Victory is the Lord’s (Prayer Devotional for the week of August 23, 2015)

We sang a song at church recently with the line, “Every victory is Yours.” It was a proclamation of praise to God for reigning victorious over the enemy, which usually brings imagery to my mind of how the Lord conquered death through Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection. Verses like 1 Corinthians 15:57 remind us of his victory over sin and death.

 

This particular day, however, I was distracted by some frustrations that I was having with the kids. A couple of them had gotten into trouble in Sunday School for arguing with each other, which had turned into a shoving match, and then one of them made a mess and didn’t bother to clean it up. I was embarrassed, quite frankly. I just wanted one weekend where we could go to church and I didn’t have to worry about how anyone behaved. I feel like every time one of the kids causes trouble, it’s a reflection on me as a parent. Sometimes I just want to melt into the background and not have negative attention drawn to me.

 

As I sang that song, this prayer-thought occurred to me: “If every victory is Yours, then why do I feel like every setback is my personal failure?”

 

Proverbs 21:31 says that we can prepare ourselves for war, but the verse quickly points to the Lord as the source of battlefield victories. In this situation, I think it means that I should certainly train and discipline my children to be respectful and behave well (prepare them for battle against worldly influences), but when they make poor choices, I shouldn’t automatically take it personally. (That’s a lot easier said than done; is it not?!?)

 

I referenced a verse above from 1 Corinthians 15; the following verse (58) goes on to say, “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (NLT). We face battles every day, and we won’t win all of them. The enemy wants to tear you down, humiliate you and incapacitate you, but don’t quit the fight. Stand firm in the knowledge that we serve a mighty, awesome God, and he is the ultimate victor!

Advertisements

[Single] Parents Night

Our church youth leaders hosted a Parents Night event tonight, which was partly a meeting to discuss upcoming activities and partly getting-to-know-each-other time. We split into two smaller groups for Q&A, and I was the only single parent in attendance, which made me the odd man out. It wasn’t as terribly awkward as it could have been, but I still felt a little self-conscious. I knew one of the couples in my group already, which helped me loosen up. Some of the questions were silly, and others were more serious and/or spiritual. It was nice to get to know some other parents and youth leaders better, which was the point of the activity.

I’m really glad I went, but the whole day has brought my single-parent status to the front of my mind, as if it’s tattooed across my forehead.

A dear friend was going through a really tough situation earlier today, and as we talked about it over the phone, she made the comment that I’m stronger than her because I’m independent. (Those weren’t her exact words, but I think it captures the gist of what she said.) I appreciate where she’s coming from, and I realize she meant it as a compliment, but sometimes I think it must be more difficult to be dependent on someone. I don’t really know what that’s like, beyond my growing-up years at home.

I read in the Bible and hear pastors teach about biblical roles in a marriage, and I don’t disagree with the concept, but I have seldom witnessed it firsthand. (That’s not to say that I have no godly marriage examples in my life, but I’m talking about a situation similar to my own, where the wife works outside the home and there are more than a couple of kids in the house.) Truly, I would like to not have to make all of the decisions and pay all of the bills, in addition to other daily chores like cooking, cleaning, sorting mail, grocery shopping, driving kids hither & yon, and household repairs. It’s just that I’ve had to do those things for so long (yes, for the most part, even during my marriage) that I’m not sure what it would be like to have someone to share the load. On the other hand, I want my ideas, opinions, and intellect to be valued in the decision-making process, as well. Being submissive doesn’t mean (or shouldn’t mean, that is) being bossed around.

For example, I heard a preacher on the radio this week who, I suppose, thought he was being funny as he talked about husbands and wives, and he made the comment, “Thank you, ladies, for cleaning up after us.” I thought to myself, “Are you kidding me? Clean up after yourself!” It is not ok for my kids to leave plates & cups sitting on the dining room table. The older three have rotating chores that include loading & unloading the dishwasher. The younger two take turns wiping the table and sweeping the dining room & kitchen floor. Are they still messy? Of course — they’re kids — and I bark at them 24/7, it seems, to pick up after themselves. My house is far from pristine, and I have bad habits that I need to adjust, as well. But to pick up dirty dishes left by a grown man too lazy to take them to the sink?!? I don’t think so.

I don’t recall anywhere in the Bible where it says that a woman should clean up after a man. Some people may think that perhaps I’m too independent for my own good, but if that’s their interpretation of biblical submission, then I may as well stay single forever.

To think or to sleep

2014-09-10 18.06.05

(That’s not food on my chin; it’s a quirky reflection of the light.) Not the most flattering picture, but we had fun. 🙂

I had a lovely time at a work-dinner tonight. It was the Homecoming Alumni Banquet, where the university recognized three alums for their achievements. The food was good, the company was nice, and since I’m fresh out of hot dates at the moment (that was sarcasm, in case you missed it), I got to bring my 15yo as my guest. We had fun, and he behaved like a gentleman — see, I knew he was capable of breathing between mouthfuls of food! 😉  He cut his meat into bite-sized chunks, ate slowly, and carried on conversations with others at our table. I was very proud of him and enjoyed our time together.

