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Saturday, August 9, 2014

I'm Feeling and I Can't Get Up!

Today I'm putting on my therapist hat. You know, the one that I have no training or authority to wear? That being said, I will rock this hat like Dudley Do-Right Pharrell Williams. 

Fake it 'til you make it, right?

Let's talk about feelings. My feelings. And maybe yours, too. Maybe I'm not the only one who feels things. 

Am I alone? I don't think so. Actually, I can say with complete certainty that there are other people who feel things. This is because one of said people lives in my home.

My almost-7-year-old daughter. The feelings. Oy Vey.

I have said, often with sincere concern, since she was 18 months old that the time of the weeping womb is upon her. Sometimes I honestly think Aunt Flow is coming to visit at age six due to the indescribable emotions that seep from her very core.

Don't get me wrong; she is a delightful human being. But when she feels...well, she feels.

I remember one incident when she was around four years old. She and her brother were together and, as usual, they were playing well...until they weren't. My son ran in to find me, weeping because his sister had pushed him down. Now, in our house, using your hands to hurt someone else is an automatic trip to the penalty box, so naturally I found my (unrepentant) daughter and asked her to go sit on her bed for five minutes and think about the way she treated her brother, and how she should do it differently next time. Off she ran to her room, and what followed was nothing short of an Oscar-worthy performance.

First I heard the weeping. The wailing. It started quietly but the volume steadily rose in order, no doubt, to gain my attention. And that it did. How could it not? I think the neighbors at the end of the cul-de-sac could probably hear it.

Next came the self-depricating remarks. 

"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Why am I so naughty? Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!" 
"MommyMommyMommyMommyMommyMommyMommyMommy, I am so unkiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnddddddddddd!" 
"Ooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I am the baddest person in this familyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!"

I wish I was making this up. Truly I do. But, no.

Next came my favorite, the most creative, part. The songwriting. She lay in her bed writing a song, stream-of-consciousness-style. And It. Was. Amazing.

"Whyyyyyyyyyy...does nobody looooooooove me? Whyyyyyyyyyy...does nobody caaaaaaaare for me? Whyyyyyyyyyy...does nobody want me in their faaaaamily? Whyyyyyyyyyy?"
"Emerson, I loooooooooove you. I think you're greaaaaaaaaaat and so kiiiiiiiiiiiiiind. I am GODDDDDDDDDD!" 

At least she ended on a positive note, I guess.

This example is the tip of the proverbial iceberg, to be sure. The emotions definitely flow freely with that chick, and while it can be entertaining and even frustrating at times, there is something appealing about watching her feel things. 

There can be a problem, though, with feelings. It's way too easy for us to allow our feelings to color our perceived realities; in other words, I feel it therefore it must be true. 

See the example above about my daughter: she was disciplined (fairly and in love) and she allowed her feelings to distort reality. Did we no longer love her or care for her or want her in our family because she shoved her little brother? Absolutely not. However, in those moments her feelings overtook what she knew to be true and she allowed the lies of the enemy to rule her mind.

Oftentimes, feelings do not represent reality. 

It's a lot like this with me and God. When things are good and I feel positive emotions, I believe that he loves me and has my best interest in mind. "Thank you, Lord, for your blessings," and, "you are faithful and good," and things of that nature.

It's when life gets stormy that the doubt starts to creep in, and in the storms the worst thing I can do is to trust my feelings.

Can I get a witness?

Does this mean that expressing our feelings, that the act of feeling, is bad? I don't think so. I just think it means that we can't allow our feelings to dictate what is truth and what is not.

All of us feel. A lot. The question is, how do we reconcile our feelings with our faith in God's sovereignty and bigger plan? How do we learn to trust that he has our best interest in mind when it feels like he is absent, that he just doesn't care?

I think the answer is simple: TRUTH TRUMPS FEELINGS. Every single time.

God's Word mentions "truth" over 230 times. We know this is not by accident. I believe it's because sometimes I am so dense that God needs to repeat himself countless times to make sure I get what he's saying.

He knows our feelings will come and threaten to rule us; he knows that we are easily swayed. This is why he has given his Spirit of truth to each and every one of his children. I love the words that Jesus spoke, recorded in the book of John, because he knew that, although he was going away, God was going to leave us a guide and protector.
"When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. -- John 16:12-14
We must continually measure our feelings against God's truth, and he has given us the Spirit of truth and his Word as fantastic litmus tests. If our emotions can't stand up against the truth of who he is, we must choose to replace our feelings, the lies, with his truth. Easier said than done, I know, but it's something to strive for, isn't it?

Over the last several days, my extended family has experienced a handful of hardships. My cousin (age 31) was rushed into emergency surgery due to kidney malfunction. Another cousin (age 19) was in a horrific water-skiing accident, resulting in a broken back and fractured skull. It's amazing that he's alive, honestly. Yet another cousin (age 22) was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. This all involves people on the same side of my family. I'm not going to lie - it's been a lot to process. There have been a lot of feelings welling up in me. 

There have been moments when I've been tempted to question God's goodness and faithfulness, his ability to handle all that is going on in the life of my family. There have been times when I've been close to allowing fear to consume me, to thinking that maybe he's absent or not who he claims to be. There have been times when I haven't felt like he is near, times when I haven't felt confident in his sovereignty. 

