Parenting: My Personal Struggle with Fear

sister shirtWhen my daughter, my oldest child, was in preschool through elementary school, she was so spunky and smart with just enough stubbornness to call it determination mixed in. I truly felt she would conquer the world, a neatly packaged redheaded blue-eyed force to be reckoned with. When the middle school years hit, she changed. The bullying started and she became fearful and worried more and more.

Many nights I’ve knelt by their bed and prayed over both my son and my daughter, but I’ve spent a lot of time worried for my sweet sensitive girl. Her dad and I divorced when she was three. I remarried when she was five and he left me two years later. When she was sixteen, my youngest son at age ten was diagnosed with an incurable brain abnormality and underwent brain surgery to help restore flow between his brain and spine. To say our whole world flipped upside down that year would be an understatement.

I have been remarried now for nearly ten years to a good Christian man and stepfather. I’m a stepmom to a very determined handsome high school freshman. My son, now thirteen is doing very well and surgery, although scary, has been an answered prayer. We have worked very hard to blend our family and move forward.

My daughter is a sophomore in college now. She is still spunky and very smart but her struggle is real. She wrestles with who she is versus who she thinks she should be. She worries that she is not good enough to succeed.

why i didn't rebel 2I have been reading a book by Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach called Why I Didn’t Rebel. In it Rebecca shares her own personal encouraging story of how she made it through the difficult teen years while staying true to her values, faith, and family.

The other day I was reading her chapter on Expectations where she wrote: “Looking at all these stories, I saw a pattern emerging:  families who expected their kids to rebel were scared, and families who didn’t expect their kids to rebel had a lot of faith in their children.” It was like gaining admittance into a secret room where parents are typically not allowed and God used her words to illuminate some shadowed corners of my soul.Why I Didn't Rebel

It revealed to me that unconsciously I’ve been parenting from a place of fear rooted in guilt. The more she struggles the more fearful I become because in the innermost part of my heart, I worry that my failures will cause her to rebel and ultimately fail. I know this is not what God wants for my family or my daughter.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 2:7

Parenting is hard and divorce and remarriage is messy. Blending a family only makes it more complicated. Why I Didn’t Rebel is like a breath of fresh air. Drawing me out, helping to replace my pessimism with perspective straight from the proverbial green grass on the other side. It tackles issues parents face today while giving candid insight on balancing them with healthy boundaries and expectations that actually work.

Why I Didn't RebelFor I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Thank you Rebecca for allowing God to use you to write this book to rekindle hope in parents who may be struggling with discouragement. My girl may just conquer the world after all.

 

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All That Granny Did: Leaving a Godly Legacy

Back in June, I had the honor of having a very emotional heartfelt piece about my granny published on The Unveiled Wife.

My sweet granny passed away three years ago today so to celebrate her, I thought I would share my post about her amazing Godly legacy and steadfast faith. All That Granny Did: Leaving a Godly Legacygranny-and-me

 

Hands Are For Holding

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Our hands are never empty if we are holding on to each other.

One year ago yesterday my son’s life changed after having decompression brain surgery for Chiari malformation. Well that is not exactly true. My life changed as well with so many blessings sprinkled with set backs and difficulties. One year ago hardly seems real. It feels like it really was just yesterday.

Just yesterday that I sat by his bed, holding his boyish hand in mine, while a heaviness of

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Holding my son’s hand after brain surgery a year ago.

worry and the faith that God the Father would take care of him wrestled for first place in my heart.  Thinking over how God had given me the honor of being his mom and the privilege of being there for so many moments in his life from the very first time he wrapped his tiny hand around my finger.

Then there really was yesterday. Yesterday I was actually sitting next to a hospital bed with the heaviness of worry once again wrestling with my faith. This time, it was my sweet dad. And I found myself holding his hand in mine thinking over how God blessed me with the privilege of being his daughter and how he has been there for me since

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Holding my dad’s yesterday before surgery.

the very first time I wrapped my tiny hand around his finger.

And it made me realize that in my family our hands are never empty because we hold onto each other. And in them I have learned how to encourage, support, and walk beside those that I love so much. Most importantly of all, I learned to place my whole life in the hand of the Lord Jesus.

