Saturday, August 6, 2011

You Think I Have it All Together??? Me??? REALLY?!?!

Someone once asked me what the hardest part of being a single mother was.  As I contemplated her question, the song “God Give Me Strength” rang in my ears as a montage of my daily existence played in my head.  Was it trying to figure out how to be four places at once? Was it having to choose one child’s performance over another because I failed at being four places at once? Was it the mess that I walked over again and again because we would be late for someone's something if I took 5 seconds to pick it up?  Maybe it’s facing seemingly impossible to answer questions like, “Why did daddy leave?” or “Why does daddy have a new wife? Weren’t you his wife first? That doesn’t seem fair.”  Maybe it’s having to crawl into an empty bed after a long day of work, cooking, cleaning, homework, baseball, baths, kisses goodnight… and cuddling up to the unused pillow next to me.  No, I think the hardest part of being a single mom is:
Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6

How am I supposed to direct them when I feel completely scattered? Notice there is no “Single Parent clause” in that verse. All rules apply.

Since the last time I blogged, my daughter has asked Jesus to come LIVE in her heart and be LORD of her life!  What a precious chapter written on the wall of my heart.  We had been talking about it for a while.  She crawled in my bed one night and confessed that she was afraid to make such an important commitment.  She knew in her heart that God was real, that Jesus is the living Son of God, and believed everything in scripture is true and God-breathed. She just wasn’t sure if “she was ready” and was struggling with how to figure that out.
Apparently (unbeknownst to me) she had wanted to ask Jesus into her heart several years ago and when she asked a church leader about it, she was told she wasn’t ready.  That seed of doubt had been growing inside my baby for about 4 years!  I wanted to ask her why she never talked to me about it but I didn’t want to add guilt to her list of emotions. Instead, we opened the Bible and began reading scripture. As we read, I prayed against the weeds of doubt that had taken hold of her heart.  She soon felt peace and told me she knew she was ready to ask Jesus into her heart so I held her as she closed her eyes and began talking to the Savior.  Her voice cracked and she began to cry as she told Jesus how sorry she was “for every sin and every time I made You sad” and I LOST IT! Her words broke me as the Holy Spirit poured over her. I watched as my little Sweet Pea transformed from a broken little bird into a new creation; made strong and mighty with a single breath of life!
She was four years old when we adopted her and in her first four years of life she had seen and endured more than most of us will face in a lifetime.  When my husband walked out, she is who I feared for the most yet she was the one who recovered the quickest.  She had been schooled in survival since the day she was born.  As my 10 year old daughter prayed, pouring her heart out to the Father, I realized just how much she had taught me about survival these past four years. I also realized that the major burden I carried for my daughter was the burden she, herself carried of a past life full of unspeakables.  BUT GOD…
As she nailed her past to the cross, I felt our shared burden be swept away by the strong yet gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit.  Now… tell me I don’t serve a MIGHTY God! 
That Sunday, our church had baptism at the river.  I watched from a padded pew as my two oldest sons were baptized and I was JUST as proud and filled with joy! But there was something about wading in the water with my child and rejoicing not only with our family and friends but with ALL of creation!  (see the pics at the end!)
I Chronicles 16:30‑34
  Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!" Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

