Friday, September 16, 2011

The Mothering Chronicles 2: Patience and Love

Time evaporates--don't you find--like a meringue or cotton candy. I used to imagine that as my boys grew in independence I'd surely find more time to write and yet I'm discovering that in fact, the opposite has proven true. And speaking of boys--sweet boys--mine are growing. And with their growth I find that my world somehow shrinks. I'm in that phase of life where if I didn't carefully wrap my dreams and goals and place them safely away, I could perhaps lose them--lose myself even. It's the mothering time of life for me. The time when football and Robin Hood trump reading the home decorating magazine and when taking them to the skate park seems a better choice than a quiet cup of tea on my deck with a Maya Angelou novel. To trade a moment of what they need for what I may want is almost unthinkable. My day will come again, but for now, for now? For now, it is them. There are afternoons or days or even weeks when we are a babbling brook dancing our way over the time-smoothed pebbles that fill our lives, times when we are a melodious foursome happy and content in all things. Then there are moments when the harmony of mom, dad, and sons is somewhat akin to the call of a blue jay or a crow at some horribly early hour, and I cringe, thinking surely this isn't what God wants. And how it pains the heart of a parent to see that miniature version of yourself making choices that hurt themselves and your family. Tempting it is to spend hours searching the internet for the wisdom of some sage pastor or some great author with several books on Amazon proving their merit as an expert on my child. And I'll admit I've googled 'developmental stages of boys' in hopes of discovering some new key to unlocking the behavior I desperately want to see in my little guys. The thing about parenting that I'm discovering is this--it's very personal. It's a walk through a road that I believe is intended to show us the love of our Father as we love our own. So, I find myself over and over--knees callousing--at His feet asking for wisdom. He did promise, after all to give it fully and willingly. And there at His feet I've been affirmed. He loves because He is love. He loves both me and those sweet boys of mine. He sees the moldable hearts of my boys, and He sees the ache in my own heart. "I know, and I'm sovereign." "I'll not abandon the work of my hands." "Don't grow weary in well doing." Don't grow weary. Sometimes when it comes to parenting we want instant behavior changes. We want to say, "Listen here, buddy, I'm the momma! You're the boy, and you are gonna do what I say!" But, how gentle God is with us, how patient He remains with us when we are out of tune with His life within us. If I parent like that, I may get an immediate behavior change, but I've lost the heart of my child. That is sprint parenting when in fact we are running a marathon. I'm not as concerned with the immediate behavior of my son as I am the long-term bent of his heart. II Thessalonians 3:5 says, "May the Lord lead your hearts in God's love and Christ's patience." Ahh, a mothering key. Two keys in fact. God's love. Christ's patience. Apparently, it is desirable that we be lead into both since Paul took the time to utter them on behalf on the Thessalonians. Here is the thing about God's love. When Paul says may you be lead into God's love he may as well have said may you be lead into God. God and love. The two are interchangeable. God is love. The fruit of God within us--His Holy Spirit--is love. Love comes from His life within us. It is not a trait of God; it is God. Immediately then, I am reminded of the abiding principles in John 15. "Apart from me, you can do nothing." If we are to be filled with God's love as we parent, we must take time to abide in Love. Saying it is a challenge to find time to abide to a mother of little ones is like saying the earth is round. Yeah. We know. And you'll never hear me say it should be done for half an hour at six in the morning. I might as well swear at you. Here's what I do recommend. There's a great little book called, Jesus Calling written by Sarah Young. Get your hands on it. If you have time for nothing else in your day, read this before you get out of bed. A short two or three paragraph encouragement written from the perspective of God, you will be sustained by mostly scripture paraphrased in words we understand. (Incidentally, that's why I like it.) And get into the Psalms. Those are two great places to glean spiritual vitamins when you may not have time for the full meal. God will grant you days when feasting happens, but in between, have some simple way to drink deeply from the love of God. And let me just say, as much as I love to blog, don't depend entirely on blogs. Of course I hope you'll keep reading mine when you have time, but taking your nourishment only from blogs or even most books is similar to drinking coffee from your husband's cup in the morning. God wants to meet with you. He wants to fill your cup. Then there's that word. Patience. Just the other day I asked my mom, a prayer warrior, what specifically she'd been praying for me. She gave me her list, and I told her she needed to add patience to the list. I don't know what prompted me to ask for such a thing--maybe it was because my son told me my voice got high and squeaky earlier in the day when I was frustrated, and he was concerned I might be struggling with self-control. Saint