It doesn’t matter what your family looks like or whether it’s considered normal, whether it’s blended or not, whether you have the word “step” in front of mom or not. What matters is holding onto each other. Making memories every chance you get and deciding that no matter what you’ll never let go.

Thank you daddy for teaching me how to hold on to the gift of family with one hand and our Heavenly Father with the other.

A Mom’s Prayer For The New Year

2 Kings 25:29-30

29 “So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table, 30 and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived.”

Last year we celebrated the rolling in of a new year with our children. We laughed. We drank sparkling grape juice (both red and white). We did sparklers and fireworks in our back yard. And when midnight came, we knelt in our family room and prayed together. And God blessed us so much this past year. It was not without many difficult times. It was not without many happy overflowing moments either.new blog picOur celebration was much the same and completely different! It was just my husband and I together. We got delicious take out from Outback. Snuggled and watched a movie. Made a few fireworks of our own. But when midnight came, we knelt in our family room and prayed together. We prayed for each other. We prayed for our three wonderful children, calling each by name. And we prayed and claimed the verses that I shared, for God to give us just what we need each and every day. Simple. Powerful. Believing.

This is my prayer for you and me in this new year. May it be Simple. May it be Powerful. May it be filled with Believing. Believing that the Lord Jesus gives us just what we need for each new day!

 

 

Stepfamilies and The Dad

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I have written numerous posts about stepfamilies, stepmoms, and biomoms. However recently, I have been thinking about the dads and how they feel in this whole blended/stepfamily thing. When I was a new stepmom, I scoured the internet for posts, articles, etc on stepfamilies and being a stepmom. During that time, I saw comments and posts from stepmoms who complained about how their stepchildren created so much conflict in their marriage. Some shared how they felt alone and isolated while their husband seemed oblivious. Some shared that their husband’s children could do no wrong in his eyes. Does any of this sound familiar?

I know that as a mom in a blended family, it can be filled with emotion. You can feel alone and invisible which is why I wrote about Hagar, in this post Dear Discouraged Stepmom and her role in the story of Abraham and his dysfunctional blended family.

But have you ever stopped and wondered, how does the dad really feel in all of this? Genesis 21:10-11,”and she said to Abraham, ‘Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.’  The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.

The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.” Abraham was in agony because he was caught in the middle over his son. His heart was burdened. His wife wanted no part in sharing with a son that he fathered with another woman, whom nowadays would be considered his ex. He wanted his wife happy but he also felt, naturally, a strong loving and loyal bond towards his other son.

I know when we are hurt and frustrated it is hard to see past our own emotions, but are we truly treating our husbands with kindness? OR do you harbor resentment and allow it to bubble up and spill over in the relationship you have with his children?

I recently did an interview The Stepmom Series with Our Blended Home about being a stepmom. I shared that I made the commitment to love my stepson when I made the commitment to love and marry my husband. God has richly blessed us and just as I feel for my own children, I miss him when he is at his other home. Just as my own, I talk about him with my husband and we laugh about the cute funny things he says and does. I worry about him. I pray for him.

We work so hard as moms and stepmoms to love and care for every one around us but sometimes we fall short in extending grace to the closest person here on earth that we have:  our husbands. I know that I have the power to hurt my husband very deeply through not only, of course, how I treat him but how I treat his son.

Proverbs 31:12, “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”   That means loving him and loving his family!

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An Open Letter To My 16 Year Old Daughter

DSC_2000My daughter is very active in youth leadership at our church. I am proud of her for serving and getting involved. I see her growing and cultivating her talent of compassion; learning to place others before herself. This past weekend, she attended a conference and the parents were asked to write a letter of encouragement or prayer to be given to them during one of their devotional sessions. She gave me permission to publish the letter I wrote to her in hopes that it will help others.

       To My Sweet Girl,

There is a poem in one of those books I love to read by Grace Livingston Hill that I want to share with you:

“Charge not yourself with the weight of a year, child of the Master, faithful and dear.

Choose not the cross for the coming week, for that is more than He bids you seek.

Bend not your arms for tomorrow’s load, just leave that to your gracious God.

