Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Single Mom and the Strong-Willed Child

God is omniscient, all-knowing. It’s basic Christian theology. But if God knew I would be a single mom, I can’t for the life of me figure out why He would give me a strong-willed child. Single parents should have nice, easy, compliant children.

This iron-willed trait made its debut early in the life of my daughter Hannah. When she was 2 years old she refused to stay in her car-seat. I realize many kids go through the stage of discovering they can escape the confines of the car-seat all by themselves, but my daughter used this new found ability to test the boundaries of our parent-child relationship. I recall sitting on the side of the road refusing to drive any further until she was buckled up safe and sound. It was a battle of the wills and our emotions were running high. There we sat, as traffic raced by us, with the battle raging on for what seemed like an eternity. By the time we were finally able to continue on our way, we were both physically and emotionally exhausted. This didn’t just happen once. This roadside war of wills was a daily occurrence for many months. Looking back, it could have been the inspiration for Carrie Underwood’s song “Jesus Take the Wheel.”

The car-seat situation was just one way Hannah’s determined spirit tested my authority and ability as a parent. An unwanted divorce had left me battered and bruised on the inside and I was overwhelmed with the awesome responsibility of being a single parent. I felt abandoned by man and by God. My faith had been strengthened during the divorce, but now I questioned if God was even around. I needed a husband, a help mate, someone to walk through this journey with me.

Although I felt alone, I knew my faith wasn’t based on feelings. It was grounded in Biblical Scripture. I scoured the Bible looking for answers and discovered God is my heavenly husband just as He promised Israel in Isaiah 54. He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. I am not alone.

It has been 10 years since I became a single mom and God has been faithful to be our provider and protector. Although this might not be the life I would have chosen, God has shown me I am not alone. He isn’t just walking through this journey with me, He is leading the way.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Don't Look Back - Coach John R. Wooden

The years have left their imprint
On my hands and on my face.
Erect no longer is my walk
And slower is my pace.

But there is no fear within my heart
Because I'm growing old,
I only wish I had more time
To further serve my Lord.

When I've gone to Him in prayer
He has brought me inner peace,
And soon my cares and worries
And all other troubles cease.

He has blessed me in so many ways,
He has never let me down.
Why should I fear the future
When I soon may touch His crown?

Though I know down here my time is short
There is endless time up there,
And He will forgive and keep me
forever in His loving care.

May I not waste an hour
That's left to glorify His name
Of the One who died, that we may live,
and for our sins took all the blame.

Coach John R. Wooden 1910-2010
Poem written May 2003

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gone Fishing

This weekend my brother took Hannah and his three girls fishing. I went too, but I didn't fish. I am not a fisher kind of gal. I stayed on the shore while the girls took turns out on my brother's kayak. The thought of touching a worm and somehow getting it on a hook makes my stomach a bit uneasy. And, then trying to get the hook out of the fish, well just yuk! That is the word that comes to mind when I think of fishing - yuk! But my brother loves it and I loved watching him with the girls.

When the first two girls got on the kayak, I was sure that thing would tip over. I just knew there was going to be some very wet passengers. Thank goodness everyone had life jackets! But, the boat never did tip over and no one got wet....from lake water. We were all soaked, but not from the lake water. We were drenched in our own sweat. I know, double yuk! It was one of the hottest days of the year and I was affected by the heat the most. I sweat down my shirt and then somehow across my shirt. I sweat the cross! I'm sure you've heard of the silly things like the pancake shaped like Jesus, or the virgin Mary's face on a potato chip. Well, this was the shirt with the cross! I do love Jesus!

The girls each caught several fish and proved to be quite the fisher-gals. Even Hannah baited the hook with worms (yuk!). The last time she went fishing with my brother she wouldn't touch the worms, so this is improvement! Our fishing excursion ended with a nice picnic lunch together. As we drove away from the lake, while I was desperately trying to get the air conditioning to cool me off, I thought about what a precious experience we had just had.

Family. Fun. Together. Just tell the world, I've gone fishing!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sin Splatters

In last Sunday's sermon the guest preacher for the day used the phrase "sin splatters." I had never really thought of it that way before, but the word "splatter" perfectly describes the effects of sin. It isn't just the sinner that is affected by his or her sin, it splatters into the lives of those nearby. I picture a child jumping with both feet into a muddy rain puddle. The muddy water splashes up and out of the puddle showering everyone within close proximity.