Augustine once said, "Patience is the companion of wisdom," and Alexander Dumeas Pere said, "All patience is summed up in two words--wait and hope." I would add that patience is but a fruit of God's Spirit within. Patience is the overflow of the wisdom that comes from understanding that we wait, we hope, in the goodness of God where our children are concerned. They may be 2 and pitching a tantrum or twenty and high as a kite. Either way, our real anchor is the knowledge that God's concern over those children is greater than our own. He is working in their lives. He loves them. He cares what happens to them. He is orchestrating circumstances to reveal Himself to them. Taking a step back from the permanent marker smiley faces drawn all over the freshly painted wall long enough to remember, 'God is revealing Himself to my children right now, through me,' may be just the amount of waiting and hoping it takes to display the fruit of patience. They're not perfect. Neither are we. But, we're the mothers. Our role is one of patience and one of love. At the risk of being misunderstood, let me say both love and patience will sometimes mean consequences. But when those things come from a heart that is filled, one that has taken time to abide in The Source of patience and love, they are so much more readily received. If you'll give me some room here, I'd like to address a practical picture of this. Let me say ahead of time, I'm not addressing corporal punishment--that's a larger can of worms. But, if you'll hear me out, I think you'll understand where I'm going with this. Often in the heat of the moment, we are tempted to pop our kids a little swat on their chubby bottoms. I'm talking about the screaming kid that gets a quick swat. Let me ask you this, when you are furious with your husband over some situation, would it help at all if he gave you a smack on the backside? Usually when we are frustrated to the point of tantrum, what we desperately need is someone to stop the music, press the pause button on life and say, "Can you tell me what you are feeling?" A swat doesn't teach the heart. Our goal as moms is not to gain the immediate behavior we want at the loss of our child's heart. Our goal is to pack enough fuel in our pockets to take us on the quest for their hearts. That means we may leave the grocery cart in the store filled with groceries, (I've done it) and calmly walk to the car. We may say quietly, "I can see you are so upset we won't be able to talk right now, but I'm going to take you home where you are safe. I want you to be able to calm down, and I love you." Then, more often than not, that raging child will be asleep by the time we are home. When they wake, they will be calmer and ready for some teaching. Or they may squawk and scream for the next two hours. Either way. We wait. We hope. (Read: practice patience) When they are calm, we address the behavior. We let them know they will never get the candy bar by screaming, even if we're forced to call Grandma to pick up milk and bread because we left the grocery store ten days in a row! We teach them why that doesn't work. We may even give them a chance to try the entire scenario again the next day after we've walked them through how it will go ahead of time. Did I mention that mothering is not convenient? It interferes with our schedule, and may mean that we have to eat dry cereal for breakfast because the milk was left in the buggy at the Piggly Wiggly. Here's the reality, most of us are not patient enough to be that inconvenienced. Come on now. You just read that scenario, and the idea of not picking up your prescription and desert for tonight's dinner guests is making your hair stand on end! Not. Repeat. NOT convenient. So, we give in and let them have the candy bar, or we swat them on the booty. And they may in fact be quiet because they got a good smack. Either way, we lose. Patience says, "I'll slow this down. I'll be inconvenienced. I'll pause my agenda long enough to orchestrate a world where I can reveal the love of God to my sweet child in the hopes of winning him to Christ." Maybe I should have said the prerequisite for patience is this: Expect to be inconvenienced. Children are not convenient. They are precious people with their own feelings, thoughts, perspectives and ideas. They are made in the image of God and we should give them the same respect we expect from them. Here's what I'm convinced of. Mothering is a reflection of God to our children. We're doing our level best to mirror Him to them. We are their first experience of God. We will need to take some time, even if it is only two minutes, to drink from Him because the things we wish to reveal are fruits of His life within us, not a manufacturable parenting commodity we can otherwise muster. One of my favorite passages is I Peter 1:3, "His divine power has given us everything we need pertaining to life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us..." Recently, my husband pointed out that indeed we do have everything we need for life and godliness, but it comes through knowledge of God. Knowledge alone puffs up and inflates our opinions of ourselves, but knowledge applied is a totally different animal. That, my dear mothering friends, is wisdom. May we apply the knowledge of our Father who is both love and patience in our homes like a balm that covers the wounds, that protects the hearts, that softens the edges, that guides the personalities, and that restores the natural rhythm to our families. Pray with me: Father, I'm not always patient. I'm not always loving. I'm human in every way. But I long to reflect you to my children. I long to create an environment in our home that is perfumed with your presence. Help me father to learn to wait and hope--not in my abilities, but in your sovereignty. Fill me with yourself. Overflow from me. Read with me: I Corinthians 13

