Heart found while walking in the rain with my son.
One morning I received a grief-stricken text from my daughter attending high school that a peer she was fond of is not in her classroom because he died last night. I could hardly bear the news. I have met the boy’s mother and the grief that overcame me for all those affected by this sad news was overwhelming. How does a friend and parent ever endure the hardship and pain of that? It seems like curling up in a ball and only isolation would ever conquer that reality.
Pardon the immediate emotional contrast, as the night before I had stumbled across a TED talk based on a study of 75 years that followed a select group of men from their teens and later included woman, some of them up into their 90’s that helped researchers understand what made these people happy. (What Makes a Good Life? Lessons From the Longest Study On Happiness; Robert Waldinger) One of the key components from this study that struck me was connection with others and its relationship to ones happiness. The opposite of connection would be isolation leading one to feel loneliness which caused all sorts of health problems.
In the context of a mother’s influence and her happiness having an effect on others in the situation of her son; it seems to me that isolation for a time would be good for meditation and healing as an obligation to self for grieving. Subsequently, honoring loving relationships with those so eager to share their love and concern by connecting with them. In this initial phase of torment for a mother, it also seems to me that receiving helping hands and communion with loved ones to grasp the sensual aspects of life would be challenging. Yet, on the other hand, how could one ever cope without the love from others?
You and I both know that everyone experiences a life-time of “roller coaster” emotions. And these emotions, high (happy) and low (sad) are experienced at different levels depending on circumstances. It may be safe to say that feelings of happiness don’t lend to a feeling of “longing” for something like a feeling of sadness may. Take a moment to imagine a happy moment. Now compare that to a sad moment. Notice the difference? When we are happy we don’t have the desire so much that triggers the “longing” for something effect. That feeling of “longing,” my friend, is the feeling of desire. Not only do you feel that, but your children do to. When we don’t have an understanding of what that “longing” is or what the feeling of desire or perhaps a heartfelt void is, feelings of anguish or anxiety prevail. When does this reality cease? How can we stop it and what do we do? The first step is acknowledging its existence.
Havoc on the heart felt. Structure of the soul crushed. Grasp for peace revealed. ~Susan Husa
By acknowledging our discomfort we take the first step in overcoming our circumstances. For example, you may ask yourself questions like, “Why did my friend die?” “Why am I so frustrated?” “Why do I even exist?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” When we live in this turmoil, it is hard to connect with others. When we isolate and fixate on these questions without a way to go about getting answers, we can make ourselves ill. And when children especially wrestle with these insecurities, they, like us need tools to overcome. If fear is the unknown and this theory is applied to a myriad of situations, knowing that we need to acknowledge this discomfort to overcome, we can then move on to the next step of education. This is a time to explore the answer to your question to stop the wondering. Your research and/or counsel will help you identify what it is you don’t know or understand. Now you know what to do and you choose to accept (or not) and take action or start the whole process over again.
For just a moment, let me give you a glimpse of what I have discovered about connection and happiness. We can be happy connected in healthy relationships and involved in different activities. But happiness is not a constant. There is a song by Jonny Lee titled, Looking For Love In All the Wrong Places which reminds me of a major reality check I had when I discovered what true love is. The ultimate feeling of happiness that I have discovered and have come to know through experience is my personal relationship with Jesus. I have sought counsel in many ways and my most number one “go-to” now is, The Holy Bible. One of my resources is the Life Application Study Bible, New Living Translation (NLT). I love finding resolve by referencing subjects in the index or simply basking in the stories told long ago for direction and leadership in living out this life for eternity.
These are some truths I have come to know and believe: Jesus is the Creator of all things and by choice we accept Him into our lives. A personal relationship with Christ is the ultimate relationship through the Holy Spirit which transforms and levels our state of mind to peace and tranquility. Through faith (belief in Christ) we assume the role of being sanctified (made Holy) for the sake of our salvation (being delivered from the power of sin; desire of the flesh) to be overcome with righteousness (morality). Since experiencing a relationship with Christ, I have come to understand and know what it means to have transformation of the mind.
Transformation of the mind is powerful. As a mother, my influence has a tremendous impact on my children. My values are shown by my actions. If you are experiencing hardship and you don’t feel equipped to deal with your own issues or feel you can’t help your children with theirs, seek counsel. Happiness is something we all experience and want. And I agree with the study that was done, that when we engage in healthy relationships with others, we are happy. When we question and isolate and don’t have a way to come to know our unrest, feelings of loneliness can devour our soul. Don’t let that happen to you or anyone you know.
Over the years I slowly came to know what parenting with truth and grace meant. I love the book shown in this picture as you can see, it had many years of use.
Since I have taken the time to build a relationship with Christ and I know who he is and what he promises I am much more at peace. Do yourself a favor and understand what the fruit of the Spirit is (read Galatians 5:22). When we are not led by the Holy Spirit we are works of the flesh (read Galatians 5:19).