Then, we got back home.

I learned that No. 4 had ridden his bike through the neighbor’s neatly raked gravel driveway ditch, which a) he knew full well not to do, and b) he’d already been scolded for doing it once before. So tomorrow, he and I are walking back over there (his big brother who was babysitting already made him apologize today) to offer his manual labor services for whatever they might need done. In addition, he’s grounded from anything with wheels for the rest of the month. I will probably tack on some additional chores, especially if the neighbor doesn’t accept his offer to work.

I just don’t understand what goes through their heads sometimes! It’s infuriating, not to mention embarrassing because the neighbors must think I’m a totally out-of-touch parent. I probably shouldn’t care what they think, but I do. We are the minorities in this neighborhood/community/city/state, and it makes me feel sad and awkward when their behavior reflects poorly on our family. Maybe that sounds like I’m putting too much pressure on my kids to behave, but are the Mormon kids riding their bikes around the neighborhood like stark-raving maniacs? Absolutely not — in fact, I hardly ever see them. It’s like there are these huge houses filled with gobs of kids, and you Never. Hear. Them. EVER. It’s uncanny to me, because my boys are LOUD even when they are behaving!!

As if that weren’t enough, No. 3 blew a gasket with me when I scolded and grounded him because he was disrespectful to his brother-in-charge while I was away. There’s more to the story, but I’m tired and don’t feel like rehashing it. He accused me of not caring about him and wanted to call Nana to tattle on me for being so mean to him. Sometimes, I have to take deep breaths before I can even speak.

Then, I found out that one of the best hug-givers at my old church died unexpectedly today after what seems to have been a very brief and violent illness. No one knows anything substantive, so we have to wait for the autopsy results to learn more. Her husband died of a heart attack a year or so ago, and part of me feels glad that they are together in glory, but part of me still feels the loss. We weren’t even super-close friends, but she was always eager to greet me with a hug, and she looked forward to reading the devotionals that I write. She was one of those people who you don’t realize are watching you, until they say something that blows you away — like how I meant a lot to her, and she looked up to me. What? Really? Wow. Humbled.

Plus, tomorrow is 9/11, which means social media is filled with quotes and blurbs and photos and rants. I think I’ll just take a day off from Twitter and Facebook, because the deluge of that type of imagery makes me feel gloomy.

I really should be in bed by now, but I need to clear my mind. I read my Bible for a little while earlier, and maybe I’ll read a novel for a bit. It’s hard to go to sleep — and sleep well — when my brain is filled with sadness and coulda-shoulda-woulda scenarios that make me feel like a terrible parent.

A day away from the grid

This post on Momastery spoke to my heart like a friend who gives you a bear hug when you haven’t even told them what’s the matter. I was unofficially a single parent long before my divorce was finalized. Three military deployments nested among years of sharing a home with someone who methodically trudged through the motions of day-to-day life meant that the decision-making, crisis-dealing, boo-boo-kissing, parent-teacher-conferencing and discipline-implementing duties usually fell to me (along with just about anything else that needed cleaned, fixed, cooked or paid).

I’m not bitter about love. I’m actually quite a romantic at heart and would thoroughly enjoy being swept off my feet by someone who is as smitten about me as I am about him. Do you know the last time I went on a date when I didn’t have to decide when and where to go? Me neither, come to think of it. I’m not a control freak; I’m just the only freaking person willing to be in control, historically speaking. I would like the opportunity to hand over the reins to someone someday and make cooperative decisions instead of bearing the burden single-handedly. I am a leader, but that doesn’t mean I should always have to lead. I want a partner, a sounding board, a teammate. I want to be challenged — not in a confrontational way, but in a way that spurs me on to become more like Christ. I want the type of love that says non-verbally, “I enjoy your company, no matter where we are or what we’re doing.” Heck, I don’t even need flowers or chocolate*; a simple text or email out of the blue is enough to put a sloppy grin on my face for hours. (*However, a bottle of wine wouldn’t hurt now & then.)

All that said, I also think it is wise to guard my heart from unnecessary aches & pains. For that reason, I’m planning to go off the grid tomorrow and avoid looking at Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest because I don’t need to be bombarded with mushy-gushy Valentine’s Day posts about everyone’s picture-perfect relationships with their doting husbands and boyfriends. Gag me with a spoon and drown me in chocolate; the last thing a single parent needs is to have her situation rubbed in her face. Anticipating all of the lovey-doviness tomorrow helps me to understand a little better now what a childless friend once told me she felt like on Mother’s Day.