To Bite, or Not to Bite (your tongue), That is the Question: Allowing Your Teen to Navigate Heartache and Disappointment.

 

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Wow, mothering can be tough! Can I get an “Amen”?! It’s a fine line we walk between allowing our teenagers to grow and mature and intervening in order to make things easier for them. It hurts to see our kids left out, overlooked, hurt, or treated unfairly. Whether it’s sports, academics or navigating friendships and dating, every teen sometimes gets the short end of the stick. Life is not always fair, in fact, it very rarely is. So, yes, there is something to be said for allowing them to learn that lesson early. But, our mama’s heart breaks when our children are emotionally bruised and battered.

We sit on the sidelines and watch as our kids learn how to speak up for themselves with teachers, coaches and peers. We want them to learn to handle their own issues but, it’s so hard not to jump in—to come to the rescue. As our kids were navigating the teen years, they each experienced disappointment and unfair treatment; if not from friends, then from coaches, teachers or even parents of friends—who may not have realized the impact they had on our teen’s heart.

I believe there are times when a parent’s assistance is necessary but, only as a last resort. Instead, we can listen, pray with our teens over issues, give advice when asked, and point them to God’s Word for help and consolation.

And it’s usually not just our teens who need consoling! We, as mothers, carry the burden of our child’s broken heart, loneliness and disappointment like a soggy, woolen blanket over our drooping shoulders. When we are crushed over our teens heartache, we need only go to God with our sadness and frustration and lay it at the foot of the cross. He is there to offer hope, help, and peace.

God knows our teen’s predicament and he knows how it will all turn out. He loves them with an everlasting, unimaginable love. He has a plan—a long-range one—to shape our teenagers into strong, compassionate, humble and effective warriors for the kingdom. Everything he allows to happen to them—disappointment, heartache, loneliness, frustration— is another piece of the puzzle, designed to fit into his beautiful plan for their life.

So, what’s a mama to do? Pray. Be a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear. Give advice when asked. Point your teen to the truth and comfort of God’s Word. Bite your tongue. Go to God with your own heartache. And be patient. After all, God is creating a masterpiece.

 

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.”            Psalm 46:1

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”                                                                                                                                        James 1:2-4

 

 

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Hello Again! Surprised by God and Back in the Saddle.

 

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Dear Readers,

So sorry that it has been a while since I last posted on Heart of the Matter, but this season of life has been extremely busy and eventful for our family. Our second son got married and moved to another state for graduate school, our oldest son was deployed with the Navy and has had lots of adventures on the high seas while his baby back in Japan, is learning to crawl and feed himself! Our daughter is a full-fledged high school senior complete with all the excitement and responsibility that entails. In addition, my 91 year-old mother, of whom I have frequently written, has had a fall, gone through rehab, and moved back to her house with in-home care. Life just never stops.

Nor do we know what surprises God has for us around the next bend. I quit teaching school quite a few years ago to homeschool my daughter during her middle school years. After she returned to school, I enjoyed being home, volunteering —diving whole-heartedly into home-keeping, mothering and husband-minding. But, alas, God had other plans. Who knew? ( well, God, of course, duh)

As I was reading the online newsletter from my daughter’s Christian school, I came across a notice for a part-time elementary music teacher position. It really piqued my interest! I always loved teaching and one of the highlights of my career was when I had the opportunity to teach elementary music for a few years. The next time I was at the school, I went to speak with the principal to find out more. Let’s just say, the job was a dream job, as far as I was concerned—it was right in my wheelhouse! Ya’ll, not only do I get to sing, play the piano, and teach kids about using their voices to praise God but, I don’t have to be at work until 10:30! I am not a morning person!

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Now there is nothing more satisfying to me than working at a Christian school where I can share the love and message of Jesus Christ with little ones who have their whole lives ahead of them. Not to mention the parents of all those little ones who oftentimes do not attend church or have a relationship with Christ but just want their children to attend a school that will instill good values and morals. What an opportunity to influence people for the kingdom of God.

Music is the language of heaven. It can fill our souls and lift us into the realm of the heavenlies. And there is no sweeter sound than a roomful of children singing praise songs to God.

Needless to say, I took the job. It has been so much fun. My only challenge has been learning to submit lesson plans online and to navigate the newest education technology. It’s really nice to be at my daughter’s school during her senior year to share in all the joy and excitement of what is probably her last year living at home full-time.