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Mothering Chronicles 1: Comfort

Eleven and nine years old and nearing half grown, my boys are like two feet that kick at the backs of your knees causing you to fall forward instantly. They keep me on my knees in prayer, not because they are bad boys, but because I want to get it right. And don't we all? Within every sincere parents' hearts is not there a boiling pot of desire to raise them well? Is not there the most acute sense of responsibility for these lives that were trusted to our feeble, human care? Often I tell God He's the one who gave them to me so He has to give me wisdom. If he doesn't, it will be his fault when I fatally blow it with them. And you know, I think in those moments, He must chuckle. After all, it was in fact Him who trusted these sweet little men to Jeff and I's care, and He did that through the sieve of His sovereignty and omniscience. Surely God must think to Himself, "Yes, Sarah, I did give them to you and I knew what I was doing all along. I'm able to handle this." Today, my youngest came to me with lips stretched horizontally across his chubby cheeks, "Mommy, will you jump with me?" The trampoline. Four springs gone and about fifty more to go before my moonlighting career as Jumping Jill finally comes to a close. But then, my to do list was calling too. The grin on my boy got wider and the to do list started hollering, "Lesson plans! Cook Supper. Plan for Writer's Guild! Call your mother. Write a book! Save the world!" And somehow, this task oriented momma had the grace to choose the greater thing. As we played Tic-Toc, a highly technical game where my legs are the hands of the clock and they attempt to knock the kids down resulting in multiple bruises on my shins, I thought about the fact that my son is going to be nine in five days. Nine years old--that's the halfway to college point. Nine years old--that's the final year before double digits. Nine years old---that means I have probably bounced more with him in the past than I will in the future. People tell you it flies. They tell you to treasure the special moments. They tell you to choose the best things, to leave the laundry, to leave the cleaning, to love your babies while you can. The other night we were at an ultimate frisbee game with our boys, and a couple whose children are near flying the coop phase walked up with take-out in their hands. He was smelling like he might have put on aftershave and she was looking like a sun-smacked peach in her skirt and matching blouse. Their eldest boy, a senior, was playing that night. It turned out they were on a date night. Why in the world were they at a frisbee league game in 90 degree weather with styrofoam trays of Cuban cuisine when their kids were old enough to fend for themselves? I didn't have to ask. I knew. They aren't counting down the years anymore. They're counting down the days. The days. I'd be doing the same thing. Like a parallel parking spot on Main Street in some antique town, we get this tiny window of opportunity to impact, to steer, to channel our children's lives and character. And there is no practising, no dress rehearsal. It's all live. All of it. The Bible just confirms the inevitable--the very first reference to mother in the Bible is when God says, "therefore a man shall leave his mother..." (Gen. 2:24) They are definitely going to leave us at some point despite the fact that I've gotten both mine to promise they'll never get married, and will always live on the property near me. (So what if I bribed them with clean laundry and unlimited chocolate chip cookies!) Thanks God! You'd think he could have at least saved that little tidbit for some more obscure book like Jude. And a close look at the Proverbs seems to confirm that how these sweet little cherubs turn out when their baby fat has dissolved into muscle and chest hair, is intrinsically linked with a mother's gladness or shame. (Proverbs 10:1, 15:20, 19:26, 23:25, 28:24, 29:15) We are SO on the hook. So where in the world do we go for direction? For solid guidance? Naturally, I head to the Word of God, but you've probably already figured out there are not a ton of references to the act of mothering in God's Word. We've got Hannah who desperately prayed for a child, but made a bargain with God and had to leave her beloved son in the care of Eli. What can we learn from her? How to get a baby? (I didn't need any help in that department. Jeff and I managed pretty well on our own.) Then there's Rebekah who taught her son to deceive and lie. She's not got a ton to offer when it comes to parenting advice. There's Sarah, but she tried to manufacture the promises of God by getting her hand maiden to sleep with her hubby so they could have a child. Let's not forget Eve, but then again, maybe we should. One of her sons murdered the other. So we're kind of left with Elizabeth and Mary. Slim pickings. Or are they? Let me take you to two references that have truly affirmed my gut instincts as a mother. The first is Isaiah 66:13 where God says, "As a