As I folded laundry that day I couldn’t help but grieve the loss of a precious young man in our community. I was entranced in my thoughts when all of a sudden the cat swiped at the string that turns on the lamp next to me and caused it to fall onto a potted plant, turning it on it’s side spreading dirt everywhere! I caught the lamp mid-air, placed it back on the floor and resumed folding laundry. The site of the mess was overwhelming in my state of grief and I refused to react by cleaning it up immediately. From the actions of one, I am left to clean up the mess.
My attitude was in check here even though I was disappointed in the circumstances. Disaster in all shapes and forms surrounds us at times. Shielding ourselves from pain is inevitable. Sometimes we can’t even feel ourselves breathe because the pain or reality is too much to bear. Just stop and think about the meaning of these few words: Grace. Serenity. Love.
What’s all this have to do with a mother’s influence? Mothers have so much to accomplish in a day and this reality can be overwhelming. When we do things intentionally it is because we “want” to. “I want” to do the laundry so that we all have clean clothes to wear. Or rather, “I want” to leave the laundry alone today so I can focus on having lunch with my spouse. I don’t “have” to do anything. But I do “want” to do “x” because it will serve a purpose of “y.” These tools will guide you with purposeful and well-thought-out reasons for doing “why” you do what you do.
If you “have” to do something it will be done grudgingly and without a thankful heart. Think of the example of the mess the cat made. With all I had going on that day, I “wanted” to leave it until I was ready to clean it up. Give yourself permission to leave things alone if it does not serve the purpose you need it to or it interrupts in such a way that something else will suffer because of making that the priority. The task becomes too arduous and especially when you already have a full plate. When I cleaned it up at a time I wasn’t stressed out, it felt way better than had I cleaned it up with angst. Only to lead to perhaps more stress.
Chilling out on the idea that it had to be cleaned up in an instant allowed me to focus on what mattered in the moment and what I had anticipated as a plan for the day. I was able to move on into the evening and embrace those I had planned on being with in a much more peaceful state and my choice allowed me to make preparations so my family was equipped to carry out their evening and their plans with the things they relied on me for before I left. What you choose to do will impact the influence you have on maintaining your happiness and extending that to others.
For me, my only hope is in Jesus and His promise of everlasting life.
What makes you happy and your connections with others has a big influence. When we identify with that statement, we are able to examine the source of happiness and the impact that has on our thoughts and our actions. If you have a hard time grasping that explore the opposite. Embrace the relationships you have and reach out to others in your community building relationships outside of your inner circle of friends. Make time to visit clubs, join a class, reach out to someone you have not spoken to in six months or more. Write a note to a friend or an acquaintance or business in your area thanking them for a special service or memory of days gone by. Just as we inquire about the well-being of others, encourage your children to do the same. Follow-up with them if things aren’t so well and find out if they found any resolve. Hopefully our outreach can help those choosing to isolate mentally or physically.
You are lovely and you give so much of yourself. Embrace the new day by helping your kids define what they like to do. Help them realize what they need to do in order to accomplish what they dream of doing. Listen to them so they can hear themselves talk and sort out their thoughts. Zip the lip and don’t give advice unless they ask. (Hint: It will be a question.) Actively listening, you will help them learn how to figure out what they want to do by giving them the opportunity to sort out their thoughts. This is a great way to build trust and they may ask you for help on how to take action. Whatever the case, pay attention to their cues and be thankful for the relationship you have built in helping them or a friend engage into meaningful actions.
Small achievements bring happiness just as much as larger ones do. When you find yourself smiling and filled with joy, cherish that and embrace it. Stop what you are doing when you are feeling insecure or agitated. Evaluate your intention. If your intention is to stay at peace then meditate until you are centered again. A relationship with Christ has helped me overcome many emotions that needed leveled out over the years. I am thankful for the security I feel.
When you’re young, pain = the absence of pleasure. When you’re old, pleasure = absence of pain. When you’re wise, you know facing pain leads to pleasure. – Dr Henry Cloud
When we acknowledge the existence of desire, it is then we can act on overcoming obstacles and identify with an outcome. As a mother I feel a great responsibility to educate myself on a myriad of topics for the sake of my influence on myself, husband, children and in community. What shields you from the unexpected? How do you cope with pain and fear, loneliness and uncertainty? Is your reaction something you want to change? Through the years, seeking knowledge on these questions, then putting those ideas into practice has brought much peace in the midst of what seems like disaster. Happiness prevails.
As a mother, connecting with others truly is an important piece to our health, happiness and survival amid the chaos. Not such a profound statement here but being solo does not exist – we live on a planet where each relies on the other directly or indirectly. Think about where you are right now. Imagine what it took to develop the place you are currently. How about the shaping of your thoughts? The support from your friendships and family. Without connection, where does that leave one? In isolation. With Jesus we are never alone and if you come to know Him, you will understand the importance on a whole different level of why connecting with others is part of our key to happiness. Seeking out places to get acquainted, having conversation with others on any given subject can only enhance joy and especially in times of turmoil. When you lead with joyful confidence, you will inspire those around you with your influence. You will come to know how a mother’s influence truly contributes to more than you will ever know.
Joy in experiencing another’s thoughts and they giving yours attention, truly grounds each in a myriad of emotions. ~Susan Husa
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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? 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.
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?