So, I hope to be able to share some of my “adventures in music” with you, my readers, as the year goes on. And I’m ready to get back to writing—encouraging you to live lives that are Christ-honoring as He fulfills his purpose in you.

I am blessed, thankful, excited and filled with joyful anticipation of the year to come. Don’t ever think that because you are on the downward slope of life that God is finished with you, or that you can no longer impact people for the kingdom. You never know what God has in store for you around the next bend!

“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully and shout for joy.” Psalm 33:1-3 (NIV)

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Taking Care of Mama: A Change of Heart

 

 

Have you ever wondered why God allows people to live on and on into their 80’s and 90’s in various states of pain and disability—severe arthritis, blindness, deafness, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other chronic, debilitating and painful conditions? If you have an elderly loved one who is suffering, then you probably have. Recently, my own 91-year-old mother relayed to me that she doesn’t understand why the Lord still has her here on this earth. Here is a glimpse into her life:

I walked into her room at the rehab center one hot summer afternoon. There she sat in her wheelchair, eyes gently closed, head tilted back ever so slightly. She didn’t move as I called out, “Hey, mama”. She is nearly deaf so she didn’t hear me as I threw open the door and trounced into the room. As I gently touched her arm letting her know of my presence, she straightened up and looked at me with sad, discouraged eyes. “They brought my breakfast again before washing my face and putting my partial denture in”, she said. Being in a nursing center for the first time had been quite an adjustment for her after living on her own all these years.

As I began to visit with mom, an old friend of hers walked in. Sadly, my mom had no idea who it was, not because her memory is going, (her mind is sharp as a tack) but because she can no longer make out facial features. She suffers from macular degeneration and is almost blind. All of her life one of mom’s favorite pastimes has been reading. Now… there is no device or pair of glasses that can help her make out the words on the page.

Because she cannot read or watch T.V., she spends most of her time at the nursing center just sitting. Sitting and thinking. Waiting for the next visit from a friend or family member. Looking out the window into the sunny courtyard.

When it comes to mobility, mom can still make her way from point to point—slowly and painstakingly—with a walker, although she has severe arthritis in every joint.

Mom is in the rehab center for physical therapy after cracking several ribs in a fall. Her recovery has been painful and slow and she has been very discouraged at times. It has been quite an adjustment for all of us as we’ve had to watch mom rely on others for even her most basic needs.

Mom is 91 years old and is a believer. She has told us she is ready to go and be with Jesus—to be free from pain.

As mom’s health has declined, the responsibility of her care and the management of her affairs has fallen largely to me as her only daughter. My brother helps when he can, especially with things like home repair and other things that are out of my wheelhouse. But I have taken on being her chauffeur, her grocery shopper, her business manager, etc. It’s sometimes tough to manage my own home and family as well as hers. As I often say, my peers and I are a part of the “sandwich generation”, taking care of our elderly parents while still parenting our own kids.

As I began doing more and more for my mom, I resented the new “duties”. I felt they were an inconvenience, a chore, an intrusion. Couldn’t someone else do it? I had a busy life of my own with 2 kids still at home. I felt trapped as I realized there was no one else. As I spent more and more time with my mom— taking her to doctor’s appointments, helping her at home, tending to her personal needs—a funny thing happened. I noticed a change in myself. I began to care for her out of love rather than obligation.

I literally felt a change occurring in my heart. That’s when I realized why God allows people like my mom to live into their 90’s in struggle and pain. It is for us—for me. Through serving my mom God has taught me about self-sacrifice. He has developed in me patience, empathy, and mercy like I’ve never known. He has taught me the true meaning of servanthood.

You see, through my relationship with my aging mama, God is making me more like Him.

 

 

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No More Excuses: Fitness by Default!

 

Today I went to the gym. I have put it off for so long but alas, one-by-one my excuses have fallen away and now I am left with only one—my own pathetic lack of discipline.

I can no longer complain that I have babies under foot and would have to get a sitter. I am past the taxi-mom days of running children from sports to play dates to music lessons, so “busy” is out. I no longer leave the house to go to a full-time job every day, so I can’t cry about exhaustion and work deadlines. And, to my delight, (or dismay?) a friend told me about this amazing, no yearly contract, special offer at our local gym-which is ridiculously close to my house! So, “can’t afford the membership” and “too far to drive” are out the window, as well.

