Bearing #5

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 8, 2012 by charleecat

Every pregnancy has been hard for me.  This pregnancy seems to have been especially hard.  And this time, not just physically (which unfortunately has been worse, too), but also emotionally.  I have had two moments of actually being excited about the about the baby coming.  I have been grateful for his/her life, accepting that I will be happy to hold him/her in my arms, thrilled to feel like God has named this baby whether boy or girl, but actual personal excitement…anticipation….twice.  In 35 weeks.

My other 4 children and husband have definitely carried me on this one.  They are all VERY excited.  They kiss my belly, talk to the baby, tell me how excited they are and can’t wait to meet him or her.  Ask how much longer it will be.  I enjoy them enjoying the new baby stuff.

I’ve realized tonight that I’m feeling emotionally disconnected in so many areas.  So many times I want to enjoy my kids and end up feeling frustrated with them.  I have moments of feeling proud of them, and then feeling totally drained and wishing I could be by myself.

And it’s not just my kids.  I feel like I have failed “being there” for the people closest to me.  All I have wanted to do these past 8 months is to shut myself up away from everybody and SLEEP through this pregnancy.  Not because I’m that tired, but because I want to escape.  And right now, I’m feeling like that will never end.  I’m afraid that when this is all said and done, and I have my baby to hold, nothing else will be left for me to come back to because I have invested so little, and failed so much.

I can’t sleep through life.  And I can’t sleep through the experience God is allowing me to have.  I told my youngest boy tonight as we were cleaning out a nasty wound that sometimes, God allows bad things to happen to us so that we have the opportunity to grow in our responses.  Perhaps my pregnancies are hard so that I have the opportunity to fight and come alive.

God help me to LIVE, not just exist for the next 3-5 weeks.  I don’t want to be shut down emotionally anymore.  I want to love, pray, and ask how other people are doing.  I want the sphere of my mind to be expanded to more than just how I can make it through the day, but to include others who are still living, too!  I’m ok with uncomfortable, as long as it’s where You want me to be.  Help me to live outside of my comfort zone.

Called to be a Mom

Posted in Uncategorized on December 21, 2011 by charleecat

I just found this among some stuff I had written years ago.  Thought it might encourage someone, so I am posting it here:

I have the tendency to have huge dreams for my future, and the audacity to believe they will actually come true.

 

I am a person who can be inspired by things I see and hear, assimilate them into my mindset and philosophy, make it a part of my vision, mull over the vision and begin to see a path to follow so that I can see that dream become reality, and then put myself to the task to see it through.  In fact, I am so project completion oriented, that I joke my husband would be calling me back from plunging toward a cliff and I would yell back, “I have to finish what I started!”

 

I considered being an astronaut and a ballerina when I was very young.  The thought of traveling to the moon was (and still is!) an exhilarating thought, and I loved to dance, and believed that if I could dance gracefully and poetically like a ballerina, I would have the beauty of one as well.  I decided to be a writer at an early age, so I could tell all the stories swirling around in my very imaginative mind.  As I got older, my dreams became more refined: I wanted to be a Christian music star!  I dreamed of traveling to lands across the world, and being immersed in various cultures, seeing beauty and the exotic in everything I beheld.  I dreamed of being rich and living in a castle.  I dreamed of being poor and having the only weight of responsibility be that I follow my heart and God’s plan for my day.  I dreamed of being a photographer that required me to go to the deepest, most beautiful and untouched parts of the world, and that somehow my allergic reaction to mosquitoes would not be a factor in the jungles, and I would never come across a snake or alligator.  You may laugh, but this is the reality of my world… I am full of dreams, and I am determined that God could make anything happen!

 

I went through a bit of shell shock when I married my husband and found that his dreams were not exactly like mine.  He loved music, but didn’t feel called to be a musician.  He is open to travel, but preferred to build up his life in one place and not be continually on the move.  I questioned for a few years why God had wanted me to marry this man and relinquish my dreams, for it did not seem that I could have both.  I finally came to the assurance that I had heard God correctly to marry him, and determined to trust God with the rest though I did not understand why God would have filled my heart with dreams only to live an uneventful life.

