Friday, September 30, 2016

Steps that lead us back to God

I am surprised I am writing in a blog…. I never thought I would be a blog writer, never thought anyone would care to listen to my babbling.  We all have stories in our life, all seasons of joy, pain, sorrow, loss, growth…why would anyone care to read mine, when they are busy with their own lives, living out their stories? Time is a precious gift, and we all need to take the quiet moments to do what fills us up….if this is boring you , then stop…go watch tv, go for a walk, or pick up His Word! I can guarantee His Word will be more fruitful than mine. I am flawed, and making my way through this journey of life, just like you.

God will lead, but we need to listen, and walk through the steps

Do you feel stuck? Feel as though the valley is too deep, the tunnel is too long. We have all heard the saying “There is a light at the end of the tunnel”. However, you have been in the tunnel for a long time and don’t think the light is there…or you see the glimmer, but don’t know how to get there? We have all been there at one point, or will be there at some point… embrace that season in your life, it’s where we grow the most.  

Let me take you back about 2 years ago. I was at a lovely Christmas party with girlfriends. We were doing our annual cookie exchange. The laughter was bustling, the cookies flowing, and the gift exchange had just started…I was in my happy place! Then the bomb dropped. The semi perfect world I had wanted my world to be, just flipped upside down. I got a call from my husband. Our oldest had just been caught with weed in his backpack at school. We were shocked. My oldest of course had some crazy story that it wasn’t his, he was holding onto it for a friend. Yes J, we are idiots, please lie to us more. Oh goodness. We went home and did our best…uncharted waters here… We did a family meeting, yelled until we could barely have a voice, cried until we were all dried up , oh then back to yelling, family meeting, took all his privileges ( including his bedroom door, privacy is a privilege) We went nuts. Reflecting, we reacted. Learning over the past two years…hitting the pause button is important! In the moment, when the rug gets swept out from under you and you feel lost, confused and devastated when we react we can cause more damage to recover.

Our home was not a place of peace and refuge. Our home had become a battle ground. As time went on our oldest continued down the path of a wayward teen. We fought hard to keep him away from outside influences that were pulling him down. It didn’t matter though, during the day he was skipping school and at night sneaking out his window. We felt powerless as parents. How did we lose all the control? How is it that we raised him to have good values, boundaries, and a loving home and yet he chose to do things that broke our hearts and risked his life? I started to do out landish things …I once brought him to the police high as kite, and asked them what do I do with him? To my surprise, they didn’t have any answers to help. They tried to get in his face and scare him a bit, but it didn’t work. It only made him feel more powerful. One night while driving home, he was high and said “I can do anything when I’m high”. I was so fed up with his behavior and blatant disrespect. I stopped my car kicked him out, and said run home. It was a 6 mile run, I drove next to him the whole time with my flashers on making certain he ran all the way home. I did get pulled over by the police. I explained the situation, the officer said well done and we continued on the long stretch home. My oldest had pushed me to the breaking point. Then there was the tipping point. I got a call from the police that my son had shop lifted alcohol from the local grocery store. WHAT is Happening??

We felt stuck. The valley had been long. The tunnel dim. Where was the light? We were praying, but no answers yet. I took him to counseling, a psychiatrist, confronted the friends he was hanging around, approached the school on not allowing him to leave campus, drug tested him (to which he would fake the pee test, and give me someone else’s pee to test?? We were living in crazy town...these teens are crafty be careful)   It was not until I got on my knees broken, I surrendered my will, my son to Our Creator. God honored my broken, shattered heart. He started opening doors. Someone I barely knew said “you need to save your son’s life before he is 18”. He gave me ideas on therapeutic boys homes, where young men that are struggling can go get straightened out, away from their everyday influences. I researched a school Liahona, in Utah. I instantly felt a connection with this school. My husband felt the same way, and was on board. We financially could not afford the school, but God made a way. All the doors were opening, we couldn’t deny all the ways we could see God answering our prayers. Were we going to listen to His tugging and clear answers? It required us to Take Action, it required us to make the steps to get out of the Tunnel…to start making movement towards the light. We did make the steps, we did walk the hard road, our son did leave for 9 ½ months to a state 4 states away. It was hard. Many nights we cried, many aching moments. We are so proud to say that our oldest is well. He is not the same kid he once was, he has been humbled, and grew so much at Liahona. We will forever be grateful to the place that grew our son up.