Daily ONLY, He says to thee, ‘Take up thy cross and follow me’.”

It means to focus on serving Him today and no more. We all have our own cross to bear; have our own personal struggles. God gives you daily what you need. “Charge not yourself with the weight of a year” means don’t take on a year’s worth of burdens, don’t take on the hard times, the “what ifs” and the “what might happens” that are later on down the road. Live for Him for today. Live in this moment. Serve Him with all your heart today. Don’t pick up the cross of the coming months. Today is hard enough, so live and be just for today.

2 Kings 25:30 (ESV) “and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived.” See, you are a child of the King. But, you are so much like me, beautiful girl, that you tend to either focus on looking back at the mistakes you’ve made in the past or the mistakes or bad things that may come in the future.

So that’s why I am telling you this with all the love I have in my heart:  Let go of the past and do not try and take up your cross (your burdens) of tomorrow. Just live, love, serve, and embrace right now, today.

                                                                                                I love you beyond words,

                                                                                                                Mom

How Do You Tell Your Son He’s Going to Have Brain Surgery Without Exploding Into a Million Pieces?

Luke meeting his baby cousin last year.

Luke meeting his baby cousin last year.

The house is quiet, really quiet. Every one is sleeping in on this rainy Saturday morning….everyone except me. I don’t feel like I’ve really slept since October. Since my son, Luke (I affectionately call him buddy) was diagnosed with chiari malformation. Words like “incurable”, “brain surgery”, and “severe pain” seem to be bouncing around as soon as my head hits the pillow, along with slight shock and disbelief. Wow! How did we get here?

I keep thinking back to the day when we learned Luke was going to have brain surgery….I got the call while Luke and I were riding home from another appointment. I remember we were singing and laughing when the neurosurgeon’s office called and told me that his test showed a significant flow reduction and we needed to come in and get him scheduled for decompression surgery.
My mind began to reel. My breath caught in my throat. I guess the shock of it all kept me from bursting into tears. I robotically went through the motions of scheduling the appointment but my knuckles were white from gripping the steering wheel so tightly. I turned to my handsome little man next to me. How do you tell your child that they need brain surgery without exploding into a million pieces? I sent a prayer for words of wisdom and began to calmly explain to him what was happening.

“Luke, do you remember how we have prayed and prayed that the surgeon would have God’s wisdom in knowing what is best for you? Well, God has answered our prayers Buddy.” He looked at me briefly as I saw understanding creep into his blue eyes. “He thinks I need surgery, right?” “Yes buddy.” He immediately burst into tears as that understanding was replaced by fear. “Luke, it’s ok to be scared and worried and cry. You might see mommy cry too, but we are also going to thank God for answering our prayers. It may not be the answer we want but I know He is going to take care of you and guide that surgeon’s hand. We are going to get you through it one step at a time and then we are going to praise and thank God and give Him the glory for answering our prayers and being with you through it all.” He slowly nodded as I watched him brush the back of his hand over his eyes trying to fight back the fear and the tears.

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When we got home, instead of turning on the TV, he ran straight for his room. Trailing behind him, I walked in to see him drop to his knees by his bed, clasping his hands in prayer crying. He was saying something over and over but I couldn’t understand so I went closer and sat next to him. “Thank you. Thank you.” He was whispering between gasps and tears. He then reached around to the back of his head with his small hands and began to pray and beg God to give him strength to make it through. It was one of the most precious and heartbreaking moments I have ever known. I let the tears fall quietly down my face as I prayed beside him and let him pour out his heart to his Heavenly Father. Oh!! The strength and faith in that little boy was astounding! I briefly thought of the verse in Matthew 18:4, “So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

I gently pulled him up and into my arms. Drawing all my strength I said, “Luke, like I said before it’s ok to be scared and cry, but let’s wait until it’s time. You are not having surgery today or next week. We are going to enjoy the holidays and spending time together with family and we are going to pray until then. He has been with us so far and He will continue with us every step of the way. Let’s worry when the time comes.”