 

After I had my first child, I was brimming with the joy and ecstasy of being part of a new life that had previously not existed, and was now here as a result of both my husband and I.  A perfectly beautiful and wonderful child that could never destroy my love and good thoughts towards him no matter what terrible things he did.  After a while, however, it became even more apparent that any strand of hope I was still clinging to of seeing my dreams fulfilled had now been completely stripped away.  I could never leave my child in the care of someone else so that I could pursue my dreams with the focus it would require.  I loved my husband and my son too much to push them to the side.

 

It wasn’t until after I had my third son that I remember talking to my mom matter-of-factly about not having the life I had always dreamed of.  I told her, “I know you always felt called to be a mom, and had the greatest fulfillment in seeing me and my sisters grow up as you taught us the things that were closest to your heart.  I’ve always appreciated that.  But I don’t feel called to be a mom.  I’ve always felt called to do other things…  things that I can’t see doing now that I am a mom.  I’ve had to grieve the loss of my calling.”

 

She looked at straight at me and under the authority of the Holy Spirit spoke words that changed my life.  “Charlotte, you are called to be a mom.  You are a mom, and therefore, God has called you to be a mom.  You are a wife, and therefore, God has called you to be a wife.  You do have a calling to be a mom.  Perhaps you never felt that call before, but because you are now in this role, this is what God is calling you to.”

 

I was suddenly filled with such hope and purpose.  I’ve always wanted to live the life God called me to.  And I had been going through my days feeling such a deep love and also a sense of duty toward my husband and children – deep enough that I never wanted to shirk it, though it meant to the loss of the ultimate fulfillment of most of the dreams I’d had.  But while I felt so strongly toward my family, I felt grieved that I wasn’t doing the things God had called me to in my teenage years.  I felt that in a way, I had failed myself and God because I’d given up those things to have a husband and family… something I would not want to give up because they were so wonderful, but still something that I hadn’t heard God call me to.

 

When my mom told me that God called me to be a wife and mom because I was a wife and mother, I felt such a release of freedom to move into that role fully and trust that God’s timing was perfect for every dream and calling He’d given me.  I could suddenly see the point of putting my entire self into being a mother and teaching my children to pursue God with everything in them so that they would be prepared for the incredible lives God called them to.

 

And I also realized that God was big enough to make my dreams come true at any point in my life, and I wasn’t kicked out of the game because I hadn’t done those things in my youth.

 

As you embark on the journey of parenthood, I know that your heart yearns to see God’s best fulfilled in the life of your child.  Let me speak this word prophetically into your life as it was spoken into mine:  God has placed a specific call on your life to be a mother.  You are called to be a mom.  No matter what your life has consisted of before coming to this place in your life, the destiny God has for you is to be a mother who leads her children into God’s truth and love.  Your children depend on you to walk out this incredible calling.

When is it too far?

Posted in Parenting with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2011 by charleecat

I can’t tell you how many times I question myself on this… When have I taken the discipline too far?  Am I being unreasonable?  Are my expectations unrealistic?  Even with an “extreme”  consequence, will my child get it and have some kind of breakthrough?

Tonight, these thoughts were at the forefront as one of my precious children had to sit and watch the rest of us participate in decorating our Christmas tree… something we’ve always enjoyed doing together.  The problem? Lack of obedience, crummy attitude, and decisions to not do as directed during school because he didn’t like what his requirements were.  I always ask myself, (hopefully before I committed myself to a consequence!) if my requirements were too much, or if they are going beyond the scope of our intentions for our children’s’ education.  But typically, we fall back on saying that our requirements are high, but not out of their reach.  We love to help them, and give them plenty of space for learning and understanding challenging concepts.  But when it comes down to them being more willing to play (and we KNOW they are getting lots of time for that) rather than applying themselves for a while in their schoolwork… that’s where we feel it’s about character that we want to mold.  It’s not about the school, in fact, at all.