Steps to get out of the long dark tunnel are hard, and requires us to be brave, and walk in the peace that we know God is working out His plan and we are part of that plan by Moving where we need to move. I would encourage you today, if God is calling you to take steps, listen to what He is asking. He will make it clear. With being in His Word, and a surrendered heart seeking His Truths, I believe You will get out of the tunnel and into the Light.

Psalm 123
“I look to you Heaven Dwelling God, look up to you for help. Like servants alert to their master’s commands, like a maiden attending to her lady, We’re watching and waiting, holding our breath, awaiting your word of mercy. Mercy, God, Mercy! “

If you have a teen that needs Help, here is the school that reached my son.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Strength to Rebuild

Do you really ever have enough strength to get through a trial or a storm that is heading your way? You can anticipate the pain and hardship that can come with news of a job transfer, a close friend moving away, or a diagnosis, but not fully prepare yourself for what is coming. How do you handle the situations you don’t get warning for? The sudden loss of a loved one, notice of a divorce, infidelity, an argument that results in the loss of a relationship…loss in these areas doesn’t quietly just come onto the scene, it bursts in! Most of these situations can instantly attack your psyche, cause fear and paralyze you with moving forward in the new reality you didn’t exactly ask for. All you can do is trust in God’s promises that He will be sufficient, He will provide enough strength for each day. 

God’s strength is exactly what I needed on a Tuesday evening in August. I was not prepared for the heartache that was waiting for me on the phone when my bestie at the time called to inform me that we could no longer be in friendship with each other. I would like to say that I am a pretty strong person and that I always know what to do in hard situations, but when we are in unhealthy relationships or situations, this is not always the case.

Rewind to 5.5 years ago when I met her. I had recently moved to the PNW and wasn’t having an easy time making friends. Missing my friends back at home, I kept praying that I would find someone I could relate to, someone who understood my humor and wanted to experience life together. Our friendship started at a smooth pace; we had playdates, laughed a ton, went on fun adventures and celebrated birthdays and life events together. Our families blended well together and as time went on it was apparent our friendship was the answer to prayer. As life events happened with our families, mainly mine since we are the most accident prone family you may meet, we stood by one another and helped in any way possible. We eventually moved a mile away from each other and we had the friendship most people dream of. You know, the one were you have a key to each other’s house, you help each other pick up kids, you make meals together and laugh at all the Pinterest fails, you pick up things at the grocery store that the other needs, you watch their kids so the other can get their hair or nails done, you go on girls’ weekends together to catch a break, you just do life together. We became a well-oiled machine and everywhere we went, people knew we were a duo, a team. In fact, even now, people look at me and are instantly reminded of her, because this is what happens when boundary lines become grey and blurred…you start to not know where you end and where the other person begins.

Not many people I know jump out of bed in the morning and say, “I can’t wait to be codependent today!” It’s not exactly the goal I had in mind when I was going about our daily life together. Codependency in relationships can happen subtly and over time. It can happen when two people become so invested in each other that they don’t function independently anymore. We jumped in, wholeheartedly, with the right intentions of investing in the best of friendships, not realizing that we were in turn, filling a void in each others lives. We spent so much time together that there was hardly any time for any other relationship. We turned to one another for most daily issues, problems with kids, problems in our marriages, dreams, hopes, futures goals…we invested so much that by the time my husband came home, I didn’t have anything left to say because I was filled up and not wanting anything more. As women, we long for connectedness and rightfully so, God created us to be in relationship with one another. But when your priorities get out of alignment, this is what can become a Danger Zone. I started turning to my bestie for all things and not needing help anywhere else. Both of us were struggling to connect with our husbands and not knowing why they couldn’t be more like our best friend. This is the part where you are reading this and you cringe, but trust me it happens; there is nothing like the listening ear of a good girlfriend, especially when your husbands travel and work a lot. The red flags that started to go up in my mind overtime were quickly dismissed because I couldn’t imagine my life without her. By the time I realized we could benefit from an implementation of healthy boundaries, I was too far committed and afraid that it would ruin our friendship. Sometimes we can hold something too close to us, place too much value on it, let it even replace God, and not realize that it will eventually shatter. While neither one of us made it our intention to hurt the other, we became too reliant on our friendship for comfort and peace when we should have allowed God to provide that for us.