Darn it! There go all my go-to excuses. Now, I am forced to overcome my lack of discipline and get into the routine of slapping on my sneakers, squeezing into my stretchy workout pants, and driving to the gym. The good news is it’s a ghost town at the time of day that I show up. Everybody else is at work!

What about you? Maybe finding time for exercise isn’t your problem but what about spending time in the Word of God and developing your relationship with Him?

Do you have a million excuses for neglecting your daily time with the Lord?

For many of you, exercise or gym time is something you wouldn’t even think of missing on a given day. You have made it a priority. It is a part of your very identity. Missing your workout even effects your mood and therefore, your relationship with your family and others.

Shouldn’t you put just as much importance on developing your relationship with the Lord through a daily quiet time? We can actually know the heart of God through studying and meditating on His Word. We can find strength, wisdom, comfort, peace, and validation there. We can commune with the very God of the universe through the act of prayer.

Christian, what excuses do you have for not getting with God every day? Nothing is more important for life, for peace, for relationships, for godliness. Make it a priority. No more excuses.

Give God the very best part of your day and he will bless you with time for everything else he needs you to accomplish. I have definitely found this to be true in my own life. Praying that you will make time for Him!

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8 (NIV)

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”              Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” 1 Peter 2:2 (NIV)

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My Husband Will Never Change (and I’m so glad!)

 

My husband was up at 5:30 this morning. I listened as he gathered his workout clothes and tennis shoes, and then proceeded to the kitchen to prepare his protein shake. As the whirring sound of the blender died down, I snuggled deeper into the covers, adjusted my pillow and fell back into some serious REM sleep. Early morning workouts are not my thing—at all. My husband’s morning ritual is one that I am very familiar with. You see, my sweet husband is pretty much the same person he was when I married him more than 20 years ago, in spite of my impassioned attempts to change him. (Young wives, re-read that last statement!)

He loves to exercise. He is very “routine driven”. He likes alone time much more than people time. He takes each day as it comes rather than talking a lot about the future. And he is much less into communication/verbal dialogue than I, keeping his own thoughts to himself unless prodded to do otherwise. He’s also a big sports fan and has trouble sitting still for very long, whereas, I can watch 2 or 3 movies in a row or read an entire book without leaving my comfortable chair.

In the early years of our marriage, we had lots of “discussions”, mostly initiated by moi, about how we could improve our relationship if only he would do such and such. I made numerous ill-fated (although well-intentioned) attempts to change him in one way or the other—to make him more communicative, more social, more engaged, less strict about his routine, etc. I did use a gentle approach—because that’s the way I am—and wrote lots of nice lists and notes for him which I placed in obvious, accessible places around the house. And I prayed for change.

For a time I lost sight of some very important facts:

  • God’s unique design for men was intentional. And he made men and women different for a reason. Your husband is not meant to be just like you.
  • No human being is—or will ever be—perfect in this life, including the aforementioned, moi. This is why leaving a marriage thinking “the grass is greener” is never a good idea.
  • True and lasting change in human beings must come from within.
  • It’s easy to see the beautiful things about your spouse if you just look for them.
  • Marriage is and will always be more give than take. It cannot be successful unless at least one of the parties involved has a selfless, servant attitude. (preferably both, of course!)
  • Most husbands just want simple things out of life. Things like peace, acceptance, respect and, oh yeah, good food.

Over time God taught me these valuable lessons and today, life is more peaceful and settled— but still fun and exciting! We can’t change our spouses. We can pray for their growth, love them, respect them, and make our homes a warm and relaxing place for them, but we have to leave the rest to God. We need to focus instead on our own relationship with Christ, becoming the best partner we can be under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.

I’m so glad I was unsuccessful in re-making my husband. After all, God made him just right the first time. These days I am more grateful than ever to hear that buzzing alarm clock at 5:30 a.m. given the fact that my husband survived open-heart surgery just a year and a half ago. His life is a precious gift to me. And I’m glad he is still the same man I married all those years ago—even if I will never, ever, convince him to sit down with me and watch all four emotional, riveting hours of “Gone With the Wind”!

 

 

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