This same child showed the same lack of excellence yesterday when serving another family alongside Mike and I.  And, quite honestly, that’s not new.  This is a real habit of attitude.

He was so brokenhearted when I told him what his consequence was because of his actions today, and my heart broke along with his.  The thought of my baby (a designation I give all my children) boy missing out on fun family time hurts so much!   But to allow him continue this pattern of behavior will be more hurtful to him in the long run than missing out on this one special event.

When things like this happen, I spend a good amount of time (sometimes, perhaps too much) making sure my kids understand the why’s of their consequence, and not just because I said.  They can really see for themselves where they went off track.  As I actually wrote down a record of this child’s attitudes and behaviors today – both good and bad – he could see that he was having more bad attitudes than good.  By far!   (And as a typical homeschool mom, I utilized a pie chart to enforce both my point, and his “real life” math skills.  I couldn’t resist! haha!)

I feel that one of the best things Mike and I can do as parents, is not only train them with consequences, but do our best to get their heart on board with ours.   For them to understand that the consequences are not out of anger or frustration on our part, but a natural result of their behavior.

Sigh… I hate painful consequences.  But as I watch my children meet their fate, I am struck by my own as well.  What are the natural consequences of my behavior, my modeling, and my parenting.  We tell our children that grown ups get disciplined by God, and that it is more painful than the consequences they receive – though there’s no way they can really understand that.  But it’s so true.  I strive to do my best, and be spirit-led in parenting, but I make SO many mistakes.  I pray that a natural consequence of my mistakes will NOT be that my children walk away from their Savior… or sever their relationship with us.  Too painful.  Too much.  Please God… hear my cry!

So I go along my way… reaching out to my children’s’ hearts.  Mold their behavior the best I can.  Love them as often as I can and in every kind of situation.  Try to remember to smile more.  And pray.

And pray.

And pray.

When is it too far?  I guess when it’s done out of anger, or resentment.  But if we take it too far, and still take the time to listen to their heart, and have them hear ours… perhaps there is time to back out of it and give them another chance.  Or at least ask their forgiveness.  Taking it too far, is just as detrimental as not far enough.  Both extremes will produce a result that is not the heart of a loving mother and father who desire their children to grow up in the ways of the Lord.

And I must keep in mind that I am not trying to perfect them by the time they leave home.  Just as I am not trying to teach them everything they could possibly learn in their life through their daily schooling.  More importantly, I give them a bearing on what’s important, how to learn, how to grow.  Then whether I am there or not to guide them, they will be able to navigate through life with maturity, responsibility, patience, self-control, and most importantly: love.

What I can tell you, is that my sweet boy accepted his consequence with grace.  He very gratefully sat in the same room we were in and watched and listened as we talked about Christmas memories and made some new ones.  And with a soft heart, he gave me a hug and thanked me.  I’m sure he’ll have a lot of incentive tomorrow to keep his attitudes in check. :)

I adore my children. <3

Holiday Check-Up

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 4, 2011 by charleecat

Hi Friends,

The last post that I wrote about intentionally making this season was written write at the crux of a real change in my mindset about a lot of things. I feel I have grown up so much the past few weeks and am really being able to be my own person, Mike’s wife, and my children’s mother without trying to make myself look or act in a way that I think would please others. It’s amazing!

Because of this change, I have had a challenging season so far in not “being there” at various functions/events/opportunities but Mike and I have been growing closer than ever. We are communicating more than we ever really have. And have been becoming better partners, and parents (interesting those words are spelled with the same letters).

How are you doing with your intentional choices for this season? Are you taking on what’s right for your family, in agreement with your spouse? Or are ending up letting life rule you?

I don’t even pretend to have arrived… but I’m making a good start!

This Holiday Season Will be Different!