It has been a painful journey, one that I am still traveling on and you may read more about, but my faith has gotten me through it. After the immediate days of staying in bed and the crying had passed, I realized that I couldn’t move forward without seeking some help. It is humbling to admit that you need a counselor. Making the appointment was one of the hardest steps because you briefly say what it is you want to be seen for. Truth be told, I hung up twice before I finally could make the appointmentJ. 15 minutes into my appointment with my counselor she had me resetting my priorities, making a diagram that showed me everyday who comes first and helping me pinpoint areas in my life where unhealthy boundaries existed. I dove into God’s word and allowed Him to show me who I was again. Making these changes went against what my flesh wanted; healing has been a process, being open to hearing hard things about myself is not an easy task, but all of it has been used to make me into the person I am right now.

I still think of her often and miss all of the healthy positive attributes that made our friendship so great to begin with. I may not have the answer as to why all this happened, but I have figured out Who to go to with it all. God has been faithful and has kept all His promises of staying right by my side, wiping every tear and providing restoration to areas in my life that had crumbled. I don’t know what the future holds, or if our paths will ever cross again, but I know the best thing I can do now is just pray for her.

At times, the trials in our lives can feel like huge mountains that we cannot overcome. One look at it and it seems too large for us to take on, but whatever you are facing, God is bigger. I look at these mountains of trials in my life and think, "God could turn that mountain into flat land in a blink of an eye." But I don't become stronger by sticking to flat ground. When God walks beside me with His words of encouragement, He starts to reveal courage in me I didn't know I had. Overtime, I gain strength and perspective from my experience. The next mountain I am suddenly faced with won't look as steep, it won't necessarily be smaller, I will just be stronger and wiser.

So I ask, if you knew such pain was coming would you avoid it or attack it head on, no matter the outcome? In the shattered pieces of you, God may show you the beauty that is left and give you the strength you need to rebuild. He doesn't just want to sow together a few pieces, which we sometimes reluctantly give Him, He wants all the pieces to make you whole again. 

I need your strength Lord to get over this mountain in my life. You make the impossible, possible,

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Real not Rocks

I didn't breast feed. My kids take antibiotics and all have of their immunizations. I am the first in line for a flu shot. My oldest have TVs in their rooms and iPhone 6's in their backpacks. We eat fast food at least 3 times a week, and I rarely make anything resembling a dinner. I don't buy organic anything. Sometimes we have ice cream for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I let my older kids ride shot gun most of the time. My kids say very bad words at times, which I am sure they learned from my wicked lips. I used disposable diapers and scented wipes without a warmer. My three year old watches "Peppa Pig" for hours in the evening while I attempt to help my not so willing children with their homework. I work a full time job and am a horrible housekeeper. 

Go ahead now and unsubscribe to this blog........or like in Biblical times you could throw (virtual) rocks at me....(I am now ducking behind my screen).......ouch good throw......

I am a mom. Many of you reading this are moms too. AWESOME, capable, tired, overwhelmed, ashamed, superhero status, personal assistants, lonely, hilarious, afraid, and absolutely cherished by your Father in heaven. MOMS! Why do we judge one another? We are all in the same boat, sailing toward the land of bedtime on a rocky sea. I strongly believe that too many of us strap on the life vests alone......we drink in the bitter shame soda, and hide our fears behind sweet smiles, "I'm fine how are you?" becomes our pirate song. Listen, if you are still reading this I want you to know that my heart bleeds for moms. I long for moms to be real with each other and encourage one another instead of judging and throwing painful, heart shattering rocks. This journey is long and labor doesn't end in the delivery room my friends. We need each other....we need laughter, tears, encouragement, prayer, listening ears, wine (yes wine), and a shoulder to lean on. 

When I have shared my real struggles of motherhood, I have found that I release others to share their stories. Stories of loneliness, frustration, joys, heartache, spankings gone wrong, potty training nightmares and hilarious poop- all-over -the- wall stories. When I am real with my friends about my struggles, they are real back with their advice....and most of the time we end up even more baffled about what to do TOGETHER, and that's exactly what I need. I don't need a judge.....I've already given myself the guilty sentence all day long. Motherhood is incredibly selfless, hard, and heartbreaking. Motherhood is incredibly amazing, joyful, hilarious and miraculous. At the end of the day if my kids have understood what it is to love God and love others then I am the mom I want to be. That's the goal for our kids right? I used to think that a college scholarship was the goal, or just getting through the week without booking a one way ticket to "I can't do this anymore I suck at being a mom" was the goal......but I've learned in my 10 years of this full time gig, that the goal is that they are little people who love God and love others. And I give God all the credit and glory as I've seen my kiddos start to live out this goal in their little lives; in their classrooms, on the soccer field and in my sweet P's prayers at the end of the day. I am humbled at times that I am their mom.