mother comforts a child, so I will comfort you..." The second is found in I Thessalonians 2:7 where Paul says, "but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children." At first read I thought little of either of these passages. In fact, I've never even stopped to consider them in light of mothering. The first is referencing God's treatment of the Israelites and the second, Paul's treatment of the Thessalonian believers. Truth be told, I wish I had stopped to see the significance of these passages for mothers many years ago. As you know, I'm raising boys. Naturally, I want them to be mighty, manly men when they grow up. Who wouldn't hope that for their boys? One of five girls, I have lacked in the experience with boys arena. Often that reality has caused me to defer to the 'wisdom' of those sometimes loud voices around me. "Don't coddle your boys. They'll be sissies." "Don't fuss over their cuts and bruises. Teach them to be tough." But God didn't even give this as instruction, did you notice that? A clear assumption about mothering is made right here in God's Word. Mothers will comfort. Did you catch that? Moms will indeed comfort their children. Not only will they comfort them, but they will be gentle. These are not instructions, these are givens. In fact the Hebrew word for comfort used in Isaiah actually means, "to be sorry, to be moved to pity, have compassion." (Strong's) It is a verb which from a grammatical stand point demands action. What does that look like? What is the difference between comforting and coddling? I've seen some coddling mommas out there, let me tell you. But I've also seen some downright indifferent mommas too. Both extremes are dangerous territory--one a mire of quicksand and the other a concrete landing below a thousand foot drop. First, let me just affirm those mommies who are presently in the throws of stacking diapers and patting little dimpled bottoms to sleep. I remember those days well, the debates of letting them cry it out, when to pick them up, when to leave them be. Oh I remember. And can I just tell you those sleepless nights will not last forever. They won't. I don't regret one single time that I went into my boys' bedrooms and picked their tiny little frames up when they cried for me. Not once. But I do hate the memory of the night that I stood at the door while my oldest cried for me, and I didn't go to him because a book by an expert said I should let him cry it out--his long term memory wasn't formed; he'd be fine. And I thank God that Jeff and I didn't continue with that path. Okay, okay. I know I just struck a match that is attached to a grenade. Got it. It's a mine field out here in this sleeping through the night territory, and now I'll need to dance my way through it. Allow me some grace here, moms. I know we all have our opinions. My palms are itching and I'm short of breath at the thought of stepping on a toe, so please know that this comes from a gentle heart. (And if you want to discuss it further, feel free to email me.) God's word assumes a mom will be moved to active compassion. That's straight out of the Hebrew texts and with that we can't argue. What does that compassion look like? Let me ask you one question. How far away do you want God to be when He comforts you? Because that passage in Isaiah says that God will comfort the Israelites as a mom comforts her baby. In no way is this meant to be a judgment on anyone's parenting choices. It also is not a judgment on any parenting books. But, I'm not afraid to speak the truths of God's Word and though I've remained largely silent on this topic in public forums, I do believe that our guts tell us things, but we doubt them because of what the experts say. For new moms this can be so challenging because we are exhausted, overwhelmed and uncertain of everything. So, we rely heavily on resources available. No one ever pointed me to these passages when I was making these choices. God's word says He is "near the broken hearted." (Psalm 34:18) So again, how far away do you want to be when your baby's heart is crying out for you? I'll just end this little discussion with the admonishment to get before your Father; ask Him to speak into your heart how near He desires you to be as you comfort your little one through the night. Don't let your senior neighbor or your well meaning mother-in-law or the stack of books you got from Barnes & Noble be your ultimate guide. God promises His Spirit will guide you into all truth. These are decisions you want to be able to stand on later. So get the wisdom from your Father. Second, let me say to the moms of boys once and for all: It is okay to comfort your boys. They will not grow up to be wimps, momma's boys or helpless critters defenseless in a world where they must be strong. Comforting will not do that to your child. Coddling will. There is a difference. When Nate took a tumble as a toddler, I went running. When he fell as an elementary school student, I went walking. Now that he's a middle schooler he runs to me when he's fallen to show me how good the bruise is going to be, and only every once in a while will he let me offer comfort over his "ouie's." He doesn't need me to kiss away the scrapes or scratches now. He needs me to admire his strength and insist he's tough because he doesn't need a band aid. If they are fifteen years old and still need you to bandage their paper cuts there's a chance you're coddling, but, moms don't be afraid to love rough and