Posted in Gathering My Thoughts on November 14, 2011 by charleecat

Every year, as we have approached Thanksgiving and Christmas, I get excited and full of anticipation.  The air changes, the leaves change, everything for me feels crisp and ripe and ready for something new.  Christmas, cold weather, hot drinks, fireplaces stoked with hot logs, festive music; the whole season speaks of the excitement and contentment that Jesus’ birthday brings to my heart.  Oh the possibilities!

And then the stress.  The commitments.  The day to day demands that don’t change, but now have to be attended while also happily being available and willing for the extra things that seem to be attached to this time of year.  And by the time the New Year is ready to explode on the horizon, I’ve already fizzled out and crawl into the next year tired, overwhelmed, emotionally spent and dragging.  But my heart still yearns for the newness, and the change.  I still have some hope that I can work harder, and attain that vision I began early in the Fall.

This year, Mike and I have been really trying to adjust our commitments and life so that we can be more a part of our own family of 6 and just…be.  As Fall has set in with it’s usual excitement, I was caught off guard with the amount of “things” we have the potential of being a part of.  And suddenly I felt myself going into the mode of just getting through with a happy face.  But then, through a conversation I had with Mike, my husband rescued me and I am now determined that this beautiful Holiday season will be approached differently.  Just because we are asked, doesn’t mean we will.  Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.  Just because it’s desirable, doesn’t mean it’s good.

Each of our days is too important to waste!  If something tragic happened, I wouldn’t want to look back and say, well, we were able to keep the house clean to a certain level, attend the parties we were asked to, and volunteered every spare hour we could, but in the meantime, hardly could stand our children or each other, and don’t really have any special memories of us to take with us from this season.  NO!

We will be intentional with our time.  Intentional with our home.  Intentional with our children.  Intentional with each other.  And this season will be blessed because we allowed God to direct it.

The Frankenstein Chef

Posted in Industrious on April 14, 2011 by charleecat

The Frankenstein Chef Makes Banana Bread

I am your average cook.  I make enough to feed my family.  The food is usually ok, occasionally quite good.  But my family is happy.  I enjoy the process of cooking rarely.  Most of the time I dread it… minus baking.  I do enjoy baking.  But overall, in the realm of household duties, I’d rather clean than cook.

But when I do cook, my M.O. usually follows this sequence:

  1. Find a recipe that meets either what I have on hand, or what I feel like having.
  2. See if the recipe looks good and seems to have ingredients I have.  (Notice here, the word “seems”.)
  3. Get started.
  4. Realize I don’t have an ingredient it called for.
  5. Substitute.
  6. Keep going.
  7. Realize I don’t have two other ingredients it calls for.
  8. Substitute.
  9. Add an ingredient at the wrong time.
  10. Here I have two options.  If I’m cooking, I usually don’t sweat it; if I’m baking, I may try to get that precocious ingredient out.  On the other hand, some ingredients can’t be retrieved… like eggs, or applesauce.
  11. Keep going.
  12. On it goes until I’m done.

You get the idea.  And I frequently only end up using half or less of the original ingredients the recipe called for.  The funny thing is, it usually works.

So tonight I made banana bread and as I was describing how I made it to my husband, he laughed at me in disbelief (sort of… he’s pretty used to it by now) and said if I had a cooking show it would be called “The Frankenstein Chef”!  My brain started rolling and I thought of all the laughs I would get if I had someone videotaping me cooking and I actually said all the things I think as I go.

Cut to taped cooking sequence….

While making the banana bread (that I didn’t have enough bananas for), I realized I didn’t have enough white sugar.  So I used some brown sugar.  But I didn’t have enough of that either.  So I used some applesauce.  Well, that was ok, because really I wanted to use applesauce in my banana bread anyway.  I just hadn’t found a recipe that I liked that included applesauce.  And besides, I didn’t have enough bananas, so the applesauce would also serve to add more wet ingredient.  I’ll need to adjust the amount of sour cream so it’s not too wet.  Since I was adding the applesauce in as a sweetener substitute, I put it in with the rest of the sugar.