I am not a parenting expert. My husband laughs at the endless Amazon envelopes that arrive in the mail with "another parenting book!". When I am frustrated with one of our children he always says, "Don't you read those books you order,.... isn't there something for this in those (23 books) you've read?!?" Nope, nothing......but thanks for trying husband. 

I do have friends who have adult children and teenage children....they are lighthouses on my rocky sea for sure. They have traveled these waters before me and I appreciate their stories and advice greatly. I recommend getting yourselves some of these seasoned women in your life. I have many friends with toddlers and newborns...and let me tell you sister, you need to be encouraging those new moms like crazy. They need to know that you went through it and survived, they need prayer, they need you to come be part of their "crazy"........THEY NEED YOU! I also have friends in the same stage of parenting I am......we are doing it together, we are all tired and confused and rejoicing that everyone above the age of 7 can get ready for school by themselves........and I am eternally grateful. 

Find people who are going to be real with you, and not judge you. You don't have time for the latter. You need co-pilots and you need REAL not ROCKS.

I'll leave you with a challenge: Next time you see a mom in the check out aisle at Target with a screaming baby or toddler or 6 year old (oh yes, they still throw tantrums).....get behind her in line and tell her she's doing a great job. Help her to the car as she carries the violent toddler trying to rip her face off and bend his back in the wrong direction so she can't hold her.  I have done this challenge personally and have wished someone had done it for me endless times. I have left many a full cart in the aisles of Target to escape the shame of my howling child. 

Ready set go......(and in case you are counting down, bedtime is only 8 more glorious hours away!)

Keep your love for one another at full strength, because love covers a multitude of sins. -1 Peter 4:8

Monday, September 26, 2016

The intent behind Just Rip the Bandaid

The Webster dictionary defines the word pain as this, "the physical feeling caused by disease, injury, or something that hurts the body; mental or emotional suffering; sadness caused by some emotional or mental problem; someone or something that causes trouble or makes you feel annoyed or angry."  We all have experienced some sort of pain in our lives. I have learned over my lifetime that pain does not discriminate, it takes any route possible and allows no time frame for how long it will last. How we decide to deal with the pain we have been dealt is what begins to show our character and strength. Do we mask it and tuck it away for a later time? Or do we face it head on, declaring victory over it in Jesus name. 

Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable through the pain sets us up to be the most teachable and moldable. This however, is easier said than done. I spent most of my teenage years and early 20's running from pain. Instead of facing hard situations, I ran from them and allowed my pride to take over. I avoided character growth and allowed myself to live a mediocre life when God was anxiously awaiting to give me an abundant one. 

Just rip the bandaid has become a mantra for me over time. When I uncover the wound and truly let healing begin, my thoughts and my heart start to transform. One of my favorite recent quotes is from Lysa TerKerust, in her book called, Uninvited, she says, "Pain is the gift that motivates us to fight with brave tenacity and fierce determination knowing there’s healing on the other side.Healing is painful and always requires a journey of some degree, short or long term. Sometimes the pain is so great that it completely catches your breath. The thought of moving forward in your new reality, can be absolutely paralyzing, but as time moves forward and healing takes place, you can reflect on where you have come from and the ways you have been strengthened from your experience. 

Staci, Lindsay and I have spent much time praying over this journey and know that God can use our life experiences to speak encouragement to our readers. Being tested in our lives brings about the testimony we can use to speak hope into someone else. We all need hope for this journey of life, it empowers us to keep going. We are by no means experts on life and cannot answer the question of 'why' to most situations, but we have hope and joy in the Who of all situations. At the end of the day, we find peace in our Heavenly Father and know that He holds us on all of our journeys. 

We would love for you to share Your journey of life and the hope you have found. Please comment on our posts or email us at justripthebandaid at gmail dot com.