Thank goodness I don't rely on my feelings. 

John Piper says it so much better than I do:

“My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes - many times - my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens - and it happens every day in some measure - I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.”  -- John Piper

Here's to pleading with God: purify our perceptions of your truth and transform our feelings so that they are in sync with the truth!


And always remember, your heavenly Father understands. And so does Ron Burgundy. 

Feel free to laugh!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I Am That Mom

I am that mom.

You know the one. You've seen her before.

Oh. My. So sorry. That's totally the wrong picture. Where did that even come from?

Let me try that again.

Full disclosure: I figured I stood a big chance of coming across in a better light if I showed a picture of the tan mom first. Am I right?

Full disclosure: I don't beg for melanoma in the comfort of an ultraviolet bed of death, but I'm still a bit of a mess.

I'm the mom who remembers 10 minutes before a birthday party that we don't have a gift for the birthday kid. The one who runs into Target and grabs a clearance item that doesn't look "too" cheap but is, in reality, very cheap, hence the red clearance tag that I have to scrape off with my chipped fingernails as I drive to the party. I arrive five minutes late and only remember in that moment that I forgot something sort of essential at the store. Gift wrap.

I actually dropped my daughter off at a birthday party last Saturday with a gift that looked like this:

I wish I was joking. And I'm sorry, Hannah.

I'm the mom who arrives to drop my son off at preschool (late, naturally) only to realize as I enter his classroom that it's pajama day. Does my son have on pajamas? That would be a negative. Who knew that wearing play clothes to school could be so traumatic for a four-year-old? His teacher assured me it was on the calendar. And it was. It was on the calendar that had been used in my car as a weapon to smash a black large ant and then ended up in a wrinkled ball underneath the passenger seat...

...of my minivan. I'm the mom who drives a minivan. Not a cool minivan. This minivan:

Ok, it's not that bad. But it is old, it's old-person blue, and it has a huge dent on one side, a missing hubcap on the other side, and a large crack across the windshield. It also has old-school doors. You know, the ones that don't open with the press of a button or the gentle pull of a handle? The kind of doors that require a good audible grunt to hoist them open, a simple fact that the ladies who run preschool drop-off/pick-up can't seem to remember as they stand on the curb waiting for a light to shine down from heaven and my doors to miraculously open on their own. Every. Single. Day. For three years. Amazingly, the doors still require being opened manually. I say amazingly because they look amazed/confused each and every time I roll down my passenger-side window (yes, my windows are electronic) and remind them kindly that they must, in fact, use their hands to physically open the van door. Once the doors open, I think they must forget all about the lack of space-age technology as they become distracted by the minefield of goldfish littering the carpet of the automobile. Not to mention the month-old Chickfila nugget (yes, Mrs. Obama, we do eat Chickfila) that is peeking out from under my three-year-old's seat.

I'm the mom who tells her kids to make their beds, but only make my own half the time.

I'm the mom who tells my kids to turn their underwear inside out and wear them again because (oops) I forgot to move the laundry over to the dryer from the washing machine, resulting in an underpants-less boy and a load of laundry that smells like death and must be washed again.

I'm the mom who forgets that the tooth fairy is supposed to come visit her first-born child so the next day I grab a wadded-up dollar bill from my wallet and carry it in to my daughter, telling her the tooth fairy accidentally put her money in my purse (ashamedly, I admit this is true).

And sometimes...well, many times, I start to identify myself with my mistakes, taking them on as a part of my identity. Jordan, the mom who's always two steps behind. Jordan, the mom who embarrasses her kids. Jordan, the mom who forgets important things.

I start to, in essence, rename myself.

As I do this, I forget the name that has been given to me by my Father. The only name that matters; the name that carries all of the weight and importance, that puts any name I or the world can give me to rest.


I believe He speaks the same words to me that he spoke to Israel through the prophet Isaiah so many years ago:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name and you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)
When I allow my failures and weaknesses to define who I am, I start to engage in a very dangerous practice. What I tell myself becomes truth in my inmost being, easily replacing His truth and redefining who I believe myself to be.

What's more, I can allow the lies of the enemy, the lies I allow to penetrate my heart, to seep into the hearts and lives of my children. When we, as moms, aren't living in freedom and truth, how can we expect our children to do so?

I am redeemed, even from ways I screw up my parenting and can't get my act together. And so are you.

Yes, I am that mom. No, I'm not a perfect mom. But I am their mom...ordained by my Heavenly Father to love and nurture and teach and, yes, sometimes even screw up the three tiny humans He chose to give to me. He could have given them to Mrs. Brady (forgive the 70's reference, but I honestly couldn't come up with a role-model mother in the current television era), but instead He gave them to me.

And he gave your children to you.

I might drop off birthday gifts in flimsy plastic bags, and I may forget theme day at school. I may drive my kids around in a van that's a hot mess, and I may embarrass them in my yoga pants and frizzy hair.


They will always know that I am human. That I am broken. That I will never fully have my act together. That I need a faithful God. Every time I screw up, my only job is to point them back to the need for a faithful, perfect God who can cover the multitudes of our mistakes.

I have pointed them back to God more times than I can count, and I have probably supplied them with ample ammo for the therapy they are sure to need as they enter adulthood.

Feel free to laugh!