Oops.

I was supposed to cream the butter with the sugar.  There’s no way you can cream the butter with applesauce.

But I’ll try it anyway!

I was right!  It didn’t work.  But that’s ok because it’s not like I’m baking cookies or even a cake that needs a very specific consistency to have a good texture or form.  It’s just bread.  It’ll just melt in the oven and cook in with the batter.  It should be fine!

One of the reasons I picked this recipe was because it included sour cream.  It sounded like a good addition.

Oops!

I opened the refrigerator to discover I didn’t have any sour cream.  But, hey!  I have Greek Yogurt.  Perfect substitute.

Everyone loved the banana bread.  So who’s to complain?

By the way, my husband also reminded me of probably one of my most classic crazy substitutions.  Flavored coffee creamer instead of milk in homemade macaroni and cheese (that had a total of 11 ingredients, and I only used 2 that were exactly what the recipe called for).  Well, I asked, was it good?  It was pretty tasty, he admits.  So what’s the problem?! ;)

Beautiful Anguish

Posted in Uncategorized on July 28, 2010 by charleecat

Cradling a small baby boy; dancing around the living room as possible final farewells were sung and whispered.  Tears mixed with kisses on his tiny face.  Celine Dion’s song “Miracle” played in the background over and over again as a mother’s heart reconciled itself to the possibility of losing a son.  The procedure looming was a minor one; but required using anesthetic.  Thus far, no diagnosis had been found; it was still in the discovery stage.  I don’t know why, but for some reason the thought of my baby boy being anesthetized really shook me.  I had to come to the realization – whether it seemed an exaggerated response or not – that I may lose my baby and never hold him again.  Yet, the possibilities of whatever was causing his problem were frightening enough to make me feel like there was no other option.  And so I sang to my baby and wept.  To this day, remembering the sorrow I already felt brings tears to my eyes and begins to strangle my throat.  My anguish was real.  This moment in time, one mother’s worst fears were not realized.

Another mother suffers the loss of her baby without getting the chance to hold him.  Sometimes, time and time again she must experience the tentative, yes, fearful joy of discovering pregnancy, only to have the fragility of the blossom seemingly wisp away with the wind.  Her joy never fully realized.  I observed the pain etching it’s furtive way into her heart.  Rachel mourning for her children (Jer 31:15).

Yet a third mother I’ve watched carried her baby full term, then upon the ecstasy of birth, her baby was shuttled away to the NICU to care for his needs which his body was not able to sustain on it’s own.  A shock to her system as she is faced with dreaded possibilities after carrying him within for 9 months and only held him to her breast for seconds before the fear of the worst moves in.  Tears come in waves upon the beaches of both hope and fear.

As I watered my garden today, I thought of these three instances and the words “Beautiful Anguish” came to my mind.  Beyond the fact that I can slip into melancholy fairly easily, I knew there was a reason for those words.  I felt God whisper to my heart a remembrance of the times my heart has hurt beyond normal hurting and I have tried to bury myself in my husband’s chest.  The times my children have been miserably sick and have yearned for me to hold them hours on end to give them some comfort and hope of relief.  The times I have prayed unceasing because of the hurt.  And I saw beauty.  There is deep love in pain.  Uncategorized beauty in anguish.  How does God view us as we sometimes feel we are drowning in sorrow, grief, or pain…yet instead of allowing it to become a bitter fruit that begins to dry and harden, we allow a crushing squeeze and God is able to create a new wine that can deepen our relationship with Him and also bless others.  Whom do we trust more?  The friend who is good for laughs and lighthearted fun?  Or the friend who is willing to be leaned on in times of trouble?  In these precious moments of anguish He allows us to deepen our trust with Him.

He whispers to us, tears mingling with kisses: “Trust in me with all your heart.  Don’t lean on your own understanding.  Choose to look for me in every circumstance, and I will direct you on the path you are on.” (Ps 3:4-6)

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