only have so many tools before we head back to the hardware store for more. Helping our kids grow up is not an easy task. Researching, asking others who have gone before and applying principles of love enables us to help them be their best. Teens need tools just like adults. Engaging with teens emotionally and intellectually builds healthy relationships and fosters mentoring for the many challenges they face.

Do you suppose, had the mom turned the thought around, that perhaps she should be doing things different in his life? That maybe she might be able to be more at ease with his decisions? That he would feel accepted if she did? Allowing our kids to explore within the confines of house rules helps them with their own decision-making skills. These practices of acknowledging and engaging in conversation about their actions and motives builds trust. Humans want to belong and impress. To whom do you want your kids to impress? I hope it is you as the one that they can trust and rely on. Your home then rests in love and respect. Ideas are honored, accountability resides, discovery is encouraged, structure reflects boundaries and forgiveness is vital when we make poor decisions. Our leadership in the home prepares them for the leadership they seek and experience outside the home. The bumpy roads they experience living on their own hopefully are overcome by way of consulting with their Creator. There the silver lining of expectations exist. Pure and of truth.

Why I Named My Blog fiveof9

Thoughts transformed

With love in her heart, a mother tells her story.

Contemplating blogging was challenging enough.  “What is blogging,” I wondered, and “How do I do it?” After reading several blogs I realized that blogging is simply someone typing out their thoughts as they ponder them. So what can be so hard about blogging once a week or daily? Time, passion, values, commitment, choice…those are a few of the reasons one would consider, prior to answering the question, “Why I named my Blog fiveof9.” The reason I named my blog fiveof9 is because I am the fifth child of nine my mother gave birth to. I liked spelling out five and using a numeral for nine.

Using this name gave me an “identity” as a blogger.  Something fun and intriguing I figured. My true identity is simply that I am a child of God. That is my identity that grounds me in all of my decisions, actions and relationships.

The fact that I was the fifth child born gives me a “rank” that many in our culture will give much attention to. The belief that children born in between siblings tend to have certain behavioral traits that first or last child don’t. Rather than identifying myself with such mayhem, my identity in Christ is much simpler in that it encompasses one word and that word is, Love.

Love is what I move forward with and in. This side of Heaven (here on earth) I reside in my flesh and strive to be of love in all my encounters. I don’t always live up to that but it is always my goal. I allow myself the pleasure of grace as Christ has done for me.

To those of you that actually take the time to read this: May the love of Christ, by your choice of accepting Him in your heart, be the everlasting state of your heart and soul to share with others.

S T R E T C H I N G for Christ

Make the world a little kinder

Make the world a little kinder

As a homemaker and mother of two, my kids have always been a top priority. Understanding who Christ is, my first! Growing up, church was a place we went to every Sunday and Wednesday for catechism. What struck me a few years back about this schedule is that attending these services instilled in me some great truths and a great deal of memorized ritual. The values instilled in me are still with me today and my children experience that as a result.

Being a homemaker has it’s many challenges. Working solo is great, yet there are times when it seems so mundane and some days can be overwhelming. When I am feeling that way, I am thankful for the freedom I have to sit down in that moment sometimes and study my Bible. I marvel at the truths that have been revealed to me over the years. And as I am guided, my home reaps the rewards of my obedience.

Working through all my shame, learning what forgiveness means and finding out what “It’s not about you,” truly means, has allowed me to be a more peaceful mother. Letting go of all of these burdens has allowed me to break free of the perception of who I labeled myself to be. Going about my day is “all about me” in my actions about Him!

Looking up.

Looking up.

When my actions are about following Christ, I am S T R E T C H I N G for Christ. I am practicing every moment. I’m far from perfect! Obedience requires me to stretch!  I marvel at how much my attitude and actions have changed over time and I am truly thankful. The transformation of my soul because of my belief in Him humbles me. The confidence I once knew is buried and overcome by confidence of truth now.  The peace from trusting in Him is hard to describe. It surely has influenced my home.  The stretch is for Him and it is the power of the Holy Spirit that I am thankful for.

Making Christ a priority has molded me into the follower He so desires. I will never be perfect on this side of heaven but following a leader that is with me 24/7 simply guarantees that no matter what, He is always there. I have a Master with a plan, and in stretching myself in whatever direction, He will always be my center.

Homemaking is so rewarding. Following Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to move me is the best therapy, I could ever ask for. My faith has moved me into a new way of thinking and doing. I no longer need a “worldly” attitude to maneuver through society. Leading by example is one tough act to follow but I’m sure going to give homemaking my all by following a leader I can trust and am eager to obey. The reward is more than words can describe and homemaking has never been better.

Home is where the heart is.

Home is where the heart is.

May the love that Christ has for you and your home, give you guidance and an eager heart to understand all He so desires for you so that you too can experience a little of that most-wonderful feeling that permeates your soul and ultimately your homemaking.

Free With Respect

Reflecting pool of love.

Reflecting pool of love.

Free with respect? Is that what your home envelops? As “mom-in-chief” you can fill these shoes. Simply, it is our most-urgent necessity for respecting ourselves and those we nurture. How free from self-doubt, for the sake of respect, are you and how is that helping you nurture those in your home?

When you reflect love, feeling complete, freedom from condemnation, worth, acceptance, grace and truth, your interactions allow those that live with you to explore their reflection.  When you reflect control, fear, pride, comparison, competition, revenge and legalism so might those you influence. Build what you reflect, upon the strength of your Maker! He will encourage you and mold you into His most-desirable state. Submission and obedience unveils revelation and instills the core of which you were intended.

We see our kids best not with a magnifying glass, but with a mirror.