When I was facing divorce, I went to a DivorceCare class at my church. During one of the weekly sessions the leader asked us to think about the type of loss we had endured because of divorce. Many people talked about the loss of a family, or a spouse, or a dream. But one woman said the greatest loss she had faced through divorce was the loss of choice. I totally agreed. Because of someone else's choices my life was turned upside down. I had no say in what was happening to me. If I had a choice, divorce wouldn't have happened. I am not saying I didn't play a role in the demise of my marriage, but I didn't want divorce. I was facing the consequences of someone else's sin! And not just me, but my daughter, our parents, our siblings, and all of our friends were affected by this divorce.

King David's sin with Bathsheba greatly illustrates the splattering of sin. I'm sure when David saw the beautiful Bathsheba from his palace roof, he didn't think about all the people his sin would affect. But because he acted on his lustful desires, Bathsheba found herself pregnant, her husband was murdered, and an innocent child died. Not to mention how David's sin must have affected all the supporting players of this story. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be a servant in David's palace during this time - talk about a stressful job!

A rebellious teen can turn the family home into a war zone. A drunk driver can take the life of a complete stranger - someone's mother, wife, daughter and friend. An adulterous affair can rip a family apart. Even a simple lie can set in motion a home filled with deception and mistrust.

Yes, sin does indeed splatter! As we go through our lives making daily decisions, may we all keep in our mind the picture of a muddy rain puddle splashing and soaking the people we love!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's a Full Blown Case of the Frumpies

There it sat in the midst of fun, beautiful vacation pictures. A picture of me in my swimsuit! Holy moly, I am frumpy! When did this happen? How did this happen? I somewhat resemble a whale. I'm not kidding! I can hear you. You are saying, "ah, it doesn't look that bad, Krista." Oh, but it does! My swimsuit is black and white and the whole thing looks a bit like a whale. I knew I had gained a little weight over the past several years and I even realized I had gone up a couple of clothing sizes. But I never thought I could be mistaken for a close relative of Shamu!

I have heard that people with an eating disorder have a distorted or false view of themselves in the mirror. I know very little about eating disorders, but I totally understand the trick of the mirror. Although in my case, I look in the mirror and think I look pretty good! While not as small as a few years ago, I'm still pretty hot. I am 45 after all. I even took the increase in clothing size in stride - I'm still wearing an average size and there are many women my age who wish they wore my size! Again, maybe I'm not "smokin' hot" but still pretty hot!

The mirror may lie, but pictures don't! Good grief, there it was staring back at me all whale like! I am still somewhat in disbelief. I have tried to blame it on the angle of the camera, the way I was standing or on the swimsuit - it just isn't flattering! I found a picture of myself taken just a few years ago on a girls vacation to Key West. I wore a bikini! Wow, what a difference just a few years can make. One big difference is that in the Key West picture I was very tan (it was of the spay-on nature) and we all know tan fat is much more attractive than white fat! I'm sure I would have looked better in this recent picture if I had been a bit more tan. Note to self: get a spray-on tan prior to being out in public in a swim suit! But it is clear I was much smaller and in much better physical shape just a few short years ago. When I went to Key West I was over forty, so it's not like this change is due to some major life milestone. No, it is due to just plain dropping the ball. And then not bending down to pick it back up!

I am trying to teach my daughter about healthy choices that include a certain number of daily calories, nutrition and exercise. I think I better start living it rather than just trying to teach it! Looking frumpy isn't the only issue. There is the whole health issue to think about. I recently had a physical exam and found out I have high cholesterol. It isn't too terribly high, but still higher than it should be and if I continue on the same path it will only get higher. I will admit just thinking about changing daily habits is daunting! I really like donuts, and Pepsi, and chocolate and ice cream...not too mention the whole exercise thing is hard! Ugh!

Well, change is coming. I'm not sure what my plan is yet, but it will include more fruits and vegetables and exercise! The case of the frumpies must be cured! I'll keep you posted on my progress from time to time.

I know you are probably curious, but rest assured I will not post the picture in question! But I will post the new costume for Wonder Woman. She is 69 and is getting a new makeover. She looks pretty good for 69, but it was about time they put some pants on that woman!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Doors Opened or Closed?