tumble boys as they grow. They will tell you when it is too much, and you will know. Let me also say here, that if dad is in the picture, he will respond differently. That is okay. He's going to insist that boy is just fine. He'll say to shake it off. That's great. That's his role. Lastly, whether we have boys or girls, comfort is something that requires action. Instinctual in most of us, but often squelched for fear of spoiling, comfort is indeed a tool from God for mothers to use in the raising of their children. It is a godly trait. A child who has been comforted will be a compassionate individual as they grow. They will understand sympathy and empathy because they have experienced those facets of comfort. And it never stops. I remember being 21 years old, a new bride living in a foreign country with my young husband. There were times when we just had no clue what we were doing and more than once, I lay sobbing in confusion and homesickness. You know what I pictured in those moments? I pictured laying my head on my mother's lap, her hands stroking my hair. A mother always comforts, even when she isn't with us. We will all do it differently. Not everyone speaks the way I do to my children. There are tomboy mommas, and sugary-sweet moms, there are matter of fact moms and there are the Aunt Bee's of Mayberry types. But what is important is this: We get the privilege of being the comforters to our little ones. Later, in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is called The Comforter. We mothers will develop our children's understanding of God as a Comforter just as daddies will mold their child's understanding of God as Father. That's a humbling honor. When yielded to God, we, as moms will reflect God's image as Comforter to our children. I've always thought of God as represented by the dads, but the truth is that both parents get to provide the first glimpses of God to their children. Wow. When my boys read Jesus' promise of The Comforter in John, I wonder if they'll think of me. I pray so. I pray so. (It is my hope, Lord willing, to do a series of posts on mothering. This is the first in that series. I believe there are more to come, but for now, Moms, comfort your children and know that it was you God chose to mother your children. You are doing a wonderful job.) Pray with me: Holy Spirit, you are The Comforter. Teach me to comfort my children in a way that reflects You to them. Teach me to be tender and compassionate toward their needs. Teach me to know when to speak words of comfort and when to simply hold a hand in comfort. Teach me boundaries and keep my comfort healthy. Comfort me with your truth that I will overflow that to my children. Thank you for trusting me with their hearts. Amen. Read with me: John 14

Friday, September 2, 2011

Scrambled Eggs with a Side of Bacon

My life is a plate of scrambled eggs--the kind you get at those twenty-four hour waffle places--flopping over the edge of the plate and suffocated by tomatoes, cheese, chili, slivered scallions and diced ham. Way more than any normal human should consume in one week let alone one year, I find my mouth full, my hand forging a path between plate and face. I'm a very focused person--when I gave birth to the boys, I determined I wouldn't scream, yell or curse. I attained that goal by keeping my eyes closed, thinking only of breathing and pushing. But somehow now, as I look about my home, there are so many miscellaneous things that manage to find their way in my home--not going to admit to inviting them myself--I hardly know where to begin to focus. Like the egg platter topped with the entire month's groceries, my little world lies under a heap of things. I'm left wondering where to begin. Charles Hummel wrote a book aptly titled The Tyranny of the Urgent. I don't even have to read the contents to know it relates to me. For mothers the urgencies of a self-mutating laundry pile, cabinets that empty themselves weekly of their groceries, floors that are really magnetic dirt grabbers, toilet seats that look like they caught the drips of a ceiling leaking strange yellow moisture, and the child whose voice got stuck on repeat, "I'm hungry." all inhale our time before we even consider some of the bigger tasks left undone. There are jobs to go to, school projects, or in my case school lesson plans, window-sills infested with ladybug skeletons from last fall, and four years worth of unprinted digital photos that also clamor for our attention. Add to that paying bills, planning birthday parties, and kids' extra curricular activities, and the calendar starts to resemble a piece of paper that you put through the printer twice on the same side! " Hummel writes in his book, "Have you ever wished for a thirty-four hour day? Surely this extra time would relieve the pressure under which we live. Our lives leave a trail of unfinished tasks. Unanswered letters, unvisited friends, unread books, haunt quiet moments when we stop to evaluate what we have accomplished." Hummel really nails the heart of it for me when he mentions the unvisited friends, the unanswered letters. Once thriving under your attentive care, precious relationships somehow get neglected because the basic physical demands of life insist on taking priority. My sister and I were just talking last night, a chance we both treasure because of its rarity these days, about how we mourn the loss of time to interact more with those we love. I don't mind the laundry or dusty sills