We see our kids best not with a magnifying glass, but with a mirror.

Clarity. Action. Perseverance. You are an amazing mother, with good intentions for those you are caring for. Be free from anything that takes you away from loving and caring for each other. Marvel at the fruits of your labor experiencing the maturity of growth. Both in yourself and those you are yielding to. Watch them in awe. Did you ever plant a seed and marvel at the force in which it was able to sprout out of the soil? Marvel at the strength it takes those you care for (that includes yourself) to move through their walk. Enable them to experience and discover who they are In-Christ.

With respect, truth and grace, nurture their nature. Establish the ground so that water will flow to their roots and allow them to grow free (In-Christ) with respect (to themselves and others) in their environment.

How do these words of encouragement, reflect my nature of growth, and encourage you?

With love.

Don’t Make Your List Your Master

dental and PTWith my eyes closed, the warmth of the covers embrace the new day. “Good morning dear Heavenly Father!” As I pray in thanks for a new day, it is not long after that I am pondering tasks for the day. Sipping my cup of “joe”, I relish the moment of peace and quiet. Centered In-Christ, I think about the list of things to do for the day. Somehow within the time I start thinking about all that I need to do and want to do, I lose my grounding and fall easily into such a negative mode! I think, “Where did my Father go?” Well, “He never left!”

Staying grounded is more of a question of, “Where did my thoughts go?” Sometimes homemaking can seem so arduous and isolating. I do love the autonomy though of being a homemaker and leading the charge. It’s the self-discipline that I continuously bargain with every day in my thoughts, my feelings of being overwhelmed and my actions that prove it. Without discipline I lose focus. Subsequently, lack of prioritizing and follow-through results into negative thoughts. Keeping perspective is challenging while being productive in the home.

Staying productive throughout the day is certainly attainable. There is only so much time in a day to devote ourselves to the purpose of our being. Planning your work and working your plan is an idea I learned many moons ago. Ya think I might use that! I love making a list to start my day and marvel at how many times I am distracted just trying to accomplish and focus on one of the tasks. A productive homemaker is one that continuously realigns their priorities throughout the day. Read that again!  Each day the demands of motherhood can move us off-track of what we set out to do.  Making a plan and having some “wiggle” room can alleviate a lot of unwanted negative emotions.  Knowing that your focus on your list will require flexibility.

Let’s simplify “productive.” Make a list of all the things you want to have done. Organize it into three groups, 1) tasks that need to be done today, 2) tasks that take more than one day and 3) tasks that require someone you hire, for example. The list of tasks on your daily list may include, prayer time, assemble lunches, make appointments, shop for project supplies, schedule/research vacation, call/read for advice, make dinner, shop for the week, clean floors, brush cat, family meeting, date with spouse, child or friend, help with homework. Tasks that take more than one day may include, plant a garden, hang collage of pictures on wall or perhaps build something. Tasks that require hiring someone like a remodel or home maintenance project.  Now go back over each group assigning tasks from each one to your daily list. Keep in mind things like phone calls, interviews and trips to stores. Each item listed requires an action from you to complete the project. Since you only have so much time in one day, only add what is doable in one day. This process helps you visualize what you can complete each day without getting overwhelmed with the whole picture. Looking at your list may seem overwhelming but it allows you to look at all the things you see as being important or of interest to you in your life.

There is only so much time in one day. Making that initial list is going to be key in showing you how much you would like to get done. This is your reality check!!!  Breaking that list down so you have manageable time each day to complete each item contributes to establishing self-discipline and direction. As you practice this routine, what you can accomplish in a day will become more realistic. Your choices each day become more directed and purposeful.  This process shows you what you choose to incorporate into your day. Whether it is perusing the internet, social media, caring for your family and home or a hobby, these priorities you are choosing give you a perspective of what you value.

Align yourself with your Master! (Caution: Don’t make your list your master) Make your list, refine your list, and move forward giving thanks throughout your day as you serve your Master, extending grace as it is given to you. Practicing these simple ideas may assist you in your selfless acts of love resulting in peace within yourself.  Being mindful and at peace is then projected in everything you do.

May your day be filled with laughter and love as you complete each task you have put before you. Be thankful. Share your discovery with others on this post so they too can overcome the idea that we don’t need to make our list our master!

Happy homemaking today!

Shoes Falling

Love Ann Voskamp!

Love Ann Voskamp!

“It’s time to go!” I called out to my daughter as she swiftly collected all she needed for school. Crash! Off the track goes the shoe rack.  Shoes falling off the shelf she struggles to balance and grasp both shoes.  “Slow down,” I suggest as she makes her way outside slinging her backpack across her back and bending over to retrieve her shoe. “If you slow down, you won’t get hurt and you can make your way with ease.” Those words left me contemplating my own actions as the front door closed.

Trepidation consumed me and I wrestled with the thought that lead me to a place of silence and solace.  Grounded, it was then, that I could see how shoes falling reflected the pace in which we live.  As “mom in chief” mode, I bowed my head for clarity.  Love, joy and peace covered my heart and each task before me I vowed would be covered in that reality.  So easily the choice can be made.

Like shoes falling off the shelf so too can my attitude.  Creating an environment that nurtures peace, love and joy is not something you are going to obtain without help.  Guidance for our children requires steadfast truths. Learning first yourself then leading by example.  What kind of leader are you following?  Do you emulate your leader’s example?  Keep your shoes on the shelf!

Walking in the shoes of a leader has many challenges.  Stand up to the challenge and learn new ways of leading those who are looking up to you for guidance.  Give them room to walk and guide them so the shoes stay on the shelf.

Have fun parenting today!