My daughter’s salvation was wonderful news to everyone except my youngest child.  Not that he wasn’t happy for his sister! He was just devastated at the realization that salvation isn’t a birthright.  His 6 year old heart’s turmoil began a week before his sister asked Jesus into her heart.  It all started when I announced that Ava (their 7 year old friend who is really more like a cousin) had gotten “saved”.  His immediate response was panic.  “What?! Thaved (saved. He has a lisp J) from what??? Is she Okay?”
As I explained to him what I was talking about I truly expected him to immediately “get it".  Surely he understood salvation! His response wasn’t, “Oh, yeah. I misunderstood what you were saying, mom.”  Not even close! His response went something like this (with FULL emotion) “You mean I’m not thaved?!?!?! But I LOVE Jethuth! (look of sheer devastation on his beautiful little face) How can Jethuth NOT be in my heart when I love Him tho much!?”
In that moment I became convinced that my heart must be made of steel to survive yet another blow from the SMOF dagger! (Single Mother of Four dagger- moments that pierce my heart for my children and not having anyone (physically) to share the hemorrhage with. I KNOW the Lord is always with me. It’s one of those moments that can only truly be understood if you experience it and I pray no one has to!)
So, after two solid months of deep philosophical conversations with my now 7 year old I became convinced that he truly understood salvation (better than most! lol) and I told him that it was a decision that he must make on his own. It was a “big boy” decision and although I would walk beside him, I couldn’t take the steps for him.  And a few nights ago, he crawled in my bed and said that he was ready. I imagined the Lord laughing joyfully at my Love Bug’s precious prayer.  His personality was ALL over it! After saying “Amen”, he looked up at me with his big brown eyes and asked, “Am I real ChriTHtian now?” As I nodded and smiled, he jumped up, threw his hands in the air, let out a glorious belly giggle and shouted, “YES!”  Another new creation. My cup runneth over. J
All four of my babies have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Wouldn’t it be nice if that’s all there was to it for parents? “My child accepted Christ! My work is done!”  Sadly, I believe a lot of parents have that philosophy.  However, this is when the hard work begins!
Most of the time I feel like a complete failure.  I look at myself in the mirror, or at Mount St. Laundry, or I will hear child #3 say “shut up” to child #4, or look up at the spider monkeys which have taken up residency in the trees since my yard has become a jungle due to neglect and ask in utter bewilderment, “What, in the name of all that is holy, made You [God] think I could successfully handle being a single mother of four children??? And you are counting on ME to set them off in the way they should go???”
So far I don’t believe I’ve been given an answer. If He has answered, my flesh hasn’t allowed me to hear it.  One thing I do know, He has never failed me.  Just when I’m at that “last straw” moment, He sends drops of hope from Heaven to renew my faith and my strength.  For example, coming come to find that my children took it upon themselves to start the laundry or realizing I actually have a blocked amount of time FREE to do yard work.  Those droplets make it a joy to drag the spider monkeys out of the trees for bath time, transforming them back into the children I adore.  I hate when those precious moments start feeling like a chore.
But the BEST are the downpours! They come when I feel completely hopeless and question my very existence.  A few months ago I was served with papers stating that my ex-husband is taking me back to court to ask for a reduction in his child support payments.  I DO know that regardless, we WILL be taken care of because God promises us that!  However, the process of having to go over every single event of the past 4 years with a new lawyer stripped me.  The worst part was seeing the actual evidence in front of me.  Things like him skipping so many weekends with the children last year that the total time he spent with the kids was less than 7 days. Seeing that he and his wife spend more in daycare for their twins than I bring home in a month really did a number to my self-worth.  It was easy to fall into self loathing and bouts of depression.  All I could think was, “Look at ALL I do! And with NO help from you yet you want to take away the ONLY support you give these babies!”  I prayed and prayed that God would give me peace and as soon as the peace would come I was blasted with a reminder of how much it costs to raise 4 children. After paying out for baseball, softball, all-stars, and so on… my oldest son (who turns 15 August 12th) was asked to lead worship for his New Orleans mission trip.  What a HUGE deal! He had long outgrown his guitar and I so desperately wanted to buy him a new one as early birthday present so he would have it for the trip.  But this meant taking a huge chunk out my savings account. I struggled with what to do until I realized that the song I couldn’t get out of my head was actually God trying to speak to fleshly burdened heart.
The song:
I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you to open my eyes
To see that You’re shaping my life
All I am, I surrender

Give me faith to trust what you say
That you’re good and your love is great
I’m broken inside, I give you my life

I need you to soften my heart

I may be weak
But your Spirit’s strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God you never will

I trusted that whatever money was being taken from my account would be repaid in a value that supersedes any world currency! I joyfully purchased the guitar for my son and OH THE DOWNPOUR!!!!
Every lie that the enemy had thrown at me has vanished in the floods of HOPE showered over me!  Not only have my two youngest children accepted Christ, my oldest went on the New Orleans trip where he was able to watch God work in a mighty way then lead others in worshiping our magnificent creator! When I picked him up from the trip, he was sharing all the things that he had experienced and then the song above started playing in the car; the same song that the Lord spoke to me through just a month earlier. Kael began to weep out of the overwhelming love he felt for the Savior and the Holy Spirit fell over us inside my little Toyota Matrix and I experienced fellowship with my son. Another priceless moment branded to the wall of my heart.
A few weeks later, Hunter (my almost 12 year old and second born) set off to Plant City, Florida for his mission trip.  His age group had been training for an entire year for their first mission trip and Hunter was ready! At the last minute Kael was asked to go and lead worship for this trip too.  And then another downpour!  Hunter had led two people to Christ on his own and between my two children, 6 people dedicated their lives to Christ! My boys also experianced downpours of their own. Through one of the leaders (a dear brother to me) the Father affirmed to Kael that he was not alone! That not only did he have his Heavenly Father, but his Father loves him so much that He has placed Godly men in Kael's life to fill any physical void.  HEALING!
 A few weeks later I was told by one of the other leaders on the trip how impressed she was with Hunter. One of the kids had gotten sick and vomited all over the floor. Without being asked and without reservation, Hunter helped take care of things.  She said something like, “It blessed me beyond words to see a child clean up another child’s throw-up.  Truly a servant’s heart!”  This too has been etched on the walls of my heart.
The hardest part of being a single mother is actually remembering that He’s got my back.  He knows when I need drops of hope and when I need a downpour.  I may be weak, but HIS Spirit IS strong in me! And my flesh WILL fail, MY GOD, He NEVER will!
I believe that if I continue to work hard at helping my children find and follow the path that the Lord has laid out before each of them, there will be peace when it’s time to let go of their hand and watch them walk into His perfect will for their lives.
And as for my heart being made of steel… I realized in writing this entry that it’s not made of steel at all! It’s just woven tighter than a bullet-proof vest with the precious, God-given moments I’ve written on it.  It’s been made stronger than any dagger could sever. 
Be blessed and never forget to be a blessing!
My Sweet Pea being baptized by our children's pastor, Hal. One of the precious GODLY men that the Father has placed in our lives.

My Punkin', Kael with Dave who is another gift from God and my precious brother-in-Christ.

Kael leading worship in New Orleans.

My Sunshine, Hunter and my Love Bug Jackson leading the way during worship at this year's Vacation Bible School.

The song I shared:

To break me apart
I need you pierce through the dark
And cleanse every part of me

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