It is so easy to see the hand of God when He allows the doors to just swing open wide. I've written about this before - how every door literally flew open when my husband and I wanted to adopt and again when I wanted to move back to my home town after a painful divorce. But, if doors don't seem to be opening does that mean God is saying no? I read a recent post from one my favorite blog writers about this very subject. She and her husband are in the process of adopting a baby girl from Ethiopia and God is providing the financial means in an amazing way. It is clear God is in the center of their plans. But sometimes it isn't so clear.

I think of the story of Joseph is Genesis. He certainly encountered a few closed doors along the way! God had shown Joseph in a dream that his brothers would bow down to him, but it would be a long time and several closed doors later before any bowing down happened! Surely Joseph wondered about God's plan when he was sold into slavery, and again when he was thrown into jail falsely accused of a horrible crime. I also think of King David. This shepherd boy was anointed by God to be the King of Israel. But the red carpet wasn't rolled out heading straight to the King's palace. I imagine David had to wonder about this whole royalty thing when he was being chased by King Saul and his men. David cried out to God throughout the Psalms! Or how about Abraham and Sarah? God promised He would give them a son. I know how Sarah felt, longing to be a mom and how every month it must have seemed like God was closing the door on His promise. They questioned God's plan so much, they ended up taking matters into their own hands and made quite a mess of things!

It is absolutely wonderful when God allows the doors to swing open wide. But sometimes God chooses to send us to a few closed doors before we can get to the opened one. I heard a story of a woman who wanted to be a missionary. She knew this was God's calling on her life but after she had spent extensive time on training and preparation she failed the final test necessary to be placed by the mission board. She could have given up. She could have seen this as God telling her no to the mission field. But she didn't give up. She took the test again and was placed exactly where she was hoping to go. It is easy for us, knowing how the story ends, to see how God was orchestrating people and places to bring about His plan in the lives of Joseph, David and Abraham and Sarah. But it the midst of what seems like closed doors, we must cling to our faith knowing He is leading, directing and holding our hand along the way!


I pray that you will show me Your presence in the midst of the closed doors. Help me, as Your Word says in Proverbs 3:5-6 to trust in You with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. Help me to acknowledge You in all my ways and I ask that you will direct my paths. Amen.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Little Independence

The whole point of parenting is to train your children to live without you...right? Hopefully, our kids will grow up and eventually be on their own, although my parents might tell you that children are never really on their own! But nonetheless, that is the goal and I'm just not completely sure I like it. I want to keep Hannah in a safe protected bubble under my watchful eye forever. And I don't see anything wrong with my way of thinking!

Letting go is hard, even the little steps along the way to adulthood. Turning the reigns of life over to a child is scary - there are big bad wolves out there just waiting to pounce on my little red riding hood, I mean, Hannah. Based on how I felt yesterday, I can only imagine how I will handle the day Hannah actually leaves home to truly be on her own. But again, I'm sure my parents will tell me not to worry because if she is anything like me, she we will be back!

Yesterday I let Hannah stay home by herself while I was at work. We agreed she could have a friend over for a few hours and they could go to the neighborhood pool. Summertime for Hannah can be a one big long television fest if we don't plan activities for her. I don't want her just laying around watching TV all day or playing on the computer. She usually goes to my parent's house, but in the spirit of allowing a little bit of independence I agreed to occasionally let her stay home by herself. Her friend came over and Hannah called to tell me the friend had arrived. About 10 minutes later Hannah called to say they were leaving the house to walk to the neighborhood pool. Another call came approximately 5 minutes later to tell me they had arrived at the pool safely. She is such a good girl! About an hour later, my mind started to wander. Are they still having fun at the pool? Will she call again soon just to check in? Are they re-applying sunscreen? Are they still AT the pool? Could something have happened at the pool? "Oh Lord," I prayed, "please keep them safe!" They are safe, right? Maybe I should try to call her. But, she won't hear her phone if they are in the water. But I should try anyway. No answer. I tried again. No answer. I tried her friend's phone. No answer. Maybe something horrible has happened. Maybe I should leave work and go see. Maybe I could call a neighbor to go check on them. I don't think I can breathe! My phone rings. "Hi mom, did you try to call?" THANK YOU JESUS!! She is still AT the pool...having fun...in the water...with lots of sunscreen...just like she should be....because after all, she is a pre-teen with just a little independence! Baby steps!

Mercy me, this parenting thing is hard!