so much as my heart aches to spend more time with the lady I talked to for an hour at my son's football practise who tells me of losing custody of her children because of years of hard drug use. Or the dear mother who tells me she doesn't believe in Jesus as the Savior. Where is the time for me to research her questions and offer her some intelligent answers? Then there are meals waiting to be cooked for families infected with sickness, diseases that refuse to release their grip. There are marriages aching, and there are teens with much to say and few who listen. I used to think people could get most things done if they'd just get organized. God has since humbled me, helped me to see the needs of this world are greater than the strength of my arms. Where once I kept a thousand plates spinning at full speed, I now see that there are ten thousand more stacking themselves beside me, bidding me to toss them high into the air as well. Realizing this reality of life is one step toward smiling at the mass of scrambled eggs and putting the fork down. Accepting that we weren't really meant to eat all that food, to spin all those plates, that is a real challenge. This week, as needs have surfaced at every turn, I'm reminded of Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God." Another translation says, "Stop your striving and recognize that I am God." Stillness. Now that's a state of being about which I know very little. Naturally a doer, a goer, a go-getter, stillness is as foreign to me as it is to a wiggling worm. And yet, scripture says be still, stop striving. Why? Because we are NOT God. "Recognize that I am God." Nowhere in scripture does it say, "You need to take over for me, Sarah." Trust me. I've checked. I love the name for himself that God selects in this passage. It's the same name He used in Genesis 1:1 when He said, "In the beginning, God..." What a perfect choice because He's always existed, He was there at the beginning, He penned our places in this world, and He didn't need us for any of that. It is indeed He who remains God even now amidst this great tyranny of urgencies that screech out like a band of black crows. Forgive my boldness when I say followers of Christ are deceived if we believe that God is depending on us. That He will use us, even delights in using us to share His heart with the world is undeniable, but to say that He needs us is simply not true. The lives of people about me will continue to function whether I am involved or not. I will miss out on growth and glimpses of the greatness of God if I choose to turn a blind eye, but God doesn't abandon His purposes when one of his people is too busy to carry out His plans. That's not how He works. So often we hear well meaning Christians say things like, "If you don't do this, who will?" To that, I would humbly answer, "God will make a way because He IS the way." By saying that, I don't mean that we get a pass excusing us from getting our hands dirty and our feet wet in the lives of the people by whom we are surrounded. On the contrary, I find myself knee deep wading in the waters of people's worlds all the time. But it is truly prideful to believe that we are the only ones that can handle every circumstance. Often us "doers" or "Martha's" end up robbing the less type A personalities of a chance to get involved because we are so quick to assume we are needed in every area. What God is whispering to my soul is this, "Sarah, stop striving. Stop fretting over every single situation and circumstance by which you pass. I've called you to abide in me. Apart from me, you can't do anything. Draw from me. I will teach you the way you should walk.I am the God who formed all of this world. I formed these lives. I know these needs. I am their God. I will order your steps. Listen to me. Seek me. Don't lean on your understanding of situations, I will make your paths straight." The lives I touch, the people I assist, the conversations I have, they all need to be responded to not because of their place in line, who made the request or how loud they call out, but in the order that my Father whispers to my Spirit. As I seek Him in prayer He will usher me to the people and circumstances with which He desires me to be involved. It's been a long time since I went to the Waffle King, but this much I know. Those plates filled with eggs under a mountain of artery clogging cholesterol can be very enticing. I love a little bit of everything on my plate. But when it comes to life, though it too is filled to overflowing, I'm choosing to sit still before my Father and allow Him to be God. Stopping. Stilling. Waiting. Allowing God to bring to the surface those bites I'm meant to chew requires trust that He is indeed God over all the universe, God over all the details, and that He remains able to meet every single need. After all, it was Him who created us all. Read with me: Psalm 46 Galatians 6:9,10 Pray with me: Father, let me hear your voice. When I look around I can become overwhelmed with the needs surrounding me--my children, my family, my friends, my neighbors, but they aren't really mine, are they, Father? They're yours. Help me to remember you care far more than I about all these needs. I confess my pride in assuming I could tackle life apart from you. Help me to walk only in the steps you have chosen for me. Help me to surrender to your ways, your plans, your will. Help me to be still and recognize you are the Strong God who Reigns over all. Amen