Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thank You Lord!

I don't say it often enough, but Thank You, Lord!

Thank you for the wonderful family that you have given me. Thank you for a husband who so often places the needs of others before his own. Thank you for two healthy children who are able to run, play, think, and learn.  Thank you for loving parents who took me to church and made sure that I learned about you when I was young. We may not have much time together because of work and responsibilities, but the time that we do have is wonderful!

Thank you for a home with a roof over my head; so many people in this world don't have that anymore. The electrical breakers may flip, the heater may not always light, and the carpet may be old and stained, but it is OUR house and we can come home to it each night.

Thank you for a steady job; in today's economy there are many who don't have one. I may work long hours and bring home lots of paperwork. I may get stressed because of new programs and duties. I may get frustrated by students who don't seem to appreciate the education I am trying to provide for them...... but at the end of each month, there is a steady paycheck waiting for me.

Thank you for good Christian friends. They listen to me, comfort me, and support me.

Thank you Lord, for the trials that you place before me. They make me stronger and build my faith.

Thank you for the times that I stumble. It is at those times when you reach out a loving hand to pick me up and remind me that you are there WHENEVER I need you.

Thank you Lord, for everything that you have provided for me for so many years. My life has been so richly blessed.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

#I Am Not

See those two smiling faces in the picture above? That's my daughter and me, after a race earlier this year. Just looking at the picture it probably appears that we are close and always have been- but pictures can be deceiving.

Kari is my second child. With her brother, Keenan, mothering just seemed to come naturally. He was more subdued, more calm, and more manageable. Our house was peaceful and I felt like I had everything under control. Then Kari was born.

 Kari has always been the more independent of the two: wanting to do things on her own, not wanting help from others, and wanting to make her own decisions. The teenage "attitude" hit early with her. (My husband and I joked that she was 10 going on 18.) I would say something to her, even calmly,  and she would tell me to stop talking so mean to her. The attitude seemed to show itself more frequently with me than it did with her father. Several times I can remember him saying, "I just wish you two could get along."

There were many tears shed and many prayers said. There were times when I just wanted to throw my hands into the air and say, "Lord, I can't go through this anymore." At times, I found myself sitting around the house with my mouth clamped tight, for fear that I would say the wrong thing and it would all explode. I really doubted my abilities as a mother.

But.... I didn't give up.

I kept on keeping on: praying for guidance from God, reading every blog out there, talking to other moms, and loving my child.

Finally, this past summer, things changed. Kari spent five weeks away from home at the Governor's Scholars Program. I missed her. She missed us. She matured. I learned to allow her to grow.

Since then, it hasn't been all peaches and cream, but it has definitely improved. Kari and I can actually talk now, but I usually let her approach me first. There are still times when Kari gets upset, but I just back away and let her calm down. If she needs me, she comes back.

Kari has also developed a much more active religious life. She is reading her Bible daily, attending Bible groups at church, and is the first one to chastise my husband and I if we miss too many activities at church ourselves.

It has taken a long time................ but with that time and God's help, I can honestly say that I am NOT a bad mother. Those doubts that flooded my mind for so many years have been washed away. It required patience, prayer, and practice............... but I now have peace with the fact that I am NOT a failure when it comes to being a mother.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Who I Am

This week I have been thinking a lot about who I am.........................

All of those little identities that the world has given me or that I have given myself.

I think back to high school and I remember that shy little girl, the one who lived out in the country but had to travel to town to attend the only high school. That girl studied and worked hard to get every grade that she got, but was often made fun of by her classmates. As a teenager she never got asked out on dates, wasn't invited to the prom, and never really felt like she belonged in the group of students with whom she was placed by the school system. That girl is still right there inside me. She has never attended any of her high school reunions because she was never really sure that she would be accepted or welcomed.

That girl grew up and went to college, determined to show everyone that she really was smart; she really did deserve the accolades and honors that were given to her. She graduated college as the top female education student and then she headed off to HER first classroom of students. That first year was rough. Kentucky had instituted a new teacher intern program which required a visiting college professor to observe each teacher and offer critiques of their lesson planning and instruction. Though the young teacher felt like she was doing a good job, that professor never seemed to have a good thing to say about the teaching that was going on. The teacher felt good about it, the principal said that she was doing a fine job, but the professor always seemed to find things that needed to be "fixed". Even after 29 years of teaching, that struggling young teacher is still right here beside me. She shows up every time I get observed and every time that my school institutes a new program. That young teacher is always wondering, "Am I doing a good job? Why can't I reach them? What am I doing wrong?"

There has been uncertainty and doubt throughout my life: the new wife, the young mother who had very little experience with babies, the mother of a teenage girl with all of the emotional upheavals that go along with puberty. I have always been a bit of a perfectionist- struggling to be the perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect teacher...... Of course, I always fell short.

This uncertainty and self doubt has sometimes even permeated my spiritual life. I sometimes find myself asking, "Why would God use little old me? I am just a plain old country girl- I have no great stories to tell. I have no great skills that God can use." It is then that God gives me the boost of confidence that I need.

God tells me, in John 1:12,

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

I do believe. I have given my life to him, I AM a child of God and that is the GREATEST identity that I can have. 

As for my doubt about the quality of myself and my abilities, the Bible says, in Ephesians 2:10,

10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

When I read this verse, I am reminded of a t-shirt I once saw that read, "God don't make no junk." I have to keep telling myself that God did make me, he has shaped me and molded me, with a job in mind. Even with my little quirks and doubts, THAT is who I am: God's work, his product, perfectly shaped by him. He accepts me, just as I am. Perhaps now, I need to work at doing the same.