Well that time is now fast approaching and in a week my little guy will be going in for surgery. I am having a hard time with it. As a Christian mother I know that God is honestly truly with us. I have never felt His presence more than I have since all of this started; felt a peace in my spirit that I can’t explain. (Philippians 4:7 “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”)

But as Luke’s mommy, I am heartsick and terrified. My worries and fear seem to sit on my shoulder and threaten to drown me. I honestly do not know what I would do if I didn’t have the Lord giving me strength. My emotions are all over the place. And my sweet little Luke;  I can’t hug him enough. I can’t kiss his head enough. I can’t thank God enough for giving me the unspeakable honor of being that little guy’s mom. Of having the honor of comforting him, holding him and guiding him through this life.

There is that peace again, stirring up in soul, creeping up into my spirit and touching every corner of my heart. I will allow God to continue to guide me because He is allowing me to guide Luke. And I whisper just like he did between gasps and tears, “Thank you! Thank you!”

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Help For The Chronic Worrier and Some Updates

IMG_20150113_090049163Just over a week ago, I found myself spending a quiet evening at home with just me and my two kids. My husband was working and my stepson (my sweet bonus son) was at his mom’s. It was a very cold night and it seemed the heat was heaving and sighing, moaning and hissing trying to keep our house warm. So I lit a fire in the fireplace and we settled down to play a game of Sorry.

As we sat there playing, giggling and taking turns sending each other back to start the thought came to me that this is what family to me is all about. My daughter wasn’t worrying about her end of semester exams coming up the following week. My son wasn’t worrying about his frequent headaches and upcoming surgery. I wasn’t worried about getting to work the next day or what was going to be happening in the coming weeks. No. We were all in the present; in the moment. It was warm there. It was peaceful and relaxing there. It was happy there in that moment.

I can be a chronic worrier. When you worry, you tend to be inside of your head. A lot. That means that you may be sitting in the present but in your head, you are in the future of “what if” and “what might”. Your mind is caught in a vicious cycle of worry and what might happen if what if happens. I have learned that the best way to combat this is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is where you bring yourself out of the worry and out of your head and look around. You literally start pointing out things that surround you and switch your focus on them. For example, my drive to work is where I really worry. I worry about whatever is going on with my kids, my job, what some one said, etc. When I practice mindfulness, I stop worrying and think about how bright the sun is at that moment or how blue the sky is, etc…

I use the term “practice” because it sounds simple but it is something I have to work at over and over again because the worry keeps trying to take over. Being mindful helps us to stay focused on the present; focus on the moment you are living in not what’s to come and especially what has been. In His word, God tells us to not worry about tomorrow. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34

IMG_20150113_090049163Here is something that we all need to honestly take hold of and remember:  God actually wants us to be happy and enjoy the life He has given us. He doesn’t want us to waste it on our past or worry. (Who would ever want to know Him if we are walking around worried and sad all the time.) Being mindful and staying in the present allows us to live out our potential, to be the best we can be-who we were created to be, moment to moment.

“18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.” Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

Now on to some other things that are happening. I was so excited to share that I was approached by Pigeonhole Books to do a blog interview for their resource page several months ago. They chose my blog to kick off the new year! Here is a link to that interview about me, my site and where I want to be in all of this. Check it out and show them some love! http://pigeonholebooks.com/2015/01/05/blogger-interview-donna-mott/

We also celebrated a big birthday in our family recently! Our beautiful girl, my oldest, turned sixteen! Where has the time gone?!

I would like to thank you all and ask that you please continue to pray for our son, my youngest, Luke. His chiari surgery is scheduled for February 2. Our family has a lot coming up but God has been so amazing and faithful. I will be sharing more about that later……

 

When You are So Overwhelmed, There are No Words

rock blog photo 2I haven’t posted in a while. My emotions have been so overwhelming that I literally have had no words to describe them. Which I’m pretty sure is bad for a writer. Words, for me, have always been an emotional outlet; expressing and processing my feelings; a way to scream while remaining silent. Lately I’ve been drowning in fear, worry, shock, determination, and focus with no way to get an extra breath except…….One.

Romans 8:26 “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (NLT)

It is so much comfort to me that as a child of God, I don’t have to find the words. I don’t have to articulate the storm inside my heart, the raging in my mind. My Heavenly Father knows.

He is my comforter. 2 Corinthians 1:3 “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.”

He is my strength and my help. Psalms 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”

He is my hope. Psalms 71:5 “O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O LORD, from childhood.”

He is my rock. 1 Samuel 2:2 “No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.”

My previous post was about my son. The tests results have come in and we met with the neurosurgeon last week and my little guy will be having decompression brain surgery at the end of January for his chiari malformation. As I have said before, I am so grateful that this has been found while he is young and has not had to suffer, but I have also, as a mom grieved for my son. My heart has ached for what he is facing. I have cried out of fear of the horrible spiral of “what ifs” that could happen.

I don’t want him to go through this. I am scared about so many things but it has been during this time that I have felt God’s closeness more than ever before; His presence touching every aspect of our life; our Comforter, our Strength, our Help, our Hope, our Rock.

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It Is Well: How God is Teaching Me About His Glory Through My Son

It is Well My family and I have been going through a very scary time with my youngest son. He has had some medical symptoms that have seemed to get worse. We were told a year ago he needed rest and hydration when he would wake up so weak he could barely lift a cup or spoon. The “spells” would only last a day or so and then he would go months without another. In between these times he has had headaches and dizziness but these too have been sporadic.

His most recent spell was just over a month ago. The pediatrician did a full blood panel workup. All of his tests came back normal so she referred him to a neurologist, who ordered an MRI. The next thing I know, I get a call that my 10 year old is being referred to a pediatric neurosurgeon for evaluation of possible brain surgery. The diagnosis is chiari malformation I. Here is a link with info about this abnormality to save you the trouble of googling it: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/chiari/detail_chiari.htm . He saw the neurosurgeon this past week and I will get to that later in this post.

The myriad of emotions that we all experienced during the days of waiting for that appointment are nearly indescribable. My little guy was actually relieved that there was an explanation for the way he had been feeling. For me, I was terrified of what he might have to endure and so unbelievably grateful that it was found early all at the same time! I posted, shared, text, and emailed asking; begging for prayer for my son! God created my son and my prayers was that He would press His divine knowledge into that surgeon to know what was best for him.

Everyone kept saying “I’ll be praying for him and your family”. Every time I heard that reply I would nod gratefully or post thank yous and please dos, seemingly calm but inside I was screaming! YES PRAY PRAY PRAY FOR MY SON! Don’t just say it because it is a challenging difficult time for us and you don’t know what to say. This is my son; this is my baby. This is something that has no cure. This is something he will have to live with; an invisible illness that to the outside world may seem completely made up. This is an absolute significant diagnosis that breaks my heart for him! So please please please do not carelessly fling out the most overused religious phrase known today “I’ll be praying for him” THIS IS MY LIFE, THIS IS MY SON AND I’M BEGGING YOU TO MEAN IT! PRAY WITHOUT CEASING!

During this time I would go to work and alternate between inward anxious thought spirals and outward quiet tears. I love the fact that I can listen to music while working. I would play songs of comfort and one song kept showing up in my mind, in my heart, and deeply in my spirit…. “It Is Well With My Soul” by Horatio Spafford. (The story behind this song is astounding.) The words began to minister to me. I added a new prayer to my initial prayerful cries to God for my son. I began praying that I would bring glory to Him even during this overwhelming, frightening experience, praying that even my fear would still bring Him glory. I Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

It is Well

It started to have an effect on me. I began to feel more at peace in the midst of fear and calm in the midst of confusion as I slowly began to accept whatever we would face with this deeply heartfelt knowledge that God really loved my sweet boy and no matter what it would be okay.

Wednesday came and I found myself staring into the kind, wise eyes of the surgeon. He said that surgery is to only restore cerebral flow if it is impeded by this condition. Based on the MRI, there seemed to be enough space for cerebral flow and surgery most likely will not be needed at this time. He ordered a spinal MRI and flow studies to be done next week to confirm this. This is so incredibly reassuring and solidifies that those prayers from all of us have already begun to work in my son. And I will say this without any hesitation what so ever and scream it: TO GOD BE THE GLORY! And yes please please please keep those prayers coming!